Friday, May 30, 2014

Rant #1,218: Here Is My Car



Finally.

I finally got my car last night.

I have had it for the past two days, since May 28, but finally last night, everything was completed and it is mine, with my own plates on it.

We still have to send in some paperwork--and we were still at the car place about an hour yesterday, if not a little more--but finally, everything seems to be worked out on this car, and we can close the book on this.

Now come the payments, but I guess there is a black cloud in every silver lining, to coin my own phrase.

The car is nice, but it is a bit too high-tech for me, with all these gizmos and gadgets that I really don't need.

I wonder how much these unnecessary things pushed up the price of the car; I'm sure it was substantially increased by all of these extra things.

Somebody at work told me that he felt the same way I did about his own new car, but over time, he learned to use many of these gadgets, and now is totally comfortable with them.

Maybe that will happen to me too.



Anyway, my wife--my Rock of Gibraltar through all of this, by the way--took the photos you see here, and she seemed to be excited about the new car, too.

It was what I always thought I would get at the right time--not now, which was not the right time--but life sometimes has funny ways of fooling you, and I guess with the accident, I was fooled.

Prior to the accident, I thought I would keep my then-current car for four more years at least, and then start looking for something else.

Well, it did not work out that way, and now I have a new car, but I also have the payments, which I didn't want to have right now.

I guess I should not be complaining. My wife, my son and I are alive, alive to enjoy this new car, and I guess there is truly a God in heaven looking over myself and my family.

I am not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination, but I thank God for keeping us on this planet, I really do.

My mom gave me a Chai, the Jewish symbol for good luck, to keep in my car, and I will put it in there.

I need all the luck I can muster right now, and I need to feel safe. I have had some dreams about car crashes since mine happened, but I am getting better each and every day.

Now with a car to use, let me tell you, a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I had a bad stomach ache all of yesterday, and within a few minutes of driving the car home, I felt like a million dollars.

Funny how things kind of work out.

Now back to business, no more talk of accidents, no more talk of cars.

Thanks for sticking with me through all of this. Speak to you on Monday.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rant #1,217: Here In My Car ...



Yes, I finally got my new car yesterday.

Sort of.

My wife and I still have to go back to the dealer and get our plates put onto the car.

There is a slight problem on that end of the deal. Don't ask.

Otherwise, the car is mine.

Not only do I get a new car, but I get a new monthly bill to celebrate with.

Just what I needed.

The car is nice, but a bit too high tech for me.

It has all these buttons, knobs, other things that I haven't figured out yet, and maybe never will.

For instance, the dealer was nice enough to give me not only a brand new car, but about an eighth of a tank of gas to usher my new experience with.

I pulled into a gas station last night, and for the life of me, I could not figure out how to open the gas tank.

I looked and looked and looked, but I could not find the button to push to open it.

I left the station, went home, and sat in the car for several minutes until I figured it out.

The gas tank button is on the door.

Duh.

Was I supposed to know this?

So this morning, at about 4:30 a.m., like a nut, I went to the nearest gas station, not the cheapest gas station, but the nearest one.

I put in gas and more gas and more gas ... $67 worth.

I was done, I thought.

No, I cannot figure out how to get the gas cap on properly.

It doesn't "click" like I am used to, and it says right on it all that I need is one "click" to close it.

I think I did it, but I am not sure.

Otherwise, the car is nice, but like I said, too high tech for me.

I used to like it when you could just get into a car, put the key in, and drive away to your heart's content.

The way they make cars now, it is like you are in a jumbo jet and have to ready yourself for takeoff.

Not my thing.

But the car is nice, we just have to get our plates on tonight, and we will be ready to take off.

Err ... I mean drive.

And what car did I get?

A 2014 Kia Optima.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rant #1,216: Out With the Garbage



No, I still do not have a car in my possession.

Evidently, the dealership could not get a "final approval," and thus, I have no car.

Supposedly, the final approval will come today.

If it doesn't, I am back to square one, because I will pull out of the deal and look somewhere else.

Bad karma, they say.

Anyway, as I was preparing to write today's Rant, I thought that a good subject to express my opinions on would be garbage, because I think that that is how I am being treated since the moment the other car hit my car and turned my life upside down.

Let's talk about garbage.

No matter our standing in life or where we live or who we are, we all generate garbage, things we don't need anymore, or never did need.

It all goes into the garbage.

How we get rid of it has changed, at least for me, over the years.

The first time I can remember garbage is when I was a little kid.

We had the metal can in the corner of our kitchen.

The first time I remember actually using the garbage was when my mom tried to pull a fast one over me.

I must have been five or six years old.

I am a very picky eater, and I hate lamb chops.

My mother gave me lamb chops, told me it was steak, and with one bite, I knew that she had been telling me a little white lie.

I remember very vividly going over to the garbage and dumping all the lamb chops into the metal can.

Later on, when we moved to Rochdale Village, South Jamaica, Queens, garbage became a bigger part of my life.

It was my job to get rid of the garbage, and what was unique about this place was that there was an incinerator chute on each and every floor of the development.

So all you had to do is collect all of your garbage, go to the door that the chute was behind, open the door, open the chute, and throw your garbage down the chute.

Simple and easy.

Every once in a while, flames would shoot up, and you had to watch that you didn't get burned. But all in all, it was fun to take out the garbage, or at least almost fun.

Then we moved to Long Island, and garbage wasn't fun anymore.

You had to collect it, put it in trash pails that went from metal to heavy plastic over the years, and put all the garbage out on the curb.

The problem is that stray animals--cats, dogs, beavers, squirrels, and heaven knows what else--rip open the pails and devour the contents.

We have used so many different devices over the years to put out the garbage safely, including specially treated garbage bags and bungee chords to tie up the garbage securely.

But the whole process is a real pain the butt.

After I am done here, I have to take out some garbage. I have to put it in the specially treated bags--which cost an arm and a leg to boot--and put it in a pail. I have to make sure that the top is securely on so no animals can get to it.

No, garbage is not fun anymore for me. It hasn't been for more than 40 years, but it is seemingly a necessity of life that a few times a week, the garbage has to be taken out.

Hopefully, after today, the succeeding days that I have to take out the garbage to the curb will find me looking at my car, which will be parked a few feet away from the pails.

That will make taking out the garbage all that much more satisfying.

All I see now is an empty space.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rant #1,215: Nothing Accomplished



It was nice being off of work for the Memorial Day holiday.

It allowed me a little time to breath, something I really haven't had the opportunity to do since my car accident a few weeks ago.

It was great having a barbecue yesterday, and really kicking off what I hope to be a nice summer for myself and my family.

However, my main goal was not reached this weekend.

I still do not have a car.

Due to one thing or another, I don't have a vehicle yet.

My family and I went to the car dealership early Saturday afternoon, and we literally went back and forth with them for more than four hours.

We were then told that the paperwork would not be completed that day, since it was leading into the holiday, and that we would have to come back on Tuesday.

This further fouled me up, as we then had to use my wife's car to get to a wedding we were invited to on Sunday evening.

I don't mind driving my wife's car, but it is a Jeep, and honestly, it is a gas guzzler, and since the wedding was quite far away, it guzzled and guzzled some more.

On top of that, I have to rely on others today to get me to work and to the dealership after work, something that I don't like to do.

And on top of that, I had to cancel an important dentist appointment that I had scheduled for tonight.

So right now, I am not a happy camper by any stretch of the imagination.

But what can you do? I did everything possible to have a car in my possession this weekend, but it simply did not get done.

I didn't sleep well last night, thinking of all of this nonsense, so I am pooped along with everything else.

Let's see what happens today.

Hopefully, everything will be in place, and I will get that car that I so desperately need.

But nothing is guaranteed.

Until they tell me that I have a car, and I drive away from the dealer, I can't be sure that this transaction will be completed today, or any day.

Keep your fingers crossed. Mine will be, and won't be uncrossed until I have that car and drive away with it into the sunset.

And no, that car that is pictured above is not the car I am going for. That was one of the limousines from the wedding we went to.

I hope the occupants had a nice drive. All of this nonsense is driving me to drink, it really is.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Rant #1,214: Memorial Day



On Monday, it is Memorial Day, the day we are supposed to be honoring all those who have died in all of the wars we have fought, from the Revolutionary War to Afghanistan.

Funny, but with all the sales around, it doesn't appear that we are celebrating anybody; rather, we are celebrating the unofficial beginning of summer and even more importantly, the almighty dollar.

I will be doing the same thing this weekend and on Monday, because I am going to get a car.

Circumstances have forced me to do this, circumstances well beyond my control that I am not going to get into now that you well know about from reading this column.

I just received my payment from the insurance company, it has been placed in the bank, and I am ready to go.

I kind of know what I want, kind of know the price range that I want to be in, and I really believe that once I get the car, all of this will be behind me--until I get the first bill, that is.

But what are you going to do?

The most important thing is that I--and my family--are alive and well, and that I can actually buy a car and have two legs and two arms to drive it with.

Otherwise, we have a very busy weekend and holiday coming up for us.

We have a wedding on Sunday, one of my nephews, and that should be a fun occasion.

He is a good kid, and he deserves all the happiness in the world.

So that should be fun.

And while I respect those who have fought, and who have died, for this country, sorry, I am like everyone else, I am looking at the actual holiday as a day off, really nothing more.

So have a great holiday. I will be back to this column on Tuesday.

Hopefully by that time, I will have my car, and away I will go!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Rant #1,213: I Am a "Survivor"



Well, yes, of a car accident that could have killed my family and I in an instant.

But also of the latest installment of CBS's "Survivor," which aired last night.

Tony, the cop from New Jersey, was the winner, but the real survivors were the viewers who put up with this show this season.

We all know "Survivor." It is the granddaddy of all the reality shows on U.S. television, having been on the air since 2000. It pits a group of people living in less than ideal conditions for more than a month against each other, leading to the $1 million winner.

It is always held in a tropical climate, which makes it easier to see the curves, and the brawn, of the contestants, if you know what I mean. And yes, for some people, this is a major draw, because they have had some very nice looking people on this show over the years ... and admittedly, some not so nice.

The contestants--yes, contestants, since this is a game show, which has been hosted by Jeff Probst since the beginning, the luckiest break anybody could have ever gotten--are pitted against each other in strength and cerebral challenges, and oftentimes, those that you think have a good shot at winning fall flat on their faces and get voted off in Tribal Council.

The show is clever, keeps your interest, is well shot and edited, and is a mainstay of the CBS schedule twice each season.

But the most recent version of the show continued to demonstrate that the show might have legs, but the legs are wobbly.

This season pitted Brain vs. Brawn vs. Beauty, or something to that effect, and the Brawn ended up winning in Tony, a cop who acted out his own personal daydreams of being a bully and gave nightmares to the other contestants.

Woo (yes, that was his name), the young surfer dude, pretty much rode the waves on this one, hanging to Tony's coattails and although he got to the final two, couldn't make the final cut.

The third in line was Kass, a lawyer who fit every stereotype of that profession, including nastiness, thinking she was better than everyone else, and thinking that she was smarter than everybody else, which, of course, she wasn't.

And you had others on the show, including Morgan, a Kate Upton wannabe who marveled at her own beauty and big breasts on every episode she was on.

And if you watched the finale yesterday, how many times did Probst say that this was the best "Survivor" ever? I lost count after he said it about a half-dozen times.

Sorry, Jeff, it wasn't.

I enjoy the show, always have, and probably always will, but the show is tired.

Its tropical and often dangerous locales have gotten stale, and even seeing much of what the contestants bring to the table in all matter of dress is getting boring (sorry, Morgan).

The show needs to do something fresh, something new, but it would be so revolutionary that it might turn some people away.

And that specific thing is to hold one of the next seasons of the show in a cold climate.

I have been saying this for a long time, but the show should move to a cold climate, one where the contestants would have to really bundle up to survive.

Sure, you would miss the skin--a major factor in "Survivor's" success, whether anyone wants to admit it or not--you would miss the swimming challenges, but what you would get is something really, completely different.

To have the cast members in a cold climate--maybe the wilds of Alaska, maybe somewhere even worse--could make things very interesting.

But it will never happen.

The show will continue to go to the Philippines, to Borneo (from which the logo accompanying this Rant is pictured), to other ultra-hot forests around the world, and the format won't change very much.

And that is a shame, because "Survivor" could do so much more to entice viewers to watch, and enjoy the competition.

But without the skin factor, will anyone care?

I am sure that CBS has contemplated just such a move to make the game fresh. It is not "must-see" TV anymore, and heck, the finale was not on a Sunday this season for the first time that I could remember.

It is still a great show, but it could be better, and this season really wasn't that enthralling, no matter what Probst said time and time again last night.

Truly, at this point in time, the viewer has become the real survivor by watching this show.

So where is my million bucks?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Rant #1,212: Belated Congratualtions



With all the nonsense that has happened over the past number of days, a significant occasion in my personal life came and went, and really, being in the state I was in, I really could not enjoy it.

My daughter turned 26 on May 15, and yes, I know it is nearly a week later, but I want to wish her "Happy Birthday."

I saw her briefly last Thursday, gave her my family's gift and her grandparents' gift, and then went back to doing what I was doing.

I could not really enjoy the occasion this year, because there was lots on my mind.

But man, I remember the exact moment my life changed forever and I became a father.

I was there when she was born, and I was also there when they rushed my daughter to the hospital's intensive care unit.

It was done as a precaution. I won't go into the details, but I went from being a proud father to someone who did not know what was going on.

Again, without going into details, the doctor who delivered my daughter did something that he should not have done, and it nearly had harmful effects on my daughter.

He retired right after this birth, and I hope his retirement was better than his final delivery.

Anyway, when she was in the ICU, she was put between two boys who were no bigger than your fist.

I looked at her, I looked at them, and I knew my daughter would survive, because she was about five times the size of these two boys put together.

Although I never knew their names, I wonder if those kids survived as preemies.

Anyway, because my then-wife was so sick from the delivery and the incompetence of the doctor, I was the one who held my daughter first, who fed her, and who cleaned her.

My then-wife remained in the hospital while we brought my daughter home.

What happened happened between my then-wife and myself, but I always tried to be close with my daughter.

I was often thwarted from doing this, because back then, parental rights were still being worked out, and these situations were handled differently then they are today.

I had joint custody, but it really didn't mean very much at all.

Nonetheless, I was there for her birthdays, there for her graduations ... I was there when she needed me, even though it always wasn't too easy due to various circumstances beyond my control.

I managed to see my daughter grow up from this little baby to a woman, and the road often has been bumpy between us, but it is OK now ... not great, but OK.

I cannot undo the damage that was done to her, or to me at this point in the game.

But I can be proud that she is an upstanding citizen, has a decent job, and I get to speak to her every once in a while.

I guess that is all I can hope for.

So to my daughter, happy birthday again, and I wish you nothing but happiness for the rest of your life.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Rant #1,211: Drill Corps



I hate going to the dentist.

I always did, always will.

I hate going to the dentist even more than I hate wearing ties.

I don't know about you, but I hate when they poke around in your mouth.

And heaven forbid they find something wrong ... well, you are in for it.

It runs in the family. My sister is such a terrible patient that she has been barred from several dentists for one reason or another.

No kidding, actual fact.

In the midst of everything I have been through lately, I have a total of five appointments to go to the dentist to fix what is wrong in my mouth.

I went to the first one, where they took X-rays and found that I have one cavity on the left, something on my right that needs to be taken care of, and I also need a thorough cleaning.

I went to the second one this past Saturday, where they supposedly took care of what was wrong on the right side. It is still a bit cold-sensitive, but the space that was there has been filled, I was told that there is no nerve damage, and I may just have to live with whatever discomfort there is.

I have to go tomorrow after work for my first cleaning, and being that I am half asleep anyway after work, that should be fun on top of fun.

I have never liked the dentist. As a kid, I had to go to a special dentist who supplied "sweet air," because at my regular dentist, the doctor told my mother that I could not sit still.

Neither could he, by the way. He was a good looking guy who was married, and was having an affair with his receptionist. Everyone knew it, and he eventually ditched his wife and settled down with his employee.

Anyway, from there I went to another dentist, who just happened to be the dentist who took care of my mother's teeth all those years prior. My mother's mouth was a mess, but he instilled in her good habits, and her teeth has been good even into her 80s.

He was an old fashioned dentist, used to yell at me about my mouth, and he used old fashioned methods which seemed to work. But he did give sweet air, and at least I could be seemingly in another dimension when he did his work and I had the gas mask around my nose.

One time, I was told to make believe I was Superman flying around, and boy, I was high, real high, when they worked on my mouth that time.

With me, as I grew into my teenage years, my mouth was a morass of problems. I had teeth growing in every which way, many of which he had to pull. I think I hold the world's record for pulling of baby teeth at one sitting; I don't remember if it was 12 or 15, but yes, they were all pulled to prepare me for my braces.

They were all coming out at one time, anyway, all loose, so there wasn't any pain, but they were pulled. I remember he gave me one as a souvenir, with the root intact, and I had that for the longest time. I don't know where it is now.

Once my teeth were ready for braces, I went to another doctor, and he was a pretty rough doctor on your mouth, so much so that I actually threw up on him. I remember wearing a white shirt that day for assembly at school, but whatever he did to me, he really got it bad, much worse than I did.

I wore braces for several years, probably too long, but it did fix my teeth, made them straighter, and I really didn't have a problem with my teeth until I was in my later 30s or early 40s.

My dentist passed away--he was in his 80s and supposedly died in the middle of a procedure, not with me, thank goodness--and I then went to a succession of other doctors, who simply were not as good as he was.

I had a cavity here, a root canal there, other procedures here and there, but my mouth care was not that great.

One time, I needed to have a crown inserted, and the dentist I used literally lost the crown.

Another time, with all these things hanging out of my mouth, there was a power failure--my worst fear of having dental work was realized--and I remember I sat there, with this stuff in my mouth for several minutes before the power was restored. Those several minutes seemed like several hours to me.

I had had enough after the last experience, and I vowed the next time I needed a dentist, I would go elsewhere.

I hadn't been to a dentist in two years before I finally decided to go to the dentist my wife uses--pretty much off my insurance plan from work, but I can use my wife's coverage, so while it costs me, at least it doesn't cost me an arm and a leg ...

Just teeth and discomfort.

So here I am, finally back at a good dentist, but I hate going anyway.

But with everything that has happened to me behind me, yes, it is time to take care of my teeth.

Pray for me, really do, because I just hate going to the dentist.

I have been told by several dentists that I have the longest roots they have ever seen, and maybe that has helped me over the years, but whatever the case, I just hate them going into my mouth and digging around.

I look forward to my succeeding visits like I do about getting poison ivy, let's say.

Tomorrow will be a very long day, long roots or not, I guess.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Rant #1,210: Two For the Price of One



I remember that as a kid, growing up in Rochdale Village, South Jamaica, Queens, New York, I used to go up and down the baseball schedule of both the Yankees and Mets and see when the doubleheaders were scheduled.

They were usually slotted on holidays, like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, and my friends and I used to partake of one or two of these double dips each year.

With new ballparks, inflated salaries and the fact that every gate is important, the traditional doubleheader pretty much as faded from view in current times.

Now, when the schedule forces teams to play two games in one day, it is usually a split doubleheader, with one game during the day and another in the evening.

And a split doubleheader means two independent admissions. People have to pay twice to see both games.

This is fleecing the customer; everyone knows it, but no one says anything about it.

Yesterday was a revelation at Yankee Stadium, harkening back to my childhood, and while I did not attend the real, honest to goodness doubleheader that they had there yesterday, I did watch it on television, and it was fun, even though the Yankees split the doubleheader with the Pirates.

Evidently, the Yankees and Pirates both have an off day today, but the Pirates refused to schedule Friday night's rainout as a Monday makeup game.

Since the Pirates only visit the Stadium once this season--this is an interleague series--the Yankees were forced to schedule an old-fashioned doubleheader yesterday so that the game could be made up.

I remember one particular doubleheader I went to.

The Yankees were playing their arch-rival Red Sox, and somehow, my friends and I got tickets all the way down at old Yankee Stadium, down the left field line.

Red Sox pitcher Tom House--who later would get notoriety as the guy who caught Hank Aaron's 715th home run in the bullpen when Aaron broke Babe Ruth's homerun record--was giving autographs right in our area, so I went down to get one.

A lot of kids were there, and he seemed to be giving autographs only to girls. I said this to him, and he uttered something really nasty to me. I don't remember if it was with curses, or just something nasty, but I said to him something in the effect of, "You won't give me an autograph? When you come into the game today, you are going to get your head handed to you," or something like that.

The first game was tied, and it was either the ninth or the 10th inning, I don't remember, but House came in, and promptly gave up the game winning homerun to Graig Nettles.

There were many, many other doubleheaders I attended as a kid, and while not as memorable as that one, they were all fun, I can tell you that.

Baseball, which we all know is a multi-billion-dollar business, should step back and look at itself.

In a game which is deep in nostalgia, it should have each team play one traditional doubleheader a year.

It would be really nice, and would be a great way to say to the fans, "Thank you," for standing by this game during thick and thin.

Wouldn't it be nice? Sure would be, and yes, this was talked about yesterday on the Yankees game.

Let's see if MLB picks up on this.

Somehow, I doubt it.

Sorry, Ernie Banks, we won't play two today.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Rant #1,209: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

This will be the final post on my car accident, unless something happens that I feel is worth noting here.

Yes, you can stand up and applaud.

I will join you.

Of everything that has happened in my life, this is probably the most earth shattering.

To think I was one step away from you know what has really put a damper on a lot of things, and has shined a light on others.

And to think that my family was in the car with me ... God was looking down on us last Saturday.

Today, my insurance adjuster will look at the car, assess the damage, and make his report.

The other insurance company has already done this.

I am not going to get back very much money for my trouble, even though the other driver is 100 percent liable.

It has to do with the fact that the market value of a 2008 Kia is very low, so I will probably get back a few thousand dollars, and have to start all over with financing a new car--and yes, after this incident, I will be getting a new car.

At least I will have a nice down payment to give them, but after all is said and done, yes, I am the classic victim getting screwed here.

It is quite obvious.

I went from having a car, having no payments for the past year since I paid the thing off, and now I have no car, and the prospects of another bill in my headlights.

Not fair, not fair at all, but what am I gonna do?

That is the way insurance works.

Look, the moment you take a car off the lot after purchasing it, it depreciates.

You keep a car six years--and six very good years--the car is considered old.

Most people today get new cars every two years or so, so mine was three times that length.

The car never gave me a problem. Sure, I had to sink in some money to repair the brakes, get new tires, and for regular maintenance, but as far as anything else, it was my dream car.

And now I have nothing.

No, wait a minute, I do have something.

I have my life, and the lives of my family.

The car protected me up to its end.

I will probably see the car today for the final time, as I release the title to the adjuster.

It will be like seeing an old friend off into the sunset, and yes, I will probably take some photos.

I don't know if I will bore you by posting them here, but I did promise that this will be the final column on my accident.

At least for now.

I have to move on, and I will, and this column has helped me do that, by talking about what happened.

But it has been a slow week for news anyway--I don't think you have any interest in me talking about Donald Sterling again, or the Beyonce/Jay Z/Beyonce's sister flap--so the accident it was this week.

Accidents will happen, and accidents produce victims.

I am just that, but onward and upward now.

I will be getting a new car in a few weeks, and I guess that is what I have to look forward to.

And just be happy that I am able to work--this has been the longest work week of my life--and be alive.

Let's move on. I will speak to you again next week.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Rant #1,208: The Ballad of the Kia

(Sung to the theme to the "Gilligan's Island" theme song)

Just sit right back
And you'll hear a tale
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this Island town
Aboard this sedan car.
The mate was the most beautiful girl in the world
The driver brave and sure,
Three people set sail that day
For an afternoon drive
An afternoon drive
A car came out of nowhere
The sedan car was tossed
If not for the courage of the fearless crew
The Kia would be lost
The Kia would be lost
The car set ground on the side of the road
In the middle of this Island town
With Larry
His wife Elena
Their son
And no one else
Here on Long's Isle.

Again, bear with me, I am getting through this, and writing something like this is almost therapy for me. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Rant #1,207: Life Goes On

I have found that it is pretty hard to do much of anything now where I am not thinking about the horrific accident I had over the weekend.

I know this will pass, but you are going to have to bear with me for a few more days.

Yesterday was another day of constant phone calls, and last night, I went to the doctor.

I have been having off and on headaches since the crash, and I haven't quite felt like myself.

The doctor told me that I have something akin to post traumatic stress syndrome.

Evidently, my body, having been through great trauma, is slowly trying to get itself back to normal.

I expended a lot of adrenalin during this episode, and the body can take some time to return to normal.

And that includes my head, and my brain.

The headaches are simply a signal that this process is progressing, a simple sign that my head is getting back in shape.

He told me that if the headaches get worse, I should let him know, because then, it is something else.

Onto other things, I really feel uncomfortable driving the car that I was given as a loaner.

It is a sports car, and it just isn't me.

I have to put some gas in the car today, not that much because I only plan to drive this through Friday, when I am going to return the car.

I will drive my mom's car next week if I have to, an old Hyundai that looks like who did it and ran. It has a non-working radio, but if I have to drive it, I will.

Anyway, on the car I have now, I noticed that the gas tank does not have a cap. That is how it was designed.

I did a little research on it, and yes, it was supposed to come without a cap, to make ease of use while pumping even easier.

Huh? No gas cap making things easier? Have we come to that in today's society, where the extra couple of movements to put back your gas cap after you pump up is considered negligible?

Get me another car, please!

By Friday, both adjusters--one from my insurance company, the other from the guy who hit me's company--will have seen my old car.

The first adjuster--the one from the other company--has already listed the car as totaled, as he called me yesterday with the news. I am simply waiting for my guy to go over and check it out.

I was told, evidently before I was supposed to know, according to someone with the other insurance company, that they have assumed full liability. I won't get into the whys and wherefores, but someone there did not seem to be too happy that I already knew this.

Tough tomatoes.

Now I await my check, from which I will buy another car.

I can't wait, and honestly, I can't wait until I can move on from this thing and talk about other stuff.

Right now, I simply can't do it.

Sorry.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Rant #1,206: It's a Laugh

I promise, I am not going to talk ad nauseum about my car accident.

But yesterday ended up being a very, very busy day, and I can find humor in almost anything, even in this incident.

Just let me start off by saying that yesterday, I had to answer so many calls from insurance companies and others that I really do feel like a victim, because even if you are in the right, as I was, the way things are set up, you are almost harassed by the many questions that you have to answer, constantly, over the period of a day because of the severity of the accident.

I did most of this at work, which made it really difficult to get any work done.

Also, I still do not feel like myself, and I have scheduled a doctor's appointment for myself tonight.

Anyway, for the humor ...

I go to get the rental car, and I simply ask them for the cheapest car that they have.

The cheapest one is a Ford Mustang, a sports car that would have been wonderful if I was 25 and looking to pick up girls, but as a 57 year old married father of two, people probably think I am going through some type of mid-life crisis by driving this car.

It can go 169 mph if I wanted to, but honestly, I doubt I will go 55 with this thing.

When I was at the hospital, they bring me in to a room and make sure I am comfortable. Mind you, I am still stretched out on a gurney, completely immobilized, but they ask me how I am doing, and nothing really hurt--I did have a slight scrape on my leg, but that was pretty much it, at least at the time--so I was feeling OK, I guess.

All of a sudden, a female--I guess a nurse--is taking off my shoes, then my socks, then my pants.

I think I yelled out, "What is going on?" or something like that, and the woman says that I am being prepared I think for a CAT scan.

I tell her that I have my wallet in my pocket, and I think I said to her, " ... and I expect to find that wallet right where it is when I come back."

I do remember that when I was rolled back, and told that I was fine and that I could get dressed, I did go into my wallet and counted my money.

Also in the hospital, I needed a security guard to escort me to where my wife and son were being checked out.

The guard said he liked my jacket. The jacket was a present from my wife, a Knicks jacket, and I have gotten a lot of response from a lot of people about this jacket.

Anyway, the guard says to me, "I shouldn't like that jacket, but I do."

I ask him why, and he says that his cousin played for the Knicks, and that his cousin did not have a good time playing for them.

"Who is your cousin," I asked.

He said Stephon Marbury.

If you are a basketball fan, you know the story of Marbury, and ultra-talented basketball player who seemed to be always on the outs. His reputation always preceded him wherever he played, and it probably led to the fact that his career was cut short not by his talent, but by his bad reputation.

It was serendipity, I thought, that I met this guy.

I told him to get a job at the Barclay's Center, where the Nets play--yes, Marbury once played for them, too--and by that time, we had located by family, so the conversation ended.

I know, these aren't laugh out loud funnies, but they make me smile, so at this point, I will take what I can get.

The one most annoying thing is that I am unable to get the police report. The local police have farmed out this part of their routine to an outside source, and not only do I have to wait to get this made available to me, I am going to have to pay for it, too.

After getting different responses from different police officers about how to obtain this necessary item, I finally was led to the right place, but I am not too happy about it.

I am almost killed in a car accident that I did not cause, yet I have to pay for the full report of this accident?

The humanity of it all!

Anyway, I am still alive, and my family is still alive, to laugh at all of this nonsense.

It is going to take a few weeks, but our lives will be put back together once I get a check in the mail from the other insurance company and I am able to buy a new car.

This is not the way I recommend to buy a new car, but it is, unfortunately, the way I am going to have to do this.

So let me at least enjoy driving my femalepickupmobile for this week, and I will let you know how things turn out when they do.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Rant #1,205: Happy To Be Alive

I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day.

I had a great day, too, but it was preceded by perhaps the worst day of my life.

The only good thing was that it could have been worse.

My family and I were driving along a major thoroughfare in our town on Saturday afternoon, going north on this main street, which is mainly residential where we were driving.

It was raining, and I had my lights and wipers on.

We were driving so that my son could fill out a job application at one of the local hardware stores. We got a tip that the place was hiring, so we were en route there.

Driving along, I hear my wife scream out, "Watch out!"

A car coming from one of the connecting side streets hit our car flush on the driver's side. The other car was going so fast, and the impact was so great, that it tumbled my car over on its roof, and we skidded to a halt on the side of the road.

Somehow, my wife got out of the car amidst the car turned upside down with glass all over the place. An ambulance and police came almost immediately, and they helped my son out of the car. He was hysterical and shouting, his adrenaline at full tilt, to the point where a fireman literally had to take him down.

But I was still in the car, upside down, still attached to the car in my seat by my seat belt. The EMTs, police and firemen tried to get me out of the car, but when I got my bearings, I was able to free myself from the seat. I moved over to the passenger door, and they put me on a stretcher and immobilized my head and body.

Evidently what happened is that the person in the other car, a kid of 24 or so, came right from the connecting street, never stopping at the stop sign on the street, and barreled into us, never seeing us until he hit us.

My family and I were taken to the local medical center, and except for some bruises, cuts and scrapes, we are OK. My wife's hand is pretty ripped up, but no broken bones. My son is OK, and I came through it pretty well. My neck hurts, and I have a bump on my forehead.

Now comes the hard part. I spoke to my insurance company, and they are going after the kid's insurance company for damages, which I should receive, less a deductable that I have on my policy.

I have no car. It was totaled, and it was towed to a local shop.

An adjuster has to look at the damage, rate its level--totaled, hopefully, because the car cannot be repaired--make his report, and then present it to the insurance company.

I also have to get the actual accident report from my local police precinct.

I get a rental car, and then pretty much wait to get a check in the mail.

I live in a no-fault state, so we are both right in this instance, and we are both wrong--there is no guilt ... and that is even though the other party is 1,000 percent at fault here.

But, of course, I am the one who is going to get ripped apart by this, as my insurance rates will go up, and I have to buy another car.

Ironically, another accident happened on Saturday very nearby to what happened to us, where another car flipped over. The people in that car weren't as lucky as we were, as four local high school students died in that crash.

Yes, we were very, very lucky.

First off, I should not complain. My family and I are alive. When I was hanging upside down, my son thought I was dead. My wife said to me that she thought that perhaps I had a broken back or other internal injuries.

Happily, I was shaken, but not stirred, and neither were they.

I want to thank the witnesses who called the accident into 911, the EMTs, the police, the firemen, and the doctors and nurses at the hospital for taking care of us during this ordeal.

And I thank my wife and son for their perseverance during this ordeal.

I thank God for allowing us to come out of this pretty much unscathed.

I thank my daughter. Even though she was not with us, when she was born in 1988, nearly 26 years ago, I began wearing my seat belt. Fun time was over, and as a new dad, I decided that I had to set the tone, and I have worn my seat belt ever since, because of her presence.

If it was not for that seat belt, I would be dead, and if not for their seat belts, my family would be gone, too.

And, of course, I thank my parents, family and friends for standing my us.

And for the kid who did this to us, he and his family were in the hospital room opposite ours, and all the mother did was stare in at me, and I stared back at her. I wish she would have simply said, "We are sorry," but I guess I should not have expected that.

If she would have said that, I would have simply said, "These things happen. Let's let the insurance companies handle it."

But all she did was stare, and all she got back from me was a stare back.

They didn't even deserve that.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Rant #1,204: Six Mothers



First off, today is the 44th anniversary of my bar mitzvah.

It doesn't seem possible, but all the way back in 1970, I became a man, at least by the laws of the Jewish religion.

It seems like a lifetime ago, and in fact, it was.

Next, this weekend is Mother's Day, the second holiest day of the year next to Father's Day, of course.

My family plans a big celebration. We are having a load of family over to our house, and we will be having a Chinese food feast. It should be fun.

Three of the mothers I am going to tell you about will be there, and are alive and well.

Three, sadly, won't be there, but they will certainly be there in spirit and remembered for who they were and the influence that they had on me and the rest of our family.

And in describing each one of these women, I am talking about the wonder of motherhood, and how, let's face it, if it weren't for moms, none of us would be here, figuratively, literally, or otherwise.

My maternal grandmother was a great woman who was a constant presence in my life until the day she died. Even though we lived many miles away--especially when we moved to Long Island--my grandmother was always there for me, always around, and if she taught me one thing, it was to stand up for your rights, to open up your mouth when necessary, and to speak your mind.

She loved to dance, but had a literally great fall, and could not dance again. My grandfather passed away, and she did not have a companion. But that never stopped her. She would hobble, barely be able to walk, but she seemed to live for my sister and I. Even in her dying days, we seemed to come first.

She was really a great grandmother, and I miss my Grandma Betty to this day.

My paternal grandmother brought the "old world" into my life. She wasn't born in this country, and she came here under interesting circumstances. One could say that she lived a hard life from the day she was born. As a child, she somehow was raised in a monastery, where they tried to convert her away from Judaism. She refused, because she knew what she was.

When she was older, she came to America, somehow met up with my grandfather, and they settled down together to live a new life in America, start their own business, and raise a family. But she never settled down, really. My grandfather, from what I understand, could be a brute in many ways, and my grandmother often suffered at his hands. But to me, as a grandmother, she always had a smile that would light up a room. No matter what was bothering her, when my sister and I came into the room, nothing else seemed to matter.

She made us No. 1, and to her dying days, she never forgot that she was our grandmother. And yes, I miss my Grandma Harriet, too.

My mom is the perfect mother and grandmother. I don't know any other way to say it. She is always there for all of us. She never wavers, and while I don't always agree with everything my mother does, she is undoubtedly the best mother I could have. I am a lucky guy.

She is there in times of pain and stress, and in times of celebration. I look up to my mother for inspiration, and I get that and more from her, and from my father, for that matter. They are both now in their 80s, but they run around so much that they put people a third of their age to shame.

Where would I be without my mother? Nowhere, simply nowhere.

My sister has learned well from our mother. She is the proverbial "supermom,:" who is a wife, has a career, and watches over her three sons like a hawk. I can tell you that from my standpoint, she can make you crazy, but she absolutely adores her children, sometimes to a fault.

I think my sister learned well from not only my mother, but our grandmothers, too. She worries about her brood, and will stand up for them when necessary. She will also take a stand when necessary, too, and that sometimes irks us, but let me tell you, she generally knows what she is doing.

My wife is undoubtedly the most important woman in my life. She is my companion, friend, wife and the mother of my son. To me, she is most beautiful woman in the world, and when I tell her that, I really do mean it. I have to say that every day that we have been together, I consider myself the luckiest man alive. She is so important to me in so many ways that it is hard to quantify them all here. Like my sister, she is the proverbial "supermom," doing so many things at once that she seems to be in constant motion.

She dotes after our son, and will stand up for him when necessary, but she will also let him know how she feels when it is necessary. I am sure she gets a lot of her spunk from her own mother, who is deceased. But wherever it comes from, it is there, and I really love her for it, and I think in the end, my son appreciates it, too.

So there is my profile of the five major women in my life, both past, present and future. My wife's mom died right after we were married, and she had been ill for some time. I never really got to know her well, but from what little contact I did have with her, she seemed to be a real loving person and a great mom too.

That is one of my regrets, that I never really got to know her. But my son and I have gotten to know her through my wife and her two brothers, who always talk about her in a positive way, as they should. They loved their mom, and through the stories, my son and I do too.

Happy Mother's Day to all, and I will speak to you again on Monday.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Rant #1,203: Freeborn Man



Today, I am going to bring up a name from the past that some of you will know, others will have never heard of, and some of us will know this name, but haven't heard a thing about him in years.

Do you know the name of Keith Allison?

Allison was one of rock's greatest guitarists from the 1960s, playing on hits by everyone from Paul Revere and the Raiders--the band he was a member of for several years--and the Monkees, and he also played on his own records.

He was one of the stars of "Where the Action Is," Dick Clark's daily afternoon program which featured the top rock and pop acts of the day.

Kids, this was our MTV. You would come home from school, turn on the ABC network outlet in your area, and watch "Dark Shadows" and "Where the Action Is." You got your cultural mindset working with those two shows.

"Action" was pretty much an amalgam of everything that was hot in music at the time. Acts lip synced to their hits on the beach, running and jumping around, and simply having fun.

The show was geared to kids from about seven to 15, and it was all done in black and white.

Allison was the pretty boy on the show, along with Paul Revere and the Raiders' lead singer Mark Lindsay. He kind of resembled, in a funny way, Paul McCartney, and he was featured in numerous segments singing his own songs or the songs of the day.



He put out one album as a solo artist during this time, "Keith Allison in Action," and although the album flopped, one of the tunes on that LP, "Freeborn Man," became something of a classic in the then emerging pop/rock/country field, an area pioneered by artists like Michael Nesmith.

He was also often featured with the Raiders, and he became friendly with them, recording with Lindsay as part of a group called the Unknowns, who had one chart hit, "Melody For An Unknown Girl," and was made up of him, Lindsay, and Steve Alaimo, another star from "Action."

When that show ended, he joined the Raiders, and was on most of their hit records from about 1968 to the end of their chart run in the mid 1970s. He was featured on their "Happening" shows, a spinoff from "Action" which continued the same type of vibe, but before a studio audience this time. The show ran on Saturdays after "American Bandstand."

When all of that ended, Allison--who never stopped recording his own music as a solo--kind of faded from view, although he has appeared as a sideman on many recordings up to the present day.

Well, almost out of the blue, has come a new compilation CD of his one album and other various recordings, called "Keith Allison in Action, the Complete Columbia Sides Plus!" For those who haven't heard about him and his music for years, this CD really is a nice thing to listen to and to own.

The album features all the tracks from his one solo album plus various singles he recorded afterwards. It has just about everything on it that you need to know musically about this guy, plus a booklet that brings you through his career and to the present time.

And this is just one of a few recently released Raiders-connected album compilations on the market. If you are a fan of the Raiders, like I am, not only do you want to have all of their own LPs, but you are also interested in the spinoffs, like the Brotherhood, and Mark Lindsay's moribund but vaguely interesting solo career, and this music is all out on CD.

Anyway, back to Allison.

This guy was one of the first guitar heroes, but is virtually forgotten today. He still plays, still records, but he will always be remembered as that guy on "Where the Action Is" who gave Mark Lindsay a run for his money as the chief pretty boy of the show.

This obscured the fact that both Allison and Lindsay were fine musicians, but their legacies are both etched in the faded bootlegs of the show, the only evidence that the show even existed.

It is high time that Dick Clark Productions, or whoever owns the rights to this show, gets out the many episodes on legitimate DVD. I have some of the bootlegs, and they are faded memories of what that show was.

Word was that prior to Clark's death, he was actively trying to get this material out, but ran into many rights issues, since each episode featured about six or seven songs. Hopefully, sometime in the near future, this will all be worked out, and the legacies of Allison and the others will be fully celebrated in a proper way.

Right now, it's the bootlegs and the existing recordings, and this recent Keith Allison CD is a must for those who cherish that era, or for those who are just discovering it.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Rant #1,202: Creepy



No, I am not talking about Donald Sterling now, but I could be talking about many others, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, Miley Cyrus, and countless politicians.

I am talking about a TV show that sends the creepsup my spine, and it is called "Bates Motel," on the A&E Network each week.

It just finished its second season, and I cannot wait for the third.

This is not just your average fringe show on a fringe network.

This is something really different, something that I didn't think I would like but was drawn to by its pedigree.

The show is based on some of the characters in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho,"--which itself was based on a novel by Robert Bloch--namely Norman Bates and his mom, who, as you know, he basically becomes by the end of the film.

This is a reboot, but a different type of reboot.

This one takes place during the current day, and Norman (Freddy Highmore) is a high school student who lives with his mother Norma (Vera Farmiga) in the creepy house on the hill that overlooks the motel that they own.

This one does not take place in California, but in the Pacific Northwest, and brought into the present day, it also concerns things like rape, incest, and drugs--marijuana in particular. The whole town is bought and sold on weed, and Norma Bates' other son, Dillon (Max Thieriot)  is very involved in this trade.

But the focus continues to be on Norman Bates, and how he turns from a high school kid like any other to someone who needs to kill.

I generally do not like reboots, and I went into this thing with a lot of trepidation. But the stories and the acting really won me over this time.

We all know the conclusion to this. Norman will eventually kill his mother and he will become her, a person having dual personalities. He has already arrived at that point through the show's second season, but he isn't there just yet, so succeeding seasons will see him move right into that role.

Look, I was curious, because I loved "Psycho." Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh cannot ever be replaced, and I think that is why the producers of this new show brought the story into the present time.

They knew they could not duplicate what Hitchcock did, and no, there haven't been any shower scenes in this show, not that one isn't coming.

Anyway, the show just finished its second season, and if you can, give it a try in reruns, on Demand, or via NetFlix.

I think you will be surprised as I have been at the quality of this show, even with the creepy themes.

There have been other reboots of "Psycho"--a horrid remake from a few years ago and several years ago, one with equally creepy Bud Cort as Norman--but I think they really hit on something here.

I rarely praise a new TV show, in particular one that is so adult in its storylines, but "Bates Motel" really does give me the creeps, and for that, I would highly recommend it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Rant #1,201: I Have Sold My Soul For a Cell Phone


Well, not really, but ...

Way back in Rant #957, which was dated a year ago today, I brought up the fact that I dislike cell phones intensely.

More to the point, I detest what it does to people, how it takes over their lives.

A year later, my diagnosis is still the same, but I have to tell you, I have come to enjoy my cellphone, because yes, it is so smart.

I have a Samsung model, and although I often don't know where to keep it while I am not using it--in my pocket or, during the work week, in my vinyl lunch bag--it has become a pretty good friend to me.

No, I don't use it while driving, but I do use it when I need it.

Let's be honest about it. Although these are cell phones, and they have phone capability, they are basically pocket computers, and that is what people generally use them for.

Sure, they use them as phones, but from what I have seen--and based on what I personally use my smartphone for--the phone capability is more a feature than the main use for these devices.

I have to tell you that I was turned off at first by this phone, because it simply did not do what it was advertised to do if I used it at home.

I have no idea why to this day, but although it was hooked up to our Internet here--and I also have the faster speeds that my system offers--it used to take a year and a day to hook up to the Internet.

But once I installed the Google Chromecast thingamajig to my television, this thing acted as another hot spot, and the phone has worked correctly since that time.

My wife wanted me to have a phone because of the safety factor, and I appreciate that. However, I have learned to use it for a bit more during the past year.

I go on the Internet on the phone almost daily at least once, because frankly, it is quicker and easier to do it than using my PC. Sure, I type out my entries here on the PC, but if I want to search for something quick, the smartphone is the best option.

I have also used it at work when our Internet has gone down.

I use it to check sports scores, get movies from NetFlix, watch videos on YouTube, and answer my son's questions. For instance, yesterday night, we were watching Monday Night Raw, the WWE flagship show, and he asked me a question about the infamous Chris Benoit, a top wrestler who ended up getting messed up on drugs and in a real tragedy, killed himself and his family.

My son wanted to know when that all happened, and within a matter of seconds, I found out that it happened in June 2007, nearly seven years ago.

It would have taken me much longer to look that up on the PC.

But again, I am not attached to the phone like some people are. If I go a day without using it, that is fine, I didn't use it simply because I didn't need to.

And I do not text and drive. Heck, I barely text--only to my wife and occasionally to my daughter--and it took me a while to learn to do that, but I never use the phone in the car, except if I am parked.

I still don't know how to take photos or put music files onto the phone, but I am sure I will learn how to do that in the future.

But I have to say that I was wrong about the smartphone. I really didn't see the need for it, but in the past year, I have learned to like it, not love it, but like it.

So there, I admit that I was wrong about this little device. I didn't think that I would take to it, but now that I can use it anywhere, it is a nice "toy" to have available to me.

But as a phone, per se, my ratio of phone uses to other uses pretty much leans to the latter. I don't think I have made even 100 phone calls on this thing in the past year.

So yes, it is a smarphone, but really, it is simply a pocket computer, but get people to call these things anything other than phones, and, well, it simply isn't going to happen.

Anybody for rotary dial?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Rant #1,200: Yes, This Is Correct



Due to a botched numbering system engineered by yours truly, I seem to have entered in 200 extra Rants by mistake, a problem that I discovered two weeks ago, but finally figured out late last week.

Sorry about that.

I changed as many Rants as I could to the proper numbers, but some of them can't be changed, so there will be some, if you are doing a search, that will have the wrong numbers on them.

I don't know how it happened, but suffice it to say that I am upset with myself for not finding out about this until recently.

That being said, today is Rant #1,200.

It is hard to believe, but this blog has been going on for a few years now.

It pretty much is five years to the day that I started this thing up on May 4, 2009.

Many blogs are created with a lot of good intentions, but soon are history, because the creator simply can't keep up with it.

And yes, that has happened to me too, elsewhere.

But Ranting and Raving is a little different.

It is a daily blog, which I do early in the morning before I go to my paying job.

It allows me to expand my writing, enabling me to write about what I want to write about rather than stuff that I have to write about.

And there is a tremendous difference in the two types of writing.

I know that every column is not a sterling piece of journalism, but I think that many of them are pretty good, and some are better than pretty good.

Sure, I wish I got paid for doing this, but heck, you can't have everything.

So for you people out there who read this thing from time to time or every day--and I know you are out there, because I have the analytic data to prove it--all I can say is thanks so much for reading what I have to say.

The publication I get paid to write for has a circulation that stretches around the world as a print publication, and Ranting and Raving is also seen around the world, digitally on the Internet.

So somewhere outside of the U.S., probably at least once a day, someone is reading something that I have written, and that is very gratifying.

Of course, I enjoy the fact that my writing is being looked at inside the U.S. too, but the global reach of the Internet is really incredible, isn't it?

So thanks for visiting, and keep on reading, because I have no intention of giving this up anytime soon.

Here's to the next 1,200 blog entries, and I hope you are here for as many of them as possible... especially if I get the numbering right!

Thanks again.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Extra Post: Numbers Off



I recently discovered that somehow, the numbers of posts got skewered here, and an extra 200 posts got added onto this site.

I may be prolific, but not that prolific, so I have adjusted the number scheme of the posts accordingly, starting with the one I posted today.

I don't know how it happened but it did.

Sorry about that, and somehow, we will all make it right.

Rant #1,199: Race To the Finish



As we close the week out, this has become a week to remember.

Race is still at the forefront of the week's news, as an NAACP leader has resigned over the Donald Sterling flap.

There are plenty of twists and turns left in that story, so stay tuned.

But here, I am going to talk about race in a different way, through the eyes of a kid of 10 or 11 years old, which I was back in 1967 or 1968.

I lived in a racially diverse community in Rochdale Village, South Jamaica, Queens. As I have said many times, the community was designed this way, and was surrounded by one of the oldest black communities in the country.

This is how I grew up, and while the community, as it was designed, didn't last long, it still gave me a perspective that many of my peers who grew up elsewhere could never have.

Anyway, with that perspective in hand, I found out yesterday that Larry Ramos died on April 30.

Who is Larry Ramos, you ask?

Larry Ramos was one of the guitarists with one of my favorite rock acts growing up, the Association.

That group had numerous big hits, and Ramos, although not an original member of the band, played on many of their most popular tunes after joining them in 1968, including "Everything That Touches You."

Now, let me tell you my story about Ramos and how his stature in the band touched me way back when.

Ramos, a prior member of the New Christy Minstrels, was Hawaiian, and was of Asian extraction.

Growing up in a racially diverse area didn't mean that all races were represented in that area, and no, there were no people of Asian heritage in our community that I knew or could recall.

I have asked this question of others in the community, and if there were people of Asian background living there at the time, they were certainly few and far between.

Anyway, when Ramos came into that band--and since there was no MTV back then, it was through numerous television appearances that I noticed something "different" about this group--well, to me, he stuck out like a sore thumb, but in a most positive way.

Sure, you saw plenty of white faces in rock bands, and as for soul, that was the domain of the black community.

For this kid who grew up on television, the visual thing was a very big deal, and when I discovered that Ramos was a member of the Association, it really opened up my eyes to the fact that Asians could do more than be waiters at the local Chinese restaurant or be servants, like actor Sammee Tong's portrayal of Peter on "Bachelor Father."

They could rock too.

Ramos wasn't the first person of Asian background to be in a rock band, but for awhile, he certainly was the most prominent. I also noticed that Dino, Desi and Billy featured guitarist Billy Hinsche, but I think at the time of their greatest prominence, I was still a bit too young to notice.

But when Ramos joined the Association, and they were hot as could be, with lots of hits, I noticed.

And yes, I also think it was his name. One Larry to another, I think that made him stand out to me even more.

And he often wore those big hats, and maybe that was his own personal statement. He wanted you to sit up and notice, and I can say that I did.

So even all these years later, I still noticed.

I saw them in concert a few times, and Ramos still stood out, and when seeing them, I seemed to always focus on him.

And when I heard he had passed, all these memories came back to me.

Yes, when you are 10 or 11 years old, you really are pretty innocent, although growing up where I did, I think I was in touch with things perhaps a little more than my age would have it appear to be.

So I wish Larry Ramos safe passage to heaven, and another piece of my childhood is gone, but certainly not forgotten.

Thanks for the memories.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Rant #1,198: The Gift of Love

Let's forget about Donald Sterling right now.

He appears to be history already, even though he hasn't sold his team yet.

And I heard that Rush Limbaugh kind of agrees with me, there may have been some conspiracy involved in getting Sterling moved out of his ownership position.

Strange bedfellows ... .

Anyway, let's backtrack a little bit.

Let's talk about something happier, like my birthday.

As you know, it was on Monday, and I am very happy to be 57 years old.

But I never spoke about what I actually received as gifts for my birthday.

I got a little money from some family members, including my parents and my aunt.

I got a nice T-shirt from my wife and son, and a gift certificate, which segues right into the gift that I am going to tell you about now.

As you know, I am an avid believer that vinyl is the only recording medium through which to listen to rock and roll.

CDs are handy, music files are even handier, but if you want to get the full thrust of rock and roll, you absolutely must listen to it on vinyl.

The gift certificate that they got me was from my local record store, which sells used records, new records, and yes, CDs too, and the T-shirt I got is one that shows my love for vinyl records, proclaiming that right on the front of the shirt.

But my wife did that one better. She got me a gift that I really, really appreciate.

We were in that local record store on Record Store Day, which was on April 19, and we were hoping to get one of the specials that were offered during that day--there was such a line for those records that we never got to them.

I managed to find some things to add to my collection, some old 45s and LPs that I just had to have.

I also bought her a Judy Garland multi-disk set that was pretty good, and certainly great for the price. I talked about that one a few Rants back.

Anyway, what she bought me was something else, really something else, something that I would not have bought for myself.

She got me a pretty rare record from the era of Beatlemania, but although it is linked up with the Beatles, no Beatles are on the record.



She bought me one of the two singles released by the Beatles' producer, George Martin, and his orchestra to coincide with the release of the film "A Hard Day's Night."

These are instrumentals only, and they are are for "Ringo's Theme (This Boy)" and "And I Love Her." I do believe that both of these are featured in the film, nuggets in between the great Beatles songs that they do themselves on this wonderful soundtrack.



The sleeve is pretty wonderful also, featuring the Fab Four, in snapshots, on the back of the sleeve.

This is the least rare of the two such singles, and "Ringo's Theme (This Boy)" actually made #53, and even the B side, "And I Love Her," bubbled under the Hot 100 at #105.

Such was Beatlemania at the time, where any song even remotely related to the Liverpudlian lads could become a hit.

Anyway, we saw the record at the store, and I mentioned to her that if I had the money, I would buy it, and then I moved on to other, less costly stuff.

Well, as they say, she done did it, because she bought it for me!

I was greatly surprised, and very happy at this, because quite frankly, I don't think I had seen this record in about 50 years, and probably wouldn't see it again in my lifetime.

Sometimes, when you see something, you have to grab it, and that, basically, is what she did.

But more importantly, for our nearly 21 years of marriage, my wife has shown me nothing but love.

I really lucked out with this girl; she is everything I ever wanted for a companion, for a wife, for the mother for my son, and for the woman that sleeps next to me each and every night.

All told, this was really just a small token of the love we have for each other, but boy, what a token.

Even these few days later, I am still marveling at this gift.

Thanks, Elena, I really appreciate it.

 

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