Labor Day

This year was no different. At least it wasn't planned to be. The weather for the festival was better than perfect. Clear skies, above average temperatures that meant above average beer sales. I had been looking forward to seeing all of his old friends, especially the three Goldilocks.

Three days and nights of great entertainment passed, Styx and the Doobie Brothers both played music I remembered most of the words to. A new kid, who wasn't a New Kid played on the third night and had a nice sound, but I didn't recognize anything. He seemed like a decent guy. He was playing football with his young fans an hour before he took the stage.

I had been wondering where the Three Goldilocks had been. It wasn't like them to miss the event, knowing full well of all of the summer festivals, this was their favorite. Almost to the minute, one hour before Last Call, they showed up at my beer tent. All of us were elated and as promised, the first round was on me. They and their friends made a few trips to see me before the tent closed for the summer. At all of the festivals, the beer tent is closed with methodical military precision. Four constables approach the front line, two on each end. At the appointed minute, all products are pulled from the tables and we worker bees march to the rear of the tent to deposit our aprons and to grab the beverage of choice.

My goal that afternoon was to kill as many kegs as I could using strategic pouring. If we leave beer in a keg, a partial so to speak, at the end of an event, it costs us money. We pay for the whole thing as soon as it is tapped. Most of the younger kids who think they are in charge don't understand this. To them, it is more important to ensure everyone gets the beer of their choice. Years of experience has taught me that late in the day or evening, no one will turn down a beer just because it is or isn't "Lite" or some other variety. When a keg is empty, a tug (technical term for pulling a tap) will result in a CO2 charged expulsion of foam that hits the bottom of the cup and sprays everywhere. If you are holding the cup at the proper angle for the pour, the foam will cover you. Note: If you are going to be pouring beer on your tour, plan on walking home. The first keg gave its all at about 3:30. 5:30 was last call. The next one gasped its last breadth at 5:15, almost perfect. One more was getting close. As people rushed to beat the clock, my intuition proved to be on target. A beer is a beer at the end of the day.

At 5:30, I called the oldest Goldilock over and handed her the last beer of the season. She was in awe. I usually don't have that affect on women, it was a nice feeling.

They're back...

They're back...
For the last nineteen years, he has volunteered at the same community festivals. The Father's Day little one, the July 4th big one, and the Labor Day really big one. He has done it all, but settled into his niche as the "Fastest Beer Seller in the Midwest." Most beer sellers can handle one customer at a time, he handles three. And because of his expediency and smile, he has a crowd of regulars that through their drunken stupor, always manage to to make a connection to a previous function somewhere in their soggy mind. "Hey, I remember you!" is heard over and over above the thumping bass of the main stage.

Three year ago, on the last day of the Labor Day, festival, he made some new friends. They were three sisters, any and all of them were around his age. All very blond and attractive, all inebriated, all very funny, and all married to very large Norwegian men. They sought him out every festival, for two reasons, he was fun too, and they knew he wouldn't cut them off. But July 3rd was different.

Like in years past, they met on Father's Day, this year before the Gin Blossom's concert. Except when they met this year, his ex-wife was standing there and more than a little jealous of the Bear and the three Goldilocks. The ex had no problem explaining to the Goldilocks her side of the story, which made him look, well, not so good. He stood there and took it like a man. It's hard to explain things to four women when three out of four are on their way to another fun night that will be forgotten. The youngest Goldilock was the brashest, asking questions that polite people do not ask of their closest friends, let alone relative strangers. His only response was to take a quarter from his apron and show all of them that it had two sides.

July 3rd, amongst decent heat and Ted Nugent, he was doing his thing, selling beer and making new friends when the three Goldilocks found him at his post. They wanted to talk, well, and drink. So on his break, he met the older two and told his side of the story.

MWFAD #1 Apartment hunting

I arrived here in the big city on August 2nd, 2006.  I had been here a few times before, usually staying either close to the office or with others from the team so I didn't really have to know how to get around.  For once, I was more of a follower.  But when I got here in August, things were different.  I was on my own.  Usually when I end up in a new town, I am pretty adapt at learning my environs, noting landmarks and street names.  Here, you get around underground.  No landmarks to peak of, and for some reason, when mumbled, all subway stations sound the same.

So, my first adventure was going to the wrong hotel.  Well actually, I was at the right chain, just the wrong one.  Of course, I had taken a fifty dollar cab ride to the first one.  The second ride cost me forty dollars out of my own pocket.  I couldn't see charging the company because I was an idiot.  It just didn't seem right for the first day on the job.

After the first week at the very expensive room with no view that was in an area that got me dizzy just looking around, my helpful travel agent told me about a brand new hotel in Brooklyn.  The rate was half of what I was paying, so, being a responsible employee, I moved from the Financial District to Brooklyn.  I arrived at the HIE (code for Holiday Inn Express) on the 10th.  It had opened the day before and there were still balloons in the lobby.  I ended up there for three months and became very good friends with all of the staff.  The only problem was my boss was not thrilled with my living in a hotel for twenty-eight days a month.  I was encouraged to find an apartment as soon as I could.

Apartments in New York are different that apartments in Chicago.  For example, a 700 square foot one bedroom, with a living room, eat in kitchen, A/C and washer/dryer in the unit cost $689 at the time.  The complex had a gym, pool, sauna, and was in excellent condition.

Here is just some of what I found here:

A garden apartment ($1,700) meant that it was below street leel, had moss growing on the walls (I think this was the garden), and had no windows so you had to prop open the back door to get any ventilation.  A musician, his girlfriend, and her three kids had lived there.

Needs a little work meant that the land lady was in the middle of a nasty, protracted divorce, she and her husband had bought this one bedroom five floor walk up as a fixer upper five years ago and just never got around to it.  If I was willing to do the work, she was willing to buy the paint.  Did I mention that at one point in its life, this was a beautiful living space with transoms over the doors and plaster and lathe walls?  How did I know they were plaster and lathe?  Because there were half a dozen places where the plaster was long missing and I could see the original lathe work.  When I got there to look at the apartment, there were over a hundred people waiting to see it in front of me.  The occupancy rate in downtown Brooklyn was somewhere around 99.3%

Tomorrow, I'm your Uncle?

DanceParade 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008.  It was raining when I got up, raining while I worked, and raining when I went to bed.  And yet I was excited all day as any kid could be on Christmas Eve.  Saturday was the Dance Parade, over 4,000 dancers from every walk of life, dancing their hearts out down Broadway.


But I am not a dancer, unless you count a mean Flintstone.  My hobby is making parades.


Being involved with the DanceParade organization has been a great experience from the beginning.  The same dedication it takes to be a dancer was put into making the event a successful day.


Saturday, May 17, 2008, Parade Day.


All of the rain from Friday served to wash the streets and was dried by the time I arrived at 28th and Broadway.  Long before I arrived, the barricades were up all along Broadway.  The sun was shining and it was going to be a great day for a parade.


Volunteer check-in was to start at 9:00am.  I was there at 8:00am.  This is the best part of the day for me during the six or seven parades I get to work.  It is quiet, the calm before the storm, and I get to walk in the middle of the street, without having to look to see who or what is going to hit me, just because I think those red, yellow, and green lights are merely suggestions.


The first volunteer arrived at 8:45.  He was pretty exicted too.  The Executive Board arrived at 9:00am and we were open for business.  The first float arrived at 9:03 and was sent to the staging area to allow them to complete their decoration activities.  Maybe you saw them?  Sound Mind was near the end of the parade and their float was made to look like a jail cell on wheels.


I was too excited when I left Brooklyn and forgot my camera, so I am hoping that Dan and Lindsay from Dancer ( got plenty of pictures from the day.


Floats arrived throughout the morning and were put into our staging areas on 28th Street between 5th and 6th.  The NYPD officers were very helpful in controlling access to the street.  I did my best to be a good neighbor, allowing local merchants to drive through the mayhem to make quick pick-ups and deliveries.  Good fences (Police barricades) don't necessarily make good neighbors.  By 11:00am, my block was a party.  Music was pounding from the thirty floats, people were dancing in the street, and I was moving floats, cars and trucks into place, trying not to run over anyone.


12:55pm.  Go time.


When I started to move my first vehicle on to Broadway, I realized that the bad habits I have learned as a pedestrian here were common place.  The New Yorkers and tourists had no desire to make way for a large truck pulling a float full of belly dancers coming into the crosswalk.  They couldn't be bothered to wait the 45 seconds it took me to get the vehicle in place.  So I got some help from some volunteers who tried their best to keep the intersection clear as I moved the thirty plus floats into position.


At my drivers meeting, I told them rule number one was not to run over anyone.  It would not look good.  On a side note, on my way home, I saw Liz, the driver from the Amy Marshall Dance Company.  She was walking across St. Marks Place with a friend and was kind enough to remember me.  She told her friend what Rule #1 was.  I was very proud of her.


From an integration (parade talk for putting the groups in order) perspective, the parade went off pretty well.  The groups were in order with a few minor exceptions.  Tze Chun, DanceParade Production Manager did a great job pulling everything together.


My reward for the day was to trail the last unit in the parade, giving back Broadway and 8th Street to the people of New York as I passed.  The last unit was a float from Pasha.  It was filled with dancers and enough loud speakers pumping House music to make the most hardened New Yorkers smile and shake their groove thing.


As I walked the route for the last time, followed by two of New York's Finest, I got to see New York dance.


A Night at the Opera

The hours since we last met have dragged time to a slow crawl. 

Mere words truly fail to express the joy and elation I felt when I saw you standing inside the door at the MET last night. 

Amongst all of the rich and self-proclaimed glamorous, your beauty shone brighter than them all. 

The only thing that came close to approaching your brilliance was the beam of my smile as you took my arm and we ascended the red carpet towards the heavens height.

Throughout the evening, the touch of your arm against mine, your leg against mine, was both comforting and distracting. 

Every time your pointed something important out in your Play Bill, I was completely lost in the golden silk of your hair, the smell of your perfume, and the curve of your breast. 

It took every ounce of concentration to hear anything you said, despite my longing for your voice, oh, the happiness you were enacting.

Every aria lasted a mere moment, time flew as if Mercury himself were wound at Father Time’s behest.



Our trip home was equally blissful, the subway car our own. 

The inherent noise of the City was non-existent as I hung on your every word. 

The warmth of your smile made me forget that I didn’t have gloves on, not that I wanted anything to come between us as we walked through the darkness, me protecting you from the unknown. 

To borrow the Bard’s truest words, parting was such sweet sorrow, were never heard. 

And yet I floated home and took hours to reach my own deep, peaceful sleep. 

Not surprisingly, my dreams were filled with the twinkle of your eye and memories of every moment, which I will forever keep.

Rowdy Rodney Piper is alive!!!

What do Rowdy Rodney Piper, The Undertaker, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and I have in common?  Well, for one thing, we are all working in the same profession we were in the 80's.

I went to the Royal Rumble in Madison Square Garden tonight.  While I'll admit to watching wrestling in the 80's, its been a while so I have lost track of all of the story lines.  Further, I had no idea of what a Royal Rumble was.

For your edification, a Royal Rumble is a made for pay per view event in which thirty wrestling professionals enter the ring, one at a time after the first two, every ninety seconds.  The object is not to get thrown out of the ring and have both of your feet touch the floor.  The last one in wins.  Apparently, there are not thirty professional wrestlers of any name value.  To make up for this shortage, the WWE drags out poor retirees and tosses them into the squared circle.  I think this was done for the amusement and entertainment of wrestling fans.  The true fans next to me went crazy (think 11, its one more) when these icons of the 80's came out.

The Undertaker proved that HGH causes no harm, at least externally.  Mr. Piper and Snuka proved that one should not leave a physically demanding endeavour and stop exercising altogether, and still expect to be able to take one's shirt off in public.  It doesn't work.  At all.  Really.  Not at all.

I have pictures and if I knew how to insert them, I would.