Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veteran's Day Posting

So I was reading Sons of Slum and Gravy about the Class of 1962 at West Point, and it occurred to me that a lot of my dad's classmates didn't make it back from Vietnam. My dad was pretty seriously injured there, but he fully recovered. It kinda made me think about what would have happened if he hadn't come back. Probably, we would have been raised in Monterey (CA) where my mom grew up. I don't think I would have experienced one thing in the life that I can remember back to. Kind of mind-blowing.

I hope everyone has a good Veteran's Day and takes time out to remember what it's all about. More on Veteran's Day here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mad Props

My brother passed on to me recently that our dad has a chapter written about him in a book offered on Amazon.com, Sons of Slum and Gravy, that puts a quite a light on him. I ordered the book, but I haven't gotten it to read it yet. I'm sure it'll be quite interesting.

I'm old enough to have had a hand in raising two grown stepsons, and many of us have either done the same or are doing so now. It ain't easy. A million decisions to make on the fly, some good ones, some not so good. So I was thinking maybe it was time here to recognize our 'rents for putting up with our sorry asses and the craziness and mayhem and still raising us to be pretty solid citizens.

My favorite story I have about my dad is a sports related one that pre-dates our West Point slacker skateboard days. I was in the 7th grade and my brother was in the 6th grade, and we played in a church basketball league with my dad coaching the team. We were pretty good, but far from the best.

One game, we played the Jewish Community Center team that was roughly about as good as us. The first half was a comedy of errors for us and JCC whipped our asses pretty good. On the tip for the second half, JCC stole the ball and scored a lay up. Only we hadn't switch sides, so they actually scored for us! Whoo-hoo! How awesome is that - 2 of the easiest points our team ever scored! My dad, however, didn't see it that way. He demanded that the points be taken off and the second half be restarted! We couldn't believe it! The whole team was pouting and whining, as 11 and 12 year olds are wont to do. I think he even threatened to forfeit the game if the ref didn't do it!

After pissing and moaning, we played an uneventful 3rd quarter. Down by 10 in the 4th with only a few minutes left, something magical happened - we became the Harlem Freakin' Globetrotters! We scored, stole the ball on the inbounds or JCC's attempt to get it upcourt, and then scored again, basket after basket! With about a minute left, we tied the game, and we ended up winning by 10. I swear to you, if we had played another minute, we would have won by 30! Was it because of what my dad did at the beginning of the second half? I couldn't say for sure. He never yelled at us for messing up on the court or for losing, though, like a lot of parents did/do.

Contrast that with my worst experience in sports: playing little league the year before. Our coach was this fucking asshole Mr. Barlow who only cared about winning. He had favorites, and players that didn't start saw minimal playing time. Neither my brother nor I played organized baseball as a kid after that year. Oh, and we were 20-0! Worst. Sports. Experience. Ever.

I coached modified basketball at the fancy-pants girls school I worked at, and I can say the relaxed sports environment my dad provided for us continued with me there. I won't bore you with story after story, but I have to relate one to you. For a few games a year, I would choose a player, a different one each time, to be the "Coach-For-A-Quarter". The player I chose would name the starting line-up, pick the defenses, and make decisions on substitutions for the first quarter. It was sheer genius. Not a single player started herself in the dozen or so games in which I did this. I came up with this idea entirely on my own, but how can I say my experience of my dad's coaching and support, that winning or losing didn't make or break you, had nothing to do with the way I turned out? I can't. Thanks dad.

Friday, September 18, 2009

More Signs We Are Awesome!

The West Point Skateboard Gang Blog has a follower!

It's not even anyone we know (I think), and it's not even someone from our generation - how awesome is that?

The Orignal Blooperman is a fellow skater. His blog is Blooperman's Rawsome Blog. Almost all of us WPSG'ers are too old, too out of shape, or too brittle to skate, except for the Rogers Brothers of course...
... but we can all still remember those days of shedding our old halfpipe and ramps and bombing down River Road lying on the front of our boards. I, for one, remember many a race and wish I could be out there with the Dave and John today. Of course, you can't reach over and push back the guy trying to pass you like we did back then! Still... Good to have you aboard Blooperman! I hope you are as radical and break as many rules as we did when we were your age!

Google Legit
Try this next time you're on Google. When you type in "W-E-S"...you know when it starts to recommend terms for you?...."T-_-P-O-I-N-"...what for it..."T-_-S-K-A"...BAM! There it is! "West Point Skateboard Gang"! How awesome is that?

Friday, August 14, 2009


Andy Kessler was from what I call the 2nd Generation of skaters, but certainly had the spirit of the early 1st gen Dogtowners. He died recently and this article was sent to me by a friend. Jackson may be more familiar with his impact on NYC skating, but I liked the piece for the way the author encapsulates the soul of a true skateboarder.

"For most of Kessler’s life, years of which were mired in violence and addiction and the existential angst that torments many a non-conformist, skateboarding wasn’t merely a sport or pastime or even the artistic expression of his soul. It was the path to his soul’s salvation."

That's good stuff. RIP Andy Kessler. I didn't know ya, but then again maybe I did.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Catching Up With An Old Friend

A couple weekends ago, McLovin', aka Gorko, showed up at my place, with kids and girlfriend in tow.  He was on his way from Connecticut to his folks place in Tallahassee and Asheville seemed like a good stopover.  

McLovin' hasn't changed much, personality-wise, since we'd last hung out about 25 years ago (man, where does the time go?).  He gave me a brief update.  After graduating from Northern Illinois as an Engineering major and a Language minor (earning the nickname "Lazy-Ass" in German from his unwillingness to study whatsoever and still be able to ace tests, even at the highest levels), he got his Master's in Engineering.  Upon returning to West Point and holding a string of laughable, menial jobs, not unlike the vast majority of us, he landed a cushy job in Germany for Mercedes-Benz.  He did that for awhile, returned to the states and has remained in the engineering field.  He explained to me that at his current job he is the one that decides to keep or scrap the airplane engine parts (some of which cost up to $125,000 to produce) that are only 99.9% perfect.

He was married but is now divorced and has 2 extremely well-behaved kids, son Paul, 10, and daughter Riley, 12.  Said kids are suspiciously well behaved.  I suspect they are actually aliens from another planet sent to scout earth for their future invasion.  I mean, come on, no fighting? No whining?  What's up with that?
After a BBQ and a few beers, we broke out my yearbook and settled down for a classic story telling session.  I reminded him of how he vandalized my yearbook.  He didn't remember doing it but readily conceded it was his handwriting, and since he/we were such assholes back then, it's exactly the kind of thing he'd/we'd do.  Many laughs later we called it a night.  The next day we went to Asheville's big hippifest, the Belle Chere.  Then they headed out after dinner for the long drive overnight to Tallahassee, a typical McLovin' Doin'-Things-My-Way move.

Here are some of the highlights of his stay:
  • Through sheer coincidence, he has witnessed virtually all of my brother's left hooks back in the day.  I was kinda surprised by how many there were.  Fortunately, none were directed at him.
  • He still has that hilarious way about him of dismissing anything that isn't of 100% importance.  I'm not sure I'm able to describe it well, but if you knew him back then, you'd know what I'm talking about.  For instance, if he had been a counselor of some sort, here's how I would imagine him:  Client- "I'm having trouble cutting down on the drinking..." McLovin' - "OK. Listen. This is what you have to do: stop drinking."  Client - "But.." McLovin' - "OK, shut up. You're being stupid. Just stop drinking..."etc...
  • Sister Brigeet cautioned his daughter about me, telling her (among other horrible things probably) that I was most likely fat and bald.  Hey, whatever lie you gotta tell yourself honey so that you don't cry yourself to sleep each night over having let this prize get away is fine by me.  Do what you gotta do!
  • He's lost track of the number of degrees his father has earned/is still earning but is running out of new ones to pursue.  His best guess: 42.  Wow.
Me, decidedly not fat and bald (L), and McLovin' (R), drinking brews, talking shop.

My brother has been kicking around the idea of us having some kind of reunion.  I don't know if it'll happen or not, but I'm definitely on board after this visit.  

Stay thirsty my friends.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Women and Children First, Part II

Remember the spring of 1980? That was when Van Halen's Women and Children First came out. It was Van Halen's high point. Sure, Fair Warning was pretty damn good, but it was darker. They didn't seem to be having as much fun. Back in 1980 though, they still sounded like they were having fun being around each other.

We all know how things turned out. Eventually, David Lee Roth left and was replaced by Sammy Hagar. I didn't care for much of the VH Mach II or anything else that followed. Hagar just didn't get it done for me. Recently, Hagar was hanging out with VH bandmate Michael Anthony, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' drummer Chad Smith, and shred-god Joe Satriani. They thought they sounded pretty good, so they hit the studio, and the result is Chickenfoot.
And oh, man, does it sound good! On the first listen, all I could think of is how much they sounded like Van Halen. I would never mistake Satchmo's licks for Eddie's, but there's enough of a similarity here to remind you of him. And Joe sounds so good! Chad is a big upgrade on drums and it's noticeable. Hagar? Eh, he does alright. I wouldn't start a band with him, but I think his skills were wasted with VH.

And they're having fun! Listen to the beginning of Down the Drain. The songs are nice and long. There's false endings; there's fooling around at the beginning of songs like on Fools or Loss of Control. My brother says he thinks this is what Van Halen should have sounded like when Hagar joined them, and that sounds about right. I'm calling this the best album of 2009 so far. I'd give you a listen, but my musicshare site isn't cooperating.
BTW, did you catch the new UFO album? Don't know if you can call it UFO with Vincent Moore on guitar and new guy playing bass, but I'm buy into it for now.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another Max Q. Peck Classic

Max posted another classic video on YouTube a little while back, and my involvement in it, of course, only adds to its sheer genius.  Go check it out if you haven't seen it yet, and then come back here.  I've got several things to say about it.

  • First off, Max was doing some background filming for a skit he was putting together where a guy draws one of those "Tippy" pictures they had back in the day to sucker people into thinking they were artists (remember those).  Well, this guy mails in an atrociously sloppy rendition, but somehow manages to become a big-time artist until his life takes a downturn spiral, you know the story. Classic Max Q. Peck irony.

  • TA and I came in, intellectuals that we are/were, totally unscripted, arguing about the meaning of life and how... ok, we were arguing about whether or not I could beat up John Rogers given that he has a black belt and I have have considerable size on him.  Take John and me out of the equation, and I still stand by taking the bigger guy over the martial arts guy.  Mock me all you want. 

  • We got an anonymous heckler here at the WPSG blog a little while back. I literally have no idea who it was, but I got the impression it was someone who felt slighted by us back in the day.  To anonymous I say that no matter how much we may have made fun of someone back then, we were way harsher on each other!  We totally mocked each other day in and day out.  We could dish it out, and we could take it.  This episode is absolutely representative of our interactions when we hung out.

  • My absolute favorite part of this video is that I'm wearing an MIT hoodie!  How awesome is that?  I look like a friggin' homeless guy, but I got an MIT hoodie.  I think my parents were like,"Look, my kid's not some loser going to RCC, no sir! He goes to MIT!"  I don't remember the circumstances in getting it (it was probably a Christmas present), but I think it went something like this.
Me: Wow, an MIT hoodie, thanks mom.
Mom: Say, listen, if anyone asks, you go there, ok?


Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Brother In Arms Found

Actually, with sister Brigeet on Facebook, it only required an inquiry to locate him. Without any further ado: Gorko*.

He's going to be stopping by Asheville for a visit next month with his 2 kids. I'll report more when it happens. If you see a comment by McLovin - that's him. Maybe he'll give a big update in the comments. Whatdya say Paul?

*OK, the picture is really the Unibomber, but he wouldn't send one to me, and this is how I imagine what he looks today.


I was forwarded a couple of pictures from a secret unnamed anonymous scource. I totally nailed the Unibomber-thing, didn't I?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Something I've actually forgotten...

Ann McNut's wrote me the following:

"Do you guys remember a kick you were on when you called each other and everyone else you wanted to insult a "chef"? WTF was that all about?"

I absolutely remember using that term and surely it was born during one of the many bong sessions at "The Lee Area" or "Delafield" spot, but I cannot shake it's origin from my brain. Anyone else remember it? Skateboarder Mag reference perhaps? Mellow Cat reference? Kevin Niccoli derivation? I don't know. It's killin' me...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memoria, Contorted (On Memorial Day, 2009, for the army brats I grew up with, many now in the military.

Because you know
better than anyone
that if forced to bite my tongue,
I will bite it off,
just to prove a point,

I'll give you my life.

And because
I somehow built this life from nothing
but freedom, rhythm, and air,
I hope you laugh. I want you to.
I want you to roar,
titter, giggle, whatever....

And when my stories hit a pitch of sadness,
hear them as something absurdly yours:
like eerie songs from a tree saw
played on a tiny stage
by a tattoed girl,
famous among her own
she winces so pretty
when the quivering saw teeth bite
the high notes just below
her skillful calloused thumbs.

See it all as something
you've earned: a cat-gut carnival
where nothing is smoke and mirrors,
except the lack of light.

Sarah M. Daugherty - WP Brat

Copyright May 2009 Used by permission all rights reserved

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Prodigal Son O' The Week

Guess who turned up on Facebook?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I Don't Want To Get All Political And All...

But once O'Bama fixes the economy, I hope he bans the use of those sissy-ass low cut socks by guys. If you wear them, turn in your man-card, dude!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dude, You're Freaking Me Out!

You probably didn't hear because I was pretty tight-lipped about it, but I had surgery on Monday to have my gallbladder removed. On Sunday night, I was watching TV with the G-Train, and the latest Planters commercial came on. You know, the one where the 2 guys are fishing on a sailboat, and when they run out of peanuts, the one guy starts to halucinate that the other is Mr. Peanut. The other guy looks at his friend and says,"Dude, you're freaking me out!", and they fight until another can of peanuts is found. It was such a cool line that I told the G-Train that that's what I was going to say when I came out of surgery.

So there I am on Monday all hooked up, ready to be wheeled in. The nurse turned some knobs on my IV, knocking me out. When I came to, the G-Train was there because I was operated on at the hospital where she works, and I said,"Dude, you're freaking me out!" just as promised. I know, I am hilarious!

OK, so here's what really happened, at least according to my wife. When the nurse turned those knobs, I may have lost consciousness, but I unconsciously gave a lengthy and apparently incoherent oration on the history, theory, and philosophy of "Dude, You're Freaking Me Out!" About 5 minutes in, the G-Train asked the nurse to look the other way so she could hit me over the head to shut me the hell up.

Now people snicker behind her back as she walks by them at work, and she wants to move to a place where they haven't heard what a freaking idiot her husband is. Yeah, good luck with that one Honey! For better or for worse, baby - ring a bell?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Invading The Great Northwest

A small crew of the Rogers family are going to invade Mark Wheeler's neighborhood this weekend. We are flying up to Portland to spend the weekend bombing a really good hill, so we figured we would stop in to see Mark for a quick visit. I'm pretty sure the last time John and I saw Mark was around 1980. All these years later and skateboarding is still helping to bring us together!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blogging Gold, Part II

Here's the second installment from my 1981 yearbook. I doubt this version will elicit a response from Clem like the last one did, but we'll see.

First up, Jackson. At some point, Gorko grabbed my yearbook for a couple hours and returned it after writing all over it. Jackson complained last time that someone had written "Idiot" under his picture in a yearbook that he was looking through. It was mine. Mystery solved. That's not my handwriting, dude.

Next up, Tom - he signed my yearbook this way. Hilarious!

Next! Uh, "What is an early 80s poser metal guitarist, Alex?"

OK, how about some non-skateboarders now? First up the All-American Girl, a cheerleader no less, a third place finisher in the Miss NY competition, dhc. She's so happy and sweet! You still have the cheerleader outfit, right? My brother wanted me to ask you that.

And last, but not least, Nancy2. Hey, Nancy2, late-70s Brooke Shields called. She wants her eyebrows back. My brother told me to say that one, too.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Who Is That Guy?

Friday, March 13, 2009

We can blame it on our parents!

Further proof that we can blame genetics for our uncommon behavior.


'Till the day I die...

(Cross post from Intravenus De Milo. Other than the joy that the above album has brought to my ears through the years, the first thought that comes to my mind when I drop the needle on this record are the Rogers brothers and skating WP in the summer of 1977. They were HUGE fans of this great record.)
My wife called me at work last Thursday with the news that the radio station she was listening to were leaking the summer line up for Atlanta’s Chastain Park Amphitheater summer concert series. Chastain is what I refer to as our fare city’s cool little ‘sit down’ concert venue. For some shows, they even set up tables down front and allow all ticket holders to bring wine & cheese type goodies into the show. The music’s volume is usually cranked a little low due to the neighborhood setting the venue sits in, which can be a bit annoying since the uppercrusters buy tickets for the whole series, attend the concerts they care little about for the social aspect, and fucking blather on endlessly all the way through a show you’ve been counting down days to see. Despite this, the wife and I REALLY look forward to taking in a few concerts each year with our more musically inclined friends Bob and Betty the Builder. We’ve seen quite a few great shows at Chastain over the years, Elvis Costello, James Gang, Mark Knopfler, Allison Krauss with Union Station and Robert Plant respectively, to recall a few.

But Mrs. Alva seemed to have a bit of excitement in her voice as she exclaimed, “I think they said Bad Company will be playing this year, honey”. She got me attention with that for certain. We were primed and ready on Sunday morning when tickets went on sale and jumped on’em at 10:00 AM sharp as Live Nation’s internet ordering site lit up. We had to do some digging, but we’re 99.99% confident that the line up will be Mick Ralphs, Simon Kirke, and Paul Rodgers with the American Bass player who tours with Paul’s solo act (whose name escapes me at the moment) filling in for the deceased Boz Burell.

The critical path item here being Paul Rodgers of course. I have never quite figured out why many of my past and current music friends slag Bad Company so much. I vividly remember their epic and flawless self titled debut album flooding out over the airwaves on early FM radio stations in the mid 70’s and being floored by the cool sounds emanated from the little transistor radio speaker. Killer hooks, perfect soulful vocals, gorgeous, choruses, and that can be said for EVERY SONG ON THAT RECORD! Oddly enough, Bad Company was one of those LP’s that all my friends had, so I never actually owned a copy of my own until much later in life. During my crazy metal years, I didn’t listen to it much at all, but 10 years later I picked up a CD copy and listened to it again. It was like discovering the Holy Grail or something. I could now appreciate the phenomenal drumming of Simon Kirke, and McRalph’s tone rich and tasteful guitar playing, but what stands out even more is Paul’s singing. He is simply the Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhodes, etc of singers. Can’t buy into that? Tell me this then: Name one 60 year old singer or older who can sing pitch perfect, heartfelt, note for note, IN THE SAME KEY IT WAS ORIGINALLY RECORDED IN, every song from his/her first recording? As cliché as it sounds, the guy has actually improved with age. Speaking of age, it would appear that Paul Rodgers seems to be immune to the ravages of the inevitable. He doesn’t look a day over forty.

It’s hard to believe that there are deep cuts on the debut record since most of the tracks are FM radio heavy rotation staples: Can’t Get Enough, Movin’ On, Ready For Love, Rock Steady (one of the best vocal recording EVER), and the title track, but the gold is in the two ‘deep cuts’, ‘The Way That I Choose’, and the slow blues number ‘Don’t Let Me Down’. You can practically hear Simon Kirke coming off of his drum stool as he crashes around his kit in Don’t Let Me Down’s finale. Amazingly enough, the debut Bad Co record was recorded in 10 days using some spare downtime Zeppelin’s mobile recording unit found. Ten days to create a masterpiece. Isn’t it funny how things work out that way? Sure, The Firm may not pass muster to some, but denying greatness to Bad Company’s first album, Straight Shooter, and Runnin’ with the Pack borders on criminal behavior.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

There is water at the bottom of the ocean...

(Crossposted from Intravenus De Milo)

The liner notes read like a warning on a pack of cigarettes: “This material was recorded on analog equipment, ignoring modern noise reduction techniques. We pay our humble respects to the mighty gods of analog tape who have shown us both their destructive power and their compassionate mercy”

In the space usually dedicated to gear endorsements by the band members this caution, “Reverb and tremolo are welcome; all other effects are strictly forbidden”. This is followed by similar accolades to nebulous ‘old strings and old guitars’. The section ends with, “Norm eats Maruchan Ramen Noodles exclusively”, no doubt offering first person testament to the fact that life as a working musician is fraught with poverty, hardship, and lots of hard work. If you stop and think about it, it’s a wonder that anybody in their right mind would even consider playing music as a career at all. I have many musician friends and included in that list are a few who have passionately chosen it as their life long profession. The word ‘sacrifice’ could surely be inserted in that previous sentence without risk of hyperbole or apology.

So it was on a rainy Friday night last week that my brother Mathdude and I set out in search of a long lost friend and a little salvation in the form of one Lonesome Jim Ransone and his band The Breeze Kings. My faded memories of Jim are of a brilliant, if not painfully quiet, young guy who balanced his time back in high school between his academics, playing music, and being dragged by my brother into many ill-fated capers and misadventures. From what Jim told us, he begrudgingly attended Georgia Tech and earned an engineering degree at his father’s insistence and once he wrapped that up, he turned to his dad and said, “Okay, can I go play music now?” Of course I’m fictionalizing a bit here, but you get the gist. Amazingly, it turns out that Jim was the founder of a smoking hot band called the Urban Shakedancers whose music I was baptized in upon arrival to Atlanta in 1991 by my ragtag gang of music friends who had graciously welcomed me into their circle. My new friends had gone to high school with the other members of the Shakedancers and I’m certain that Jim and I were in the same room on a couple of occasions unbeknownst to either one of us.

Oh yeah, music, sacrifice, passion… The Breeze Kings. I’m pretty certain Jim had to seek out his ‘other’ education some place other than on the campus of the MIT of the South, but judging from the performance my brother and I witnessed, and after giving The Breeze Kings two brilliant CD’s multiple spins, it would seem that Jim has been doing post doc work on the life and times of Willie Dixon, Bobby Blue Bland, and Albert Collins. Mathdude and I were treated to three of the most scorching sets of traditional Chicago blues I’d heard since seeing Mr. Collins himself perform “Too Many Dirty Dishes” at ‘The Chance’ in Poughkeepsie NY back in the late 80’s.

The Breeze Kings have all the bases covered and it always starts with a swinging drummer especially when it comes to their style of music. And that’s what Mark Yarbrough is: One swingin’ son of bitch. Coupled with Dave Roth’s masterful bass rumbling and Bill Wyman-esk demeanor, Jim was free to channel with reckless abandon the ghosts of Chess Studios through his Gibson ES 135 and tweed covered tube amp. There are many great trad blues bands out there, but for me what makes one rise up out of the fog over another is how well the singer can keep up. Authenticity is made or broken in this key role. Carlos Capote’s melodic voice and mastery of the harmonica certainly didn’t disappoint me, Mathdude, or the other hundred or so in the room. I think the only critical comment I could make about the evening (other than the pouring rain) was that while the Fern Bank Martini Night drew an enthusiastic and generous sized crowd, there are places in Atlanta I’d rather see my friend and his band throw down at ( Blind Willie’s off the top of my head). The 60ft ceilings, marble floors, T-Rex and Aptosaurus skeleton backdrop were a little distracting. It would be even more amazing if at some point I could catch them accompanied by 'The Gimme Dolla Orchestra' who graces the band’s “You Got to Bring Some …To Get Some” album.

We’ve since heard back from Jim and you can bet I’ll be dragging my wife and friends out to see The Breeze Kings again very soon. If you like this kind of music, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of either of their records available at Amazon.com. ‘Sorry That You Put Me Down’ is worth the price alone. You will NOT be disappointed.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

And the little box at the top of the stairs, with my Indian rug, and a pipe to share...

Roadrash’s comment on Pampdog’s post below once again inspired me to attempt to hunt down my favorite advertisement slogan/campaign of the 70’s. Last month for the umpteenth time I tried in vain to find ANYTHING on the web regarding this long out of business paraphernalia company (now revealed to be Progressive Plastics, Inc.). As a matter of fact, when you search Yahoo! with “Strike a blow for freedom” one of my blog posts in which I discuss the futility of my quest comes up as number two on the hit list. Here’s more from another post:

“I wonder what kind of case I'd have had if Mr. Macek had actually been able to SEE that the poster of Uncle Sam I had on the inside of my eight grade locker actually said, "Strike a blow for freedom: buy U.S. Bongs" . The poster had ole Sam, like the one pictured above, passing one of the bong companies elaborate smoking devices to the reader vs. pointing at a perspective army recruit. My math teacher noticed it while I was getting some crap out of my locker before class. Once he saw it, he began giving me a run down on how he'd always liked that poster (the original non-bong one that is) which had been a staple of armed forces recruiting since WWII. I was relieved that he did not recognize that what he was actually looking at was a spoof (this guy was so old that he had taught my dad math when he was in 6th grade). I would have had a hell of a time explaining that one to my parents much less the US Supreme Court.”

Be sure to read the linked article. Very interesting.

Anyhoodle, thank God someone was smart enough to scan a copy of the advertisement and post it on the web for all prosperity. The quest is now over, behold:

The one ole Unkie Sam is thrusting in our face was the same model as the one I bought from Wheels in 1980(?) except it was purple. And of course, there was the ‘Capital Hill’. What a stunning piece of American ingenuity and engineering that thing was. It had to have won awards at M.I.T. or something, right? Man, if Huck Tater could find the photo I took of myself with that monstrosity sitting in front of me and sent to him when he was over in Belgium we’d have a good laugh. Huck, could you by any chance put your hands on that photo?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Visit To Highland Falls...

I've been teasing the Facebook crowd about my recent venture to Highland Falls NY with my family and a few chance encounters at the fabulous Park Restaurant while dining with Katie Fairy Godmother. Well, I hope I don't disappoint. Let's see who can name the folks in the photos:

Hint: One handed down stern words and associated fines to yours truly, the other ruled the roost with an iron fist.

Here's another good one...

Say Anonymous, last time this guy was in as close a proximity to me he was about to punch me in the face. See, we can all grow up. Who is this guy?

The young lady hugging my daughter is her Godmother and did her best to make Neanderthals look decent in the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Who is she?

This young lady has a teenage son, an older sister who is rumored to live in my town here in GA, and an older brother named Barry. Care to guess?
Have at it folks, and don't be afraid to drop a comment below.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ho. Lee. Shit.

From his MySpace page, none other than MF'ing Savage himself. I give you

Check here to see other pics, and here for some movie trailers of some (mostly horror) movies he's been in.

Dude! You gotta write in!

I can't believe I* found this!

* - Irene G.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Sound of Infamy—

A defining feature of the West Point Skateboard Gang is the terrifying sound it produced as its members charged across the streets of the United States Military Academy. West Point residents during the era of the artful dodgers quickly learned the gang’s trademark sound—an angelic cacophony of polyurethane wheels slashing across pavement that heralded the gang’s travels and produced widespread panic across the region. Louder than a gang of Harleys, the source of innumerable nightmares among military families—the deafening roar this tribe of unruly skateboarders made crossing the ‘Point’ signaled to all within earshot the impending arrival of defiant power. Like a gigantic hand scraping its fingernails across the chalkboard of West Point’s concrete, the sound of the dodgers in transit was a fluid social stain designed to disrupt with impunity the otherwise perfect and repressed order of the Academy.

As the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, the sound of each wheel reinforced and amplified the sounds of every other wheel in its proximity, producing a rowdy chorus of rebellion and unrestrained freedom. Of course, the infamous roar was but a part of the larger aesthetic—a blinding blur of flowing hair and bandanas, trailing smoke, faded jeans, cranked music, and wild laughter.

After a classic ‘sesh’ in Pat and Chris’ attic room, 10 or so of us glide down the grass hill by the Catholic Chapel, drop in with military precision onto Washington Road and begin our journey to the half-pipe in Lee area. Crackling like a succession of lightning strikes, each board joins the orchestra of fury—a haunting crescendo of sound that compels mothers to grab their children, freezes dogs in their tracks, halts local traffic, and impels MPs to feel for their gun holsters. Our sublime tornado of sight, sound and fury makes its way past the cemetery slamming-out repetitive clicks from the sidewalk cracks, jets smoothly down and past the PX on Buckner Loop—bodies bent to reduce air-drag and gliding swerves to accelerate the board’s forward motion and then, as if a cork popping from a champagne bottle, lights-out onto Lee Road. The group’s formation elongates into a single line and then contracts again into a condensed phalanx only to elongate again—a living, breathing configuration, a loosely-congealed bubble of orbiting bodies floating effortlessly down the hill and onto the flat, our beautiful cacophony at our heels the entire way. We are magicians who have conquered Newton’s laws, let alone the mere rules and restrictions that suppress the normal residents of USMA.

All subsequent generations of West Point inhabitants can hear the faint echo of skateboard wheels in the distance.
“Lights out, lights out in West Point, hold ‘em tight til the end. God knows when I’m comin’ on my run”.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bloggosphere Guide

Like TV Guide, Only More Self-Promotional
If you haven't already headed over to Jackson's blog to check out his Up To 1984 Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, Hold the Stoners music guide, you should check it out. Despite getting the Judas Priest entry almost completely wrong and not allowing Hendrix under some made up exemption, he's pretty much got it right.

Don't go to my old blog Eating Chicken Vindaloo, though, because I've stopped posting there. Up-bup: can't do it. I may someday come out of retirement years from now better than ever after my baseball career in the minors embarrasses me.

Out with old, in with the new. I started a new blog: James I. O'Neill Class of '81. It's purpose is to reconnect my old high school class in the way this blog has reconnected the WPSG. Feel free to stop by and see what your fellow O'Neill-ites (O'Neill-ers? I think I like O'Neill-ers better) are up to.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Substitute Chonicles

In response to the last posting here, Huck Tater wrote: "I was thinking that it is so funny to see how time and such changes one's perspective. I had the unfortunate experience of having to rely on substitute teaching for a time in upstate NY. So many of those kids were fucking monsters and deserved (along with their parents) to be shot. It was appalling how much time dealing with them took away from the kids who actually wanted to learn something. Of course I was one of the minor league shitheads when I was in high school. Failed 1oth grade at O'Neill but ended up with a PhD after."

It was like he was using some Jedi Mind Trick to read my mind. Back in the day, I, like most students, enjoyed it when we had a substitute. I wasn't the worst offender, but I wasn't an angel either.

I remember once as a sophomore Andy Gasper and I played a little game with a sub with me pretending to be him and him pretending to be me. What a mistake on his part. I started acting up really bad - "What are you gonna do, sub, write up me, Andy Gasper?" Andy quickly fessed up that we had switched places. The sub had no idea what to do.

Also during that year, we had a sub for Biology that I knew wasn't going to make it at O'Neill HS - Mr. Toback. He was...um...let's just say he was a goober. A few weeks later he was subbing in my gym class and Tony Yanatelli (who wasn't in my gym class but was present that day because, well, he was Tony Yanatelli) threw a medicine ball at Toback from across the gym (unbelievable considering the strength required to do so, but if you knew TY, you know it was true), narrowly missing Toback's head by the slimmest of margins. Yeah, he never came back.

Another time, in my junior year, Pampdog and I had a sub for English. We sat in the back of the room instead of our seats as per the sub-rules that said we could do whatever the hell we felt like doing when there was a sub because we were badasses. A little known fact about me is that the back of my head is particularly hard. I could hit the wall with it and make a considerable "THUD" when the sub wasn't looking. Meanwhile, Pampdog, when the sub had her head turned, stood up, back to the wall, and stomped the wall with his clod-hoppers making a bit more noise than me. When someone knocked at the door a minute later, we moved up a couple seats when the sub answered, then scolded the nerdy girl sitting by herself in the back of the room - "Hey, knock off all the shenanigans! I'd write her up, sub!"

Violence...Violence...It's the only thing that will make you see sense, Part II
When I subbed, I clearly remembered all the crap I used to pull. Getting back to my story from ECV (click to read Part I if you haven't already). If the dope throwing pennies was throwing them at me, I would have shrugged it off. I had 5 minutes to think of what I was going to do. I had 12 years, a 100 pounds, a foot in height on him, and a teacher certification to worry about, so I knew I couldn't hit him and make him apologize to the girl. So what did I do? I took a page from my brother's book. When the bell rang, students filed out. He was the last one, but a couple students from the next class had come in. I said to him, "Hey that wasn't really cool picking on that girl like that." He of course said something like,"Man, I didn't do anything." I pressed on, "Picking on someone who can't defend themselves, huh? You must be really proud of yourself." Him again,"I didn't do nothin." Me: "I mean what if I picked on you?" I grabbed him by his sweater, picked him a foot off the ground, and got within an inch of his face. I could feel all the muscles in my face tense up. I imagined my face looked like the cover of Motorhead's Another Perfect Day.
I said all Clint Eastwood-like,"You wouldn't like that would you?" I paused a moment for effect, then put him down. I smoothed out his sweater, and sent him on his way.

I can't say I recommend this course of action for dealing with students. I think maybe you can get away with it once, and that was the only time I did anything as a teacher even remotely like this. If there was one time that I could pick to do this in my 17 year teaching career, this would have been it, and I don't regret it one bit. My penance was sweating out the cops being called throughout the day (they weren't). I don't think he went to 2nd period high-fiving his buddies though either.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

An Open Letter To Mr. Aidone

Hey there, ah, heh-heh, how's it going? Glad to see you made it to 2009! I see you know the ol' Googling-Your-Own-Name-Trick. Excellent. And how proud you must have been when as you were waiting to see why your name was here, the blog's banner came up with a picture of a graffitied wall with "Clem Sux" written on it. Uh, heh-heh, I can explain that. You see, uh, ok, it's like this...um...OK, I got nothing. It's my brother's fault, though. He drew it. And, um, in the first ever posting of this blog when I said you were "the decidedly "Bad Cop" in the Good Cop/Bad Cop thing he and Mr. Hughes, the principal, had going on", ok, that was my brother's idea too. And the cheating on a chemistry test thing? Yeah, you know this is all just for fun and entertainment, right?

In all seriousness, you seem to be generating a lot of comments to your comments. Everyone at the WPSG blog enjoys hearing from people from the past. Even though you were the heavy hand of the law back in the day, I haven't heard from anyone yet that truly didn't like you. Everyone seems to think you were a pretty fair guy, even if you scared the crap out of us when we got caught doing stuff. So, well done, sir. Actually, most of our shenanigans occured outside of school. I also think that while we were pretty high in food chain from about 1980-1984 or so, relative to the Bergs, Yanatellis, McGills, Fuscos, Malarkys...we were pretty small potatoes in the trouble department. I would love to read a memoir about all the tom foolery that occurred at James I. O'Neill, but that just can't happen, can it?

On the plus side, none of us (that I know of - not all members are accounted for) in the West Point Skateboard Gang are in jail or turned out to be mass-murderers! We turned into responsible (for the most part), productive citizens and parents. A couple of us have "Dr." in front of our names (certainly not me, though), and at least 4 of us (including me) are in education. While you weren't a favorite teacher to any of us, you represented authority, and even if we were scared of you or we "fought the law" by writing "Clem Sux" every once in a while on a desk, your presence was memorable enough to be discussed in the first ever posting here. So good luck and stop on by here any time you'd like!

Hey, one last thing. You know those letters from their parents students were supposed to have in order to use the smoking patio? My brother's was total bullshit! My parents would have freaked if they had known he was smoking in school (those were the days, huh?). I think he should be suspended.