Archive for September, 2013

Upcoming Guest on the Jazz Cafe

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Scheduled to appear Monday, Sept 16th, on the Jazz Cafe with John Bohannon: Jim Malloy, a dynamic new vocalist who puts some style into the old standards. His debut CD “Jazz Vocalist” is getting radio plays around the country.  Malloy will perform live and in person on WRHU.

Also scheduled: A visit with a jazz legend, Toots Thielemans, renowned for his jazz improvisations on harmonica. His composition “Bluesette” has become a jazz standard. Thielemans is 92 and still leading the way.

Be sure to tune in to the Jazz Cafe, hosted by John Bohannon every Monday from 1p to 4p, on WRHU 88.7fm. You can also stream the show on the internet here.

Subway Kittens

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Two tiny kittens scampering along a subway line in Brooklyn the other morning shut down service for two hours until NYPD officers finally scooped them up. Usually, squirrels scamper, but in this case kittens were scampering. Go figure.

Reaction was immediate. Many riders said they didn’t mind the delay because they didn’t want the kittens to get hurt.
Donald Trump insisted that the city turn the entire subway system over to Trump Transit, and this problem would not happen again because he would install a screening facility to prevent cats and other live animals from entering the subway system without a special permit.
Former MTA boss Joe Lhota, who’s running for Mayor, said he wouldn’t have stopped the trains for a couple of damn cats. They probably have fleas anyway.
Anthony Weiner, also running for Mayor, said he would have personally saved the kittens. He says he has a detailed Saving Kittens Trapped On The Tracks policy, and that, if elected, he would appoint a deputy Mayor of Feline Safety. Yes, he said that.
Other hopefuls in the race for Mayor said they would have stopped the trains to save the kittens.
Syrian President Bashar Assad said there was no truth to reports that he would have unleashed a chemical attack against the kittens to clear the way.
President Obama said he would have considered a limited narrow act aimed at anyone who would release kittens on subway tracks. Not an open ended commitment, no boots on the ground. That third rail is a killer. The President also said, we cannot accept a world where innocent civilians are gassed on a terrible scale and kittens are thrown onto subway tracks. But he later decided to leave the issue up to Congress.
Vice President Joe Biden said, that’s right, boss.
Secretary of State John Kerry said, some cite the risk of doing things, but we should ask, what is the risk of doing nothing?
Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain said his Parliament voted down a proposal to join the effort to rescue the kittens. More’s the pity, he was quoted as saying, although he didn’t explain what that meant. Brits are fond of saying that.
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court had no comment because he was still working on last Sunday’s New York Times crossword puzzle.
Hillary Clinton did not commit one way or another, but aides indicated she was weighing all options and would make a decision in the future.
Alec Baldwin said he would have tied their tails together and tossed them up over an electrical line like a pair of old sneakers.
Governor Christie of New Jersey said whoever tossed those kittens onto the subway tracks is a complete idiot, self consumed and underpaid. Christie reminded reporters that he’s on a sea food diet. He said, I see food I eat it.
Mitt Romney, who said, you remember me. I used to be the next President of the United States. I would have scooped up the kittens, put them in a pet carrier on top of my car, and driven them to safety.
Mayor Bloomberg was unavailable for comment because each time the city has a major problem he retreats to one of his many homes outside the city, for his own safety, but a spokesman says because of today’s sophisticated communications technology the Mayor is always reachable.
The kittens, whose names are August and Arthur, will be available for adoption in several weeks unless they are found to be living illegally in America, at which time they will be subject to deportation.


Who’s Afraid Of Wolf Blitzer?

Monday, September 9th, 2013

“Martha, will you show her where we keep the, uh, euphemism?”

No one was there at the moment, it was just something I say out loud to myself now and again because some customer in my bar is always asking me where the you-know-what-is, giving it some kind of cutesy name, and hoping no one would ever guess that a person might have to pee or poop.

All this happened, more or less. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. I really should have called a repairman, but at the moment I was concerned about one of my regulars at the bar. Elmer Gantry was drunk. I would deal with him later, because there was another immediate issue to handle first. My bartender. I sensed that he was unhappy.

“I am unhappy,” he said.


He gazed intently at me from across the bar and said, “You don’t understand. I am an invisible man. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am. Just a lousy bartender.”

I tried to reassure him that he was a truly great bartender, skilled and stylish with a soupcon of panache, but he seemed to have made up his mind to quit.  He wondered aloud if a soupcon of panache was an ingredient in a Brandy Alexander, but I said never mind. A raise, I thought. I said to myself, “Self, I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” He must have read my mind, saw my thought bubble.

“Go ahead, make my day. You talkin’ to me? I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull.

As he strode out the door, I said, “You’ll want to come back. Pick up the phone. Call me, Ishmael.” But I knew he wouldn’t call.  “Shane. Shane. Come back.”  That was my pet name for him, and I was hoping that might work.  I tried another pet name and one final attempt. “Sawyer, you’re going out a youngster, but you’ve got to come back as a star.”

“Hasta la Vista, baby,” he said, and stomped out the front door.

And that’s when she walked in. Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine. And my bartender had just quit. Tall, blonde, and beautiful, she didn’t just walk, she slinked.

“What…a…dump,” she said, looking around, then at me. “Hello, Gorgeous. Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

I hurried around behind the bar. “What’ll you have?”

“A martini. Shaken, not stirred. And we’ll be friends.”

“Bond we will, and I’ll do my best,” I said. “My bartender just quit. And just as this place is really getting popular.”

“So,” she said. “The best of times, the worst of times. This is the saddest story I have ever heard.”

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

“Don’t call me ‘Frankly.’  You’ll find another bartender. Round up the usual suspects. Or just whistle for him. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”

“How true. After all, tomorrow is another day.”

“I was about to say that,” she said.

“By the way, don’t call me Steve.”

She took a dainty sip of her martini.  “I’ll just call you Scaramouche. He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.”

“That’s me. Scaramouche. I fall in and out of love every day, and the affect is the same as having never loved at all.” I poured myself a bourbon on the rocks and raised my glass to her. “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

I still had no bartender, but at least I had a piano player. Sam. He was the best. He could sound like Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner, and Dave Brubeck all rolled up into one. But when you unrolled them, he sounded like Sam. He sauntered into the bar just then, sat down at the piano, and I said, “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.’”

And he did. But midway through he hit a clinker. He turned toward me, grinned, and said, “Well, nobody’s perfect.”

I liked Sam. He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. That day he said, to no one in particular, “The hell with it. I’ll play piano in some cheap bar.”  And so saying, he rowed ashore, and found my drinking establishment.

Sam kept playing and I turned to her, still not even knowing her name, and said, “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.” But she obviously didn’t like that because she arched an eyebrow and flared her nostrils. Impressive motor skills to be able to do those two things at once. I tried another approach. “Stella! Hey Stella! I feel we’ve met previously. It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty frame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

She heaved a sigh. “This is the second saddest story I have ever heard, and I must say, the moment one learns English, complications set in.”

It was love at first sight. It felt good. Love is never having to say you’re sorry, and what was your name again? We moved closer, our lips ready for that first sweet kiss when Ishmael walked tentatively back in through the front door and paused there. “When I walked outside, I said to Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. I’m back. There’s no place like home.”

He clicked his heels together.  Funny I had never noticed those ruby red slippers before. He glided behind the bar and made a Sloe Gin Fizz for Elmer Gantry, who was still drunk at the end of the bar. I wondered who the hell Toto was but decided not to ask. At least my bartender was back. And she was here.

I looked at him, looked at her, and said, “My mother thanks you. My father thanks you. My sister thanks you. And I thank you.”

There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.

That’s all there is, there isn’t anymore.

Good night and good luck.

Good night, David.

Good night, Chet.

And good night, Mrs. Calabash, where ever you are.

More comments for our time

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Never play leap frog with a unicorn.

Wit has truth . . . Wisecracking is just calisthenics with words.

Never  tell your problems to anyone else. Twenty percent don’t care. The other eighty percent say: Better you than me.

What’s the difference between a politician and yogurt? Yogurt has real culture.

I was just wondering . . . who invented the clock? He must have been a genius. How did he know what time it was?

Whatever hits the fan will be evenly distributed.

Great ideas are never remembered. Dumb statements are never forgotten.

Those who know the least will know it the loudest.

The more space you have, the more stuff you’ll accumulate.

The optimist says that we live in the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist fears this is true.

An item from the HUH? department

Friday, September 6th, 2013

The mail:  I received a handwritten envelope from someone I didn’t know, but I opened it thinking I might actually know this person. The letter inside read: Dear John, The remarkable story of how a Norwegian cleaning lady discovered an anti-aging breakthrough in a fish tank, and why it works better than anything else to improve your appearance.
A booklet was enclosed. The cover read: The remarkable story of how a Norwegian cleaning lady discovered an anti-aging breakthrough in a fish tank, and why it works better than anything else to improve your appearance.

I opened the booklet and the title page read: The remarkable story of how a Norwegian cleaning lady discovered an anti-aging breakthrough in a fish tank, and why it works better than anything else to improve your appearance.

The chapter heading read: The remarkable story of how a Norwegian cleaning lady discovered an anti-aging breakthrough in a fish tank, and why it works better than anything else to improve your appearance.

That’s when I stopped reading.

An item from the HUH? department

Friday, September 6th, 2013

A football helmet has this warning statement: No helmet system can protect you from serious brain and or neck injuries, including paralysis or death. To avoid these risks do not engage in the sport of football while wearing this helmet.