Thursday, April 21, 2016

"Sometimes It Snows in April..."

This print hangs on my wall to this very day

I never got to see The Artist live.

I’ve lied several times over the years out of sheer embarrassment, saying that I had but, in fact, I never had pleasure of seeing Prince Rodgers Nelson in concert. Now, he’s gone and I’ll never get the chance.

Part of the reason I never saw His Royal Badness live is that he didn’t play Philadelphia all that often. The story goes that he held a grudge against the city for how he was treated as an opening act for the Rolling Stones in 1980. This was the “Dirty Mind” era of Prince when he wore nothing more than black panties and trenchcoat on stage. That just wasn’t going to work in the Philadelphia of that era, especially for a liquored up crowd waiting to hear “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Street Fighting Man,” so he was unmercifully booed off stage. Believe it or not, the treatment that my city showed Prince that night severely rattled his cage…so much so that Mick Jagger had to call him personally and beg him to finish out the tour. 

Philly was in no way ready for this...
The other part is, of course, that I idiotically assumed that there would always be a “next time.” “Oh, I’ll catch him next time,” naïve Jer thought time and time again as I would read glowing reviews of shows (secret or otherwise) that he’d put on around the globe. Now there will be no “next time." All I can do is hang my head in shame and weep for the sounds and visions I missed out on. Stupid, stupid me.


The first song of The Purple One’s I ever heard was “Little Red Corvette.” I recall being instantly entranced by it, much like I was the first time I heard Rush’s “Tom Sawyer.” Not much later, a friend of mine lent me the “1999” cassette, which I copied of course, then I proceeded to play that cassette into the motherfucking ground. I was only 13 at the time…the diversity and overt sexuality of the songs excited and shocked me. Songs like “Let’s Pretend We’re Married,” “Automatic” and “Lady Cab Driver” blew my Catholic school boy mind. I was, in a word, hooked.

I could write volumes about “Purple Rain” of course (who couldn’t?), but the next album that was truly innovative and, in my opinion, perfect was “Sign O’ the Times.” I dare you to find an uninteresting or unoriginal song on that record. Go ahead, try. I’ll wait...forever…because it just isn’t going to happen.

A true masterpiece
I vividly recall every moment of my first listen of that cassette: I bought it on my dinner break at the Sam Goody in the pathetic Leo Mall. The cassette sat in my front pocket for the rest of my shift, silently calling to me, waiting to be played…waiting to reveal its auditory magic. When I got home later that night, I popped that bad boy into my boom box, slipped on my headphones, and glided into a soundscape of something that just wasn’t like anything else I’d ever heard in my previous 17 years on this planet. It was then that I knew I’d be a Prince fanatic for the rest of my days, be they long or short.

He’s had a varied career since that time to say the very least…but I’ve never stopped loving him and his sublime music. The man defined the word “iconoclast.”

It’s now 11:58 PM. I’m “in the cups” as my Irish ancestors would have said. Prince Rodgers Nelson, a being composed solely of if he were some impossibly powered, musical super hero, is still very much dead. There are now stories floating about that he was treated for a drug overdose of some sort.
“Hogwash,” says I.

It still doesn’t change the fact that I never got to see the man whose music meant so much to me play a live set.

I guess I’ll just have to live with that.

Rest in peace, you sexy motherfucker, you.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


If you haven’t guessed it by now, I’m not the most religious of people. If you are, that’s fine…as long as your beliefs aren’t hurting yourself or anyone else, have at it, my fine friend. Please understand that what follows here is not meant to challenge, or offend, anyone.

My personal beliefs are an echo of the Agnostic axiom, “I know that I don’t know.” I don’t believe in chaos as most Atheists do. To me, there seems to be a rhyme or reason to how things work in the universe, but I cannot say with any certainty what sets it all in motion. Unfortunately, I just don’t think that ANY religion and/or belief system truly answers the big questions most intelligent men and women have. 

I was raised Catholic and even went to 12 years of Catholic school. But, the whole “Catholic” vibe just never stuck; I always found all the pomp and circumstance just a bit absurd. Beyond the fact that there’s a great deal of fantastic moral philosophy in the words of Jesus found in the New Testament, the majority of what’s written in the Bible confounds me. Therefore, I view the Bible as more of a historical document than a document of faith or belief. Period.

Epic poster is epic
Even as a lad, I recall thinking on many occasions while twiddling my thumbs in church or in one of my many religion/theology classes, “Well, this just doesn’t make any goddamn sense!”  It wasn’t until I saw the film version of “Jesus Christ Superstar” in 8th grade that a “real” perspective of Jesus finally clicked in my teenage mind. He wasn’t the water-walking miracle man that I was raised to believe in, he was just a guy, trying to figure out what the hell he was doing and that he and one of his best friends disagreed on some important issues. And that disagreement cost them both of their lives. That’s a sad reality of course, but something about Jesus finally had substance…and that was pretty cool in and of itself.

The complex, tempestuous relationship between Jesus and Judas is the crux of “Superstar.” (It also puts forth a rather interesting, and forward thinking, depiction of the Jesus and Mary Magdalene “situation.” Really listen to the lyrics of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and I dare you to tell me that’s a song written for a friend and not a lover.) Every Easter I watch the film (in lieu of going to actual Mass), and I still get chills during the second part of “The Last Supper” song when Judas and Jesus really lay into each other, Judas condemning Jesus calling him “a sad, pathetic man” and uttering the classic line: “Every time I look at you I don’t understand, how you let things you did get so out of hand. You’d have managed better if you had it planned!”  There are many wonderful lyrics (courtesy of Grammy, Tony and Academy Award winner Tim Rice) throughout the musical, but that one always seemed the most…insightful…to me.

Jesus and Judas throw down with some slap fight action...
In the early 90’s, I was lucky enough to see a stage production of JCS at the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia. Both Ted Neely and Carl Anderson reprised their roles as Jesus and Judas respectively. It was, in word, magical. I was transfixed for those two hours…it is a night that I will never, ever forget.

Oh, and I met Garry Maddox (sans mega afro), the ex-Phillies center-fielder on the great 70’s and 80’s teams, out on Broad Street afterwards. It seems he and his wife took in the show as well. So there’s that.

You rock on with your bad self, Garry Lee...
Since Easter just passed, do yourself a favor and check out some version of “Jesus Christ Superstar” (I highly recommend the 1973 film version). I can’t say that it will have the profound impact on you that it had on me, but it’s still well worth a viewing be you a Jew, Christian, Wiccan or Muslim because, religious nonsense aside, it tells the powerful story of two friends who clearly care for each other, but just cannot see eye to eye...and that failure costs them both dearly. That kind of pathos is something we can all relate to, I think.

And maybe someday I’ll get to do the remake I’ve been planning since the mid-90’s that would star Chris Cornell as Jesus, Prince as Judas, Tori Amos as Mary Magdalene, Howard Stern as Herod and Kevin Spacey as Pilate.

That right there is a license to print money, I tell ya…

Thursday, March 10, 2016


It’s been exactly two months now since David Bowie died. I’m still not sure how to process it…I suppose that’s why it’s taken me 60 days to cobble together this post. I can’t say that any other celebrity death has ever affected me this deeply. Most times I just shrug these deaths off with a curt, “Well, that sucks” then I move on with my life.

Just think about it for a minute:

Ziggy Stardust has returned to life on Mars with his badass Spiders in tow.

The Thin White Duke has snorted his last line of premium blow at the swanky after-party.

The Goblin King has been eternally spurned by the haughty, teenage girl.

Lazarus lies dormant in his grave with no hope of resurrection.

Hell, I was still tearing up a few days ago when I showed my daughter the classic “Life on Mars?” video on You Tube. I guess it just boils down to the fact that David Bowie died with aforethought, grace, style and virtuosity. That’s better than most people live, goddamn it. It makes me infinitely sad that someone of his creative stature is no longer with us and I now have to listen to Donald-Fucking-Trump’s hateful diatribes on a daily basis.

It’s funny, the first thing I thought about when I heard Bowie died was one of those awkward, teenage moments that I seemed to have a good many of back in the day:

I was home on break from college and during those breaks I would pick up a few shifts at the local Acme supermarket to make a few bucks. On this particular evening, I was waiting for my mother to return home with the car so I could drive to work. I had the stereo on in the living room while I was waiting and soon, the smooth, Philly-Soul beats of “Young Americans” wafted throughout the room. I quickly sprung to my feet, raising the volume on the stereo to ear-splitting levels (because good music ALWAYS needs to be played LOUD) as I did this. Before I knew it, I was dancing…spinning and grinning like a first class buffoon. What can I say? The sweet, soulful music possessed me in that moment and I was a dancin’ fool of a white boy.

But, alas, all good things must come to an end. As I was completing a twirl that would have made one of the Temptations blush, I swung about to find my mother and brother staring at me from the doorway. I’m not sure how long they had been watching me, but it was long enough.

They were heartily laughing at me as I turned off the stereo, collected the car keys and made a quick exit, sincerely hoping to never speak of this moment again. But, truth be told, I always recalled that moment, and the song itself, rather fondly.

In my estimation, there are a lot of people this crazy world could do without… people who are just sucking in good air that the rest of us could be using. David Bowie definitely wasn’t one of those people…

…and this crazy world is just a bit more terrible now that he’s gone from it. That’s a fact.

Monday, January 18, 2016


So, last night I had one of those dreams. Some would call it a nightmare. Others would say I crossed over into the Twilight Zone or the Outer Limits.

Yeah. Listen to my story now; it was a crazy dream:

It was as if my 10-year-old daughter Bridget and I were in a Japanese anime or manga…something akin to a modernized “Lone Wolf and Cub.”

Check out the films or manga if you haven't already...
In narrative of this twisted dream, I was being hunted by an evil ghost. I don’t recall the why’s and wherefore’s as to this vengeful spirit’s purpose. It was just after me. Guess I had wronged it somehow.

It seems that the dream itself took place in Japan because the next part of the nightmare I recall is that she and I are on the bullet train, the Shinkansen. It’s there that we discover that the wraith is indeed a female and she shares the same name as my daughter. This revelation comes about by us translating the Japanese kanji (ブリジット), which is “Burijitto” or “Bridget” in Japanese. There was also some business with us acquiring magical katanas/swords that could harm ghosts, but my memory is sketchy on this now. Regardless, it was made clear that Bridget’s weapon was better than mine. This will come into play later.

So, she and I eventually disembark the train with the nasty phantasm hot on our trail. We ultimately come to an open field, readying ourselves for an assault. The assault comes…the specter comes right for me. It moves almost like the alien Predator in the classic, 1987 film: it’s there, but not there, and for fleeting moments I can briefly glimpse the vaguely human shape as it rushes towards me. I hack at it repeatedly, but my blows do no harm, yet the phantom is hurting me as it right on top of me. Now, I studied martial arts and Kendo, the Japanese sword art, as a teenager and I still can handle a bladed weapon fairly well, so this should not be happening.

Suddenly and swiftly, two strikes hit the assailing apparition from the side and it backs off of me. It’s Bridget, of course, giving my attacker what for, but in the process her sword, the better sword…the sword that is clearly the ghost slaying sword, is flung from her hands.

She screams something to me…something I cannot hear. I assume she’s telling me to reclaim the sword and I endeavor to do just that but, quick as flash, the unremitting spirit is upon me once again, enveloping me and that’s when I awake with start.

Now, here’s where things get really weird.

I’m totally awake. My eyes are wide open. My heart is doing its best John Henry impersonation on my chest. A split second later, Bridget’s Furby toy, which is sitting on shelf in the far corner of the room springs to life. The toy lights up the room and begins to spew its inane jibber-jabber. This Furby has been dormant for at least two months. No one has touched it or molested it in quite some time because, quite frankly, the stupid thing is fucking annoying. Panicked, I bolt upright in bed and glance around the room, which I can see fairly well due to the eerie glow emanating from the Furby’s digital eyes. There’s nothing to see. Nada. Zip. Zero. Nothing.

You can go fuck off an die, Furby.
I grab my phone to glance at the time. It’s 5:04 AM. Finally, the Furby has shut the hell up. All this excitement has filled my bladder it seems, so I leave my cozy bed as the wind howls mightily against the windows. Unaware as to what new weirdness awaits me outside my door, I step into the hallway to see the clothes I left carefully draped over the bannister are now haphazardly lying on the floor. It’s was as if someone was pissed off at me and decided to dump my shit on the floor…just because they could.

This has never, ever happened before.

I’ve left clothes over that bannister dozens of times over the last year or so and they’ve always been exactly in the same place when I awoke in the morning.

Obviously, I stumbled into something supernatural as I slumbered last evening…something mysteriously paranormal and vaguely evil. And it clearly wanted to frighten me or send some sort of message. Why? I do not know. Usually, something like this wouldn’t bother me so much but, right now, I haven’t the time nor the inclination for such nonsense.

Go away, whatever the hell you are. Oh, and leaving my fucking daughter out of it. You want me, you come get me.

Dream bullshit or not, I can assure you that if you cross my path again my sword will be sharp and at the ready. 

Make no mistake about that.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Henceforth my wooing mind shall be express'd
In russet yeas, and honest kersey noes;
And, to begin, wench — so God help me, la! —
My love to thee is sound, sans crack or flaw.”

~ Berowne, Act V, Scene II, Love’s Labour’s Lost

So, a little over a year or so ago I was working for a crappy little magazine that focused on the transportation industry. It was an infinitely dull job…not helped by the fact that the most of the people that worked there were myopic twats. I’ll even go a bit further to say that a couple of them were, I’m quite sure, certifiably insane.

One of the much-needed respites I would take from this place was during my lunch hour when I would visit a used record store that was nearby. It was a cool store, with an equally cool vibe, that awoke many memories of my late 70’s, early 80’s childhood, sitting in front of a “Hi-Fi” stereo listening to classic records from the likes of  KISS, Queen, Rush, Aerosmith, Styx and AC/DC with various friends and family members.

On one of my last trips there, I came across some buried treasure of sorts. While a was checking out a near mint copy of the Rolling Stones self-titled inaugural record, an envelope fell out of the sleeve and landed at my feet. I wasn’t sure what it was at first, but I quickly snatched it up.

Mick and Keith should write a song about this letter and call it "Carol" then set it to the tune of "Angie"
It was a letter, and a rather old one by the looks of it. It was address to a “Miss Carol Makers” who lived in Northeast Philadelphia (the store where I found it is in South Jersey). It had a 5 cent, George Washington stamp on it which was made/used in 1962-63. But there was no return address and no postmark, so it obviously was never mailed.

For a fleeting moment, I thought about taking the letter to the counter and turning it in. But, my journalistic instincts got the better of me: I needed to know what was inside this envelope. So I quickly pocketed my find and made a hasty exit, as if I was a sketchy, teenage shoplifter boosting a couple Beastie Boys cassettes.

Never mailed...why, I wonder?
When I got back to my office at work, I opened the envelope to find a love letter of sorts. It was nothing Shakespearean in stature or rhyme, but it was endearing in its own ham-fisted way. And it even had a bit of wonky sexual innuendo tacked on at the end as far as I can tell.

The letter is printed in brown ink, maybe with a felt-tip pen or marker of some sort, and it’s in ALL CAPS. It reads as follows:

                “Dear Carol,

“The boy you should hate is on the other end of this pen. I’ve had a lousy Christmas this week. I thought I was having a good time. Thursday night I finally realized I was being selfish, practically ignoring you. There’s NO reason at all for not seeing you, I’m just not good to you, like, I just realized having such a girl as you I should do everything I can to talk to you & be with you.

“You’ve put up with me for almost a year now, I’ll never forget this past year you’ve been better to me than you should have. I wasn’t half as good to you as you were to me. You never did anything wrong to hurt me. But no I was to (sic) foolish, first ‘Mary’ then I didnt see you, or call you for a long time (you’ll never guess whats on the radio) There’s an arrow drawn here from the end of “radio” back up to the name “Mary.”

“But you are so great to me, that those things didn’t matter. (I guess to you they’re both like scars.) All that I can say is if I lost you now Id fall apart. I told you before Ill never hurt you again I’ve tried not to & Im gonna try harder not to. I’m not going to hurt you. Lets forget all our hard times Sunday and start (his “S” looks much like a “B” here…not sure why) new.

“Well Im gonna stop cause I (this “I” looks much like an arrow here…again, not sure why. My best guess is that his hand was getting tired because after the first two paragraphs he started skipping many apostrophes in his contractions as well) got to call you in about 20 min.



Click on either page for the full-size version
There are two rather odd postscripts to this letter. Off to the left hand side and in a bubble of sorts is: “I got 10 finger-nails again.” This seems to be a point of pride for ol’ Bobby, I mean, why else would you mention something that fucking weird in a love letter? Was Carol appalled at his lack of 10 fingernails? Did she say something along the lines of “Call me when you have 10 fingernails again, you freak!?” The mind boggles at the possibilities…

Under that is something ever weirder, and this is where the sexual innuendo part kicks in. Taking up the last third of the yellowish stationary is a crude drawing of a gnome (I guess?) with long cap pulled down over his eyes. Over the gnome, written in rainbow fashion are the words: “BURT CAN’T SEE ANYTHING.” The name, “BURT,” is written along the brim of the gnome’s cap. To the right of Burt is written: “lets get lost on a country road with Burt.”

Now I could be entirely incorrect, but I’m guessing Bob named his penis “Burt” (why some men do this still confounds me to this day), and he’s implying that he and Miss Carol should forget their troubles and just go bang on a country road somewhere. The “let’s get lost” line is a pretty strong indicator to me that this is what he wanted, but it’s the gnome’s hat that seals the deal in my mind because it looks like the tip, or reservoir, of a condom. Take a look at it below and make up your own mind:

Since I came across this letter I’ve been rather curious as to how things turned out for Bob and Carol, and most of all why did Bob never bother to send it? I would think it has to do with the very last line in the letter when Bob writes that he will be calling Carol in “about 20 minutes.” My guess is that call either went really wrong or really right and there was no need to send the letter after that either way.

I’m a romantic at heart and I’d like to believe that the call went well then these two Northeast Philly kids (where I was born and raised, hence my heightened curiosity) went on to have a wonderful life together…regardless of Burt, Mary or the dire fingernail situation.

But who the hell knows, right??

The main reason I’m finally writing this post is to use the power of the internet and/or social media to find out what really happened with Bob and Carol. So, if you are reading this and would like to know more yourself, please share this anywhere and everywhere…especially if you live in the Philadelphia area. Let’s see if we can use this 21st century tech to track down these two, 60s love birds.

Here’s what’s known from the letter itself:
  •          It was written in the early to mid-60’s (the stamp seems to be from 1962-63 and the first Stones album was released in the U.S. May of 1964).
  •          It was written to Miss Carol Makers who lived at 2828 Sandyford Rd. Philadelphia, PA 19152.
  •          It appears that Bob’s last name is Martini and that he lived at 11606 Depue St. Philadelphia, PA 19116. If you look closely at the stationary in the pictures above, it has a name and address on it (Mrs. David Martini 11606 Depue St. Philadelphia, PA 19116) that is crossed out for some reason, so it may not be legit, but I’m guessing that ol’ Bob used  his Mom’s stationary and didn’t want Carol to know.
Alright internet sleuths get to sleuthing! You are all hereby deputized by me (hey, I do work for the cops now after all…), so let’s crack this!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Oh, inside angel, always upset
Keeps on forgettin' that we ever met
Can I bring you out in the light
My curiosity's got me tonight

She's a lot like you
The dangerous type
Oh, she's a lot like you
Come on and hold me tight”

~ The Cars, “Dangerous Type”

In the past few months I’ve rejoined the dating world…and, truth be told, it hasn’t been fun. Nowhere near as fun as you imagine in those anger fueled fantasies during times of wedded strife. So, here’s a savvy tip from your ol’ Uncle Jer: try really, really hard to “love the one you’re with” as the old Stephen Stills song advises and stay the hell out of the sad, middle aged dating scene.

I honestly don’t remember women being so cautious and guarded during my last dating go ‘round almost 15 years ago. I know things have changed in 15 years, but they haven’t changed that much, have they?

Yup. This about sums it up.
It really and truly seemed to me that a good many ladies were just going through the motions – just dating because they had nothing better to do and think they should be dating. There was just too much passionless disinterest staring across at me from a good many café tables not to start wondering what the in the holy hell was going on here.

I’m entirely open to the fact that this general, feminine malaise could have been my fault. After all, it had been 15 years since my last date. My looks have changed, sure, but I wouldn’t consider myself an ugly old man at 44 by any means. Maybe I was doing something wrong? Maybe I was sending out some desperate asshole vibe or something? I’m not egotistical enough to think that I’m some sort of perfectly mannered Adonis, but I have no issues expressing myself and many people do find me witty and engaging, which can win the day in many dating/social situations.

So, I was at a loss and about to put things on pause for a while when about a month ago I met someone. Someone I could certainly see rebuilding my life with. There’s just one problem…

…she has no freak in her. Just trust me on this, she doesn’t. No, I’m not going into details because I’m not that kind of guy.

You just knew a picture of this super-freaky mofo was going to show up here, didn't you?
Most rational people would say that’s a damn good thing. But, no, not me. Older doesn’t necessarily equal wiser it seems. Jer likes the freak…and the freak likes Jer.

But the freak is dangerous. The freak will swallow your soul and gleefully ask for seconds while you wretchedly sob in the corner, looking for the shredded pieces of your life to cobble back together.

I know this danger full well because I’ve danced with the freak several times in my life…and you pay the fucking price when you boogie with the freak. My three longest relationships have all been with women who definitely had something of this freak in them. None of those relationships ended well. Gee, what a shock, right?

These unsettling thoughts have been rattling around my brain since this new woman left my bed late Sunday morning. I knew when I awoke that something was missing…it was my old friend the freak, of course. I know this unfulfilled feeling all too well because I have experienced it previously. It’s been some time, but I remember it well. In the mid to late 90’s I cast aside two fantastic girls (who both really seemed to dig me) because, well, try as though I may I just wasn’t that into them.

They lacked the freak and the freak in me knew it. End of story. Goodnight, ladies…don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

The pained expression on the girl's face here just says, "Yep, I'm totally doing this..."
There must be some sort of harmonic resonance between freaks, like humpback whales silently singing to one another, because when two like-minded freaks get together they can be scarily inseparable, and that co-dependence is typically the downfall of them both. They’ll destroy each other in the process of singing the freaky ballad that only their counterpart hears.

As I stated previously, I am 44-years-old. I want, no, I NEED a nice, normal relationship with a nice, normal woman. It seems I could have that here if I could get out of my own goddamn way and close off my ears to the siren’s song…

…but the call of the freak is hard to deny. I can hear it now, in distance...and it's not coming from where I need it to be.

God help me it isn't.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Chasing Ghosts

"Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home..."
Today I cleaned out the last of my things from my ex-house. In no way did I ever want it to be my ex-house…but that is out of my hands now.

I really enjoyed living there for the better part of 14 years. I enjoyed the tranquil neighborhood. I enjoyed the affable people. And most of all, I enjoyed raising a family there.

With little to no help, especially over the last few years there, I did everything I could to make that house a home; I made sure the kids were fed, the various animals were taken care of, the laundry was clean, the bills were paid and the homework was done. All of that is forgotten now…swept under the rug like so many dust mites.

“So it goes,” the late, great Kurt Vonnegut would have written.

So it goes indeed…

Let me tell you, it was quite the unsettling experience doing this today. It took me much longer than I anticipated because I was “chasing ghosts” around every corner. The kitchen retains the laughter of a lifetime. The dining room still smells of holiday meals and Christmas trees. The basement sustains memories of raucous parties, scary movies and video games galore. Even the goddamn stairwell floods me with recollections of the last words I ever said to a sweet, sweet girl.

Every nook and cranny of this place punches me in the gut and brings me to tears. Every nick in the paint or crack on the wall has a story to tell: The story of the family that no longer lives there. Their pictures still may be scattered about the place but, trust me, they’re all gone now…

…and not because I wanted them to be, or they really and truly needed to be.  

As hard as it is, it’s best to let all of this go now. For my own sanity’s sake I can chase these ghosts no longer.