February 25, 2013


I'm not going to link anything mentioned here. If you have any intellectual curiosity on your own, you'll look it up. I'm not going to do your fucking work for you... This is going to be a hard, but I'm sure a therapeutic, post to write.

For everything I've done - and believe me when I tell you I have had some shit happen to me that has made my life worth living (coming face to face with Bill Veeck, Abbie Hoffman; being the guy Lorri Jackson sent her death story to the night she died of an overdose; getting a tattoo in Corpus Christi Texas the day after I was in the same room with a guy and the guy who killed him; and that tattoo = which after 40 years looks like a KKK symbol, now getting me strange looks, all that and so on)... Despite publishing people in an old magazine I used to run who have gone on to be icons (including the guy who helped start the Pushcart Prize) in the small press world, and even if you - some of my loyalest readers - for all your connection to me - have never looked in on my story magazine for whatever your stupid ass reason may be... & for the biggest things that ever happened to me - my wife, my daughters, my granddaughters...

Nothing, and I mean nothing, has been as constant a story as something so banal to most of you that you wouldn't believe it. No matter what else has happened to me, as weird or strange or cool as it might be, the fact of the matter is that I enjoyed it half as much as I should have because of something so silly you may even recoil and think the worse of me.

So be it.

 For most of my life my teeth have been so bad that even when something was so funny my sides would hurt, you would never - in a million years - see me grin right out. For the sake of being self-conscious about it, for the sake of my own embarrassment, whatever you want to say. I'm sure there are at least a thousand things I didn't enjoy as much as I could have... if only I'd let myself smile. It seems so silly, I know.

The big gormand, the fancy chef, the big talker, the political gadfly... is actually a miserable wretch with a dim, crooked smile that would turn you off your dinner if ever I let it go full bore.

 People have said, and could make a case= I suppose, that my parents were neglectful people and that my sister and I are lucky to have survived our childhoods with some semblance of decent humanity. But my response to these folks is - if you want this to be your last day on Earth, criticize my Mom and dad one more time. Go ahead. It's true that neither of them graduated high school, but that was because they grew up in the Depression and had to help their families. My dad played in the same infield as Hall-Of-Famer Phil Cavaretta in High School (Lane Tech) and  was scouted by the Browns and Indians just as hard as cavaretta was scouted by the Cubs. But he dropped out to help his mother.

So don't anybody ever say my parents were neglectful. I don't care. They did the best they could. And I'm not one of those guys who you will EVER see using them for an excuse for my own dumb shit.

The fact is that I've been alive and independent longer now than I was when they were alive and taking care of me. The problems I have, dentally, are of my own making.

Plain and simple. I may have not have been given the basic fundamentals of personal care given to me when I was a kid. But I've been on my own for forty years. So I have no one to blame but myself. There's a point at which you have to take responsibility for your own self and stop blaming everybody but #1.

So last month I began the process of turning this around. I got a dentist who tells me "I'm gonna put a Ferrari in there" and - mostly thanks to my wife's insurance - I have the wherewithal to finally do it.

 Last visit I had three extractions and bled like a stuck pig for two days. Today I had another procedure that is the basis of a sound cleaning and diagnosis process.

Sorry - but this is what happens when you don't take care of shit. It hurts. It's expensive.

And - if you are a man - you need to tell yourself "I did this to myself" and just go with it.

So that's where I've been the last three or four weeks, and more to come. I have no idea why I'm writing this down. But there it is. He said Fararri, baby. You know how hot I'll be then? Well, maybe not hot, but happier. That's for sure. happier like when something is funny I can actually laugh...

February 02, 2013

Toys? You Want TOYS??

I have a lot of guys I've come to know on the internet (Dave) and not a few of them are really big into toys.

They will wax poetic about their LEGOS and the infinite variety of extras and add-ons and expansion sets now available. they will go goofy for their Star Wars figures, and basically tout all the great kits and sets that represent everything that modern toymaking has to offer.The 21st century, if you listen to these fellows too long, has been the ultimate in toys.

But I feel sorry for them because even considering that modern toys are somewhat cool, they were unfortunate enough to miss the Golden Age of Toy Sets. This was basically from the mid-1950's to the early 1960's.

In this glorious pantheon of toy sets there were endless scenarios and possibilities that a little boy (yeah, sorry, this is a boy post) could wrap himself up in. And when we got tired of recreating the standard plots, we went nuts, combined all the sets, and invented this crazy, wild, magnificent, hodgepodge of a mess that had everything flying in from everywhere.

But that's what we did with things back in the day. We had building blocks to do it with, though. And I don't see the same possibilities with any of the toys I look at now. Not, at least, in the intimate, visceral sense that these things were played with in olden times.

Regardless of that - we could argue the merits of today/yesterday all you want and that of course will never be resolved.

But you guys didn't have these. And I can see the holes in your imaginations and personalities because you were so deprived.

It started simple enough. There was a TV show starring Buster Crabbe that was called Captain Gallant. And Captain Gallant was this French Foreign Legion guy who had a fort and killed Arabs. Note - you will no doubt notice, as you review these sets, that there was a great deal of killing involved in the play. So what? Don't be such a wuss.

The Legionaires fought the Arabs from inside a fort that was made of heavy-duty plastic that came in sections that was put together. There were palm trees, machine gun posts, camels, horse-charging Arabs, flagpoles, even a replica well. And it looked something like this...
(Clicking should make some bigger)

But that's pretty simple. If that wasn't your cup of tea you could just default to the Robin Hood set. More or less the same principles - only I think the castle and walls were tin segments that snapped together. But in here you had all the classic figures. Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, Maid Marian. The works. And it looked something like this...

But, you know, there's a limit to what you can do with those. They made Civil War sets, The Alamo sets, Fort Apache sets, all based on the same model. Good guys - fort - cool equipment - vast hordes of lowlife fodder for the good and noble guys to slaughter. But then in 1960 someone got the bright idea of taking the stuff from a popular movie and making a toy set out of that. One of the biggest - if not the biggest - movie of 1959 was Ben Hur. The one with the chariot race and the Romans fighting non-descript hordes of whatever lowlife fodder that was at the time. So NOW you started to see a whole new realm of possibilities. Which looked like this...

And Ben Hur pretty much was the apex of the craft. It had it all. The chariot races being the big thing. The Ben Hur set, also put out by Marx (which did most of these) was probably the most popular of them all. the grand-daddy. Buuuuuuttt.... None of them held a candle to Rex Mars. In fact nothing you have today is anything like Rex Mars was. I have no idea who Rex Mars was, or what the set was based on, but remember this is 20-30 years before Star Wars. I give you the toy set of toy sets. The magical ultimo. The unbelievably retro, antiquated, and dated space opera toy set that was ever made. You ain't got nothin' on this baby. And at the time, you got the whole thing for 6 bucks. Gentlemen and... er.. gentlemen... I give you Rex Mars...

Ah yes. Thems were the days. LEGO. Pleh...