Today Beverly passed away 15 years ago and we approach the one year anniversary of Glenns passing August 17 (yeah, I know, already!). Bev would have been 58 this September which means she was a very young 43 when she died. Somewhere on this blog I write about the day Bev died and how I’ll never forget it. She used to raise and sell persian kittens and the funny thing is one of her cats is still alive and lives with George Poulo in Plainfield NJ.
Personally I have so many memories with each Glenn and Beverly but I did have a special relationship with Bev. It was just one of those things. We go way back. She understood me deeply. As she sailed further and further away from us in her sickness, I never tried to find her. I wasn’t strong enough.
It is these kinds of anniversary that tell you fast the clock ticks and how fragile our time here is. I really miss them.
A man that wore a long sleeve white dress shirt in the middle of a blazing July glanced at my license and let me pass. Through the chain-linked fence with barbed wire edging. My boots making love to an inch of mud. A morning of hard rain just fast moving gray clouds now, Rows of cars in different phases of destruction. This automobile cemetery. You were dragged here after our futile attempts to revive you in the glowing moon failed. Abandoned in some snow bank in South Jersey. Still the smell of burned rubber, oil and transmission death. “There you are!” One hundred and ninety something miles ago you sparkled in the dealers lot. You lit my eyes up. There is something special when it is brand new, never used, first owner. That new car smell, that perfect purr of engine. You took me around the universe and back. My dependable lover. Avoiding close calls. Kept me safe. Getting totally lost with me. Just you and I so many times. Looking so devastated now, the drooping air bags, bleeding transmission fluid and cracked windshield. Your final impact of love and devotion was that no one got hurt. Except you. Creaking your door open for the last time. My meager valuables thrown into a bag. Taking one last glance of you as I slop away. The sun breaks free and casts a final spotlight on you. The suction of the mud holding me there like you don’t want me to go. Still so beautiful and forever under the black racing clouds and hints of blue sky.
Before smart phones appeared in the worlds pocket, I did carry a small point and shoot with me everywhere. This was especially handy when I worked in NYC. So I quess I was slightly futuristic in that sense.. Now it just seems so absolutely crazy for anyone to just pull a small camera AND video recorder out of their pocket at anytime! When you think about the late 1800’s early twentieth century it literally took hours to set up and load a camera from one photo.
Nobody likes the movies I like and sometimes I don’t blame them. With the likes of Annie Hall, Vanilla Sky, Arizona Dream, Eraser Head, Harold and Maude etc. My track record for picking movies on movie night is supposedly “corrupt and ridiculous” Birdman was special to me right from the very beginning. When I saw the trailer, I knew that it was “mine.” Nobody wanted to go and see it with me and it pissed me off. So one night I just went. It was the second time I went to a movie by myself in my life. (not counting the the 1980’s Times Square days) The first movie I ever saw by myself was a midnight showing of Gravity. I had front and center in a nearly empty theater and was BLOWN away by the thing. It is just a movie that is best experienced in a big theater with good sound. You can’t bring this movie home and watch it on your flat screen. I don’t care how high tech your home theater is, Gravity is an -e x p e r i e n c e- that needs a big dark theater with a huge screen and LOUD surround sound. There is hardly a plot but you can really feel like you were in outer space if you do this right.
So when I saw Birdman, alone, I thought it was fantastic and wanted to share it. So I corralled some friends together, who I thought were movie buffs. This is gonna be great, I thought.
After my second viewing of Birdman my friends hunched their shoulders and were like “Whaaaat?” One of them, the youngest on her way to Boston University did like it but I think it was because she is such a huge Ed Norton fan.
So you didn’t like it? It was weird? Are you kidding me? Did you notice how the opening scene was an unstopped, unedited ten minutes? Did you know this was the first movie to use new photoshop technology to enhance dramatic lighting on faces and scenes? Maybe I loved it too much because I could relate entirely to the lead character– An old man “has been”! Yes, this was an “artsy” film but the acting and music was perfectly orchestrated. The NYC theater background was brilliant. I proudly tweeted one day; “I AM Birdman” and felt it in my blood. Nobody came back to me after it won Best Picture…. nobody.
Early June. Welcoming the unofficial start of Summer. Here in the North/mid/east all the seasons don’t slowly blend into one like most of our southern friends .Our season are abrupt, extreme and sometimes frightening. Winter here was brutal and the snow piled higher than cars at times. It has yet to release us from her grip as here I am on June 7 seeking desperately a hoody to help me make it thru the morning.
It was an email from cousin Jim Gill “Paul McCartney and Wings (on the radio now) remind me of our visits to Jersey.” that triggered this post. Also a call from a very old friend Jim McSherry was filled with resurrected Summers.
This topic has been covered ad infinitum yet I feel a desire to write about it. I’ve waited 55 years to finally say, “You kids don’t know how good you got it.” or “Get off my lawn you no good sons of bitches!” Social media is swarmed with the “when I was young…” cliche. Social media will always be telling us about life before the internet. I remember the set of outdated encyclopedias in our rec room actually WERE my internet. And if it wasn’t in there, then I really did walk 20 miles in the snow (actually it was more like one mile and it was only in the snow once) to the little library on Carteret avenue. I filled many reports with cut out photos and charts from those encyclopedias……and I hate to admit I also used books from the library for my primative “cut and paste” knowledge.
Todays internet brats don’t know how good they got it. But the internet is just the first in-line glaring example of how things have changed. Summer has changed dramatically as I look around now at the empty streets and playgrounds. Most kids have resorted to cyber entertainment. When we played in the Summer, we had to use our imagination. First of all our Summers were at least three weeks longer! For whatever reason the school year has definitely lengthened for todays school kids.
It started on the carpet when Jim McSherry and I would play “little army” with plastic soldiers frozen in boring poses. We don’t know where he got them but Johnny Lambert had the coolest, meanest looking Japanese toy soldiers in unique poses of death and destruction. How we yearned for those politically incorrect yellow soldiers. They were never to be found in any toy store.
There was always our pool and Kenny Gitters pool which sometimes became strange when we decided to take off our suits and swim naked. Mrs. Gitter put an end to that real quick Most hot Summer days she could be found at the end of our kitchen table playing Scrabble with our mom. They had also discovered a fabulous new drink by reading “Hints from Heloise” in the Star Ledger. It was called Iced Coffee. It was this same Heloise daily article where mom found out that we could actually eat the skin on our baked potatoes and didn’t have to throw them away with the tinfoil that they were wrapped in.
As the Summers progressed we invented new things to do and keep us occupied. One time we spent an entire Summer in our backyard creating mazes with lego pieces and watching bugs walk around in circle. It would piss us off when some bugs would just say “fuck this” and climb the Lego wall to exit our “maze of doom.”
Unfortunately for these clever bugs escape usually meant being captured again and being subject to some cruel torturous death. Being burned to death with a laser from the sun via a magnifying glass was a popular choice.
In our neighborhood the 5th of July was much more popular than the actual holiday on the fourth. For it was the day after the nightly fireworks that we would walk the sidewalks and gutters looking for “duds” Unexploded fireworks. Anything. Fire crackers, bottle rockets, the remains of a roman candle. We bought hundreds of these used explosives home and carefully unraveled them into a box. It was long tedious hours with little payoff. I ate a few crabs last Summer and it kind of reminded me of that. A lot of work with little meat and never feeling close to having my appetite satisfied.
What we did with our gunpowder harvest hardly satisfied my appetite for destruction either. I was pretty keen on destroying plastic tank models that I spent weeks building but that was usually done with gasoline. Sometimes we got lucky and were able to purchase real fireworks from the local firework dealer on Tennyson street. We would knock on this teenage kids door and barter with him. A nickel, a dime, ANYTHING for one single firecracker or bottle rocket.
We played outside. Sidestreet baseball, touch football, man hunt. We built forts in trees and under bridges. We explored the endless miles of railroad tracks that led up the dirt hill from Daniele. We hung out on the trestle
Then there were the Summers of the Gills. I had already written about this in a previous posts but these were great times. Just a few years after the passing of our father, it was good to have a man in the house again. This was Summer at it’s very best. Carefree and happy. Lot’s of pool, barbecue and popcorn. Wherever we went, we all went together. Filled the station wagon and sang songs from the FM together. It never got any better than this.
We did surrender to TV though, although it was a different monster than it is now. A huge wooden box attached to an antenna on the roof. Seven channels and sometimes eight, if we could get channel 3 to come in. Monty Python was a Summer staple on Sunday nights along with all the other mindless sitcoms of the day. Greg got us into “Dark Shadows” Saturday Night Wrestling and eventually Mary Hartman Mary Hartman.
The Day I Beat Walter Lambert In Chess
In the Summer of 72 we sat in front of channel 13 and “watched” the championship of chess between Russia and USA. This was huge when we were young. There still was a cold war going on and anything Russia vs USA was must see. At this time Bobby Fischer was still in the progress of losing his mind and didn’t allow cameras in the room where they were playing. So, for the entire Summer we sat in front of the TV and watched some guy move paper chess pieces on an upright paper board. There were sometimes HOURS between moves. It was like watching grass grow yet this is how we spent an entire Summer. This championship match had ignited a national interest in the game that we caught.
I had gotten rather good at the game and even got a book from the library. Next to Fran Tarkenton, the then quarterback of the New York Football Giants, Bobby Fischer was an absolute hero to me. I studied and envied his life and his mysterious quiet way was even more intreging.
So one day, it happened. In the Lamberts always open garage door, I challenged Walter Lambert to a game of chess. Nobody had ever beaten him or even come close. And he would smirk and let out a whinny laugh everytime he beat one of us and called us knuckleheads for even trying.
But as the game went on, it became interesting and a small crowd began to gather around. I knew I had him on the ropes and he was just waiting for one stupid move, like we always seemed to make, to beat us. Not only did I keep my head in the game but I actually check mated the older, the wiser, the much cooler Walter Lambert. There was a shock of silence first but then the place erupted. George beat Walter Lambert. Yes. George Hartman had beat Walter Lambert in a game of chess. In the Summer of 1972 in a small rural town off the New Jersey Turnpike where planes flew overhead to land in Newark… I had become a folk hero for a few days. I had indeed beaten Walter Lambert at chess.
I want every anticipated Summer to be good. I yearn for the sun in my face. I watch our tomatoes and flowers grow. I BBQ ribs and steak on weekends. I’ve seen a Summer moon rise from the deck. I love each abrupt season better than the next. I couldn’t stand ‘summer all the time” or rainy seasons but Summer is a great time to feel alive. There is no greater swim than body surfing on an Atlantic ocean wave. Much like George Costanza, today, I proclaim this THE SUMMER OF GEORGE!
Ok so home movies are boring as shit, even when clipped and edited to hell. But your kids are only young once so take as many photos and movies as you can. You will never regret it.
This was taken in June 1996. Josh was 4 years old. His brother Jonathan was one. Josh is now in the United States Air Force and is in The United Arab Emirates in the Middle East. He is going to be 23 this June.
His brother Jonathan is going to be 20 this July. He is close to completing his Associates degree at Middlesex County College. He made the honor roll and was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa honor society. He plays trumpet for Rutgers marching band and has high ambitions to be enrolled in Rutgers University soon.
In 1996 the president of the US was Bill Clinton. There actually was an internet. If you had AOL the default browser was Internet Explorer. There was no Google, Facebook, Twitter and 20 million Americans were actually on-line to a completely untamed web. Cell phones were huge, with antennas and very expensive. Nintendo64 was released in Japan. Hurricane Bertha caused 250 billion dollars in damage. Dolly the sheep became the first mammal to be cloned. The OJ Simpson "civil" trial began after two horrible murders. The Summer Olympics took place in Atlanta Ga. The attempted raising of a huge section of The Titanic fails. Six-year-old JonBenét Ramsey is murdered in the basement of her parents' home. Bill Watterson's comic Calvin and Hobbes releases its final strip. Whitewater scandal: U.S. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies before a grand jury. Chess computer "Deep Blue" defeats world chess champion Garry Kasparov for the first time. Daniel Green is convicted of the murder of James Jordan, the father of basketball star Michael Jordan. The American punk rock band the Ramones play their last show. Gene Kelly, George Burns and Tiny Tim (among others) died.
Cleveland Browns deactivate and move to Baltimore where they become the Baltimore Ravens and reactivate in 1999.
Dallas beats Pittsburgh in Super Bowl, The New York Yankees won 1996 World Series defeating the Atlanta Braves.
In dog sledding Jeff King wins with lead dogs: Jake & Booster
But the news here is that the web site is back. Not that anyone noticed but it was down for quite awhile. I had come across many obstacles in the last year or so. Most devastating was a hard drive crash of my Mac book pro laptop. This was essentially the heart and guts of the web site and it held all the data and functions for Mightyten. Although, I was sensing something wrong with the computer and instinctively did an emergency back up on an external drive one week before the crash…I still lost key passwords and expensive software that I used. At the same time the ISP provider for themightyten dot com (Yahoo) decided to upgrade editing and uploading capabilities that left me out in the cold. Yahoo is a company that just ASSUMES everyone has the money to just go out and buy or update expensive software. They have also increased the annual fee that I pay to keep this name up and running on their server.
In many ways on the internet the blog has seemed separate from the Family Web site but maybe this will (reluctantly) connect the two. So this is the The Family Web Site. I say reluctantly because in many ways I don’t want them to connect. I don’t want to feel obligated to always have to write about this family. Not that there’s lack of material but besides the sad deaths, happy weddings and births, life is pretty much a trivial journey through monotonous (not mountainous) highways. Boring with a capital B. I’m not calling everyone boring, I’m just saying everyday life is just that. Everyday. There is social media to blow your steam or toot your horn and we’re all pretty good at using it. I can’t even list how many of my writings, poetry, photography and digital artwork I would rather “publish” here but am frightened to do so. You see, I am a rather strange dude with weird taste. I have always had a huge appreciation of art, animation and creative writing. As a result of that keen appreciation I have tried (rather unsuccessfully) to actually BE a respected “artist” When I am surrounded by really intelligent writers, artists, teachers, graphic designers, voice over artists, and even ridiculously skilled puppet builders, I can’t even come close. It goes back to what I am. A really strange dude with weird taste and amateur skills. In art there are those that create it….and those that just appreciate it. I have surrendered to the latter.
Forty-four years ago (a tiny history) the “Family Ties” was called “The Hartman News” and it was printed by hand on school loose leaf paper. There wasn’t a server, Adobe Dreamweaver, Photoshop, hard drives, corrupt fonts, blogs, and the closest thing to a hard drive crash for me was crumbling up a piece of paper and starting over. After that my sisters and brothers took over and released some absolutely beautiful paper editions of the now called “Family Ties” Some of these will be digitized and available for download I hope soon. Then nine years ago while working the night shift at a large format graphics company on 3oth street in New York City I became fascinated with the internet, web design, Adobe Flash and slowly self taught myself to put up a new “family news” site.
It was a lot of experiments, failures and fun and the main thing was that I was learning. The website I created was a bulky amateur mess that became outdated rather fast. I didnt have the time or resources to keep it updated.
Actually my main goal at that time was to discover any bit of information on our family heritage. I become totally intrigued by our great grandfather and his 12 children that lived on this earth around the same time the Titanic sunk 400 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada. I was also fascinated by the stories aunt Carol, uncle Brother and our mother had told us about the Gill and Westfield NJ. While I was creating this huge list of questions in my mind for them, but then they slowly and softly passed away and left all my questions unanswered.
I have had many inspirations, influences and teachers in my time. I’ve had some lucky breaks. I remember the first time I saw somebody doing Photoshop on a PC in the late 90’s. It was version 4.0 and I was floored by the use of layers which had been released a few years earlier. Even I knew at that time how absolutely ground breaking that was in digital art. I also knew right then and there that that was something I wanted to do. I wanted to learn. I asked a few people at my job at Lucent Technologies in Holmdel NJ to “please just sit down with me a few minuets and show me some things” and nobody ever helped me. I will never forget one guy looking at me right after I asked him for help and saying.. “why don’t you go to school like I did and learn it”.
So I went to Barnes and Noble all the time read and purchased books. I practiced at work. I practiced at home. Then I got into Adobe Illustrator and was completely baffled by that. I self-taught myself all that I could with books and YouTube didn’t come out until April 2005 and it was even a few years after that when it became the mother of all tutorials on the web.
And yeah I did, at age 40 went back to college and the small Brookdale Community college I went to had just built a brand new computer lab with 30 brand new Macs. I was in heaven and I was blessed with good teachers who insisted on me learning how to cut a perfect path. At the same time I buried myself in art magazines and tried to duplicate other peoples work as practice.
After the dot come bust from 2000 to 2002 and the collapse of Roman Empire Lucent Technologies (Many argue that the dotcom boom and bust was a case of too much too fast.) I ended up on the streets searching for anything to provide for my young family. I ended up in a auto graveyard in Carteret NJ. Far far away from anything creative, or digital or what I had inside of me pushing out.
I was driving a huge fork truck in an car auction crash “graveyard” Moving around automobiles that were in accidents. Some of the accidents were not so bad. Most of the accidents were totals with fatalities. There were detonated blood covered air bags. Shredded windshields and doors. Jaws of life claw marks on the hoods and roof. There is money in car parts. Sometimes a totaled car is worth more in parts then the car itself. We cleaned these cars out and lined them up for an auction every week. Big shots from all over the tri-state area would come with their tow trucks and car carriers and buy these wrecks for parts. It was a highly depressing job. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get along with anybody there.
I was never a “car guy” and they found that out quickly. I reported the unsafe working conditions to Occupational Safety and Health Administration and wasn’t afraid to put my name on the report (even though it could have went anonymous) because I wanted to get fired. They demoted me to the grungy job of cleaning out wrecks and took me off my fork truck. In many of these wrecks that I cleaned in the hot sun it was the last stop for many people. There were even stories of the accidents from the tow truck drivers that dropped these cars off. “Oh this was an old couple that got hit head on by a tractor trailer. They never had a chance.” or “This was a car load of teens with no seatbelts that rolled over three times.” I was too sensitive for this shit as I collected their loose change in the ashtrays and tried on some cool coats that would find in the back seats.
I was ready to surrender myself to a life of physical labor, warehouses, factories, bleach lines, blue collar punching in and out until one day, a newspaper ad. This was still web infancy days. There was no Monster.com or Craigslist although emails were the thing at that time. There were still newspapers publishing wanted ads.
Every night the Summer that I worked here I would lock the huge barbed wire fences and watch the sky turn gold and purple then black. I had that newspaper ad and the next day I called it a man named John answered the phone. He was in a complete panic. “George…I need someone to come in here….get behind that Mac and get all this prepress work out the door. I need a quick mind. I need someone that knows graphics…knows prepress….understands printing..I need help.”
So a few days later I was hired. At this point in my digital career, I wasn’t very good. I was slow. I had a lot to learn. I was basically a poster and powerpoint designer with pussy footed deadlines.
This job threw me out of the pot and into the fire. I learned the incredible details and hectic world of large format prepress for huge companies like Barnes and Noble, Cigna Insurance, Morgan Stanly, The Holocaust Museum. I learned fast and I learned hard. John insisted on using software “shortcuts” and being quick and precise. He was a great tough teacher. At first I really didn’t know what I was doing. I had major panic attacks when they gave me job envelopes. I almost quit several times. It was very rough times for me and a few years before I was comfortable with ANY challenge.
I often wondered why I was hired. I know they had a quite a few people lined up for the job. Turns out, because of my “lack of” experience the CEO got me cheap and he liked the fact that I was…
This is some of Glenn’s art. This what I have, I know he had a lot more out there. Hopefully there will be a day that his grandchildren can see these and get a small perspective of who he was and what he went thru. Some of these are almost 10 years old. His talent was wonderful and if he applied it in the real world away from his addictions he could have been very successful. (to view these properly, click on image for full size and then hit the BACK button on your browser. We are subject to the simplicity of WordPress.com sorry)
your symphony of weariness gone
your struggles just the wind now
we all have our self-defeating schemes
marked bends in this journey
climb another mountain
cross another field
an angled view of an obsolete world
the blessed dance of life
footprints in the mud
Home is more idea than place
where suffering never knocks
and you can taste Gods endless seasons
only fragile evidence that you were here
your stories embedded in verbal books
wade into slumbering silence
behind the curtain of death
thru a dying forest of memories
and an empty river of grief
you wait for us
This poem was inspired by this THE TRAVELERS