Archive for the ‘New Jersey’ Category

I’m all write.

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

(Inspired greatly by David Sedaris new book “Theft By Finding Diaries 1977-2002” I decided to at least attempt to write a few words every day. I have read every one of Davids books and wish I could write like him.
Below is the result of my experiment. I edited out many days because my life is truly that boring. It was still fun and I’ve continued the experiment)

JANUARY 8 2017
The Giants lost to the Packers today 38-13 in a season ending playoff game. I’ve lost something with football. Not sure what it is. I remember when I was a kid and I would be obsessed. I’ve actually lost alot of passion for anything period.

January 21
Mike pulled up alongside the street in front of our house in the Spaceship and Kryha called out to me; “do you wanna go?” So yes, spur of the moment jumped in and next thing I know it’s me Kryha and Joanna marching down 5th avenue in the woman’s march in New York. Wall to wall people, signage and protest. Truly an amazing feeling to be in the middle of this thing. One day after inauguration day. Very powerful. They blocked off Trump towers and the march ended there. Joanna took us to this warm restaurant Le Relais De Venise L’ Entrecote. A French steakhouse. Only one thing on the menu, steak. There was also a salad and a secret mustard sauce. Mostly we shared photos on our phones of the hysterical anti-trump signage but it was great to be out of the cold.

January 22
I’m still thinking about yesterday, how awesome it was. When we got on the train in Seacacus there was standing room only. The crowd was already pumped up and we were practically hanging out the doors and windows to get to Grand Central Station. So we stood all the way to Mid town and from a distance you could see the march. I’ll never forget those thousand and thousands of people. I haven’t been this politically active since me and a few friends marched in front of the Carteret Post Office in the protesting the reinstatement of registration for the draft.

March 18 Ocean Grove/Asbury Park
In a rare day, I was able to get both Joshua and Jonathan together at the same time. They jumped into my car and at the last second I decided to just wing it and head down the Parkway south. We ended up at the Silverball a Pinball museum on the Asbury boardwalk. Renovated pinball machines from the turn of the century to the present. Pay one price for an hour and we all got seriously lost in the clatter of pinball. One of the coolest places and best days I have had in a long time.
Afterward we slowly drove thru the incredible architecture of a small quaint town called Ocean Grove looking for grub. We stumbled into a place called Nagles. Known for its ice cream and sandwiches we found a nice table and I felt lucky because it’s really just a small drugstore.
There is something magical about anything you do on the oceanfront.

April 10 Wood-Ridge
I was up all night with a stabbing pain in my right shoulder. I’m not sure what it is from but I assume I ripped a rotary cuff in my shoulder. The pain is incredible. I try the couch, the bed and finally fall asleep in the rocking chair in our room. The landlord, who we code name Frank, has mentioned selling the house we live in. We only moved in a year ago. This has caused confusion and stress. My boss isn’t responding to any emails. I don’t know where he is and the company account is very low with many bills. We code name him Frank because Kryha thinks he has bugged our rental and we don’t want him to think we are talking about him. Related: my boss is an asshole.

April (13) Rutherford NJ Bus Stop
She was so happy when I dropped her off at 5 AM. Still dark. Empty bus stand. First stop New York and then on to Boston. A half a days journey. It is the smile on her face I will never forget. One suitcase. Filled with things to give her children on her little Easter visit.

April 16 Pine Brook
The boss is out of internet reach on an island off the African coast. I can not get a hold of him and there are some serious issues going on here. When I come thru the front door every morning I pass empty cubicles of laid off workers. Even though they are not there anymore I say good morning to each and every one.

April (?) Pine Brook
I found a subpoena taped to the outside glass door at work today. This is from First Industrial for the missed rent payments. A court date in Morristown looms.

April 21 Work
In a static-ridden conversation on the phone with the boss from Africa, he told me to lay off everyone but me and Rubin. It broke my heart to tell them. They were hard workers and great people. This is it. I think. It’s almost over.
I negotiated a payment plan for the back rent so court has been cancelled pending timely payments.

April 24 Kitchen
Kryha is crazy excited because she saw the “crazy animal” running across the ledge of one of her upper flower garden. It only comes out once in a while but eats the flowers and vegetables.

April 28 North Jersey
I have prayed for guidance for a long time from the Spirit and today is the day I was slapped in the face, kicked in the ass, grabbed by the shoulders and shoved into another direction.
I now have a terrible secret that keeps me apart from normal people.

May 10 Wood-Ridge
I finally put the tomatoes in the ground. I can’t explain this either. Somewhere between last year and this year I lost some passion for this home. I think it happened when Frank suddenly spread a rumor at Lucky Larry’s about selling it. This angered me and then worried me and it compounded my other fear of losing my job. I mean it seems like we just moved here and now he wants to put it on the market? If he did “wire” the place like Kryha thinks, I hope he heard me scream Fuck You Frank when nobody else was home.

May 23 Wood-Ridge
I have been riding my bike almost every day. The hills in this town are brutal. Some of them must be 20 degrees or more. Sometimes I take the hills for the challenge.

May 20
In a bike ride around the neighborhood I am almost hit by a careless woman who looked like she was texting. Last Summer much to my horror, I dislocated my finger falling down our front concrete stairs. And a few weeks later I got stung by a jellyfish in Spring Lake right on my dick.

May 30 Hasbrook Heights
Themes of fear and depression but I am taking care of important things.
Kryha spends hours and hours working on the layered garden in the backyard.

June 3 Woodland Park
On my bike. I am constantly inspired by patterns and prints, trees, current surroundings, the wind whistling across my face and listening in on conversations at Starbucks.

June 4
The KIA begins to SCREAM now when I drive. It’s the compressor, I know it. It finally died. I also know that they start at around $800. to replace. Why would I do that for a car with 185,000 miles on it?
It’s going to be a long Summer without AC in the car.

June 5 Pine Brook
At work every morning I pray and thank God in a mindfulness meditation expression. It is so strange having no real interaction with people at work. Except for the phone calls from customers which at first I dreaded and then grew to love. Most people are very polite and kind, even if there was a problem with their order I eagerly fix it and issue a redo. Once a very long time ago, my father told me in his store, the customer is always right. That is certainly open for debate.

June 6 Pine Brook
I never know what to expect when I pick up the work mail for this place at the PO Box across the street. It’s usually bad news. Anna has been home from Boston and has been in a cooking mood. The tea room, our sanctuary in the backyard is now open late nights.

June 7 Wood-Ridge
Snowie is sick. Some kind of skin thing.

June 8 Wood-Ridge
Kryhas birthday. We all chipped in a bought her a new phone. I wrapped the phone in a small box and kept re-wrapping it into bigger and bigger boxes.
It was a nice surprise for her. The phone was, not all the boxes.

June 9
The companies pick up service with UPS has stopped. This has never happened. The company owes so much money, they stopped service. I am negotiating a pay back deal with emails just to get service on again. So customers orders are sitting in the warehouse while the owner gets a tan on an island somewhere off the coast of Africa. Meanwhile I have no idea where the rent money is going to come from.

June 14
We had the BBQ of all BBQ’s this night. Alot of Charles friends were here, my son Jonathan and the usual Polish crew. Things really got going when Charles friends broke out the acoustic and started playing and singing.

June 10
There’s talk going around the house of shaving Snowie.

June 12 Pine Brook
Every time I take my car for an oil change they find something else wrong with it. “Your tire rods are loose” he said and took me into the garage to look. My Kia was up in the air and he went over to the frot tire and shook it. It didn’t look THAT bad. My typical response, “I’ll fix it next time”

June (?) Wood-Ridge
I came home from work today and Snowie was sitting on the couch with all her long beautiful white fur shaved off.
I was stunned. Not by the radical haircut as much by the fact that she was just sitting there on the couch. She hasn’t been able to jump onto the couch in years. And nobody is home.

June 22 Barnes&Noble
Joshua’s birthday. He is somewhere in Germany deployed with the Air Force. I always remember the day when they were born. It seems like another lifetime now. I was working in a huge refrigerated warehouse, teamsters union, commuting from Brick to Edison every night. I was watering our brand new lawn (sand) of our brand new house when I heard her scream upstairs that her water broke. A couple hours later we had a brand new baby.
Wasn’t this supposed to be the “American Dream”?

June 24 Montclair
A nice hot great day to end up in an air conditioned movie theater. While the girls went to get seats in the theater, I lagged behind and thought I’d surprise them with popcorn and coke.
I was greeted with my snack surprise with, “Why did you get this?” “Next time ask!” Kryha has that magical way of destroying nice things sometimes. Besides that little drama (I’ll never buy her popcorn again) Dinner With Beatrice was a lovely movie. It was deeper than the ocean with a very strange ending that kind ended in the ocean. Bit of a disappoint based on the huge sigh the theater released when the closing credits suddenly appeared.

June 25 Camden
Not impressed with this outdoor arena at all. I don’t like being this close to Philly. The Delaware river looks like a swamp. Cumberland Blues was a rocket to Mars, boy they can really get crazy on the two jams in that song. Once again I drums into space was memorable for me. Just love chaos.

June 26
Snowie has been sick. She is very sad and has stopped barking. Very concerned and Anna is freaking out and blaming us for not taking care of her.

June 25 Rutherford
So Anna found this vet opened on Sunday and we took Snowie. For some reason everyone in the waiting room thought that when I called Krystyna to come over to me, it was our dogs name. So they all looked at Snowie and smiled and repeated me “Ohhhh Krystynia… how cute”
This was appropriate however, as Anna and I have already determined that Snowie and Kryha are starting to look alike.

July 1 Wood-Ridge
Sitting in the sun reading the North Jersey Record. This fucking so-called president is a real piece of work. Kryha and I watch CNN daily in total disbelief at what is happening in this country. Bullies don’t come from strength – they come from weakness.
Krystyna’s cumbernickel crop is huge. Tomatoes are looking good but not even close to last years bumper crop. Thats because I didnt care and plants can sense those things.

July 2 Wood-Ridge
Mike the puppet maker has been working on this nine foot tall puppet in their studio. It’s actually a walk around custom, more than a puppet. “Throg” is in the works hanging in front of their view of the New York skyline. Anna, Kryha and I wanted to take Mike out to dinner but he ended up taking us. He said he “owed us” He took the spaceship to Hoboken and we ate at Leos, his favorite Italian restaurant. I think Joanna was at Johnson and Johnson working out some details for a logo redesign. After dinner it was a beautiful dusk, the sun was at that perfect angle. He drove around Hoboken a little. We went past Frank Sinatra park in front of the Hudson river and towering New York skyline. Everyone was in the park. There was orange and yellow reflecting off all the glass and mirrors from the setting sun. The spaceships entire roof slides open and he rolled the windows down and drove thru historic Hoboken. When I was in my twenties it was a crazy scary place where I used to buy coccain. Now it’s a hipster town with beautiful rows of brownstones, restaurants, bars and scarce parking.

July 4 Wood-Ridge
Jonathan came over to hang out and at night we went over to Mike and Joannas. We had the Macy’s fireworks on TV and we could also see them from their balcony lighting up the sky and skyscrapers of the NYC skyline. Joanna made zapiekanka – a polish dish – toasted bread with mushrooms and cheese. I always call it Polish pizza much to the dismay of Kryha.

July 21
Today is Jonnys birthday. I can only text him and then call later. This is going to be his final year at Rutgers. His grades are amazing. I miss the birthdays we had when they were kids. Summer Birthdays means BBQ and food and many people. One time I actually rented a clown. He had a serious allergy from something in our back yard and had to keep taking off his red nose. He was a fucking mess with tears and snot and sneezing. His final act was pulling a rabbit out of a hat and the kids went nuts. Layla actually ended up getting a rabbit as a pet shortly after that. The clown costs fifty bucks which I thought was worth it but then he was asking for a tip and I felt like punching him in the face like John Candy did in that movie Uncle Buck.

August 2
The news said several “Rain bombs” are coming. When did all this extravagant naming for things like storms and moons begin? When I was a kid we just said Thunderstorm.

August 3
Anna was right outside the back door pestering Kryha and me to come look at this lightening in the sky. I’ve seen lightening before so I didn’t go. She kept calling us to come look at this. So we went out the back door, stood in the backyard and looked up. The lightening was silent and it crawled thru the clouds like a snake. Constant and ever changing. The clouds were rolling shades of black, gray and orange. It was, after all the most amazing lightening I have ever seen. This is something the weather people need to name.

August 6
This was like dream. I was just following Anna and Kryha in Ridgewood. Kryha drove there for “something to do” and they went thru town like they knew where they were going. I had no idea what we were doing, not even sure where we were. I really just felt disorientated. We walked thru this empty town until they ended up at this place “Cravings Tapas Bristo”.
“Do you have reservations? we were asked
Reservations??!! I thought. The place is empty.
But they seated us anyway and we chose a table outside.
“This is small plates George.” Anna said
Small plates?
So … appetizers for the main course.

August 8 Wood-Ridge
Krystyna picked up Snowie and carried her into the bathtub and is washing her with this special shampoo the vet gave her. As she washes her, she sings her a song with her name in Polish. Snowie is a good girl, she never fights a bath.

August 10
The white noise from this tall fan from Costco that Kryha put in our room is highly addicting. I have never slept or dreamed better.

August 12 Inman Rd. Edison
Josh is back from deployment in Germany and we are at the driving range clubbing golf balls into an empty field. Nobody will ever understand how good this is for you unless they try it. My other son Jonny is AWOL. He just disappears most times. He and five other students are renting a house for their final semester. All I see in my mind is Animal House Keg parties.
Earlier we had lunch with my sister-in-law Ann who was on her way home to Florida. Lunch at the Reo, a famous dinner in New Jersey and then a quick visit to Shop-Rite to pick up a couple pounds of Pork Roll to bring back.
Besides Germany, Josh was able to visit Amsterdam, Paris and Prague. He told me how he was able to drive 170 MPH on the Autobahn and I was like, PLEASE – I can’t believe I used to hold these kids min my arms now they are having keg parties and driving 170 mph!.

August 17
Today my friend Jim McSherry would have been 57 years old. He just died of congestive heart failure a week ago. I’m still trying to figure that out. His wife insisted that I call him a few weeks ago. I’m so glad I did. He never told me he was fucking dying! She never did either. I guess you just don’t call people and say “I’m dying” or maybe I was supposed to know that. I would have never hung up the phone if he told me that.
Also today, my brother Glenn passed away three years ago.
Our family used to joke that he had nine lives like a cat. Now it’s still hard to believe that three of us are gone already.

August 19 StarBucks
I checked my “FindFriends” app on my phone and Kryha is 4,329 miles away from me in Leszczyna Poland.

August 20 Wood-Ridge
I am eating tomatoes one after another like grapes.
I have decided to separate myself from my job. In the way I have always said “we” meaning Tim , me and the company, I will now only say canvas4life or YOUR company. I realize how much worrying and loss of sleep I am going thru and it is making me sick. Evey email I get from him is “from my iphone” so apparently he is always at that island. How could he not let me know? Am I not his manager? What the fuck is he hiding? We’re running out of money again. From now on I just work here. I leave it here when I go home.

August 21 Parsippany
There was a huge build up to this day. A solar eclipse was supposed to cover most of the country. I was in the parking lot getting out of my car around 230 and that’s when they said it would “hit”. The shadows did seem weird.
All I saw was an old lady holding a newspaper over her head and running into the store.

August 22 Rt. 46
At what point do you stop putting money into a car with over 185 thousand miles on it?
Also I captured the “crazy animal” in a trap.
I am bringing it to work with me tomorrow to release it outside the grounds.

August 25 Wood-Ridge
Kryha comes home from Poland today. Apparently there’s a lot of drama happening there.
Anna and I went to Mob Burger at the top of Moonachie ave. Gourmet burgers are such a big deal in the USA now. So 34 dollars for two hamburgers, two fries and one shake is a big deal. I am 57 years old today.

September 1 Pine Brook
I miss going on vacation. The healthiest thing you can do is just get the hell away from everything. Home and work. It’s a huge beautiful world out there. I know this by printing our customers vacation photos.

September 7
There are currently three hurricanes brewing in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time. Irma, Hose and Katia.

September (??)
My brother Gary in Florida has taken my his family and our brother Greg in a car and evacuated to Alabama. Irma looks insanely dangerous.

September 9 Hackensack
I went to the oral surgeon in the morning and went about the rest of my day with blood all over my shirt. A lot of people looking at me in horror and avoiding me.

September 10
Went to Harry’s to watch opening kickoff for the start of the season. Harry always makes this incredible meal, Joe brings dessert and I bring wings. The Giants continued their very sucky ways of the preseason and lost. Something tells me it’s going to be a long season. But this time I don’t care.

September 11 Emerson
September 11 is my generations Pearl Harbor and that always dwells in my mind. More so since me, Gary, Ann and Josh went to the 9/11 memorial and museum last year.
Once again Kryha has poor Snowie in the bathtub and she is singing in Polish to ease her mind.

September 13 Wood-Ridge
Mosquitoes have totally ruined our backyard retreat this year.

September 14
Communication distortions. I sat down on the kitchen table face to face with Kryha and we ironed it out. Honesty isn’t complicated.
The next morning my alarm went off like it always does at 5AM and Kryha woke up to tell me she had a dream that she was pregnant and had a baby girl.

September 22
Friday night. No work tomorrow. By candlelight in the tea room the sky turns vanilla and orange as the sun sets and we sip tea.

September 24
Two days after Kryha had her dream that she had our baby I had a dream about the baby.
She was two years old and was looking out the kitchen window on 6th street.
“Look” she says pointing down
There is a row of huge tarantulas walking like ducks in a row in our rock filled backyard. Every day the family of spiders appear and they are a little bit bigger each time.
Soon they are as big as small dogs.

September 29
On the edge of October I bite into an apple that Merek picked in The Chester. There was a worm peeking out of a small hole after I bit it. I ran to the bathroom and spit it all out.
The next few days I asked everybody I know if this has ever happened to them. Every single one says no.
So apparently I won the lottery of apples in life.

October 8 East Rutherford
Buck drove up from Brick to attend the Giants real home opener. I didn’t count the Monday night game because Monday night games suck. Buck successfully changed his name from Tim many years ago because he didn’t like people calling him Timmy. Buck is much more rugged and masculine I guess. He was very fortunate to have pulled that off. Not many people can successfully initiate changing their name.
I shared with Buck my increasing lack of desire to follow football and he told me, “Well, of coarse you are damn it. You’ve been going for fifty fucking years!”
He also told me he would buy a few games from me to relieve the financial pressure I complained about also.
In between halftime and the middle of the third quarter the Giants just became unglued. They looked horrible. They were out-classed and out-coached and they were well on their way to losing big. At that point, Buck turned to me in his seat and said, “Remember what I said about buying some games from you? ….. Forget I said that, ok?”
After the loss we drudged back to the car to tailgate some more. I was using Anna’s 19 year old Tracer and the back bumper was filled with Bernie Sanders for President 2016 bumper stickers.
As I approached the car I was shocked to see it was covered with garbage. All kinds of garbage. Empty bottles, half filled trays of food and anything else you might find laying around a stadium parking lot filled with drunken tailgaters. I didn’t get angry I just kind laughed but we were specifically targeted and I don’t know why. We weren’t LA Charger fans. Buck who is a fierce Republican noted that this happened because of the Bernie Sanders for president bumper stickers and as I scooped Chili off the windshield I agreed he was probably right.

October 15 Boston
We stayed in a run down bed and breakfast that seemed more like a homeless shelter. We ate at Vietnamese food where I demanded a glass of Boston tap water. We then delivered fresh pirogi from NJ that we took with us to Anna who was having a massive sleep over with her friends.
The next morning a car alarm went off for like half an hour and that was how the day began. We were there to take Charles back to New Jersey after four years. His life cut down to several boxes of books and clothes.

October 22 East Rutherford
Today would have been my 29th wedding anniversary and I look back with zero regrets. I’m in the parking lot of MetLife stadium with my youngest son Jonny. We are in the midst of one of the worse seasons ever. Nothing can go right. I think I’ve spent half my life in this damn parking lot between Giant games and concerts. It is the peak of Autumn. They lost 24-7. WE are tailgating and throwing around the football. The asphalt is a sea of garbage and the seagulls are swooping up and down in the sky screaming with joy. We are sitting in chairs around the embers of the hot grill. Jonny used to be up to my waist in height. Now he is taller than me and he takes out a cigar and starts to smoke it.

October (??) Wood-Ridge
I don’t understand why Kryha has to pick up every single leaf when we do the leafs. We are just going to be back here next week with another foot of leaves at our feet. She does this too when it snows. Evey single flake is off the sidewalk and driveway. I’m good with just making a path. It’s survival not a game!

Oct 27 Garfield
At the restaurant called Warsaw with Kryha and Charles across from the Passaic river. Hungarian potato pancakes, chicken liver, goulash, pirogi and some awkwardness. We are both trying to overcome that little spat of yesteryear.
Afterwards in the parking lot, the moon was perfectly sliced in half and the river reeked of it’s industrial river history.
Charles is home to go to the dentist. Kryha built a tent in the dinning room.

October 31 Wood-Ridge
Kryha put an overflowing basket of candy on the porch for a take-one-only Halloween treat for the kiddies. Twenty minuets later she went out there and the candy AND the basket were GONE!

November 4
Josh came by to and we hung out in the backyard cooking steaks, talking football and unfortunately politics.

November 7 New York City
We are all together again for another concert at Madison Square Garden. Beef, an old friend texted me at intermission and came to my seats for a visit. I have a long history of concerts with him. Carol, my brothers Glenn’s ex wife also found us and said hello.
They played one of my favorite songs; China Cat Sunflower and it just sucked. Weir changed it too much. I was way more interested in Cumberland Blues and the Sampson and Delilah encore. Sometimes change isn’t good at all.

November 11 Barnes&Nobel
After another mass shooting in a church where the shooter was executing children in front of a camera.
I now blame the GOP and this piece of shit president for everything. The hurricanes, escalated racism and sexism, white supremacy, innocent people and CHILDREN BEING SHOT and a nation TOTALLY DIVIDED!

November 15 New York City
A very old friend I have heard from in ages contacted me about a job in NY. I learned so much about graphic, prepress and color with this guy. Back when I last saw him He didn’t take his contacts out for over a month and slept in them and eventually lost an eye because of that. He used to say to me:
“Look at me! One fucking eye! And I’m still the best color guy in New York City”
So at the interview I am walking around this shop and making little comments and the guy takes me out in the hall and says “You’re hired”
He told me the salary and I said I have to think about it.

December 2
Sales are crap and I tired everything. You need money to make money.

Apparently.

December 17
The best way to describe it is like being the last person on a sinking ship. I’m hanging on for dear life but don’t know for hoe much longer. Yet, I feel like I’m still doing the right thing. I continue to market to big company’s hoping to score a big account. I don’t just go down, I go down swinging.

December 18 Pine Brook
All the life boats are gone. I’m picking up registered sign for bills at the post office. My father would NEVER run a business like this, I thought. By pure laziness I grew the bottom of my goatee a couple of inches long. Kryha will pull it and make a goat sound. I had to be out of my mind to lend this company money.
Anna is home for break from BU and so Charles is living in a tent in the dinning room. I know she loves having both kids home again. I have no idea where my kids could be right now.

Dec 25 Christmas
Josh and Jonny drove here and I was so glad to see them together I hugged them each. I am so worried about where I am going to be working next year at this time. Also the pain in my back and shoulder has returned with a killing vengeance. It literally feels like a rusty meat hook is clawed into my back.
Joanna and Kryha did an amazing job cooking. Fresh fish and pirogi.
The sharing of the oplatek is my favorite tradition. Last year everyone wished me a year full of “more orders” this year it wasn’t even mentioned. Maybe people are thinking that jinxed me.

December 31 Route 3 East
It is bitterly cold out. I am going past MetLife and the last game between the Giants and Redskins is going on at the moment. There should be traffic stuffed on every square inch of this road and it’s empty. Somewhere in there are my two empty seats and the tickets are in my glove box, nice and warm and unused.
I asked Harry on Christmas if he wanted the tickets. He said no. I told him free, He said no. I told him, I would pay him to go. He still said no and laughed. I always liked Harry laugh.
Many many years ago, I would never miss a game. Even one as meaningless and cold as this.

January 3
“Historical Bomb Cyclone” is what they are calling this Winter storm. When I got up at 5am it wasn’t even snowing yet so I drove in. Around 11 am it was so bad I chased everybody home and just barely made it home myself.
The KIA got stuck going up Moonachie ave, I had to abandon it and walk the rest of the way home. It was a damn blizzard and it took me over an hour to walk a few blocks. In my life I had never experience such whipping ice cold wind and snow. This storm was properly named. My eye brows and goat beard were frozen when I finally walked thru the door and they took a photo of me.
Later that night, after the “Historical Bomb Cyclone” I had a very difficult time finding my car buried on some side street.
Like an idiot I walked back to my car without a shovel. Some random stranger came over from his house with two shovels and we dug the KIA out. I was so grateful. He told me his name was George. I told him my name was George also. He said “it’s a rough world out there George, us Georges gotta stick together.”

January 5
I tried turning out of the parking lot at my job and the front tire disconnected from the KIA. The tire rods I was warned about went! A half hour later I watched it being towed down the street to my mechanic and I walked back to work.

January 6
I usually keep the front door locked as the office is now empty and I spend most of my time in the shop. I must have forgot to lock it as my only employee left told me he saw someone walking around in there from the back. So I went to greet him, guy in a suit holding a brief case- a typical salesman that come stumbling thru the front door all the time- I was opening my mouth to kick him out when he pulled out a badge and held it to my face. “IRS, Sir, do you have a few minuets?”

January 8 Pine Brook
I realize for the first time ever, the boss did not call me for the Holidays. The emails, warning letters and unpaid bills are piling up. One guy is particularly nasty and calls me every week. I think my calmess is what angers him. This is NOT my company. The ship is taking on huge waves of water, I’ve been abandoned totally and the Captain isn’t going down with the ship, he’s on an island somewhere off the coast of Africa. I’m going down with the ship.

January 24 Ramsey
My mantra is perfect. I feel like it is part of me. Knowing that I’m going to lose my job soon, probably the last thing I should have done is buy a new phone and spend $750 on a Transcendental Meditation class with Kryha. I never was good a smart decisions.

January 25 New York
I had another job interview in the city. It was brutal. She said she would call me in two weeks. What the fuck does that really mean. I did a computer test on a ten year old iMac with a PC keyboard. I didn’t even think you could put pc parts on a Mac. If this is the way this company is run I hope she doesn’t call me in two weeks.

January 31 Wood-Ridge
Everyone is excited about a Super Blue Blood Moon. When I was a kid it was called a full moon.

Feb 1 Pine Brook
It’s official. The company just had it’s worse sale ever in it’s nine year history. Happy Valentines day indeed.

(mikes bar)

Friday, October 21st, 2016

about Mikes bar was an old mans bar on Roosevelt avenue right before the West Carteret bridge. I t was the quintessential filthy bar with a Jukebox, pool table and black and white Tv up on a shelf. It’s not there anymore. It was refurbished with shiny new bar with mirrors and played disco music in the 80’s but now even that is gone. I’m not even sure whats there now.

This was my mother and fathers “hang out”. Especially my fathers as it was on the way home for him from Westfield. Most times he would just go in and get some “packaged goods” as they were called back then. A six pack to go. There was a neon light in the window even announcing: “Packaged Goods” and it would blink on and off ad nausueum.

As a seven or eight year old boy I would sometimes go in there with him. I remember going into a bar for the first time more than I remember riding a bike for the first time. It seemed the same song was playing on the jukebox all the time. It sounded like the saddest song in the world of a love lost. The background singers sounded like angels in heaven. Many years later I heard this song cracking on the AM radio and I memorized the name as “Rambling Rose” by Nat King Cole. Overtime, whenever I heard that song I thought my father.

I wasn’t allowed to sit at the bar so I was placed on a table behind the bar and underneath the TV.

I've created a Time Machine APP on my 'very smart now' phone."

I've created a Time Machine APP on my 'very smart now' phone."


There I was given a Coca-Cola and a box of pretzels holding hands. (The pretzels were connected when they were baked)There I was buried in Jukebox music and tremendous clouds of second hand smoke. My dad, always in his business suit, up at the bar having a cold one and laughing with the regulars. Perhaps arguing why the price of gas is approaching .50 cents a gallon because of the Vietnam war.

My father came and got me to introduce me to a pile of people in the corner of the bar by the front window. These people were always there. The same ones. Always. I was introduces as "George Junior" which I hated and wished I could just be called Butch for the rest of my life. Fifty years later I actually remember one of their names; Teddy. A strange looking old man with a fedora and a hungry nicotine appetite.

Teddy came close enough to my face where I could smell the stale cigarettes and fresh Schaffer beer and I notices he had no eye brows. "Go ahead, Teddy tell the boy why you have no hair." some old hag with long gray hair said. Teddy took off his crumpled hat and sure enough no hair there either.

Teddy then proceed to tell the story of how when he was a kid he went to the movies to see Frankenstein with his friends. The movie scared him so much that he had to be helped home and was shaking uncontrollably in the kitchen. His mother tried to tell him it was only a movie and put him to bed. When he awoke the next morning all the hair on his body had fallen out. And it never grew back again.

I quess the vision of that for me at the time was waking up in your bed with hair all over the sheets. Now that's a horror story. I suppose growing up the rest of your adult life with no body hair gives you permission to sit in the same seat at Mikes Bar in West Carteret for thirty years and slowly drown yourself in ice cold Schaffers and Lucky Strike cigarettes.

A screenshot from the movie: Pro tip: When putting a camera right up to your face, try to follow some easy rules of personal hygiene.

A screenshot from the movie: Pro tip: When putting a camera right up to your face, try to follow some easy rules of personal hygiene.


When my father took me home he told my mother about my first visit to Mikes Bar. So how did you like it Butchie?"
First I thought of how the bars lights are always dimmed. The loud echoing music. The muffled laughter and serious talk. An adult world. Deep dark and mysterious filled with story book characters. The romantic neon glow on everyone's face. I always got a nice "buzz" from the Coca Cola.
"I really liked the atmosphere." I said
And with that the laughter that followed lasted several days. Where a 3rd grader comes up with such a word, "atmosphere" is beyond me and I'm sure I heard it in a movie or cartoon somewhere but I honestly don't know how I came up with that.
This story became an ongoing thing for about a year. My mother would call me in the kitchen when she had guests, proceed to tell the story about me and Mikes bar and then I would get the Que from her:
"I liked the atmosphere." I said as I rolled my eyes and they laughed and laughed as I went back to my army men.

Hard to describe in words

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

window
You may find yourself…
One day I woke up here and the sun was spilling into our bed in what seemed to be huge buckets of yellow and orange paint. We had breakfast together and then went outside into the garden.

People come in and out of your life for a reason
I come here immersed with gratitude. I am very lucky blessed and God has been very good to me. As I look back on Gods impeccable track record a glow of thankfulness covers me like a warm blanket in my new home.
In all that was chaos is blessings. I have done some of the footwork for I have no idea where I would be today if I wasn’t sober. Most times my mind goes faster than what I can keep up with but even that is getting better. It seems like so many many years ago I walked thru the doors of a place in Piscataway NJ, fresh out of jail, jobless and confused. It was a big room on the second floor covered with windows by a railroad track. There was always cofee and sweets, there was always clouds of cigarette smoke (yes, that’s how long ago this was.) but most of all there was always meetings. The building was not dedicated to anything else but recovery. Everyday, several times a day. And during holidays it was 24/7. I am very lucky blessed to have found people to talk to and phone numbers (there were no cell phones back then but I knew where every phone booth was)

she died a Hartman

she died a Hartman

I continue to be in awe of life …. and death. If you take for granted the billions of miracles that are going on around you and within you then you can lose touch with this whole amazing thing. You were actually a very sweet person, you just got a little lost. (like we all do) I’ve lost count of how many people have just slipped away from my life just so suddenly. They are up here, swimming and struggling* to stay afloat like the rest of us and then you turn around and
they are gone.

* and some people can just float

One day, a long time ago, I woke up on this farm in Canada too.

One day, a long time ago, I woke up on this farm in Canada too.

So this past June 16 was the 45 anniversary of my fathers death. I remember him telling me about the “7 year locust” next to that funny looking tree that is (still!) in our front yard. Obviously the seven year locust only come out every seven years. The story is that he was working on the rose bushes which he loved to do and one of those huge MF’ers flew into that tree and let out one of his crazy long noise/scream/bug sound. It freaked me out but my father soothed me by saying, “Don’t worry it’s only a seven year locust. He wont hurt you.” And that’s the end of the story pretty much. It’s funny how I can have memories that long ago! Actually if you asked me what my deepest longest memory EVER was, I might think it was the 1964 Words Fair in Flushing NY.

I lost you in the butterfly tent
So basically I have obtained a Flux Capacitor on Ebay and with the help of a friend of mine from New York City, we have created a Time Traveling APP. In a nutshell, when the phone is charging I can transfer through communication lines into different periods of time. My current quest is to travel digitally to a bar in West Carteret (Mikes Bar) and transfer my image onto the TV at that bar. The date I picked is October 10, 1968. A Thursday. My father frequented this bar ofter especially on Mondays and Thursdays when the Westfiels Sewing Center was opened until 9PM>
Since my father has never seen my kids, HIS grandchildren, I plan to show photos and small movies of them projected thru this black and white TV in Mikes Bar. My only hope is that dad sees them.

I haven’t traveled into the future yet. I’m too scared.

IDGAF
Sometimes I wish I never connected this blog to the family website. Sometimes creativity is hard to understand. Many

once a long time ago I woke up on the third floor of this Victorian mansion and had just impregnated my wife at the time with my first son.

once a long time ago I woke up on the third floor of this Victorian mansion and had just impregnated my wife at the time with my first son.

people need pure logic and straight thoughts. Sorry I don’t have much of that nor does this blog feature happy butterfly clipart and borders of flowers. I can view the number of times this blog gets “hit” which is actually pretty high probably only because it’s so public. So I’m sorry I can be so deep and dark and I know my audience isn’t keeping up with me nor caring but it’s this: Writing for me is incredibly therapeutic and the creative energy it creates just knowing I have a little corner in the world to turn to is so very nice. At least there is some family tree stuff and heritage so maybe one day one of our kids or their kids might be interested in that. I seem to be the only one.

Every time I start feeling Sorry For Myself I watch The News
I used to think I knew too much about life to have optimism. I was very wrong. When I was a teenager and into my twenties I wasn’t a very good person. In fact I was a big dick. I was indeed a racist, a sexist, an egomaniac and an irresponsible punk ass hippy. I’m very sorry to all the people I hurt, especially my family.

Everything that makes you happy is going to end at some point. I have gotten over that and have diligently tried to be a better person. I used to think that letting my divorce happen was one of my biggest mistakes. One day I woke up in my car and said “what the fuck have I done?” I should be waking up with my kids and teaching them how to sheetrock a fucking house or something! How to make a living in life. How to cook. How and when to put on underarm deodorant.
Actually I don’t have the first clue of how to sheetrock a house.
And today I don’t regret the sloppy one-sided nightmare divorce one bit. I know in my heart of hearts I did the absolute best that I could…..stressing with WHAT I HAD.

I am extremely blessed with these guys. You can not put a word to parental love.

I am extremely blessed with these guys. You can not put a word to parental love.

I have been calling Uncle Billy and I did that because I had some kind of crazy resentment with him. That he “abandoned” us or something. See, I can still be an idiot. After Carol died we used to think Barb was the last elder left in the family, then we found Jerry Jones but she sadly passed away almost as soon as I found her. Our fathers brother is still here and he such a nice, intelligent man with many many memories. He was so pleasant and patient when I last spoke with him and I had a hundred questions(knowing me yes some of them were strange) He is doing very well and will soon be out of assisted care.

Westfield NJ 1919. The Westfield Sewing Center not yet here (second store from the right) I hope to time travel here some day.

Westfield NJ 1919. The Westfield Sewing Center not yet here (second store from the right) I hope to time travel here some day.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve conquered it all except death. And maybe heavy merges on Rt 46 during rush hour.
When I see people in their twenties freaking out in their car, I laugh to myself. I was like that once too. Climbing the ladder of life. Knocking people down. Building a wall around myself and possessions. Yeah, this materialistic fever fed by American TV and movies. I’m reading a book now that changes all that. After the last France truck terrorism episode… it changed me greatly and I needed to find myself again. I’ll tell you one day soon how I made out.

POV #8

Friday, July 29th, 2016

BLOGFLOW
E X P A N D the P H O T O

POV #4

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

blogPlanes
E X P A N D the P H O T O

Ten Years After

Friday, February 12th, 2016

rememberwhen
It is (‘nt) funny how time flies. How it seems like yesterday I was sitting on top of a building in an office on the outskirts of Times Square NYC and with my down time I began playing around with web graphics.

This playing around and experimenting evolved into a family web site. I was fascinated by how things work on this thing The World Wide Web. I got books, I googled things. At the time there was a free web site hosting on Yahoo called GeoCities. GeoCities had become the laughing stock of the internet. It was just hilariously awful. Before I had begun “Family Ties” I wandered around GeoCities and saw some really bad amateur web design. Everybody and their friends wanted a web page. But I swore mine would be different.
vision
Ok yeah, I tried to be different and hope that I had achieved a little sophistication in what had become a very complicated family web site. I had fun and I learned. I had many problems that I figured out on my own. The page builder that Yahoo provided was horrible. Although I was impressed with their “layer” technology it was the beginning of a nightmare when it came to editing. The real issue was that web technology was growing by the speed of sound almost daily.
There became different codes and languages and software. I spent days learning Flash and trying to create animation. Today Flash is almost obsolete in web development. You have to go to school. Thanks to my many years in the printing business I was able to impersonate some form of design. When I did prepress for all these famous and not so famous designers, I tore apart their work to see how it was constructed digitally and I learned ALOT. I worked with many prepress guys and gals that just saw what we did as work. I saw the ART. I saw the colors and textures. I was inspired and I appreciated good design. I remember getting some artwork by a big design firm in New York to do a wall mural in a Barnes and Noble in Clifton NJ. I opened this thing up on my Mac and it was a hundred layer perfectly orchestrated Photoshop design. I grabbed the girl scanning things on the work station behind me and said, “Will you LOOK at that!?”
“Yeah. nice. Right. Ok. Is it lunch yet?”
And I spent my entire lunch discovering the layers of this wonderful artwork.

So it is the ten year anniversary of Family Ties. I still struggle with it. It has been flattened down to a much meeker version. I never have time for it anymore. I have lost my desire for it. It is like an old girlfriend that I was once very much in love with. Now I don’t know who she is anymore and I don’t care. Yet, I still come here, for the most part .. to blog. To vent. To express.

Because it is the ten year anniversary I want to bring some of the old stuff back. The good and the bad. The “Remember When” page was good. Here it is for you:
REMEMBER WHEN?
I used to think it was something that could always be added on to.

August 3 2000

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

glennBev
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.

pawn to king four

Friday, June 12th, 2015

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.

Actually football is always compared to a chess match. Maybe because the knight wears a helmet?

Actually football is always compared to a chess match. Maybe because the knight wears a helmet?


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.

In 1973, this was worth more than three bars of solid gold.

In 1973, this was worth more than three bars of solid gold.

So when chess wasn’t on TV, we were playing it everywhere. Nobody was better at the game than Walter Lambert. One of those wise ass kids a few years older than us that “knew everything” and actually owned the yellow plastic Japanese soldiers that we craved.
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.
For me,
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!
the abrupt seasons

the abrupt seasons

Of graphics and junkyards

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

websiteTOP
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.

I am a rather strange dude with weird taste.

I am a rather strange dude with weird taste.

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.
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.
blogForm_masterpiece 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…
German.

Gettysburg 1970

Friday, December 6th, 2013
July 1970 11 months before his death, Dad "pulls" and Brenda resists.

July 1970 11 months before his death, Dad “pulls” and Brenda resists.

two score and three years ago our father, full of determination and
curiosity gathered his young family into a green Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
and journeyed 200 miles southwest into the belly of American history,
the fields of Civil War death, the tourist traps the land of hotels and

cyan colored swimming pools. The fierce fighting for the window seats
as mom chain-smoked Viceroys with windows up, AC on, seatbelt s off,
FM radio tuned to rock classics of the day “Which Way Ya Going Billy?”
Poppy Family,”In the Summertime”by Mungo Jerry,”Hey There Lonely Girl”

by Eddie Holman, The Hollies with “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”
this station wagon featured speakers in the back seat panels, and
this was modern day coolness unheard of in the day. We breezed thru
Interstate 76 pass the Esso billboards and Roadside America invitations

Bushkill Falls, Crystal Cave, the Amish in Lancaster, covered bridges, and
the Hershey Factory. So it was, we as a family took our one and only
vacation and not everyone was invited and some invited guests didn’t
want to come! If you were clad in diapers than you stayed home

with Mrs. Askew. Beverly was lost in teenage phone world and requested
to be left alone forever. Against her will she was dragged into the
overcrowded station wagon and we endured the three hour struggle
into the sweet beauty of Pennsylvania’s mountains with our mighty V8

spectacular blue skies, puffy white clouds, fields of lazy cows and
a dreary mundane depression that forever lurks in these small towns.
Their shops, schools and slow walking slow talking locals with accents.
We stopped once for 36 cents a gallon gas as Apollo nine flew hundreds

!969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Wagon

!969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Wagon


of miles overhead and the Vietnam War raged on overseas.Just being in a
hotel is the vacation.Soda and candy vending machines.Running down
hallways screaming and taking the elevator up and then down, over and
over Dad sitting in the chair smoking a cigar, planning our days with

maps and brochures the TV blaring,nobody watching Jumping on the bed
suddenly,how many glass displays of dug up bullets, marble statues of
men on horses, riffles hanging on walls, hundreds of B&W photos
of dead men can one person view? This was an endless history class in

the hot Summer sun.It wasn’t my fault I was a kid with different ideas of
adventure and that by the third day of endless hundred year old history
I had enough and made it my point to say so. Somewhere in between
Little Round Top and Devils Den, my whining had warranted a beating

I was sent to the car crying On the way home this hungry family did
breakfast and dad ordered pancakes for all which finally came stacked
bigger than anything we had ever seen. Psychology won and just vision
had made us full. Dad paid the bill shaking his head at the biggest waste

of money and food and Brenda picked up her “underbrella” and we left
The longer drive home hypnotized sleep. Dad the accountant adds
expenses in his head. It wasn’t a vacation it was an education he later
said. And as we finally pulled into the concrete driveway I knew that

if I became a dad, my kids would be riding roller coasters on our
vacations.We would take luxury ships and planes to get there. Never
long lines, hot sun, ‘education’ or hours to get there but then if I did
would my future son ever write a memory poem such as this?

Because she is missing, Bev probably took this photo. Lost tourist.

Because she is missing, Bev probably took this photo. Lost tourist.