Saturday, June 20, 2020

Awesome Sh** That My Old Man Taught Me

From the Stoop of PJH:

My old man has been gone from this world now for four years. It was the week before last. Not a day goes by that I do not think of him, miss him, or wish that he were still here for me to tap his seemingly endless wisdom, his keen insight, his Paterson, New Jersey street knowledge and that special way he had to deal with this crazy world. The old man was a product of a vocational school in downtown Paterson, New Jersey, when they were not ashamed to call it what it was or is. He was one of the smartest men who ever lived. No college brainwashed him, erased his common sense, or planted an agenda in his mind. He was a machinist for fifty-two years and a damn good one too. He went to work every damn day at five in the morning and came home late at night. The old man worked two jobs, sometimes, three jobs and he got it done. This was the Borough of Haledon, right on the north Paterson, New Jersey border. Fifty feet away. We lived in the hood. No Land of Oz, no Yellow Brick Roads in sight. Yet, my sister and I had a loving, and caring home and we had an amazing childhood.

The old man was a hero and a man of what now seems as if it is a bygone era of heroes. Nothing comes for free in this world, there is always a price, yet, nowadays, many people think the world owes them something for free. As the old man taught me, “The world doesn’t owe ya ass jackshit. Ya gonna have to earn it.”

I could write a very cool book on his endless sayings and someday, I will do so.

The day and the week of his passing is always an emotional week for me, and this year, with all the crazy things going on in this weary world, it was especially so. While I missed many things of my life with my father, I truly missed, with all of my heart and soul, sharing a few cold beers with the old man out on the front stoop at 182 Belmont Avenue. I would love to have his take on all of this current madness. It is the simple things that mean so very much in this life. Money does not buy simple things and it damn well does not buy love.

The character of the old man depicted in my books is not too far off from the “actual old man.” Very similar in fact. There was not too much to change. When you lose a special loved one, you move on but you never recover. Ever. It is just the way it is. As Father’s Day looms closer, I think of him more often. Not because of the holiday, in fact, my old man despised the holiday. He would mumble in his classic Paterson, New Jersey accent that, “Father’s Day is a buncha’ bullshit. They abuse the old man 364 days a year and try to be nice to him one day.” That is one of his best sayings. I agree with it too!

Instead, I think of all the awesome shit that he taught me.

Right now, my mind is reeling with all the memories. It helps to write, as it always does for my soul. It helps me to purge the thoughts and the pain. However, the ghosts always return. All of these damn ghosts!  Ghosts, who chase me into every room, in every corner, I cannot escape them. A million thoughts of what the old man and I experienced together and we shared. From baseball games to hockey games, to sharing mugs of beer, to sitting and listening to another military story, to working together on junky cars, to what I might miss most of all, and that is speaking to my father on the telephone, before, during and after, every single New York Jets football game. We always lamented together how our beloved team sucked.

Of all the awesome shit that my old man taught me, one memory stands out. I do not know why, other than it has paved the way for me all of these years. It made me understand and wake up to the cold, stark reality of everyday life. It helped to turn a hotshot, longhaired young man, who thought that he had the world by the ass, into a strong man. It was a simple handwritten note, a few words on scrap paper, but it hit home into my soul as no other words that I have ever read in my entire life have. Little did I know at the time, how important those words would eventually become to me. If only, I could write something so full of impact, so simple, yet so profound, and so meaningful.

I too, as my father did and so many of us did from the old neighborhood, attended a vocational school program for my high school education. I am very proud of that fact. It made me who I am right now. It taught me to work with my hands, it taught me trade skills and honor and it taught me to go to work every single, damn, day and to work as hard as you can. I owe that school an awful lot. In my junior year, I received an apprenticeship in my selected trade and I was on my way! I went onto higher education much later in my life but nothing ever beat that vocational education for practicality and real life use.

My best friends Harry and Jeff attended vocational school along with me. They too, will testify as to how much we owe that school. Jeff was a cabinetmaker, Harry was a welder and metalworker, and I was an electrical and electronic technician. I earned a starting wage of $2.35 per hour at an electrical shop in New Jersey and worked my way up to a journeyman. On the day that I graduated trade school, and high school, my boss gave me my own truck, a service route and a raise to a wage of $3.85 per hour! In addition, I was playing semi-pro ice hockey and had thoughts of grandeur of making it big in the NHL. I was on top of the world!

We had a wonderful graduation ceremony and a huge celebration and on the night of our graduation, Jeff, Harry and I went out celebrating, by drinking beer and chasing young ladies all over the place.
Oh well. . ..
When you are a young man, you are a fool, and you learn lessons the hard way.

After a long night of young ladies, salty kisses and sweaty passion, drinking, parties and celebrations, I carried my sorry ass home. When I finally staggered into my bedroom, a handwritten note that I found on the pillow of my bed surprised and shocked me. It changed my life and my perspective of it.

It was a note written by my old man.

 I picked it up and read it.
 It read:

“As of tomorrow you owe me:
1. $15.00 per week for room and board.
2. $15.00 per week for food.
3. $5.00 per week for laundry service.
4. $5.00 per week to park your jeep in my driveway. If you do not like that fee, then park it on the street. It is my damn driveway.
5. $15.00 per week for your share of the utilities.
6. $5.00 per week for the maintenance and upkeep of the house. Feel free to jump in and cut the grass, or trim the shrubs, shovel snow, or perform other household duties to offset this fee. If you are too busy working, playing hockey or playing grab-ass, with Miss Whatever-her-name-is, to work around this joint, then you owe me the dough.
Welcome to the real world.

Paulie, your mother and I have supported you for eighteen damn years, and now, you need to understand that the free ride is over. Pay your bills, go to work, love, and play and work hard, be honest and respectful and always tell it as it is. It will bring you far in this life. If you do not agree with these arrangements and fees, then pack your shit up and move the hell out. We love you and will miss you, but do not let the door hit you too hard in the ass on the way out of the house.

By the way, your mother and I are very proud of you. Congratulations on graduating and taking the first step to being a man. Great work on learning a valuable trade. No matter where life lands you, those trade skills will always serve you well. Someday, you will thank me for the awesome shit that I have taught you. Right now, I know that you want to kick my ass. So be it. Just remember, there are no free rides in this life, and no one owes you jackshit. You have to earn it. You have to earn all of it, and never forget where you came from and who you have become.
The old man”

Well, Dad . . . someday has arrived.

Thank you from the depths of my soul and from my heart. For that note, for so much more, and most of all, thank you for the awesome shit that you taught me.

And yes, the New York Jets still suck.

Cheerio for now.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Is Rap/Hip-hop Really Music?

Is Rap/Hip-hop Really Music?

From PJH’s Stoop:

Oh no! The dreaded question that I usually manage to avoid finally slipped through my forward defenses and made its way into my email inbox.

“So, PJH, since you are such a music critic, reviewer and a fan of all types of music, I need to know, IYO, is rap and Hip-hop really music? I say no and my opinion caused all kinds of debate on a local discussion chat group. I value your thoughts.”

Now, I have no choice because the question is sitting on my stoop. Ugh-A-Roo-Ski. This topic does cause heated and lengthy debate! On this post, I will bring Lopez in and sit Aly on her stoop for her thoughts and views from a more “modern POV.”

Well, here goes:

Most music experts insist that music has to have basic raw elements in order to qualify as music. Some experts say seven elements, tempo, timbre, melody, rhythm, harmony, dynamics, and form. For simplicity and in my subjective point of view, I will go with three elements; melody, harmony, and rhythm. In addition, for simplicity, (and to dodge a little controversy) I will say that the speaking part (rap) is contained within the genre classification of Hip-hop.

With that established here, we go.

Rap is not music. It is a vocal technique. It is speaking fast and spewing words. It is almost a form of chanting and it is entertainment. IMO, it does not qualify for any of the elements of music. Done deal. No further thoughts on that!

Now, to Hip-hop.

I will begin my subjective opinion with an example. Due to my military and ham radio background, I am fluent in Morse code. Morse is a language of sounds creating and communicating and in doing so, it is making letters, words and numbers and punctuation marks. Just as all languages do. It is not music, yet if you listen to a polished Morse code operator sending code on an electronic keyer or a mechanical bug, or even on a hand key, it has a rhythm and certain word and letter combinations tend to have a melody. It does have beats and depending upon the settings of the equipment, it has what you can perceive to be timbre and tempo but it does not have harmony. Morse code is not music. It is a language.

Hip-hop does have rhythm. Can you dance and jump around to the rhythm? Sure, you can! On most cuts, it does have harmony and where Hip-hop falls into the questionable category, is in the melody qualification. Early Hip-hop seemed to have more melodies. Nowadays, not so much. There are no chord structures, or progressions of such, no intros, no bridges, no chorus, and no outros. No melodies. To my ear, most of the “songs” all sound the same. Same repetitious beats. Same thump-thump. Same beats. No discernible melody. On most cuts, few, if any, musical instruments are utilized, just electronic beats, hooks and sounds generated via a computer or other electronic devices, and artist’s voices heavily utilize sound processing, AKA, auto-tune. I am a purist. I despise auto-tune. Either you can sing and speak clearly and carry with your voice unaided, a musical note or you cannot. I realize that most Hip-hop artists use auto-tune for a special effect, but still, I find it very detracting to the seriousness of the work. . ..

Key the drum roll here. IMO, Hip-hop is a culture and it is a powerful form of entertainment. Artists are, without a doubt, very talented in what they do within the framework of the entertainment aspect of the work. Hip-hop broadcasts powerful messages and thoughts. It is a force. Some of it; I enjoy. Most of it; I do not.

With all that being said, IMO, I agree with the writer of the email and will say that Hip-hop is not music. It falls short in the qualifications established by musical composition experts.
There! I said it, wrote it and I will live with it.

Now, let’s see what Lopez thinks.

From Lopez’s Stoop:

I am no music expert here, Paulie. I know nothing about your seven elements. Nor do I know about melodies or intros or bridges. Basically, everything you are saying here is foreign to me. I listen to music purely for enjoyment purposes. Different music for different moods. From all different genres, artists, times, and parts of the world.

I did a quick Google search to see if I can get a truly basic understanding of the definition of music. The Google definition of music is “vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.”

Upon reading this definition, I will agree with you in saying that rap is not music. It is not beautiful or harmonious. With very few exceptions, they are mostly talking into a mic to a beat. It is a form of expression, and a culture, but not music.

Hip-hop, however, I would say, is music. Per my Google definition, the mostly, but not completely, computer-generated instrumentals are beautiful in form, harmonious, and express emotion. Now, I am with you here, Hausleben, in thinking of early Hip-hop. The works of the Missy Elliott’s, the Run DMC’s, the Dougie Fresh’s of the world. Real Hip-hop. I will even take it to early 2000s Bay Area rap, such as Too-Short, Mac Dre, and Keak-Da-Sneak. Apart from a few artists, most of Hip-hop has transitioned into “trap,” which is what I believe you are referring to when stating that “’songs’ all sound the same.” The Migos, Future, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, that generally drop trash to give off an image that they are living a certain life. No story, no purpose, same beat time after time.

Hip-hop, like all other forms of art, has phases though. I see more artists going back to an early 2000s style of Hip-hop in their message and style. I see artists working more and more with incredibly talented musicians in the creation of the instrumentals they use in their songs. I believe that the evolution of Hip-hop is going in a direction that we may all be surprised by.

Also, who are these “musical composition experts” of which you speak, and what era are they from? Because, times are changing here, Hausleben, and, let me tell you, an expert yester-year, may be no expert today.

From PJH’s Stoop:

There you have it! Lopez makes some solid points!

Maybe PJH does too.

What do you think? Let’s stir the pot and see what happens!

Cheerio for now!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

The Incomparable, Mr. Mark Knopfler’s Best Guitar Moments

From PJH's Stoop:
I love lists and I have to admit to making a list for everything. Ah yes, all the usual lists and some unusual. Ya know, groceries, (and I still forget items) things to do on the weekend, things to do around the house, whose birthday is coming up . . . all the usual.
As much as I enjoy lists and have a passion for them, I need to establish something. The best of “anything” lists are very subjective. Opinions. The best hockey player of all time, the best salad dressing, the best frozen pizza, the best muscle cars . . . it goes on and on forever. All based upon the author’s opinions. Subjective rather than objective. After establishing that fact, I now will happily venture into my own subjective waters. Up to my waist.
In a former life, I rebooted my writing career as a music reviewer and critic. It was a great gig. Make a few extra coins while remaining subjective and tapping away on your keyboard as if you are a mad subjective fool. My assignments in my music review gig were to write reviews on progressive rock artists. Jethro Tull, Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Genesis, Camel, and in a stroke of controversy that my editor called my cards in on, I added to my reviews the Love over Gold album by Dire Straits. “Telegraph Road” is my number one greatest progressive rock song. It changes your life. That will be another subject for another blog and a brief mention later on herein this one.
I love Dire Straits. They are my all-time favorite band and Mark Knopfler is my number one guitarist of all-time, (subjective opinion, of course). He is also my favorite musical artist.
Jeff Lynne is second.
Mark Knopfler is a genius. Not only because of his incomparable guitar playing skills but also because of his unbeatable combination of being the front-man for Dire Straits, his remarkable songwriting ability and total output of quality songs written, that smoky, sultry, voice, and of course, as soon as he hits a note on the guitar string, you know that it is Knopfler. He is a maestro and a composer of stories with his guitar strings. Stories that live forever.
Three other guitar players come to mind that invoke the same, “first note status” and they are Knopfler’s hero and neck-to-neck companion and fellow guitar god, Mr. Chet Atkins, Queen’s Brian May, and Carlos Santana. You just know it is those guitar players from the very first note. For me, as great as many other guitar players are, Mr. Knopfler is beyond compare.
Therefore, lift the curtain, and here is my list of the top ten best guitar moments by the great Mark Knopfler OBE.
Some might surprise you!

The list is in descending order with ten being great and one is out of this world!

10. “Why Aye Man.” From the MK solo album, The Ragpicker’s Dream. Knopfler somehow expertly keeps this song within the album’s folk-blues-honky-tonk theme, yet manages to shred and weave a guitar lick on his Gibson with a song laced with meanings back to his Geordie-boy roots. The official video is super cool with a dark boiler room setting, shot with strategic video work. I love boiler rooms, but that is another story.

9. “What it is.” From the MK solo album, Sailing from Philadelphia. It is a catchy hook, but during the entire song, it seems as if Knopfler is simply toying and teasing you with his amazing skills. When he finally unleashes, it is still a tease. BTW, the official video for this song is exceptional.

8. “Boom, Like That.” From the MK solo album, Shangri-La. A totally badass song with a tasty and slightly mean guitar lick. Only Knopfler can write a song about McDonald’s magnate Ray Kroc and make it badass.

7. “Down to the Waterline.” From the Dire Straits’, debut album, Dire Straits. The slow and ominous opening leads to Knopfler in total control as he takes over on the guitar and sets the pace for an amazing song. Here, it is the pure notes that he hits that capture the perfect tone of his remarkable finger picking ability.

6. “Brothers in Arms.” From the Dire Straits’ album of the same name. Dire Straits’ best-selling and best-known album is popular for the MTV hits of “Money for Nothing” and “Walk of Life,” and as great and catchy as those songs and riffs are, it is, “Brothers in Arms” that stands the test of time as the classic cut here. As a side note, the engineering on this studio album is beyond compare. On the song, “Brothers in Arms,” Knopfler makes the guitar cry with the pain of a soldier’s commitment and a soldier dying on a battlefield and you will cry too. You will cry with shivers running up and down your back. BTW, the black and white video for this song is an award winner. I enjoy the studio album version, best of all versions.

5. “Single-Handed Sailor.” From the Dire Straits’ album, Communiqué. This cut is not a well-known song from Dire Straits’ best-unknown record. Communiqué is five stars plus! This song has a killer riff and once more, the pure notes that Knopfler hits is what sticks in your mind and ear. He plays his red Stratocaster on this song and you get the feeling that he is making it too easy and toying with you. The studio version is wonderful, but the best performance of this song is a live video from a concert in 1979 in Germany called, Rockpalast. The ending solo is an example of his mastery at all levels of guitar playing.

4. “Sultans of Swing.” From the debut album, Dire Straits. I will catch some heat for this because most fans and critics consider this song as the best of Knopfler’s guitar moments and his best riff and best ending solos. Yet, as great as Sultans is, and it is great, I think there are better guitar moments. Of course, it is Sultans, and it is Knopfler, so it is as if you have to pick out the best jewel from the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. Just pick one of ‘em, ya can’t go wrong. A truly remarkable song, and of course, the ending riff is famous and awesome and forever. For me, the live versions of this song are where you capture the full magic of Knopfler’s abilities. The video of Dire Straits’ live version of “Sultans of Swing” on the Alchemy tour is one of the greatest live rock-and-roll performances of all time and the video of his performance of this song on A Night in London in 1996 is a close second. In fact, the Alchemy tour is one of the greatest tours by any band of all time. Dire Straits were at their peak on that tour. Anyway, pick a version, take a deep breath, grab your favorite beverage, and put the headphones on. Go to another world.

3. “Tunnel of Love.” From the Dire Straits’ album, Making Movies. I think that this is Mark Knopfler’s best melody and his most interesting chord progressions. From the opening of borrowing a few bars from Rodgers and Hammerstein to the tempo changes (a Knopfler trademark) to the quiet moments alone with the guitar notes, to the ending guitar solo, the song is a masterpiece of songwriting and musicianship. Knopfler uses his masterful lyrics to invoke your own memories of falling in love at an amusement park (I did once. She was a cute blonde-haired woman) but he utilizes his guitar to smash through your ears to embed the memories in your mind forever. IMO, the live performance of the 1985 concert at Wembley Stadium has the best live performance of this song, with the live Alchemy tour performance being a close second. BTW, this song is the inspiration for one of my most popular short stores, “The Silver Locket.”

2. “Speedway at Nazareth.” From the MK solo album, Sailing from Philadelphia. What! Outrage! No, “Romeo and Juliet!” PJH, you are nuts! Maybe. “Speedway” is the song for me. You know . . . that song that you roll the windows down to listen to when you are driving down that lonesome highway, and you step onto the gas pedal, and just, well, go fast. If I had any hair left, then the wind would blow it. The song fools you and lulls you with a slow tempo introduction, mumbled words about a racecar driver on his last turns around the track and a string of losses until finally enjoying a race victory and it does so with a constant “thump, thump” background beat to mimic racecars on the track. Then Knopfler stops singing and lets his guitar sing and do the rest. It is one of his longest ending guitar solos on a studio version of a song by Knopfler or Dire Straits and it is mesmerizing. It is an incredible guitar moment in and amongst genius. The live version on the famous Real Live Roadrunning Tour with country music goddess, Ms. Emmy Lou Harris, is my favorite version. Emmy Lou rocks out on stage and while Mr. Danny Cummings' outright assault on the drums almost steals the song, in the end, it is Knopfler’s growl on the Gibson that captures the song’s magic.

1. “Telegraph Road.” From the Dire Straits’ studio album, Love over Gold. As mentioned, here in the opening to this blog, eons ago, in a former life, when I wrote reviews for a progressive rock website that marked my return to the writing world . . . I made the statement and rating that “Telegraph Road” is the greatest progressive rock song of all time. To me. Remember the keyword, subjective. I am a huge fan of the music of Yes and Jethro Tull, yet, I feel as if Telegraph Road beats out “Close to the Edge” and “Thick as a Brick.” My editor, my critics, and my readers, all fervently argued with me and even suggested that “Telegraph Road” is not even a progressive rock song. It is and other than one cut on the Love over Gold album, the entire album is progressive in structure. Anyway, “Telegraph Road” is Mr. Knopfler’s Opus. It ebbs and flows within magical layers and it builds in tempo, dies in tempo, and takes you on a magical journey through a tale of a pioneer in the wilderness to modern times, all built around one area where the pioneer cuts a road into the wilderness before ending in a wild crescendo. It reminds me of James Michener’s masterpiece novel, Centennial. Here, Knopfler’s guitar really tells the story and the final outro and solo is the culmination of this masterpiece. My favorite version is once more from the incredible Alchemy tour and on that version, Dire Straits’ drummer Mr. Terry Williams (a vastly underrated drummer) sets the world on fire while pounding the skins to the distinctive tone of Knopfler as he takes all of us on an unforgettable journey down Telegraph Road. I once wrote a blog piece about meeting a beautiful woman in a bar in Florida. She was Dire Straits’ fan and told me that “Telegraph Road” will change your life. I agree.

There you have it! No matter which songs you list, with Mr. Mark Knopfler OBE you cannot go wrong.
What are your thoughts? What other musical lists would you like to see from PJH? Please, post your own list. Subjectively, of course.

Cheerio for now.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Wise Sage of the Last Bar Stool

The Wise Sage of the Last Bar Stool

From PJH's Stoop:
I sat at my usual table in the corner of the pub. It is always comfortable there. No one bothers me and Michelle keeps the Lounge Lizards away from me.
It is my spot.

Today, I had quit early and I fled to the safe refuge of my quiet corner of the pub. The Command Center was too hectic, too busy and honestly, people were annoying me, so I could not properly find my way to be productive and accomplish much of anything. Therefore, here I was, in my corner, happily typing away on my laptop while sipping a pint.

I took a pause from my work and looked around the pub. I rather enjoy the ebb and flow of the patrons of this establishment. The afternoon crowd of retirees gradually gives way to a flow of the working people as they leave out of work and then that crowd filters out and the younger crowd or music crowd flows in to catch the music performances until closing. The weekends, well, those days, are all bets off because you never know what the crowd will be like. A group of retirees sat on the end of the bar closest to where I sat creating the world’s greatest literary work right behind, Dickens’ Tale, and the gang were immersed in the television above the end of the bar, broadcasting the annual professional golf tournament that draws so much attention. The big, one in the spring of the year, on the fancy golf course in Augusta, Georgia where they show all the trees blooming and shrubs in springtime blooming majesty.

What they do not show you are all the people with allergies, coughing, sneezing, and wheezing.

Anyway, the retirees are all avid golfers and I well, I am not. I never could get the hang of the game and after one or two bashes at that pesky ball; I always ended up at the bar. Now, if they allowed me to use my hockey goalie stick, then I might have had more interest. Honestly, it is always too bloody hot to be walking around with sweat running down my back, across my ass and into my socks for me to enjoy schlepping around some grass, under the blazing sun, beating and swinging at a little, white ball. I am a cold-weather-kind-of-guy.

For this group, the game is Heaven and they would be out there on the golf courses today except for the fact that it was about twenty-five degrees outside and the wind blew a gale.

One of the golfing aficionados lamented aloud how a certain great player of the past who the media hyped out of this world during the prelude to the tournament, now, floundered in the rear of the leader pack. In fact, the leaders were so far in front of this particular player that the statistic person listed the vendor working the crowd selling beer before him. Oh well, his “comeback’ was far from stellar and now that the poor guy had fallen out of the competition, the media dropped coverage of him as though he was poison. Instead, the media frenzy concentrated on the leader who apparently is an exceptional player that everyone despises. Now, this was more the ticket! Just what the media needed to drive up the ratings and sell commercial time. Now, it was all about this angry dude, stomping around the course and whipping everyone up into a frenzy of discourse. Ratings, ratings, ratings! After showing the angry leader guy sink a shot and jump around fist pumping the world in a wretched display of obnoxiousness, the camera showed a shot of the disappointed crowd, with one woman clapping.

I thought how that must be his mum.

Then the camera zoomed onto the washed-up champion, holding his back in pain and limping off into the distance, dragging his golf club behind him in sorrow-filled defeat. His caddy wandered nineteen-hundred yards behind the washed-up guy to prevent any perception that the caddy was part of the washed-up team. Then the camera cut to a shot of the blooming trees and shrubs and some gentle music played. I took a sip of beer and thought how these media folks have this down pat. I almost wanted to shed a tear, jump in a plane, sit on the sideline, and root against angry-guy.

In and amongst the retirees was an infiltrator. A younger chap, who, either worked shift work, was unemployed or was similar to me and just left out of work early. The younger man sipped drink-after-drink and spouted off his opinion rather often. The younger man seemed to be the foremost expert on the game of golf in the entire world and he felt as if he always needed to talk and show everyone how much he knew.

When the coverage went to a commercial, the golf expert commented, “Well, such-and-such was a sort of decent in his time, but now, such-and-such is great. Old such-and-such would not even be a mediocre player in this day and age. Not with this modern game of golf, where this and that is better, and the grass is greener, and the wind blows stronger, and the clubs are high-tech and the trees move more and the golf balls are better, and the water traps are colder, and the sand traps are deeper, and blah, blah, blah, and yakkitty-splakkitty.”

All the retirees listened carefully, well one chap, turned his hearing aid off, but despite the tattoo on the younger man’s neck of a golf ball and matching club, I was not impressed. The leader of the retirees, who is an immense human being named, Reginald, was not impressed either. Reginald held down the last stool in the end of the bar, with his huge weight, his multiple chins and his enormous girth. The State of North Dakota is smaller than Reginald is.

Reginald’s wise sage-like advice was about to change the entire atmosphere at the pub this afternoon.

After hearing tattoo neck’s comment, Reginald, leaned into his gin and tonic and after a deep gulp, Reginald said, “The trouble with your generation is that you think nothing is greater than what is right now. You are brainwashed by the media into believing everything now is the best that has ever been. That is the media’s plan in conjunction with corporate America bullshit in order to sell you on this screwed-up world. We are a disposable society. We are consumers. Everything is predicated on throwing out old stuff and buying newer, supposedly, better stuff.”

Reginald had the attention of the entire pub.
Perhaps, the entire world.

When the gin and tonic disappeared into the deep folds of his chin and then into his cavernous mouth, I heard a deep gulping noise. Reginald was taking a drink. It sounded like water going down a bathtub drain.

The wise sage of the last bar stool spoke again, “According to the bullshit they sell you nowadays and you young clowns believe--Babe Ruth would not be able to hit a home run in so-called modern baseball of today. Bobby Orr could not score a single goal in hockey because the game is so much faster, Sandy Koufax would not be able to strike out a single, modern day baseball player, Dick Butkus would not be able to make a tackle and Led Zeppelin would not sell even one record. Well, guess what? You are full of horseshit. Tell ya what?  I had a 1972 Pontiac Trans Am with a 455-cubic inch high output engine and it would still give any modern-day, high-tech bullshit, rice-box car of nowadays a good run of it. To top it all off, Olivia Newton-John in the movie Grease in 1978 was still the hottest chick ever. So, stick that in your maryjunauna pipe and smoke it. Besides, weed was better in the 1970s too.”

Reginald went back to his gin and tonic. There was nothing left to say. I had to wonder if Reginald would run for the office of President of the United States of America? He had my vote. After all, we already had a president that did not inhale.

I leaned back in my stool and smiled. I thought of my old man’s beloved 1964 Rambler Classic 660, which in my books is the inspiration for the character of the old man’s infamous “1964 Putter Classic Model 200” family car. The actual Rambler had 380,000 miles on it and when we sold it to a guy who owned a gin mill down the street from us, the car still rolled around the City of Paterson, New Jersey for a few more years. It did not have Bluetooth, or comfy seats or fancy features but the car was the definition of the word durable. Plus, all you needed was a socket set to fix it. I doubt very many modern day cars would roll for 400,000 miles.

I knew shit about golf, but I damn well sure knew that nobody could skate as fast as Bobby Orr could.

Tattoo neck paid his tab and left.

I went back to work on my classic.

Reginald dreamed of his glory days in his Trans Am.

I had to agree with Reginald about ONJ.
That woman could melt the paint right off the walls.

As far as the weed goes, I will reserve comment.

Cheerio for now.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Her Jeans Were Tight Now

From PJH's Stoop:
Her jeans were tight now.
She pulled them on and wiggled a bit, sucked in hard and then worked the button on the waist closed.
‘It is more that I just washed them rather than the fact I have gained weight’ she thought.
She wiggled a bit more, squatted down in an effort to loosen them and tugged at the legs to encourage a bit of stretch in the newly washed jeans. In front of the mirror, she checked out her backside and spun around and in a wave of self-examination; she thought she looked rather sexy. A new blouse easily slipped over her, it was on sale yesterday. A v-neck to reveal just a whisper of modest cleavage. The blouse was light and airy, with a touch of frill along the sleeves, black in color and she loved it. Black jeans, black blouse, and a pair of black dress boots with an illusion of a high-heel.
She also knew that all he wore was black.
Supposition led her to the belief that black was his thing. A new haircut, not too short, but the stylist convinced her to go trendy and allow a touch of a wave of hair to cross her face.
“If you do not want to do the sexy stare through the wave of hair, tuck it behind your ear. Make sure that you highlight your eyes and lashes with liner and stare out at him. You’re gonna melt this dude,” was the stylist’s advice.
She went with it and she dyed her hair a shade or two off her natural color, because there was a hint of gray along the edges and here and there. The finishing touches were her grandmother’s heirloom hoop earrings, and matching single gold chain of a necklace, which she just had to wear. They were not expensive pieces, they were slightly tarnished pieces of gold, with some waves of mystery involved in them. She was very close to Grammy and she missed her every day. Through hints, parts, and pieces of conversation, she was sure that a special lover gave the pieces to her grandmother. Maybe before Grandpa was in the picture or maybe not. Just the manner in which Grammy held them in her hands and stared at them with this love-struck look in her eyes made her sure that she was correct in her assumption. He must have been the love of her life and these were precious reminders. Grammy left them to her in her will because Grammy knew that her granddaughter knew the true history of the pieces. Now, they were going to bring her luck today with the unapproachable man in black.
Every Sunday he was there for brunch.
Today was Sunday.
He would be there today. At the end of the bar, sitting alone, nursing a beer, chatting occasionally with the bartender, or a server than he seemed to know for a long time, but mostly remaining very quiet and pensive. Always dressed all in black, perfect in his features, stunning in appearance. She had never seen a more handsome man than he was. At a guess, he was at least ten years older than she was . . . he was one of those lucky people that it was impossible to tell how old he was. Their age meant nothing. She could care less. Her heart would go pitter-patter at the sight of him. They had only very scant bits of conversation in the past. She would always say something stupid and irrelevant. He would smile, comment and say a few polite words with his hard New Jersey accent and then he would fade away. As soon as she tried to break the ice, it would freeze over once more.
From milking information from the bartender, who was a gal she trusted and knew (and who, despite best efforts had no success in her own pursuit of the same man) for a long time, he loved music . . . primarily classic rock and roll. He was a fan of ice hockey too. His server buddy coughed up that tidbit. Other than those subjects, the inside scoop well ran dry. He never spoke of much else other than general subjects. No one even knew what he did for a living. However, she knew that his favorite band was the Electric Light Orchestra. Hockey was a sport that she was not going to tackle, but she could handle music. She was now the proud owner of every recording that ELO ever made and she had to admit that the music was very cool. Even if this day was a flop, at least, she had a new favorite band. She knew every song, every album release and every detail of the band and her cell phone had every MP3 recoding of ELO loaded on it now. She even knew the name of the street in Birmingham, England where Jeff Lynne grew up. The encyclopedia-like knowledge of ELO, would be the icebreaker. After all, she had some English blood in her veins.
She was no English Rose, but today was the day.
A short drive in her car, a final check of her makeup, a confident walk into the restaurant and an adjustment to the light inside as opposed to the outside light. There he was at the bar in his favorite bar stool and today, he was looking better than the laws of human attraction should allow. Faint be her heart because, the gods smiled upon her . . . the seat next to him was open.
“Hi, is this seat taken?” Her question floated in the air while she allowed the dangle of hair across her face and her eyes to flicker while asking the question. He finished a sip of his beer, smiled that killer smile and his golden voice riveted her soul.
With a wave in the direction of the bar stool, the words floated in the air, “No. Please.”
She swore that out of the corner of his eyes, he watched her settle into the bar stool and there were smiles all around.
Damn, she wished that her jeans were not so tight.
The bartender smiled and greeted her and the bartender’s smile told the story that she knew the plan.
The bartender winked, nodded and took her drink order. She looked down as her cell phone blinked and beeped with a text.
It was a text from the bartender and simply said, “Good luck. I never have any. May the best girl win.”
Two Mimosas later and the silence remained. He had not said another word and her palms were sweaty and she was feeling a little loose and loopy. Time to make a move. Time for a third Mimosa. A girl needs her courage. Liquid or otherwise.
Today was the day. Convinced that small talk was not going to cut it, she went for the brass ring. She opened her purse, pulled out her earbuds and placed them in her ears. God gave her a gift and that was her singing voice. Well, God also gave her some very nice female curves, a pretty face and other attributes, but to this man, she was sure that meant little. When you looked like he did, gals threw those gifts at him right and left.
With a flick of the screen, she dialed up “Out of the Blue,” scrolled to “It’s Over” and waltzed it for the kill. While pretending to glance at the menus to pick out some food, to absorb the alcohol taking over her mind and body, off she went into the opening words.
Not a loud singing voice, not an obnoxious singing voice, but just loud enough, “Summer came and passed away. . . .” His head swung around and he smiled.
Pay dirt smelled so sweet. As if, it was fresh-turned dirt in a spring garden.
“It’s over, it’s over. . . .”
Another smile and some words as he stared at her.
“Electric Light Orchestra, huh? I would not think they were your style,” He said with a knockout smile and a wave of his hands. It took all that she could muster up to pretend that she was only slightly paying attention.
While taking the earbuds out of her ears, she asked, “Say again. I did not hear you. I am sorry.”
“No, my apologies for bothering you. I said, ELO. I did not figure you to be an ELO type of woman. I am a huge fan of ELO. Huge.”
“Oh, cool. That is a coincidence. I love them too,” she said with one of the best acting jobs this side of Hollywood.
He paused and then waved at her with her hand. It had to be a New Jersey thing and she found it very appealing.
“I have seen you in here before . . . but there is something different. Maybe your hair?”
“Well, yes, it is a new style. I was not too sure about it. And yes, I love ELO. Out of the Blue is amazing.”
Once more, he studied her and her heart went pitter-patter and boom, boom, and BOOM! He gently reached up, pushed the dangle of hair out of her face, and tucked it gently behind her ear.
“Be sure about it. You look gorgeous. Say, let me buy your drinks there. And lunch too.”
The words were almost a sputter, “Well, okay. . . .”
“What is your favorite ELO song? I am kind of partial to, It’s Over, and appears if you are too.”
Two hours later, he had invited her to an Electric Light Orchestra reunion concert in Philadelphia, scheduled for about two months from now. Two months! Oh my! He said that he had extra tickets. She missed that fact in her research and she honestly had no idea they were even touring again. Wow, thank you, God! Oh yes, and he also invited her to dinner for later that evening. He paid their tabs; they slipped off the bar stools and headed for the door together.
Yes, today was the day.
Her cell phone blinked and beeped and with a smile, she looked over at the bartender who had sent a simple text, “Wow!”
She paused and texted back, “Mr. Blue Sky. Google it.”
Yes, her jeans were tight now.
Yet, she had a feeling that in a little while they were going to become much looser.
Cheerio for now.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Right Shoe and the Left shoe

The Right Shoe and the Left Shoe

From PJH's Stoop:
I had tried for the better part of an hour to avoid her gaze and goo-goo eyes. I was at a bar in Roanoke, Virginia and this guy from north Paterson, New Jersey was a fish out of water. She winked, waved, and tried everything to get my attention. Finally, she slipped off the bar stool and hit the floor with a thud and she plowed toward me.

Oh, no.

Her hairstyle went straight up in great swirling layers and I was sure that the blades of one of the ceiling fans might capture the outer layers of her hair and wrap her up like a corkscrew. She had ten eyelashes, I assumed that one was her own and the other nine were backups in case of a sudden gust of wind. This chick had enough makeup on that, her entire face would melt in the sun. Her breasts looked like the leftover balloons from my birthday party when I was nine years of age. It must have taken a few tugs with a sink plunger on her butt in order for her to fit in her dungarees. If she sneezed, half the population of Roanoke would perish in the blast.

With a smile on her face, the blessed arrival finally occurred, “Hiya, there, good looking. I reckon that I want to know where a gorgeous hunk of man like ya’ll are, been hiding all of my life?”

Without hesitation, I said, “From you.”

“Here, Paulie, this is in case you become bored later on,” she said in a voice just above a whisper. I watched in silence as she wrote a phone number on a scrap of paper and then with a smile, she gracefully tucked the paper into my shirt pocket.

She reached up and gently cupped my face with one hand and with a coy and seductive smile on her face; she secured the note into its hiding place, with a gentle double-tap upon my pocket. I looked up at her and scanned her beautiful face, her golden smile, and full lips touched by a hint of red lipstick. My eyes caught her deep brown eyes with hints of the sunshine glistening off them and she blinked rather shyly at me. I then focused upon her brown hair with red highlights while it tumbled over her shoulders, and the gentle breeze blew a few wisps of hair blew in front of her face.

Without further hesitation, I smiled at her and said, “I have to admit that right now, I am remarkably bored.”

I am a writer of fiction. . . .

On the other hand,

Cheerio for now

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

In a Bar in Florida

It was in a Bar in Florida

From PJH's Stoop:

I had to admit that I was hungry, tired, and very thirsty. In retrospect, today was one helluva long travel day. As usual, the airport was a hassle and despite the glorification of air travels that the media and television commercials commonly display, air travel is a major pain-in-the-ass. This time, the inevitable plane delay was due to a pilot lamp on the cockpit dashboard that stubbornly refused to light. I am all for safety, but for the love of Pete, let us get the show on the road now. I was slowly becoming half-in-the-bag there, while sucking down cocktails. After waiting close to two hours for the maintenance mechanic to arrive and change the blessed light bulb . . . I was ready to hold a flashlight over the indicator dial.

Oh well. Safety first!

Finally, off we sailed into the wild blue whatever. And, I missed my connection flight. . ..

After losing the entire day waiting for the next connection, calling the rental car agency and advising them of my delay, as well as my hotel, I finally boarded the connection to Florida. Thankfully, that flight was uneventful. The Chatty Cathy in the seat in front of me did not count. That is why God gave us the gift of music and ear buds. When I finally landed, and stepped outside into the glories of all things that are Florida, the first thing that I noticed was the stifling heat.

It was hotter than seventeen Hells in Tampa, Florida.

I despise the heat. I am a cold-weather guy. The colder the better. Snow and ice on my beard make me happy. Very happy. Sweat on my beard makes me grumpy. Very grumpy. My theory is that you can always get warm. Put a vest on, an extra coat, or a sweater. The heat is another story. Even stark, bare-assed naked, you can still be hot.

The locals will tell you that it seldom reaches one-hundred-degrees in the Tampa and Saint Petersburg area, but to my Yankee blood, today, it still felt as if it were hotter than seventeen Hells. After all, it is the last week in September! Time to cool down now.

Since due to my flight adventures, the airlines successfully shot the ass out of my day and it was too late for conducting any business. I knew the next priority was eating and some water. Luckily, I learned my lesson with Florida business many years ago, and always book an extra day. Most of my work tends to be outside and the thunderstorms not only delay flights but they create havoc with the performance of my work duties. So, we turned in the direction of food. And water, and maybe, a few beers after the water.

After finally arriving at one of my favorite haunts in Saint Pete, I bellied up to the bar and panted. The bartenders here all know me. I have been coming here for many years.

I required refreshment. First, my body needed many glasses of ice-cold-water, in order to recover from the horrors of modern air travel and from the heat of the day. The attendants on the plane do their best to keep you comfortable, but they cannot stand and hover over you and attend to your every need. I was dehydrated and the cocktails on the plane did not help that situation. After a few glasses of water, then I could use a beer or two and some substantial food. Charles is the Head Bartender tonight and I have known him for as long as I have been eating here. He smiles and waves at me while pointing to an open seat on the far end of the bar. That is one of the few barstools remaining available. The gin joint is jammed. This is a sports bar. Charles, is a huge sports fan, and we usually talk about New York Yankees baseball and Tampa Bay Lightning hockey. Katie is the other bartender working tonight and Katie can talk some hockey too. After nodding at Charles, smiling, and waving at Katie, I wiggled into the barstool. Since this joint peddles sports and beer, large screen televisions line the walls, the soffit above the bar, virtually every nook and cranny and every sport available is playing. Lately, professional football turns me off, therefore, I decided to focus on a soccer match playing on the television right in front of me. There was a baseball game on another television but it was not a New York Yankees game, and the Yanks are already in the playoffs, so soccer it 'tis.

I plucked a menu off the bar and studied it. Not too much has changed since my last visit of a few months ago. There is nothing special here, but nothing poor in quality either. The food is good; the service is excellent and the prices are very reasonable. After a quick glance or two over the selections, I decided that I would order the chicken sandwich, suck down a few quarts of water, one or two beers and then crash at the hotel. The hotel was within walking distance from the sports bar. Perfect. Today was a travel day but tomorrow was a workday. A workday, outside in the wretched heat.

“Hey, Paulie, nice to see you back. What was it in late early summer the last time that we saw you?” Katie greeted me with a smile and a wiggle. She is very cute, quite bubbly and a good bartender.

“Maybe . . . late June or thereabouts? Four times a year, Katie.”

She leaned in and winked and with a lower growl, the words rolled, “Not nearly enough times for me to see you, Paulie.”

‘Working the tip,’ I thought. It will not work. I tip the same to everyone. Cute or not.

Ignoring the flirt and the ploy, I requested the blessed water.

“Please, Katie, I am so dry. The heat and the travel wore me out. Plane troubles. Delays and missed connections. Joy, joy and triple joy.”

“Oh, oh, Paulie. I am sorry.  That sucks. Too bad I was not on the flight with you. We could have passed the time,” Katie said with a wink.

I will ignore her extra flirting tonight. She was now no longer pushing for a tip. There was too much seriousness mixed in there too. I will not venture into those waters.

“Please, I will do a light beer. Whatever the special is on beer,” I pointed at my selection on the menu, “this chicken sandwich here with lettuce, tomato, and most of all, a huge glass of water. As in a reservoir full of water.”

Katie nodded and winked at me and asked, “You want ice in the water or just some plain, old, warm tap water.”

‘Okay, Katie, just a little touch of a smart-ass tonight, eh’? I thought with a smile on my face but no answer to the question. Katie smiled and wiggled off to fill my drink order.

Ah, blessed water. . ..

Katie dropped the water and winked once more, then hustled off to the other end of the bar with a promise to return soon. Within deep gulps of my water intake, my eyes followed the soccer match, and occasionally, wandered the crowd at the bar. When I travel, I am very low key. As I am in most of my life, reclusive is a good word to describe my behavior. Generally, I go to the same places, speak to people such as Charles about sports and keep a low profile. Not too many people even know what I do to earn a living. I am a private person. Trouble lurks in every corner these days and my training as a youth growing up on the city streets of Paterson and Haledon, New Jersey never leaves me. It is not just the Lounge Lizards that you need to be aware of, but if you go spouting off about some lofty employment position or your supposed lofty career, the next thing you know, you are getting rolled in the parking lot for the perceived dough in your wallet. The way that I looked tonight, no one was going to be very interested in PJH. On the other hand, so, I thought.

I wore a tee shirt printed with the famous rock-and-roll band, Dire Straits front cover art from the classic album, “Love Over Gold,” black jeans, and my usual black canvas sneakers. Charles delivered the beer and we chatted for a few minutes about the Yankees. The season was going well, and their chances of advancing in the playoffs looked solid. The bar was hopping, so Charles had to hustle off, but it is always nice to chat with him for a bit. When Charles shook my hand and together, we wished the Yankees luck, I heard a woman clearing their throat and I looked up. There was a young woman tucked in the nook of the bar, about ten feet or so away from me, on the opposite side of the bar. I looked up and she smiled at me. I weakly nodded. As I said, I keep a low profile.

She was young, stunningly beautiful and had an amazing smile. Her red hair tumbled down to her shoulders and all around her. She wore modern, black-framed eyeglasses that perfectly fit her face and her look, and even while sitting down on the bar stool; she seemed quite tall for a woman.

She tried many times to make eye contact, and I narrowly and somewhat strategically avoided her glances. Katie delivered my sandwich, another glass of water and a refill on the light beer.

With a coy smile, Katie said, “Looks as if you have two admirers, Paulie. The gal over there just bought this beer for you. Warning, I am jealous as hell.”

A niggling thought crossed my mind now, ‘Ah, hell, no. I have to finish this sandwich and get the hell out of here.’

I mumbled, “Thank you,” to Katie, lifted my glass in the air, and caught the young woman’s glance. With another weak smile, I mouthed, “Thank you” to her generosity. With that exercise in whooie out of the way, I dove into the sandwich and figured she would get the hint, and I kept my head down or my eyes on the soccer match.

The strategy worked until I finished eating and the young woman pointed at my tee shirt and said rather loudly, “Telegraph Road changed my life. The lyrics, the meaning, the emotions, the piano, the remarkable guitar solo and the melody. The outro blows your mind. It is like no other song. Ever.”

I glanced at my tee shirt. Oh yes, Dire Straits.

The entire bar looked over at us.

Okay, honey, you struck a nerve with PJH. If I cannot talk hockey or Yankees with Charles and Katie is annoyingly flirty tonight, then yeah, I can talk a little music.

I smiled and said, “Interesting. It is such a long song to hold an interest in until you listen to it about 10 times or so.”

A wide smile crossed her face, she picked up her drink, nodded and used some hand signals with Katie to indicate that she wanted to move her tab, and with the rock-and-roll conversation door now open and the open barstool next to me . . . over the young woman strolled. Katie frowned and she was not too happy, but she weakly waved in the young woman’s direction to indicate that she understood.

Oh well. I was not sure of her intentions. Are they flirty or not? On the surface, she did not seem to be a typical Lounge Lizard. There was an air of high-class to her, she was stunningly beautiful and certainly would not have any trouble in attracting a male friend to spend some time with tonight or any other night. She dressed in a light blouse, a cross between a dark blue and black, and her blouse was open on a few of the top buttons, open enough to display some of her rather ample cleavage, but also to display a delicate gold chain around her neck that hung in the pathway to the aforementioned cleavage. On the end of the chain, hung a round-shaped red stone pendant. It was very elegant, not gaudy or overwhelming, but delicate. She wore tight black jeans, with open-toed shoes that displayed a glossy black color on her toenails. While she glided over, it was very easy to admire her lean, tall and very attractive female figure. In a concise summary, all of her parts and pieces were in all the right places. Most of the male species in attendance looked and admired her while she strolled. It seemed as if it took her forever to make her way to the barstool next to me. I think that the elegant stroll was on purpose. When she finally arrived, she stood next to me and smiled for a bit, her eyes studied my face very carefully, and then she studied my eyes. I thought it was rather strange and I felt uncomfortable with the situation and in order to break the gaze, I tugged at the barstool next to me and pointed toward it. Suddenly, I was the immediate object of intense jealousy from every male species in attendance here this evening. Not to mention the now, rather perturbed, Katie.

When she settled in, I said, “Respectfully, you seem too young to enjoy Dire Straits.”

“An older boyfriend introduced me. I realized that most music nowadays is nonsense and bullshit. Thankfully, he is long gone, but the music remains. What a loser he was, but he did give me the gift of introducing me to Dire Straits. Hi. I am, Dana.” She reached out her hand and I took it and we exchanged a warm and gentle handshake.

“Paul John. As of the last few years, I use my middle name too. I try to eliminate confusion with other family members.”

Dana smiled and answered, “That is a very cool name. Paul John. Reverse from the former Pope’s name. He is John Paul. Interesting. Sorry, I am Catholic and the name just jumped into my mind.”

A nervous and slightly embarrassed grin escaped from the corners of her mouth, as if her revealing her religion caused her some pause.

Now, Dana seemed pensive at her own words and she carefully picked her drink up and sipped it. It was not a fruity or “girly-girl” drink. With some assumptions on my part, I made the determination that it was straight bourbon. Straight bourbon, gallantly accompanied by one of those giant ice cubes that are in vogue these days. Dana picked up the drink and while taking a sip, she caught me off-guard with a coy comment that somehow escaped her lips while sipping the drink.

“You have remarkable eyes. I do not think that I have ever seen eyes with colors quite like them. Striking is not even a good word. Amazing works better. Not just your eyes are amazing, but the rest of you too. Great beard. Paul John, you are quite the hottie. I think this drink requires a bigger ice cube.” Before I could even comment or allow my thoughts to wander that this meeting was going to be more than just a discussion about Dire Straits, Dana quickly shifted gears once more, “The Alchemy tour will blow your mind. Right?”

I settled back into a comfort zone with the discussion moving back into the realm of music.

“It will. I think the live performance on the Alchemy video of Sultans of Swing might be the greatest single live performance of a song in rock-and-roll history,” I said.

“True that,” Dana answered. With a quick turn of her head Dana quickly and seriously asked, “Do you think that Love over Gold is a progressive rock record?”

Wooaaah! This chick is very cool. Dana knew her Dire Straits and she knew music too. She was spot on target with the music jargon.

“I do. In fact, I rate Telegraph Road as the greatest progressive rock song of all time. Just a little better than Close to the Edge, by Yes.”

Dana nodded and asked, “You rate the recordings? Okay, very cool. Paul John, you sound very professional. As if you are a music critic.”

“Well, I do dabble in writing some music reviews. Not as much as what I used to do is the past, but I still stay involved. Now, I moved on to writing some other works, but my ear is always on music, and occasionally, an old contact asks me to review some tunes. Both current and classics. I dive into any genre. If we have time, well, I guess that I could tell you a little about what I do and what I have done.”

“We have time,” she said, while almost stepping on my words. While blinking her eyes a few times and lifting her drink to her lips, Dana added, “Plenty of time. Suddenly, I have no other plans for this evening. I just changed them a few minutes ago.”

She leaned in closer to me and she carefully studied my face. This time, I did not turn away and hide. Instead, I met her gaze and I burned into her stare. Dana did not enhance her long eyelashes with much, if any make-up. Her green eyes glowed underneath her eyeglasses and this woman was full of natural beauty. Perfect facial features and delicate pink skin. No enhancements required.

With a deep huskiness to her voice, Dana said, “Please do tell me all about, Paul John. I am all ears. I love your accent and when you speak, it gives me an excuse to study your eyes again. Where are you from with an accent like that one? New York City? Maybe. Just a guess.”

“Paterson, New Jersey. Northern Jersey accent. Similar to New York but different. Thank you for the compliment on my eyes. You are quite a beautiful woman.”

“Gotcha on the accent. It is very sexy. Gritty and rough, and confident. I also said that you were hot. You ignored that remark.” Dana answered and when she did so, she smiled, winked one of her luscious green eyes and tapped the rim of her now empty glass. “It's empty,” Dana barely spoke the words but it was as if she mouthed the words more than she spoke them.

I smiled and with a slight wave of my hand, I managed to catch the now very grumpy Katie’s attention.

Moreover, this, dead reader, is where the narrative ends.

Oh yes, this is one of those types of stories.

Where I invoke a writer’s privilege and force the reader to decide how the story ends, to decide if this was all fact or this was fiction, or perhaps a touch of each, and you, as the reader, get to choose the ending. The ending requires supposition, imagination and reader’s participation. I apologize, but sometimes a reader’s ending is much better than the author’s ending would be. That may or may not be the case here.

My old man in his endless bag of wisdom used to have a saying when it came to a beautiful woman that, “It is often sexier, when you leave most of what she is offering to the imagination.”

Yet, before I dot the final i and cross my last t here, I will leave you with one more thought.

It was in a bar in Florida.
Yes indeed, Telegraph Road can change your life.
She was gorgeous.
Okay, yes, that was three thoughts.
Cheerio for now.

Awesome Sh** That My Old Man Taught Me

From the Stoop of PJH: My old man has been gone from this world now for four years. It was the week before last. Not a day goes by tha...