7-30-2006 Ghost of Christmas Past

Wilkes-Barre is in good hands, rebounding very nicely and thereís tons upon tons of private and public monies being invested in it as I babble. So, as a result, there ainít too much politics-related stuff to endlessly drone on and on about. Therefore, Iím a gonna indulge myself in a trip down memory lane. Iffiní thatís gonna bore you, you might want to visit one of those left-leaning blogs and find out what unthinkable crimes against humanity Dubya has committed since yesterday.

I take you now to the e-mail inbox where the names were changed to protect the not so innocent.

From the e-mail inbox Ghost of Christmas Past

So my father said you did a lousy job in eradicating the termite problem he's having. Just kidding. It was quite a surprise when he told me that you were handling his problem. Took a minute for it to all come together in my head. That was over 20 years ago already. It's a good thing I'm chronically immature, or I might start thinking i'm getting old or something. So how've you been? By the looks of your little website, everything seems to be good. One of the funny things about your website was the Zappa references and quotes. A couple of weeks ago, went to see the Zappa Plays Zappa show at the Tower Theater outside Philly. One of my buddies friends asked me how i first got into Zappa and I mentioned you, so it's good to see you're still into all things Frank (guess once you're into Zappa you're probably not getting out). If you didn't hear about this show, it was Dweezil, with Napolean Murphy Brock, Steve Vai and Terry Bozzio plus a great backing band. Obviously, there are hundreds of songs you can say they should have played, but the set was a good one. They're supposed to be doing more dates in October, so you should check it out.

As for me, I'm livin outside Philly (in a town much worse off than WB). Once i got out of the military, i went to Temple University and stayed down here. Engaged once never made it to the altar) and lived with a girl for 7-8 years (that too ended) and now i'm just seeing no one special. No kids that i know. Run a team for a financial services company. Drink too much Belgian ale, spend too much money on cd's and concerts and basically think i'm still 23 years old, acting like a fool. That sums up the last 20 years.

From the few entries I read, looks like you're still married, the kids are grown and now you have grandkids - that's awesome. Still sounds like you're very opinionated about everything and anything, which is a good, good thing in my book. And it sounds like you're still into music in a big way. Do you ever see anyone from the restaurant? I'm trying to remember names - John (another manager), Vic, Diane, etc. - can't think of any names right now?

This is obviously my work e-mail - home e-mail is XXXXXXXX @comcast.net (don't look at that quite as often). Drop a line when you get a chance.

Big Ben, anyone?

Long time no see, Short Order Dude. As I had told your parental units (Zappa speak), despite working with and then slowly forgetting the countless hundreds upon hundreds of people I worked with during that previous life of mine, there was no way I could ever forget you after stuffing into my rapidly deteriorating scrapbook that U.S.S. Belknap postcard that you had sent me so many, many moons ago.

Funny though, when your parents said that you were the Joe Blow that had short-ordered at Franklinís Family Restaurants at 400 Kidder Street once upon a time, I told them I was the guy you used to come home from work complaining about. And if I remember correctly, you did just that and then some during the early stages of your ďcareer.Ē Thing is, if I had a dime for every teenager I managed that went through that adjustment period wherein their vision of the world didnít match the reality of the working world, Iíd own me quite a few of those newfangled surface ships. Truth be told, I did that adjustment thing way back when (early Ď70s) when one Leo Smith impressed upon me that he knew best how to run Percy Brownís and not myself. Turns out, he was right.

400 Kidder Street

Getting back to the hundreds of people I worked with over the years while slogging it out at Franklinís, you might find this factoid to be somewhat amusing. When Frank Zappa passed away in 1993 I heard from former Franklinís employees spread far and wide, not only all over this country, but all over the world. Truth be told, completely out of the blue, I had heard from people who I had forgotten all about.

Iíve never thought of myself as being a mentor to the countless teenagers who had to suffer through all of my iron-fisted theatrics as part of their first jobs, but I guess I always understood that I would be forever emblazoned upon many a personís memory as the lunatic that first exposed them to the multi-faceted Frank Zappa, who, if he didnít exist, Mad Magazine would have surely invented to rape the mindís of impressionable young people everywhere. Iíve been watching some video clips of Zappa Plays Zappa at YouTube.com, so I am up on the latest from the Zappasphere.

Interestingly enough, Zappa was quite fond of quoting composer Edgar Varese as saying ďThe present day composer refuses to die.Ē And while Zappa may have died, his musical legacy lives on.

My ill-fated, F-bomb-laced audition at WVIA TV

I found it interesting that you referred to your immaturity, simple because immaturity is a disease that I have struggled with my entire life. I make no apologies because I had no role models to learn from, therein, I had to kind of find my own way as the years rolled by. Iím certainly not whining, just stating facts. Besides, maturity in all of itís various and sundry manifestations is seriously overrated. Thereís maturity and then thereís fun. Thereís being child-like on occasion and then thereís a humdrum existence. I dunno. Iíll figure it all out one of these days.

And, yes, Iím still married. Itíll be 27 years in a couple of days. I canít say I wouldnít change a thing if I could, but Iím thinking worse things could happen than spending a lifetime with the same person. She doesnít touch my special stuff, so why gripe?

My kids didnít invent anything important or anything, but they turned out to be good, productive people. Iím good with all of that. I like my kids. On occasion they do things that annoy me, but I wouldnít trade them in for a couple of budding geniuses and suchlike. Theyíll do nicely.

The grandkids are a frickiní ton of fun. So much so, if this is what getting old is all about, you can count me in. Being old, bald and gray is cool and all if Iím to be allowed to watch them grow beyond my kidís control and do something worthwhile with their lives. I like to think weíre pushing them in the right direction, but the jury isnít in on all of that just yet. Stay tuned.

Way back when, circa 1974?

Do I ever see anyone from the restaurant? Yes, indeedy, I do. Theyíve all gone on to bigger (?) and better (?) things, but many of them do stay in touch. In fact, Jon came to our block party for the first time last August. He may be a tad older, but he hasnít changed one iota. Heís still all about sex, drugs and rock Ďní roll, although, not necessarily in that order. It seems to work for him. Vic is still toiling away in a kitchen on the west side. He escaped for a while there, but the closing of Techniglass in Pittston sent him back onto the line. Not sure what became of Diane, but I heard a while back that sheís still local.

And music? You know, music is the best. How did Frank put it?

Information is not knowledge

Knowledge is not wisdom

Wisdom is not truth

Truth is not beauty

Beauty is not love

Love is not music

Music is THE BESTÖ

For reasons well beyond my grasp, thatís about all I ever wanted to do: Music. Iíve been kickiní around this planet for 47 years, and I still get the shakes when I walk past a Gallery of Sound store without heading on in and buying something. Music is my opiate of choice, and it always has been. Well, that and beer. When it comes to albums and discs, Iím like a black hole. A swirling vortex in which music gets trapped never, ever to escape. I find guitars and distortion pedals sexier than Sharon Stone, and anyone playing serious rock lower than at maximum volume makes me want to rage uncontrollably. And rather than judging me very harshly, ponder the effects of heredity gone seriously amiss. To take a well-worn, tattered page right out of the Democratic, victimhood manifesto, itís ultimately not my fault. They tell me my dad was an eccentric freak, so there ya go.

Know what, you might want to consider showing up here at our block party later this month. Iím thinking we could get some of the old Franklinís crowd together for at least one night. You got sick days remaining, no? Responsibilities? Screw that! Get on up here and weíll party like itís 1985. You can sleep on the floor under the air conditioner with the rest of Ďem. Or, you could crash over at your parentís house with the termites. (Now Iím kidding) Lemme know.

I donít really miss the restaurant industry, but I do miss working day-in and day-out surrounded by young, or young-minded people. Iíd rather spend my days working with people concerned about the latest music and whatnot versus people being all-consumed by the latest retirement planning options, or what A.A.R.P. is currently offering. Maybe I never really grew up at all, and if so, I make no apologies for any of that. I donít think feeling old is so much about aches and pains as much as it is a mindset, possibly a product of oneís environment. Iím thinking what the calendar says means nothing at all if weíre still having some fun. And, as of this moment, Iím still having fun. And if thatís proof of my continued shortcomings whereas the illusive and overrated maturity is concerned, then fire up the coals and brand my chest with a ridiculously large I.

Dude, stay in touch. And give the block party some serious consideration. Itíd be a hoot to hear about how many times you wanted to stick a knife in my back, or whatever it was that was running through your conflicted mind when you were but a teenaged short order cook toiling away at Franklinís Family Restaurants.

Oh, and, your parents are really nice people. If youíre even half a chip off the old block, I am duly impressed.

I was long gone at that point

Adorable? Or not?

Did anyone even notice that the You Tube video currently embedded on my main page was produced by none other than moi?


Dude? Recognize anybody?