Thursday, September 12, 2013


            After we had eaten all the chocolate and the bridges had been re-opened for the first time that week, June and I made it back to our apartment. Just over the Manhattan Bridge and this neighborhood showing tell-tale signs of the nonstop gentrifying beast, was our Clinton Hill. A view of the Twin Towers out of the kitchen window, now a view of circling fighter planes and fire. My first joke, and yes it was days later, to the next door neighbor college kids on the fire escape, was about BBQ. Some joke. We wandered down the narrow hall apartment. The same apartment that June was terrified to leave for two weeks after moving into this neighborhood once again seemed like not much of a sanctuary. Too close. When I Ebayed a mini-DV camera the first thing I shot was the wondrous view of the Towers out the kitchen window. Zoom in. Zoom out. When I was working at the Trade Center, the Towers chuckled among themselves as I peered out at them. Now, who got the last laugh? Nobody, nobody at all. We were staring out that window, where the world was still burning brightly to listen to the answering machine. Friends, relatives all left messages of “Brian, June …are you okay?”.  Who knew? Then the first really panicked voice. Distraught. Demanding. “Brian, are you okay? Brian, call me the second you get this! Brian, call! Brian, are? Brian Brian Brian!”. This was from Colleen; maybe my first love if an eighteen year old can know love. This wasn't one of those random calls from out of the past and the blue. Colleen was still my friend. Colleen was still June’s friend. They went to High School together. The first time I met June, I was leaving the Ritz with Colleen to get in a fuck when we knew that her roommate was out; she was still in the Ritz too. I can tell from Colleen’s voice and from her often less than full on grip of keeping current, that she believed I was still working at the WTC. I still had my key, but we had closed up shop two months prior. June hears the message and something about it stops her cold. Colder than her already reduced body temperature. Maybe if she had been out on the streets today instead of hidden in the relative safety (because now everything was relative to what was on September 10th and before and what was now) of her classroom, babysitting until all her students’ parents or guardians could be contacted. Maybe if she had seen a little bit more, things might have been a little different. Maybe if she hadn't arrived at Helen and Steven’s after the situation was under control – UNDER CONTROL? –  maybe the next few day’s design would have been drafted differently. But she arrived for the chocolaty aftermath. How else could she have replied to the panic stricken voice of anguish and love and concern? How else could she have replied to yet another voice screaming among the millions needing to not have this hit home so close? If no one you know was in that massive pit of steel and bodies and fire, then it could still be a TV show, a summer blockbuster.
            June said “you and Colleen make a good couple”. And then she went to bed.
September 11th, a day that will go down in infamy, September 12th was maybe even worse. The 11th was exciting, right? There was no time to stop and think. There was the terror and the fire of biblical proportions. If the world was going to end, this is how they told us it was gonna go down and damned if they weren't right. But on September 12th, we were still here. On September 12th, we thought there were tens of thousands of bodies cooking down there. On September 12th, all the cliches came home to roost. We were waiting for the other shoe to drop. Was this the calm after the storm or the just the eye? CNN didn't help. Watching any television for thirty-six hours straight can never be good but we all did it. Eyes peeled like blood oranges, transfixed on that screen. The same footage over and over, then the things that our naked eyes hadn't seen. I could have lived the rest of my life without having to see people holding hands, jumping to their deaths from the Towers. But maybe that’s just me. And maybe I over-reacted, at least in June’s mind. We all have to deal differently. I kept watching CNN; she popped “The Matrix” into the DVD-player for the fortieth time, cranked the sub-woofer to the maximum vibrating, annoy the neighbors setting and disappeared into a world that wasn't real. But was this one, the one of terror and fire and people jumping hand in hand to their certain death, the real world? Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I should have crawled beside her into the big, black chair that had made the migration back and forth and back again to Brooklyn. Maybe I should have sat at her feet, with her hand in my hair. Maybe I should have silently taken that same hand and led her to the bedroom and made love instead of consuming CNN-sized bits of death and destruction. That is what I would do now. It probably wouldn't have mattered in the long run. But it would have been better and everyone who died would still be baking out my kitchen window.
            Thursday was a school day and business as usual. Business as usual my ass. I got into work myself, got one panicked phone call telling me that they were shutting the subways back down. Planes weren't flying. What the fuck was I doing at work trying to sell plane tickets to the people who sell plane tickets to people? I had no business being there. I needed to be home, in front of the TV, in front of CNN, where I belonged. So that is where I sat as the bomb threats piled high as if someone opened the door to the arsenal and the looting had begun. I wanted June to come home. I wanted her beside me. I wanted comfort and security where these commodities were even more rationed than the water at the Lower East Side supermarket. She stayed at work. She stayed in the city. She and the other teachers went out for drinks as teachers do after school more than you would really want to know. More likely to be red wine spilled on Johnny’s homework than anything else. I watched CNN. I rang her cell phone. Maybe I slept a little, probably very little. The world was full of fear and fire and June was out in the middle of it. She finally came home at four o’clock in the morning. She didn't want to talk about it. She needed to get a few hours sleep and go back to work. If she could grasp a wisp of how angry I was, how scared for her I had been, it wasn't showing in her dark, brown eyes. I made myself as clear as I could be. This was not acceptable behavior and I don’t mean that in any ‘my wife must be home to put dinner on the table’ kind of way.
            The next day, she came in at ten o’clock the following morning.

            And that, was that. Deny it as she might at the time, this was the ‘fuck you’ that someone had to say to end this thing. At least in my mind, that was what it was. You cannot love somebody and put them in hell. And you cannot love someone who could do that to you. There had been love left at that point. It doesn't all ever go away, but every usable, serviceable iota of it, left me then and there. I would say it was over but the shouting, but there was none. I told her she needed to find someplace else to live. I told her she wasn't welcome in this apartment any longer. The biggest tears came when I flash-forwarded to a years’ later imagined phone call, when one of us would need to inform the other that Poe, our cat of as many years and lives, was dead. But the rest of it had just been thrown on the fire burning out the kitchen window and took to the flame like kindling. It burned there like something hollow. It didn't burn brightly and it didn't burn long. It just went up and then it was gone.

Monday, September 9, 2013



Shit was bad before September 11th. It is not my intention to go down as one of the post tragedy statistics but I have to be honest it was and I am probably am. You may or may not be as well. You know. I don’t know if it was the same for any of you not in New York City on that day, but I was, big hunks of me still are and the key to my office from 5 WTC is still on my key chain. But now it hangs on the wall beside Mr. Hanky the Christmas Poo here in Hollywood, CA 3000 miles technically from Brooklyn but somehow much closer and way further all at the same time.
            Relationship; relationships of a male/female nature is what is at the heart of it and on September 11th, 2001 that was something I had little experience with and at the same time too much. Too much with one person, not enough in general. 33 years old, practically half of that spent with the same person. But that too is not the heart of the matter. Nor is it in my heart very much at all any more. My heart was set free when those two big buildings came crashing down. They had help. I had help. We all get help whether we ask for it seek it out or not … it comes looking for us, and it usually finds us no matter where we may be. It found Elvis on the shitter. If it could find the King while crapping, really --- what chance do any of the rest of us have? I could stop right there and have my universal truth. Couldn’t I?
            Shit was bad before September 11th. The love that had been there had dissipated on the back and forth between Brooklyn and Los Angeles and back to Brooklyn again. I compared it to a sine curve when people asked. Ups, downs but not stretched out like some hoary thing and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t squeeze it tightly again. It was time to go … it was someone’s time to go and I always thought it would be me but never exactly as it played out, it never is, but then again, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition. God damn I wish that was my line, but I have my own. The love of The Fall, the love of repetition but this time to learn something from that. Repetition can be bad. Of course, it takes many forms as I was to find out.
            I remember walking down Clinton Avenue towards the subway probably feeling disgusted with myself, dressed for them and knowing that the 19 year old me wouldn’t recognize the 33 year old me. And if he did, good god, he would have kicked me, if not in the face but at least in the shins with his Doc Martens. But I didn’t see him coming that morning and if I had I would have crossed to the other side of the broad, majestic block lined with Mr. Pratt’s mansion and all the mansions he built for his kids. I didn’t get a mansion for my graduation. Didn’t get a car either but then again, what the hell would I have done with it anyway, used it as a planter? I don’t know how to drive, but that doesn’t fit here, I was not concerned with that then as I am now. I was never, ever leaving Brooklyn again or if I did, for the finer golden paved streets of Manhattan Island.
            I got off the R train at 59th Street at Central Park, there was an announcement of some stoppage of subway service but I paid that no mind. I was where I was supposed to be and damn everyone else. You would have thought the same thing. There’s the Plaza Hotel where I had spent a romantic/non-romantic night less than a month prior for our 2nd  wedding anniversary. Dinner at Tavern on the Green too. I may have been thinking that. I crossed 5th Avenue and gazed downtown, downtown where my heart was, downtown where I didn’t wear a suit and a tie that I couldn’t tie, and shave everyday. I saw some smoke downtown but that was nothing special. Something’s always burning somewhere. This is New York Fucking City as the t-shirts say. All that fucking going on, shit’s bound to burn, right? I crossed over to our building Trump Plaza, formerly the GM building, and the home of FAO Schwartz and CBS news on the ground floor. The crowd of people gathered out in front of CBS’ huge monitors did not alert me to anything. I swear I thought it was for Michael Jordan’s press conference on his return to the NBA. Who really would have thought it was anything else. C’mon? Really now?
            Uneventful express, elevator ride to the 47th floor and the palatial offices of Icahn Industries. A stop for a quick piss before trudging to the cubicle. The bathrooms with the framed cancelled checks to Icahn for millions and millions of dollars in the foyer. No one could convince me otherwise then that these checks were not strategically placed there when our cocks were on our minds. Never, ever let us worker bees forget who has the biggest cock of all. Maybe a billion dollars worth of cancelled checks framed on the wall outside the men’s room … what do you think?
            But where the hell was everyone? Had there been a coup? Hope it was a bloody one, but the Persian carpets were spotless. Then in the boardroom, I find a few gathered souls. Some of Carl’s lawyers who were prone to expletive laden tirades followed by whimpering ‘but Carls’ but they were quiet. We had a straight shot down 5th Avenue coupled with being 47 stories in the air. Lower Manhattan was burning. This is usually where I begin the tale. When people inquire why such a died in the wool NY’er is in sun-shiny Los Angeles, I now often say that “one morning I looked out the window and these two big buildings came crashing down. Perhaps you heard of it?” When irony died, it grabbed sarcasm tightly by the arm and pulled into onto the funeral pyre. Neither kicked. Neither screamed. But in all actuality, and you know this part, that is what happened. We had the huge boardroom TV tuned to the news so we had a double view. This was before the 2nd plane. We thought … we thought …. We thought and thought and thought. But we didn’t think this was intentional. Even in a city where people kill over apartments, parking spots, sneakers … how could this be intentional? It couldn’t. It couldn’t. I still cannot believe it writing this now, thousands of miles, lives and stories to fill all the books of all the times … how could this be real? I was torn between watching on the TV and from out the window. Which was real? Neither could actually be real.
            And then the second plane hit.
There’s a blur, I could delve into it. But I don’t want to and you can’t make me. The next thing I recall was one of the lawyers saying look there’s so much smoke you can’t even see the first tower, and nose pressed to glass, safely dangling 47 stories in the sky and 60 some-odd blocks north which seems like so much and so little at the Pame time. Someone said “it’s gone”. It may have been me. I hope it was so then I could be like Mr. Vonnegut in Dresden in “Slaughterhouse Five”. I may have said “it’s gone”. And then I was. I grabbed my shit and took a non non-eventful express elevator ride back down to terra firma but the ground was no longer firm. Nothing was firm. I have never been to the town of bedlam, or the asylum, but I imagine it must have looked a lot like 5th Avenue on that morning. Everyone running around. Cell phones pressed to ears attempting calls. Lines of people at payphones. Cars pulled over to the sides of the streets at haphazard angles, 1010 news not giving us the whole world in 22 minutes. How could they? The whole world was here now, and it was on fire and you could see it when you looked down 5th Avenue.  A cell phone pressed to each ear, 2000 attempted calls to my parents safely retired in Upstate NY. 2000 attempted calls to my wife, June, teaching high school down on 15th street. Does your cell phone work? No, sorry. Yours? No, can I borrow, can I use, can I? Wandered into the drug store but nothing could remedy. Back on 5th Avenue my thoughts pulling me towards my wife and wanting to make sure she was inside and all right. That cell working? Can I borrow? Hey please. I need to make a call. We all need to make a call. We all need to make a call.
            Then the second tower came down in a pillar of smoke.
At some point as I got further downtown, pilgrims were coming in the opposite direction. And I thought I had it bad. They were ghosts. They had triage bracelets around their wrists. Their faces were dead. They were Butoh dancers. They were Pompeii. They were Hiroshima. They were tornadoes and hurricanes and fire and brimstone. They were coming towards me, I was moving past them, though them. They were covered in dust. They were dust. Hey, can I borrow your cell? Hey, does it work? Has anyone seen…… you didn’t want to stick around for who. Somewhere between up there and down here, I got 2 calls though. Mom, Dad, I am okay. Although what the hell was the new definition of okay? It was alive and that’s about it. June was stuck in school with the students. I got downtown and damned if I was going to die, it wasn’t going to be in an ugly, cheap suit. Urban Outfitters! God bless Urban Outfitters. For some reason, the kids at the Urban Outfitters kept the shop open. I guess they couldn’t figure out what the hell else to do. Who could? People were actually shopping. I didn’t think I was getting home that night. I don’t want to be buried in a suit. I bought a pair of blue jeans and a blue baseball jersey with 55 on it. This is still my 9/11 outfit. Sometimes it just winds up that way. My bar was closed. My friend Pam wasn’t answering her buzzer. I wandered a little west to Helen and Steven’s place. They let me in. I am sure they slept though everything. They are blessed; they could sleep through anything if it happened during daylight hours. Helen’s Korean Mom was in the city. She was coming in for a landing here too. I remember being told this is North Korea before the war. An uncle with all his money in the bathtub is how they got out. A truck, I remember a truck. Helen and I hit the streets. $300 maximum from the ATM. As much water as the supermarket will allow, 10 pounds of sticky Korean rice. Chocolate. I know there was chocolate. Should we go give blood? They say we should. The line is insane. Helen’s mom needs us back at the apartment. Never liked giving blood anyway.

Monday, August 26, 2013

This week I am just going to enjoy watching the Yankees trying to make the stretch run something interesting. Soriano has been a joy to watch. Cano, now with some protection in the line-up, is once again looking like the best secondbaseman ever. The Captain - Derek Jeter - returns to the lineup tonight in Toronto where the Bombers play their 2013 patsies, the Blue Jays.

It's going to be 100 here in Minneapolis. A/C is pumping.

That's all I got. Go out and play.


Monday, August 19, 2013

  A full two weeks later, and A-void is still dominating the pages of the newspaper and overloading the tweet-feed. If George M. Steinbrenner was still alive and in charge of the New York Yankees I do believe that, much in the words of CVB/Cracker front-man David Lowery, would have sent his "sorry ass back to Florida" and would have eaten the $100M "owed*" to the embattled ballplayer. (* I am more than a little galled to do the math, but I could live comfortably for FIVE years (I live cheaply) on what he "earns" in a day.

But, avoid did earn his money last night. From statements coming in before and during the series with the bosox up in fenway, there were assumptions that someone would throw at arod. The best bet was on Lackey, but maybe that was way too obvious. So it fell to Ryan Dempster -- who has never actually figured out a way to beat the Yankees -- to throw at arod. Threw the first pitch behind his knees, "missed" with two inside fastballs before plunking arod in the elbow on a 3-0 pitch.

Apparently, home-plate umpire Brian O'Nora (did I spell that right?) was the ONLY one in the ballpark who didn't think that dempster threw at arod intentionally. Girardi went apoplectic and got tossed from the game. The Yankee manager got to watch on TV as arod had the best revenge possible: a monster home-run (430 feet +) to dead-center. He got to stand and watch it. He got to jog around the bases, pumping his fist and firing curse-words at whomever he chose, for in that moment - and only in that moment - he was doing what he is being (over)paid to do: help drive the Yankee offense which has turned off the anemia of late. Arod mocked Big Papi's home-plate salute to the fans and to heaven.

Honestly though, I wish we had more moments like that and less of the insane lawyering up, the potshots between the player and the team brass. This whole season has been turned into a debacle by the likes of arod and braun ... at least Tejada's suspension fell by the wayside news-wise, but I am sick of all the stuff that doesn't happen on the field.

Oh, well- Twins host the Mets in a make-up game today: play ball! Neither of those ballclubs have anyone juicing I have to think, or they'r be playing better, right? Right?

Here's my new ROSE website: go check it out...


Monday, August 5, 2013

“When I was a little boy, I wanted to be a baseball player and join a circus. With the Yankees I’ve accomplished both.”—Third baseman Graig Nettles, on playing for two-time World Series champion New York Yankees in the late 1970s, quoted in Kenneth McMillan,Tales From the Yankee Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Yankee Stories Ever Told (2001)

One of the more famously funny Yankee quips of my life-time and Nettles was hilarious and spot on... but now there's the circus that has mushroomed up around The Fall of the Player Once Respectfully Referred to as A-Rod and while it's served as distraction from the horrible (although could be worse) season the 2013 New York Yankees are suffering through with their faithful fans, myself very much included. 

But even losing series to sad-sack teams like the Padres is more entertaining than le Cirque d'A'Fraud that has become the back -- and front -- page story in the New York Daily News since... gosh, back when Billy Martin was punching marshmallow salesmen and threatening the same with his right-fielder, Reginald Martinez Jackson. 

So, while the other dirty dozen or so ballplayers are taking their lumps - and their suspensions - as of this morning A-Rod is the sole hold-out and the word is that he will be playing the hot corner for the Yankees tonight in Chicago versus the White Sox. The White Sox know all about lifetime bans (google/see: 1919 Chicago "Black Sox" scandal if you don't know of what I speak) and while Selig threatened A-Roid w/a lifetime ban as 'good for the game' although that does set the "ball-player" up for sympathy from people who buy his lies and don't want to see him separated from the $100M or so due to him from the Yanks.

It's been such a game of chicken -- although I really do get the distinct impression that MLB and Selig have the goods on A-Rod -- and now if Rodriguez does get to appeal his apparent 210-game suspension (the rest of 2013 and ALL of the 2014 season) who knows what shakes out? As a fan of the game and of the Yankees (both things that A-Rod claims as well, mind you) I would love to just see him gone and gone for good. At least Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens (who kinda/sorta came out in defense of his former teammate) are no longer the most hated guys in recent MLB history.

One of the claims that MLB has against A-Rod (a great Yankee teammate apparently if ever there was one) is that he got other players using PEDs and when you look at the list of current, or former Yankee teammates on the list, well, you get their point:

Initially confirmed by, the players to have agreed to the suspensions without the right to appeal are:
[+] EnlargeNelson Cruz
Tom Pennington/Getty ImagesRangers All-Star outfielder Nelson Cruz is among 12 players who have reportedly agreed to 50-game suspensions for their roles in the Biogenesis case.

• Nelson CruzRangers outfielder
• Everth CabreraPadres shortstop
• Jhonny PeraltaTigers shortstop
• Antonio BastardoPhillies reliever
• Jordany ValdespinMets outfielder
• Francisco CervelliYankees catcher
• Jesus MonteroMariners catcher
• Cesar Puello, Mets outfield prospect
•  Sergio EscalonaHouston Astrospitching prospect
• Fernando Martinez, Yankees outfield prospect
• Fautino De Los Santos, free-agent pitcher
• Jordan Norberto, free-agent pitcher

Thanks for reading, now let's just PLAY BALL!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Batting second AND playing shortstop, number two, Derek Jeter -- finally! No, the canned recording of the late, great Bob Shephard introducing the Captain wasn't edited but I think most Yankee fans heard the "finally" regardless. But, be it just a sentimental push on the day the Yankees paid homage to the retirement of #55, Hideki Matsui (although Michael Kay even got Coney calling Ichiro by the other Japanese/Yankee star's name) Jeter did more than that -- "like a movie" according to his amazed manager -- hitting the first Yankee homerun since the All-Star break and the first by a right-handed hitter since Billy Martin was still managing. Okay, great big exaggeration there: it only feels like years.

(That's probably more italics in a single paragraph ever on this blog.)

But the propelling lift by Jeet was aided by his old teammie, Alfonso Soriano (I've got to dig out that old signed baseball) who finally made his presence felt in the clean-up spot yesterday and aided the Yanks from getting swept by the now front-running Rays. I'd rather chase them than the Bosox, although we're chasing them too.

Of course, now that there's promise that the bats are starting to heat up and Granderson may be back soon supplying some pop in the middle of the line-up, the pitching has started going South. CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte are pitching more like bottom of the barrel, Phil Hughes. Hughes, who may have pitched himself into remaining in the Bronx with yet another outing marred by the long-ball, is as inconsistent as all get out. Kuroda has become the de facto Ace and Ivan Nova is throwing like a guy who is intent on sticking around the rotation.

Yanks start a three-game series in Los Angeles versus the Dodgers who have finally started putting it all together and have effectively saved Don Mattingly's job.

Okay- as it's impossible to write about the Yankees these days without mentioning our personal Bronx Zoo 2.0- Alex Rodriguez. With all the talk and counter-moves and bullshit that's been coming out of this scenario (latest word is that his suspension may come this week and may be for the remainder of this season and all of 2014) if the Yankee brass wasn't sincere about wanting A-Rod to play for the team this season, they would have looked to replace the broken down Kevin Youkilis with better stop-gaps than the likes of Brent Lillibridge and the six or seven other guys who have manned the hot-corner for the Yanks in 2013.

Here's my Facebook rant about A-Rod from a few days' back:

was gonna say "it could be worse, you could be a-rod" but thought about it for a moment: that lying piece of shit still has a mostly working body despite all his own efforts to lay waste to it for his own personal glory - he should have spent the money on a therapist for his insecurities rather than poisoning himself probably for the better part of a decade. and even if he gets a lifetime ban from the game he professes to love,. he still has millions upon millions of dollars in the bank and will get a reality show, maybe he can donate a cubic fuck-ton of money to a worthy cause because otherwise he winds up just a complete waste of space and talent remembered for being a cheater and a liar...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sorry the absence of new words on this site for a few weeks. No good excuse so I won't even try.

Without asking for my permission, MLB just went ahead and added a fourth day to the All-Star Break this year and I suppose with how the Yanks have been playing that was a nice relief. They lost a series to the Twins in the Bronx which is like the Globetrotters losing two in a row to the Nationals; just not supposed to happen that way.

But seeing how four days without baseball was just way too much I watched the ASG for the first time in quite a number of years; I don't think I have watched the exhibition game ever since it started counting. But the amazing moment of Mariano Rivera running onto the field all by himself was worth my time.

Jeter back on the DL after 1 game played re-joining Tex (done for the year), Granderson (back next month or so they say), Cervelli (who knows?) and A-Rod (who cares?!) -- actually the scary thing is that A-Rod may actually be needed. Seven different guys have started at the hot corner so far and even outfielder Vernon Wells has seen some action there. I have this inkling that MLB is so utterly pissed off at A-Roid that they're waiting for him to be activated (was supposed to be Monday barring an injury -- and there very well may be an injury) and then and there immediately suspend him. I bet if Selig could have him taken off the field in Arlington in handcuffs and taken to a Texas jail -- he would do so in a NY minute.

Had a nice benefit of the Rose t-shirt promotional: a dear friend's daughter was wearing the pink tank-top I gave her for her HS graduation and she came across a couple girls who had read the book and passed word back to me that they really liked it...

I also donated some money to a writer's site that was raising funds for St. Jude's Childen's Hospital- the reward for doing so getting some promotional tweets for Rose -- and I think that may have already paid for itself in royalties for books sold online. Who says no good deed goes unpunished?

Holding off the next leg of the book tour (sorry, San Francisco; see ya as soon as I can) and working towards a few ongoing local things here in the Twin Cities. I'll do a better job of keeping you posted.