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Crazy Eddie

“Oh crap, Alan’s at the door, gimme a minute here hang on,” I said as I rushed away from our front door and its fisheye peep hole.    I knew we had to air the room out, our building’s owner Alan was at the door, and I was already in trouble with the friggin’ guy.   I stubbed out my joint and hurriedly opened my bedroom window.

“Wait, hold on, Eddie, you know you can’t be here.”  I said.

“What do you want me to do, jump out?  Looks like I’m already screwed anyway, what else am I gonna do?”  Eddie replied.  He was always a nervous and paranoid guy; now he was also drunk and high and his personal nemesis had arrived at our door – excuse me, my door.  Eddie didn’t belong here at 164 Prospect Park West.

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The Hollyweird Enforcer

The Big Weenie Hollywood California from Memories of Hollywood

“Welcome to Hollyweird.”  I heard it first as an 11 year old (fresh faced and fresh-lunged) from my Mom when my sis and I arrived from Oklahoma.  My first impressions were: a lot of buildings, hills and palm trees.  I felt there was “more civilization” than what I was used to in Tulsa.  But things seemed a little dirtier too, but you had to look carefully, like the cleaning didn’t get all the way into the crevasses.  The weather was really nice all the time; I noticed that as well, while throwing our Nerf football around in our apartment’s parking lot.

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A Day With Joe (Story For Sadie)

I saw that it was 4:55 am; I never let the alarm wake me up.  It’s not that I didn’t set it, I did; I just always seemed to wake myself up right before.  It’d been that way for years, and had become part of my morning ritual.  Like shaving in the shower, or downing a cup and half of coffee on my way out the door (even though I invariably brewed a whole pot).

It was still dark out, with a few glimmers of light, as I left my house at 5:45 am and clambered into my Ford Focus.  The days were quite long here this time of year, and I had plans for later, so that was good.  For the Yankees were in town, and there was a night game (which would be played mostly in daylight here in Seattle).

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Where The Hippies Can Be Hippies

Seattle’s a great place to go if you want to access your inner hippie.  If you think you know a lot of things but want to give it a test and need a proving ground, I recommend you try the fertile volcanic soil of the Great Northwest.  That’s what I did.   I’d worked at a little Natural Foods store in New York for four years and thought I was a hotshot, a real Granola.  But I got schooled in Seatown, that’s for sure.

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Starcrossed

My time in Hollywood wasn’t one Celebrity encounter after another.  Although I went to school then and later with a couple of people who turned out to be famous, my personal experiences were of a more “jejune” variety…  that is, except for getting to see a hirsute (hairsuit?) Ed Asner  anchor one end of a tug-of-war for ABC at “The Battle of the Network Stars;” IN PERSON!

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Eighth Grade Enigma

Seeking relief from the utter domination I suffered not only at the hands of the women in my family (mother and two sisters) but also at school (for a time the only male teacher was Mr. Bishop); my friends at LeConte Junior High School offered me something that was, for that time, an underdeveloped yet definitely needed male outlet.  Though sometimes relating to other boys took some counterprogramming on my part.

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A Nose For Tofu

I’ve been in the Natural Foods business for years, 16 of them in fact.  It’s changed a lot; it’s become a lot more mainstream – now going to places like Whole Foods is for a lot of people like going to the mall.  But it wasn’t always that way.

Health Food stores used to be the province of the hard-core health nut.  I know, because I worked in one, a place in New York City called Perelandra, for four years in the late ‘90’s.  It was a magnet for the neighborhood’s zombie-like ascetics who frequented the place (loyal customers though they were).  Thin and drawn was the look of the Perelandral habitué (their appearance seemed to belie their whole healthy pursuit thing, no?).  The severe ethos of many of these people worked on them like a social attrition, making them as demanding of us as they were on themselves. Read more

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The Sideways Sofa

I worked hard and saved all my money to get into Pratt Institute.  Even so, the vast majority of the tuition I had to funnel into that Brooklyn school of art and engineering was paid for by bank loans.  Delayed a full semester by months of paperwork, I was pretty excited to get there in January of ’88.  One cold weekend I settled into my new dorm.

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The Temp

I moved to New York to go (presumably) to Art School but as far as plans I hadn’t really figured anything out.  I decided to just go there anyway and stay with my brother in Brooklyn, either forever, or temporarily, until something, some plan, coalesced.

I arrived in June of ’87 armed with a 4-foot steamer trunk, an art portfolio and vague plans to get my art together to show to the admissions department at Pratt Institute.   Pretty quickly my brother disabused me of the permanent residency option.

This came a quite a shock to me; I guess I really HAD made plans after all (to crash on my brother’s floor in Boerum Hill until we were both old men).  It turns out Luis had become the “plan coalescer” and I realized I had to get a job, and fast. Read more

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Screen Memories

Driving past another dead Blockbuster Video the other day made me think in general about the deaths of locally owned video stores a decade earlier and then, more specifically, the death of my own little store in Brooklyn.  Far from celebrating the possible karmic backlash represented by the retail failure of a large company like that of Blockbuster (after they’d stomped on little mom and pop stores for years); I was actually in there a couple of weeks before they closed, stocking up on $1 DVDs.

For a few years in the early 90’s I worked at a video store in Brooklyn called Screen Memory.  It, like thousands of other small businesses everywhere, had a stable core staff that at least for awhile, and only while they were still employed there, considered each other to be kind of like family.

7th Avenue, The Slope

Well, that is, a family that not only fought each other over the store remote, but also over shifts and assorted duties (like splitting up the cash deposits customers had to leave to become members).  Many of us (except Bob, the general manager, who was REALLY religious) drank a little too much; every night after work was kind of like a weekend night for us.

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