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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Fringeville 185: …An Un-Civil War

I do believe something happened to Christine Blasey Ford when she was in high school. The alternative is unthinkable. What exactly happened, and with who, has a high likelihood of never being known.

I think she does need to be heard.

Senator Diane Feinstein’s handling of this has been nothing short of atrocious from the start. Once Ford’s letter came to light, there was no way on god’s green earth anonymity could be maintained. If Feinstein or her office told her it could, it was a lie of the worst sort.

With the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh becoming less certain, and with an invitation to testify, Christine Blasey Ford’s attorneys now say she wants an FBI investigation before she speaks.

This was a bridge too far.

I’m not saying I don’t believe she was a victim.

I’m saying that whether it was her idea or someone else's, from a political strategy standpoint defeat may have been snatched from the jaws of victory. What's more, on the same day Senator Feinstein said while she believed Ford was credible, she didn’t know if “everything was truthful.”

That smells like warming the bus up before throwing someone under it.

Something happened to Christine Blasey Ford decades ago, and it is being exploited. No one is going to come out of this thing untainted. If it all falls apart, it may make other women less willing to step forward in the future.

Maybe it’s time to take a hard look at how we confirm our Supreme Court candidates, because this media circus and fiasco is now likely the norm.

I try not to stick my toes in the water on political things these days, but this is about much more than politics. We are in a civil war of sorts, and the worst things generally come out of these decidedly uncivil affairs. The casualties will mount.

* * *

Be good to each other.

* * *

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Fringeville #184: …Randomness and a Double-Shot

This post has nothing whatsoever to do with sex, but I likely have your full attention.

The randomness continues…


I am watching this latest hurricane, Florence, with apprehension. I have a brother in North Carolina. At one point he was right in the center of the ‘cone’ that shows the probable track of Florence. He is well inland, but that wouldn’t spare him from the rain of a slow-moving, massive storm. I talked to him a few days ago, and his concern at the time was tornadoes. The storm has shifted, and he is now on the northern edge of the cone, but it’s not going to be any fun.

Am I wrong to tire of what I think is the over-hyping of these storms? I am not minimizing the danger monster storms pose. This one may in fact be one of the biggest ever, and people should damned sure pay attention, but increasingly these things are media events and in the aftermath, inevitably, political stages.

Hurricanes both destroy and create. Ocean City, Maryland was once a much quieter place. Before 1870, it was called “The Ladies Resort to the Ocean.” In 1875 its first major hotel opened, but there was nothing at the time to suggest it would become the massive resort town and vacation haven it is today.

This changed in 1933, when a hurricane created an inlet that the Army Corps of Engineers made permanent. The boom began then, as Ocean City spawned a major fishing port. Some of this I gleaned from spending a lot of time down there, and some from the city’s Chamber of Commerce page.

Nature waved her hand, and Ocean City as we know it was born. One day her hand may wave again, and take it all away.

As to Florence, this is a very dangerous storm. If you are in it’s path, move. It also shares its name with my late Aunt Florence, who I loved dearly but was absolutely not a woman to piss off.


I don’t know about you, but I need a double-shot. And once again, I am going to the bench: the growing field of amazing women who rock my iPhone. These are a couple of tunes I love. Enjoy them!

First, up Heart:

Next, Joan Osborne:



Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fringeville #183: …Up Fifty Bucks.

(A new feature, presenting short stories is a series of scenes. Here is the first part of "Up Fifty Bucks." Enjoy!)

“We’re going for breakfast with my friends, Michael. Vinnie’s, down the block. There’s an empty spot in the booth since Manny died. No one talks anymore except for Giuseppe, and then only when he’s reading the obituaries. It’s like a funeral service without all the back of the room jokes. It’s going to be a long summer and you’ll liven things up. You’re a funny kid. I told them that, so make me look good.”

“But Pops, I’m not really hungry. I don’t eat breakfast.”

“You’re eating breakfast every day you’re here, so shush and start walking!”

Down the battered cobblestone sidewalk they strolled, old man and grandson. They greeted neighbors walking their dogs, stopped to chat with the Spaniard at the newspaper stand, and finally arrived at Vinnie’s.

“The sign says closed, Pops.”

“It always says closed. Keeps out the riff-raff.”

In they went. They found Giuseppe and Old Pete in a booth by the window. Giuseppe already had the newspaper open, his crooked forefinger poking an obituary.

“I’m up fifty bucks! It’s only Monday!”

Pete nudged him and pointed.

“Well look who it is! Little Michael, all grown up!” cried Giuseppe.

“He’s come for breakfast.”

“Is he in college yet, Louis?” asked Old Pete.

“Ask him, idiot. He’s not mute.”

“Are you in college yet, Michael?”

“Villanova in the fall. I’m staying with Pops for the summer.”

“What are you taking?” asked Giuseppe.

“I’m undeclared.”

Giuseppe and Pete looked at each other, shook their heads and sighed.

“You have a problem with my grandson’s college studies?” Louis asked.

“Well,” replied Old Pete, “He should know what he wants to do. When I was eighteen…”

“When you were eighteen you were screwing factory girls and working a boardwalk,” Giuseppe interrupted. “And I was digging ditches and screwing waitresses.”

“You’re still screwing waitresses,” Pete shot back.

“It’s been ten years since I’ve screwed anything except light bulbs into the table lamp.”

“Pops, I’m not really hungry. Maybe I should go back to your place and….”

“No!” the three old men exclaimed at once.

* * *

They insisted Michael order first, and they all ordered what he did: eggs over easy, bacon and sausage, home fries and a double side of scrapple. They sat quietly, no one really knowing how to kick off a conversation. Finally, Pete asked: “Why did you decide to stay in Philly with Louis for the summer? No girl back home?”

“We broke up,” Michael sighed, looking out the window.

“Your parents…they don’t mind you spending a whole summer with this character?” asked Giuseppe.

“They’re in Spain,” Michael replied without looking back, seemingly fascinated by the street sweeper lumbering up the street.

“Spain,” said Pete, “That sounds nice. I go to the Jersey shore sometimes for the weekend, but I’ve never been to Spain. You chose Louis over Spain?”

“My mom and I fight a lot.”

“Yeah, your mom’s a pistol,” laughed Giuseppe, adjusting the battered glasses halfway down his long nose. “She drove Louis crazy when she was your age. Louis, whatever became of that idiot she dated? The one with the goofy eyebrows? Remember he ruined that ice sculpture at the festival?”

“Oh, Mikey,” laughed Pete, “You should have seen that. A beautiful three-tiered ice sculpture, each layer on a piece of glass held up by flat-nosed bottles of wine. This jackass is standing there staring at the thing, an empty plastic cup in his hand. I saw it coming.”

“So,” interrupted Giuseppe, “Wonder boy reaches out and yanks a bottle of wine out from the bottom. The whole frigging thing came crashing down. Whatever happened to that idiot?”

“She married him,” sighed Louis.

No one spoke. Everyone stared into their coffee cups. 

“You got your father’s eyebrows, kid,” said Pete, drawing a withering look from Louis.

"Here comes the food!" Giuseppe cried, moving his glasses once again back up his ski-slope nose.

* * *

“Heart attack platter,” sighed Louis as he tore into the plate.

“We really shouldn’t be eating this,” added Pete as he filled his mouth with scrapple.

“My stents! Just the aroma is clogging up my stents!” Giuseppe said as he practically inhaled his eggs.

“Why did you all order it if you’re not supposed to eat it?” asked Michael, a bit exasperated.

“You’re the new guy,” said Pete as he cut into his sausage. “First up in the rotation.”

“Rotation?” Michael asked.

“It’s Monday,” explained his grandfather. “Today we eat what you eat. Tuesday it’s Giuseppe’s turn, then me on Wednesday and Pete on Thursday. We all eat the same thing and bitch about it while we clean our plates.”


“Why? Who the hell knows for why? It’s just our thing.”

“What about Fridays, Pops?”

“Free day. Free play. We all order whatever you want. Weekends we’re off, then we’re back at it on Monday.”

“If the food is so bad Pops, why eat it?”

“Oh, the food’s terrific, Mikey. But we’re old. Clogged up pipes, high blood pressure, you name it. We can’t eat the good stuff every day. So we suffer. It’s the cross we bear.”

Giuseppe leaned in toward Michael and said somberly, “The diet is strictly doctor’s orders Mondays through Thursdays.”

Pete leaned in next: “Low-fat yogurt. Special-effing-K. Prunes.”

“So I’m killing you all today?”

“Probably, and God bless you for that,” grandfather said as he shoveled in a forkful of home fries.

Old Pete laughed and elbowed Giuseppe, saying: “Louis said he’s a funny kid.”

* * *

Tuesday Giuseppe ordered hot cereal, prunes, scrambled egg whites, and low salt toast and they all bitched up a storm.

“The toast…it’s a roofing shingle with jelly,” grandfather said as he bounced a piece off his plate.

“Look at this; the damned cereal is runny again,” sighed Pete. “It’s going to get in my beard.”

“Prunes, prunes, prunes,” scowled Giuseppe. “I’ll have the runs for two days!”

“Snot!” cried Michael, and they froze, forks in the air, and stared at the boy. “These eggs are like hot runny snot.”

“Hey, that’s a good one kid,” laughed Pete.

Michael flagged down the waitress and ordered a plate of pancakes, hash browns and ham.

“It’s not your day!” Pete scolded him as the waitress walked away.

“I’m not eating snot,” Michael replied. “You want to eat snot, you go ahead.”

The three old men all looked at each other for several long seconds, then down at the congealed mess on their plates.

Giuseppe called the waitress back.

“Take this snot away, Trixie,” he said as he gently touched her forearm. “Bring us whatever the kid orders. Every day. Every effin day.”

* * *

On Friday, Giuseppe was reading the obituaries as they waited for omelets. He let out a snort, poked a picture, and said, “Another fifty bucks! You’re a good luck charm, Michael. I’m up another half a hundred this week!”

“Are you…” Michael hesitated, then continued: “Are you betting on who will die next?”

“Jesus, Michael,” said grandfather. “That’s a terrible thing to ask our friend Giuseppe!”

“It is,” Giuseppe said, obviously wounded. “That’s morbid. I’m not some kind of ghoul, kid.”

Michael’s face grew red and he lowered his head in shame.

“He doesn’t know, that all. Let me explain, Mikey,” Pete said softly. “Giuseppe owed the guy fifty bucks. Same as the guy in the obits on Monday. They died. The debt died with them. It’s sort of like Giuseppe hit the daily number twice.”

“This is the best week I’ve had in two years,” Giuseppe said enthusiastically.

“Do you owe a lot of people money?”

“Two less than before you started coming for breakfast with us,” Pete said, laughing.

“I had a serious debt collection issue about five years ago.”

“He owed his bookie,” Pete interrupted.

“Hush, Pete! I borrowed from friends to keep from getting my legs broken. I’ve been paying them back, but we’re old farts. Every once in a while, Christmas comes early and someone dies. Someone pass me the butter and maple syrup. I got a side of pancakes coming.”

“The debt is cancelled by death,” grandfather said. “If Giuseppe dies, they lose the money they lent him. If they die, the debt dies with them.”

“No estates and no beneficiaries, Mikey,” Giuseppe explained. “Everyone agreed up front. I pay someone back a hundred bucks every month. I pull names out of your grandfather’s hat. I got maybe ten friends left to pay then I’m clear. I already paid back these two idiots here. It works both ways, too. Petey owes me two-fifty he borrowed in January.”

“I lost money on the Eagles in the Super Bowl. The bastards,” Pete seethed.

“Pops says you’re a huge Eagles fan.”

“Yeah, I love them, the bastards. Look, I’ve got an Eagle’s watch,” he said, holding up his wrist. “I have three Eagle’s jackets. Hats. A belt-buckle. Even skivvies. Got a pair on now.”

He started to rise, but Louis shook his head and motioned him to stay seated.

“But they won,” said Michael.

“Yeah, they won. The bastards. Everybody in the neighborhood picked them to win. They never win the big one! I thought I’d make a killing. The bastards won. I love them, but they won. Cost me a frigging fortune. Hey, Trixie! Bring me some sausage! The spicy little patties, not the links!”

“You got the moral of the story, right Mikey?” grandfather asked.

“Don’t gamble?”

“Don’t bet against your team. Pete Rose never did that.”

“But they kicked him out of baseball.”

“But we still love him,” said Pete. “We love him. The bastard.”

End Part I
* * *

Be good to each other.

* * *