Thursday, May 31, 2012

Slow Hand is a Gear head

This is a Ferrari SP12 EC. The SP stands for "Special Project", the 12 means its the 12th custom car to come out of Maranello's specialty shop and EC is for the owner Eric Clapton. Clapton has owned dozens of Ferrari's over the years and this is truly a custom since Ferrari gave him the molds for the body panels and another will never be built. I fully expect this car will show up 50 or 60 years from now at a classic car auction and sell for double it's current price of about 5 million.

In his biography Clapton wrote that after Cream returned from their first world tour the first things he did was to buy a house (he still lives there) buy a house for his Grandparents who raised him and then he bought a Ferrari. Since he didn't know how to drive (neither did John Lennon) he used it as his training car. Clapton has a nice collection of cars in England and at his home in Ohio (his wife's home state) including a few classic American cars and hot rods.

Here's my Ferrari story

A few years ago when I was making the big bucks (hah!) running a radio group (that's being generous,too) a guy I knew told me about a great deal on a Ferrari 348. The price was so good I drove to Long beach to look at it. It was a '93 and only had 31,000 miles on it, new tires and had just been serviced. It was sexy as hell. It had that Ferrari sound, more of a scream really. I was in love, crazy, movie star kissing in love. The price was right, I thought the car had some real upside since it was about 14k under book.

As I drove home from Long Beach, I called my stellar, retired foreign car mechanic, who has taken such great care of our old AMG Mercedes. I asked if he knew anything about Ferrari's. He said "Of course, I do." I told him about the car and that I wanted to buy it. He said, "Forget it, it will drive you fucking crazy and make me crazy, too. If you need brakes, it will cost over $2,000 dollars, a simple tune up is $16 hundred dollars, to change the belts and the fuckers wear out every 7-8 thousand miles, you have to pull the engine to change them and it costs close to two thousand dollars to do that job." The mechanic finished off my Ferrari dream by adding this gem, "Think of it this way, my friend, a Ferrari is like a beautiful woman with a bad temper, a bad attitude, expensive tastes and no matter how much you love her, you can't afford to keep her and sooner or later she will drive you crazy."

6 weeks later I bought a C-6 Corvette. I drove it 33,000 miles and all I had to do was change the oil. As a bonus it was faster than the 348, too.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

12 Months with the new Jeep GC

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Hemi with Quadra-track after 12 months and 11,362 miles
Plus side:
Great ride for a 4x4, great interior, everything works the way its designed to work, no problems and I'm just coming up the 3rd oil change, the new Hemi kicks ass.
Minus side:
The new Hemi sucks gas!

Fun Stuff:
My car has no radio! It has an entertainment/information center with a big screen on the dash and controls on the steering wheel. There is another screen in between the tach and the speedometer. The small screen is actually another information center, distance ‘till empty, mpg, average speed plus it has a 2nd read out for the navigation system. I can use the steering wheel or the touch screen to operate the entire thing. On my steering wheel I can control my phone, my audio system, 2 different modes of cruise control and all the functions of the small computer in between the tach and the speedo.

My car can talk to me, tell me stuff and ask me questions.  When I get in my car, the car connects itself to my phone, it evens asks me if I want it connected. If I run out of gas my car will notify somebody, someplace about how fucking stupid I was to run out of gas. If I got shit faced and ran into a pole, the car will call emergency services (cops) However, it will ask me if I’m okay before it makes the call. If I say I’m okay the car will ask me what I want to do, if I don’t answer it immediately calls the cops.

The woman my car employs to ask me questions, to tell me answers, has an attitude. She has a haughty, rather pissy edge to her. She is exceedingly polite, but polite in the way a sales person at Tiffany’s looks at you when you are wearing a cheap sport jacket from Sears and looking at rings worth 12k.

I have actually told the woman to fuck off a few times, usually I just mutter bitch under my breath.  There is another woman’s voice my car uses, she is computer generated, I love her because she has that vague , kind of cute Scandinavian sound, like she is the sister of the weather voice. When I call my friend George Johns, she will say “wood u like tah call Cheorge Chans-werk?” I say yes and she answers, “calling Cheorge Chans, werk” then the other bitch jumps in and says; “is this correct? I get mad and yell “YES!”

The media center in my car has the following features in addition to the phone and navigation systems. AM, FM, Sat, CD, MP3 plug in for a I-Pod, a lap top, I-Pad or my Blackberry, it plays DVDs (only when you are in Park) and a hard drive that will accept 3,000 hours of music and play it back to you via 12 speakers including a 10 inch woofer.  When I down load music it downloads not only the music, the information about each song and the CD cover. You can drive down the road with an 8 inch picture of the Rolling Stones, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Clapton or Barry White staring at you. The satellite radio has so many channels you can’t use them all. One night driving from Santa Monica I listened to the Penthouse Channel, on the air were two old porn stars (one of them had a great voice) they were taking calls from morons who were having them act out sexual fantasies on the radio. The porn stars were giggling at the stupidity of it, being really snarky with the poor bastards calling in. If you don’t think about it, it was mildly amusing. Then you realize how lonely and desperate the guys are saying stuff like “now bite her nipple and put your hand in her panties”. It was so sad I flipped over to the replay of Terry Gross on NPR Talk.

The car has two cruise controls, the old fashioned regular cruise control and a new system called “distronic”. The new system, once you set it for speed and distance it maintains it according to the traffic around you.  When we coming back from San Diego, I set the ‘distronic” at 84 mph and the appropriate distance from the car in front of me, we are rolling in the high speed lane and we came up behind a car doing around 75, the car simply slowed down, matched the distance and settled in, I didn’t have to do a damn thing. I pulled into the lane on the right, the car accelerated back up to 84 and we were around him. The really cool thing is that if traffic stops, the car slows down and stops itself! When you get to about 20mph it beeps at you from the information center. There is a little radar gizmo that runs the “distronic”. The radar operates even when the “distronic “ is off. If you’re driving in traffic and some asshole jams on the brakes in front of you, the car goes beep-beep-beep and flashes a big STOP on the small screen…saved my ass last night when I was fooling with the entertainment/info  system and not watching the road! It also has a backup camera and little lights in the mirrors that tell me when someone is hiding in my blind spots!

The car can tell me the temperature inside the transmission, the transfer case and when to change its vital fluids. It tells me when it’s in ECCO mode or total guzzler mode. The “Quadratrack 4” system operates in automatic mode or you can set it for snow, rock, mud or sport. When it is set to an off road position it raises itself to 10.8 inches ground clearance, when it’s in Sport it drops 4.5 inches and the power goes 80% to the rear wheels and 20 to the front. It has 4 Low available and a descent control plus a tow mode…basically all I have to do is steer. We were pulling the Airstream down a 5 mile plus 6% grade. I was using the tow/haul mode and the distronic cruise control, I never had to touch the brakes.

It has 8 way power seats with heating and cooling, the sun roof goes almost to the back of the car. The backs of the 60-40 rear seat tilts and the seat is heated and the rear passengers have their own heating and cooling controls. A great big dude like Ray (over weight, ex UCLA ballplayer) could ride to Boston back there and never get a numb ass or cramps in his legs. Ray, of course would have his own reading light, too.

In other words, this new Jeep has erased the all the fond memories of my ’77 Cherokee Chief, the one with the split plastic seats, the windows that would fall down when you went over a bump, the one with the anemic, weak kneed, gas sucking 360 V8 under hood, manual hubs and an AM/FM mono radio with the blown speaker and a really shitty heater. Yes, that one. Of course, I’m sure I can’t fix a broken alternator bracket on the new Jeep with a bolt I took off the spare tire hanger either. Can’t win them all! 
The new Jeep was designed in conjunction with the new Mercedes Benz ML SUV, they have the same air suspension, unibody and independent suspension, they don't look alike until you park them next to each other. And the GC with all the goodies is around 12k cheaper. When FIAT took over Chrysler Jeep they must have sent an interior designer to Jeep and put him to work...the interior is gorgeous.
So far we love it and zero problems. Did I mention the new Hemi sucks gas?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Coolest stuff and things

Somebody asked me the other day "what's the best concert you ever saw?" That's an easy one. The old Schafer Stadium in Foxboro in '76, Boz Scaggs, Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles. 66,000 people knew every word to every song, I got home at 4:15 in the morning. It was a killer of a concert.

I started thinking about some other bests, here's a few more.

Coolest car I've ever driven, another easy one, a 1971 Lola T222 Can Am car powered by an all aluminum big block Chevy.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Republican Panties in a Twist (again)

Mariela Castro Espin
If you are a Republican, you've aligned yourself with the biggest bunch of duplicious bastards in the country.

Marela Castro Espin (Raoul's daughter, Fidel's niece) was granted a visa to speak at a conference in New York. Here's what your presidential candidate had to say about the visa: Mitt accused the Obama administration of “a slap in the face to all those brave individuals in Cuba who are en...during relentless persecution.” 

Here is what the usual Republican suspects had to say: Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), David Rivera (R-FL) and Albio Sires (R-NJ) wrote a strongly-worded letter to the State Department saying:

"The administration’s appalling decision to allow regime agents into the U.S. directly contradicts Congressional intent and longstanding U.S. foreign policy." 

If it’s “longstanding U.S. foreign policy” to deny Mariela Castro a visa to enter the U.S., someone forgot to tell President George W. Bush. The Bush administration granted Castro not one but three visas to enter the U.S. in 2001 and 2002.

Oh, that's right, Republicans have no recollection of George W. Bush!

Monday, May 21, 2012

My Colonoscopy and Propofol

Last Wednesday I finished dinner at 8:30, I didn't eat again until Friday at 2:30. In between I drank lots of water, 4 cans of 7-Up, one cup of black coffee and a jug of Santa Cruz organic lemonade.

On Thursday at 5pm I began drinking a mixture of polyetholene glycol and electrolytes flavored with  lemon powder. I drank four liters of this mixture over the next 4 hours. Since the purging fluid was ice cold,  my body temp dropped and I felt like I was walking home from South Jr High School when it was 10 below zero. Jan and I were on the patio, she had on a cotton blouse and I had on a leather jacket and shivering. The instructions said nothing by mouth after midnight, I drank 3 glasses of water and went to bed at 11. I was exhausted from so many trips to the toilet, unbelievably I was purged and pure, empty as my gas tank in high school, all clear liquid. The aloe Tucks were a god send.

Friday at 7:30 Jan dropped me off at Kaiser Permanente in Woodland Hills. I actually felt good. With the purging over, I felt light and a bit buzzed from not eating. Considering everything, all I wanted was a cup of coffee, since I couldn't have one, I checked in early at the Gastro-Intestinal Clinic.

By 8:30 I was in my gurney/bed in a gown, socks on, reading the first book of Robert Caro's LBJ biography. I was hooked up to a blood pressure and heart monitor, I was getting a dextrose IV and listening to the lady next to me confess she hadn't finished her liquids, "Only about half." The nurse asked "is it clear?" The lady said "no, just a little", she was taken away to finish up her purge. Made me glad I followed orders.

At 9:15 I was in the examination room, the anesthesiologist, a nurse and the GI doc were all there with me. The anesthesiologist hooked the juice into my IV line, we chatted a little, I enjoyed the oxygen they were giving me. The doc asked me to roll on my left side, I did. I felt the docs hand on my left butt cheek and then then some asked "How do you feel?" I responded, "When are you going to start?" The doc said "We're finished." I said 'you're kidding, right?" The doc laughed and said, "Nope, we're done!"

I felt great, clear headed, perfectly fine. I asked the anesthesia doc, "What did you use on me?" He said  "the same stuff that killed Micheal Jackson", the room broke up, me included.

I was wheeled back to my spot, the nurse told me to relax for the next 20-30 minutes and then I could get dressed, she called Jan to pick me up, came back and told me I checked out perfectly, no cancer, no polyps, perfect plumbing. I was happy about that. She left and I passed a massive amount of gas (air) since they pump air in your intestine to open it up so the mini-cam get get a better view. The woman behind the curtain on my right did the same and we both laughed. The nurse came by and said, "let it all out, we're used to it" , more laughter. I read for 15 or 20 minutes and got dressed. I felt fine and walked across the hall to take a pee and wash my face and hands.

The nurse had me sit in a chair across the aisle from lady gas passer and her husband. They were a couple in their early 50's, both attractive looking and fit. We chatted for a bit and laughed about the massive farts. All of a sudden her doc came down the hall, closed the curtains around her bed and the three of them whispered for 5 minutes or so. He left and another 5 minutes went by, the curtains opened and the lady was dressed and sitting on the side of her bed. She looked about 10 years older, her husband helped her up and her knees buckled. The nurse helped her back into bed and they closed the curtains. At that moment my smiling wife walked in and took me by the arm and we left.

I hope she will be all right, colorectal cancer is the most common cancer in women.

Robin Gibb died yesterday from complications of colon cancer. If you haven't been tested, do it as soon as you can. My cost with my Kaiser plan and Medicare? ZERO as in no co-pay.

The procedure is nothing, the day before is unpleasant, the peace of mind worth it. If you want unpleasant have the same kind of unit take a look at your bladder, but that's another story.

In Norway, they don't use anesthesia, I guess they probably think it makes them seem weak! God damned Norskis!

Mitt was a terrible governor (and a jerk)

This is Mitt Romney. He was my governor once upon a time. He has been running for office since 1992. He is a professional politician.

He is not an outsider. He has never been a businessman or as he likes to say a "job creator". He was and is a Venture Capitalist, not a banker. Bain Capital isn't a bank and Mitt wasn't a nice, friendly banker that you might meet at the local Vet's Club on Friday night.  

Romney appears to know what he is talking about until the moment he is asked a question that is not been pre-scripted. In his run for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in the early 90's Mitt was doing fine, he was even ahead in the polls until he met a very vulnerable Ted Kennedy in a live debate at Fanuel Hall. Romney fell apart and lost the election, Teddy kicked his ass, big time. Mitt is not fast on his feet.

Massachusetts has always elected moderate Republican Governors, guys like Frank Sergeant, Bill Weld, Paul Celluci and many, many others, that's what we thought we were getting with Mitt. We didn't.

Mitt began running for president about 15 minutes after he was elected governor. He would get on a plane go somewhere in one of the Confederate States and refute everything he'd told the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. When his comments were reported, he'd say he didn't say them, when video was produced he'd say that wasn't what he meant and then he stopped talking. Mitt is a liar.

Mitt did something else, no governor had ever done in the Commonwealth, he made the the governor's offices off limits to anyone who wasn't on his list. There were velvet ropes in the hallway and big burly security guards posted. Gone were the days when a Democratic Senate President could stick his head in the door of the Governor's office, walk in, sit down and solve a problem. Didn't happen with Mitt.

Every campaign stop Mitt rolls out this lie. "I balanced the budget when I was governor, every year for 4 years." (notice no mention of which state he governed) The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a constitutional requirement to balance the budget and has since it was an English Colony. The budget has been balanced every year since then. Mitt is inept.

The Commonwealth leads the nation in education, lowest divorce rate, has a solid modern economy and the best health care with the highest percentage of coverage in the country. And 'Taxachusetts" is around 14th in tax rates out of 50. Its a pretty good place to live and work and one would think that a former governor would be proud of that, Mitt isn't.

We got hip to Mitt's act very quickly, after a year in office his approval ratings were in the 30's. Mitt is a jerk.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

50's Nostalgia

I remember bits and pieces of the 40's. Being in the hospital, the car accident with Mom, my cat destroying the Christmas Tree and the train noises that penetrated Mom and Dad's first little GI Bill house. The little house was about 2 blocks from the Great Northern switching yards, so close, the yellow beacons on the switch engines lit the walls of my bedroom.

I can remember all of the 50's starting school, moving to the house on Lincoln Dr, playing hockey, having my manhood (boyhood) tested by the Leonard and Rosenthal boys daily. Getting my ass whipped for swimming in the river, being the only kid for blocks and blocks who had to mow the yard with a push mower. Grass really grew on Lincoln Drive, it was river bottom land and we had a massive flood every few years making it the perfect environment for lush, manicured lawns. From the beginning of Lincoln Dr at the 8th avenue hill to its end at the Lincoln Park golf course on 13th ave Lincoln Dr was a big basin the the Red River of the North filled with water every spring. Everybody had a big, wooden plug to pound into the basement drain right after the first thaw! Never the less, I went to a great new school with great kids, a few of whom I'm still in contact with today. We really had neighborhood schools in my home town, the grade schools were about 8 blocks from each other. Overall, a pretty good childhood in post WW2 and Cold War America.

There were plenty of bad things going on. I had a friend with a father who beat the hell out of him and his mother all the time, everybody knew about it and did nothing. Women like my Mom during the entire time my Dad was serving in WW2 handled the money, paid the bills and made sure they had a nest egg when Dad came home, had the checkbook taken away from her, the account changed to Dad's name only and was handed an "allowance". Dad set up a charge account at a food market, a gas station, a department store and at a children's store. He was the boss and she was in charge of herself and me. She had better have run things the way he expected them to be run or he'd make sure they were. Was he a dick about it? He was. Was he alone in that kind of behavior, he certainly wasn't. Men were kings, they won the war, dammit.

I'd catch snippets of conversation between my parents, "I heard X is fooling around with Y" or "she caught him in the parking lot with her", "he lost his job because he was stealing money from the company" or "her father beat the hell out of him for hitting her". I had no idea who they were talking about but when I compared notes with my parent's friend's kids we probably came close. I found out only a couple of years ago that my Mother's best friend (one of the few divorced women around) had a child and gave it up for adoption in 1951. My Mom never mentioned it, ever. Mom's friend was at our house almost daily in those days and was skinny as a rail and we never noticed a baby bump. My sister went to school later with the girl, she had been adopted by a family in Bismarck.

There was a lot of drinking, plenty of house parties. It was hard to sleep when 10 couples are eating, drinking and laughing in the next room until 3 o'clock in the morning, I'd generally get up and entertain the guests for an hour or so and then have my skinny ass sent back to my room. I'd either read or slink down the hall and spy on them. A few of my parent's close friends became my friends later in life and that was a good thing.

Were the 50's great? Not so much. Problems were swept under the rug and because of that people suffered and spent too much time dealing, on their own, with things the nice folks never talked about.

My Grandfather, when he was a county Judge received a letter from a 15 year old prisoner he had sent to the state training school. The letter outlined his molestation by the sheriff. Gramps drove out and interviewed the kid, came back and told the sheriff he wanted his resignation and him out of town in 48 hours. The sheriff complied. Nothing more was ever said. My Grandfather told me years later, it was his biggest regret. He said he should have arrested the sheriff, thrown him in jail and tried him. In the fifties a lot of the time the right thing just wasn't done.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mom's Day

I was fortunate to have had strong women in my life, both my grandmothers, fraternal and maternal and my crabby old greatgrandma. Nanny lost her husband as a child-bride and raised her daughters on her own at a time when women didn't do that, she did and it's no wonder she was kind of crabby!

My Mom graduated from high school in 1942 and married my Dad. She was a good student, athlete and actress. Oh god, was Mom dramatic when she wanted to be! She could have and wanted to go to college, but it was WW2, she loved my Dad and wanted to marry him, so she did. It was the first of many, many acts of sacrifice she would perform during her life. Mom was a good looking woman, I always thought she was a Katherine Hepburn type, tall, thin and (again) dramatic and had classic good taste and style. Like so many young women during the war, she and two of my dad's fellow pilot trainees wives followed their young husbands from training base to training base. Mom lived close to Dad in Texas and North Carolina. The girls became life- long friends and when they got together they had an incredible amount of fun.

When Dad had his first heart attack at 37, it scared the hell out of her, but she carried him and all of us until he recovered. Dad was frustrated, angry and in pain for the next 20 years. Mom bore the brunt of it and I never knew until years later how hard it was for her and how many issues she had with Dad. My Mother was widowed at 54 and never remarried. She was, until she died, madly in love with Dad. I can only guess when they met again in the great cosmos, he got a big hug, kiss, a kick in the ass and a piece of her mind. And then many, many kisses.

Mom was a reader and she made sure I was. In later years I'd read a book, send it to her and we'd discuss it over the phone. A two person book club.

When I was single and living in Boston I'd fly Mom out for a week and she would immerse herself in the culture and energy of the city. My friends all thought she was great and it was fun to have the old girl around. During one visit, I woke up at 3am and found my mother sitting in the living room wide awake. I asked if anything was wrong, she said "no, I just can't sleep." She had spent the afternoon at Caffe Royale, sitting outside reading and had consumed 9 cups of "that wonderful coffee that comes in the little cups." Her eyes looked like pinwheels! Later Jan and I took her sailing and for a woman who always said "I don't like boats" she sure seemed happy. We'd sail for an hour or so and then Mom would go below and take a nap on the "low side". Sailing agreed with her.

Mom was an alcoholic and the thing I may proudest of is that she whipped it.

Mom died 5 years ago surrounded by her sons, daughters, sister, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

A day doesn't go by that I don't miss her.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Don't Screw with a Guy who used to Box!

My next door nieghbor Paul is approaching his 50th and fighting it, Paul plays hockey year around and now he has taken up boxing. So much for the image of a mild mannered accountant, right?

I walked the dog a few minutes ago and Paul was climbing into his Suburban, ready for his boxing class. We had our usual chat and he asked if I had ever boxed? "Nope." was my answer. Although I did punch out a couple guys when I was a rough and ready lad. (I really pounded the shit out of a dude who tried to kick me in the jewels behind the YWCA one night when I was in high school)

I told Paul about a friend of mine, Lance Spurlock who was quite a boxer in his day. Lance grew up at the Colorado State Pen where his dad was the warden. His dad had been a boxer in the Navy during WW2 and started a boxing program for the inmates, Heavy Weight Contender Ron Lyle boxed for Lanny's old man while he was serving time. Lance's dad started him boxing with the inmates when he was in Jr High. He'd do round after round with inmates almost everyday, needless to say Lanny was pretty damn good for a blonde, blue eyed little kid boxing against men. By the time Lance was a freshman at the University of Colorado he was the SW United States middle weight Golden Gloves champion, he goes to the Nationals and ends up in the finals against a guy from Philly. The guy kicks Lanny's ass, goes pro and ends up as a ranked middle weight who lasted 12 rounds against Sugar Ray Leonard. Lance said the guy hit him so hard that he tasted metal filings in his mouth! By the 2nd round Lance said he just wanted to drop his gloves and let the bastard finish him, but he couldn't because his dad was in his corner urging him on. Lance finished the fight and lost on points. He never fought again and went back to school, flunked out and went to Viet Nam, made it back in one piece and went into radio. (?) WTF!

Flash forward to a ski weekend in Colorado in the 80's. Lance and his wife Karen and I are sitting in a bar and an asshole (about 6-5 and 250lbs) is hitting on Lance's super cute wife. Karen tells the guy to get lost and he won't take the hint. He persists and Lance finally gets up and tells the guy if he doesn't back off he is going to take him outside and beat the living shit out of him. The guy looks at Lance (late 30's, 5-10 or so and getting paunchy) and says "Let's go!"

Out the door of the bar we go, the moron tries to sucker punch Lanny and in the next 5 seconds, Lance hits the guy in the face about 30 times with high speed combinations. The big dude is flat on his back and his face looks like a package of Von's discount hamburger. The cops come, the EMTs show up. The head cop looks at Lance, looks at the big guy in the ambulance and says, "No charges, that big bastard should be ashamed of himself!"

We went back in the bar. Lance had a couple of shots of whiskey to calm himself down. Karen was pissed at Lance for making a spectacle of himself saying "Honey you could have been hurt." I counseled Karen telling her the guy shouldn't have screwed with a guy who used to box.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mid Week Dinner

Jan and I are gettng ready for bed,we both have brutal schedules so 11p is bed time here in lovely SoCal. We were reflecting on the day with a cup of tea on the patio. My Great Grandmother Alice Harris (looked like the beloved Queen Mother) would be so happy that "tay" is part of our lives as it was in hers.

I do all the cooking around this spread, today I stopped at Trader Joe's on the way home at 7p. I bought (for the first time) TJ's stuffed haddock, w/crab meat stuffing. The price, a buck ninety-nine each. I picked up a bag of fingerling potatoes, a bunch of baby bok choy and a bottle of Kim Crawford* Savignon Blanc. Food costs: $7.96, add the wine at $14 bucks. Incredible meal for 21 bucks. Even without  the wine dinner would be more than double at a decent restaurant. A nice meal on a nice night after a long day. I enjoyed it with my nice wife and nice old dog. Ah, nice is very good.

Speaking of restaurants here is Jan's place,, she doesn't own it, but it's her concept, her design and her style. She splits her time between Napa Tavern and her real job as Marketing Director of Urban Home Furniture,, the look of the stores, the products, the copy and of course the style is all Jan. Her boss is almost as lucky as I am. He's pretty much a dick and I'm not. Plus I sleep with her and he doesn't!

*We like Kim Crawford wine not only because its a good low-middle priced product but the minister at the Arlington Street Church we belonged to in Boston (Unitarian Universalist) was the fabulous Dr. Kim Crawford.

My Mom died 5 years ago this past week, we still miss her and for the longest time I kept her number in my phone. Everybody misses Mom. Here is one of her favorites by her fellow North Dakotan Peggy Lee. I'll write more about Mom soon,  but let it be known she was honored with one of the finest funerals in recent history, even though the ministers and the funeral director didn't quite get it.
Screw 'em....

On that note, I'm going to bed and read some Ed Abbey.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Unaware Rich Dicks

                           If I was really, really, really rich, would I turn into a total dick?

Everywhere in America, all of us own the beach up to the maximum high tide line and a bit beyond. Public beach access pisses off the dicks who own houses on the beach. They should get over it and after all these years you’d think they would have, not so, my children, not so.

In Newport Beach, California a group of folks who own multi-multi-multi-million dollar homes on the beach decided laws that have been on the books for over a half a century don’t really apply to them. What these asshats have done is to extend their landscaping onto public property. The city has given them 2 weeks to get their shit off public land. The pearl clutching in Newport Beach is getting frenetic.

In one case an ‘investor” type guy put a lawn, walkways, seating, shrubs and a god damned fire pit on public property. His landscaping project extends 40 onto the beach and now he is whining that the California Coastal Commission and the City of Newport Beach is being unfair to him by giving him two weeks to remove it. I think the city should bulldoze his landscape project, load it in a dump truck and send him the bill. Before they do, I think a bunch of the locals should go down to the beach, build a blazing fire in his fire pit, roast some wieners, crack a few beers, sit on his lawn furniture, play some really loud music and have one hell of good time.

More on the beach…

In the 70’s I stayed at a hotel in Miami Beach. This hotel had figured out a way to make you pay to be in the sun, in freaking Florida. You could go out to the pool bar conveniently covered by a large roof, the price (over-priced) of a drink only allowed you to sit in the shade. If you carried your drink to a chair in the sun you had to rent the chair. If you wanted to swim, you had to rent a chair and a towel and if you wanted to go down the steps to the beach and sit in the sun, you were required to rent a hotel beach chair. The beach was public but if you wanted to get on it you had to walk about a mile from either direction.

Unless we start paying attention to Global Warming, the big dollar houses on beach will become fish habitat and the shacks 3 blocks from the beach will be “on the water” and the argument will start all over again.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Mother's Confession

Fifty years ago driving home with a brutal hand cramp from a Playtex panty girdle, I wondered, why would a slim, lithe 16 year old need a girdle anyway. A chastity belt advertised on TV, a minor speed bump on the road to teenage sex? Where was this going? In just a few weeks we had gone from our first kiss to grinding each other on the front seat of my car, in her bed and on the sofa for hours. Now the first tentative touches of bare teenage skin, what’s next? That was the beginning of my sexual awakening in high school and little has changed, apparently.

Since I’ve owned DRIVE!, unlike most of my peers, I come in contact with teens every day and most of the boys I can’t imagine even sneaking a kiss from a classmate. Because of the way we operate our school, we customize our training to fit the individual student and that necessitates plenty of parental contact and I have lots of face time with our student’s mothers and fathers.

We have a student who is the size of a 7th grader and looks like bag of rags. He is pretty cool around the school, but he is driving his mother crazy. He is a child of divorce and his Dad for whatever reason doesn’t discipline him and it’s all put back on his Mom who owns her own business and does the best she can. During one of our parent-school sessions last week, Bag of Rags’ Mom suddenly confessed to catching him in bed with an 18 year old girl he met that day at the at the mall. First of all I was stunned at her confession, then couldn’t get my mind around this little kid, who weighs 120 at best, pimply face and squeaky voice having actual sex. I thought if he was having any sex at all it would be with himself.

After her confession, there was a long silence. Bag of Rags’ Mom was waiting for me to say something. The best I could do was ask, “Ah, what did you do?’ She said, “I closed the bedroom door and told them to get dressed. Then I said I wanted to talk to them in the family room.” I countered with the incisive, “Then what happened?” She said the girl stormed out and her son got mad at her, yelled and screamed and stomped around the room.” She started to cry and asked what she should do. I was thinking to myself, this isn’t any of my business; this is a driving school, not a counseling center. I thought for a moment and grabbed my phone and wrote a number down and told her to call it.

I gave her the number of a psychologist I know on the East Coast; he is an old friend, with plenty of experience and he’s damn good. He lined her up with a strong family counselor here, made some suggestions and told her to tell the 18 year old girl that she could get charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor or any number of sexual charges.

Time will tell. Meanwhile Bag of Rags driver's training is on hold.

Friday, May 4, 2012

                 Miss the business? Not so much.

I watched Ed Bradley’s 60 Minutes interview with Bob Dylan again the other day. Bradley asked Dylan about where the songs came from? Dylan responded, “I really don’t know.” Bradley pressed him and Dylan said “They just showed up.”  Bradley asked if he could still have songs “just show up.” Dylan said, “Not anymore, I can’t do it.” Bradley asked “if that makes him feel bad or unhappy.” Dylan said, “No, I can’t do it anymore and that’s okay because I can do other things now, much better than I could in the past.”

To me Bob Dylan’s’ answer was perfect. I get it, completely.

A friend from the broadcast business asked me last week, if  I missed radio, having spent so much of my life in it? I told him, “no, I don’t miss it.” I had fun, I made money, lost money, had ups and downs, moved too many times, was treated well and treated very badly. I’m not angry, bitter or nostalgic. I can’t do it anymore, better still; I don’t want to do it anymore.

What do I hold dear from all my years in radio? Interesting people and the time I spent with them. The top four are; Sir George Martin, producer of the Beatles, Milt Schmidt, Hockey Hall of Fame member, great player, coach and executive in the NHL, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and President William Jefferson Clinton. I’ve met many famous musicians and politicians over the years, but these four, I was privileged to spend quality time with.  What did they all have in common? All of them have great warmth, empathy, humor and intelligence.  And none of them took themselves too seriously.

Some other good ones, Stevie Nicks, Patti LaBelle, John Mellencamp, Senator John Kerry, song writer Hal Ketcham, Don Henley, Lauren Bacall, George Carlin, Steve Martin, Senator Richard Lugar, Senator Ted Kennedy, Morley Safer, the Beach Boys minus Brian Wilson, Andy Rooney, the sainted Ed Bradley. And many more including George Harrison,  Lily Thomlin, the real Joan Rivers, the guys from Boston, the Cars and Jimmy Bowen. Any of them remember me? Probably not, but the first four would.

The dick or all dicks was Neil Sedaka, an insufferable egotist, a truly miserable human being.
Remind me sometime to tell you about the chance meeting in Memphis with ZZ Top and hitting every blues club in town with Billy. It was a time!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Disjointed Thoughts plus Our Too Short Trip to Heaven

I’m facing my 67th birthday in June and I’m okay with it. I’ve never had the trepidation some have with milestone birthdays and I’m pretty damned happy with Social Security and Medicare. Medicare, by the way is the first insurance program I’ve been involved with I can actually understand. It has to be the low overhead and operating costs preventing Medicare from writing all the duplicitous and arcane bullshit that shows up in “private” insurance plans.

I used to think that Richard M. Fairbanks (Dick to the few, Mr. Fairbanks to the many) was the single most out of touch person I’ve ever met. Most of his remarks to those less worthy were so dissonant they would make me feel sorry for him as soon as the words left his mouth. It must be very difficult to have never worried about your “place” in the world much less ever thought of how to feed your family. I do have to say after watching Mitt Romney since the early 90’s (the bastard has been running for office for 20 years!) that old Dick Fairbanks was a blue collar, shit kicker compared to Mitt.

Jan and I spent part of our mini vacation in Cambria. We highly recommend the Fog Catcher Inn, dogs welcome and the room had a fireplace plus it’s across the street from Moonstone Beach. We had dinner at Madeline’s and once again the dog was welcome. I had jambalaya maybe as good as the jambalaya I kind of remember eating at Ernie K Doe’s Mother in Law Lounge in New Orleans at three o’clock in the morning years ago when I was a young and foolish fellow. In addition to the fireplace, beach and a good free breakfast the Fog Catcher has terrific bed linens, down pillows and comforters. Without my AARP discount we would have had to settle for Motel 6 “where they keep the light on for yah”. The dog refused to sleep on the fancy dog bed provided for him, choosing instead to sleep with Mom and Dad. The old boy was on fire from sleeping in a mound of down and woke me with his panting at three AM. Jan slept through it like the trooper she is.

We left Cambria after buying organic beef from the Hearst Ranch in San Simeon and drove over Highway 46 to Paso Robles and our visit to Bianchi.  46 is one of America’s finest drives, it climbs from the coast and Highway One (one of the best drives in the world, by the way) to the Central Coast Wine Country. Micro-climates galore, it was 52 degrees and foggy in Cambria, sunny and high 80’s in Paso all in 26 miles! When the sun went down at the Wine House at Bianchi, it was in the mid-fifties and windy, 4 hours earlier it was 90 and still. The grapes love it and you can taste it in the wine.

Our Cambria pals, Tom and Lana Cochrun joined us for dinner at the wine house along with Bianchi marketing rep Diane and her significant other Chuck. I cooked the beef and veggies, Jan made the salad. Tom roasted a chicken, Lana brought homemade Thai noodles and as an experiment I steamed the baby carrots and spring peas in Champagne and butter….add some sautéed mushrooms and we were good to go and go we did. Lana’s homemade bread was spectacular.  5 bottles of wine, the balance of the champagne, a taste or two of small batch bourbon and cigars made for a fine evening of conversation, food and friendship. Small gifts were exchanged and I woke up again at three, this time with a hangover! Well worth it.

Before we headed home we got the VIP tour of Bianchi. (Jan’s restaurant sells a 1,000 bottles of their wine a month, so she is a major   VIP) We saw all facets of the business from the baby grapes to the bottling machine. We also tasted 8 or 9 wines before 10 in the morning.

Tom Lane, the winemaker at Bianchi Winery told me an interesting fact, since installing moisture monitors in the vineyard soil he has been able to cut water usage by 35%.  The monitors turn on the drip irrigation system only when the vines need a drink. The man loves his job and makes great wine. Tom has 4 advanced degrees in ag, wine and chemistry and they have a very sophisticated lab in the middle of the winemaking operation with a full time technician who runs tests all day long. It was very cool.

We got home at 2. I had all good intentions of going into the office, called young Mr. Alvarez, he said he had me covered so Jan and I took a nap instead, because that’s what old guys do, especially when you have somebody you love to cuddle up with and dream of the California’s Central Coast.

Rumor is God has retired there.