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Paris – Not What I Remembered.

When I was last in Paris, I was 10. I remember a beautiful city with broad avenues and sidewalks – all of which were fastidiously clean. There were people and traffic, but it was modest and moved in a relaxed steady way. I remember my father telling me the people here take pride in their city. I remarked how much cleaner it was then New York City, and Dad told me Parisians take great care to keep their city beautiful.

That has changed.

Paris is still filled with charm, beautiful design and architecture, and a deep and rich history. On the downside, it’s extremely busy, crowded and filthy. Everywhere we went the streets were strewn with trash and frequent evidence of human waste. With the dirt, trash, graffiti and general filth, it reminded me of New York City in the early 80’s. The only place where it was really clean was The Louvre.

The Hotel Atelier St. Germain where we stayed was on the fringe of the Latin Quarter – one of the oldest sections of the city. The hotel was very small but neat and clean. After a long day of travel, we just wanted to take a 2-hour nap before going out into the city. We were assigned room 43.

Going up to our room we took the smallest elevator I have ever seen. When I stood sideways my right shoulder was up against the back wall and my left shoulder was squeezed against the elevator door. If Loly and I stood side by side our shoulders touched each other and the walls. It was a challenge jamming our luggage on with us.

As soon as we entered the small room, our ears were assaulted by the sound of someone hammering and scraping stone and mortar literally right outside our curtained window. Loly went down to the front desk to see about getting another room. Then a fire alarm went off. There was no way I was getting on that double-wide coffin of an elevator, so I took a very narrow spiral staircase down to the lobby where the hotel manager was holding the door open and said to me in an urgent almost angry tone [cue the heavy French accent] “Were you smoking in the room? Did you take a shower?” I said, “No! I don’t smoke and no, I didn’t take a shower – we didn’t even have lights in the room.”

He moved us to room 61, which was slightly bigger and at the back of the hotel. There was no view, but I didn’t care it was cool, comfortable and quiet. I moved our luggage up using the spiral staircase. I didn’t do it again. The one thing we discovered, that we had not seen before, is that the key card to enter the room is also used to turn all the power on in the room by sliding the card into a slot just inside the door. When you leave you take the card and it shuts off every light, outlet and the AC.

It was very hot in Paris the day we landed. It was 97 (36 °C). After a nap, it was a little later in the day and down to 90. We decided to walk around and explore the area.  It’s incredible there were eateries everywhere. In some areas, you couldn’t walk more than 20 feet before passing by another outdoor café.

The traffic was heavy and chaotic almost constantly. There are painted lanes, but no one seems to use them. Everyone just jockeys for some sort of position on the road. The young population uses motorbikes of all kinds to great effect. I wouldn’t be surprised if they outnumbered cars there were so many of them. The riders ratio is pretty evenly split 50/50 women and men, and every one of them is insane. They seemed to swarm rather than ride. They exploited any and every open piece of road, and even sidewalks. They moved up between impossibly narrow spaces between cars, and even among other bikes. When the light changed, they’d take off at breakneck speed to the next light. Amazingly no one was killed, mangled or even bumped in all the mayhem.

The first place of note we visited was the Luxembourg Palace, the 17th-century palace built for Marie de’ Medici – the mother of Louis XIII. It now serves as a gathering place for politicians while the grounds serve as a busy public park.

Next, we moved past the Théâtre de l’Odéon on the left bank of the Seine. It was inaugurated by Marie-Antoinette on April 9, 1782, and was the theater in which the play The Marriage of Figaro premiered.

Afte that we went to one of the places I personally wanted to visit – Shakespeare and Company, Bookstore.

The original was founded by an American woman, Sylvia Beach in 1919. It was the gathering place of some of the most notable novelists and artists of the 20th century. It closed during WWII. It was re-opened in 1951 in its current location by another American, George Whitman. I was pretty happy to finally be there after reading about it some 25 years before.

Next stop was the Notre-Dame Cathedral. As it was so hot we were not willing to wait on the long lines in the hot sun to get inside. We opted to walk around and observe its storied and wonderful medieval architecture, which was completed in 1345, but was started in 1163! We stayed to take pictures and listen to the beautiful sounds of the bells before moving on.

We moved back to the left bank of the Seine and walked on the road along the river all the way to the Eiffel Tower. The tower that Gustav Eiffel completed in 1889 was as breathtaking and spectacular as I imagined. Again because of the heat, we were not willing to wait in the long lines to take the elevator up. We walked around taking pictures. We were told that the daily lighting ceremony would take place near sunset – which was at 10 pm in summer time Paris.

We walked over a couple of blocks and found a restaurant of our liking. I had steak tartar, and Loly had tuna tartar. It was flavored differently than what I was used to in the states, but I liked it. We wined and dined, and went back to the park. We found a nice grassy patch in the park right in the middle and settled in among thousands of other people sitting there.

We were there less than 10 minutes when the tower was first lit up – which elicited applause and sporadic shouts of approval from the crowd. Then the light show began. The entire tower was bathed in light and rapid flashes of twinkling lights that lit up the sky and everyone in the park. There was a roar of excitement from the crowd, people clapping and fist pumping at the spectacle. It was truly beautiful.

The sparkling display lasted about 10-15 minutes. By that time the sun was final lowering in the western sky around 10:15 pm, and as it did, the air began to cool and quickly became comfortable.

We walked all the way back to the hotel. We racked up 12.6 miles of walking on our first day. We showered, fell into bed and promptly passed out.

The next day was our day trip to the Normandy coast.

Ulysses S. Grant – A Badass to the Very End

General Ulysses S. Grant managed to put Robert E. Lee in such a tight spot it forced him to surrender, thus ending the Civil War. During the signing of the surrender treaty, Grant showed up at Wilmer McLean’s house in Appomattox Court House straight from the field.

He was looking a little rough around the edges, his uniform speckled with dried mud and dirt, while Lee showed up in his best dress uniform. Grant treated his now former foe with the greatest respect and offered generous surrender terms to Lee’s vanquished army.

After the war, he took on the very tenuous task of Reconstruction, which continued into his two-term presidency. In the process, he worked to protect the rights of African American. As president, he ratified the 15th Amendment which prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”.

After a difficult presidency, he went into business with a friend of his son’s. Unknown to him it was a Ponzi scheme and he lost everything. He was essentially broke. Then Grant found out he was dying from throat cancer. With just $189 left in the bank, he set out to write his memoirs in an effort to save his family from ruin after he was gone.

He started writing from the place his family was staying in Manhattan, but that summer of 1885 was so hot it added difficulty to his failing health. His doctor told him to get away from the heat of the city and go out to the country.

He moved his family to a cottage home in upstate New York. He was made offers for his memoirs, but the best one came from his friend Mark Twain, who would give his estate 75% of the royalties with $50,000 up front.

Grant soon lost his ability to speak and was in almost constant pain, but he continued writing his memoirs. The man wrote 10,000 words a day, on paper with pencils he sharpened with a penknife. Let me say that again, and let it sink in. This dying man wrote 10,000 words a day – in pencil! He wrote for five straight weeks.

Three days after completing his 600 page memoir, Ulysses S. Grant died on July 23, 1885, surrounded by his family. He was 63.

His memoirs were an instant hit. His wife Julia received about $450,000 in royalties, which equates to over $11 million dollars in today’s money. Ulysses S. Grant – A total Bad-Ass.

The Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

Here’s what are considered to be the Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy books of all time. I’d have to say the list is spot on, and I was surprised to find that I had read over half of these books over the years.

1. The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert

5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin

6. 1984, by George Orwell

7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

8. The Foundation Series, by Isaac Asimov

9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

Read More

This Is The Modern Publishing Business

Reblogged from David Gaughran


Scammers used to operate at the edges of the publishing business, but have wormed their way into its heart. And the entire industry is in denial. An unintentionally revealing aspect of the tiresome Amazon-Hachette dispute was a series of statements from an organization purporting to advocate for authors’ rights. One of the heinous crimes Amazon was said to have committed was treating books like toasters.

With such a claim, Authors United was attempting to tap into a current of feeling about the commoditization of literature – as if Amazon was the first company to put a price tag on a book, and writers around the country were hitherto living off laurels and kudos. It’s tempting to suggest that other entities in the publishing business might be doing as well as Amazon if they also treated books like toasters and attempted to sell the bloody things, but I digress.

What this characterization by Authors United highlighted was that most precious of things: how the industry likes to view itself. Publishing, you see, is far above the rough and tumble of everyday capitalism. Publishers may make profits now and then, but only as an accidental by-product of their true pursuit: the promotion of literature. Without publishers there would be no books, of course, and we should thank the heavens that an eagle-eyed intern plucked Beowulf from a slushpile or the world would be very much the poorer.

It’s all bullshit…(Continue reading at the Source: This Is The Modern Publishing Business )

July 4th, 1976

July 4th, 1976 – July 4th, 2016

It’s hard to believe it has been 40 years.


In 1976 the United States celebrated its Bicentennial Celebration. It’s 200th anniversary of being an independent country. The Vietnam War ended just a year before. Despite the civil unrest that war caused, it seemed patriotism was at a high in 1976. There were so many celebrations and observation for months leading up to the 4th.

In school we re-examined this key time in our history and studied the Declaration of Independence in-depth. All the fire hydrants in town were painted with patriotic colors and some to look like patriot soldiers. There were ‘76’ flags with 13 stars everywhere. For a young teen, this was a special and memorable time for me.


On this day 40 years ago on July 4th 1976, I was fortunate to be right in the middle of Operation Sail, which is a special occasion featuring “tall ship” sailing vessels from around the world. The Operation Sail for the Bicentennial was especially large.


My best friend at the time, and next door neighbor was Joe Danaher. His father John served with the Coast Guard for more than 20 years – including during WWII – and rose to officer status. He remained active in the reserves for many years. As such he had considerable clout and had Joe invite me to go with them to Governors Island to watch The Parade of Ships for the Bicentennial Celebration.

Governors Island went into service in 1776 during the American Revolution and became an Army post from 1783 to 1966, when it became an active Coast Guard station until 1996. It sits right at the divergence of the East and Hudson Rivers – across from the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. It affords a commanding presence and view of every ship heading up the Hudson.

We caught a Coast Guard ferry, from Pier 6 in Brooklyn for the short ride to Governor’s Island. Once there, Joe’s father let us roam on our own with directions to meet him at Castle Williams later that afternoon. We explored the 170 acre island from end to end. It was a hot, sunny day, but the ocean breeze kept the temps manageable. In the mess hall, they had set up a veritable smorgasbord of food of all type and ice cream – all you can eat – for free.  We stuffed ourselves and went out to do more exploring.


Castle Williams where we stood to watch Operation Sail in 1976

When Operation Sail started we were right there at Castle William where the road juts out into the river, and we watched the tall ships, such as the USCGC Eagle, the Amerigo Vespucci (from Italy) and the Gorch Fock (from Germany) among a dozen more tall ships and hundreds of smaller sailing vessels.


Then the massive aircraft carrier USS Forrestal sailed up and stopped right across from us. On board was President Gerald Ford (a WWII Navy vet), reviewing dozens of mighty modern warships sailing up the Hudson.

USCGC Eagle and the USS FORRESTAL Operation Sail

USS FORRESTAL and the USCGC Eagle Operation Sail


President Gerald Ford

That night, the fireworks commenced from barges anchored in the river. It remains one of the most spectacular fireworks displays I have ever seen – and I have seen many large events. I remember the colors and the sounds. Most of all I remember the power of the explosions from the mortar rockets was so great I could feel the concussion in my chest as well as my ears.


The day I spent on Governors Island, July 4th, 1976 is one of my most cherished childhood memories.


  • President Gerald Ford passed away on December 26, 2006.
  • Governors Island has been open to the public since 2003, as a public park space.
  • In 1967 there wa a massive fire on the USS Forrestal, after a missile misfired and hit a fully fueled fighter jet, which then set off a chain of explosions and fire which claimed the lives of 134 sailors and injured 161.
  • On that ship was Senator John McCain. The missile hit plane right next to his. He was lightly wounded in the event. The pilot of the plane that was hit, Cdr. Fred White, was one of the 134 killed that day.
  • The USS Forrestal was decommissioned in 1993, and was completely scrapped as junk by December 2015.

This Father’s Day Let Me Tell You About My Dad

He was there for me when I entered this world on December 21st, 1961.

I was there for him when he left this world on December 21st, 2015.

He was 18 days away from his 82nd birthday.



My Dad was a quiet man, a humble man, but my Dad was tough and he was a fighter.

He grew up as a child in World War II Germany. His older brother, Werner (my namesake), died at the age of 13, during the war. He died at an asylum while recovering from meningitis. There are questions about what really happened to him.

Dad’s father (Friedrich – my father’s namesake) died at the age of 39, during an air raid, on February 22nd, 1944. He was on a bicycle trying to ensure his family was safe in an air shelter, when ordinance from an American plane tore off one of his legs. He succumbed to his injuries soon after. My father was 10 years old at the time he lost his father.

Dad told me stories of walking home from elementary school when the children had to run and jump into ditches when American fighter planes would strafe the road they were on. Sometimes, some of the children were killed.

He also told me about seeing the city of Wesel (pronounced Vay-sel), after Allied planes bombed it and U.S. troops took it over. He described how the city was devastated, and almost every building had been completely destroyed. When he talked about these incidents, he was matter of fact about it. He said, “It was war after all. Everyone suffered.”

[He exhibited that same detached manner when I spoke to him the day after 9-11 happen. On that day he stood on a beach at Robert Moses State Park, and watched the smoke emanating in the city from there.]

Because his father was dead, his mother had her hands full trying to feed and care for several children. My father had to go and live and earn his keep on a neighbor’s farm for some time, so my grandmother could care for his younger siblings.

As a young man, he took a job in a coal mine. In one instance he described how a gas explosion killed everyone who had been standing in one tunnel. My Dad was lucky that day; he was sitting down having lunch when it happened. Then there was the day he was working next to a conveyer belt shuttling coal out of the tunnel, when something in the ground shifted. The the conveyor fell over and pinned Dad to the tunnel wall. When he was rescued it was discovered my Dad’s hip was broken. He had had enough of working in the mines and quit.

Dad was always good with his hands and worked as a mechanic. He decided he wanted to take advantage of better opportunities in America. It took two years, but he got sponsored and moved to the U.S.A., and settled in Long Island, New York, where there was plenty of work.

Dad was in the U.S. for about six months when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. The Korean War was over so he was fortunate to serve during peace time. He said his Army experience was a good one. Because he could barely speak passable English the Army sent him to classes in addition to his duties in the motor pool as a mechanic. It was in the Army where he learned to read, write and speak English.


Dad was an avid reader, and read everything he could. He especially liked science fiction.

Dad had been going out with my Mom’s roommate, but it didn’t work out. My Mom recently broke up with a guy, and Mom and Dad connected. They married June 30th, 1961. This June would have been their 55th anniversary. They did everything together. They loved each fully all the years they were together. Mom still does – and I know Dad does too.


Dad loved us, and showed it openly when we were young, more reservedly in our teens, and openly again when we were older.

Dad was a big kid and loved to play when he could. He got to live the childhood he never had when I was a kid. He played with us kids when he had some down time. There were times we’d hold his legs down and tickle his feet. He’d go into paroxysms of laughter and kick his legs, sending kids flying all over the living room. He’d play with us in the pool and toss us around. In later years, if he was around he’d always join in when we were tossing a Frisbee around. He loved it. He was wicked in snowball fights, and he took us sleigh riding in the winter.

He played with a lot of my toys in the pretense of showing me “how to use them.” I carried that principle through when my own kids were young. He showed me how to build cool things like trucks, planes and buildings with Lego’s. I was hooked (still am), and that led me to building scale models. He bought me a control line airplane one Christmas. I never remember asking for one, but he spent hours showing me how to fly it. One time trying to get that thing to fly, he gave himself a nasty cut on his leg when the spinning propeller hit him.

From Dad, I learned to enjoy making things with my hands and using tools. Home Depot is a toy store for me to this day. From Dad, I also grew my love of cars, and motorcycles, and how to take care of them myself.

As I said Dad loved to work with his hands. He was also very creative. He made a real stockade fence out of young pine trees. It was six foot high and enclosed the entire back yard. He made a sled out of aircraft aluminum. The thing was a beast and all the other kids feared getting hit by it every time I rode it down the snow hillside.

He built an exhaust system for my mother’s car out of stainless steel. The car most likely rotted away, but the exhaust systems will still be there. He rehabbed 90%+ of our home – with the rest of us helping when needed. He designed, and with my help, built a massive shed to store yard equipment. He built bike carrier racks for paper deliveries out of stainless steel.

He built a stainless steel and wooden cart to attach to a bike to deliver the bulky Sunday newspapers. That cart was later used to haul firewood for the stove, and leaves and yard debris in the fall. Sarah and Zac now use that cart, Dad built 40 years ago, in their own yard.

When it came to cars, he did everything and taught me how to do it all. Complete brake and rotor jobs, , repacking bearings, oil changes, shocks, entire exhaust systems, rebuilding engines, body repair, and on and on. One time I saw him make an emergency gasket from a piece of cardboard. Dad built his own wood chipper from a collection of parts.

There are so many creative things he did and built I can’t count them all.

There were several times Dad took me to the demolition derby at the Central Islip Speedway, and I loved it. In 1977, I saw Star Wars on the first day it came out. I was blown away. I went home and told Dad about how cool it was. I convinced him to go to the theater with me the very next day. He loved it too. It was the one and only time he and I ever went to the theater, just us two.

In the summer, Mom and Dad would pack the tribe into the back of the 1965 Impala station wagon, with our blankets and pillows and we’d all go to the drive-in with our next door neighbors.  It was so much fun and remains one of my favorite experiences as a child.


Dad also taught me how to swim, and it wasn’t with the little three-foot pool he put up in the back yard. No he took me to the beach with a neighbor friend, and they took me out into the waves in the deep water and pretty much tossed me in over my head and told me to, “paddle like hell.”

After that shock and watching them laugh as I struggled, they helped me get over my fear, and showed me what to do, and kept having me do it until I had it figured out. I’ve loved the water ever since. I was a very strong swimmer when I was younger.

Dad taught me how to ride a bike and drive a car the same way. When I was 15, Dad was teaching how to drive his 1970 Chevy Nova, a manual shift car. As I rounded a corner, I popped the clutch and gave the car too much gas. The car surged forward. In a panic I lost control of the speeding car. Dad tried to stop the car by reaching a foot over to try and stomp the brake, but he pinned my foot to the accelerator in the process.

Somehow I got control of the steering wheel as we left the road onto a grassy median. Miraculously I shot through a narrow gap between a chain link fence and a telephone pole without hitting either. We bounced down on an adjacent street, my Dad’s foot came off the brake, and both of mine hammered down on it. I stood on those manual brakes with both feet. We skidded across the street, onto someone’s front lawn and came to a stop three inches from hitting a maple tree dead center.

I was shook up. Dad never lost his cool. I was done. I wanted to get out of the car and walk home. Dad wouldn’t let me. He calmly told me, “Get back in the driver’s seat of this car. You’re gonna drive this car.”

I did. He got me to back off the lawn onto the street and he had me driving for another half hour before he let me drive home. I love to drive to this day.

When I entered my latter teens and early twenties, Dad and I weren’t so close. It was nothing bad; we just weren’t close – not communicating.

It wasn’t until I got married, and held down a job with responsibility and opportunity, did we seem to get along better. When I became a father myself, we grew even closer.

Dad was an extremely generous man. Whenever anyone needed help with anything, he’d be there for them. I remember as a kid that whenever Dad saw someone broken down at the side of the road, he’d stop and help perfect strangers. He helped friends and neighbors with house projects, fixing cars, and carrying heavy furniture during moves – even as late as the age of 65.

As mentioned earlier, Dad was a fighter and loved Life. He took his health more seriously in his early 40’s when he started walking 3 miles a day – every day. He also weight-lifted two to three times a week – maintain muscle tone.

He had his first brush with cancer about the time he retired from work at the age of 64. Thankfully it was caught early and was removed.

At this time he already had a heart murmur, but he didn’t let that keep him from his exercises. When he was 62, he went on a hike with me and several of my friends to the summit of Mt. Lafayette, in New Hampshire. We maintained a decent pace. I was really proud that my Dad did so well on that hike, when a couple of guys half his age had a hard time. Mom said he talked about that hike often, saying it was one of the best experiences of his life. It makes me smile to think of that trip and that he got so much out of it.

When Dad was 71, he was diagnosed with CLL – Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. We were all worried and scared. Dad loved life and was determined to fight. Not only did he do everything the doctors said when he had chemo, he still kept up his 3 mile daily walks.

When he was 74, Dad had a stroke. This devastated us. Dad didn’t even see it coming. He was paralyzed on his left side and his speech was slurred. After a couple of days I was able to talk with Dad. He was very depressed and dispirited. He thought it was all over for him. He couldn’t walk or use his left hand, and could barely speak. He wanted to give up. On the phone with him I told him, “This doesn’t sound like the Dad I know and grew up with. The Dad I know is a fighter, he always figures out a way to overcome a problem. He doesn’t quit until he’s done.”

He later told me that helped him to re-think his situation. Dad became the poster boy for rehab. The physical therapists loved him. He did every exercise they showed him, and he kept working on improving himself. He learned to walk again. When he graduated from a walker to a cane, I got him a custom wood one, to remind him of his hike. He learned how to regain his speech and the use of his left arm. By the time his therapy was done he regained his speech, the use of his left hand and arm and about 95% of his balance and ability to walk unassisted. He started taking his walks again. They just took longer this time.

Dad had a series of remissions and flare ups of the CLL which required chemo. As the years passed, he faced more challenges with cancerous skin lesions which had to be surgically removed. He grew a little weaker in time, but he kept walking, but now it was down to about 2 miles.

Then he had shingles, which weakened him further. His walks were lessened to a mile then to the neighborhood. He began having balance problems, and falling. He still walked, but now had to use the cane all the time and the walks were limited to their block.

On top of all of this he developed respiratory problems by the time he turned 80. His walks were now limited to making rounds inside the house. Then he developed stress fractures in his spine which caused him relentless agonizing pain. Still he wanted to walk. Then came the pneumonia. He wanted to walk, but could only manage a few steps before he was winded.

In December, the doctors told my father his body was shutting down. They told him he was dying. Despite the constant agony, he didn’t want to die. When they put him in hospice, I was on the phone with him. It was my Mom’s birthday. He told me, “I don’t want to be here. Just stand me up and get me walking and I’ll be alright.”

The next day he became unconscious and we were told he would not wake up again. I packed a bag, and with my son Stephen, we jumped in my car and drove 1,400 miles non-stop from New Hampshire to Florida. It took 25 hours.

When I saw Dad laying there unconscious, gaunt and faded, it shocked me. I could not reconcile that this is the same man I feared and respected growing up. This man I always knew to be so strong and capable – laying there so old and weak and wasted away by pain and illness.

When I spoke to him and told him I was there, he moved an eyebrow to let me know he knew I was there. The staff there told us that hearing is the last thing to go. I bent to talk into his ear and said, “Friedrich Erdmann Meyer, I am damn proud to be your son. You’re a wonderful father and the best man I have ever known. You taught me so much about life and I love you with all my heart.”

Dad passed away quietly in the early morning hours on December 21st, 2015. It was my birthday, and the saddest day of my life.

Dad taught me what it means to be a man. He taught me how tough life could be, but also how sweet and enjoyable it is. Most of all, Dad taught me what it means to be a Father.

Dad was a great Father and Grandfather. He dearly loved, adored and cared about all his kids and grandkids.

I loved my Dad from the moment I took my first breath, to the time he took his last. And I still love him, and miss him.

Friedrich Erdmann Meyer

January 8, 1934 – December 21, 2015


Happy Father’s Day Dad…wherever you are.


My Guardian Angel Drives A Green 1968 Dodge Charger


I woke this morning to a memory of an incident that took place when I was a kid in the 1970’s. I was a 14-years-old and living in Lindenhurst, New York, a blue collar town on the south shore of Long Island.

Having just completed my newspaper deliveries, I was straddling my bike in my driveway talking to my then best friend Joe. His cute brown and white mixed-breed dog, Kilroy stood nearby. As we were talking I noticed this kid, who looked to be seventeen, walking down our block and angling right toward us. He wore a parka, had dark disheveled hair, a scruffy beard, and a serious look on his face.

I didn’t know who he was, but my danger radar was sure pinging. I slid my bike lock chain off my handlebars and lowered it to my side.

I turned to Joe, “You know this guy?”

“No idea who he is but he looks pissed.” Joe said.

The guy walked right up to us, and faced me. He was taller than me, had a wiry build, and was all business. He said, “You beat up my little brother.”

Fear gripped me. I thought I was in for a real ass-kicking.

The day before, my younger sister told me this kid Eddie constantly picked on her and harassed her on her way to and from school. I knew the little punk, and knew he was a trouble maker. When I saw my sister visibly upset by the antics of this asshole, I decided to do something about it.

Earlier on this day, I ambushed Eddie on his way home from school and confronted him about my sister. He was 12 years-old to my 14, and I was a lot bigger than him, but he didn’t care. He took on a wise-ass attitude so I hit him once, then threw him down on someone’s lawn. He started crying, got up and took off running.

Now his older brother was here to exact revenge.

“Your brother was bullying my little sister. He made her cry. What was I supposed to do, let him keep picking on her?” I said.

“I don’t give a fuck what he does to your sister, and I don’t give a fuck about you. Look at the size of you. My brother is only twelve. Get off that bike ‘cause I’m gonna fuck you up,” my attacker said.

At first I froze. I kept the right side of my body from his view and gripped the heavy chain tighter.

“I said get off the fucking bike,” the attacker said taking a step forward.

I swung the chain in a vicious arc trying to connect with his head or face. He flinched just enough so that the lock on the end of the looped chain just grazed his chin. He took a step back, and I jumped off my bike and backed into my front yard. I kept the chain at the ready.

His right hand went into the pocket of his parka, and it came out holding a knife.

Amazingly I kept my cool sizing up my opponent; I figured I’ll keep swinging the chain to keep him from getting close. Just then I saw Joe, stark fear across his face, grab his dog’s collar saying, “Come on Kilroy, let’s go home.”

“That’s right Joe, go home and call the cops and tell ‘em there’s a guy with a knife trying to attack me.” I said.

Me and the attacker circled one another in this deadly stand-off. The unnerving thing is he wasn’t saying anything, I could just see him trying to figure out how he was going to stab me without getting hit with the chain.

Suddenly a green 1968 Dodge Charger roared up the street and screeched to a stop in front of my house. I was thinking, ‘Oh shit, is this another of Eddie’s brother’s?’

A guy of about 20, with curly blond hair poked his head out of the window, “What the fuck are you doing with that knife?” he said to my attacker.

The attacker looked over at the blond guy and said, “He beat up my little brother…”

“Yeah, because his little brother keeps bullying my sister, and makes her cry.” I shouted out.

My attacker looked at me then back to the blond guy, who said to my attacker, “You better put that knife away and get the hell out of here.”


“If I get out of this car, I’m gonna take that knife away from you and shove it right up your ass,” the blond guy said.

My attacker looked at the blond guy and could see he wasn’t kidding. My attacker didn’t say another word. He backed away from me while pocketing the knife. Once he reached the street, he turned and ran and was soon out of sight.

“You alright kid?” The blond guy said.

“Yeah, thanks for helping me out.” I said.

“If he bothers you again, let me know, I live just down on the next block.” The blond guy said, putting his car in gear and roared down the street.

I never saw the blond guy in the green Dodge Charger, nor the guy with the knife, again.

I had another run-in with Eddie a few years later, but that’s another story. By the time he was in his 20’s he became a muscle bound thug. When he was 24, he went to jail for rape.

The frightened kid Joe, who abandoned me, grew up and joined the NYPD. That pasty-white Irish-Catholic kid was stationed in Brownsville, Brooklyn, one of the toughest neighborhoods at that time. The last time I saw Joe was just before 9-11. He was still with the NYPD, but had since transferred to the Harbor Patrol. I just know he was there that day showing great care and courage helping people to escape the stricken city.

Although I didn’t give it much thought at that time, as an adult I often wonder what would have happened if the guy in the Charger hadn’t shown up. In every scenario I play out in my head, none of them end well.

Somewhere out there was a young man with curly blond hair in a green 1968 Dodge Charger, who most likely saved me from great harm. Thanks again.

Ninja Reflexes (or Just Lucky?)


So it was Mother’s Day, and we had a busy but good day. We decided to have a healthy dinner and went to Whole Foods to get some produce and seafood.

In the parking lot a car was parked in the main thoroughfare right in front of the entrance, impeding traffic flow. We went around the car parked in a real parking space. As we walked past the car we noticed there was no one in the driver’s seat but there was a woman in the passenger seat. We’re like, “What the hell?”

I’m walking forward, but looking back at the car while stooping a little to look at the woman to see if she’s okay. I trip on the curb in front of the store entrance. As the concrete rushed towards me, in my head I’m like, “Oh shit this is gonna hurt, “ but then instinct kicks in, and I go with the fall instead of trying to stop it. I tuck my right shoulder down as I fall, I roll across my back, my legs come up and over onto the pavement, and the momentum stands me up straight. Loly is there in a flash, “Werner, Werner are you okay?” I looked over at her, nodded and said, “I’m good.”

George Carlin once did a bit about cats and how they give the impression they’re always cool and in control. He describes how they can run smack into a glass door and be like, “Hey, I’m okay, I meant to do that.” They then go behind the couch where no one can see them and are like, “Fucking me-ow, that fucking hurt!”

That was me going into Whole Foods. I’m feeling pain, but not showing it. Loly’s saying, “I can’t believe you fell like that. It looked like you meant do it, like a Ninja or a stuntman.”

The long and short of it is, I’m okay. The extent of my injuries is a very small graze on my left elbow, and right hand, and a little soreness in my right shoulder. I was up the next morning on my 3 mile hike in the woods. The day after I was painting a facing board on our second story deck, and today I was pulling up old deck boards and installing new ones.

I gotta admit I’m impressed my old roughhousing ways kicked in automatically, and  moreover I’m thrilled and thankful I didn’t get seriously hurt.

Pseudonym’s of Famous Authors


I Want To Be A Writer

“I want to be a writer. I want to write a book.”

This is what I often hear from people when I tell them I’m working on a book and becoming an Authorpreneur. When they say it they have this dreamy far away look in their eyes. Imagining fame and fortune, going on TV shows and signing their name on copies of their books. I give them the same advice I’m gonna give you, in the same way my mentor gave it to me.



“No, you really don’t want to be a writer. It’s frustrating, lonely, and hard.”

Despite what some people think, the reality is writing as a profession is not an easy path to success or wealth. If you think it’ll enable you to pay a mortgage on a big house, and you’ll be driving your kids to a private school in your Mercedes SUV, then I’ma smack you upside your head…again.

For most writers, you’d be lucky to afford rent on a double-wide mobile home, and feeding your kids store brand mac ‘n’ cheese…every day. Writing is a lot of work with little financial reward.

People who have a need to write don’t have a choice. It makes us feel good when we’re writing in a “flow” state (see runner’ high), and when we’re not writing we feel guilty, and lousy about it.

If you’re good with this and saying, “I don’t care, I want to write, I need to write,” Alrighty then this is what you need to do.

Several years ago, I attended a presentation Stephen King was giving at the Harvard Memorial Church.  He was promoting a book of short stories. After the talk he held a Q&A session, and inevitably one young college aged lady asked, “What’s the best way to become a real writer.”

Stephen King, having heard this same question thousands of times before, mustered the ability to not look bored with the question and responded, “To become a real writer you need to take these two very important steps:

1. Read a helluva lot…

2. Write a helluva lot

That’s it.”

Ask any successful writer and they’ll tell you the same thing. While every writer’s journey to a successful writing career is different, these rules are carved in stone.

Read a lot. Write a lot.

I amazes me when I meet someone who talks about wanting to become a writer, but the only thing they read and write on a regular basis are text messages, Tweets and Facebook entries! Really? Seriously?

If you want to be a writer, you actually need to write something other than text messages. Instead of just talking about writing (which we all love doing), you need to write something good, something involving thought and creativity – almost every day. Produce a paragraph with substance or an entire page at minimum.

Like most folks, you set a block of time in your day to go to a job on a regular basis, because you have to. If you want to be a writer then you have to set a block of time every weekday day to write, BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO. It’s your part-time job.

If you want to do this as a profession, you need to act like a professional. If you make writing a secondary or tertiary avocation – then forget it. Stop wasting your time. You aren’t a writer and don’t want to be. It’s just a hobby at that point.

To me, being a writer means this is your avocation, your passion and you intend it to be your main means of making a living. You know there’s a component of art to it, but you also know it’s a business and you need to give it that level of consideration. If you approach wanting to be a writer with anything less, then you’re just dabbling. Do you dabble at your job?

When you write something, you have to finish it. Period. End of story… literally.

After you’ve been writing for a while and people, other than your family and friends, tell you they liked what you wrote, it’s time to consider publishing your stories.

If you really feel the need to see your name on a book cover in a book store – knock yourself out. Go for it. Just know it’s a long road, fraught with frustration, rejection and disappointment. The traditional publishing route is nothing I’m going to cover in this blog. Currently traditional publishing is an obsolete business model sorely in need of a total overhaul.

I’m a big Authorpreneur advocate. Best-selling author Hugh Howey’s research at Author Earnings is proving your chances of making your dreams of becoming a full time writer, are far greater traveling down the Indie Publishing road.

Get Out of Your Own Way

Deal with the irrational fears holding you back from becoming the writer you envision. Writing is hard, but it isn’t life and death – you can do this. Most writer’s have a catalog of disempowering fears and negative emotions about writing. We must face them, and realize they have no basis in reality and exile them.You don’t have time or place for them in your life.

You have dreams to fulfill. Get into a state of passion for writing, and it will push doubt and low self-esteem aside, and allow you to put words on the page.


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