Thursday, May 31, 2007

Quench Your Thirst

Somehow I forgot to finish writing this blog last February. At that time I was going through a tumultuous period helping my son prepare for his return to Maryland. I had pigeon holed it and forgot about it. Until today, while I was clearing unused files from my computer.

This is old news now, but I still believe that it is worth posting. Plus it saves me from using my brain and coming up with something fresh to post about. The file was last saved on 2-10-2007. Today, I have added one more paragraph and voila:

There is a new soft drink called Turn On that will be available in Grocery Stores soon. This soda was banned in both France and Denmark. Doctors have already warned that the drink is not for everyone. Children, pregnant women and people with high blood pressure and diabetes should avoid the drink. Does this not sound like the same warning on a Beer Can label?

Yet Turn On is a non-alcohol beverage and the warning on their label (please note that the O in the word on has both the symbols for Venus and Mars) states: "This beverage will arouse you." People who have tested the soda said that it tastes like cherry soda and works as an aphrodisiac. Now here is a great concept; a non-alcoholic beverage that will get you sexually aroused. No hangovers!

Men will be buying this stuff up in mass quantities. Not for themselves, but for their wives or female friends. “Care for another glass of soda, dear”? Most men don’t really need much to get them sexually aroused. I don’t have to look at porn to get aroused, just thinking about a naked woman does it for me. If younger women are in the same room with me I mentally undress them and subsequently get aroused. I can just imagine what would happen if I drank one of these sodas. Liquid Viagra!

I haven’t seen any Turn On available in my local stores yet, but I had forgotten about it and not really checked to see if it was there. If it’s there, I will by a case and take it on the beach with me the next time I go to ogle the “eye candy”. I can just hear myself now “Hey, pretty girl, would you like an ice cold Cherry Soda”.

The Beach Bum

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Some Frog (Frenchman) once wrote “I think, therefore I am”. In Latin this is “Cogito, ergo sum”. I know this because I was one of those idiots that took four years of Latin in High School instead of two years of Spanish (soon to be the National Language here in the US – press 2 for English).

I have received several emails about a recent post about Spanish speaking people. To them I will say – post your comments to the Blog. My email is already too cluttered by irrational messages from my friends. I have nothing against Spanish Speaking people, except the fact that they want me to learn their language.

I had a hard enough time learning English. I always wanted to be bi-lingual. Both my Mom and Dad were multi-lingual. I always wanted to learn French. For two reasons – even when the French are just talking about vegetables it sounds sexy and secondly I wanted to marry (or at least have a sexual relationship with) French singer and actress Françoise Hardy.

As usual, I have gone off on a tangent. We older people tend to do that sort of thing, especially after we have had too many cocktails. And that is the point of today’s blog.

Poto, ergo sum. I drink, therefore I am! This makes more sense to me. I tend to think better after having a few drinks. But after a few more drinks my thoughts become a bit muddled and I have a tendency to say things that I really don’t mean. After a few more cocktails I tend to really speak my mind (the alcohol confused mind).

Exempli gratia
, the other day at two in the morning I sent an email to a bunch of my very good friends (Army Buddies). I was ticked off about them not responding to my Memorial Day Blog. I did not use pleasant language (you are allowed to do this with real friends); in fact I was quite nasty. Most of them apologized to me. However it is me that needs to apologize. Sorry guys!

There should be some way that we can hook up a breathalyzer to our Computer Keyboard as they do with a chronic Drunk Driver's ignition systems. If you are over the limit - it just won't work. This would have saved me from a very embarrassing moment.

The Beach Bum


Monday, May 28, 2007


100 years ago this past Saturday my childhood hero was born in Nowheresville, Iowa. Marion Michael Morrison would later be known as John Wayne; actor and patriot. He epitomized what I believe to be a real man. In real life he was the same person as the characters that he portrayed in the movies. A movie critic once said that John Wayne never acted, that he just played John Wayne.

This past weekend there has been a barrage of his movies on several of the Cable Networks. I enjoyed watching five of my favorites; The Man who Shot Liberty Valance, The Sons of Katie Elder, The Sands of Iwo Jima, Rio Bravo and Donovan’s Reef. I cannot recall ever seeing a John Wayne movie that I didn’t enjoy.

An article in the Chicago Tribune stated "Particularly for people overseas, John Wayne is America and the values America stands for: independent, responsible for his actions, loyal—almost to a fault—and somebody who won't take a lot of guff, somebody who believes in what's right."

This is a very good assessment of my childhood hero. This is why I admired John Wayne; the person, not the actor.

When I was in the Army and taking Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood (41 years ago) a member of the Cadre on the Grenade Range told us to just pretend that we were John Wayne when we were tossing a grenade. I did and I scored well.

John Wayne was a die hard Republican. He even supported Richard Nixon (the President that I dislike the most). He would have made a much better President than “Tricky Dick”. But, at that time, it was unheard of for an actor to run for public office. Boy, have times changed.

God Bless you Duke and Happy Belated Birthday!

The Beach Bum

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Oh Say Can You See

Last January, my son questioned the title of this Blog saying that I never write about the Beach. And said that I was misleading people with the Blog title. I told him that I do occasionally write about the Beach. This is one of those occasions.

Yesterday was a beautiful day here on the Beach. Temps were in the low 80’s, low humidity with a nice breeze coming from the southeast; another perfect day in paradise.

A good friend had called me earlier in the week and suggested that I come out of my cave and hobnob with some of the locals that missed seeing me. I told him that I could not believe that anyone would miss my biting sarcasm and vile personality. Therefore, I turned him down.

But he was persistent and I finally acquiesced to going to a Beach Bar on Sunset Beach, Treasure Island. I hadn’t been to this bar for nearly two years. They serve a good Cheeseburger there, but I now rarely eat beef, due to my dietary restrictions.

He said that we weren’t going there to eat! The Saturday Bar special is a bucket of five Domestic beers for $9.50 tax included. We arrived a little after one in the afternoon and the place as well as the beach was packed with bodies. The Beach Bar had a one man band playing Raggae music. My friend told me that we were going to sit on the beach rather than in the bar.

I love sitting on the beach. But only later in the day, as the tropical sun does not like me. I do not burn; I blister, especially on my chest and my back. I wear a tee shirt when I swim in the Gulf during daylight hours. Even sunscreen doesn’t seem to help.

This Saturday was busier than most, as Treasure Island was having their Sun, Sand and Symphony weekend. Most of the snowbirds have flown back north and tourist from Tampa and mid-state Florida are beginning to visit the Beach. The snowbirds tend to be old and cheap, whereas the tourists tend to be younger, with a fistful of dollars ready to spend.

I saw more “eye candy” yesterday than I had in a very long time. My friend tells me this is why I should come out more often. We spent nearly three hours sitting in the hot sun ogling young girls. It got to the point where we were pointing them out to one another. We were couple of sick old men lusting after girls in their early 20’s. A most enjoyable afternoon! Five beers and viewing scantly clad women for only $9.50 plus tip!

Home for dinner at 5.

At seven o’clock I staggered back onto the Beach. The Tampa Symphony Orchestra was performing. They began with the Star Spangled Banner. I cried, as I always do. After 2 hours I decided to walk home. Halfway home the fireworks began. What a display, it was better than the 4th of July show.

All in all it was a good day for me.

The Beach Bum

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

What's in a name?

Several of the Blogs that I visit on a regular basis have comments made by a Blogger named “Empress Bee of the High Seas”. She must be a prolific commenter, as I do not visit more than 5 to 8 Blogs per day and her comments are usually there. At least she has good taste in Blogs.

However it makes me wonder - does this person have nothing better to do than to comment on other peoples Blogs? Although, I must admit that some of her comments are of interest, I have never visited her Blog. Why? Because of her blog name!

Any person that would call themselves an Emperor or an Empress offends me. I get that churning feeling in my guts. This is not good thing for me, because I have diverticulitis.

The Empress does not visit my Blog and I’m thanking God! Just seeing her name rubs me the wrong way! I can just imagine her leaving a comment on every blog that I write.

Empress Bee may be a great person and her Blog might be a great Blog. But I’ll probably never know.

There are other Blogs that I avoid reading because of the name of the Blog. I almost didn’t go to the Bestest Blog of All-Time because of the name. The non-word bestest bothers me; it’s something that you would expect hear from a 6 year old, not an adult. I originally visited Bobby Griffin’s Blog to complaint about the name of his Blog. And I did! But I also link to him because some of his Premium Bloggers author some very interesting and informative Blogs.

Some British guy once wrote, in a play; "What's in a name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet."

I’m sorry Will, but I’m not buying into that philosophy. We all have our own prejudices and predilections. Besides Roses cause me to sneeze, I prefer Carnations.

The Beach Bum

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Memorial Day Part II

I have just received an email from a friend, that has a link which relates to my last Blog!

Memorial Day Video

This video really touched my heart. Thank you Lizzie Palmer!

The Beach Bum

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Memorial Day

This year Memorial Day will be celebrated on Monday, May 28. I’ll be celebrating, or should I rather say, paying homage to our lost soldiers on May 30th. This has been my tradition since 1990. This had been an old tradition that I somehow had lost over the course of the years.

Today I found the following file on my computer – it was dated 5-28-1998.

“Many Americans celebrated Memorial Day last Monday, May 25th, the official government holiday. I was invited to a picnic as well as several Bar-B-Que and Swimming Pool parties. I declined, telling the hosts that I was too busy preparing for my move to Florida. I should have told them the truth.

First of all, I'm not too fond of the fact that the government has changed the dates of certain Holidays to create 3-day weekends. This was supposedly done to decrease Government employee absenteeism (and/or non-productivity) on the day after a holiday falling on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. The bottom line is that the employees that would be absent or non-productive are now that way on the Tuesday following the holiday rather than some other day of the week. Slackers are slackers!

Memorial Day, also known as Decoration Day, was established in the late 1860's to honor those who died in our Civil War. The custom was to decorate the graves of those who gave their lives for their country. Later, the 30th of May became a day of commemoration for all American soldiers who had died.

As a child growing up in the 1950's, I recall seeing parades and going to the cemetery with my Dad. There were no picnics, no parties and no department store sales. It was a day that was set aside to honor those that had served their country.

I've been fortunate enough to not see the carnage of war first hand. My Mother’s father fought in WW I. My Dad, as well as his brother, saw action in Europe during WW II and my father-in-law saw WW II action in both the Pacific and Europe. Somehow I was spared the agony of losing a close friend in battle. They were not so lucky.

Until eight years ago, I too, went to picnics and parties on Memorial Day. Like many others I had forgotten why we celebrate this holiday. On Wednesday, May 30, 1990, I decided to visit The Wall (Vietnam War Memorial) in Washington, D.C.

I'm not really sure why, but I felt compelled to go there. I spent about 20 to 30 minutes searching for a name, any name, of a person that I knew. As I touched the Wall, my knees began to tremble and tears poured from my eyes. I had never in my life felt a feeling such as strong as this. The names of so many men from my generation who never had a chance to live their lives, to see their children grow to adulthood or to enjoy the freedom that they were fighting for.

On Saturday, May 30th I plan to visit the RU-8D ASA Memorial at the National Vigilance Park at Fort Meade, Maryland. And, I will once again weep for guys that I never knew.”

I once again cried when reading my words from 9 years ago. I will cry again on Wednesday! As well as we all should.

For those of you that will be going to Picnics and Pool Parties this coming Monday; I ask that you take a moment of your precious time to honor those that died while serving our country and those that served in the military to assure our freedom.

And then do it again on Wednesday.

The Beach Bum

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Si Habla Espanol

As much as I have wanted to stay away from this topic, I now feel that I must write a post about this subject. It’s a touchy subject and I have been involved in many heated debates with friends and family concerning this topic.

Nearly a month ago I wrote a Blog about “My Old Neighborhood” in Chicago. A fellow Blogger, Romulus, posted a comment to this blog. He asked me questions that I didn’t want to address at that time:
“I'm curious... what are your thoughts on the immigration debate? Do you feel different nationalities should be allowed in the country in different numbers (for example, more Cubans than Mexicans per year)? I know in Florida the Cuban community is not necessarily looked down upon, whereas out here in the west Mexicans are marginalized as laborers, not participants in the American system. Personally, I don't have a problem with diversity although I would like to see more security at the border. Your thoughts? “

Three out of four of my grandparents were immigrants. My step-father’s (who, in my blogs, I often refer to as my “Dad”) parents were both immigrants. Let’s face it, we are a nation of immigrants; unless you are a Native American (Amerinds) (in my opinion, native Americans got the rawest deal known to mankind, worst than the stealing of Africans from Africa) you are a descendant of immigrants.

At times my personal feelings get in the way of my objectivity on the subject of immigration. I don’t particularly like many of our new immigrants. This was probably the same type of feeling that people living here had about the new immigrants (my ancestors) at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century.

Some of my family and friends will argue that the “new immigrants” are taking jobs away from Americans. Especially in the construction and service industries. Who wants these jobs? They pay minimum wage or less and you have to work your butt off. In the summer of 1970 I worked as a construction laborer. Digging ditches for pipes, in the hot sun, for $2.75 per hour was not my “cup of tea”. But when you have a wife and child to support you’ll do just about anything for a paycheck. I lasted for only two weeks.

My next job wasn’t much better. I worked in a factory (Enjay Fibers; a division of Exxon) that produced Olifin fiber that was used in making indoor/outdoor carpet. The pay was much better, $3.27 per hour with overtime opportunities. I received a promotion and a pay raise after 3 months. I was now driving the tow-motor and dumping polymer resin into the hoppers that loaded into the extruder's one floor below. It was 95 degrees in this room in December.

It was a one way job to nowhere, but it kept our rent paid and refrigerator full. This job was probably the reason that I decided that I must go back to school.

The point here being is that manual labor is not an enjoyable thing. And that is why I have much respect for those who work these jobs. These are the menial jobs; the jobs that are seemingly beneath us because of low pay and hard work. The immigrants take these jobs. They toil for hours on end to make a living and a better life.

I have two pet peeves about today’s immigration laws and practices. My first peeve is that if you have money you stand a much better chance of getting into the country legally.

What happened to "Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The second being the INS quota system. However, I will not dwell on either of these subjects. If I did, you would now be reading one of the longest blogs ever written.

The thing that bothers me the most about many of our legal and illegal immigrants is that a lot of them do not want to assimilate into our culture or society. They don’t want to become Americans; they want to continue to be whatever nationality that they are, and to just be living in America. My parents taught me that we are Americans first and that my other nationality was just the place from where my forefathers were born. I am an American of Czech extraction.

In a recent email a friend wrote:
“There seems to be some evidence that recent second-generation Hispanics are, in fact, not picking up English as well as previous generations…….I doubt if any of our grandparents took English classes. But they learned English. My grandparents on my father's side insisted that English be spoken in the house (they had come over from Sweden) so the kids wouldn't be labeled as greenhorns.”

This brings up a sore subject; one that really honks me off. There are three words that evoke my ire more than any other three words; si habla espanol!

Why does make me so mad? I was raised in a multi-cultural neighborhood in Chicago. I never saw one sign that said "Mówimy język Polski", and there were a lot of Poles in "my old neighborhood". My parents and grandparents knew that in order to fit into American society you must learn the English language.

It seemed appalling to me when I first saw the pay telephones with instructions in both English and Spanish. By doing this and other similar things (such as “Si habla espanol” signs in store windows) we are actually hindering the Hispanics and not helping them to assimilate into our society and become Americans. But then again, they may not want to become Americans.

The Beach Bum

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

I'll Be Missing You

Losing an old friend is a hard thing to do. I’ve just lost an old friend. This friend was not a person, but an automobile. I have donated my 1990 Lincoln Town Car to a person that needed it much more than I did. His car had died and he had no way to get to work. With a minimal investment for minor repairs, he is on the road again, and can continue to earn an income.

I hadn’t driven this car since last November, although my number one son was driving it in December and proclaimed it to be dead just before Christmas. I am not mechanically inclined so I listened to my son and neighbors when they told me that I needed a new ignition system. I decided that the cost of repairing this problem would outweigh my need for a vehicle (In actuality all it needed a new battery and spark plug wires).

When I calculated the cost of insurance, annual license fees and gasoline. I was spending nearly $2 for every mile that I drove (less than 400 in 2006) per year. Taxis are less expensive and I have friends are willing to cart me around to the grocery store etc. My favorite store (At Cost Liquors) even delivers my essentials to me. The owners are friends and do not mind stopping off at my apartment on their way home.

That 4800 pounds of metal, that machine, had been a good friend to me for the past seven years. I will miss seeing it in my parking space.

I hadn’t been too nice to my friend. I only washed it four times in the past seven years. With the salt air here on the beach, the paint had faded and rust had taken it's toll. I had been a negligent to my friend, not appreciating what it had done for me over the course of the years.

I’ll truly miss my friend. Each day, when I stare at the empty space that my old friend once occupied, I’ll reminisce about the good times that we had shared. I’ll remember the simple things that brought joy to me. And I’ll never forget, what British Author Michela Wrong said when she road down Gulf Blvd. in this car in 2002: “What a posh ride”!

The Beach Bum


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Oral Sex

I have just returned back home from another week plus of dog sitting and I am now sifting through two hundred plus emails. One of these emails caught my eye immediately, so I decided to read it first. The subject was: “Oral Sex Causes Throat Cancer.

I have now found that I have another health issue to be concerned about. Throat Cancer!

First, I must state that, I have always been a potentially high risk candidate for developing throat cancer because I smoke, drink alcohol and have an acid reflux problem.

An article on states: “People who have had more than five oral-sex partners in their lifetime are 250% more likely to have throat cancer than those who do not have oral sex”.

The article goes on to say that a new study suggests and the researchers believe this is because oral sex may transmit human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus implicated in the majority of cervical cancers.

This article is ambiguous as to gender, but from what I have read, I believe that the male is more at risk than the female (unless they are Lesbians).

I enjoy oral sex, both giving and receiving. I have preformed oral sex with all of the women that I have been with during the past 30 years; this probably puts me over the 750% range of developing throat cancer.

Now, when I think about it, it’s no wonder to me, why I have a raspy voice, have been coughing more than normal and have had a constant mucous build up in my throat during the past 4 years. My Doctors keep telling me that these problems are caused by my incessant cigarette smoking habit. But I now know better. Because of my sexual habits I’m developing throat cancer.

The next time that I visit the VA Hospital I’ll have to ask them to do a Pap smear on my throat.

The Beach Bum

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Shooting the Moon

A new world’s record has been established. 18,000 people in Mexico City’s Zocalo Plaza posed nude for American photographer Spencer Tunick. Tunick said in a press conference. "I think all eyes are looking south from the United Sates to Mexico City to see how a country can be free and treat the naked body as art. Not as pornography or as a crime, but with happiness and caring."

This same photograph would have been more interesting if it had been taken from a different angle. An 18,000 person Moon seems a bit more exciting than a bunch of naked people bent over in the fetal position. That would really be art.

Mooning was a popular sport in the 1960’s, especially on College Campuses. There were also variations of the standard Moon; the Pressed Ham, the Red Eye, the Baggie and the Double Inverted Baggie. Shooting a good Moon at the proper place and time was truly an art form.

I was stationed in Africa in the mid sixties when mooning was at it peak, and we attempted to take mooning to new heights. Several of us would climb up antennae towers (more than 100 feet tall) so that we could shoot a moon to Ethiopia. We also did Pyramid Moons and the Banana Split Moon.

But our most famous Moon was accomplished on a bridge on the road that led from Asmara to Massawa, Ethiopia (now Eritrea).

The above photo of this event is in Michela Wrong’s book about Eritrea; “I Didn’t Do It For You.” Michela writes:
“What is it about Anglo-Saxon males and their bottoms? A Frenchman or a Spaniard does not seem to feel the same compulsion to bare his bum, a gesture psychoanalysts would no doubt interpret as blending primeval defiance with homo-erotic bonding. Like generations of fraternity fellows before and after them, the Kagnew men, delighted in exposing their buttocks to the world.

It was fun and it was a sport or contest. It was a distraction from the world of chaos that had existed around us. We were young and impetuous. We enjoyed ourselves and didn’t care about what others thought about us or our antics.

As we got older, some of us lost this feeling along the way. We became what are known as adult humans. I haven’t and I think that I never will. I didn’t want to turn into Jackie Paper:

A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

The Beach Bum

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Stella !

A few days ago a friend sent an email with a link to an article in the Washington Post. It was about something another friend had sent to me nearly two years ago. Back then it was one of those FW: FW: emails. You know the ones that you read but don’t really pay attention to while reading, and never forward them on to your real friends.

My first thought was that it was one of those spurious candidates for the “Stella Awards”. The real Stella Awards go to the most ridiculous and frivolous law suits that are filed in our courts. And there are some real dandies.

The Stella Awards are named after Stella Liebeck, who, in 1992, spilled a cup of McDonalds' coffee onto her lap, burning herself. She subsequently sued McDonalds for not warning her that the coffee was hot and if spilled onto her body, it may cause harmful burns. Surprisingly she won her law suit. Absolutely amazing!

In the Washington Post article, as well as in the email that I received over a year ago, it states that an Administrative Judge/Lawyer is suing the Korean owners of a dry cleaning establishment in Washington, DC for in excess of $65 Million.

Why? They lost his suit pants! It was an $1100 suit. My God, I’ve never paid more than $500 for a suit and that was with two pairs of pants and a vest. This had to be a really great suit, since the pants alone were worth $65 Million to the Judge.

The Washington Post article sez that Judge Roy L. Pearson Jr. claimed “that he deserves $65,462,500 in damages for the mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort" caused by the loss of his suit pants. To put that figure in some perspective, at his current salary, it would take Judge Pearson just under 650 years to earn that kind of cash.

The owners of the Dry Cleaners, the Chung’s, have given up and headed back to Korea. Their American Dream has been shattered. They had offered Judge Pearson $12,000 to settle the case, but he refused their offer. $12,000 for a pair of pants sounds like a great bargain, but not to Judge Pearson. He has tied up the Chung's for nearly two years in court system. It had gotten to the point that their legal fees outweighed the small profit that the received from their dry cleaning business. Therefore they are returning to Korea with less than what they came here with; a hope for a new future. Not to mention the lost of dignity (loss of face).

This whole scenario really surprises me because Judge Pearson is an Afro-American and a member of a minority group. The Chung’s are also members of a minority group. The fact that minorities oppose other minorities, rather than support them, really bothers me.

Judge Pearson is up for reappointment this year. If the DC Government reappoints him it is truly a travesty. In my opinion he should be disbarred! He is a disgrace to the legal profession and to the bench.

The Beach Bum

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

I Scream, You Scream - Simple Pleasures

At times we forget the simple pleasures in our lives. These are the little things that make us happy during our day to day existence. A kiss on the cheek, a pat on the back, a nod of the head in appreciation, a smile or a wink that has just told you that you have “made my day” or perhaps just a simple Ice Cream Cone.

I have always preferred the sugar cones over the waffle cones. But out of a cone is not the way to really enjoy eating Ice Cream. It should be eaten out of a bowl or better yet, out of the Ice Cream container itself. This may be pure decadence on my part. But I believe that this is what eating Ice Cream is all about; satiating our primal wants and needs and enjoying it in the process.

My all-time favorite Ice Cream was produced by a Baltimore-Washington food chain; Giant Inc. It was named Double Chocolate Chip. This was one of their gourmet Ice Creams made with rich dark chocolate Ice Cream and large semi-sweet chocolate chips. This was truly a chocolate lover’s delight. Needless to say, I am a chocolate lover.

My second favorite is Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. A Banana Ice Cream with large chunks of semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts. Nuts are on my “no-no” list, so I have ceased to purchase this product. A few years ago,during my annual visit to Chicagoland, my sister, “the Saint”, bought a pint of Chunky Monkey for me knowing that it was one of my favorites. She had forgotten that I could no longer eat nuts.

There it sat in her freezer calling out to me; “I’m in here, come and get me”. After four days the voice calling me sounded so sweet that I could no longer resist the temptation. I devoured the entire pint in less than 10 minutes. I spit out most of the walnuts. The one’s that did make it to my digestive tract did not harm me. But I am not one to tempt the Fates, so I haven’t eaten Chunky Monkey since that day.

Ben & Jerry's has come up with a new flavor. According to their website; The new flavor is a decadent melting pot of vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered waffle cone pieces and a caramel swirl. It’s the sweet taste of liberty in your mouth. Colbert believes AmeriCone Dream can make a difference. “I’m not afraid to say it. Dessert has a well-known liberal agenda. What I hope to do with this ice cream is bring some balance back to the freezer case.

Stephen Colbert is donating his proceeds from the sale of AmeriCone Dream to charity through The Stephen Colbert AmeriCone Dream Fund. The Fund will support charities of concern to Stephen such as food and medical assistance for disadvantaged children, helping veterans and their families, and environmental causes.

The helping of veterans and their families is a very important issue to me. Our government, especially the current administration and the current and past House and Senate have treated veterans and their surviving families like garbage. This is a moral shame. It’s a greater shame because private citizens have done more for our veterans than our government has.

I do not support the war in Iraq, as I did not support the war in Viet Nam (and I spent four years of my life in the Army during the peak of the Viet Nam War). I do, however, support our military; the guys and gals that put it on the line for us on a daily basis.

At heart, I am a pacifist. To my way of thinking wars solve nothing and serve only as a means to deplete the world population. We live in a world with finite resources. The greater the population equals the lesser resources per inhabitant of our small planet. Therefore, religious scholars say that wars (as well as pestilence and famine) are a necessity. I just don’t buy into this biblical theory!

I am not fond of Vanilla Ice Cream, I do not like Waffle Cones and I’m a bit iffy on Caramel, However I will be buying Ben and Jerry’s “The Stephen Colbert AmeriCone” Ice Cream, as I now know that part of the proceeds will go to our military Vets and their families.

The Beach Bum

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

I Liked Mike and I Miss Him

I had originally intended to write this piece on Sunday April 29th, but I was busy dog sitting at my daughter’s home. When I write I tend to chain smoke and smoking in her house is a no-no.

Sunday was the 10th Anniversary of the death of my all-time favorite Journalist; Mike Royko. I have read and followed some of the best Journalists of our time. I’m talking about writers like David S. Broder of Washington Post, George F. Will of Washington Post, William Safire of New York Times, and Jimmy Breslin of New York Daily News and Newsday. In my opinion, Mike Royko was a step above all of them.

Mike was the type of guy that you would hang out with in the local neighborhood bar. He was just an "average Joe" who was trying to make a living and support his family. He was the champion of the common person and their plight of making a daily living. He wrote from his heart.

Unlike the politically correct people of today, Mike smoked cigarettes and occasionally drank alcohol to excess, as I do. He felt no shame in having these bad habits. He was against being politically correct. He was a liberal who slammed the liberals!

I was first introduced to his writings when my Mom would send me clippings of his “Chicago Daily News” columns, while I was in the Army and stationed in Africa. At that time he was a political Muckraker, constantly criticizing the “Daley Machine” in Chicago. His topics were numerous. But they were mostly about City Hall, Mayor Richard J. Daley and the plight of the “working stiff” in Chicago. Political favors and dealings were a way of life during the Daley reign and Mike was quick to point them out in his columns. Royko wrote what I believe is the the definitive book about Richard J. Daley and Chicago Politics; The Boss.

Mike, as I am, was a die hard Cubs fan, a beer drinker and a chain smoker. I had the good fortune of meeting him in the early 1980’s. He was working for the Chicago Sun Times, at the time, and was playing on and managing their softball team. Our meeting was at the Billy Goat Tavern on Lower Michigan Avenue, not far from the Sun Times Building and Tribune Tower (many Chicago journalists would frequent the Billy Goat). Mike had just played three grueling games in Grant Park and had lost two of them. He wasn’t in a very good mood.

I will go off topic for a brief moment: Softball is a very big sport in Chicago. There are many corporate and bar leagues. It is played with a 16” Ball that is called a Clincher. You wear no gloves and a line drive can really sting your hands and leave you with several sprained fingers. Not exactly a game that a 50 year old man should be playing.

But Mike Royko loved this sport. He had a fervent passion for playing games both physically and verbally. This is something that we sometime lose later in our lives. Mike had true grit and gave up his body for a game that he loved. He always wrote the same way as he had played, with passion.

At the Billy Goat, I unfortunately picked the wrong time to speak to Mike. That late afternoon he was as gruff as a Billy Goat. I was a stranger invading his territory and privacy. I just wanted to speak to a man that I had admired for many years. And there he was sitting next to me.

Dumbfounded and attempting to strike up a conversation, I asked him how the team did today (he was wearing a bright red Sun Times Baseball jersy). Bad question! He sez:”Do you really care?” I sez “Not really, I just wanted to start a conversation.” He basically told me to buzz off, but I was persistent and bought him a beer. He sez “I can afford my own beers” and I sez that “I know that”! I told him that it was out of appreciation. That he had made me laugh, through his columns, for many years and that the least that I owed to him was a beer. This statement really got to him and we had a 10 minute conversation, mostly about the Cubs and the how we both loved the city of Chicago.

On Wednesday, February 4, 1981 Mike Royko wrote a column for the Chicago Sun Times titled the “Rigors of de Rigueur – A Gourmet Gauntlet”. I keep this column in a frame. I was in the Restaurant Business at this time. The article is about a high class couple (the Kelsons) that did reviews of high class Chicago restaurants for the Chicago Magazine. Mike really hated snobs and the Kelson’s were archetypal snobs. Like Jimmy Breslin in New York City, Mike was the champion of the common person. He supported the common man on the street (or in the corner bar), the Slats Grobnik’s (Mike’s alter ego) of Chicago and other cities!

His writings touched my heart and I have missed reading his musings dearly. Mike, I really miss you and I am proud to say that I Liked Mike!

The Beach Bum

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Eating Crow

Now I am currently eating Crow. My cousin,”The Admiral", has corrected my Faux Pas about the name of our old Neighborhood. Pilsen was the neighborhood just to the east of our neighborhood (I looked it up). We were in fact called Lawndale, actually South Lawndale. Although I hate to admit when I am wrong, I will do so.

According to Wikipedia – the bane of Steven Colbert:

The Little Village is a neighborhood on Chicago's West side, historically designated "South Lawndale" it was popularly known as "Czech California" for many years due to the largest ethnic group being of Bohemian heritage. It is home to the largest Mexican-American population in the Midwest, and was formerly the home of large Italian, Polish, Czech, Irish, Lithuanian, Croatian and Slovene ethnic communities. It is located south of the BNSF Railway tracks that run south-west from 18th St and Western Ave to 26th St and Cicero Ave and north of the South Branch of the Chicago River, and west of the north/south railroad tracks just west of Western and east of the city limits at Cicero Ave.

The name "Little Village" was reportedly coined by a realtor in the early 1970s to "capture the Bohemian character of the community". Famous past residents of Little Village include Mayor Anton Cermak, who lived in the 2300 block of S. Millard, across the street from Lazardo Cardenas Elementary- grade K thru 3 grade. Pat Sajak was also a Little Village resident. He attended Gary Elementary School and Farragut High School.

The bulk of Little Village falls within the aldermanic boundaries of the 22nd ward. The commercial strip along 26th Street is said to have the second highest business revenue in the city after N. Michigan Ave.

Please note the mention of Pat Sajak in the above wikipedia article. Gary Elementary was about 6 city blocks from my home. Many of my High School buddies had gone to Gary. Sajak wasn’t one of them as he was a year behind me and attended Farragut (2 blocks from my house) rather than Harrison (my High School, more than a mile from my house). Farragut did not offer Latin as a course of study. I wanted to be a Lawyer, Doctor or Biologist (at thirteen there are so many options) so I decided that I must learn the Latin language. After four years of Latin, I still don’t have a clue as to why I didn’t take 2 years of Spanish (Our second Language, instead).

I attended Pat’s wedding in Annapolis, Maryland in 1989. I was invited by his wife’s parents and not by him. We were from the same neighborhood and close in age, but we had never been friends. His wife’s parents were my friends in Maryland.
The best part of Pat’s wedding was meeting Vanna White. She actually looked good without makeup and could actually hold an intelligent conversation. She is not the dumb "letter turning" bimbo that she portrays on the Wheel of Fortune. I wanted to knock her socks off, but I was unfortunately there with the current love of my life. I now cannot recall her name, but can I recall that she was the one between Valerie and Michele. I believe it could have been Diane or perhaps Vicki. She couldn’t have been that important to me and I should have hit on Vanna White. Who knows, I could now be Mr. George (Vanna) White.

The Beach Bum

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