Baby You Can Drive My Getaway Truck

UHaulOpenBackDoor

I’ve now been in my Lancaster apartment for almost a month, and little by little I furnished it.  All I was missing was my stuff.  That was all in two storage lockers back in New Hyde Park, NY.  My brother made a trip here and loaded up his car with some of my stuff, but there was still a mountain of it undisturbed.

It became quite obvious that moving it one carload at a time would take about 200 years.  So, I called Allied Van Lines and they gave me a quote of $2200, their absolute rock-bottom minimum.  $600 for the truck and $100 per hour for two men for 8 hours.  I estimate that the total value of all my stuff was less than $2,200, maybe about $2,000 less, so that did not seem like a good plan.

 

I called U-Haul and found that I could rent a truck in New York and return it in Lancaster for about $300.  That seemed like a much better plan.  The only problem is that I don’t have a driver’s license.  I have a New York State Non-Driver’s License solely for ID purposes.  At the request of everyone who had ever ridden in a car I was driving, I stopped renewing my Driver’s License back when Jimmy Carter was the President.  It is a move I have never regretted, until now.

 

I needed somebody to drive the truck, and most of the people I’ve met in town are barmaids, who would only go to New York, load a truck, and drive it to Lancaster if I held a gun to their head, and even then they might not do it.  Besides, the last time I had a gun was when I was in Boot Camp and they were trying to teach me how to defend the country.  So, that was out of the question.

 

The only other person I know in town is Joe Becker, the guy who sold me most of the second-hand furniture that I now possess.  They deliver for free, and I noticed he had a lot of different guys working for him.  I asked him if any of his employees would like to earn a few bucks by driving a U-Haul from New York to Lancaster.  He told me he didn’t have any guys working for him.

 

“Who are those guys who help you make deliveries?” I asked him.

 

He told me that whenever he needed help he called the men’s shelter in town and there was always somebody who would deliver a couch, a bed, or any other piece of furniture for a pack of cigarettes.

 

I asked him to call the shelter for me and see if there was anyone willing to take the trip with me for a carton of cigarettes.

 

Duane volunteered, but he wanted cash.  He didn’t need cigarettes, because he rolled his own.  I thought that meant he smoked pot, but he explained that he gets a pouch of tobacco and 200 rolling papers for $7.00.  Wow, the head shops sell packs of 25 rolling papers for $2.00, and that doesn’t even include anything to put inside the papers.  Far out.

 

I asked Duane how much he wanted to do the job.  Duane wanted $100.  Not per hour.  $100 for the entire job.

 

I hired him so quickly, I almost forgot to ask him if he had a license.

 

So, on Saturday, Duane and I took the Amtrak train to New York.  He’s originally from Philadelphia.  He’s 42 years old, but when the train went past his old neighborhood, he looked out the window like a kid in a candy store.

 

From Penn Station we took the LIRR to Jamaica and then hopped in a cab to go to the U-haul place.  Paperwork completed we headed for my storage sheds.  I had a 10 by 5 shed and a 5 by 5 shed.  It took us 3 hours to empty the contents of the big shed.  By that time the truck was filled to capacity.  So, we left the smaller shed for another day, got some chicken to go at KFC and headed for Lancaster.

 

We got on the Cross Island Expressway and the sign said “No Commercial Vehicles.”  We weren’t sure if our U-Haul was a commercial vehicle but we decided to get on.  It was bumper to bumper.  We crept forward for the next hour and only managed to cover a few miles.  We made it to the Belt Parkway.  We had a great view of the traffic jam ahead because we were in a truck and the only other vehicles on the road were cars.

 

Around this time, we figured that we might be in a commercial vehicle.  Since traffic wasn’t moving anyway, we decided to get off the parkway and take the service road.  Once there, we pulled up alongside a tow truck and asked his opinion.  “Is this a commercial vehicle?”

 

“Oh yeah,” he responded.

 

So, we weren’t supposed to be on the Parkway, but that’s how Mapquest had routed our journey.  We asked the tow truck driver how we could get this commercial vehicle to the Verrazano Bridge.

 

He told us that we had to take Linden Blvd, all the way across Brooklyn to the BQE and that would take us to the Verrazano.  He even led us to Linden Blvd.

 

Do you have any idea what it’s like driving a fully loaded truck all the way across Brooklyn on Linden Blvd.?   Neither do I, because before we knew it we weren’t on Linden Blvd. anymore.  We must have zigged when we should have zagged, and we took a tour of Brooklyn that lasted two hours.  Finally, when we asked another motorist for directions to the Verrazano Bridge, she took pity on us and led us to it.

 

So, we took the Verrazano to the Outerbridge Crossing and were headed to the New Jersey Turnpike.  The top row of a sign said, “NJ Turnpike.”  The bottom row probably said “Right Lane Only,” but it was obscured by bushes.  We missed the turn, and just barely missed the car in the next lane when we tried desperately, but unsuccessfully, to get over to the right.

 

It was nearly 10 p.m., we were lost again and headed away from the New Jersey Turnpike.  I started humming a song by Bruce Springsteen.  You know it.  It’s the one with the line, “Someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny.”  Duane didn’t see the humor, and it looked like he wanted to drive off a cliff.

 

“This hasn’t gone as planned,” I said to him.  “So, I think it is only fair that I double what I said I’d pay you.  I throw in a pack of real cigarettes, too.”

 

I think he would have preferred a cliff to the pay raise, but by then he had managed to get us back to the Turnpike, so he was happy again.  “You don’t have to do that,” he said.

 

“Oh, no.  I insist.”

We got to the Pennsylvania Turnpike without any problem, and we managed to get to Lancaster without any more problems.  Well, we had one problem.  By this time the shelter was closed and Duane wouldn’t be able to get in.

 

“Why don’t you stay at my place, and we’ll unload the truck in the morning?

 

That worked for him.  We got to my place, opened up a box of vintage wine and before too long, we were both able to look back on the day and find it funny.  We stayed up until 4 in the morning laughing about our tour of New York and Long Island.

 

The next morning, neither of us felt like unloading the truck, so we went down to the shelter with a few packs of cigarettes and quickly found plenty of guys willing to unload the truck for us.

 

So now I have most of my stuff, a story for my web page, and a new friend in town.  All’s well that ends well.

 

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl

Twelve Trees Fell in the Woods

tree in woods jason bergsieker

A recent Geico add humorously showed that when a tree falls in the woods it does make a sound.  I doubt that commercial will put an end to the philosophical argument, but it did give me something to think about, though.

 

If something happens, but it is not reported in the news, did it happen?  Does something lose its value if it doesn’t make the papers, radio, or TV?  I wish the answer was No, but I think the answer is Yes.

 

Fortunately, today we have the Internet, and stories that are marginalized or ignored my mainstream media can be found by those willing to dig for those stories.

 

Last week, twelve trees fell in the woods, the woods of the Pocono Mountains.  They were not heard on CBS, NBC, or ABC.  They were not of interest to the Liberal Left, so they were not heard on MSN.  They were not of interest to the Conservative Right, so they were not heard on FOX, either.  These twelve trees were heard on the Internet, though.

 

Those of us who enjoy the sport of Harness Racing have been marginalized and ignored by the mainstream media.  Even ESPN didn’t cover the 12 races of the Harness Racing Breeders’ Crown.  Close to $6,000,000 in purses was distributed at Pocono Downs last Saturday.  The 12 Breeders’ Crown races are often the deciding factor in the voting for Horse of the Year, Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year, the best 2-year-olds, the best 3 year olds, and the best aged horses and mares, but they got no coverage on the major networks.  You have a better chance of seeing Hurling on TV than Harness Racing.

 

Whose fault is this?  Probably the majority of the blame can be given to the sport of Harness Racing itself.  Do you know who won the Thoroughbred Triple Crown races?  Orb, Oxbow, and Palace Malice.  You’ve probably heard of them, even though none of them won more than one leg of the Triple Crown.

 

Do you know who won the Pacing or Trotting Triple Crown races?  Not likely.  You probably don’t even know which races are in the Pacing Triple Crown or the Trotting Triple Crown.  Actually, many fans of the sport don’t even know.  They are not well publicized, and only The Hambletonian at The Meadowlands gets any national attention.  That is the fault of Harness Racing.

 

Twelve trees fell in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania, World Records also fell.  Championships were determined, and Breeding Farms paid close attention.  But those twelve trees did not make a sound to anyone who wasn’t right there at Pocono Downs.

 

Harness Racing.  Please get your act together.  Market your product.  I know that you are an exciting sport with an amazing history.  Let other people in on the secret.  I’d like to be able to watch my favorite sport on TV once in a while.  Like the fallen tree pleads in the Geico commercial, “A little help here.”

 

Peace and Love, and all of the above,

Earl

A Suck for a Buck

alleykat1

 

It wasn’t the first Friday of the month, but it was Friday night, so I decided to check out 4 more bars in Lancaster.  I started with the place that’s billed as the “Friendliest Pub in Town,” Molly’s Pub.

 

Molly’s Pub was about a 6 block walk from my apartment, and it is in a quiet part of town, with no other bars nearby.  It’s across from one of the big parks in town.  They have a few tables outside, but I was by myself and on a scouting mission, so I headed indoors.  It looked very much like an Irish Pub, with a crowd of people dining at tables indoors.  There was only one open space available at the bar and I took it.

 

About a third of the people at the bar were eating, and about a third of them were having Calamari.  I didn’t know that Irish folk ate Calamari.  I certainly don’t.  Calamari, anchovies, and canned peas are three items I will only eat if I am shipwrecked on a desert island and that is all that washed ashore.  But the patrons at the bar were obviously relishing the dish.  Different strokes for different folks.  Fortunately, there were some people at the bar eating Irish Stew, so the place kept it’s Irish atmosphere.  I didn’t eat there, but I did stay for a few beers and the crowd was friendly.

 

The newly-opened Federal Taphouse was my next stop and, even though it’s enormous, it was packed.  There was absolutely no room at the bar, so I made a quick exit.

 

I made Yorgos my next stop.  I had been there before in the afternoon.  The beer and food was good, and there were quite a few nice looking women in the place, which always adds to the atmosphere.  Tonight, it was packed with college kids, but I managed to find a place to squeeze in at the bar.  Most of the customers were drinking beers and pounding shots.  I felt like a chaperone at a frat party, so I only stayed for one beer.

 

I headed for an out-of-the-way place I had discovered earlier in the day while walking to the dry cleaner.  It’s only a block from my apartment and it’s called The Alley Kat.  It was fairly crowded, but I found an open bar stool and quickly occupied it.  The crowd there was quite varied, and there were enough people my age for me to feel comfortable.  The Yuengling on tap was just $2.75 a pint.  That made me even more comfortable.

 

The barmaid asked me if I wanted to see a menu.  I wasn’t really hungry as I had eaten dinner before going out, but I decided that a little snack might hit the spot, so I ordered some mini-burgers.  They were absolutely delicious.  Cheap beer, nice crowd, great inexpensive food, just a block from my house – I quickly ranked it as one of my favorite place in town.  I stayed there for quite a few beers.

 

Naturally, all this liquid led to a pit stop, and on my way to the gent’s room I passed a table of young ladies, who were all wearing long bright pink boas.  One of them was wearing a white veil and they were all having a great time.  It was obvious that this was part of a bachelorette party, so as I walked past I said, “Happy Halloween.”  They stopped me and told me that it wasn’t a costume party.  They were raising money for the future bride’s wedding.  They asked me if I wanted a “suck for a buck.”

 

I had already decided that this might be one of my favorite bars in town, now I was positive.  With the speed of a magician, I produced a roll of singles and quickly handed one of them to the girl in the veil.  She reached into her goodie bag and gave me a lollipop.  I laughed out loud at their little Trick & Treat.  So, I actually got a suck and a yuck for my buck, a pretty good deal, even if it wasn’t the deal I had pictured in my dirty little mind.

 

A couple more beers and my tank was full.  I headed home with a big smile on my face, and a lollipop stuck right in the middle of it.

 

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl

A Song for Lost Angels

A Song for Lost Angels Cover

Before it became a web page, Earl’s Wearld was a newsletter that I sent to the people on my mailing list.  Those of you who have been with me since those days will remember the stories I wrote about my brother Kevin and his husband Brian’s foster parenting of a set of triplets whose crack-addicted Mom put them up for adoption.

 

Kevin and Brian tried unsuccessfully to adopt the triplets.  Years later, though, they were able to adopt a child and shortly after that another boy.  So, their story now has a happy ending, except for the mental scars caused by the first failed adoption.

 

Kevin recently wrote a book about that highly emotional time in their lives and Fearless Books published it.  It is called A Song for Lost Angels.  If anyone wants to obtain a copy, you can go to www.amazon.com and type in either:

Kevin Fisher-Paulson

or

A Song for Lost Angels

 

Or else you can just click on this link.

http://www.amazon.com/Song-Lost-Angels-Fought-Family/dp/0988802422/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1381857742&sr=8-1&keywords=a+song+for+lost+angels

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl

My First First Friday

Lancaster_Brewing_Co_183239

I wanted to see what this Lancaster custom of First Friday was like but I didn’t have a bed in my apartment yet.  I mentioned this to Herb, one of my friends back at the motel, and he loaned me an air bed.  Good thing he also loaned me the electric air pump or I would still be trying to fill it up with air.  It was huge.  So, now that I had a place in my apartment to sleep it off, it was time to get it on.

 

It’s always a good idea to eat before a Pub Crawl, and when I told my local barmaids and waitresses that I was moving to the same block as the Belvedere Inn, they all recommended that I eat there.  They suggested I start with the Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad.  So, I made that my first stop.  I told Alicia the waitress that “my friends all recommended that I try the…”

 

“Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad,” she said completing my sentence.  I guess a lot of people recommend that, and afterwards I knew why.  It was scrumptious.  I also had a couple beers there, but I decided to begin my serious pub crawling further away and work my way back.  So, I headed south and went to Annie Bailey’s on King St, about 5 blocks away.

 

It was packed, but of course I didn’t know anyone, except the bartender who I recognized from one other time when I was there.  I had two beers while I watched a baseball playoff game.  Then I headed for the next pub and had two more beers while I watched a little more of the playoff game.  I forget who was playing.  I wasn’t watching it that intently.  I was doing more people watching.  What a difference from the bar out by the motel.  On Route 30 many of the bar patrons looked like they were in the cast of Duck Dynasty.  Here, in town, the bar patrons looked more like city folk, and there were a lot more women.

 

One thing about this town is that it is very integrated and friendly.  There are white people, black people, brown people, blue, red, and green people spread all over town, not just concentrated into “their neighborhoods.”  There are a lot of blue, red, and green people in the area, and the numerous tattoo parlors in town keep producing more and more of them.

 

Back to my pub crawl.  I looked for another bar to visit, and I saw this place where smoking was permitted.  It wasn’t crowded, like the other bars, so I was able to get a seat at the bar.  Most of the patrons, of course, were chain smokers, who were probably not allowed in any other bar in town.  The air was surprisingly clean though.  They had giant smoke-eater systems that were sucking up the smoke as fast as the smokers could blow it out.  Naturally, I didn’t know anybody in this bar either, but earlier I got a message on my cell phone that the memory was full.  So I drank a few beers and deleted hundreds of messages.  I caught the barmaid glancing over at me a few times wondering what I was doing.  I was already a suspicious character because I was probably the only non-smoker who ever walked in there.  When she saw me incessantly tapping away on my cell phone, she really started to wonder.

 

Before she got too paranoid, I finished my second beer and headed for the next place, the Federal Taproom, a huge place that just opened.  They were not as prepared for their first First Friday as I was for mine.  They had 50 different craft beers on tap and three slow bartenders.  So, with all those choices for people to make, service was slow, extremely slow, agonizingly slow, especially every time somebody asked what they had on tap.  The place was packed, though, so they were making a ton of money, but they should have been making way way more.  They just couldn’t handle the crowd.

 

It took me 10 minutes to get my first beer there.  I never did get my second beer there that night.  I even got some ladies at the bar to wave money in an attempt to attract a bartender, but nothing worked.  I finally gave up and left to enjoy some of the street fair that was going on.  There were street musicians, street magicians, and street performers of all kinds.  Many people were gathered near the public pianos scattered round the town, where bands were playing.

 

Everyone in the street was partying.  It reminded me a little of New Orleans, just fewer people, and nobody wearing any beads or flashing anything.  It was all good clean fun.  It was like the kind of street party this town might have if the local Lancaster Barnstormers won the Minor League World Series, which they didn’t.  At least, I don’t think they did.

 

But I digress, and while I’m digressing, I might as well get back to the Federal Taproom, which I did the following day.  They were still agonizingly slow, but there were far fewer customers this day.  So I was able to get 2 Shoo-Fly Pints crafted at a local brewery and an awesome Kielbasa sandwich that was even better than the Kielbasa sandwiches they used to sell at the Polish Hall in Port Washington.  Then I had to leave to catch my bus, or I may have gone deeper into their selection of 50 beers on tap.  So, I think the Federal Taproom will be a great place to go as soon as the staff gets a little more experience.  Since it’s on the same block as the bus station, I’ll be going there a lot whenever I have to wait for a bus.  I wonder how long it will take me to sample all the beers.

 

Now back to our story, already in progress.  I decided to head to the Belvedere Inn and make the bar nearest my apartment the last stop of the evening.  I soon realized that the County-famous restaurant where senior citizens ate by day was a gay bar by night.  Also, I was about 40 years older than the second oldest one at the bar.  So, I finished my drink there and decided to have my last drink of my first First Friday in my own backyard.

 

While sitting in my backyard with a glass of whatever was in my refrigerator, I noticed that there are rose bushes growing in my yard.  I never promised myself a rose garden, but like Mike Douglas in The American President, it turns out I’ve got one.  The symbol for the City of Lancaster is a Red Rose.  So, I thought that was a mighty good omen.  So, everything is coming up roses, and I’m looking forward to the next First Friday.  Hope to see you there.

 

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl

McGoldrick's Thread - Bar Scene

McGoldrick’s Thread

I’ve known Jessie Driscoll since before she was born. Her mother Marianne and I have been best friends for most of my adult life. Like many other kids, Jessie’s parents sent her for dance lessons. Unlike most kids, Jessie practiced hard and today she is a world class Irish Step Dancer, who has performed all over the U.S. and Europe.

Several years ago, Marianne was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and so began a long series of chemo and other therapies. She spent countless hours in waiting rooms as she underwent the various treatments. To keep her mind focused on something positive during those long hours she started writing a play based loosely upon her daughter’s dancing. By the time she beat cancer she had completed a great play.

Marianne worked with other people and developed that play into a musical, McGoldrick’s Thread. That musical just completed a month-long run in Manhattan at The St. Mark’s Theater in the East Village. This sounds like a happy ending, but it’s more like a happy beginning. The show played to standing room only audiences for the entire run and took Top Awards at the Sixth Origin’s 1st Irish Theatre Festival. So, this run at The St. Mark’s Theatre may have ended, but I have a feeling that a new run will soon begin in a theater closer to Broadway. The show is that good, and you don’t have to take my word for it either. You can read the review in The New York Times.

http://theater.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/theater/reviews/mcgoldricks-thread-at-theater-80-is-a-familys-story.html?_r=0

http://www.theatermania.com/new-york-city-theater/news/09-2013/mcgoldricks-thread-takes-top-awards-at-the-sixth-o_66168.html

Congratulations, Marianne.

Peace and Love, and all of the above,

Earl