Book Him, Danno


Since I dropped my contract with Comcast, I’ve been a regular at the Duke Street Library.  I usually go there 4-5 times a week to use the WiFi.  I spend my time in the Gerald S. Lestz Reading Room, a section of the library where the quiet rule is strictly enforced.  If you want to have a conversation, or talk on your cell phone, you have to leave the room and go to another section of the library.  It’s so quiet that if somebody sneezes, nobody even says “Bless you.”

I don’t go there for the quiet.  I go for the big desks, the free WiFi, and the numerous electrical outlets to power my laptops.  I bring both of my laptops – one to download racing results, e-mail, etc. and one just for entertainment, as I catch up on episodes of The Daily Show and my other favorite shows.  I’m not the only regular, as there are about a dozen of us who appear almost daily.  There is one guy who always sits at the microfiche reader in the room.  I don’t know his name, but I get the feeling that he must work for a local newspaper.  There are two guys who usually appear with him, but they don’t go on the microfiche reader.  They sit at one of the tables and work on whatever they’re working on.  Then, there is another guy who must be trying to read every book in the library.  He’s almost always there reading a book.  His name is Dave.  I know this because one day the microfiche guy called him over to show him something on the screen that he thought Dave would find interesting.

There are a couple other guys who usually have their noses in a book.  One is well-built young black guy who I’ve never spoke to, but we nod at each other as a form of greeting.  The other is a slightly built older white guy who looks to me like an old-time barber.  He sits there with his right hand inside his shirt like Napoleon.

Then there are the other laptop guys.  I don’t know what they’re into.  There are 3 or 4 older guys who read every newspaper every day.  Then, there is the crew I call the Water Street Irregulars.  I’m fairly sure that they are temporary residents of the Water Street mission.  They come in to charge their cell phones.  The librarian usually has to tell them a few times to be quiet.  They pretend to be reading but I never see them turn the page.

So, there we were, all doing our thing, and there were two newcomers sitting together at one of the computers available exclusively for research and job searches.  (If you want to play video games you have to use one of the computers on the main floor of the library.)  The woman was doing the typing and the man was commenting quiet loudly.  One of the librarians came in to tell him he had to be quiet in the reading room.  As soon as she left he got louder.  Then he made a phone call and was even louder.  I heard him say his name was Fred, even though I was across the room wearing headphones listening to the races at the Delaware Ohio Fair.

Another librarian came in to tell Fred that he had to be quiet in the reading room.  As soon as she left he got even louder, and a few minutes later a male librarian came in to ask him to be quiet.  Fred got even louder, as soon as he left.  Then Dave closed his book and went over to him and asked him to be quiet.  That set Fred off and he told Dave, quite menacingly, to mind his own business.  It looked like he might hit Dave, and I jumped up to back-up Dave, even though I was sure that Fred would have no problem kicking both of our asses.  He was a big strong guy, about half my age and twice my size.  I was hoping that the microfiche guy might stand up, too, but he didn’t.  I guess he wasn’t as good a friend of Dave’s as I thought he was.  Then, Dave sat back down, I sat down, and Fred continued to run his mouth, mocking Dave.

Then I saw two of Lancaster’s Finest walk into the library, and I knew that Fred wouldn’t be able to ignore them.  Lancaster police are all quite large and imposing.  They told Fred that he would have to be quiet or leave the library.  Fred started arguing with them.  He yelled that he was an Air Force vet who served 12 years and he had a library card, and he was using the computer to try to find a job, so he could do whatever he wanted to do.  The cops told him that he had to be quiet or they would arrest him for disturbing the peace.

A couple thoughts went through my mind.  Why do you get out of the service after 12 years, just 8 years away from a pension?  I’m thinking that with his attitude, it probably wasn’t Fred’s decision.  I’m also thinking that Fred is not going to suddenly wise up and shut up.  I turned out to be right about that.

Fred argued loudly with the cops, repeating that he had a library card and that he could therefore do whatever he wanted to do.  The cops decided that it was time to physically remove Fred from the library.  They told him to put his hands behind his back and, to my surprise, he calmly and quietly put his hands behind his back.  One of the cops fumbled with his handcuffs, and it took him a while to cuff Fred, even though Fred was not resisting one bit.  I thought about my niece who is Lieutenant with the NY Police Department and famous for slapping cuffs on a perp at the speed of lightning.  She could have given these cops a few pointers on how to slap on a pair of handcuffs.

Anyway, they finally got Fred cuffed and as soon as they started leading him to the door, his mouth started working again.  “This is how they treat a black man in America,” he screamed over and over again as they led him out.  The people who were not in the reading room, had no idea what had taken place, but I’m sure that they thought it must have been race-related incident.  I’m sure that was Fred’s intention.

So, I’m back in the library today to watch the Little Brown Jug and the other races from Delaware, Ohio.  None of the other regulars are here.  I wonder if they were worried that Fred might be back and looking for revenge.  Me, I’m not worried, but I did bring pepper spray, just in case.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


Watching The Wheels


I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round I really love to watch them roll No longer riding on the merry-go-round I just had to let it go.

-Watching The Wheels, John Lennon

Tonight is the Barnstormer’s last home game of 2016.  They didn’t make the playoffs, so this is my last chance to see them play this year.  Clipper Magazine Stadium will be dark until Spring.

I grew up a baseball fan, but I’ve always been a fan of Roller Derby, too.  Where I grew up in South Ozone Park, NY, we even played Roller Derby in the street.  We sometimes had to skate around parked cars on our “track,” and occasionally we had to skate around moving cars too, when some drivers felt like they had “dibs” on the road, and that we should be skating on the sidewalk.

I was a pretty good skater, but not nearly as good as my friend Vinny Nizza, whose nickname was Great Balls of Fire, and sparks could actually be seen coming from his skates when he skidded on a turn.  That was back before anyone had shoe skates with rubber or plastic wheels.  We had the old-fashioned kind of skates with metal wheels that clamped right onto your street shoes.  You tightened them onto your shoes using a skate key, like the one Melanie sang about when she sang, “I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates.  You’ve got a brand new key.”

So, with the baseball season drawing to a close, I was looking forward to seeing the Women’s Roller Derby matches on September 10th, hoping to see my favorite Dutchland Rollers skater, #29, Vanitti, who pound-for-pound must be the best skater in Lancaster.  I say that because she probably only weights about 100 pounds soaking wet, which is about half of what some of the other girls weigh.  She looks more suited to be a thoroughbred jockey than a rock ‘em sock ‘em Roller Derby star.

IMG_1904_3Vanitti was in the starting line-up, so I wasn’t disappointed, but I did wind up conflicted before the night was over.  Lancaster’s opponents, The Harrisburg Area Roller Derby (H.A.R.D.) had some pretty good skaters, too, and I couldn’t help but cheer for #63, Holden Grudges, whenever she put on the jammers helmet.  She was awesome, not just pound-for-pound awesome, but sheer awesome.

In case you didn’t know this, a point is scored in Roller Derby whenever a jammer laps an opponent on the track.  Whenever Holden Grudges put on the jammer’s helmet, three of the Dutchland team members would wait at the rear of the pack for her to come around trying to lap them, and then they would gang up on her.  Actually, I should say that they would attempt to gang up on her.  It reminded me of a line in a Jack Reacher novel.  “There were three of them and only one of him.  It wasn’t going to be a fair fight, but that was their problem.”  The confrontation almost always ended with the same result – three Dutchland Rollers skaters splattered on the track and three more points on the board for Harrisburg.  Actually, Holden Grudges didn’t stop with just three points.  She’d skate around the track again and pass the fallen Rollers again, as they struggled to clear the cobwebs from their brains and get back on their feet.  In one jam, she scored 12 points.

Fortunately for the locals, all that skating leaves a jammer winded, so they usually have to sit out a jam or two while they catch their breath, and the locals managed to score many of their points whenever #63 was taking a breather.  In the end the Dutchland team emerged victorious 187 to 163.  Go Rollers.

Once, when I was extolling the pleasure of watching The Lancaster Barnstormers baseball games, my nephew asked mockingly, “Yeah, but what do you do in Lancaster when it’s not baseball season?”  The Barnstormer’s season is just about over, so I guess it’s time to answer that question.  First, I’d like to thank the Lancaster Barnstormers for all the joy they brought me this season, especially on $2 beer nights.  Enjoy the off season, guys.  In the meanwhile, I’ll just sit here watching the wheels go round and round.  I really love to watch them roll.


Go Vanitti.  Go Holden Grudges.  Go Rollers.  See you in the Spring, Barnstormers.


Peace & Love, and all of the above,







Going Batty


Bat Boy

Bat Signal

Super Fisher=Paulsons


I was looking for a computer book for my sister-in-law.  It seems that she doesn’t know how to use her laptop computer and no one in her family has the patience to sit with her and teach her.  When I told her that she needed to read Computers for Dummies, she got very insulted.  I tried to explain that “For Dummies” is just a brand name for a series of books about just about everything.  “They’re designed for beginners and they’re really good books,” I said.  She thought I was just trying to talk my way out of the grave I was digging for myself.

So, with her birthday coming up, I went to the bookstore at the local library to pick up a copy.  They didn’t have any computer books for sale, but the saleslady told me that I should be able to pick up a copy at Winding Way Books on Chestnut Street.  It was an omen.

My brother Kevin and his family of Super Heroes live on Winding Way in San Francisco in a house they purposely painted in Batman Blue, as they are all big Batman and Superman fans.

[Side story.  When their neighbor saw the color they were painting their house, he asked them if they got the paint for free.  He couldn’t think of any other reason why anyone would paint their house that color.]

I went to Winding Way Books and asked the saleslady to direct me to the computer section.  She informed me that they didn’t have a computer section.  I turned to leave, and then turned back around deciding to browse through the store to see what kind of books they did have.  It was a second-hand bookstore and they had pretty much everything – except computer books.  I decided to pick up a paperback book for reading on the bus.

At home, I like to read hard cover, large print books, but for the road I like something that takes up less room in my knapsack.  I picked up The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, a sequel to The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons.  I loved The Da Vinci Code, and I loved the first 90% of Angels and Demons.  I hated the ending in that book and was pleasantly surprised when Ron Howard fixed it in the movie.  So, I figured that I’d give The Lost Symbol a shot.

Later that evening, I decided to plop myself down in my recliner chair and get a start on the 639-page book.  By page 30 I realize that I had read it before, but forgotten how it ended.  (A frequent occurrence for me.)  Still, I was caught up in the story and wanted to continue.  Then, the overhead light started flickering, and I started cursing.  I have a high ceiling in my living room and can’t reach the light fixture even while standing on a chair.  I would have to go get the step ladder.

I looked up at the accursed light fixture and saw there was nothing wrong with the bulbs.  The light was flickering because there was a small bat flying around it like a moth to the flame.  I jumped up and went running for a broom (since I don’t have a tennis racquet).  When I returned, the bat was gone.  I tapped everything in every room with the broom, but could not find the bat.  I told myself that he must have left the same way he got in.  I told myself that, but I didn’t believe me.

I don’t have air conditioning, because I don’t like to be cold.  I spent a year in Adak, Alaska and really learned to despise the cold.  So, it has been at least 80 degrees in my apartment for the past month.  That night it was 82, but I slept under a thick comforter, just in case the bat was still in my apartment and looking for something to bite.  On the positive side, I got on the scale the next day and found that I had sweated off two pounds.  I searched the house again and could find no sign of the bat (or “Bat Signals” as they are known in DC Comics).  That evening I was in the kitchen and I suddenly saw the bat flying around the living room.  I prepared for battle.  I put on long pants, my winter coat, and wrapped towels around my head for protection.  I would have donned oven mitts and my batting helmet, but I told myself that it was only a small bat and that I really should “man up,” at least a little.  I opened the front and back doors, hoping that my opponent would flee the scene before the fighting got too intense (or even began).  Then I grabbed the broom and charged onto the battlefield.  I felt like John Candy and Dan Aykroyd in the Bat Scene from the movie The Great Outdoors.

The Great Outdoors - Bat Scene

It’s already too late to make this long story short, but I will leave out the gory details of the battle.  Suffice it to say that my opponent chose fight over flight, and my broom was flying faster than Harry Potter’s.  Two lamps got knocked over and a mirror got knocked off the wall before I finally emerged victorious.  The bat is now in a body bag, and I, the great white hunter, can safely go back to my recliner and continue reading.  Plus, I’ll be able to sleep tonight without sweating my ass off.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,