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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Call me Odysseus." A Landlubber's Dream of Sea Adventure Remains Just That: A Dream

"Call me Odysseus. In my seventh decade I put out to sea in a 38-foot sloop.”  

So began a story which won't happen and won't be written.  Not on sea anyway.  Last Saturday I thought I was putting out to sea but the dream turned to reality within 24 hours.  Here's what happened.

My friend Philip is a sailor.  He knows another sailor by the name of Pat Shannock who upgraded to a 38-foot sail boat from a 25-footer.  Pat wants to sail the inland waterway down to Myrtle Beach for the summer and then head down to the Caribbean.  He says he has a lot of sailing experience.  He's even crewed on Olympic races.  All that may be true but when I met Pat he was a bit thin and scrawny to sit in the Mount Olympus of my imagination.  That didn't matter a whit to me, though, as long as we could get out of town before I had to find a new place to live.  You see I live in the old house, in a sleeping bag, with my son's black cat, Russell, the sweetest cat that ever lived, and a new family will be moving in real soon so Russell and I need a new place to call home.

"Cherie Amour: Newtown, Connecticut" it says on the back of Pat Shannock's boat.  It's in drydock in Portland, Connecticut, but that's a minor detail.  The problem was the major details.  And Pat Shannock turned out to be a bit shaky on the Big Picture.

That first meeting last Saturday morning got my hopes up.   Pat seemed a bit thin and emaciated but he told a good sea story, at least initially.  I noticed when he smiled his teeth had a bit of a yellow cast, as if he didn't brush enough.  His arms were long and lean.  Actually, lean makes them seem more fit than they are.  Lacking in musculature is a more apt description.  I did notice a lot of medicine bottles on the table in the mess.  When I use that term I'm not just identifying the kitchen below deck where we had our discussion that morning.  I'm also describing the look of the place.  I said I'm used to living in clutter, although the truth is that Russell and I keep the old house pretty neat.  We've had to.  It's easier and faster to get ready for showing prospective buyers that way.  Cherie Amour was more cluttered than Russell and I have become used to, but I figured we'd get used to it.  After all, this old boat needed work, and a lot of straightening up, but it sure looked like an exciting way for Russell and me to get out of town soon.  And I needed to escape because I was pissing off a lot of people on Facebook.  Some of them were even threatening to beat me up or kill me even, if I continued going to the kids' dance clubs.  That was another similarity between Odysseus and me.  He was always pissing people off and getting himself chased off the islands he had his adventures on.  In his case it was cretins like one-eyed Cyclops.  In mine, a bunch of age-bigoted, verbal-weakling kids who dislike an old man who dances like an uninhibited maniac in their dance clubs where their main interest is seeming cool and popular and looking good.

I liked what Pat Shannock was telling me.  "I need to get the boat down to Myrtle Beach before hurricane season begins, which is June first."  I knew from my years of riding the big surf at Matunuck and Point Judith that the typhoons twist up the eastern seaboard starting the beginning of June and going through the middle of October.  So when Pat said we'd have to spend a few weeks getting the boat ready, I figured we'd be able to hit the road, the sea, really, well before Russell and I had to vacate the old house.  "But I've got another problem," I said, "my son's cat.  I'll need to find a home for him while I'm at sea."  No problem, Russell can go with us, Pat assured me.  We'd just put his cat pan underneath the table.  I liked Pat's willingness to accomodate my needs but wondered how Russell would deal with being cooped-up on a sailboat when he's used to having free room of a four-bedroom house with a back porch overlooking trees, and lawns, and, most delectably, birds he can stalk by sitting near the windows and making squeaking noises at all the wildlife on the other side of the glass.  I was also concerned that Jamie's cat might fall overboard on Cherie Amour.  I mean Russell's agile but he's used to level floors.  He's never been on the deck of a ship at sea.  All that rising and falling would scare him to death.  And the fiberglass surface of the deck would give his claws no purchase.  Nothing to keep Russell from slipping off, into the sea.  That thought bothered me a lot.

I also liked the money part of this venture.  At first I got the impression this was going to cost me a lot more than living on land in an apartment.  My share would be two to three hundred a week.  That worked out in my mind to eight to twelve hundred a month which was a lot more than I knew I could get a small place to live on land in Middletown.  The problem was this: Pat was just not clear in the way he expressed himself, in a lot of things.  When I told him that was a lot more money than I wanted to spend he said that was only while we were underway.  Once we're in port, living off the boat, it's just the docking fees which would only be a few hundred dollars a month.  While we're sailing on the high seas we have to pay a docking fee each night and that gets expensive.  The alternative is to moor the boat offshore every night and pay nothing.  In that case we'd have to take a tender boat to shore.  From there you either bicycle into town, hitch a ride, or pay for a cab.   Pat said he planned to do a budget so I could see how much it was going to cost me, but my share would be about a third and he'd pay the rest.  Since the trip to Myrtle Beach would take us two to three weeks and then we'd be in port for through hurricane season, that would cost me two-fifty or so to three hundred a week underway but then very little after that.  That all sounded reasonable to me.  Maybe a bit too good to be true.  I'd reserve final judgment until I saw the written budget.  Trust but verify.

We spend the better part of an hour-and-a-half below deck talking, sharing life experiences.  Pat liked the idea I'm older, wiser, more seasoned.  He told me he's 52.  Married once, to a woman eight years older.  Divorced her after nine months.  She turned out to be the bitch from hell.  I've heard that from lots of men but then you meet the woman and of course there's an entirely other story to the marriage.  But maybe Pat was the exception who proved the rule.  I didn't care what the truth was.  He talked a good game.  So did I, of course.  I am a good talker after all.  Anybody knows me knows that's the case.

I told Pat all about myself.  The marriage, The Law, the misadventures and the adventures.  I had no problem living in tight quarters but my wife was concerned I'd get seasick.  Pat said that's not a problem on a sailboat.  You know you'll be in port every evening so you just throw up over the side.  Keep your eyes on the horizon as much as possible.  I never got seasick when I paddled my seakayak all over Long Island Sound and over in Rhode Island on flat water and rough wavy seas.  In my Riot Boogie surf kayak I've surfed 12-12 waves at Matunuck and Point Judith (12-feet-high and 12-second period hurricane swell) and never had a problem.  Of course that was when I could always see the horizon.  I've never spent time below deck in a stormy sea.  But I wasn't scared off by that thought.  I knew I'd adapt to it eventually.

We hit it off so I agreed to come back Sunday afternoon to begin helping him paint the boat and get it ready for our sea voyage adventure.  I did make note of the fact until I came around he was going to have to pay a young man twenty-five an hour to help him paint the boat.  I wondered if I'd be able to get credit for my labor at some lower rate, given my inexperience, since the sweat equity I was going to help Pat accrue would be applied to his boat.  I decided to take that up with him tomorrow, once I saw what it was like to work with him and not just talk.

I left Cherie Amour in a state of high infatuation and excitement.  A sea voyage.  Ocean adventure.  Spending the summer in South Carolina right on the water.  Hanging out at the beach.  Surfing.  Dancing in new dance clubs where people weren't sick of me.  Then sailing to the Carribean for the winter.  Finally, not just filtering my experience of life and my marriage through Homer's "Odyssey" but actually living out the mythology.  I couldn't believe my luck.  But somewhere back in my brain it seemed too good to be true.  I focused the dimly-perceived awareness of looming problems on the issue of Russell.  Would Russell really feel comfortable as a sailor-cat on a sailboat?  I don't remember Odysseus having a cat on board his vessel.  Had his son Telemachus had a cat which followed Odysseus on his adventures in Troy would Odysseus ever have been able to have had all those sea adventures?  On Odysseus's ship were many sailors, a full crew.  Russell hates strangers.  Would Telemachus's cat have liked his father's crew any more than Russell might or might not like Pat Shannock, let alone living on his boat?

Despite my mental reservations, which were outweighed by my enthusiasm, I called Susie, our eldest son, my brother, sister, and brother-in-law, and my friend Brian to tell them of my new plan.  I mentioned it to my minister and his wife the next morning after church.   They were all supportive, although the minister's wife seemed a bit skeptical, and Susie must have shared Sister Stefanie's thought-process because she did have a suggestion.  Susie thought I would be best-off with a permanent place of some kind on land, a home base.  Susie is so practical and, in this case, probably knew better than I did that seasickness or not, enthusiasm or not, this plan was a bit far-fetched.  As she told me the other night, the night before I first laid eyes on the Cherie Amour, when I was feeling a bit vulnerable about the idea of leaving the old house, "Bob, not matter what, I've got your back."  We may not be living together as man and wife but I still consider Susie my best friend and the only person who loves me.  I know I don't show it very well, but I feel the same way about her.  I only want the best for this woman I've been with for the past two-score and four years.  That's a good chunk of our existences in this life.  We've got a lot of history together.

So right after the Mother's Day service at church I went over the bridge again to the marina.  There was Pat finishing sanding off the old paint from Cherie Amour's port side.  It was no longer a good angle to see the old girl.  Pat was complaining to me about the cost of the pain.  "$115 a gallon.  That stuff's not cheap.  And the worst thing is this.  The guy who was going to help me fix the engine says his transmission broke down so he can't get down from Enfield to help me.  And I've also got to repair the entire electrical system."  In broad daylight, Pat looked even more sickly than he had the day before when we sat below deck and took the measure of each other.  Looking at his scrawny arms I wondered how the heck is he going to deal with all the hard physical labor involved in running a sailing vessel in bad weather?  And that was just the beginning of the reality-testing I did that afternoon.

Pat started right out telling me that I had to take the Acetone and wipe off all the blue paint dust residue which remained from him sanding off the paint that morning.  Then I had to put a prime coat on the spots where he'd scraped off the rotting paint so the finished surface, once painted, would be mostly smoothed out.  He seemed tired, as I imagine anybody would be from using an electric sander to take all the paint off the bottom-half of a 38-foot aging sailboat.  How long is it going to take us to paint the boat, I asked.  At least two weeks of solid eight-hour days.  Hmn, I thought, that alone will take us right up to the beginning of hurricane season.  And the engine has to be fixed, the guy who was going to do that can't get himself down from Enfield, and the electrical system is shot.  How are we going to get down to South Carolina by the first or second week of June, I wondered?

And then all the problems poured out of Pat Shannock.  It was as if he was having a major bout of seasickness and all the problems were like the contents of a drunken sailor's stomach in a wobbly sailboat: it all had to be vomited overboard.  I happened to be the ocean water into which all this stomach-stuff needed to be thrown up.   Well, we'll be lucky if we can get underway before late July.  Maybe even next year, he cautioned me.  Look, it's an old boat.  Needs a lot of work.  And it's all pretty expensive.  That's the way it is with sailboats.

I was beginning to loose my enthusiasm about this sailing adventure and, more particularly, the prospect of spending a lot of time with Pat Shannock.  I cross-examined him, gently but directly.  "Yesterday you said you wouldn't want to be caught sailing off the coast of New Jersey in hurricane season.   Now you're saying we may get underway in mid to late July."  Well, he explained, hurricane season doesn't begin until late July, the beginning of August.  "Look, I don't want to be nasty about this but that's not what you said yesterday.  I'm beginning to get the idea this trip may never take place."  His tone of voice and the look on his face were more tired than yesterday, a bit annoyed even.  "Boating is not cheap.  When I moved up from my old 25-foot boat to this 38-footer, I knew there was going to be a lot involved in making it seaworthy."  Why, I wondered, did he not just hang on to the old boat.  "In boating, like life, it's always about Moving Up.  You never move back down."  I told him this did not square at all with my own philosophy of life.  "I'm at a time and place in life where I want to scale back, go minimal, live with less.  Less is actually more, in my experience."  Pat Shannock just looked at me.  He is clearly not a well man.  He'd told me he lives on some small savings plus his disability checks.  That was the first I'd heard explicitly of disability.  "Sorry to be intrusive, but I need to know what you're disabled from if we're going to be on a ship on the high seas together for any extended period of time."  "Well, you saw all the medication down in the cabin."  Yes, I had, but I hadn't taken a look at what was in the plastic orange transparent pill containers, those little cylinders with the white labels you get from CVS or Walgreens.  "It's my heart," he explained.  Oh, boy, I thought to myself, just what Russell and I need, to get on an ocean-going sailboat with a man with a heart problem.  Russell would never approve, I'm afraid, if he could speak English and not just Cat.  I know what a big baby that old tiger really is.  I've lived with Russell for too long to take a chance piloting down the eastern seaboard on a ship with a heart-challenged captain.

Look, I told Pat, my wife and I will be selling our old house very soon.  I need a place for Russell and me to move into.  I have a sneaky suspicion you're just not going to be able to dress up Cherie Amour in time to take her down the coast to Myrtle Beach this season.  Maybe next year.  If you still need a crew and a cat then, let me know, I might be interested.  I didn't want to offend him so I didn't put the emphasis on the might, but with his heart problems, his shallow financial pockets, and his sickly appearance, I'd have to take a long, hard look at the operation before forcing Russell to learn to live on a sailboat.

In the end I thanked Pat for his time, wished him luck, and told him he knew how to reach me if he still needed a crew and a cat when he and Cherie were ready to push off from shore.  I was disappointed with the realization that I'd have to continue my life as a landlubber, experiencing the Odyssey largely in my mind.  James Joyce's "Ulysses" is the story of the Odyssey in one action-packed day in Dublin.  I wonder if Joyce moved his mid-life story from sea back onto land because he too once encountered an Irish sailor just like Pat Shannock?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

An Amusing Intervention on behalf of an Elderly Man (me!) Sparked by an Anonymous Officious Intermeddler who Fantasizes I Don't Know EXACTLY What I'm Doing and Risking

Yesterday I was visiting my wife at her house when she got a call from Dwight Norwood.  He said he worked for St. Luke's Home Eldercare Services and wondered how I was doing.  Susie handed the phone to me.  I laughed uproariously when he said he'd received an anonymous call from someone concerned about me.  This officious intermeddler felt I was "rubbing enough people the wrong way and I might get hurt by one of them."  Dwight would not identify the caller.

After 10 minutes of discussion, Dwight told me he was surprised I was so articulate.  He fully expected, from the concerned caller, that I would sound old and incoherent.  "You're anything but that.  In fact, you're one of the most articulate people I've ever talked with," he told me.  I said I wanted to meet with him.  Did he have time right now?  "No, but I can see you at my office at 760 Saybrook Road in Middletown at 2 p.m.  Does that work?"  I agreed and hung up.  I told Susie how funny this development was and I knew it would furnish great material for a blog post on my blog.  I LOVE situations like this.

At 2 p.m. I met Dwight.  He's about 5'8" tall, short gray hair, a pink skin color, and appeared to be missing his upper right incisor.  He's 65 years old.  He wears steel gray rectangular-shaped glasses.  He was wearing a pink dress shirt, casual pants, and white sneakers.  I noticed right away that his knuckles are enlarged, as if he cracks them frequently.  I later found out that he became a clinical social worker about 10 years ago because he developed a form of severe arthritis in his fingers which prevented him from continuing his formerly lucrative career as a computer worker who needed to be able to type at his keyboard for 8 hours a day.  Hence the enlarged knuckles I noticed when we shook hands upon my entering his office.

I again asked him who called me and he didn't know.  The caller didn't identify him or herself.  But Dwight again said he was surprise I was as physically-fit and articulate as I am since most of these sorts of calls concern elderly people who are physically frail but don't realize it.

I then spent the next hour telling him about myself.  My legal career.  Family life.  Depression which led me to radically change the entire course of my life.  My psychological history.  My current activities.

Then I invited him to tell me about himself.  He did.  His computer industry career.  Family.  The arthritis of his hands which disabled him from working for two years, at a career in which he made a lot of money, as I did when I was a lawyer, and enabled him to buy a very expensive home for his family, his wife and four children.  His decision to go back to school to become a social worker and therapist.  His involvement with the St. Luke's Home Eldercare Services program, for which he is the executive director.

I showed Dwight the photographs of my dancing in all the dance clubs.  The women and men who pose with me for the photographs which appear mostly on my Facebook page.  Dwight was impressed with my mention of Ludwig Wittengenstein, the philosopher of language, in connection with Dwight's experience of working in therapy with some Spanish-language and culture clients for whom communicating with the dead is a non-psychotic activity.  I told Dwight of reading I'd done in a philosophy journal and a book about the friendship and student-teacher relationship between Wittgenstein and his philosophy student at Cambridge, Alan Drury.  Drury loved philosophy but went on, with Wittgenstein's encouragement and financial support, to become a psychiatrist in England. When Drury was Wittgenstein's student, one of their shared philosophical interests was the philosophical and psychological status of religious language.  They both agreed that if the user of religious language, for example, statements and claims by a speaker that he was able to communicate with the dead, is part of a community of people for whom such talk is meaningful, then the reports of such communications should not be considered psychotic or otherwise abnormal.  This was essentially what Dwight thought about his therapy client who talked about being able to talk to his dead mother.  Dwight told me that he hadn't heard mention of Wittgenstein since his undergraduate days in college.

In the end, Dwight agreed that I was in no way of any need for his or anyone else's help.  I assured him that I am fully aware of the risk I take by performing, speaking, and writing in such a way that some people choose to feel provoked or angry by what I do, say, or write.  "I take full responsibility for my actions.  And if God, the gods, or Mother Nature wants to let some angry person choose to hurt me in some way, I'm a grown man and can accept such a fate without behaving like a crybaby about it.  I'm not hoping someone hurts me but I will accept such a fate if that is my destiny.  As I told Dwight, I've lived 62 years.  I've avoided major problems during that long life-span.  I am old enough to take care of myself and face whatever music is stirred in other people by what I do, say, and write.

I would love it if whoever made this call to Dwight Norwood would contact me so we can talk about his or her motivations.  My cell phone number is 860-759-9860.  Although I get professional courtesy from sharks and pit bulls, I don't bite.

Dwight did tell me that if I learn of any older people who may be in need of supportive services to continue living independently, I should give him a ring.  In case any of you know of such people, Dwight can be reached at his office at 860-347-5661, toll free 855-ASK-GATE.  He said that Connecticut is the first state in the United States to have a program like the one he runs, which covers the entire state.

Monday, May 7, 2012

How I Slept on the Sidewalk near Wall Street and Danced with the Statue of Liberty on May Day in Bryant Park, NYC

Last Tuesday was May Day.  I spent part of the morning dancing with the Statue of Liberty in Bryant Park in New York City.  Let me explain.

The evening before I chauffeured a group of Wesleyan activist undergraduates down to the New Haven train station.  We joined another group of students and rode the rails to Grand Central Station.  There we walked over to Bryant Park and talked with some of the locals about what they thought might happen the next day, May Day, in the park and other places around the city for the May Day Strike activities.  On the way to the park I joshed around with some construction workers, one of whom was a pretty good stand-up comic.  He and his friend gave me a Philly Flyers hat when I told my Michael Vick joke about how Vick had the wrong animals fighting.  If he'd had trial lawyers fighting and biting each other, he'd have gotten an award from the SPCA and not a jail sentence.

We then took a subway downtown.  I'm not sure where we were as I was just going with the flow and not paying attention to our exact location.  Our group was about 15 people and half of us decided we'd like to sleep outside on a sidewalk.  The others walked over to NYU and stayed with friends in the dorms there.

So the rest of us met a guy in a park, maybe it was Zucotti Park where the Occupy Wall Street people had been evicted, who was about 30 or so and said he was a skateboarder.  I also found out he's a surfer.  He had that blonde California surfer-dude's look and relaxed vibe.  He was very helpful in explaining to us that a federal court order a few years ago held that homeless people have a right to sleep on the sidewalks in New York City and he walked us a few blocks away from the park to a place under some scaffolding where we settled in for the night.  It was raining on and off so it was nice to be underneath a kind of roof for the night.  Some in our group, 5 men and 1 woman, found discarded cardboard we put our sleeping bags on.  There were no bathroom facilities so we had to do the best we could and find darkened corners near the old buildings to take a pee.  That's just the way homeless people have to live but we were only playing at being homeless for the night and then we'd go back to being somewhere a lot higher up in the 99% group.

The night was most interesting.  It was fairly well lit in the area under the scaffolding.  There was a couple on one side of us who were in the same sleeping bag.  He looked about 35 and she appeared to be about 19.  They were nuzzling each other and smokig cigarettes and, later, pot. He had a very heavy southern accent, very black hair, an earring in his left ear, and a very bad sunburned face.  I told him he looked a lot like a member of Bono's U-2 singing group.  He liked that comparison, as did the young girl in his sleeping bag.

One of our group was Vic Lancia, a 70-year-old rabid Socialist with a very bald head and bad hearing.  He's a very energetic, enthusiastic man and fun to hang-out with.  The young people love him and are very protective of him.  They wanted to make sure he was okay because he has diabetes and kept saying he wanted a cup of coffee, even though we were supposed to be trying to get some sleep before the morning's May Day Strike activities.  Vic had been very excited before the trip and on the way down to the city about the prospect that demonstrators were planning to shut bridges into the city down the next morning.  Just think, hundreds of human beings, locked arm-in-arm, chanting who knows what political slogans, blocking traffic on the Throgs Neck, George Washington, and Brooklyn Bridges.  Police cracking heads with batons and spraying protesters with pepper spray.  Let the revolution begin!

A gentle hippie with dirty blond hair stopped by, squatted down with us and said he wanted to share some prayers with us.  I wondered if he might be a con-man but actually he was a member of the B'hai faith, peaceful, and genuinely interested in keeping everybody calm and relaxed.

A black woman came along on a bicycle and I talked at length with her.  I didn't know until deep into the conversation that she was a lesbian, or at least she had a girlfriend, or had HAD a girlfriend.  Her girlfriend apparently recently left her for a much older man.  Go figure.  It's the 21st Century.  Get with the times or the revolution will happen without you.  And then what?

Eventually I was able to get an hour or so of interrupted sleep and then it was time to get some breakfast.  Even though we were all there to protest the big bad corporations, thank God the McDonalds Corporation is always at the ready to provide us revolutionaries a hot breakfast and cheap cup of non-fair traded coffee.  Later, at Bryant Park I joked with several strangers I met that we all wanted to shut down McDonalds except for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a late-night ice cream sundae.  Long live the revolution.

After breakfast at McDonalds we joined up with the rest of our group, the Soft Revolutionaries (soft, because they wanted all the comforts of their home dorms for sleeping; the rest of us were the Hard Revolutionaries; hard, because we braved the elements and the Felini-like cast of characters who haunt the streets of the city at night and entertain transiently homeless writers like me) in Bryant Park.

Bryant Park is a fascintating place.  It's behind the New York Public Library.  It's a very large park, four blocks square, with a lovely green lawn in the center which nobody is allowed to trammel with human soles or souls.  There's an outdoor Bryant Park Reading Room where you can browse the day's newspapers and read books on loan for the day.  Another section is chess players, many of them quite serious.  There's the Ping Pong Area, filled with some of New York's finest table tennis smashers and ball-spinners.  I've never seen black and Puerto Rican Americans putting so much English on a ping pong ball.  I was, frankly, dazzled at their ability and agility.

There's an area where circus performers practice juggling and other circus skills.  Another where men play the French game of Boule, ball, in which you throw, underhanded, a metal ball at your opponents' metal balls and try to knock them away from the smaller wooden ball and your own metal balls closer.  Typical male game with that name and all that focus on big balls, metal balls, and the feared tiny little wooden ball.  And there's only one of the small wooden ones to boot.  Horrors!

There are also some very elegant restaurants and outside bars right in back of the library.  On the east side of the park the Revolutionaries gathered in the early morning to meet up with each other, talk, show off their costumes and interesting hair-dos and face paints, and talk very PC thoughts about society, male-female relations, and society.  There were reporters from all the major TV networks, Occupy Wall Street TV reporters, radio reporters, and an actor who interviewed me at length about my life and said he'd like to work up a play about me.  I of course agreed and signed off with the necessary legal releases which he just happened to have with him.

And then something magical and unexpected happened.  Spontaneous bands started coming together and playing loud music.  Many drummers, guitarists, and trumpeters.  This was my siren song and the end of my interest in the Revolution.  I just got in the center of all the bands and..........what else?  I danced-danced-danced.  There were others who joined in with the dancing but none who danced using the Jay-Z move I've expropriated for my own form of comedic dancing which I do in all the dance clubs---the brush it off motion with my hands and fingers, mainly on my shoulders.  Soon there were hundreds of I-phones and digital cameras filming me and the other dancers.  I quickly realized that I'm more uninhibited than most people, not only in Klearly Konventional Konnecticut but also in Klearly Krazy New York City.

After several hours of dancing, my Wesleyan comrades all left Bryant Park for other demonstrations around the city.  We never met up again.  I later texted the leader of their group and told him when I was planning to leave the city, on the 9 p.m. train to New Haven, but none of them seemed concerned about finding rides from New Haven back to Middletown, so I became a free agent.  I spent the rest of the day in Bryant Park.

I did see a group of demonstrators leave the park and march up 41st Street, towards 5th Avenue.  A large group of them were wearing Dodgers baseball uniforms and carrying baseball bats over their shoulders.  I heard on the radio the next day that these are the "Tax Dodgers," who dress like that to protest the low taxes which are paid by so many of the 1%-ers.

Around lunch time, a young dark-haired man with a foreign accent came up to me and we began talking.  He is Dennis Greenberg from Berlin.  Age 20.  He's a photographer and film-maker.  His girlfriend is from Russia and Lituania.  He was carrying a large digital camera, SLR-type, and told me he'd taken some photos of me.  I texted him my contact information.

Yesterday, I took a break from mowing the lawn at the old house where I'm living in Middletown and called a few people on my cell phone.  Nobody was answering so I left a bunch of voicemails.  One happened to be to Dennis Greenberg (his actual German first name is Denik) and he later emailed me some pictures of my dancing in Bryant Park.  I called him back and talked to him for a while.  I plan to go to New York to hang out with Dennis and his girlfriend in some of the dance clubs down in the city to see how my moves are received in the New York clubs.

Here are the three photos Dennis emailed me.  They each show me with the Statue of Liberty puppet which came into one of the drumming and music circles about mid-morning on May Day.  The photos with my white tee-shirt slightly off my shoulder shows what I do when a woman is in the area I'm dancing in and had an off-the-shoulder top.  I pull my shirt slightly off-shoulder and do the brush-it-off movement.  They all seem to love it.  So I do it.  And I did it that day in Bryant Park.

Dennis Greenberg is an excellent photographer, as you can see for yourself in these photographs.  He also is a talented filmmaker.  Here's his website if you want to see and learn more about this up-and-coming bright light in the photography and film world:

Here are three of the photos Dennis took:

Long Live the Revolution!  Or not.  Whatever.  Back to ordinary life.  It was fun.  Being a revolutionary for a day, that is.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Video (7:48 mins.) of Bob doing Stand-Up Comedy at The Buttonwood Tree in Middletown, CT on April 23, 2012

I perform what I call free-associational stand-up comedy at The Buttonwood Tree in Middletown, CT, every Monday night.  A friend of mine who also is a comic, Basil Ali, posted a video of my performance on April 23, 2012 on YouTube.  Here's a link to the performance if you want to see what I do in my act.

I always have some general idea of what I'm going to do, but I also use free-association from cues which occur during my performance.  I also invite my audiences to interrupt me anytime, heckle me, try to throw me off-pace, or otherwise participate, and they do.  I wish I could have at least a half-hour or more to do a full performance and really have enough time to get the audience even more involved than they were the night of this video.

Here's the link to the video, which is 7 minutes and 48 seconds long:

The reference I make to the weed wacker is based on what happened a few minutes earlier in the evening.  Our hostess and emcee, J Cherry, was limping that night.  She told the audience that that afternoon, she had been working in her garden and hurt her foot pretty badly while she was using a gasoline-powered weed wacker.  As soon as I heard Jennifer mention a weed-wacker, I knew I'd be able to use that reference to comedic effect in my act.  I've been asked to keep my act "clean," so I love it when terms like weed-wacker come up before I go on stage and I'm able to be "clean" but suggestive.