Guys I Love: Amtrak Cheeseburger Guy

Welcome to Guys I Love, it’s pretty self-explanatory, it’s the opposite of Guys I hate. Got a guy you love? Drop me a comment – we probably love a lot of the same guys.

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Okay, so technically he is the guy running the cafe car. When did they stop referring to this as the “bar car” by the way? Probably many years ago, clearly I’m out of touch. Years ago I was hungry and needed something more than chips so I ventured into that place few have gone – I ordered a cheeseburger (aka the Angus Cheeseburger) on the train. The result was stunning! It was good! Now, was it the best cheeseburger I’ve ever had? No, but there was something about the taste that once a year I crave (probably related to the toxins released in the plastic in the microwave). Recently I was on Amtrak and guess what I had? That’s right, I got my fix so now I’m good for at least one more year. Thank you Amtrak cheeseburger guy, I mean bar car guy, or cafe dude, whatever you prefer…you rock!


White Christmas

Short Story Updated; Originally Published as Part of My Collection, Emotionless Souls

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Uncle Jay took the last of my coke. Alright I said it, still doesn’t help me. Now how will I get through this holiday charade known as Christmas Eve? Uncle Jay is standing across the room staring at the over decorated tree with glazed eyes and a cocaine induced grin. I wish he would die this instant.

Three feet away is a speaker blaring Christmas music that sounds like Barry Manilow, but I’m not sure. To be safe I begin walking across the room toward Uncle Jay; balancing my Jack on the rocks in my right hand as I maneuver past an ill placed holiday basket containing ten thousand nut variations. I approach a small table where Jake and Pete are playing Black Jack. Every year another piercing appears on Jake’s face. This year it’s the left eye brow. It’s one of many family secrets in the open that no one talks about.

Jake and Pete are discussing what girl would cause the biggest stir if she were to appear on Bangbros.com. Pete quickly says “Britney Spears” and he is so proud of his answer he hits on eighteen, predictably busting in the process. Jerry seems content with the answer, but not very impressed as if he was anticipating Pete’s response. Jerry pauses for dramatic effect and then says “Jessica Simpson”, then adds “The shock value alone”. This response draws an agreeing nod from Pete.

His form of a concession speech.

I continue past, taking a drink in the process, resisting the urge to yell out the correct answer because this would cause quite a stir.

Uncle Jay is standing alone when he spots me moving toward him. He smiles smugly causing me to get angry and trip over Aunt Carol’s new Gucci bag.

I put my hand in my coat pocket and feel the empty cellophane bag. Nothing. Less than a hour ago Uncle Jay borrowed my coat to go smoke a Lucky Strike and now my coke is gone. Aunt Carol looks up at me as I continue balancing my drink, but she doesn’t seem to mind that I kicked her bag because this gives her a chance to show everyone her new bag, for the third time this evening. A fifteen hundred dollar purse with less than twenty dollars inside.

I watch this travesty as Aunt Carol tells the story of how she saw it and had to have it and then I turn my head because there’s movement across the room where little Todd, my three year old cousin, is pulling on the tree causing ornaments to fall off. Uncle Jay just stands there laughing.

My Aunt Joyce jumps out of her seat to announce that she’s making Bloody Mary’s. Not any ordinary drink, these are made with Aunt Joyce special ingredients she stores in a leather case, stowed in the trunk of her Corolla.

Aunt Carol’s display has started an accessories fashion show. Now Aunt Sharon has to sit up and display her bright red Marc Jacobs bag, smiling proudly as if it were a child. Tabitha, a friend of the family (so I’m told), giggles when everyone looks at her asking her to show them her bag. Although reluctant at first, a confidence beams out of her as she grabs her new gold Fendi bag. A hush falls over the room until Aunt Carol asks “Is it fake?” Tabitha quickly replies saying, “No, it’s real, isn’t it great?”, followed by Aunt Carol reiterating that “Well, it still could be a fake. You never know.”

Aunt Joyce returns with her Bloody Mary, sits, and takes a big drink.

I finish my Jack on the rocks. Aunt Joyce quickly notices my empty glass, stands up and runs to the kitchen to fetch me another one before I can say a word. I stand there waiting, my head spinning from the six drinks and two grams I’ve consumed today.

My cell phone is vibrating so I answer it and it’s Jackson, my friend who’s in town for the holidays and he wants to know what I’m doing tonight. I explain the family situation and the Barry Manilow and then he tells me I’m creeping him out so I stop. Jackson asks if I want to go out later and that sounds tempting, but then I find out he’s out of coke so we decide not do anything because it really wouldn’t be that fun.

I look back at Pete and Jerry, Pete is still trying to think of someone to top Jerry’s pick, but he’s at a loss for the obvious. Next to them my nieces Jill and Candy are playing with a scarf, throwing it high into the air and crashing into each other as it falls down. Aunt Joyce comes back with a fresh drink for me and a brandy chaser for herself. She has something white under her nose which makes me think she just did a line, but then notice it’s not powder, rather foam from egg nog she was probably drinking in the kitchen.

Continuing to walk toward Uncle Jay, I have a clear path until Carl, my brother in law, stops me and asks me what I’m driving. I tell him “Same Nissaan” which doesn’t matter because he’s not listening, but rather waiting to tell me about his truck, the new F150. He asks me if I want to see it, and I tell him I saw it last year and then he tells me that last year he was driving the F110, not the F150. A Lionel Ritchie song starts playing on the radio so immediately Aunt Sharon goes over to Grandma and starts rocking her back and forth. Little Todd is pulling on Grandma’s leg, Aunt Sharon continues to rock her back and forth and Grandma is shooting darts out of her eyes at anyone watching. This is enough of a distraction to walk past Carl.

Finally I approach Uncle Jay and I tell him “We need to talk.”

“Okay, but hey first can you see if you have any gum in your jacket? I think I may have left some in there when I borrowed your jacket.”

Gum. Right. I put my hand in my pocket and there’s nothing buy the empty bag.

“No, check the other one.” He says.

I put my hand in my left pocket, finding a half pack of gum and another bag, my bag of cocaine. I let out a visible sigh and hand over the gum.

“Are you okay?” Uncle Jay asks.

I look across the room. Aunt Carol is now holding Tabitha’s Fendi bag and shaking her head, Grandma is kicking at Todd in an attempt to get him to go away, and Pete has a perplexed look on his face.

“Yeah, I’m okay.” I say. “I guess.”

“So what did you want to talk about?” Asks Uncle Jay.

“Oh.” I pause and take a drink of Jack Daniels. “It was nothing. Merry Christmas.” I hold up my glass and then realize he doesn’t have a drink.

We both stare for a minute at the family and chaos ensuing.

“I’ve got some coke.” Says Uncle Jay.

“Oh?” I reply.

“Yeah. I’m just saying, if you want…”

“Cool.” I say.

Walking past Pete I lean down and whisper “Olsen Twins” into his ear. His face brightens as he hears the words, knowing that in a minute he will be able to show up his cousin, and once again be on top. Uncle Jay and I leave the room and head to the bathroom, humming a Lionel Ritchie Christmas song along the way.

 


A Miracle On Rivington Street

Happy Holidays everyone! Here’s some updated fiction to get you in the holiday spirit!

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The only thing colder than the weather outside is the Bud Light I’m drinking. You could say the same for the last five Bud Lights I’ve had in less than two hours. It’s not snowing, but the temperature is hovering just above freezing and there’s a frigid rain, cold as ice, followed by a brisk breeze straight from Canada. The weather alone is enough to kill you.

I had just finished work and was still wearing my Santa suit. The more drinks I consumed, the heavier my beard became. My red hat was resting on the bar. I looked back, through the windows onto Rivington Street, watching the hipsters walk by as non-holiday indie rock played in the background. Turning back I stared at the twelve inch decorated Christmas tree resting on the shelf above the register. Each season, the item is switched out. For Easter there was a bunny missing an eye, Halloween a smelly looking Jack o’ lantern. Thanksgiving, a straw weaved horn of plenty filled with wine corks. For those without calendars, it was a place to know what time of the year it was. That, and me sitting at the bar in my Santa Claus outfit, the same outfit I am supposed to wear for the next two weeks at Tom’s toy store on Ludlow Street. The same beard mixed with sweat, alcohol and tears.

Today the line was non-stop with children, mostly from New Jersey, telling me what they wanted and how they had been good children this year and deserve among other items: train sets, bicycles, cell phones, hunting rifles and underwear. I had three different flavors of juice spilled on me today (FYI cranberry is the worst), a woman tell me I was a bitter man (to be fair this was after I said her son stinks), and my beard pulled off by a girl named Laura who screamed I was a phony. My supervisor, a pale gentleman named Guy of all names was reducing my pay due to lack of business. It was two hours ago I decided I would not go back to this job, or any job for that matter. If you could get away with one action and not have repercussions I’m guessing most people would deeply consider murdering their boss. For many of us, this has been a tough year.

Six months ago I lost a lucrative construction job due a lawsuit my company lost. Then, my sister, my only family left passed away in a tragic chainsaw incident. Now, the holidays had arrived and I was miserable. I haven’t felt this bad since two years ago; again, it was around Christmas time. That year I wanted others to feel my pain; I started one of those Christmas letters to send out. I titled it, the Christmas Nightmare:

Well this year started with a bang, literally. I went into the corner deli for a sandwich and went to grab a pen that said Happy New Year’s when the man behind the counter, apparently thinking I was going to grab one of his priceless fifty cent lighters and run grabbed his gun and shot me in the arm. The next two months I was in and out of doctor’s offices, and my arm was in a sling. Once the weather warmed up I was as good as new. The first day it hit ninety I got sunburned, third degree burns. The next week I was back in the hospital.   Two months later the wounds were healed, but left scars that I attempted to cover up with a tattoo of my name; however, the tattoo parlor “artist” thought I wanted the name translated into German. So now I have a tattoo of my name in German, on my upper neck that looks more like a name of a beer than my name. For my birthday there was a surprise party planned, many came and it was a blast, so I’m told. I guess in all the excitement the organizer forgot to invite me. The next three months I went through identify theft, I was mugged for a plain grey tee shirt, and lost feeling in my penis. Thanksgiving consisted of Gatorade and barbeque flavored chips. At this point I’ve got nothing to lose. After the holidays, I’m going to Vegas to become a lounge singer. I understand I may spend years as an opening act, but the payout of someday maybe headlining is really the only thing keeping me alive. I worry my sunburn is turning into skin cancer.

I never sent this out, nor did I ever make it to Vegas. I have not had a dermatologist visit this year, so there’s still that…

Behind the bar, a row of liquor bottles lean against a mirror, I catch a glimpse of myself in my suit, half drunk. No place to go. A holiday cliché. I motion with my bottle to the bartender for another beer, lifting a glass for another shot of Jameson.

To my right is a table of aspiring authors. Years ago, I had sat down to write a novel about what Christmas meant to me as a child. Now, I couldn’t care less. The dream is dead. Is the dream of writing a novel, or the dream of Christmas dead? Yes.

One of the aspiring authors is discussing his blog on the war and product commercialization and the ruin of the true meaning of Christmas. I chuckle to myself, thinking I should hand him my Santa hat because he’ll need it in a few years.

Behind this group are two finance guys who probably read about this bar in Time Out and figure it’s a good place to unwind after a few lines of blow. I bend over and pull my bag closer to the bar stool, the gun inside makes a small clank as it hits the bottom of the bar.

At the end of the bar two girls drinking white wine and looking very cool (even for the Lower East Side) and giggle as they looked over at me. I notice and stare at both until it becomes uncomfortable, thinking which one may be the lucky one. In one motion I drink my shot of Jameson, and then chase it with a gulp of beer. Two of the aspiring authors place napkins on their drinks and go outside to smoke. As they leave, a woman wearing green tights walks in and sits next to me.

Two weeks ago, I was offered a job in Human Resources at EEG, a large finance company only to have the offer retracted after they performed a background check and found two misdemeanors from over ten years ago. It had been a week since I decided that would be the last interview. The last time I would be rejected.

After closer examination the woman in green tights was wearing an Elf costume. She had a sweatshirt over the top half and had clearly changed her shoes, but being in my current line of work I know Elf tights when I see them. Not to mention the tights accentuated her long legs, very flattering. I asked her where she was working, but she didn’t answer, only showing a card that read Jerry’s Appliance Store. I ask if I can buy her a drink, but she ignores me.

“Listen lady, the least you can do is say NO thanks.”, but she continues to say nothing, only looking forward. Out of frustration I kick my bag, the gun containing two bullets rattles against the leg of the barstool. The woman looks down at the bag, and then gives me a half smile and motions to the bartender for a tap of Brooklyn Lager.

“Good choice.” I Say.

No response from the woman. I bend down to grab my bag, but am interrupted when a group of eight walk in the door. The five guys are all wearing glasses with thick black rims, the three girls appear drunk. The all reek of freshly smoked weed.

“Eleven dollars”, the bartender says to me.

I dig out a ten and one and place it on the bar. The bartender, wearing a shirt that reads LES is MORE nods and shakes his head at the lack of tip. Looking back over at the woman in Elf tights I notice a bulge in her side that appears to be a gun. Great, I can read the headline now: A disgruntled Santa and Elf shoot-up a bar two weeks before Christmas. A holiday cliché.

She finishes her Brooklyn Lager and then quickly stands and reaches at her side to pull out her gun. I grab my bag, and begin to open it when I realize it’s not a gun, but rather a narrow leather journal. She writes down something, rips out the page and hands it to me, and leaves without saying a word.

I HAVE DECIDED NEVER TO BE REJECTED AGAIN SO PLEASE EXCUSE ME FOR NOT ENGAGING IN CONVERSATION WITH YOU. IF YOU WANT TO MEET ME COME TO MY APPARTMENT, 112 ESSEX STREET, #15A.

P.S. KEEP THE BEARD ON.

I grab my shot glass and motion for one more for the road, drink the Jameson down, and grab my bag.

On my way out the door I laugh. I’m a drunken Santa, walking in the rain, and carrying a bag with a loaded gun, on my way to see a girl. Such a holiday cliché.


Guys I Love: NYC Christmas Tree Guy

Welcome to Guys I Love, it’s pretty self-explanatory, it’s the opposite of Guys I hate. Got a guy you love? Drop me a comment – we probably love a lot of the same guys.

tree

Before the turkey leftovers are gone many across this fair land have a trip to get their tree planned. Often it’s a car ride out to a farm where you will pick or cut down a tree, tie it to your car and bring it to your three bedroom home. In New York City, getting your tree is a shared tradition, but it’s very different.

They start to appear the evening of Thanksgiving, then over the next two weeks multiply until they cover corner after corner. These are the Christmas Tree Guys, the guys who bring Christmas to our homes, from their corner.

No need to get bundled up, simply slip on a hoodie and walk out of your apartment building to the nearest corner where Christmas Tree Guy is setup. You are always greeted with a smile (partly has to do with the price of NYC Corner Trees) and he is always looking to up sell, making you think you are getting not only the tree of your dreams, but a great deal! What a great feeling! Thank you Christmas Tree Guy!

For New York City residents you need to consider size over everything. If you have a studio, you need to consider this over look and even price. Not too worry, Christmas Tree Guy has every tree you could possibly need. Affordable? Probably not, but it’s not like you had to pay for gas to get here. If you can’t tell by now, I totally want to be a Christmas Tree Guy – I’d have hot cocoa (for sale of course) and sell the shit out of those trees. I love Christmas and part of that for me is the tradition of seeing my Christmas Tree Guy!


16 Insane Facts About Dennis Rodman

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Dennis Rodman has done a lot in his life. He’s dominated basketball, been linked to epic women, got married unconventionally and has found a lot of trouble. You can call him a lot of names, but boring isn’t one of them.

Born in Trenton, New Jersey Rodman starred in the NBA, finishing with almost 12,000 rebounds, two NBA Defensive Player Of The Year Awards and five NBA championships (two with Pistons, three with Bulls). He even wrote a memoir titled Bad As I Wanna Be and co-starred in a film with Jean-Claude Van Damme. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. Yeah, he had quite a career. You can say that again.

He has shocked us in so many ways it was hard to come up with a finite list. I settled on 16 which means some were left off. Did you know Rodman had his own brand of vodka? Of course he did, it was launched in 2013 and named “Bad Boy Vodka.”

This list is all over the place (again, not boring) and includes women, television and violence. Here are 16 shocking facts about basketball Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman.

Read the full post at TheRichest.com


15 Legendary Bands That Suck

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Popular opinion is that a lot of popular bands suck. Now obviously this is opinion, after all, these are popular bands so someone is listening, buying and enjoying this music. Still, let’s face it; there are a lot of very overrated bands out there.

For example, Boston is a band that a lot of people feel are overrated. To me Boston is the Taco Bell of classic rock and you know what, I like Taco Bell, so they didn’t make this list. Another potentially overrated artist is Britney Spears. Unfortunately there are too many of her songs that unwillingly get stuck in my head making her not entirely overrated in my book.

Other dishonorable mentions include Pearl Jam, Nirvana and just about any eighties metal band, but the way I see it they have their place, maybe not for everyone, but certain groups of music lovers so they don’t make this list.

You might be thinking “Jeez, did this guy include anyone I think is overrated?” Don’t worry; we have plenty of terribly overrated bands. Trust me, I take this very seriously. What are my criteria? Well, I look at popularity, but also longevity as well as whether it was the music or “other noise” that made a band famous. Who just missed the cut? The Grateful Dead for one; I just don’t get that phenomenon, but they didn’t make the top fifteen. Don’t stress, their weird cousins did (looking at you Phish!).

Come join me and take a look at bands that made terrible music, were all about their look or fizzled too quick to be considered classic. Here are the 15 most overrated bands of all time

Read the full post at TheRichest.com


Guys I Hate: NYC Lane Blocking Guy

Welcome to Guys I Hate, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Got a guy you hate? Drop me a comment – we probably hate a lot of the same guys.

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Now, I really hate this guy. In fact if I was Mayor of NYC (bad idea) this would be my first issue. More on that soon. Who is this guy? This is the guy during rush hour that drives into an intersection and doesn’t make it across, stuck in the middle, blocking traffic that has the green light. In my mind this is the NUMBER ONE issue of grid lock in my fair city. If you’ve ever been stuck at a light for multiple changes: Green. Red. Green. Red. and THAT FUCKING GUY IS STILL THERE you know what I mean. I always wish I had an aluminum bat and could go up and smash the vehicle because there is nothing worse than just sitting and waiting in traffic – minutes feel like hours. How to solve this? Easy. Fine these assholes $1,000, no $2,000 dollars for each occurrence. This will deter this behavior guaranteed! Or issue aluminum bats and allow for smashed windshields when this occurs. I’m okay with either option.