Thursday, June 19, 2014

What Ever Happened to Efka?

My dad's parents lived on a hill along the Allegheny River and from their home we could see the city in a distance. It was beautiful. Many Sunday afternoons, we'd spend time there, watching football or MTV (when it was good), while eating the awesome goodies my sweet but hardened Pollock grandma would make. The older fellows, like my grandad, father, and uncles would sit downstairs, pounding Rolling Rocks, watching a black and white TV, and talking about guy stuff. My dad's sisters, and my grandmother were serious chain smokers and Pepsi drinkers. Nobody complained, we knew what we were getting into when we went there, it was the early 1980s.

On occasion, a curious little old woman, with her head wrapped up in those things old ladies put on their heads, would stop by with stuff in her little bag. She was even more of a Pollock than my grandma. Her name was Efka.

She was short and it looked like she came right off the boat. She was going blind. She walked so slow, we could see her coming down the street and prepare to hide if we were feeling anti-social. We were shy timid little children, and sometimes we weren't in the mood to deal with foreign strangers. Though, looking back 30 years, she seems far more bizarre than we realized at the time.

She'd bring pies and foods and stuff, and talk in meek little way, sort of screechy, and of course was die hard catholic. Everyone at that time was catholic, I hadn't heard of other options yet. She smelled, and her face had many wrinkles from years of hardships. She had a rough life.

As the years went on, probably only a span of 3 or 4 years, she couldn't make it down, and sometimes we'd get ordered to bring food up to Efka's house. It was on a hill up a dirt driveway, and there were cats galore. We would knock on the door or window, though she wouldn't come, so we'd just leave it outside. My sister and older cousin were amused, and I think they tried to scare and make up weird stories about her as we walked up, if I remember correctly. Her place was the stereotypical old cat lady dwelling and now that I'm older I'm wondering how she spent those last years, with lost vision and probably dementia coming on, if not in full force. What did she eat, how did she live? Did she bathe?

I don't think she had much family.

She was eventually put in a home.

Last night, I was talking and joking with a lady at the fire company about her becoming a cat woman and Efka jumped back in my mind. And as I thought back to those days, a bunch of depressing mental images about those times starting flowing through my brain about her, and my own innocence at that time, not understanding how sad that whole situation was or seems - at least to me now.

Of course, Efka remained humble, even a bit jolly, in a subtle way, and you'd never know, or, at least I didn't pick up on it. She was just a weird character of my childhood that came and went as so many others do.

God bless Efka.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Other Style Choices I've Never Connected With or Understood.

Before going any further, let me start this out by saying it is of no consequence whether I connect with, understand, or like someone else's style choices. The last thing I want to do is dictate anything to anyone. On the other hand, things get under my skin. It's best to get these things out, and free oneself from the rage from within. Below are a few trends or things I've noticed and wasn't pleased with. Maybe you agree. Maybe you don't.

The tan work boots with jeans in urban settings has bugged me for sometime. Visually it looks cumbersome and even uncomfortable. I'm sure the boots are heavy. As horrible as those boots are, they do serve a purpose. The purpose has little to do with style and club settings. I don't see this too much anymore, but this morning I noticed a chick wearing yoga pants with said boots. I didn't know the person well enough to ask them WTF they were doing, so I let it slide. I do, however, wonder what crosses a person's mind when they put that shit together.

Dreds on white boys. I assume that's an attempt to relive 90s glory days (if such a thing exists). Perms are way more ballsy and visually appealing and those that don't understand that have a learning disability.

Obnoxiously bright oxford button down shirts in the corporate/professional setting. I'm not saying you need to wear dull colors or all white, or just earth tones, but I see some corporate types, or wannabe corporate types wearing these ugly bright purple-ish/pink button down bullshit assuming they look good. It just strikes me as a quick fad that will pass and a waste of threads. No one in their right mind is going to hold on to these for an extended period of time. I assume it's an attempt from those uptight types to "think outside the box." Good style is enduring.

I don't like Camoflauged gear in any situation. Probably the least offensive of the others above but still a bit annoying, especially the shorts (though shorts are annoying in most cases of adulthood). Who needs to be reminded of the military, that's the last thing I want to think about.

Flip Flops are gross. Feet are disgusting to look at. They serve a purpose at the beach, or, God forbid, college dormitory showers. Keep them there.

Jewelry is decadent and serves zero purpose. Having a watch to tell time is understandible. Rings, bracelets, necklaces with crosses or pentagrams or 6-pointed stars are all pretty offensive. It's just another thing to collect germs. (It) Doesn't make anyone look any better. A false sign of wealth.

This concludes my list. There may be some repeats here from past blogs, hopefully not a lot. It is my desire that you've enjoyed this bit and I hope you follow the appropriate steps to eliminate some/all of these things that you currently may be doing. Please be well.

Friday, June 6, 2014

That Little Voice from Down the Hallway

I can hear it from a mile away. I know when it's getting closer. It's a Friday, we're all in good spirits but I can't help hearing a little authoritarianism in that voice. Maybe a more civilized Hitler waiting to crawl out. It's abrasive and it's killing me. I'm just trying to get things done and I feel victimized at the slightest sound of it. There's a bully in there too. It's clumsy. It's awful.

The little voice is obsessed with order. Order isn't a bad thing, but it shouldn't be the only thing. Order shouldn't be called order if it's constantly changing or if there's no logic behind it.

There is no ideal situation. You can't control everything. The more you try to control, the more problems you create. Problems, along with their faux solutions are what keep many people in business and I've seen it on the grassroots level. I've seen it first hand.

That little voice from down the hallway doesn't absorb anything. It strictly spits out orders like a dysfunctional robot on Addarall and repeats contemporary business cliches until most of us have vomited on one another.

We've given the voice it's authority. There is no credibility without our consent. And, we consent because we've been trained to believe we're weak and dependent creatures worthy of only mindf#ck situations. These are the trade-offs necessary if we are to eat and have shelter and taste a little bit of that good life.

There are other things out there. We have choices.

Goddamn the voices.

Friday, May 16, 2014


It's coming down today. It's coming down in spades. I love the gray of it all. Why does this bring everyone down?

Nature is telling us to pull everyone together inside.

I like the smell of rain. I can't describe it, though it stirs cozy feelings from within.

Rain makes nice noises on rooftops and tents. It has put me to bed many times.

Before a little league game I had anxiety over, the sight of overcast skies meant a possible rain delay or even a cancellation. This put me at ease.

When a storm would happen, my mother compared the rain hitting the pavement in quick random patterns to dancing spiders. That made me laugh and imagine dancing spiders. I would look out the window. I was getting free entertainment.

Before you curse the rain, think these things through.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Thespian a Couple Cubes Down.

Usually I'm able to shrug it off or ignore it. Today is different. Maybe it's 'cause I had a later night, but my tolerance for thespian antics is short now and I got a brief but large dose of it moments ago. I have nothing against theatre people, or aspiring theatre people - (but everything has it's place under the sun.) They make life interesting. They are something to behold. (and, when I say theatre people, I mean exactly that, I'm not trying to beat around the bush on anything else).

What drives a man (or woman for that matter) to consistently tell bland jokes and then laugh the loudest (at his own jokes? Once or twice, I let it slide, I might even smile, but this is a lifestyle choice. This is the height of "notice me" drama, self-importance if you will. You work to try to send messages to said person. You give them the dead stare in response to the shitty punchline, or better yet, you ignore them, but thats never enough. They keep going as if Theatre 101 goes on all day long and they're some kind of special soul, blessing us with their antics and hijinx.

((You might accuse me of similar things when I'm out and about, but there is a difference. I'm usually intoxicated and my approach is to degrade everything, including myself. I don't see anything special in myself and try to fight every urge that comes from that direction. I'm not working my craft - there is no craft with me. Maybe that's a craft in and of itself.))

Instead of placing blame on the individual, maybe we should blame society. A society that has excused and allowed this to go on and maybe even welcomed it or dare I say elevated it. I'm not talking violence or force, cause that's never the answer, and that would just make them victims and give them more of a platform to perform. Possibly, a positive male role model (if they exist anymore) could have called them out though. Someone simply could've said you're not on stage anymore. Collectively, we could've refused to entertain such approaches. But we didn't.

Would it have made a difference? Who knows? The ego of a thespian is something you shouldn't take lightly let alone dismiss. They are the stars of their own world and every word that pours from their lips has depth and meaning. Every joke is a riot, regardless of how horrible it is. The spotlight remains on.

Spare us, Lord.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Back on the Diamond

After a long a cold winter, which I did thoroughly enjoy - I don't pay heat - me and the locals gathered together to start the new wiffle ball season, on a location in between Kutztown and Virginville, PA. It's probably the best thing I've done in a while, being the open air in the hills of Berks County on some good land with solid local people. This is nice.

We had a little batting practice and played a little exhibition. Wind was blowing but not too bad. We were all glad to be there, some of us played, some of us watched, some played and watched. Make no mistake, we do this to feel young again. Nothing feels more at home than being on the field or batting. It's just nice. We're all grown up now, so, there's no competitive weirdness. Everyone gets along.

The play has improved over the last year and I've noticed it especially with some of the ladies who maybe haven't played as much. They're making solid contact and they're bringing good enthusiasm to the game.

Running, or, moving around faster than usual felt good. I should do that more often.
photo by chris eugster

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Loudmouth Strikes Again... (Evacateur)

Scanning the Netflix movie titles, there was one called Evacateur, that was suggested for me. I gave it look after reading the description. It was about an old talk show host I remember from two years out of my life around the late 1980s. I'm talking about Morton Downey Jr. I'm talking about the Morton Downey Jr. Show.

I learned a little in the documentary, but mostly it brought back some fond memories. This last weekend I found myself You-Tubing some of it, or, a lot of it. Sitting back, smiling, enjoying the extreme histrionics, controversy, shouting, and minimal violence.

I remember his show would sometimes come on after a Mets game (WOR-9), or after we'd be done playing video games, or before skinamax, at a friend's house. I was into the WWF back then, and this program was a talk show version of that. Downey stole from Wally George (The Hot Seat ~ which we occasionally caught too), but Mort's approach was a bit more sophisticated in set design and show format (though that isn't saying a lot).

This weird genre of a "conservative" man of the people, tackling the "evil lefties" (commies even, it's the Cold War remember), and standing up for America through forceful thoughtless debate, obscenities from time to time, and name calling seemed to a formula for success in the 1980s. It played well to kids my age, and looking at the crowds of both Downey and George you can see a good number of either college students or young adults.

Most of us like characters, I think. I know I do, and Mort was one. He had a style, and a flair. He loved cigarettes, wore red socks, had big teeth, he was cocky and he didn't take shit. He had no problem getting in the face of his opponent. That's what fed the crowd and that's what made us smile, whether we agreed or not. It was engaging on a simplistic level.

Sitting in my desk chair last weekend, watching full episodes streamed through the net, of questionable quality, I remain engrossed, drawn into it. Partly for nostalgic reasons, but also for it's ridiculousness. Wally George and Morton Downey Jr. were both pioneers of a format that has changed a bit, but lingers on with a few talk shows around now.

Thankfully, I don't watch TV like I did back then. We move on.

The devastating car wreck you watch night after night will cease to be entertaining.

But, for that brief moment, something was there.