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Archive for September, 2011

In going through some old, but not-so-old photographs that they’ve turned sepia toned, I came across two that jogged my memory. (At my age my memory doesn’t jog as much as it saunters.) If my father thought that paying more than $2.50 for a Christmas tree was an extravagance, you can begin to imagine how that translated into buying a car. It was basic all the way for him. No plush anything. And if he could have managed with three tires, he would have done so.

He bought his first car the same year I was born. I don’t know which came first. Me or the car. All I know is that when my parents got the call to pick me up at the Foundling Home they didn’t go by car. I came home the NYC way. By subway.

But that’s the subject of another story. This is about the Begley family car. A dark almost black blue 1948 Chevy that I believe was made from a WWII German U-boat.

And you wonder why my modeling career didn't take off. Pictured here with Arlene (RIP) and Virginia (RIP) Renz, Lincoln Street, Seaford.

The exterior of our 48 Chevy was the opposite of sleek. It had more curves than the fat lady at the circus. It was built to withstand an earthquake measuring 62 on the Richter scale. But it is the inside I remember most. The seats were covered in what I can only describe as “hide.” Perhaps it was made from the skin of an old donkey. Sitting on it for any length of time left marks all over your body that didn’t fade until I was 10.

The rear seat was low and the back of the front seat was high as were the sides. And because all my height was in my legs, meaning I sat low in the back seat, all I ever saw while driving in the car was donkey hide all around me.  Even when I tried to sit up high I couldn’t see out any of the car windows.  It was like taking a drive inside a box. I’d get in the car in our driveway and an hour or two later I’d get out in  some other driveway.

Thank God I could listen to the music coming from the car radio. Oh, did I say listen to music? Well, it had to be music playing inside my head because our car didn’t have a radio. But it did have a heater…if you were lucky enough to be in the front seat. And in the summer I would lose on average of three pounds of water that poured out of every pore in my body.

I compensated for all our 48 Chevy didn’t have by sleeping. I’d be out cold before my father pulled out of the driveway and would have to be pried out of the car when we eventually arrived at our destination…which was usually Brooklyn.

I believe the car is now a taxi in Tijuana.

In 1959 my father was ready to buy a new car. He had his eye set on the bottom model of the 59 Chevy line. It was a Biscayne. It had no details other than paint. The Impala, on the other hand, had all the trimmings. (Too extravagant for my father.)  But…it did have a radio set to station that only gave traffic reports.

1959 was a big year for me. I was receiving the sacrament of confirmation and as a special privilege I got to pick out the color of our new car. It was a no brainer for me. I wanted fire engine red.

My father came home in a sapphire blue 59 Chevy.  (But in my mind it was always red.)

The big spender, my mother, my sister (Patti) and me outside a cabin in upstate New York in front of our (red) 59 Chevy.

The grey interior was a cross between plastic and linoleum.  In the winter the surface temperature of the seats was about 16 degrees below zero and in the summer you could cook a steak on it.

I had grown enough to be able to see out of the windows and couldn’t stop yelling out things like” “Look at that, a building!” or “Do you see all the other cars?”

I learned how to drive in our 59 Chevy. A car that was standard with the shift on the column,  a car that had no power steering and had no power brakes. It was literally like driving a tank.  Parallel parking was an Olympic event, and trying to start on a hill was friggin’ scary!

In 1965 my father bought his third Chevy. It was shaped like a box.

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Warning: This blog is not intended for the faint of heart, those weak in the knees, hypocrites, old nun, old farts, and people who have a pole up their butt.

You know how astrologers are all into planets and stars aligning? Well, lately my planets have been crashing into my stars, so I do not apologize for anything I blog in this blog. I own the content and take full responsibility for the views expressed herein.

In my opinion, and since this is MY blog, that’s the only opinion I really care about, the greatest moment in The Wizard of Oz was when Dorothy deliberately and with malice in her heart picked up the bucket of water and gleefully threw it on the witch. (Unfortunately the gutless producers of the movie filmed the sequence to look like Dorothy’s action was unintentional and the resulting witch-melting was a regrettable outcome.)

Okay, where am I going with this blog.  Some background might help.

Look up the word “good” in the dictionary and you’ll see my picture:

good

And by “good” I don’t mean noble or virtuous. I mean good as in “well-behaved.”  I was good from day one. And if nice people finish last, good people don’t finish at all. Not that I’m against goodness. There is a place for it, but that place isn’t in the real world.

At this point in my life I have seen enough to know that there are two types of people in the world. On the one hand there are the egocentric…and egocentrics are like powerful magnets. They attract other excentrics…and in the end you have this powerful (m)ass of egocentrics who basically rule the world. And one of the characteristics of an egocentrics is this overpowering urge to kiss ass…as long as someone returns the favor.

And because magnets have two poles, eccentrics tend to repel those who are not egocentrics.

Now, you can find egocentrics in all walks of life and you’ll find they come in different sizes. Egocentrics can be anyone…but what makes them so abhorrent (to me) is that they abuse power. They tend not to use their power when they are in the presence of future egocentrics, but when they are in the presence of “good” i.e. well-behaved and well-mannered people they are in their element.

As a result, good people (perhaps you can call them powerless people) can be beaten down.  Now, I’m not an African-American and I’ve never been a slave, but I can certainly empathize with those souls who were slaves.  In order to survive they had to do the shuffle and say “yes master” and “no master.” And even though Lincoln freed the slave, it took over a century and a half for the descendants of slaves to throw off the psychological chains that had kept them in a constant state of bondage.  And to anyone with any understanding of what it means to be in bondage, you will certainly understand why there were so many decades of violence in Black communities.

If I had to do it over again I would not be good. Not that I would have wanted to be an egocentric asshole, but I certainly would have tossed a bucket or two over some real assholes.

I think we, as parents, go to great lengths to raise “good” kids. But are we doing them a favor or a disservice?  I sometimes think we are doing them a disservice. When we teach our children how to talk, one of the words (or phrase) we need to teach them is: FU! and then tell them to use the expression judiciously.

I’ll never forget when my son Nicholas came home from high school with a quiz marked by Dr. Cohen.  She marked a few questions wrong that were actually right. The good doctor told Nick that it didn’t matter how the dictionary defined the words, she had her own definitions.

Nick would have been right to have told her to F herself.

I went up to talk to Dr. C and all I can tell you was she acted like a total asshole.  Had I not been a good person, I would..and should have told her to shove her doctorate up her ass.

The problem in the world today isn’t so much a recession as it is an abundance of egocentric assholes.

I say go out and find a bucket and start tossing water on the assholes in your life. You’ll feel “good” when you do it.

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