Category Archives: Personal

The Douche Files: Wedding Douchebag

( #douche )

I had a good weekend. My wife’s friends got married: the ceremony was beautiful, the reception was in an awesome place, and the couple’s unique spin on classic wedding traditions made the whole event really nice. This post is not about the wedding, but what happened after.

Like most weddings, there was a little gathering at the hotel bar. We went downstairs to have a drink with one of my wife’s college friends (we will call her Z-Go) and say hello to the bride when she made it down. We were seated at the bar when one of the other guests goes up to the bartender, who was clearly Hispanic, and says the following:

Douche: Hola Amigo, Musica?
Bartender: (Looks confused and somewhat annoyed)
Douche: Amigo… Musica!?
Bartender: You want me to play music? (Bartender walks over to turn on the music)
Douche: Si, musica!
Douche: Gracias!

The bartender looks at me and rolls his eyes, I immediately say “I am not with that guy” and he laughs. Z-Go had a look of horror on her face. “Did he really just do that?” He did.

I had to ask the obvious question: “Maybe he was Hispanic too?” It was later confirmed by the bride that he was not Hispanic and had a history of “going Spanish” while drunk.

A bit later, we decided to go to bed and we went to say goodbye to the bride who was talking to a group of friends. The Douche was in the group. He began to touch Z-Go’s necklace and said “those are pretty beads”, she gives him a dirty look and walks away. As we get into the elevator Z-Go proceeds to let loose a series of profanities capped off with “If it wasn’t a wedding, I would have punched that guy in the face.” If only she did.

Take note douchebags: Don’t speak in languages that are not your native tongue and don’t touch someone’s accessories without accepting the fact that you may get punched in the face. Actually touch away, you deserve to get knocked out by a 95 lb girl.

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Seasons Greetings Joey Style (2011)

( #nye )

Happy New Year friends! 2011 is slipping through our fingers and I find myself trying to conjure words to summarize what that means to me. I am going to be honest with you, I am struggling with this year’s love note. Not due to any dark feelings, in fact, just the opposite. I have been feeling pretty calm this past week, which is good for the blood pressure, but bad for writing clever things.

[Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes]

Even though times are tough and there is a bit of uncertainty regarding the future, it seems like my friends and family made it out of 2011 in one piece. It is easy to turn sour watching your 401k shrink, the value of your house decline, and services you depend on disappear. But all things considered, the Philadelphia area is breeding grounds for plucky people that take all this shit in stride and figure out how to get through it.

It is hard to focus on the negatives when I look around and see all these kids that I mention every year growing up strong and smart. The world is hard, but I am glad to see my people have their priorities straight. As far as my priorities go, I will be in good company with a baby on the way. I am not going to turn this post into “my child is going to change my life…bla bla bla” because anybody with a kid knows that as fact (a fact I have been told a million times along with “get your sleep now.”).

Jangled nerves and worry have subsided and I am looking forward to becoming a parent. Fundamentally, I really hope I don’t suck as a dad (that is not me fishing for kind words btw, just consider that line a karmic message in a bottle). It is a funny thing writing about the baby because I haven’t done it much and thanks to the holidays I am burned out on active baby conversation. I do want to mention that I feel bad about the news getting out late to certain friends. I guess people really do use social media to keep in touch (oops)…

All that being said, the quiet has been a blessing. Babies tend to bring out lots of opinions, all those voices talking at the same time can be overpowering. That brings me into a nice transition…

[Thank You]

If you have been reading these little year ends, you know that I view this section as a loaded gun… time to point and shoot. Here is hoping I don’t get a bullet in the foot:

Thanks to my wife. Outside of making this whole baby thing happen, she gets me. My odd sense of humor, my “in your face” method of dealing with…everything, my musical taste (very important in this house). Compatibility makes life so much better.

Speaking of the babies, when we told our parents, we asked them to keep it quiet for a few weeks until we got solid news from the doctors. My father-in-law was so excited, he had to tell someone… so he told his barber. That little story sort of made it all real to me. Also thank you Mr. D for making me look like I know how to pick out a bottle of wine.

I really don’t know how else to say this… I want to thank my mom for not being up our asses. My mom is at the ready to help Allison and I at a moments notice. But she never second guesses our decisions about anything. She offers her personal perspective or experience and leaves it at that. There is grace in accepting (and enjoying) your children as adults. I can thank her for a million things that she does for us, but this is the thing I appreciate the most.

I need to thank Verizon. They have made it possible for my father and I to communicate at a frequency that I did not think possible two years ago. Here is the best part… I am the bastard. If I haven’t seen or talked to my dad during the week, I get the call. “Sonny Boy, where have you been!?!” For a man that is fairly indifferent to just about everything, it is good to know that he cares.

Thank you to Tony Bombardi, the master detective – I love you, your family and your mini adventures that often lead right back to the starting point. Whenever I do freak out about this kid, I think “what would Tony do” and then you usually end up calling me anyway.

So I just went back and carved out a huge section thanking friends. This is what I am going to say instead: to the people that I talk to regularly – the people who call me to talk about music, house stuff, gear, zombies – you know who you are. I love you guys (and gals). If it were not for you, I would probably lock myself in my house and take all the phones off the hook (fine – take the batteries out of my cell phone – damn you nerds!). There are dozens of people I should mention, but nobody wants to read two pages of thanks (and then probably, rightfully, wondering why you are not on the list).

[Looking Forward]

There are times in my life, and if you know me I am sure you have been caught in this, when I want to hold everyone I know close to me. Then once that exercise becomes (inevitably) futile, I will retreat, ignoring everyone, and rethink my position. I have been in retreat mode the last few months. I have been thinking about what is right for me and my growing family. And right now I think change is good.

Instead of some grand statement of how to make yourself better in 2012, or jumping on some soapbox about the state of the world, I hope you – my friends, family, and readers – find happiness or something that smells like it.

May 2012 become whatever you want it to be.

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Putting the X back into Xmas

( #Cybermonday, #Xmas)

Black Friday is over. The masses turned out in record numbers to snag cheap, off-brand televisions, video games, and whatever the new Tickle Me Elmo is for this year. People crammed into stores on Thursday night and of course, there were incidents. It is easy to jump all over a few people acting like animals, because even though we all want deals, we don’t want to be this:

These events eventually lead to the discussion of how bad consumerism is and how the CHRIST should be put back into CHRISTmas (I cannot count how many times I have seen this on facebook in the last three days). The history lesson that I am about to break out (again) is not going for a whole “anti-Christianity” soap box moment, I am just trying to make you feel better about buying that flat panel. If there was a Jesus, most scholars (even Christian ones) do not think he was born in December. So if Jesus’ birthday is not on December 25th, then what are we celebrating?

The easy answer is: whatever the hell you want.

Many cultures throughout history had year-end festivals. Most were focused on the winter solstice and the fact that the days would be longer and brighter again. In fact, most historians believe that the Romans, while accepting Christianity, grafted their pagan celebrations and stories into Christian constructs to help ease the assimilation.

Looking at modern times and with our current shitty economy in mind, the whole “black friday” craze is a corrective market action to ensure (mostly retail) stores and business would become profitable for the year. I came across an article a few weeks ago (that I cannot find) that reported most retailers would not like to go to such extreme measures at year end to bring in customers, but consumers are conditioned to shop at the last minute. This is a “chicken and the egg” conversation, but the bottom line is that people are conditioned to shop during Black Friday and the last few weeks of the year; as a result, the stores save some of their best deals until that time.

I am by no means advocating overly-materialistic lifestyle, but I can say with no doubt that people like to get together at the end of the year and give each other gifts and have nice meals. If you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa… it does not matter. All of these “holidays” were pumped up and over promoted for the last 100 years because retailers want you in the stores buying stuff. Knowing all this, I say don’t fight it.

Leverage the sales, the marketing, the time off from work to spend time with the people you love. If the economy has you in a pinch, don’t stress out about it, talk it out and find a better way to spend the pennies you have doing something memorable (it still puts money into the economy and your credit won’t be going nuclear). I like calling the holiday season Xmas because “X” in math is a variable that stands for anything you need it to. For me X = an excuse to have friends and family over for dinner, exchange small gifts, and a nice way to spend a few days off from work.

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Mean Joe Article

( #MeanJoe, #Espositos )

Here is a holiday treat Lombardi style. My Mom found this article and scanned it. For those people who are fans of my dad and his “alias” Joe Knit, check this out…

A Family Tradition… A. Esposito Meats

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Remembering Nancy

This weekend my wife’s family had a memorial service for her Grandmother Nancy. Nancy died several weeks back, but the family decided to hold off on formal services until the entire clan could gather from various locations. It was a very practical decision. It was very Nancy.

I was essentially an outsider in this situation, I wasn’t a part of the collective memories that was a direct result of this woman’s existence and the decisions she made (BTW, I am not saying I haven’t been embraced by my wife’s family, they have always been quite welcoming). Because of Nancy’s decisions, I have my wife, and my life with her. So I thought I would take a moment to reflect on Nancy and thank her in my own way.

I don’t remember the first time I met Nancy, I am sure Allison brought me over there to introduce me at some point during our first summer together, but my first real concrete memory of her was Christmas. When I was single and dating, I used to have a rule about spending Christmas with other people’s family. I didn’t. My thoughts being the same as the 2nd paragraph of this post, you are an outsider in an intimate family moment. I was not entirely thrilled with the idea of going into a house full of people I didn’t know (or didn’t know well) and getting mixed up in their memories.

But a funny thing happened when I walked in… all hell was breaking lose in the best possible way. Every square inch of Nancy’s home was occupied with activity. Nancy immediately welcomed us into the house and then cut us lose to fend for ourselves. No pretense, no formality. These people were just trying to have a good time and she was the force at the center of it, keeping all of these very different people together and tethered.

I walked away from that evening glad that I was there, glad that I got to be a part of some collective memory building (wondering if there would be more in the future), and managed to develop an outstanding misunderstanding thanks to Allison’s sister (she had me thinking their aunt had a gambling problem, it just turned out my sister-in-law didn’t want us playing cards).

At the root of this whole dynamic, there was Nancy. I think the adage “they don’t build them like they used to” would be a very appropriate statement about Nancy Danks. Over the last 6 years, I managed to sneak over and have a few “deep” conversations with Nance about the state of the world, religion, living, and dying which would always somehow be mixed into conversations about the best brand of mayo or her favorite brand of chips…and it all made sense.

I am glad I had a few years to get to know Nancy. I am damn grateful that she was here on this planet and made the decisions she made (good, bad, and covered with gravy). She was a warm-hearted, funny lady that did things her own way… something that I will always remember and respect her for.

Courier Post

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My 9/11 Story

This story is intended to be read with a little humor and sadness. I was fortunate, nobody I knew died in the 9/11 attacks 10 years ago, and because of that, it was easy to take the event for granted. Once the initial threat had passed, I went on with my life and didn’t think much of it. Events like this story, brought the situation home and made it real for me.

Prelude: September 11th, 2001

I guess 9/11 will be my generation’s “where were you when Kennedy was shot”. Like the Kennedy stories I heard my parents tell often, I remember exactly what I was doing when the planes hit the Twin Towers. I was in an odd conference room in the front of my company’s old office in Voorhees, NJ. I had requested a television and VCR because I was training a co-op and future friend (who I call “Shame” in this blog) and we were watching networking basics videos.

I had just started the film when a manager (his name was Rich Cafferty, who was a really cool guy, he has since passed away) burst into the room and said “Holy Shit, you have a TV, get the news on.” I asked what was happening and he told us that a plane had hit one of the towers in New York. At the time we still thought it might have been an accident. The television quickly dismissed that thought.

The rest of the day was spent worrying about friends and family and we wondered what would happen next. But that day passed and things went back to normal for most people, it certainly did for me.

Later…

18 months after the events of 9-11, my favorite co-op Shame was now up for a full time job with the company. At the time, it helped your chances to secure full time employment if you went out to intern and development program social events (aka happy hours). I was on the development team’s leadership group and usually forced Shame to go to these events (against both of our better judgement).

On this particular evening, we happened to be at Tir Na Nog in Center City (Philadelphia). After the typical networking requirements were out of the way, some people left and the rest of us started to seriously drink. Shame had gone outside to smoke and I went to the bar to grab a drink. I noticed an attractive girl looking at me, so I asked the bartender what the girl and her friend were drinking and asked her to give them a refill (I was on the other side of the bar). The girls accepted my drink and came over to speak to me. As if on command, Shame appeared to claim one of my new friends.

Having witnessed Shame in action, I knew it was better to let him get first pick and be done with it. Through a series of facial ticks and gestures, Shame established his preference. It so happened that he did not pick the girl I was interested in, so I thought we were going to have a good, conflict-free night. Wrong.

The girls finished their drinks and suggested we head over to Rotten Ralphs. They must have been reading my mind because I did not want my other co-workers around to start gossip, off we went. We started doing shots. And more shots. This evening had the potential to make one hell of a story. Shame and his friend got up and walked away for a while. I got to know my new lady-friend a little better until Shame came back alone…

“Where is Kate?” I should note that I am making this name up, both to protect the innocent and also because I do not remember either girl’s name anymore. Shame pulled me aside and asked me if I could go out to talk to her. He said that she started crying and didn’t know why. I knew exactly what his move was. He viewed “Kate” as a lost cause and wanted to move into my territory. We go back to the table and he basically repeats his request in front of my lady-friend. He trapped me: I looked like an asshole if I don’t go out, but if I do, he gets the green light to commit the robbery.

Looking back, I have to wonder why my lady-friend didn’t go to check on “Kate”, I have to think “Kate” either pulled this crying move before or my lady-friend was just a rotten person, either way, I got up to talk to “Kate”. Her eyes were red and puffy and she was still sort of crying, I assumed Shame made an inappropriate advance. I asked her what was wrong and if there was anything I could do to help; she immediately started to tell me that her fiance died in the 9-11 attack and she still wasn’t over it. Certainly not what I was expecting. It didn’t help matters that “Kate” had too much to drink and was staggering. I was wondering where this was going to go (if she was going to come back inside), but she did not leave me wondering for long.

“Can you walk me home?”

Before any of you perverts get the wrong idea, the thought never crossed my mind to do anything other than take this poor creature home. I hooked her arm over my shoulder and walked her to her apartment complex nearby (which is why I am assuming they picked Ralph’s in the first place). There were benches in the front and I sat her down. I wanted to make sure she was at the right place and that she was okay to get up to her apartment (I made it clear I was staying down in the lobby).

I asked her if she had spoken to anyone professionally about what happened. She said she talked to a counselor at work but stopped after a few sessions. “Kate” basically told me she tried to talk to friends and family but they were starting to get sick of hearing it. I told her she should see someone not aligned to work, or friends because she needed an objective opinion. She nodded as another tear rolled down her red puffy cheek. She got up and thanked me for walking her home, called me a “gentlemen” and staggered into the gold doors and up the elevator.

If you are wondering what happened with Shame and my lady friend. Exactly what you would expect to happen happened. I came back and they were making out. I told Shame I was leaving but he asked me hangout (aka I was his ride home at the train station). I detected that justice might rear her head in this situation… and she did. Shame got a tad too aggressive (he might have told the girl that he loved her), she freaked out and took off. He was heartbroken for about 15 seconds until we got on the train and he passed out. I must have fallen asleep too because a PATCO employee woke us up in Lindenwold.

I often wondered what happened to “Kate”. I would like to think she eventually ditched her crappy friend, found a nice guy and made peace with everything that happened. Things don’t always end happily ever after, but in this case I sure hope it did for her…

… and I also hope that her friend got herpes.

I would say the same for Shame, but we know he is STD free thanks to his yearly December check-ups and subsequent memo.

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Rant: Joey vs. Perfume

( #perfume, #terrible)

This is going to be short and simple readers, because there is not much to say…I hate perfume.

Hate it.

It is horrible going into the office and being trapped in an elevator with some man or woman doused in sweet, flowery, headache-inducing evil. I would rather someone rip a raunchy garbage-in-hot-weather fart and be stuck smelling it for 10 floors than even catch a whiff of perfume. I don’t understand why more people don’t talk about this problem. Getting crop-dusted by an over-quaffed perfumed dandy can ruin my day or at least a few hours of it.

Don’t people realize that these scents can adversely impact their co-workers? Let’s brainstorm readers: what can we do to protect our noses from these daily chemical attacks? Share your ideas on the feedback form, and I will update this article.

For the perfumers out there, next time you go out and buy some starlet’s fragrance, remember that other people have to smell that stuff and it will probably make them want to vomit.

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Tumbling

I have been trying out a few new social media tools this week.  Tumblr has been on my mind for a while.  At first I thought it could be a replacement for my main JoeyLombardi.com domain, but I am not there yet.  

I would like to push my other blogs and feeds into this and make it a one stop shop.  If it can’t do that, it will go away.  Not sure if this is another tool to distract from producing or something that will help get my ideas out into the ether so they can spark conversation.  

Either way, it will be another learning experience.  

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Father’s Day Gift Suggestions

( #JoeKnit, #FathersDay )

Image Credit: Somebody in my family

A few weeks ago I came across this post about great father’s day gifts and I read through to see if there were any good suggestions for my old man. If you are a frequent reader you know my father is a popular topic due to his unique personality. If you are not into Mean Joe stories—move on to another post. If you enjoy them or have a father that is a total pain in the ass to buy gifts for—keep reading.

I am not going to overly complicate things, I am just going to list Mike’s (the author) suggestions and state why they won’t work for my dad:
1. Omaha Steaks: My dad is butcher, thats not happening.
2. Golf Accessories: My dad doesn’t like to play golf, although for a short period he did like to sneak onto courses to take walks and nap.
3. Sports Tickets: He could care less about any form of sports or team cooperation.
4. Remote Control: This is not a bad idea on paper, but any of the new remotes that have LCD screens will piss him off and be relegated to a drawer before he even tries it.
5. Fishing Equipment: I have never seen the man take an interest in fish in my entire life (besides eating them).
6. Camcorder: Technology = No.
7. Pocket Watch: He doesn’t care what time it is. He is where he needs to be until he doesn’t want to be there.
8. Restaurant Gift Cards: He’d rather cook for himself.
9. Magazine Subscription: No interest in reading anything outside of a very few select topics (mostly health related, but not the Men’s Health kind of articles).
10. Movie Gift Cards (Netflix, Blockbuster, AMC Theaters): Has lost the attention and desire to sit through an entire movie.
11. Camping Trip: Depends on what you mean by camping. If you suggest a hotel room, jacuzzi, and quality steaks – he might go assuming the right company is involved (not his family).
12. Custom T-Shirt/Polo Shirt: It would have to be the right material and proper color blue or it will sit in his closet for all of eternity.
13. Swim Trunks: This is a man who mows the lawn in meat-stained white t-shirts, old jeans that are held up by string. STRING. He would look at the netting inside the trunks and punch them so hard the little Chinese kid that made them would feel it.
14. Anything from Sharper Image or Brookstone: See #6.
15. Accessories for the Barbecue Grill: Besides his bare hands on the open flame? No.
16. Massage: This actually could be feasible if there was no spa music. Actually, he has an acute hatred for perfumes and sweet smells so he probably would not step foot inside a massage parlor.
17. Shaving Accessories: See #13 – this is a man that does not care about appearances (unless he wants to prove how pretty he is).
18. Wine/Beer of the Month: Does not drink fermented alcohol anymore.
19. A Tie: No

20. A Home Cooked Meal: See #8.

As you can see, he is a pretty difficult person to shop for. Do you have a father or relative like this? Or do you have a suggestion for my old man? Share your stories here. Good luck finding your dad a good gift!

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CBS Covers My Dad’s 100 Foot Sausage…

( #JoeKnit, #CBS3 )


Image Credit: CBS Philly

CBS Philly covered the Italian Market’s weekend festival and did an “interview” with my father. I put interview in quotes because we know my old man does really talk. Either way, it amuses me greatly that the focus was on his sausage. The best part is, I think the girl who wrote the article is kind of making the same joke.

Anyway… here is the article:
CBS Philly: Philadelphia Meat Shop Celebrates 100 Years With 100 Foot Sausage

PS: Mean Joe goes by Joe Knit at the Italian Market. I have heard a few reasons why and I will save them all for another day and another post.

Click Here to read more about Mean Joe.

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