Tag Archives: story

The most insane suicide (1994)


At the 1994 annual awards dinner given by the American Association for Forensic Science, AAFS President Don Harper Mills astounded his audience in San Diego with the legal complications of a bizarre death. Here is the story.

“On 23 March 1994, the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound of the head. The decedent had jumped from the top of a ten- story building intending to commit suicide (he left a note indicating his despondency). As he fell past the ninth floor, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window, which killed him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the decedent was aware that a safety net had been erected at the eighth floor level to protect some window washers and that Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide anyway because of this.” >>“Ordinarily,” Dr. Mills continued, “a person who sets out to commit suicide ultimately succeeds, even though the mechanism might not be what he intended. That Opus was shot on the way to certain death nine stories below probably would not have changed his mode of death from suicide to homicide. But the fact that his suicidal intent would not have been successful caused the medical examiner to feel that he had homicide on his hands. "The room on the ninth floor whence the shotgun blast emanated was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing and he was threatening her with the shotgun. He was so upset that, when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife and the pellets went through the a window striking Opus.

"When one intends to kill subject A but kills subject B in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject B. When confronted with this charge, the old man and his wife were both adamant that neither knew that the shotgun was loaded. The old man said it was his long-standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder her – therefore, the killing of Opus appeared to be an accident. That is, the gun had been accidentally loaded.

"The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple’s son loading the shotgun approximately six weeks prior to the fatal incident. It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son’s financial support and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother. The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.

There was an exquisite twist. "Further investigation revealed that the son [Ronald Opus] had become increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother’s murder. This led him to jump off the ten-story building on March 23, only to be killed by a shotgun blast through a ninth story window.

"The medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.”

Credit: http://cmgm.stanford.edu/~lkozar/suicide.html

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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.


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.


A Trip to Acadia National Park (Maine) – 2011

( #Maine, #Acadia )

For the last 7 months I have been keeping a secret from my wife. A vacation. Logistically I had to tell her when we were going so she could ask for the week off, but no other details. As for the location, my cousin and I planned the trip after I complained about two failed attempts to visit Maine over the last five years. Over the months, we figured out the details and played out the surprise last Friday for hilarious effect (right before we left I told my wife we were going to the Jersey shore much to her disappointment).

The drive to Maine (and specifically Acadia) was long, about 12 hours from Philadelphia. We ended up stopping on the way up, but the next day was smooth sailing. When we got to the house we rented, we were all really happy. It was directly on the bay which gave us daily access to kayaking (which we did). The homeowners had the house perfectly stocked with the things you would need and I would highly recommend staying there (but book early!).

We spent the majority of our time (while not kayaking) in Acadia. So here is a quick rundown of the things we did (in case there is an interest in repeating it).

Ship Harbor Nature Trail:

This was a really easy nice trail that lead to a rocky beach which offered extra challenge because we ditched the trail and just followed the rocks. When playing on wet rocks, you always have to watch your footing. I definitely had concerns about breaking my face open a few times on this trip, but then I would see my cousin’s 10-year-old son sailing over the rocks and I just went with it.

After the trail, we went to Jordon Pond which has a popular restaurant. This place is a bit of an overpriced tourist trap but they offer popovers which are like biscuit muffins that I didn’t see anywhere else. They were worth the trip alone (just order some soup and a bunch of them).

The Bowl/Beehive Trails:

While most of this trip was spend on some kind of trail (and they honestly started to blur together in hindsight), one that will stick out is the Bowl/Beehive. I actually picked the bowl trail out as an activity because it was said to be a little more difficult and had a nice view (I was craving a difficult trail). When we got there, my cousin’s son wanted to do the beehive trail. All I saw was a sign that warned of using mettle rungs and I was out. Somehow my extremely cautious cousin agreed to go on the beehive with his son while we went through the bowl trail. While the bowl was strenuous, the beehive was dangerous:

When we connected with my cousin, he was shaking and really regretted going through it. He said once you hit the tough spots, there is no going back so you have to move forward. Anybody thinking about doing it, take that warning.

Thunder Hole:

Thunder Hole is a rocky section of the park that has a small underground cave system that makes a rumbling noise when the tide comes in. While interesting, the “hole” is one of the most popular spots in the park and there were a ton of people hanging around. The masses ruined it just because the nice part of being at the park is you don’t have to be surrounded by people since there are so many options.

Several people ignored the gates and got close to the water. A few people die each year by rouge waves coming in and sucking people off the rocks. I saw quite a few parents letting their kids go to the edge and it totally bugged me out, I was glad to leave.

After Thunder Hole we went to Hunter’s Beach. It is a small stone beach and nobody was there. The current makes an awesome sound as it sucks in the rocks with each wave pulling back. Easily a favorite find.


My cousin and I cooked almost every night. I am not a seafood guy (please don’t start) but everybody else was. My cousin’s wife managed to find a guy (by following signs) named Rat that had fresh lobsters and clams. My cousin said Rat’s clams were the best he ever had in his life and I believed him. Rat didn’t have 2+ lb lobsters on the day everyone wanted to cook them, so he called a lobster-man buddy and got us what we needed.

The cool thing about Rat is that we just found him, nothing was planned. He was the typical Maine accent and lived on this crazy farm. If it was the end of the world, I would have no doubt that good old Rat would be breathing easy in his house in the middle of nowhere.

We found a gem of a place in Southwest Harbor. It is called Quiet Side Cafe. My cousin and I were walking down the street looking for supplies for dinner when we spotted a blueberry pie cooling on a side window. Like a cartoon we were drawn inside and had a great meal and met some really nice people (I ordered Pizza – in Maine – and they knocked it out of the park). Owner Frances Reed was incredibly welcoming and the place had a great vibe. You must go there if you are in the area.

All of the other restaurants were fine. Order fish. My cousins said they never had a bad meal when it came to the fish. I didn’t have any bad meals myself, but nothing to blog about either 😉

Closing Thoughts:

With the weather never breaking 80 degrees (and sometimes getting close to going under 50 at night), Maine it my kind of summer vacation. I did what I wanted, wasn’t on a schedule, and got to romp around in a truly magnificent place for a week. If I had to complain about anything, it would be the mosquitoes – they were merciless, but that still didn’t prevent us from going outside and having a good time.

I would absolutely recommend this trip to friends and any families that don’t want to do the typical Disney boxed vacation – you can be the master of your own destiny.

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The Girl with the Broken Vagina

( #badsex, #hotels )

It was late. We had been in the car for eight hours and my cousin wanted to make sure his kids had a bed to sleep in. We were somewhere in Massachusetts and my phone’s GPS told us to go to a Radisson in Clemsford. They had rooms and the price was right. Off we went.

After a minor issue with an AC unit requiring a room change, my wife, cousin, and I went to the hotel bar for drink. The people at the bar were young and had a redneck vibe about them, but we were north. I then overheard that they were part of a large wedding party staying at the hotel. Two drinks in, I went to bed.

I woke up having slept through what I thought was a pretty uneventful evening. My wife looked like she did not sleep at all. “Ugh… the people next door were having sex all night, the girl was loud.” “Did you say anything” I asked sheepishly. She said that somebody told them to “shut the f**k up” and they apologetically stopped. She then mentioned that the girl asked her lover to “do it again” and “put it back in” several times.

I was somewhat grateful I was able to sleep, but sad I didn’t get to mock my new neighbors, until they started having sex again. My wife was right – it was LOUD. The dude didn’t seem to be making much noise, but she was a peacock in full bloom for the whole world to take notice of.

We walked over to my cousins room to relay the story (in code and quietly so the kids didn’t catch on). There was talk of breakfast, so I went back to the room to grab money when I heard crying next door. I just assumed it was a drunken lover’s quarrel and went on my way. My cousin and I went downstairs to his car and noticed a firetruck, police car, and ambulance pulling up. At first I thought heart attack, but then I mention to my cousin that I would not be surprised if it was our neighbors. He looks at me and says “what the hell could he have done to her?” I didn’t know. I asked the fireman what was going on, he just said “someone got hurt” and kind of smiled.

When we got to the fourth floor, the emergency crew was in front of our neighbors door. As we passed by we heard the girl say “there is so much pressure, I feel like I am giving birth.” I grinned at my cousin as he gave me an admonished look for not having more sympathy. None shall be given. My wife, cousin, his wife, and I stood in the hall as they took the girl out in a stretcher, her lower area on ice. I gave her “Ed-Hardy-shirt” wearing paramour a salute as they took her away, to repair the vagina he destroyed so thoroughly.

As he walked down the hall with a concerned look in his face, I couldn’t help but notice the stride in his step and the acceptance of knowing nods. The girl may have been shamed, but this young man earned himself a reputation and a story that will live on for years to come, at the very least in this little social circle.

NOTE: Having said all that, we all have our suspicions that the girl’s front door was fine and it was indeed that back door that might have inflicted some serious injury. Thoughts to ponder indeed.

NOTE 2: Since this post was published on father’s day, I also want to point out that this woman was some man’s daughter. Doing her best to make daddy proud!

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Projectile Vomit and Mean Joe’s Car

( #Lefty, #JerseyShore )

NOTE: This story is being republished and reformatted from another section of my website. It was originally written in 2006. Thanks to idiots who don’t know how to enjoy things, the names have been changed to protect the not-innocent. The story takes place in the summer of 2001. My friends and I were still in college.

It was supposed to be a perfect day and in some ways it was. My friend Republicaster and I had decided to drive down to the beach to see my friend Jack and his band play. My father was in the habit of taking my car to work on Saturdays, so I took his (relatively new car) to the shore (I thought it was fair trade). We opted to go early and spend the day on the beach.

We arrived late in the morning and everything was just…fantastic. Republicaster and I swam for a few hours and introduced the term “Super Wave Crusher” into our collective vocabularies. After we had our way with the ocean, we decided to break for lunch. At this point, I should mention that we brought another guy with us. He wasn’t a big part of the story except that when stood in line at the deli, I ran into a girl that I worked with (and she was with a group of attractive friends). I quickly said hello and goodbye as I could see “he-who-shall-not-be-named” assessing his odds of getting a phone number (my mental math said no chance in hell). My friend had very poor social skills and I didn’t want to be embarrassed, so I pushed him out the door. Back to the story…

After lunch we walked around Sea Isle. There were plenty of girls to be ogled and we didn’t pass up any opportunity. By 4 PM we decided to go to the bar Jack was playing at and get ourselves camped out. The bartender informed us that Bud was $1. Neither of us drank the stuff, but that changed.

We ordered food and a round of our usual favorites (Coke and a brown booze). I remember I had about $40 bucks cash on me and that’s when we both decided to switch to beer. Around 6 PM, Jack showed up. He sat down and had a few drinks with us while the other band played. By 8ish Jack was getting ready to play. Republicaster and I helped them set up. We spent the next three hours rocking our faces off Lefty style.

I noticed something that would become a trademark of Republicaster’s that night: walking around drinking, making friends, getting drunk, being playful and then getting mean. Jack noticed first (from his own experience) as Republicaster was trying to help move their equipment. Jack skillfully jedi mind-tricked him into sitting down. Republicaster continued to drink. For records, at 6 PM he started drinking dollar Buds, but 9 PM he was asking me for money. The $40 bucks I had left was dwindled to $10 and I stopped drinking for the most part. Which meant Republicaster drank anywhere from 15-20 beers in a few hours.

Jack packed up and left. Republicaster was teetering and I knew we had to get him to the car. He did another now famous move – yelled at people while walking. Republicaster started insulting the locals sitting on their porches and screaming (it was now close to midnight). We finally got him in the backseat and started on our way home. 10 minutes into the trip he started playing with the windows. Then he started sticking his head out the window (the back windows only went half-way down). We reached a desolate, wooded section of the road. It was quiet except for the one car directly behind us. His head had been out the window for a good minute and I looked back and noticed a pink mist shining in the headlights of the bar behind me. The car started to swerve. Republicaster’s head was still out the window.

The fine vomit mist lasted a solid 5-6 minutes. I will compliment Republicaster and say, not one drop of puke got INSIDE my father’s car. As for the outside, I had my concerns. Republicaster fell asleep for the remainder for the trip, which was a blessing on every level. When we pulled up to my parent’s house, my father was sitting outside. It must have been 2 or 3 in the morning. Republicaster knew that my father would not react well to his car being coated in vomit. The old man being outside certainly put a crimp in my plan to wash it off. Republicaster started to do cartwheels on my lawn. My father looked at him, and then me and just walked into the house. I hastily hosed the car off.

The other guy drove Republicaster home and I went to bed. The next morning my car was gone again leaving me more time to inspect Republicaster’s art project. My cleaning efforts the night before got most of Republicaster’s mess, but he managed to coat the back bumper too. It looked like pink insulation foam all over the back. I gave my father’s car a total wash and called Republicaster to curse him out—he just chuckled with self-satisfaction.

Flash forward a few years (winter 2004), a mutual friend had invited us out to have dinner and drinks at a club he was associated with. We all had an early dinner, but then our friend suggested we go to some of the other bars in the area and come back later when the club picked up. We both ended up drinking way too much.

By the time we got back to our friend’s club we were not functioning on any rational level… so our friend broke out a bottle of Johnny Walker Black. I hazily remember dancing with lots of pretty girls. I sort of remember a circle of said girls around Republicaster. Rushing through the long narrow hallway leading to the bathrooms comes to mind. I clearly remember throwing up in the bathroom and NOT making a mess (I was afraid I would get my friend in trouble). The world was brought into focus.

As I walked out. The doors to the club were closed but the patrons that remained inside were allowed a last call. The pretty circle of girls surrounding Republicaster were no longer pretty (perhaps they never were or the attractive ones left for another adventure). Republicaster paid no attention as he was still in his altered state.

My friend looked at me and noticed I was suddenly lucid. He allowed/forced me to stay until he was sure I coherent to leave. As we walked out, Republicaster said he wanted to drive and then got into the back seat of my new car. He started playing with the windows on the bridge and I told him if he needed to throw up, I would pull over. Minutes later on 42, the pink mist I was so familiar with was dusting cars. I just kept driving. When we got back to my house, I was amazed that there was no vomit on my car. The white salt mix crusted on the side of my car seemed to show no sign of Republicaster’s own brand of insulation.

A few weeks later as it warmed up, I took my car to car wash around the corner from my office. It went through the automated assembly line, but when it came out there was a spot that didn’t come out. A small Hispanic man ran over with a solvent to clean it off and then started vomiting. He asked me if anyone had thrown up on my car and I immediately knew Republicaster’s night of drinking had made it on to my car, but the saline solution locked in the flavor.

Bravo my friend, Bravo.

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Story: My Jerry Blavat Run-In

( #JerryBlavat, #Philadelphia )

I came across this post mentioning that Jerry Blavat now has a blog. For the lucky masses unaware of Blavat’s existence, Jerry is semi-famous Philadelphia disk jockey during the 1960s (and 70s?). The reason I am mentioning any of this is that I had a run in with this guy almost a decade ago at a charity event. Since his blog wants some stories, here is mine:

My tale takes place somewhere between 2003 or 2004. The setting was at a very nice Philadelphia hotel (near the Art Museum). The hotel was hosting a charity event that had something to do with Italian Americans and donations to Washington. Thanks to my father and his employer’s involvement in said charity, several tickets were purchased and I was offered a spot at the table. Having become newly single, I thought this would be an interesting place to meet women.

The crowd leaned towards the older side, but that was to be expected. That said, women my age were most definitely in attendance. Eventually I managed to break the ice with a girl near one of the carving stations (I remember because I made a comment that I was avoiding anything that would drip all over me). I started to notice an old man intently inspecting the carving station (the girl’s back was to the roast and to the older gentlemen).

This man then turns around and starts staring at my new friend’s ass. Right in front of me. No shame. He makes eye contact with me—then goes right back to looking at the girl’s ass. He then creeps over and asks what her name is (no “excuse me”, more like “hey, what’s your name”). Seeing this coming, I watch the girl to capture her reaction. She was definitely caught off guard. I could tell she was trying to figure out if I knew him. So I decide to get a little playful myself and cut him off and say “Sir—that wasn’t very nice to jump into our conversation, why don’t you introduce yourself first.”

Stupid me—I gave Jerry the opening he was hoping for. “I’m Jerry Blavat.” No reaction from either the young lady or myself (prior to this evening I had never heard of Jerry and I grew up in South Philadelphia). He sees that his name did not make the intended connection, so he then offers “the geator with the heator.” Zero reaction. I could sense that Mr. Blavat’s pride was wounded, but he made no attempts at retreat. He continued to pummel this young girl with standard stalker questions: “What school did you go to?” (she had graduated 2 years earlier), “where do you work?” and then starts in with “are you with this guy?”

Are you fucking kidding me?

My new friend said no, we had just met—he then turns around and tells me to go get him a drink. I respond with something along the lines of “I hope you are joking.” He wasn’t. I then said something like “I think you had too much to drink buddy, plus I think it is past your bed time.” This amped up “the geator” and he gave me some kind of jab about the younger generation having no respect to which I responded that he didn’t seem to have any respect interrupting our conversation. At this point, my would-be lady friend politely excused herself. I shot Jerry a death stare and mumbled several curses under my breath as I walked away.

As I approached the bar, my mother intercepted me and informed me that I was speaking with THE Jerry Blavat. I ask her how she knew him, and she gives me the he’s “the geator with the heater” line. I look at her at ask “what the hell does that even mean?” I don’t remember her answer, but she proceeds to ask what we talked about, and I just said, “not much, but that guy is an asshole.”

Mr. Blavat may be a respected DJ, and a member of the Philadelphia elite, but to me—he is just an old cock-blocker.

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Editorial: A note about confidence

( #Confidence, #Rant )

I was thinking about interactions I had over the last few weeks and a pattern I have been falling into: sitting in a circle and listening to friends or co-worker’s issues and offering advice. I get feedback from my social circle that I am “so confident.” This perceived confidence was all bullshit until recently and even now, it isn’t really confidence as a lack of confidence in everyone else.

I was never confident as a child – never trusted my own impulses. In fact, I spent several years of my life training myself not to follow my own instincts. One thing I always craved, produced, and excelled at was instituting order. I always needed to follow a plan or clear direction, it helped me to sleep at night. This served me well until I found myself repeatedly questioning the plans and methods of others. I noticed that other friends, teachers, co-workers, managers were just fucking winging it, and these ideas I silently kept to myself would have produced better outcomes. This my friends is not arrogance, it is the truth.

Having no confidence in yourself can produce several personalities traits, in my case I didn’t become sullen and quiet – I had enough self-hatred and well-bred Italian spite to force myself to learn. Learn what? Anything I needed to overcome that pit in my stomach because I didn’t know what to do. This involved reading, asking for advice (and learning what advice not to take), research, finding mentors, finding models to base examples from – and over the years, I have built up a decent database of experiences to draw from (either my own or through others). That internal spite and hatred was eventually unleashed at the people making my days longer and less productive. That doesn’t mean yelling and getting nuts, but I won’t lie to you – it definitely means letting people know in subtle ways that your time is being wasted.

So what does that have to do with confidence and what am I driving at? The only way to gain confidence is by action. That action might be reading a book (or building a bench), but it is a step in the direction you want to head in. Do you think the people setting direction and offering you advice are making efforts to better themselves and the decisions they make? How many people do you know at work are losing sleep over the bad, uninformed decisions they are making (unless they are about to lose their job)? The only way to avoid going down with the ship is to learn how to swim (and to know when to get off the damn boat).

PS – To keep with the swimming metaphor, learning to swim does not have anything to do with confidence, is it all about survival. There are way too many people drowning out there.

Sink or Swim.

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Reflections on the Tour De Philly (2010)

( #Philadelphia, #TourDePhilly, #JosePistolas )

My friend Tom started the Tour De Philly in 2004. We were young, single, and (mostly) ready to mingle. Over the years, the tours has reflected the changes in our lives. Girlfriends and wives (and husbands) became part of the team and those favorite old college bars started to get replaced with Center City bars. Regardless of the location and the people, a good time was always had. The 2010 edition of the TDP was no different: good friends came out and we had an excellent time, but as I clicked glasses filled with various compounds, I knew the era of the Tour De Philly was coming to a close (for us).

Before we even started the tour, the decision was made to reduce the number of bars. The last few years, the constant jumping made it hard for those falling behind to catch up and it was really hard to get drinks unless you stayed a while. So I made the executive decision to cut it down to three core bars (McGillins, Ladder 15, Jose Pistolas). This year was extraordinarily hot and the Philadelphia bars struggled to keep their businesses cool for the masses; this made the crew eager to jump to the next place, which had the effect shorting the duration of the tour.

While mostly everyone was pleased to start a McGillins, once the call for car bombs was made and the waitress informed us that they didn’t serve Guinness, the crowd wanted to move on. Ladder 15 wasn’t crowded and had plenty of seats. It was nice in there for about 30 minutes, but then the place started to fill up (and get warm) with people younger than I wearing flip-flops. One of the bar employees asked my friend who was wearing a jeff cap and a kilt to take off his hat (it was okay for kids to wear sandals and baseball caps, but Ladder 15 was too cool for the guy in the kilt). I was ready to leave.

We made a detour into Fado and it was packed. I left anyone who wanted to stay in there and made my way over to Jose Pistolas. Even though the AC wasn’t at 100%, Joses is always worth the sweat. Universally beloved (by my entire social circle) Buddy was working the bar on the main floor and I enjoyed a brief conversation and a good drink. As the Fado slackers started to shuffle in, they took over the 2nd floor of the bar. I stayed downstairs with Buddy until he told me the AC worked better up there. My friends ended their night eating and drinking, the way all TDPs should.

Sounds like a pretty good night right? Yup. But the passion is gone. The tours have been ending earlier every year and getting home via train and other safe means is becoming a headache. Additionally, who the hell wants to drink themselves into oblivion and feel like crap for the next 3 days. You are witnessing forced maturity boys and girls. It’s time for a new crop of young people with disposable income to run around the city getting completely trashed, I am too old for this shit and got stuff to do the next morning.

When this doesn’t look fun, it’s time to run

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Story: The Time I went to a Christian Rock Concert

Even though I was raised Roman Catholic, my family was not overly religious. Sure my mom made us go to church on Sunday and yes, I was an alter-boy (please refrain from the sexual molestation jokes – I was a fat kid, the priests weren’t into me). Looking back, I feel like any of my religious activities at the time had more to do with my Italian heritage and South Philadelphia neighborhood than any feelings about faith or God. By the time I was in 6th grade (11ish), I had pretty much written off Christianity, but I kept it to myself until I was in high school.

While I spent most of my “family time” with my Dad’s side, my mom’s sister held a special place in my heart. She was (and is) very independent, odd, and a DEVOUT Catholic. It didn’t seem strange to me at the time, but as I got older, my Aunt became more immersed/dependent on the church. The summer that I turned 12 she told me she had a very special birthday present for me (she usually indulged my obsession with electronics). Since my birthday was at the end of the summer, I was left waiting almost the entire 12 weeks for my gift. At some point I found out it was on a specific date, so I knew we were going to a place. Finally the day arrived and my Mom volunteered to drive the three of us. We were in the car for what seemed like hours and finally we pulled into a very pleasant looking place (farm like in appearance – open fields, barns, etc) and then I spotted the ENORMOUS WOOD CROSS.

My exact words: “Oh Shit”

My mom pulled into the parking area and this place was packed. We were late, but I could see kids everywhere. They all had purple and blue shirts on with crosses on it. I could tell that they were not the Catholic flavor of Christian that I was familiar with which made the situation (in my mind) even worse. I shot a nasty look to my mother and she communicated with her eyes that she had no idea what was going on. Knowing how her sister operates, I believed her. My aunt was already out of the car and pre-introducing me to these creepily polite kids. I walked up and exchanged pleasantries (translation: I was a total jerk to them) and they invited me into a retrofitted barn. I walked behind them looking back to see if my mother and aunt were following (I didn’t want to be abducted into their cult) – as I passed the massive barn door, I saw a stage.

My exact words: “Get me the **** out of here”

I am a music snob now and I was a music snob then. Christian rock did not exist in my mind as a viable musical genre (it still doesn’t). I see my mother and aunt peering into the door (they being the only Italian looking people in the establishment besides myself, everyone else looked like they walked off the set of “Children of the Corn”), I start to walk back to them and my aunt holds up her hand and says “just give it a chance”. “No.” She says: “You might like it since you love music.” I say: “That’s exactly why I won’t.” I could see that I might have cut a little too deep on that last line so I relented and sat down. The Children of the Corn started telling me about the clown that was about to play and I nodded and thought of better times. The guy comes on stage and is rocking 80’s era Richard Marx quaffed hair and even has the pierced ear with long dangling earring. Opening chord rings…

I sit through three songs. The Children of the Corn are swaying and holding hands. The musician is singing about his deep Jesus Love…. I walk out. My aunt looks at me with disappointment, as my Mom has this amused look on her face – no doubt she enjoyed my suffering at the hands of the uber-Christians as cosmic retribution for some other act of defiance. As we walked out of the barn, a tall lanky looking fellow stops us, “Aren’t you enjoying the show?” My aunt starts to engage this man in conversation, trying to explain away my “unexpected” bout of good taste. Soon enough they start passing bible quotations between each other. I look at my mother, who is equally ready to get the hell out of this nightmare (although she would never admit it), and she politely reminds my aunt that we are leaving. My aunt who I now know is exacting her own revenge on me continues to chat away with this fellow until he turns his attention to me.

“Didn’t enjoy the show?” I will admit that during my pre-teen years I could be a rude little snot. I considered my silence at that point an act of extreme restraint. I looked at this tall bastard and said “This is not a show, it is a membership drive.” He just looked at me, I am sure thinking I was destined for a life of sadness. My mother and aunt did and quickly escorted me to the car before I could inflict further damage or embarrassment. The ride home was very silent. In the 12 weeks leading up to this “surprise”, I bragged and taunted my sister as (to my knowledge) she wasn’t included (I assume she didn’t need to go because she didn’t “reject the church”), so now I was stewing because I would have to tell her what went down.

We walk into my grandmother’s (who was watching my sister): “How was it?” she asks as she flipped through a gossip magazine. “Christian Rock Concert.” She looks at me and starts laughing hysterically. She was right to laugh – who gets tricked into going to a Christian Rock Concert? Me. That’s who.

(I don’t think the dude was Michael W. Smith, but he was trying his best to be him)

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Original Short Story: Conceived in a Cage

Howdy true be-loggers:

I wanted to share a short story I wrote this week. Hope you don’t think it sucks.

Click on the link to read the story:
Conceived in a Cage

Thanks for visiting,
– Joey

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