Sunday, July 1, 1979

LIFE 2 - CHAPTER 2 : THE CLASS CLOWN


I never really understood why people think that I am funnier than most. I'd like to think that I'm rather boring, and just making my rounds. Most people however, disagree with me.
I don't know what to say. It’s not that I try to be funny, or even that I'm extremely witty or anything like that. Perhaps it might be in the matter that I deliver my humor. It's pretty striking. A hit and run if you will. At first glance, most people see the serious, professional side. Way too serious, for sure. But, if they stick around me long enough, they will see a rare side. Because every now and then, I will turn from Corporate man, to "manic" boy, going into a non-stop rollercoaster of humorous antics, be it slapstick or one liners, until the victim cries out in laughter. I know I probably illicit all sorts of thoughts in others when I start to go on a roll, like "This person is really unbalanced." or "what did he eat this morning?"
Always striving to be creative, I guess I really love to dabble into bizarre comedy. I could tell you that I do it to impress others, but it would only be half-true. I totally get into impressing myself just as much. One thing is for sure was that I became a lot funnier after I was sent to live with my father. Looking back, and probably in the mind of a psychiatrist, maybe I was more comical than most, to compensate for the loss of my mother's love. Either that and/or maybe it's just my nature to be play the funny man, when I feel confident and comfortable.
The more comfortable I feel, the more apt I tend to be zany.

Having said that, I was VERY comfortable at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs school.

The first funny moment that I can recall at school occurred during lunch time. At OLQM, lunch was held in the same place were gym was held, in the auditorium. In fact a lot of notorious things took place here. It was early in my 6th grade, and I was sitting at a long bench table eating my lunch alongside another dozen or so boys and girls. I will still getting to know everyone, but there was this one kid named Peter Federman who seemed to be commanding attention through his antics which were eagerly encouraged by some of the others at the table. He called what he was about to do a magic trick, but it was more like what John Belushi did in 'Animal House' with a cream puff. I still can vividly recall it. Peter placed a straw in his red, 6-ounce school provided milk carton. Then he proceeded to drink his milk. Nothing wild, right. Well you are right. That is nothing wild at all. That was until he made it come out of his nostrils.

One of our classmates, Fabrizio something-or-other ( I could never remember his last name ) had got pretty sick over the stunt. He pleaded Peter not do that trick again. So Peter obliged. Instead, he now stuck the straw in his nose, snorted the milk in, and made it come out of his mouth. While the majority of went into a chorus of "EWWWs", Fabrizio went pale. And then he yakked. All over the lunch room table too.

Unfortunately, this started a chain reaction. Before long, three other people succumbed to throwin up as well. The sick joke had turned into a booting competition. There were probably a few others I noticed that started heaving, but did not throw up. It was unbelievable!
I never got sick however. I just laughed uncontrollably over and over again. It was then I realized that there are two types of people in this world. Those who got sick, and those who are ‘sick’. I guess I knew from that day forward that I’d be the latter.

I had my moment in the sun there in the auditorium as well. Like I said, the auditorium also served as a gymnasium. One time, during the Eighth grade gym class, we were given instructions on how to play soccer. Mr. Goodwin paired us up into teams, and then we started playing. Now this is funny, when you consider we were all in uniform. Imagine the boys having to kick the ball with their shoes and ties on. Better still were the girls kicking the ball with their shoes, while skirts were flying up in the air. It was ridiculous if you ask me. A gymnasium fit for the unfit.

But even funnier than that was what I did when the ball was kicked hard towards me. I knew I wasn’t going for the goal which was only some five odd yards away. Why else then would I give it the biggest kick I could possibly give? It was almost like Pele’s famous bicycle kick, except I only went half-way, and nearly fell flat on my back.

Physics took over. The soccerball (which was more like a badly inflated kickball) took off like a rocket. Its trajectory? The red and white glass EXIT sign over the East wing door to the left of the stage (because yes, this was an auditorium after all). We all stopped running upon impact with the glass, which by the way, shattered into many pieces. Mr. Goodwin had to get out of the path of the falling debris. I think part of the letter “X” fell onto his collared-polo shirt. The only part of the sign remaining overhead was “IT”. Talk about destiny. Information Technology or “IT” for short, would become my career path. Back then though, PCs weren't even available. One kid even yelled out, “Hey! Let’s write a big 'SH' to the left of the sign!”

Writing was always a true love of mine since I started at 'Martyrs'. In the sixth grade, we were once asked to write about a commercial that we saw on TV and what its significance was. I must've been insane though. While the other kids wrote about a commercial, I not only re-wrote an existing commercial, but summoned a few volunteers and acted the whole thing in the front of the class.

The commercial was Bounty – The “Quicker Picker Upper”, but instead I wrote it up as "Bouncy – The Too-Quick-To-Pick-It-Uppers". I’m not sure if it was Jose Barrios or Michael Mancino, or someone else, but I had gotten two people to read from a script that I wrote. When it came time, I slammed the roll of paper towels with all my might onto teacher’s desk. It bounced higher than I even expected doing several Nadia Commanechi-like sommersaults in the air.
Nadia was a gymnast from the 76 Olympics. Just trying to bring you back in time, that's all.
Well, the whole class went roaring. Even Ms. Klein, our English teacher, was cracking up. In the end, I got an A+, but more importantly, it established me early on in my tenure at OLQM as the "Kingpin" of comedy at my school to which it would only get bigger and better (or worse, if you are a square) from there on in. To this day, I thank Ms. Klein for allowing me to pull that stunt off. Actually "Kingpen" was not the term my classmates used. "Spastic" was more like it.

Ms. Klein also gave me an “A” for writing my first short story ever. It was called “The Maniac Monster Murdalizing Men”. It was as you could have guessed, a fictional short-story, very short and very 'Twilight Zone-esque'. It centered around a man who falls asleep in a crowded commuter train. When he wakes up he sees that every one around him had been killed through mutiliation. Nice thing for a 11-year old to write, huh?

The monster had become the conductor (or was it vice-versa) and was now after him. I even recall describing of a thick misty fog in the compartment. I was had a very overactive imagination, even for that age. I am no different than that 11-year old boy now, except that I am not that imaginative. Again, I deviated from the norm, and from what my teacher has asked for. But she admired my deviations enough to give me a good mark. Originally, the book report was supposed to be on what I did during my summer vacation!!

I guess you can say I had a way of influencing people. One time, during Mr. Moks’ 7th grade Science class, I made a spectacle of myself. We were learning about oceans and their terrains. The subtopic dealt with the deepest point in the Earth. It was called Marianas Trench.
Now, and in our class, was the ever self-confident, sometimes snotty (IMHO) Marion Borg. She was by far the smartest kid in our entire grade, two years running.
As Moks asked if anyone knew where the deepest canyon on Earth was, I yelled out in a make-believe-baritone voice,
"MARION'S......T-R-E-N-N-N-C-H-H-H!!!!!"
The normal brain process goes like this -> You think about something. You think about the consequences of what you might do, and then you decide whether to do it or not. In my brain however, it was a little bit different. You think about something and then you do it almost instaneously. You only start to think about whether or not you should have done it, a few days later.




Mr. Tom Moks, one of the most mild-mannered people I have ever met to don oversized amber sunglasses and brown corduroy jacket and pants (God, he looked like a early 70’s portly model from a Sears & Roebuck catalog), just shook his head and giggled. However it did not stop, as the giggle turned into an all out laugh. He kept laughing even after the class stopped laughing. Finally, Marion herself, emoted that this was not funny at all. That was about the only thing that helped Tom Moks to contain himself from completely melting down in hilarious laughter that sunny afternoon.

What can I say? I must have been a poster child for A.D.D.

In 1979, I won the Science award upon graduation. I also used to bring in the newspaper every day to school. The connection? The Science Award is something that is given out every year. However, a kid bringing in a newspaper to an 8th grade class is not something that ever happens. Ever. In fact, no kid ever brought in the newspaper, and I’m sure no kid has ever since, or ever will. And not only did I come to school with a newspaper every day, but even better was what I packed my school books in.
It was a hard-sided Samsonite briefcase, like the ones popular in the 1960's. It was my dad's. I would carry the Daily News or the NY Post in my left hand and my briefcase in my right. Yes. This was when I was 12 years old. I looked like a God-damned insurance salesman.

Anyway, when I was finished with the paper, I would it give it to Mr. Moks. At our last day ever at OLQM (the day after the graduation ceremony and award presentation), I approached Tom
“Mr. Moks….Did all the newspapers I gave you help me win the Science Award?

Tom gave me a long and grimacing look and told me,

“Well, it surely didn't hurt.”

Then he gave me a wickedly sinister smile. That was Mr. Moks. The same man who once told Andre 'Nadazia' to “STAND” for the remainder of class because of his talking. This was also the same man who the very next day told everyone that he would no longer force people to “stand”, because it was considered to be corporal punishment.

So in the end, I was influential with all of my teachers. And I really thought the world of all of them. It would be great to see them in a class reunion. However, how influential was I with my classmates?

Located on Austin Street in Forest Hills, the school playground area is just a parking lot today. From the way it looks, from all of the cars there, I don’t believe kids are allowed to recess outdoors any more. But that’s not the way it was when I went there.
Back in my time, we used to get a half-hour of lunch. Usually, it was 15 minutes to finish our lunch, topped off with another 15 minutes to go outside to act like imbeciles. And trust me, the shit that we did behind the schoolyard fences, would make the Bronx Zoo animals behind their fences blush. Some of the things we used to do was to take off our ties and whip the 7th graders into submission. Not very Christian-like unless you believed in self-flagellation.

One day, a friend of mine Richard, had come to me asking for advice. Richard was one of only a handful of black people in my class. And while they picked on him mercilessly, it had nothing to do with color. Richard was the shortest kid in the entire grade.

Gym class must have been a nightmare for him. The bullies in our class always made it a point to single him out. One time, while playing dodgeball during gym class, I remember Billy Riordan launching a missile of a throw directly at Rich. Billy was the tallest in our class too. The ball hit Rich with such voracity, that it lifted him right off his feet.

He was normally a quiet kid, but that day in the school playground he seemed exceptionally worried.

“Can I ask you for advice?” he asked.

“Sure. What’s going on Rich?”, I inquired.

“I’m sick and tired of Marcus bullying me around” he snapped and then added, “And I need help on what to do to get him to stop.”
Marcus was actually a friend of mine too. Like me, I think he might have had a less than stellar upbringing. He was at times a little bit of a trouble maker, but he was a good kid with me. I never thought of him as a bully, but then again I never thought of Billy as a bully either, simply because no one ever picked on me. I was too crazy, I guess, so I was left alone.
After Richard told me about this. I looked at him, and noticed that he looked really troubled. By the way that he had sounded, he looked like he was going to fight him, so, I told him this:

“Rich. The element of surprise is the best way. You should get him when he least expects it. By the time he hits you, you could have hit him at least two, maybe three times. Remember Rich. The element of surprise.”
"Thank you, Alex! Thank you!"
And with those words, came about one of the most provocative classroom events that I was never held responsible for….And good thing. I might have been suspended had they known.

Later on that day, Rich and I, and about thirty-three other kids, were listening to Sister Mary Helen teach us about the Disciples and the value of patience. Marcus was also there too. Sitting in the first row.

As Sister Helen continued to talk and write on the blackboard, I saw Rich getting out of his desk. I thought he was going to get in trouble. After all, we weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom, unless we raised our hands and asked permission first. But he just plum got out of his desk and left it. Except, he wasn’t walking my way, to get to the door. He walking straight ahead towards Sister Helen.

Unbeknownst to her, she just kept right on teaching. She didn't see what Rich had done. Didn't see that is, until after the moment where Rich stopped right behind Marcus’ desk, and sucker punched Marcus square on the head, not once or twice, but as a flurry of lefts. Frankly, I haven’t seen such an explosion of left hooks since Sugar Ray Leonard did it to Cuban-born Andres Aldama in the ’76 Olympics in Montreal. And I think Rich was a righty!

Sister Mary Helen quickly turned around and was taken by the complete surprise of her life.

“What the hell?!”

I swear. She said that.

We all knew that Marcus wasn’t going to take this for long though. He managed somehow to escape out of his desk, and the two totally threw down. Marcus, Puerto Rican by heritage, was a skinny boy, but was a tough kid, and looked like a tree when standing next to Richard back then.
Normally, he would’ve easily had the advantage, but by now Richard had dogged him plenty good, so the scuffling on our classroom floor was pretty even.

The two Billy's (Galvin, Riordan) had jumped into the melee under the guise that they were trying to break up the fight. However, from my vantage it looked more like they were just throwing punches too and adding to the fracas. The whole situation had turned into a free-for-all (Ted Nugent, please), and all hell had broken loose in none other than our religion class.
Miss Schifano, our History teacher, stormed in to see what was going on. She was not a nun. She did instead, had very strong biceps and was especially adept at pulling earlobes.

The fight ended soon after Miss Schifano had her way with all of them, and they (Shifano and Sister Helen) took them both off to the principal’s office, Richard gave me a half-smile as he was shown the door, as if to say, ‘You da man!’
Honestly, I was surprised neither one of them were outright expelled.
By the way.....Rich is now 6’ 3” tall. He could probably bench press me in one arm.

There were so many funny moments about my three years at this school, that I could write a book just on this alone. As I keep thinking, I keep remembering. Like the time, where I was sitting in the desk the wrong way, and Sister Mary Helen told me to get up and walk around. What she meant was to get up out of my chair adn walk around the desk so that my legs would be directly under the desk, instead of hanging outside of the side where the bar connected the table top to the seat. But I didn't understand this, so instead I got up, took my Samsonite briefcase, walked out of the class, all the way down the hall and back, came in, and sat down. What a clown.

I also remember the time in Ms. Schifano’s class when I was singled out for talking, wrongly too I might add. It was Billy Schacht who was talking. She turned around and he stopped, but then started up again. She never knew it was him, or he would have been her victim. However, when she turned around a third time, she stone-cold busted me. I was passing a note over to Dawn (I think - or wish, lol). In her trademarked fashion she calmly started walking over to me, but she looked angrier than most times. And when she got to my desk, I thought she was going to delicately fix my neck tie. It was what she did when a boy did something wrong. She would walk up to him, and fix his tie without saying a word. The boy would literally shit his pants thinking he was going to get a smack or worse. She was that intimidating. Still, her growl was worse than her bite. That was until she came over to me.
Ms. Schifano went straight for the jugular. Literally. Yeah, she did grab my tie, but no, she did not fix it. Instead, she yanked me with those meaty biceps of hers right out of my desk. Unfortunately for me though, she did not really care how she was pulling me out, and as it was, it just so happened to be from the barred side of the desk. So, instead of coming right out, the desk hung onto me like leprosy until it finally fell off a few yards later. What a scene. She dragged me by the tie out of class, across the hallway and into Mr. Moks’ class where my other peers were.
“TAKE HIM! I DO NOT WANT HIM IN MY CLASS!! TAKE HIM NOW!!!"

Again, I really was a good kid, but something inside of me started to change. Especially after I was sent to live with my father.

Like the time I noticed that one of the of the parking meters on Ascan Avenue was loose from the sidewalk. It's cement foundation underneath it had cracked and the entire meter was tilted about 20 degrees. Every day I would pass by it wondering when the city was going to fix it.
Well, I fixed it alright. A man of action you may say. Along Ascan avenue, our school had a grassy area, a yard, and it was fenced in. No trees, or bushes, just nicely mowed grass that was perhaps about 30 feet wide by about 100 feet long. Still there today, in fact. Well, just to draw attention to the bizarre, I decided one day to hoist the parking meter with pole, right out of the sidewalk. I then carried inside the fenced yard area. It weighed a ton. Fortunately the ground was still soaked from a hard rain the day before, making it easy to accomplish my mission. And that was to re-plant it, right in the middle of our grassy yard. It was the only thing sticking out of the ground, and perhaps was one of the weirdest things anyone in Forest Hills had ever seen.
"Now, they will HAVE to fix it!" I smiled to myself.
You gotta love New York City though, because the meter remained there for nearly a month before it was removed and properly restored to its rightful location. Until then though, I cashed in on several opportunites to look out of Sister Helen's homeroom class and down into the yard to get a bird's eye view of my avant-garde Guggenheim-exhibit worthy structure. I did not want to led on what I had done for fear of incarceration. So I "metered" my laughter. Hopefully, there is a statue of limitations to my act.......Hey, cut me some slack dammit!! I was just a juvie, your honor!!!!

I did have some redeeming qualities too you know. For example, I even held a very short stint as an altar boy. But by short, I mean, like a couple of days. They had an Rolodex sitting atop their receptionists’ desk in the rectory. One read Mr. Wong (I believe). Mr. Wong from Hong Kong. Yep. I dialed it. Prank call. From the rectory. To this day, I wonder how much that call cost…..
While I went to OLQM, I made a lot of friends. I was known as a "spastic egg-child", "bee on finger", "nutjob", "funnyman", you name it. But it was all in jest, and I took it as such. In life, you have to learn not to take life so seriously, or it won't take you seriously at all. I laughed and reveled at my title of Class Clown. Indeed, I was very popular there, many more times than I ever had been at any other school prior to or afterwards.
Michael Mancino, lived across the street from the Irish Cottage near Austin Street. He and I became great friends back then. I recently met him again on Facebook. A wonderful tool for reconnecting to everyone.
Michael was just as crazy as I was. During the winter snowfalls, while most kids did the typical snowball fight stuff, we went skitching. For those of you not of the area, in New York, skitching is where you walk up to a car that waiting for the light to change. Bending down, you grab onto the bumper and make sure that the driver cannot see you in his/her rear view. Then, and when the light turns green, you do only two things. Keep your feet straight and hold for dear life. The snow on the street becomes your trail, and your shoes are your skiis. In those days, snowstorms were very common. Especially in March of 1977. Every so often though, you are going to hit "dry patches". This is where the soles of your shoes meet the actual road for lack of snow. Even at 5 MPH it is a great way of wearing your soles down to nothing within seconds. Continue skitching on asphalt for longer than that or faster than that, and you have accomplished what few will have ever done.....Giving yourself hot foot.

There was skitching, and then there was sledding. With milk crates. One snowy Sunday morning I met up with Mike, and as we made our way over to the school we stole a couple of empty, hard-plastic milk crates outside of Gristede’s. Now it's a D'Agostino's but back then it was the supermarket on Austin Street, directly across from my school.
Sitting at the top step of the entrance of my school on Austin, I placed my butt in one crate, and my feet in the crate in front. My arms were out, holding the crates together and then Mikepushed me forward. I went down those 20 or so steps and right onto the sidewalk really fast. It was a lot of fun. When it was Michael’s turn, he asked me to be careful. Of course, I know why he pleaded with me. The insane person that I was becoming, he knew that I was already thinking about making him a human projectile missile for something..or perhaps even for someone??

What happened next, I am not terribly proud of. It’s not one of my brighter moments in life. But when that little old lady who was walking down Austin caught the corner of my eye, I knew that it must be done. Timing it just a conductor at Carnegie hall, I pushed Michael in those milk crates down those steps, and at exactly at the precise moment, causing a direct hit with the elderly woman. I never said I was an angel but then again, I was just doing what most 13 years old do. Okay, let me correct that. After moving into my dad's I was no angel. Period and end of story.

When it was winter, we skitched, and when it was summer we bowled. Human bowling ball. We were way ahead of our time. The TV series "Jackass" was a direct rip-off of the things that we did 20+ years earlier. In Human Bowling Ball, Michael would line up the garbage cans on his street, Some plastic, some metal (and rusty), all right in front of his apartment building. I would get a running start from Austin Street, and literally dive bomb into the cans trying to see how many I could knock over with my tiny frame. Michael's frame was *ahem* just a wee-bit bigger than mine (though he was not fat) and would knock over more. He would always win, but none of us cared about that. We were just spazes. I remember one time he hit me on the head with a Louisville-Slugger baseball bat, by accident of course. We were in his tiny cement backyard (if that's what you could call it - looked more like an exit from a bomb shelter really). He didn't know I was behind him, and he swung the bat like a golf club. The back swing caught me right on the head, and I had a golf ball of a lump on my forehead for days. Hey, maybe?....ahhh nevermind.
When we weren't outside, we were at his apartment or mine. His mother, God rest her soul was your typical Irish woman. Well kept, and a great homemaker. She was always pleasing, and always offered me something, food or drink. We took great advantage of her hospitality, or perhaps she pretended not to care. Our favorite cartoon was "The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman", and we would take our energies out all over his bedroom. Wrestling, jumping, throwing things around, you name it. We were wild men. And Mets fans too. Okay, I am rambling now.

Anyway, I remember one time we had found a large and empty refridgerator box down below on his street. His apartment was on the 2nd or 3rd floor of a 3 floor walkup. We dragged the box in. His mother asked what on Earth we were doing and Mike offered up some lame excuse which actually flew! We dragged the box into his bedroom, and as Spidey came on, we would take turns going into the box, while the other person would try to destroy the box from the outside. "Rhino" one of Spiderman's arch-enemies, was Michael's favorite character. He would go nuts when that character was on TV to the point that it scared me.
We did stupid thing in my place too. I even have pictures of me sitting in my sister's high chair with a birthday hat on, feeding on baby food, while Mike was looking on an worshipping me as an "Eggchild". The definition for an Eggchild was anyone that was dedicated to being a spaz. This was probably inspired from the Coneheads, a popular skit on Saturday Night Live during those times.
Mike was a fan of baseball, like myself, a Mets fan actually. One time, when I was 11, I actually convinced him to rob packs of baseball cards from a stationary store that was near my apartment in Rego Park. The store is now a sneaker store on Queens Boulevard. I could convince anyone to do anything back then. I did do a lot of nice things, more so than bad. But for some reason it's the bad things that I remember the most. Go figure.
Of all the people that I met in OLQM, none other than Doug Botero made the biggest impact in my life. Though we haven’t spoken in several years now, he was, by far, the best friend then and will probably be the best friend I will ever have. There are way too many tales of hilarity with Doug to share but for this moment, just know that he came to OLQM in the 7th grade, and I became his friend shortly thereafter. This was in 1977. Still seems like yesterday, and yet we are talking nearly 32 years ago. I am going to dedicate an entire chapter of my life's writings to him alone.

When I graduated OLQM, my parents took me to Benihana’s Steak House in New York City to celebrate my graduation and my science award. I remember the chef at the table lost control of the knife that missed my ear by a hair.

That wasn’t the only accolade from my school either. One time I made it all the way to the city spelling bee championship. It was sponsored by the Daily News. The genesis of how I got there was pretty funny. Eugene Hynes had threatened to break my arm if I didn’t win the homeroom spelling bee. So I won. Then they brought the top spellers from our grade for the next wave. He threatened me again. And again, I won. Funny thing was that I knew I could have handled my own with him had he tried to start anything. So I guessed I used his idle threats to really propel me. Finally, my school held their championship. All 8 grades. Anything goes. I won again. Won the whole damn thing. I even beat out Laura Brady, who is probably a lawyer or a metaphysicist by now. Even Eugene was impressed. So you see, I was a class clown, but a special kind.

Learning of the news, my father flew home from Chicago in the morning, and went directly to the school (not mine) where the city championship was being held. There were over 50 people in the final. He made it late, but he made it. More than I can say about my mother, who never even came to either play that I performed while there (The Sound Of Music, Fiddler on the Roof). He was somewhere in the back, while my principal, Sister Timothy, was in the front. God forgive me for saying this, but Sister Timothy had the face of a demon, with the demeanor to match. I was far more intimidated by her than I was of Eugene.

Unfortunately, I lost. I came in 14th place. The story of my life. In the end, I always seem to achieve good, but never stellar. Bah. Humbug. With all the words that I was spelling, I wound up choking on such an easy word that I will never forget it. The word I choked on? Impair. I-M-P-A-R-E. Impair.

Sister Timothy looked at me with those sharp, beady, rat-like lifeless eyes. Wow. I wasn’t sure whether to apologize, or run for cover. She made me forget that my father was there at all!

After the event, my dad’s initial words were….”I came all the way from Chicago for you to mess up on a word like that?” But he was kidding. I think he was very proud of me for having made it so far along.

I had other Sisters in the school. Let’s see, ummm, oh yes, there was Sister Susan. She was not only sung by Paul McCartney in “Let ‘Em In’ , she was also our music teacher. And then of course, the incomparable, Sister Maria Goretti.

Sister Maria Goretti stint lasted only 1 year at OLQM. I’m sure she received enough complaints from parents and faculty alike to ensure this. Why, on her first day, she spent the first 20 minutes of our 30 minute class room, waiting for us to be quiet. The moment one person made a sound, she would correct us, and wait forever before continuing. I say forever, because before that next ‘teaching’ moment would come, one of the kids would do or say something else.

Pretty soon, we all realized that she had zero tolerance and that it took nothing to push her buttons. And when she got angry, her eyes bulged out like Marty Feldman. The only thing to keep them on her face, or so it seemed, were the large black horned rims. When she yelled, spit would fly out of her mouth. In order to sit in the front row, you needed to have a connection with someone working the Maid of the Mist. That’s the tour boat that travels along the basin of the Niagara Falls. You needed a yellow raincoat just to protect yourself from all her salacious saliva!

“The devil’s back there laughing his head off, while you are all just suffering!”
“You are all acting on behalf of Satan now!”
“There is a word I learned way back when from where I came from, and that’s evil!”
Shit! She had so many phrases, that I can’t even count them all. And she was so demonic and energized when she bitched about us to our faces. They say that she had spent time at the missionaries in another country (perhaps the Philippines?). Whatever the case, she seemed more like a prophet of Lucifer than anything else. Doug Nolan used to really taunt the shit out of her. This is the same kid that left a scar on my knuckles by slamming the edge of a full deck of playing cards against me in a game called “Knucks”. This was the same guy that one Halloween evening as we were all doing our version of “wilding” through the streets of Forest Hills gardens, he was popping Quaaludes. At one point, he threatened Marcus. “Marcus!!!! You fuckin’ spic!!!!” So bad, that it even threatened my friend Doug (Botero). However, Doug Nolan would not, could not, compete at any level with Goretti the Sister from Hell. One time she walked up to him yelling….
“Do you think this is funny?! Do you think this is funny?!!”
He tried to contain himself, but her face was right in his face, and he would just break down even more….”Yes….ha ha….Yes….buhahaahaaah!!!!”
This drove Goretti to the point of criminal activity. She started shaking him in his desk, the way someone would shake a container holding yahtzee dice in it. All while, yelling and spitting all over him. The rest of us laughed, but it didn’t matter to her. Like a pitbull, she already bit down on her meal , Doug Nolan, and was not going to let up for anything in the world.

It’s funny how I remember some stories more than others. Like the time I went to the Record Joint store and Robert Sjoberg stole Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti album, or how Galvin and Riordan once hung Eugene Hynes from the third story bathroom by his ankles. Now that story is a legend. I never really saw it happen. If anyone comes across this article and wishes to weigh-in then please…do so!!!!

I had gotten into some fights myself. Jose Gonzales in the 6th grade was a nuisance to me. But I was more popular and eventually his bullyness even pissed off some of the bigger kids to actually help me. I remember one time, Timmy Cavanaugh coming to my rescue in the “Chinese handball” court (the same court where Jason Vega hocked a lugie that hung off the chain link fence for what seemed like hours before it fell off – see how sick I am for remembering?). Timmy pinned Jose down for me to either beat him up, or run away. I ran when I should have pummeled him. He was expelled later on anyway, but honestly I think he was abused. He mentioned that he had gone by himself to a KISS concert and that Peter Criss threw a drumstick into the crowd, hitting him in the face near his eye. But then again, what 12-year old kid would be allowed to go to a rock concert by themselves. Times were different back then, but the pieces didn’t fit together.

The only other time I ever had “trouble” with anyone else was Andre Nadjea. He and I were fighting back and forth. Until one day, I was ambushed from behind right in front of the Kennedy Building. What karmic justice. My first fight ever was in the first grade, when in defense of myself, I had punched a kid in the face for talking bad about my family. His name? Kennedy.

But I never was a fighter. I was a runner. I just didn’t know it yet…..
(originally blogposted March 25, 2009 at 1:51 AM)
Stay tuned for Life 2 – Chapter 3 entitled….. The Many Loves of A Pre-Pubescent Teen.

Sunday, April 15, 1979

REFLECTIONS: My First Jaunt 'Cross Da "Boulevard Of Death".


I was already running/walking long before I took the SFP Track & Field team member sign up sheet from Brother Kent. You can say I was always an adventure punk. One time when I was 12 years old, I decided to go on a trek to the World Trade Center. At that time I lived at 72-11 110th Street in a six-story brownstone in Forest Hills, Queens. It was directly across the street from the Kennedy Building, a skyscraper on the north side of Queens Boulevard.

THE SUCRAM MUCUS BOULEVARD EPIC

Marcus Colon, or"Sucram Mucus"as my friend Doug Botero and I used to joke, had met me by our school, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs. He wanted to join my insanity. In fact, he was already warming up his craziness, when he ran diagonally across Queens Boulevard .... AGAINST TRAFFIC. Remember, this is Queens Boulevard we are talking about. The Boulevard that was dubbed the name, "Boulevard of Death".

I don't remember all of the details, but I do remember it was unseasonably warm that April month in 1979. We walked down Queens Boulevard, passing Alexander's on 63rd Road, and then Queens Center, a still famous shopping center. Back then Queens Center primarily consisted of another, now-defunct, department store, A&S (Abraham & Strauss). We walked, we jogged, we walked some more. Before long the subway was over our heads, and the Queensboro Bridge was directly in front of us. It was a Saturday, so the pedestrian lane of the bridge was open to the public. But we didn't know any better. Heck, this was the first time I had ever crossed this bridge on foot.

In fact, I barely ever going over this bridge at all, even by car. The only time that I remembered by car was one time when my mother was driving into the city. I had to pee real bad and was about to go in my pants (oh shit...err i mean...oh pee).
She bailed me out with a cup and a blanket. The cup was my toilet. The blanket was to cover me while I did it, so that no one stuck on the bridge with us got a free show. To this day, I don't know whatever happened to that cup o' pee.... Cup' O' Pee... LOL. Sounds like Dunkin' Donuts Box O' Joe. LOL...

Crossing the bridge and getting into "Metropolis" was like finding a buried treasure to me. There is quite nothing more spectacular then arriving into Manhattan. The skyscrapers are both wonderful and intimidating at the same time. And I was 13 years old! Hello! Where were the parents?!

We made it down to Sixth avenue because one time I was at the Fifth avenue book fair, and I remembered it stopped at the arch (Washington Square) only. Avenue of the Americas is a very wide avenue, which helped us to see forever. Even on this mildly hot and very hazy day. We got to the Twin Towers & I felt like I had climbed Mt Everest. We rode the lift to the top. It was amazing. Well worth the 12+mile walk/jog/sprint across red lit roads.

Coming back, we hopped aboard the "E" train at the last stop of the train at the time. For some reason I thought it was Chambers Street, but now as I look, it appears that there is one stop further south called World Trade Center (which is no longer there). Is it possible that stop was added after 1979?