Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Remarkable Young Man Was He

If you remember where you were on November 22, 1963, you may also remember this song, from the Peter Pan collection, "Sing A Song Of Presidents". It went from George Washington all the way to John F. Kennedy.

Lyrics are below (including additional post 1962 bonus lyrics), so sing along -

John F. Kennedy

A remarkable young man is he

At age forty-three

Elected to the Presidency

He was born in 1917
The second child of nine
In the state of Massachusetts
In the city of Brookline

His granddad was a Mayor
His dad Ambassador
He graduated Harvard
Then gave service in the War

(repeat chorus)

As commander of the PT Boat
He got the Purple Heart
He was a combat hero
And he bravely did his part

He served his country proudly

And when the war was won

The hero of the Solomons

Went on to Washington.

(repeat chorus)

Then for three terms he served the House
Of Representatives
And after that a Senator
He gave all he could give

As Senator this Democrat
Worked harder than before
'Til he became the President
Number thirty four (oops)

(repeat chorus)

He liked to have his booty calls
With Marilyn Monroe
He shared her with his brother Bob,
And Ted had Mary Jo

And when Jackie was out of town
He used the White House pool
For skinny-dipping with the staff
While Caroline's at school

(repeat chorus)

He took a trip to Germany
The city of Berlin
He made a declaration
That started with "Ich Bin"

But when he finished his speech
The audience was droll
'Cause "Ich Bin Eine Berliner" means
"I am a jelly roll"

(repeat chorus)

He was shot in 1963
His brain was blown to bits
Lee Harvey got three shots off
But he only made two hits

Was there a second gunman
Behind the Grassy Knoll?
We don't know that but do know
In Jack's head there was a hole

(repeat chorus)
John F. Kennedy
A remarkable young man was he
At age forty three
Elected to the Presidency

Friday, November 16, 2012

Papa John's Appreciation Day in NJ

I found out about "National Papa John's Appreciation Day" through Facebook. A movement of over 21,000 people were planning to go to Papa John's to show their support for owner John Schnatter's threat to hike the price of his shitty pizza to pay for Obamacare.

According to the Facebook Event Page:

Papa Johns has been targeted by the left for a boycott, for simply articulating that ObamaCare would hurt profits and force cutbacks in employee hours. Stand up to this nonsensical and illogical action and support Papa Johns this Friday! 
The CEO of Papa John's, John H. Schnatter, has said that he will have to cut employee hours because of Obamacare. Schattner has received intense media scrutiny in addition to being demonized as an evil rich guy by the Left. Obamacare is a fiscal nightmare and because of it, many small businesses aren't hiring now. Some are even closing their doors. Obamacare is now, as John Boehner said, "the law of the land."
 In solidarity with John H. Schnatter, we propose that November, 16th, 2012 be National Papa John's Appreciation Day. The Left thinks we are discouraged; they think they have won. Let's send a clear message this Friday, like we did on Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day, that we are here to stay and that we won't stop fighting. There are over 2,600 Papa John's stores in the United States. Let's flood all of them like we flooded Chick-Fil-A.
There are a couple of Papa John's near where I work, in Cherry Hill, NJ. I decided to take a ride at lunchtime and check them out, in the hopes of finding, photographing, and interviewing on video people who would do something like this.

Imagine my disappointment when I got to the Papa John's in Pennsauken, and saw this:

And when I got to the Papa John's in Maple Shade, and saw this:

I guess the teabaggers in New Jersey didn't get the memo, or, maybe we don't have teabaggers in New Jersey.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fun with "Find and Replace"

Today, on the fifth anniversary of the death of Luciano Pavarotti, I recall a friend of a friend referring to him  endearingly as "Fat Opera Fuck".

What if the news picked up this sobriquet and used it in their account of his funeral? It would read something like this:

- (Modena, Italy, September 8, 2007)
About 50,000 mourners paid tribute to Fat Opera Fuck at his funeral in his hometown on Saturday, an event Prime Minister Romano Prodi said made Italy "sad but proud" to salute one of opera's greatest Fat Opera Fucks.
Rock stars, political leaders and loved ones wept and applauded after seeing a film of Fat Opera Fuck and his father Fernando performing the hymn Panis Angelicus, giving the singer a standing ovation that lasted several minutes.
"The death of Fat Opera Fuck has made us feel poorer," said Archbishop Benito Cocchi, leading the service at the cathedral in Modena -- the town where Fat Opera Fuck was born the son of a baker and died a superstar.
Fourteen pallbearers carried the coffin out of the cathedral to applause and cheers of "bravo" from the crowd as a recording of his most famous aria -- "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's "Turandot" -- played over loudspeakers.
As Fat Opera Fuck sang the song's famous line "All'alba vincero'" -- "At dawn I will be victorious" -- the air force's aerobatics team soared above the church, marking the blue sky with the green, white and red smoke in the colors of the Italian flag.
U2 frontman Bono sat next to film director Franco Zeffirelli at the service, near Fat Opera Fuck's widow Nicoletta Mantovani, and ex-wife Adua who sat an opposite ends of the same pew.
Fans crowding the sunlit square outside the 12th century cathedral watched the service on giant screens. The images were broadcast live on state television and the Internet.
Bulgarian soprano Raina Kabaivanska opened the service, amid the cathedral's gilded frescos, with Ave Maria from Verdi's Otello. Another of Fat Opera Fuck's friends, blind Italian Fat Opera Fuck Andrea Bocelli, sang Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus.
The choir -- Corale Rossini -- was the same one in which both Fat Opera Fuck and his father once sang.
Archbishop Cocchi remembered Fat Opera Fuck's life. "The story of a boy who had the natural gift of an exceptional voice which he cultivated with tenacity and thus became the leading figure among all the Fat Opera Fucks of his time."
"Nessun Dorma", which has become a soccer anthem, rang out at London's Wembley Stadium on Saturday ahead of a match between England and Israel and was due to be played in Milan at a match between France and Italy as a tribute to Fat Opera Fuck.
Prodi recalled the singer's role as a cultural ambassador as well as his recordings and performances to promote peace.
"He made music an instrument for life and against war. It's true that Fat Opera Fuck wanted to be remembered above all as a great opera singer, but we want to pay homage also to his great humanity," Prodi told mourners.
Born to a local baker father and a cigar factory worker mother, Fat Opera Fuck trained as a teacher, dreamt of being a soccer star, but pursued a career in singing -- a passion instilled in him by his father, a keen amateur.
Fat Opera Fuck shot to fame as an understudy in a performance of "La Boheme" at London's Covent Garden in 1963.
He went on to popularize what had been an elite art form, performing as one of the "Three Fat Opera Fucks" with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras in Rome during the 1990 soccer World Cup in Italy.
Before the coffin was sealed, 100,000 mourners paid respects to Fat Opera Fuck, dressed in a tuxedo with a trademark handkerchief in his hand. On a wreath, his four-year-old daughter had left a colorful stick-figure drawing signed "Alice".
"He seemed so small," said 51-year-old housewife Rosanna Cipriano of the singer whose generous girth and twinkly eyes were as famous as his voice.
After an operation for pancreatic cancer last year, Fat Opera Fuck had hoped to finish a world tour but he died on Thursday at the age of 71,
Fat Opera Fuck's coffin was taken to rest at the Montale Rangone cemetery near his villa outside of town, where his parents and his stillborn son Riccardo are buried.
The private burial was attended by his family, including Alice, born to his second wife. Fat Opera Fuck also left three grown-up daughters from his first marriage

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Voting in Washington Township

Polling place parking lot filled with poll workers' cars.
Yesterday was Primary Day in New Jersey. There was not much in the way of contested Democratic primaries, but I try to vote in every election.

At around 8:00am, I pulled up to the polling place, the Washington Township Ambulance Corps building, and saw a full parking lot. Great turnout? Think again. All the prime spots were taken by poll workers.

The Ambulance Corp building accommodates two voting districts, 23 and 24. Each district has a table, three people at each table. There are two page-turners, for the first and second half of the alphabet, and a third person who sits and does nothing. There is a greeter near the door, and and at least on curtain opener and ticket taker at the voting booths. There may be other hangers-on but in all I was able to count eight poll workers and one voter (myself).I walked up to the district 23 table, and gave my name, and spelled it out. 

Me: "P-I-C-K-E-N-S"
Poll worker: "T-I?"
Me: "No. P-I-C-K-E-N-S" 

After I spelled my name out not once, not twice, but THREE times, the idiot at the table still turned to the "T" page, and I had to direct him to the "P" page. Apparently he doesn't understand indexing because he started with the "PA" page, then went page by page, running his finger down each page so excruciatingly slowly I could barely detect movement. Then when he finally got to the "PI" page, looked up and me, and said "Pierce?", I had to find my name myself and point it out to him. Then to add insult to injury he asked, "Republican"?He handed me my ticket (why are the Democratic tickets pick and the Republican tickets blue?) and I went into the voting booth. I voted for Bob Menendez, Francis Tenaglio, running against Rep. Rob Andrews, wrote my own name in for the LD-4 Assembly, and abstained on the rest.

When I went back to my car, parked in the Midas Muffler parking lot because the polling place lot was filled with poll workers' cars, there was a kid standing near my car with a fistful of M&Ms. He asked me if I had voted for the "Three M's" (Republicans running for WT Mayor and Council). I asked him if he was 100 feet from the building. I wanted to ask him, "why the fuck aren't you in school", but I took pity on him as after a few hours I'm sure he would rather have been in school.

I could have lied and got myself a free bag of M&Ms.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The American Cancer Society Bikeathon - Why I Ride

Two weeks in a row, two colleagues of mine lost parents to cancer, both in their early sixties. I hate watching people I care about suffer the loss of loved ones to this disease. Through my lifetime, I have seen too many friends, relatives, colleagues suffer and die, too young, from cancer.

It's a horrible thing to watch someone go through this - the initial diagnosis, the aggressive treatments, cautious optimism, remissions sometimes, wishful thinking, desperate attempts to extend the patient's life, then the realization that, in spite of everything, they are now in an end-of-life situation, a life ending too soon. Seeing the anguish on a person's face as they are telling me their story kills me, being unable to do or say anything to help. 

The good news is, a cancer diagnosis is not necessarily the death sentence it used to be, but we have a long way to go. 

For this reason, every year I get on my bicycle and ride 66 miles 90 degree heat in the Philadelphia Bike-a-thon to help raise money for the American Cancer Society. I have upped my goal from $1,000 last year to $1,500 this year. I have a way to go, but I know I can count on my friends and family to help me fight this disease so no family has to go through the anguish of losing their mothers, fathers, and other loved ones to cancer.  

The ride is Sunday, July 8, 2012. If you'd like to help out, you can click on THIS LINK to get to my fundraising page.

Thank you to all who have contributed so far.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

COMCAST - The Most Hated Company In America

Yet another unpleasant customer service experience at the hands of Comcast so-called customer service.

Our internet and phones went out on Friday 3/23/12. My wife called, and after interminable slogging through menus, finally reached a human, who, after going through some perfunctory self diagnostics, said a technician would be there between 3:00pm and 7:00pm. My wife had to be somewhere at 4:00, so I left work early to go home and wait.

Four hours and 7:00pm came and went, and I called Comcast. An automated recording informed me they had arbitrarily changed the appointment to Saturday 3/24 between 11:00am and 1:00pm. Infuriated, slogged through the deep muddy of menu choices and finally got in touch with a human. He said somehow the dispatch had not reached any technicians and the service call was rescheduled. I told him I expected someone to be at my home tonight, not tomorrow, that it was unacceptable to have me leave work, costing my two hours pay, and unable to telecommute due to lack of internet service. He offered me a $20 credit which infuriated me even more. I demanded to speak to a supervisor. Once the supervisor got on the phone I did not relent until she agreed to send someone over.

The technician arrived at 9:00pm. He did some diagnostics and said the modem was fine, then went outside and looked around and informed me there was a problem with the box on the pole, which was affecting everyone on the block.

I found this odd, since no one I spoke to before this mentioned anything about anyone else having trouble, and wouldn't some other person have called if the entire block had this problem?

He said a technician would fix the box on the pole overnight and my service would be restored the next morning.

Needless to say, when I checked in the morning there was still no service. I called back, and explained the situation, and the person in the phone said someone worked on the pole overnight. They said they would send a technician over. The technician arrived at 10:00am and when he looked at the modem, lo and behold, it turned out the modem was bad, the opposite of what the idiot the night before said. He replaced the modem and all is now working.

It is now obvious to me that the "problem with the box on the pole" story was false.

So here are my problems:
1.) Two hours of lost pay
2.) Being trapped in my house for four hours, unable to leave, waiting for a technician who never showed up
3.) Being lied to and jerked around on the phone by an incompetent service rep.
4.) Having an incompetent technician come to the house, lying and misdiagnosing the problem.
5.) Overuse of my iPhone data plan due to inability to connect to my wireless network, costing me money
6.) Loss of service for over 24 hours, service I am paying for
7.) Extreme stress due to having to deal with incompetence every step of the way, except for the technician who came Saturday morning and fixed what the others were unable to fix.

I am blind with rage over this situation. It will take more than a $20 credit to make me whole.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mission Accomplished - JFK Oral History Project

(Update: We received the DVD of our interview on Friday, 3/23. It is beyond great. It should and must be seen by all.)

As mentioned in these pages previously, my friend Andy and I were invited by the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza to be interviewed about our memories and impressions of the events of November 22, 1963. Here is a brief chronicle of the trip, which we made on Friday, February 17, 2012.

I arrived at Houston's Hobby airport Thursday afternoon (on time, amazingly, thank you Southwest Airlines), took the shuttle to Andy's office in downtown Houston, then headed to his house in the Houston suburb of Spring, TX. Over dinner, we attempted to prepare for the interview, but having gone over this story so many times, there really wasn't much to rehearse. I went to bed, stayed up late like a kid on Christmas Eve, and woke up early.

We began the day with a blend of coffee called "Lunch with Elvis", that contained a hint of peanut butter and banana flavoring. Andy is a coffee enthusiast and tries various blends of beans he gets from a place called HEB Cafe on the Run.

At approximately 7:30am CST, we hit the road to head for Dallas.

According to Andy, no trip up I-45 is complete without a stop a Buc-ees, a rest stop in Madisonville. He had been singing the praises of this highway Mecca ("better than South of the Border") ever since we began planning this trip. The place did not disappoint. It has everything. Great for shopping, browsing and people-watching. We were stalked and stopped by a guy describing himself as a World War II re-enacter, and told us we must go to some event in Palestine (pronounced "PAL-est-een") in May. They even have a George Patton impersonator! We managed to break away and hit the road again.

We arrived in Dallas around noon, parking in the Sixth Floor Museum parking lot, grabbed some lunch at a restaurant around the corner, then went over to the museum at 1:30. (Sign on the front door of the museum: "No Firearms"). We checked in, asked for Stephen Fagin, Associate Curator, who greeted us in the lobby and took us to the media room. Although we have dubbed this event "The Sixth Floor Summit", the media room is actually on the first floor.

I had my copy of "Rush to Judgment", a first edition I bought used at the Strand book store in Manhattan many years ago. I asked Mr. Fagin if Mark Lane happened to be in the building. When he said yes, I jumped out of my seat and asked if I could get him to autograph my book. However, by "in the building", Mr. Fagin meant there was video of Mark Lane among the museum displays. Oh well.

We sat down, got mic'ed up, and started shooting. The interview went on for just over an hour, with Mr. Fagin moving the discussion along with brief questions and allowing Andy and me to do the talking. There were no brain freezes, very few, if any, "ums", and we had a great discussion, from our impressions of watching history unfolding through the eyes of a second grader and how our perspectives evolved over time.

Once the interview was over, we went upstairs to the museum, which had not changed much since I had been there in 2005, just spruced up a bit. Mr. Fagin took us to the renovated seventh floor, which is used for special exhibits and lectures. We then went outside to walk around Dealey Plaza.

The thing about Dealey Plaza is, when you go there for the first time, you feel like you've been there already, having seen so many pictures and documentaries. It all looks very familiar.  Another thing about Dealey Plaza is, there really isn't much to do there, except walk around. Other than a very small plaque embedded in the ground, marking the spot as a national historic landmark, there is not much to see. The picket fence, one possible sniper's perch for a hypothetical second gunman, has been replaced with a new fence and backs to the museum parking lot. Nothing mysterious there. The other possible sniper's perch, the manhole on Elm Street, used to have a removable cover, but has now been welded shut. We walked around a bit, took some pictures, chatted with some tourists, and we headed back to Spring, stopping, of course, at Buc-ees for gas, and some beef jerky to take home.

The next day, we sat at Andy's kitchen table and discussed the interview on video, and the awesomeness of the whole experience. After that, Andy drove me to Hobby for my flight home (again, on time).

We will be getting a DVD in the mail of the entire interview. The video will also be available in the Reading Room of the Sixth Floor Museum for researchers and scholars. If anyone wants a copy of the DVD, please email your address to me at and I will send you a copy.

We hope all will find our story as interesting as we think it is.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I love a parade, but...

So, the Giants won the Super Bowl, and I hope my friends who are Giants fans enjoyed their parade. I sure enjoyed the parade when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008.

Governor Christie wanted the parade in New Jersey, since that is where the Giants play their home games, but I say lets let New Jersey reap the tax revenues and let New York City pay for the parade, which we cannot afford.

Now, some are calling for a parade to honor the returning veterans of the war in Iraq. I respectfully disagree. While I certainly appreciate the desire to honor the sacrifices of  those who gave so much, a day of jingoistic flag-waving is not the way to do it.

These veterans are coming home physically, mentally, and emotionally injured. They are coming back to a place where job prospects are weak. What they need is access to health care and job opportunities, not a parade.

As long as the war in Afghanistan continues, as long as drone attacks continue to kill innocent civilians and conduct targeted assassinations, including American citizens, as long as saber rattling replaces diplomacy with Iran, Syria and elsewhere, how about we hold off on the parades.

Let's end this state of perpetual war, and then we'll have something to celebrate.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mitt Romney's Dog Takes the Wheel

Mitt Romney's dog, Seamus, takes the family station wagon for a joy ride, with a special payload on the roof rack.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Town Hall" in Irvington - ALL are welcome

For those of you lucky enough to be unemployed, or have the day off Thursday, Governor Chris Christie will be holding another one of his taxpayer funded partisan pep rallies "Town Hall" meetings, at the Christian Love Baptist Church in Irvington, Essex County.

If you go:
WHERE: Christian Love Baptist Church
                830 Lyons Ave.
                Irvington NJ 07111
WHEN: Thursday, January 19, Doors open at 9:30AM. Event begins at 10:30AM
RSVP by clicking here:

Below is a screen shot from the Christian Love Baptist Church website. No Comment:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mitt Romney's Dog: An Investigative Photo Essay

Just about everyone knows about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's family trip from Boston to Canada with his dog in a carrier, strapped to the roof.

After extensive research, Pick's Place has discovered that this was neither the first nor last such incident.

Below are photos of the Romney family's various escapades with their dog and their car.

More photos will be added as they are uncovered.