Author Archive

Parade Day

March 9, 2019 Leave a comment

It’s Parade Day in Scranton.

Drunk_LeprechaunThe professionals are home today…..or gathered in out-of-the-way bars or man caves, as far away from downtown as possible. They have no desire to be vomited or spilled on, rear-ended, t-boned, shanked over the last parking spot, or forced to play peacemaker during the inevitable Hill Section brawls that will break out when the sun goes down, like wild-fires, all captured on video and posted on social media (Ok…I can’t wait for these, but that doesn’t make me a bad person).

And alas, we all remember the year Scranton became the romance capital of the year, as a parade dwelling couple bent over each other against a dumpster in an alley were made virally famous, to the horror of the Chamber of Commerce and, presumably, their parents. The stuff PTSD is made of.

So again……the pros stay away.

There’s a reason the day is widely known as “amateur hour”, as hordes of 20 something green-clad college students from Schenectady, most of them as Irish as Pope Francis, start drinking Keystone Light at 8am and continue until blackout, emboldened by a pack mentality, peer pressure, and and some Xanax to move things along. Clashes between townies and students are inevitable….and will light up Talkback-16 like a Christmas tree for at least a week.

The sheer disdain professional drinkers have for this day is palpable. Theirs is an orderly existence…….filled with routine. The same bar. The same stool. The same time. Not having to ask for a drink….but having one placed in front of them before they can get their coat off. Three long necks….then a pee. Repeat. Bartenders you can set your watch to. But today? That has been obliterated. Their sacred space has been invaded…..and there is no rank they can pull to get it back. If you want 3 beers today….you better order them at the same time. And if you think you have to pee before 10pm, start lining up now. (the girls have it way worse here… 9am the guys have already starting pissing in the sinks to move things along)

And in a nice touch, the weather is uncharacteristically perfect, which increases the potential carnage exponentially.

My musician brothers and sisters are out there…..spread out amongst the numerous bars, somehow negotiating the load-ins despite blocked off streets and zero parking. It’s good pay on parade day….much more than regular gigs….but they earn every penny, with half an eye always on the reeling drunks staggering in front of the stage, threatening to topple the sound system. When the band gets a break, somebody has to stand sentry over the gear, in case somebody takes the guitar in its stand as an invitation to re-create Hendrix at Monterey.

Totally rock and roll. Bands sleep well tonight Bubba. That I can tell you.

And somehow, amidst the maelstrom, a parade actually breaks out, and it’s wonderful. One year my father was chosen as the Grand Marshall, and I know it was a true honor for him. Music and smiles and kids and the joy of a community coming together for a day. Families gather. Old friends reunite. Over the years the cops have really cracked down on open containers, so the trouble mostly remains behind closed doors until after dark. So if you can survive the DUI bumper cars of the expressway and find a place to park, things can remain pretty kid friendly until you make your escape.

Or you can just stay home and watch it on TV.

In a bit..


Categories: Uncategorized

Dry humping the flag….

March 5, 2019 Leave a comment

190303135723-trump-cpac-0302-exlarge-169The President of the United States walked onstage Saturday in front of a disturbingly adoring crowd and proceeded to hump an American flag, surely one of the most disturbing images I’ve seen in quite a while.

I don’t know what to make of a guy not merely content to be an asshole, but desperate to be the biggest asshole in any room he enters. The speech that followed his dry humping lurched like a drunk on a cruise ship from one bizarre non-sequitur to another, at one point invoking TiVo (um..)…”I think it’s actually better than television, because television is practically useless without TiVo, right?”….before claiming, once again, that his inauguration day (which was nearly 800 days ago, for those counting such things) crowd was the biggest one ever….despite….you know, pesky facts the the contrary. And near the end of his speech he riffed on forest fires thus….”The leaves — every once in a while, you have to remove the leaves because they are so — a guy smoking a cigarette, he throws it away, he doesn’t mean it…”, just in case you were concerned that he might be a wee bit of a simpleton on the science of such things.

He spoke gibberish for well over 2 hours, unscripted, and his minions practically jizzed all over themselves the entire time, especially when he once again called the press the enemy of the people and claimed that anybody in Congress who doesn’t agree with him “hate our country.” And of course there was the “lock her up” chant. If anything, he needs new material. It’s like Ric Flair living on “woo!” for 40 years.

Totally normal stuff. Lincolnian even.

From “the better angels of our nature” to “I never saw so many beautiful-looking machine guns. I’d look at that equipment and I’d say, ‘Man …’ They sit in the trees. They sit on the lawn.” Yea….me neither.

From “…in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal…” to “Nobody has left. I watch those doors. Because a lot of times — a lot of times — well, one time, the press said people left. Yeah, you know where they went? To the bathroom. And then they came back.”

President’s of the United States said these things. In public. In major speeches. You figure it out if that’s your thing. I’d rather just get drunk.

It’s hard to comment on such utterances. If Trump’s idiocy proves anything, it’s that one can get used to just about anything if presented with it frequently enough. The fact that he’s incapable of telling the truth, has the vocabulary of a 4th grader attending classes in the van in the school parking lot, has the attention span of a goldfish, is a blatant draft dodger and a serial sexual predator, and is racist as fuck….well…’s become boring. Nobody really cares anymore. He’s done and said 200 things that would have gotten anybody else thrown over the side with a cinder block tied to his ankle…and nobody gives a shit….because this is daily stuff, like the morning coffee. There is no longer anything unique about a President who speaks English but isn’t quite sure where to put the words.

No supporter of his would leave their daughter alone in a room with the man, but as long as he’s hating on the browns and owning them libs…..well that’s a trade-off they’re willing to live with. I’m not sure how this works…..

The truth has become, ironically enough, fake news.

We’re doomed Bubba.

In a bit…



Categories: Uncategorized

Sunday evenings and Monday mornings….

March 4, 2019 Leave a comment

This weather is whipsawing us…..spring is close but seeming more and more like fake news. Getting home last night was a bit of a shit show…..but it ended well. A warm fire and stocked cupboards and a dog happy to see me….so happy in fact that he peed all over the comforter, which delayed bedtime for a bit. Max is my dog’s name. Cute as a button but not much for taking direction, and fully equipped with some serious bladder control issues. Anybody want him?

Sunday evenings are sad and lonely times…..we’re never quite able to forget the panic attacks of yesteryear….dreading the resumption of school days. Either due to the test we didn’t study for, the homework we neglected, or the bully we were hoping to avoid. Even though school is over for us grown-ups, the terrors it inspired remain with us. Forever. Like luggage or an STD.

The promise of sketchy weather always brought out the gambler in us……no need to study for that exam, or to write that graded essay due in first period,  or to plan an alternate route home to avoid said promised beating, with a Sunday nor’easter bearing down on us. No need, even, to pretend we have a fever by placing the warm washcloth on our forehead for 10 minutes before calling Mom up for her diagnosis. Right? All in good time….for tomorrow we rest and snowboard and drink hot chocolate (only on called days do we drink this, not sure why)….confident that one adult or the other will whisper those delightful words into our sleeping ears….”school is cancelled today”.

(“Two hour delay” is possible, but while it’s better than nothing, it’s still a massive letdown. This is the all or nothing section of our lives….)

Of course the promised snow-mageddon rarely happens as expected….and Monday morning bring roads highly passable, indeed often scraped as dry as a Mormon….with sidewalk snow that can be brushed away with a broom. And once again we’re furious at the dumb weatherman. “Vince didn’t say it would be like this…and neither did that annoying little Snedeker…”

The plan for the weekend was to sleep in. And Saturday morning arrives….and you are fully awake at the normal weekday alarm clock hour….desperate to sleep longer not because you need to, but because you can. This repeats itself on Sunday morning, despite your best Saturday evening efforts to make it not so….so come Sunday evening you’re knackered……and in bed early…eager for a repeat that never comes….for somehow Monday mornings don’t work that way at all. The alarm that you didn’t need the last 2 mornings will screech you into semi-consciousness, and you’ll beat on the snooze button 3 or 4 times before the necessity of adulting finally kicks in. Something inside the sleeping brain knows all about Mondays, and wants no part of them.

And then the day itself. If your job is not the life-saving variety, then Mondays are never quite as horrible as advertised, although they sometimes come pretty damn close. People start to care about real work actually being done around Tuesday morning…..and this care level steadily increases until late Thursday, when it plummets dramatically. Fridays count as real work days only in accounting. They exist to move your hours from 32 to 40.

And then you get home…..ram the garage door shut, pour yourself a tall one, and mumble and grunt your way through any conversations until it’s time for bed….which is generally around 9pm…..since that’s when you woke up from your 2 hour nap and decided to make your way from the couch to the bed. There is no better sleep than a Monday sleep…it’s deep and luxurious and no longer encumbered by it being a Sunday. The week has begun, you have once again survived, and will probably live to do it all over again.

In a bit..


Categories: Uncategorized

Back at it….

March 3, 2019 1 comment

Trying to settle back into it.

As a writer you need to get to the point where doing nothing stops making you feel lazy… and starts to piss you off.

And you need to once again make friends with discipline….which is like asking me to wear a MAGA hat…..but still.

I’ve got words in my head again….the kind you sing when you assign them to the appropriate noise….and the kind that actors say on-stage when you assign them to the appropriate scene or story.

Initially, whether the words are good or not is irrelevant. First you must get them flowing. Vomit them onto the page…and then worry about what they say or what order they’re in later.

All that time spent being blinded by that blank sheet….trying not to be distracted by a piece of lint on the carpet or the intent gaze of your cat, must be purged.

All that time spent looking over your past work and wondering “how the hell did I do that?” must be accounted for….

You must do penance.

Then you need to lash yourself to your desk chair and start gibbering.

But most importantly, you need to make friends with math.

A few sentences a day. A page. It adds up…..a page a day is a large novel at the end of the year. A page a day is an on-stage trilogy for an entire company. A page a day is more song lyrics than Lennon and McCartney.

Of course, all those pages could be worthless drivel, but if a dog swallows a pearl, eventually he’s gonna crap it out (or die….but we’re being optimists for once here…)

And they say you can’t shine shit, but those who say that are not good re-writers.

Re-writing is the art of digging through the dog’s crap and searching for the pearl. It’s not very glamorous work, and it’s easy to forget that you actually did it in the past, but you did and it’s why you’re questioning your ability to do now what you’ve already done then.

Memory is a tricky thing….and writers are the most forgetful people in the entire world.

So yea…..get down to it and sputter….and be ready to blow your own horn, ’cause if you ain’t willing to do that, don’t expect anybody else to pick up your ball and run with it. If you create something that’s good, you’ll know it. If you create garbage, you’ll know that too. If somebody calls your good stuff garbage, ignore them. If somebody calls your garbage good stuff, ignore them too. Compromise only if the rent is due, but always be grateful for the attention.

The year is a third in the books. I was supposed to get up to all this when the ball dropped…..but I went to bed early that night, missed the ball, then lost track of time. There was some routine chaos to deal with, periods of mass confusion intertwined with loss and collapses of confidence and crippling back pain, but all things must pass. A Beatle scribbled these words on some hotel stationary, so it must be true.

I’m counting on it.

In a bit…





Categories: Uncategorized

There’s a place…

December 28, 2018 Leave a comment

We live in a strange place, Bubba.

A place of fear and walls and lies.

A place that’s too often mean and ignorant.

A place that too often lacks basic empathy.

A place that twists religion to justify its anti-matter.

A place that fears strong women and lionizes small men.

A place that distorts the truth and accepts the lie.

A place of newly-emboldened racists, and young people who, having no experiences to draw on, think marauding bands of scowling khaki-wearing nazis marching with swastikas and tiki-torches is normal. Why else would the President of the United States refer to some of them as “very fine people”?

A place that has replaced soaring rhetoric with misspelled tweets and CAPITAL letters and exclamation points. All entered into the Presidential record, “covfefe” and “smocking gun” included…..for future generations to both laugh at and question our sanity with. From “the better angels of our nature” to “SAD!” Nobody should have to deal with this. That I can tell you. Totally “unpresidented”!

A place filled with those willing to fuck themselves over as long as it means those they’ve been taught to fear are fucked over too.

A place of contrarians.

A place that kills its prophets.

A place that doesn’t learn from history because it’s filled with people who don’t know history.

And still….a place capable of astounding acts of kindness, both large and small.


Happy new year boys and girls…

In a bit..



Categories: Uncategorized

Mullins for the 112th

September 23, 2018 Leave a comment

It’s used to be hard to be cynical. It took work. It wasn’t the natural state of affairs.

Statler_Waldorf_muppets_KYMThere was always the occasional Statler and Waldorf characters perched in boxes overlooking the stage, heckling those actually in the arena, but that was more comedic relief than anything else. It broke up the monotony of people just sorta going along and getting along, because being a dick just used up too much damn energy.

And then some idiot invented the internet. And then another idiot invented what we call social media. And the idiocy spread exponentially, like in that 70s shampoo commercial (“and she told 2 friends, and they told 2 friends, and so on, and so on, and so on…”).

And so now experts are everywhere, picking and choosing their beliefs from outlets that buttress their arguments, and fashioning an Orwellian relationship with actual facts. “Doublethink” has become “fake news”…..and “Newspeak” has an actual location, at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in NYC. But I ideologically digress…

So cynicism is easy now. It just oozes from us, and even when we try to keep in away it’s like the Blob finding its way into that diner. We’ve become experts on everything….wielding our astounding array of newfound knowledge on everything from the draft choices of the Cleveland Browns to the geo-political ramifications of defending Nazis, to the economics of trade tariffs, bloviating in comment sections and Twitter feeds like couch-laden Henry Kissingers, putting the beer down just long enough so we can peck with 2 thumbs (oh how as the son of a writer I miss the sound of the old Underwood typewriter)….and then eagerly await the fool who’ll try to challenge our wisdom….usually in about 4 seconds. Arguing on social media is like climbing a mountain to punch an echo. Does that stop us? It does not.

So what we’re left with is a non-stop silly season. Some dive in head first, loving the anonymous bully pulpit. These are the people best ignored at parties. Others just go dark, posting nothing but pictures of their dog or restaurant entrees….and leave trade imbalances with China or Russian democracy hacking to others. Others straddle a fine line between the two, dipping an occasional toe in the water in an attempt to bring either civility, empathy, or just plain old common sense into the fray, mostly to no avail. The Stupids have largely taken over, not so much by their numbers, but by their sheer willingness to be the loudest ones in every room. When facts no longer matter, volume pretty much takes over.

Politics at times resembles a Shakespearean tragedy…..a seemingly endless parade of mug shots and serial rapists and vikings on a pillaging spree…..all dressed really nice with that flag lapel always prominent…..shaking your hand with one arm while picking your pocket with the other. It’s become a cult of personality from the top down, driven by always having somebody else to blame. In our current culture, it’s next to impossible to win an election by bringing people together. Division is sown on purpose, as a device. And it works, because as long as I can blame stuff on others, it can’t be my fault. I want absolution Bubba….isn’t that what we’re all after?

kyleFull disclosure. My father and Kyle Mullins’ grandfather were brothers. So yea, maybe I’m biased. Blood matters. But I don’t think this is driven by that. Hear me out. It’s very simple.

Kyle Mullins is running for State Rep in the PA 112th district. My district. I know this kid. I’ve known him since he was born. Public service is what he’s always wanted. We used to joke that he’d be President someday. He’d laugh, but not that hard. You know what I’m saying? You could see it in his eyes. “Maybe….why not?” Why not indeed. This is the start of Kyle’s journey….not the end of it.

What Kyle gives me is a sense of hope. It sounds trite and corny but I’m too old to give a shit. He’s a genuine throwback….appealing to our better angels and not our ignorance and prejudices. He’s focused, scrupulously honest, empathetic, and indefatigable. Great husband, father, and friend. Raised as a gentleman by a great family (duh!). He’s exactly what we need…a man who forsakes the trough…unless he’s reaching down to help somebody out of it.

Can you honestly say that politics doesn’t need a man like this? Who knows…maybe it’ll catch on. God knows it hasn’t been tried that much recently. Hell, tell 2 friends. Maybe they’ll tell 2 friends. And so on and so on and so on…..

So that’s my spiel. Take it or leave it I guess. Be good to one another regardless. Don’t act like a dick.

Imagine the difference that would make, eh?

We tend to over-complicate things. It ain’t that hard.

In a bit..


Categories: Uncategorized

PA Grand Jury Report

August 15, 2018 Leave a comment

What’s being called the largest and most comprehensive report on the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church ever done in the United States was released yesterday by a Pennsylvania Grand Jury.

Over 300 priests were named as child predators. It would have been more but the report only deals with 6 of the state’s 8 dioceses. The abuse goes back 70 years.

I know 4 of the names.

One was my church’s pastor as a child (his crimes are redacted in the report, for which I almost feel gratitude). Another was principal of a school where I coached basketball for a year. The school my niece and nephew’s were in at the time.

Bishop Timlin is a friend of our family. He gave last rights to both my Mother and Father, and visited them daily in hospice. For days and even weeks. I’ll never forget his support to us during these times. He seemed graceful, elegant, statuesque, on a different spiritual plane than the rest of us. I can’t explain it, so I won’t try. It’s the power of the trappings of organized religion. I’d shunned Catholic dogma years before and become a proud atheist, but even I wasn’t immune. I told him how much it meant to me that he was there. And I meant it.

And now, this. To read that this man was no better than the near-caricatures I’d read about in Boston and elsewhere. A man who facilitated the sexual abuse of children by covering up crimes, paying off accusers, and shuffling sexual predators off to unsuspecting parishes, where they inevitably abused again. He showed a shocking disregard for victims, and a stunning empathy for the monsters he was attempting to control under a cloak of secrecy. It was either the personification of the banality of evil, or the comprehension level of a 2nd grader. What mattered most, always, was the reputation of the Church.

That reputation had largely been shattered in 2002 when the abuse scandal broke in Boston….tempered somewhat recently by a new, somewhat progressive (for a Pope…) Pope. But this report makes Boston look like a blip on the radar…..and Pope Francis has thus far remained silent on the findings. More and more it appears that Francis is sitting atop one of the largest child abuse rings in human history, which doesn’t bode well for next Sunday’s collection plate. Or his legacy. The scandal already sent Benedict off like a scalded dog…so there’s that.

What if a similar report is done in New York? In California? In Texas? What might we see there? It’s pretty clear that our state is not the exception. It’s the rule. When you peel the layers away from the organized church, what’s underneath is like a termite infested basement.

How exactly do you spin a priest forcing a small boy to act out the crucifixion in the nude while priests took pictures?

Or the priest who finally quit after years of abusing children. He asked for, and received, a letter of recommendation for his new job. At Disney World.

Whatever moral authority the Catholic Church had is long gone…and all that’s left is the rituals and fear-mongering and the tax-exempt status.

And once again it’s men who’ve done this. Mostly old conservative white men. Men with ghastly senses of entitlement driven into them like nails, and fearing all things female, modern, and non-traditional.

Some of these men I still trusted, and I can’t explain why.

I’m just glad my Mother and Father passed before this. It would have shattered them.

It shattered me.

Yet again, men put in positions of obscene authority are caught behaving obscenely. I wonder if there is a correlation?

Read the report. All of it. Then make up your own mind.

In a bit..


Categories: Uncategorized