Thursday, July 19, 2012



Friday, July 13, 2012


  I wouldn't be a true cat lady unless I once and a while regaled you with cat stories. Since I've scheduled an upcoming DOGGIN' DAZE PUPPY LOVE TEMPLE, I wanted to let you know just what I think of both critters. I like dogs OK. They are lovable stupid creatures, who are so dependent on attention and so willing to do anything for it, who can help but give in? But like their needy human counterparts, it gets old. Dogs are well.....dogs. Give them an inch and they take a mile. They play up their mental deficiencies in order to get over. They really aren't as stupid as they let on. They.....but hey wasn't this supposed to be about cats?
   At present I have four felines- Ray Gilkey, Nicole, Spooky Cat and Mr. Kitty. With the exception of Ray Gilkey, on very cold winter nights, none have indoor privileges. Ray Gilkey aka Boots showed up after wandering for about a year after his namesake passed. Nicole aka Marta came with Paris aka Tommy when Carlito went to El Salvador one year. Nicole is the smallest, the craziest, and the undisputed alpha. Many a guest has felt her claws. Paris disappeared and Spooky Cat ran for his life every time I went outside for a year. Then one day he decided he wanted to be petted. Now he's a bigger attention whore than TV's Dr. Drew. That leaves the most recent arrival Mr. Kitty.
  Like Spooky Cat, you couldn't get near Mr. Kitty for at least a year. He'd skulk in for the other's food then run like his tail was on fire, if I pulled up. None of these cats would win any beauty contests, but Mr. Kitty is by far the most ragged. He'd probably be fine if he lived on Park Ave. But let's be realistic.... he lives under the house. Like all the rest, for no apparent reason, out of the blue, at random, Mr. Kitty sidled up to be, meowed and wanted to be petted. Now he's as big a whore as the rest. But recently I've noticed a change in Mr. Kitty appearance. He's cleaning up. Then one morning, on the way to work, I saw why. The cat had a giant piece of furry hide hanging from it's mouth. The goddamn cat was shedding it's skin like a snake and eating it in big fuzzy chunks. I had to admit what lay underneath that tasty fur coat was a relatively handsome beast. Now that's why I like cats. Let's see a dog do that.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


It's an age old problem. How do you make the Catskills the "hip" destination that it used to be? The answer to some seems to be a re-branding of the old chestnut-Borschst Belt. As we all know by now the hospitality angle in the 'Skills grew out of Jewish dairy farms, turned boarding houses, turned bungalow colonies, turned grand hotels, turned piles of rubble. Air conditioning, cheap air fare, myopic and corrupt local government and chain link fencing has turned our little green mountains into the great depressed nirvana it is today.
    I've been coming to the 'Skills all my life. In 1995 I bought a place and eventually decided to reside here full time. When I first moved into  Glen Wild my only neighbor was 80 year old farmer Ray Gilkey. There was no GNJohn, no RNButch, no Slick and Beeks, no Majestic, no Dr. Gooch, no Diamond Dave, no supermodels. I loved it! Overgrown fields, tumble down fence lines, deer everywhere and boarded up houses, dotting large properties owned by the Parker family (owners of The Concord Hotel). In the most depressed years the Parkers and the Hassidics were the only ones investing in Sullivan Co. real estate. Hoping that someday casinos would come in, the Parkers lost everything to back taxes in 1999. The Hassidics just kept buying.
   Now the powers that be are trying to re-brand this place, making it a desirable destination for city folk once more. With the threat of fracking, casinos, and over development of a Hassidic community, bursting at its seams with baby strollers, it's now time to tell the rest of the world how cool we are? My old man always lectured me not to be xenophobic. "Just because you found paradise, doesn't mean the next guy doesn't deserve a piece of it also." he would say when I bitched about the changes of "progress". He was right. I welcome the challenge of welcoming new comers. But there is a way to do it without giving up just what brought us all here in the first place. Preserve our water, woods, and wild life. Limit development and hold our officials responsible. A ban on chain link fencing would be a start. Only then will the 'Skills once again be cool.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012



Friday, July 6, 2012


Since the 4th of July fell on a Wed. this year, festivities here in the Catskills run from Sat. to Sat. Last Sat. found me on Paradise Pond partying at Milawyer's with the whole clan. A big spread of salads and a grill stuffed with meat was consumed between stories. Beaver and Georgia the elders were the guests of honor. I settled into the family glow, as we all told tales of a lifetime of such gatherings. I bit into a big burger and as i swallowed began to choke......and choke.
   Removing myself to the back of the shed, snot flowed, and the burger came out, as I tried to catch my breath. "Don't eat so fast, Michael." I heard from the peanut gallery as I gasped for breath. Finally i composed myself and returned to the party. But something wasn't right. After the fireworks and a boat trip over to Slick's to pick up some eye medicine, I went home. In the morning the choking resumed. Something had stuck in the back of my throat and I couldn't dislodge it. I was down on my knees, hugging the porcelin throne, sticking my finger back there, when all of a sudden what looked like a pubic hair came loose. But it wasn't a pube. It was a nasty piece of sharp, black wire. Who do you sue when your lawyer damn near kills you? My only other lawyer had faced hard time in prison and had been disbarred. I whipped off an email to Milawyer and immediately received a response in bold faced legaleze denying all responsibility. Time to get out the empty briefcase and suit. Statute of limitations just started ticking.
On the fourth I went to visit my mom at the home. I joined Mupp, Ginger and Betheroo in the trip to the white Ct. suburbs for the afternoon. The caregivers passed out ice cream sandwiches with big fake smiles, waving little flags, as a one man band played patriotic tunes, at a slowed down tempo. The patients sat in their wheel chairs, nodding off or tapping stocking feet. Most were alone for the holiday. At the end of each song the comatose crowd did their best, clapping quietly. At this point it's all about pain management, and going to the crapper. On these fronts the place is great. And I guess that's what is important. But the decor is vintage mid-70's kindergarten class infantilism. Apparently esthetics are not important when you are dying. Ma is fine with it, but I feel like crying every time I leave her in that place. I better start saving up for a long legged nurse NOW!

Once back home I went across the road to RNButch's annual fourth of July shindig. RNB always puts on a big fireworks display for his workers, gangsta buddies and the neighborhood. I noticed that the plastic covered line of explosives was a little close to the house, but figured RNButch knew best. As darkness fell and the show began, it was immediately obvious my concerns were justified. The crowd ran for cover, as explosions overhead rained hot cinders into the pool. I can't afford to lose any hair up there, so ran for cover. Wires in the back of my throat, hot ordinance, what's next? Is it possible to get holiday insurance? The Budde's Kosher Pig Roast is on Sat. and everyone knows what a mine field their farm is. At this rate I'll be lucky to survive all the fun.          

Monday, July 2, 2012


Remember these names- Ramarley Graham, Treyvon Martin and Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. Each of these individuals were killed by those in some degree of authority. Graham and Chamberlain were killed in their homes by police. The most famous of the three, Treyvon Martin was killed by a self proclaimed armed neighborhood watchman, while minding his own business, walking down the street. All were black. The teens, Martin and Graham have been demonized by the media as either having marijuana on their person or in their system. Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., a Marine and Vietnam vet., has been characterized consistently as "mentally disturbed", although it was a life-alert heart condition that brought police knocking...then pounding.....then breaking down his door, in the wee hours of the morning. As tragic and criminal as the Martin and Graham cases are, it is the Chamberlain murder that seems the most alarming.
   Imagine this- you are asleep in your own house in a good neighborhood in the suburbs of White Plains, NY. You have a medical condition that requires you to wear a life alert monitor in case you need immediate help. Somehow in the middle of the night the alarm sounds. Your heart is fine, but nonetheless the service, that you have paid good money for, kicks into gear. As a matter of course EMS, Fire dept. and police are notified. They are informed that this is a medical emergency (not a crime) and are instructed to find out if the life-alert customer is OK. Sounds good right?
    All of the sudden you are awakened by loud knocking on the door. It is the police. You are disoriented and scared by the volume and cadence of the knocking. Unsure just who is at your door and  why they are so intent on entering, you hesitate to open it. The knocking becomes louder and more frantic. The phone rings and it is the life-alert people. A calm woman on the other end is asking you if you are OK? She is asking about your health issues, but you misconstrue the question in all the excitement and reply to a more immediate problem. No. You are not OK. The White Plains police are trying to break down your door, for God knows what reason. If this was in the fine print of the life-alert contract you sure don't remember it.

Over better than an hour a horribly tragic scenario played out in Mr. Chamberlain's White Plains house. Between the police and life-alert audio tapes, as well as taser video that recorded as Kenneth Chamberlain was being zapped, bean-bagged and eventually executed, we have a pretty good idea of what happened. Numerous times during that hour, police had not only the opportunity, but the duty, to diffuse the situation. Instead they poured gas on the fire, at one point referring to Mr. Chamberlain as "nigger". "To distract him." according to an official statement. If this was the deep south in the 50's it would be outlandish. NY in 2012 is over the top criminality.
    What is even more absurd is only after the Martin and Graham cases hit the papers did the Chamberlain case even surface in the media. Then to add insult to murder, a White Plains grand jury refused to indite any of the police officers involved. Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. is now filing a $21,000,000 lawsuit and trying to interest the Feds in pursuing criminal charges. Maybe it's just coincidence that all three of these individuals were black. Maybe institutional racism doesn't exist in Florida, the Bronx or White Plains. Maybe these are just aberrations, glitches in an otherwise fair and impartial system. Maybe no one is responsible. My mom used to wear one of those life-alert pendants, around her neck, in her home in the suburbs of Ct., like I'm sure many little old white ladies do. I'd bet not too many of them have died at the hands of the police.......checking to see if they are OK? Maybe that's just the luck of the draw. Think twice about pushing that button next time you've fallen and can't get up.