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Sunday, July 27, 2014


In a fast food check out line I say to Victor, one of the tennis kids,  "Damn" Vick, I'm 4 cents short and I only have a $50.00 bill.  Damn.  Do you have any change?  "Nope" "He says, I don't have anything at all." An arm comes over my shoulder with a hand upside down, the finger tips coming to a point.  I put my hand underneath the finger tips which spread to let 4 pennies drop into my hand.  I turn and look.  Think of a slender, medium height black guy with unkempt whiskers who looks homeless.  "Thank you.  What's your name?" I ask.  He says, "John".  I say,   "John my name is Howard and this is Victor.  Very nice of you.  Thanks."
A coupla weeks later, John comes walking on the narrow walkway that cuts through the park from 72nd street to 73rd street.  He looks smaller and skinnier than I remember.
I see him and call out, "Hey John." He stops and looks at me while I walk over and ask, "What size shoes do you wear?" 
"My size is 8 & 1/2 but I wear any size." he says. 
I say, "I have some size 11 sneakers that are in pretty good shape.  Can you use them?"  "Sure." he says.    "OK, I'll put them in my car.  Next time I see you, you can have them."
The park kind of adopts him.  He is always polite, shows a quick wit and he is available to do stuff, if someone asks.  And he was always, always pleasant.  I might offer him a buck or so which he always accepted with a certain grace considering, and I would always say something like,      " Now remember, this is not for food.  Not for food!  Got it.  Wine is OK, beer too or you know what you like, but no food."  He never had that surprised look again, the one he had the first time I said something dumb like that.
And then there was the time he went missing for about 8 days.  "John", I said when he showed up, "You didn't do something stupid like getting married or going to work did you?"
"No, no", he said,  "Don't worry,  I didn't take no job."
So he became kinda of a fixture. 
And the time there was this kid who came running into the park.  It looked like he was being chased. John took a racket from a kid's bag, and handed it to the running kid.   He took it, not missing a step and joined a foursome, one court over, which was changing sides.  This made an odd man of one of the kids who had been playing.   This guy slowly walked into the men's room as a policeman entered the park.. The policemen slowed down and then continued slowly down the path, scrutinizing all the kids.. He kept walking slowly until he left the park through the exit gate on the 72nd street side.
Another day.  I'm talking to John and he tells me its his birthday on Saturday.  "No kidding," I say "How old are you going to be?"  "50", he says.  "50?" I ask?  "John" I say, "Wow, you don't look a day over 84". . . .  He never took offense at my smartass remarks.
Happy 50th John
On Saturday its drizzling a bit.  I go into the staff office and tell Darlene that its John's birthday. I ask if she will help me put some stuff together for a party.  She knows John and is very agreeable.  I go and come back from Publix with a chocolate cake, some candles, a few large bottles of pop, a bag of ice and bags of Doritos and Potato Chips and other like stuff and some paper plates and cups and . . . .
Back at the park I manage to get the stuff into the office unobserved and after we prepare everything I go and get John.  All the kids in the park gather and are watching.  Three of us pick up the card table with party stuff on it, carry it outside  and put it under the overhang and start singing,  "Happy birthday to you,  happy . . . . . ."
For a moment or two he doesn't get it .  We lite the 6 candles on the cake (1 for good luck, 1 for each 10 years.)  He doesn't know how to behave. We get him to make a wish and blow the candles out.  He looks at me and I say, "Look John, its just a trick to get you to eat some food." 
He didn't cry or anything, but his eyes said he wanted to.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

LeBron. . . .A letter to:

3 Defenders??? Not enough!!!
Ah, memory.  Lebron, except in sports, the childhood you reminisce about in your letter ended when you left Cleveland.  The chemistry that happened in Miami, that ended too.  Hopefully things will come out the way you want but the odds are against you.  And you still can use some  more life experiences to understand how to deal outside the world of athletes and teammates. 
Its like people trying to undo the damage they did that only took a second or two. Not in the real world. When you sat down with Dan Gilbert you were in over your head.  The real Gilbert was the one who revealed  himself when you left the Cavs.  And I hope when you did sit down  to deal with him, you  dealt with an understanding of who he was.  It looks like you might have done just that when you signed a contract you can opt out of in the second year.  But watch your back.
That is such a hard thing for you to do by yourself, coming from a 4 year magical experience in front of adoring fans, with unbelievable teammates like Dwayne and Chris and the rest of the Heat.  The Harlem Shake?  Its hard to think that kind of  combustion can really happen outside of our heads?

What a wonderful experience.  What a wonderful memory.
Is this real? Nope! Just a memory.

Each time you watch it.   You can see what all of us, the whole 40 to 50 million (and growing) of us viewers can see.  I hope you can repeat that kind of memory.  I hope the poop stays away from your door.  And remember, sometimes as you experienced, the best team doesn't win. Like the 2014 NBA finals.  Like when Schmeling beat Joe Louis or the most unimaginable of all, Jimmy V. and NC STATE winning the collegiate big dance in the 1980's..  Me?  I  hope you win every game you play, on the floor and in life, except when your team is playing the Heat.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

More lube needed!

I got my mobile phone bill today and it made me reach for my lube tube.

A few months ago I cancelled a mobile phone extra service charge that was on my monthly bill.  This reduced my last month's bill to $78.35.  My new bill is for $99.75 because, it says, it includes a ‘one time' charge of 21.40.  If you read the bill, the damn thing  says the charge is for 'discontinuing the service' that included insurance in case I lost the gadget.  At decision time for that service I thought the cost was a little excessive but I took it anyway.  Months later I find out if I lose the thing there’s a $150.00 deductible which I have to pay if I try to collect.  What the hell is going on here?   I think they found out I listen to Fox News every once in a while.  You know, to get the sound bite of the day.  Do you think that's the reason all this stuff is happening?  Did I make some kind of Fox News listener list?  I know Fox tells their listeners how to think, but I'm not a regular listener so I don't belong in that category. 
Also spelled 'Stuff'
In the old days if your were late paying a debt you could just hide until you came up with the money.  And in those days you could always find a pay phone.  People were so busy working they didn't have much time for phone gossip.  And the electric bill was a pittance.  But not today. Today you need electricity to warm you, cool you, keep your gadgets charged, keep food cold, cook it, use it to connect to the tv and the internet and all kinds of other things including shaving your legs.. You're out of luck during hurricanes though.
But the biggest 'stuff' affecting bills today, is executive bonuses.  Today executives who make bonuses get a lot of their bonus money from their customers who pay their bill late.  Customers get charged interest for being late and then exorbitant interest is added, camouflaged as a late fee.  And its charged to these same customers.   Guess who figured all of this 'stuff'' out.  Doesn't anybody realize the real reason for paying a bill late?  It's because you don't have money to pay the thing early.   And if you make the amount owed larger,  paying it is harder.  Where are they going with all this 'stuff'? 
When Charles Dickens was writing all those stories about kids and people who couldn't pay their bills, many of them were about people who lived in debtors prison.  Mothers, fathers, whole families lived in prison.  That's what this 'stuff' reminds me of.  And you know what eventually  happened in England.  After making everybody who didn't pay bills a 'criminal', they put them in jail.  They had so many criminals there wasn't enough jails. So they put the 'didn't-pay-your-bill' criminals on boats with real criminals and shipped the whole shebang to colonize Australia. Just thinking about that makes me seasick.  Months later, when they got there, they treated the aborigines like we treated the Indians.  So, no matter who you are  you have to be careful.  You have to  watch out.  
If I take the night job . . .
If phone bills don't get paid, they will surely turn the damn thing off.  Zzzap!!! And worse, they will turn your internet off.  This is the worst because if they do that they have another way of raising your interest rate for paying late.  They call this one a reconnection fee.  And it boils me when they look for the best football game or basketball game to turn the service off in the middle of.  That's diabolical.  These bonus people are really creative.  Put ways to make bonus money in front of them and anything can happen. 
And its now standard operating procedure to put 'stuff' on the bill that is hard to understand.  Like my one time charge or the AT&T bill.  I have never been able to figure my AT&T bill out.

Stop that.
And now the State of Florida can and does suspend your driving license if you don't pay a bill.   So, you know what happens?  Right?  You get stopped because an officer wants to notify you, the flap cover on you gas tank was not closed properly and it is sticking out.  If he checks you out, for whatever reason, your a goner.  Driving without a valid license makes you a felon, a natural enemy of the police force.  He takes your license away from you and gives you a ticket for driving without a license. What the hell?  This one's expensive, and you ain't even home yet. 
So somehow you get into the car to go home and of course you have to drive carefully.  You don't want to get stopped for jumping any traffic lights, or driving faster than 10 miles over the speed limit.  Impossible not to do stuff.  But, if  you are lucky you do get home where, if  there is one beer left and the power is still on, it can cool you down a bit.  But the State is getting ready for you.  They are hearing ideas and plans coming from smooth talking lobbyists for private companies who's business is; building jails. 
I mean you are in big trouble.  Because periodically you may have to go to court, where judges keep adding penalties for not paying up.  Some people get jail time . . . .  added . . . . again, just for not paying, like in olde England.  I'm  not researching this 'stuff' so it could be even  worse . . . .And your relatives and your friends don't take phone calls from you anymore . . . . this is really deep poop. 

What's the upshot?  For me?  I decided to pay the $20.40.

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Medical Advancements, NEW

Emmanuel, me, Ashish
The world of new medical technology is mind   boggling.  Here we see 2 . . . football players?  Wait a minute . . . wait a minute . . .  actors trying out for a role in a new action movie?   Wait a minute . . . wait a minute, I remember now because I was there.  Its at graduation for medical doctors and its Emmanuel and Ashish.  They're with that guy, who is saving money by keeping his Halloween 'old man' costume' on.  
Line up girls, if you need a suggestion for a question or two on what ails you, I have some left over from those that I asked some of the new female graduates.  One was,  "What did it look like I was suffering from?"
These really are, yep,  two, brand new  . . . doctors.  The guy in the Heat hat?  That's me.  The medical world?  It's moving forward..
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mary ju wanna & Elephants

The good stuff
I don't care if you want to smoke weed or you don't want to smoke weed but there is an elephant in the room and it seems to be getting very little notice.
When I was eleven my father caught me lighting my first cigarette.  I had lit the match, but when I saw my father I put the match out.  He gave me a long non threatening look  and said, "OK light it up".  So I did and I took a mouth full of smoke, blowing it out without inhaling.  He said, "What's the matter with you.  That's not the way to smoke a cigarette."  Here he said, "Watch me."  He took my cigarette, took a big drag, and then rounded  his lips and blew some very perfectly round smoke rings.  He smoked cigars and I had seen him do it before.  It looked terrific.  Real cool.  He gave the cigarette back to me and I took a deep drag . . . I was still puking three days later.  I didn't smoke again till I was about fifteen.  And after that, my first and only weed tryout was not til years later.  I was an accomplished smoker by then and I could blow smoke rings just like my pop.  But, my first drag on a weed made me just as sick as my first cigarette, except the puking.  It only lasted about one very long, very painful puke.  

  In Colorado.  (Cartoon:Mark Brayer)
Before I got married I was the manager for the largest record store in Philadelphia.  High Point Record Shop, on 19th and Market Streets.  I was  hired away from my job at the Decca  Records distributor.  In less than a year I became the manager of the store. (Just bragging.)  While working there I made many fiends and they and some other customers invited me to a party on the weekend.  So I went.  It was held at a big hotel on Broad Street.  A mixture of musicians and some local entertainers were hosting the party and they had invited some locals and a musical group from Detroit, who were doing a gig which was featured at one of our most advertised night clubs..  Everybody was talking about the 'shit' (the name for weed in those days) they had brought to the party and that it was the best.  No doubt about it, the way everybody was reacting, they were right.  When my turn to try it  came, I said, "No thanks, I don't smoke shit."    Omg!!  The reaction was astounding.  You would have thought my collar was turned around and I had a bible in my hand.  They were ready to bounce me.  The door to the hall was already open when I said, "Wait a minute, wait a minute.  Tell me whatever the %&8##  hell it is, that you will do, after you get  high, that you think I wont do, without the pot?  I'll probably do it and I don't need any of that 'shit' as an excuse for doing  it. And you ought to try doing some of that stuff without getting high, you might enjoy it more, just like me.  Especially you (I forgot her name) she was a customer of the store.  I went over to her, pulled her to me and gave her a long kiss.  Ummummm.  It got a laugh and some people who knew me said, "He's hip.  He's ok. He's hip."  So somehow I lasted to the end of the party.  And believe me it was some party.  The smoke was so heavy in the rooms that when you walked in the hallway you could inhale and get high on the second hand smoke before you made it to the elevator or your room.  Boy oh boy, those were the days.  When I got married my wife didn't appreciate all the stuff I stopped doing.
But what is overlooked here is, if smoking regular cigarettes damages your lungs and your health system, how much damage does smoking weed do?   I mean, you drag the smoke deep into your lungs.  We used to do the handkerchief test with cigarettes all the time.  You know, when you take a  drag and then blow the smoke right from your lungs through your stretched tight hanky.  But we never inhaled the smoke that deep, like a weed drag,  or held it that long in our lungs, like you do with weed..  And yet the  yellow stain on the hanky was oily, ugly as hell and hard to wash out of the hanky.  I  never saw anyone do the hanky thing with weed.  And if you are still smoking, try it.  For most people, the arguments over, thank goodness.  But, forget about it.  I'm not a doctor and I'm not qualified to give medical advice, but to me its a no brainer.  I'm not moralizing either.  I have been  in the middle of clouds of weed smoke with entertainers and wanna be entertainers, and others just hanging out or having fun, like the party above, who were or got higher than the proverbial kite.  But to me common sense says, "It must do damage to your lungs, just like cigarettes."   Just common sense.  The elephant?   There he is!

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YOU are getting, SCREWED!!.

 Take it easy, will ya,           (
Keep some lubricant handy.  We are all getting screwed, all the time. 
And socking it to the guy who is having trouble paying his bills has been the name of the game, forever.
Who the hell figured out that 'late fee' thing?   Late fee?  That's an euphemism for exorbitant interest rates.   You take someone who can't pay his/her bill, who pays an extra 12% to  18% interest penalty for not paying it, (that's the true interest rate on 1% or 1,5% monthly interest charge penalty) and then, you charge that person a late fee.  Why?  How?  Because some bonus creating executive figured out charging 'late fees' are not in any regulations.  This is outrageous.  It is also interest and what they are doing, its just another lube job.  In some instances they actually charge the 47%, and everybody else, what amounts to two hundred to four hundred percent (200% to 400%) or even higher interest and get away with it!    Us suckers might as well carry a mattress around with us, and keep the cap on the lube tube loose.  How egregious is this?  When I was in Philadelphia I could borrow money on the street at better rates. (Was the lender mobbed up?  I don't know.  I only know I didn't want him to get mad at me.)  Like in the Rocky movie.  And when I moved to Florida, if you charged somebody more than 15% interest, you were breaking the law.
But the thing is, you can't bring transparency and emphasize all this kind of poop.  Like switching a light on or off.  If you switched the transparency light on everything, all hell could break loose.  Tubes of lubricants would fly off the shelves. 
Like that Libor thing in England.  (London Inter Bank Offered Rate)   A few guys in London, at the top of Europe's  banking business, who were charged with setting the Libor interest rate for banks throughout most of Europe,  were sitting around having tea and determining what interest rate to make effective.  Normally the new Libor rates go into effect after they paid their luncheon check.  Just a routine day.  Something their grandfather's grandfathers had been doing forever before they passed down the rights to do it, to them.   I think its a Royal family inheritance thing.  You know for Lords and stuff.   Now, somebody put the light on.  All they were doing is something like knowing the opening price of a commodity before the futures market opens.   You don't think bankers would profit from knowing  this kind of information in advance, do you?  When the light was turned on. . . .Omg!!!   The banking and the financial community had a fit.  But the Libor people couldn't understand what all the hullabaloo was about.  They have always been doing it that way.
So here is the thing.  Things like Libor are only indicative of what almost all businesses, who can do stuff, do, and have been doing to the public forever.  And new technology?  After the innovation wears off, a little. It just inspires more poop like this.   Its so prevalent nobody even thinks about it and if they did, it might be a catastrophe for doing business in the Democratic free world.  Example???  Pfffft! 
Ink Jets plus
How about every time you pass by a trash heap.  What's in that trash heap that's blocking your view of the sky?  Along  with other stuff is your old ink jet and  the discarded cartridges from that old inkjet.  What possible reason could there be for the buyer, of a new printer, with the same ink jet technology as the old one, not being able to use the remaining ink in the cartridges (including new and unused spares) from his old 'outdated' printer??  Right?  Open the tube.
When did this poop start?  Forget about it.  Its always been going on.  Its just that new technology, which we think is being used for ever-new products, well, a big chunk of it gets bought up by these brain dead, park your money off-shore people, who are only looking for  new ways to screw the 47%. 

Remember when new cars were bought to keep up with the Joneses?  I remember wondering why you should buy a new car, when the only change of any consequence, was a different bumper.   No question, the American automobile manufactures are the reason Japanese car makers were able to gain such a large share of the U.S. market.
Now, here comes Michael Lewis who writes a book (Flash Boys), revealing  another way to really make money.  Pffffffttt!!!  Money!!!   And believe it or not it has little or nothing to do with the 47%.  The best part of these shenanigans?   Most of  the rip off  is to the  48 and over percent.  And the bending over guys are mostly on Wall Street.  You know, the guys who think lubricant is for keeping the sun off..    How the hell did Romney miss this one?  Or did they go to Mitt first?  ("You make money  by doing it to somebody else.")  That's his stock in trade.
The scam?  You order shares of stock from a Wall Street connected firm.  Doesn't matter the number of shares. A separate company (we'll call them 'XYZ'), that has their own exchange, arranged to have a computer located alongside all computers that do the trading for the Wall Street exchanges.  The deal allowed them to rent computer space right in the places where all originating transactions are executed.  That seems harmless enough.  I guess they said they only  wanted to receive more timely information.  So, the 'stated purpose' of each monitoring computer, is to send a copy of the trades to 'XYZ'. 

Pink Panther
Now, in milliseconds, (and I thought running a 4 minute mile was fast) before a transaction can be completed, the information is forwarded to the 'XYZ'  exchange by the monitoring computer.  When it gets there, remember in milliseconds, they add a penny or a  fraction of a penny to the price of a transaction, also in milliseconds, and then they send that 'higher by a penny or piece of a penny price' back to Wall Street.  But not before they siphon off the  added amount.   Got it?   All of this stuff is finished before returning the  transaction, now with the higher price, for completion on Wall Street.  Whew!!. Now that is fast.  Even before you can feel anything!! 
Because the added on amount, per transaction, is so small, a mere pittance, it goes completely unnoticed.   The total amount can be millions.  Even I wouldn't get that one.  Beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful.   And, since this stuff was happening without any notice of it, there were no  complaints.  I love it.   The pink  panther would be having spasms.
I thought of something like this myself, many years ago, but it was based on the slowness of executing orders on one side of 'futures' orders.  Of course the  Chicago Board of Trade caught on after I made a few bucks.  So they changed some stuff and it stopped me. They speeded up the trades.  But not too fast for them to do it themselves.  They called it arbitrage.  That is what I called it.   'Ce le guerre.'
This computer genius stuff is kind of like figuring out a way of catching the excess drops of gas, which spill out of the gas pump nozzle, when you pull it out of your car and replace it to its slot at the pump, after putting gas in your car.  Excess droplets of gas captured at every gas pump in the country.  If you could do that, you could drive from here to there without paying to refuel, no matter where 'there' was.  And nobody the wiser.  And in this one not only does nobody get hurt, its good for the environment.  (I don't have a patent on this idea yet so you're on your honor not to steal it.)  And, did you feel anything when you were eased into putting gas in your own car gas tank?  With gas prices getting higher, not lower, because you were doing it?
How much was saved by eliminating all those gas station jobs?
Lets go back to the milliseconds stuff.  I have a solution.  Instead of screaming and yelling sick birds (ill eagles), the government makes a settlement with the perpetrators, resulting in no jail time, just some community service, and then, the government takes over the whole shebang. (There is precedent.)  The syphoned off millions can be used by the government to pay for food stamps and other good stuff for the 47%.  And maybe even for tubes of lubricant.
But, after nationalization, it should not become  operational until the black guy is out of office. Because if he is still the president, the Republicans will call it a tax and say its just another way for him to raise taxes on farmers, on the air we breath or on the middle class or on small businesses,  and anything else they can think of, and also to promote Obama care.
Even the bad guys, who thought this up, can come out good.  They can take the fifth to avoid prosecution on any laws they broke and then they can move to Florida and run for governor.  But if they win they have to promise; no more of that peeing into bottles stuff.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Code, I'm writing code!!

Angry Birds, What a winner?
I can't believe it.  I just wrote the first code I ever wrote.  The code I wrote made  a smiley face.  And then I made its eyes bigger.  And I made lots of rectangles,  all sizes.  Next thing, . . . . uh oh, there goes the phone.  (Here's the address of the web site;)         
Click it and they'll show you how to write code in 1 hour.  Oh, Boy.  I'm gonna write my own game app.  Gonna call it, "Pissed Off Ants".  (Or maybe just 'Piss Ants' ) I can see those little guys running all over the place.
Gotta hurry, I have to answer the phone.    (Maybe its  Disney calling me to offer me a job with Pixar.)   . . . . . . 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

FREE!!! (Tennis Lesson)

This is harder than it looks.
Do you want a free tennis lesson.. OK.  First you have to listen.  Next, you need a decent teacher. 
Because all kids are born 'good' listeners, I like to teach kids.   And when they play well, people find out how good I am as a teacher.  And they're right.  Actually I have also been known to  help an adult or two even though I have never charged for a lesson.
Lets present teaching tennis as a math problem;  if the equation; X  = 1 good student + 1 good teacher, then why doesn't 15X = 15 good players? 
Well, what happens is usually a result of the teacher and the pupil not being on the same page.  And neither of them  knows it.  With kids, only the teacher can change that.
Like most tennis teachers, I teach one-on-one, so whether or not most of my pupils become decent or very good players, depends mostly on my understanding the listening ability of the kid.  After that its  my ability to get him/her to understand what I am saying.  Since teaching tennis is the same as teaching any subject, assuming the teacher knows the subject, then 'tweaking the understanding ability' of the pupil, governs the teaching method and the results. 
Lets continue with kids.   Even though they almost all start life with a similar ability to listen, since no one's environment can be the same, each kid's listening capabilities and then translating the information heard into physical actions, is sculptured by their environmental experiences and therefore are not developed in the same manner or to the same degree.

Next we take the teachers.
Rating a teacher using questions to pupils like, 'if you know the answer raise your hand' and using the result as an indication of how good the teacher is, is flawed.   A high percentage of raised hands does not mean the students are good listeners nor does a low percentage mean a teacher is not a good teacher.
Staying with teaching tennis as an example, and using kids who have never held a racket before, with the intention of hitting a ball, can be a good starting point.  Lets see if I can explain.  
Except in rare cases, I do not tell a kid how to hold the racket.  They solve that part of it after hearing what it is that I want them to do.  So with me on the other side of the net with a bag of balls, I say, "We are going to play catch.  I am going to use my hands.  And you are going to use the racket.   Got it?  Usually it takes a little more than that but that is the essence.
After I bounce a ball easily, you will use the racket and push the ball back to me so softly that I can easily catch the ball with  my hands."  Seems easy enough.  Doing that is the basic 1st lesson.  What does the kid learn?  The feel of using a racket to make contact with a ball.  
Another phrase might be, "So that means you have to catch the ball in such a way that it comes back to me easy, very easy. . .  You don't want to hurt a nice guy like me."   
Almost all kids start out wanting to hit the ball hard.  With these kids, focus should be on correcting this as soon as possible.
OK,  some kids instantly do very good, which means they get the feeling of using the racket to move the ball where they want it to go.  Which is, towards me, so I can catch it. 
And, of course, a lot of them do not. 
The major problem with beginning kids is twofold.  One is the desire to  hit the ball hard as I said above and the other is (easy to fix) poor ability to watch a ball in motion..   

With a kid who does not get it, I do not tell them anything before I say to myself, "Since that was easy enough to do, what did I say that caused them to not do it correctly?"   Or,  "what could I have said differently that would have allowed them to do it correctly?"  Remember I teach one-on-one.  So I saw what they did.  Then I say, "lets do it again", and this time I make sure to see if he/she is (easy to fix) not watching the ball.   You just tell them to watch the ball as it bounces and say, "bounce" when the ball makes contact with the ground, (stressing, exactly when it makes contact)  and "catch" exactly when the racket catches the ball. (Ball meets strings.)   After doing this a number of times, the brain will take over.
Some kids have 'rarely ever' played  catch.  Thus making 'not watching the ball' is fairly common with that group of kids.  You can not expect a kid who rarley played catch to do as well as a kid who has. .  But it doesn't mean we do not have a good learner here.  So sometimes the best listener at the beginning will not do as well as a kid who has already played some kind of ball sports.  But the brain of a good listener will get it fast.   New players are easier to teach because they do not have any interfering muscle memory,
or bad habits, to overcome. or . . . . .  I think I made my point.  I am not writing a book.   Here's an example.
Teddy, an adult, was one of those self taught players with a weird looking, 3 dips before he tosses, (and then hits the ball) serves.  We were sitting on a bench under the canopy which protects the pro shop, waiting for the rain to stop.  We get to talking about his serve and I say, ' poop' I'll bet you 20 dollars I can get you to hit a much harder serve in less than 25 minutes.  He says,  "You're going to bet me 20 dollars . . . . that you can teach me something . . . . that I have to say  'I got it'  . . . . in order for me to lose 20 bucks to you, instead of winning 20 bucks?  Are you crazy?"

I say," Well you have a little integrity so I'll take a chance.  If you can't  hit a harder serve, you win the bet."
He says. "Ok, its a bet lets go."  The rain has let up.
I say, "Condition."  He agrees after he hears the condition, which is, "You have to listen and if you don't understand what I mean, you have to tell me."
"He says, "Ok, c'mon already." 
On the court I tell him I am not going to fix his serve.  We are going to leave his serve alone, just the way it is but, I am going to teach him a new serve to add to his arsenal.

Tammy (U of Tenn.)
We go way up almost to the net, inside the service line, and I tell him to relax and push a few easy balls into the ad box (box to right of center line.)  He has to stand still,  just using the racket from less than  a back scratch position, with some easy follow thru. HE HAS TO STAY completely relaxed. 
In no time at all he gets it and the balls are going in.   Next I tell him to hit the ball a little harder, with only a 'sure hand' feeling that it is increasing the impact (hitting the ball).  Meaning, using that sure racket feeling in his hand, and only that, to hit the ball harder.    He has to stay completely relaxed.  Easy enough, he is hitting harder balls they are going in and we move to a position in back of the service line.  Now I say, I want you add taking a step forward with your right foot as your weight comes off your left foot, all as the racket contacts the ball, but nothing else changes except the little shoulder turn you have to make so you can direct where the ball will go.  He does it.  Next we add to this by his finishing his follow through. 
Only the left side of his body impedes the flow of the racket follow through, which is practically automatic, if he will  just take  a second step as he let the racket continue..  As though walking.  Easy enough, he is walking relaxed and using the 'hand feel' for the power.
Next we change his body position.  He will now start the serve by standing at a right angle to the net and turning directly towards the net, weight on the left foot, as he makes the first step, with his right.  His shoulder turn forces his left foot to turn, without losing contact with the ground.  (This is a change later)  All of this has to be done completely relaxed and smooth and it takes more that a few hits.

He begins hitting the ball harder, with more follow thru, and we concentrate on his relaxed toss and the lowering of his rear end.  You do this by bending your knees and lowering your center of gravity, as you bend your knees,  just as, and not before the toss is floating up and out of your hand.  How he lowers his weight, while staying relaxed before hitting the ball, and his follow through,  is his major problem.  He gets it.  His mind is not on his other serve. Weight (center of gravity) stays low, before and after he hits the ball, and he is still relaxed.  (Is the good result due to pupil or teacher?) 

Now we want to use the ground for more power.  This will be a result of his feeling the ground, mostly under his left foot, and then letting this feeling help him put more power into the serve.  (by pushing the ground with his left footWe work on his getting this. 
And now, usually the hardest part but not always, getting his weight to go from pushing the ground with his left foot, to actually leaving the ground as the shoulder forces the left foot to turn and the racket strikes the ball.  And then landing on his left foot (when he comes down) which is now pointing toward the net, all the time staying relaxed.  Teddy actually did this part in his 'other' serve, once he hit the ball.  So it was not too hard for him, once he got there..  Using the feel of using the racket, like a hammer hitting a nail, was strange, (body relaxed) but he tried it, until he liked it and got it. 
When it is necessary, here is how I teach the 'using the ground' and letting your left foot turn as you hit the ball,  .  I take the racket away  and I say, we are going to have a race to the net, both of us, but the start of the race has to be done this way;
At the start the body is at a right angle to the net, then a 'hop' off the left foot - which turns in the air to point at the net, landing in front of the base line, at least a step nearer the net and then, a sure, solid feeling, when landing on the same left foot.  I demonstrate.  
Start.  Feet parallel to the net.  Then a hop off of the left foot,  with a body turn that also turns the landing foot so that it points to the net and is the first step in the race to the net. Weight is solid on the landing foot and then you continue to run toward the net, without hesitation.  Most have 
to  practice hopping and turning and landing on the (same) left foot.  Most have hopped before and that is all it is.  It takes about 5 or 6 tries, with low gravity the major impediment.  Hopping is something we can all do, if we are not thinking about tennis, and are thinking about actually hopping.  When they can do it, I say now 'get familiar with that foot feel landing' and lets see if you can  hit the ball that way, with no changes.  Continue to stay relaxed as you are hitting.   Depending on the pupil a lot of this is done before you are at the base line.   
He continues,  gets it right away, after all he is a tennis player, and we finish the major parts of his new serve by moving incrementally back to the base line.     After that its a piece of cake.  A few reminders that only the feel of the hand using the racket to hit the ball hard (toss out front) and we are all set.  We are at the base line and when he hits hard serves, about 50% going into the service box, he looks a me and reaches into his pocket and gives me 20 bucks.  (I do not have to teach him where on the ball, to think he is hitting, so the ball will go into the service box.)   Later in the day he plays Muscles and beats him using the new serve.  Outstanding.
I say, "you know Ted, I never charge anybody, but I'm keeping the 20, because I won it." and one of the kids needs new shoes.
A few weeks pass and on a weekend I see him playing Muscles again but he is using his old serve.   Muscle's nick-name came from his winning the Mr. Florida competition a few years earlier.   Sid won the  'Mr. Florida', title.  Real name Sid.  When the match was over I asked Teddy, "Did you win?" 
"No", he says, "And I know, I know, but its just so much easier for me to just hit my regular serve when I play a match."
"See?  I told you, habits are hard to break." 

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lenny #2

The White House is still there. Famous Atlantic City sub shop.
After Alicia came to West Philadelphia High School she was always  chasing Lenny.  Her father, who was estranged from her mother, was Sam Spiegel (S.P. Eagle.)  Yes the many awards winning Hollywood producer of outstanding films.  Including Bridge On The River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, On The Waterfront, etc..  Then finally, Alicia succeeded.  She corralled Lenny and they got married.  I had my doubts about the marriage because of the many things Lenny told me while she was still chasing him.  Of course they were just kids.  Well, time went by, schooling was in the past,  and  among other things Lenny became the assistant manager of a Howard's Men's Clothing store on Chestnut Street, in downtown Philadelphia..  During a trip of mine to Philadelphia, Lenny picked me up with his car and we drove to Atlantic City for a sub sandwich at the famous 'White House Sub Shop'.  60 Miles away. 
Gambling had not yet happened to Atlantic City.  W
e took a walk on the boardwalk and had a  long talk.  I can still hear him explaining to me something that drastically changed the way I bet on  competitive sports games. He saved me a ton of money.   For example,  Lenny explained that betting on football games with a bookmaker is just plain stupid.  He said look, when you bet on the games it includes the spread and every gambler knows winning against  the spread is tough.  The spread is the amount of points the favored team has to win by.  If the spread is say, 7 points, it means when you bet on the favorite, your team has to beat the other team (underdog) by more than 7 points.  When you bet on the 'dog', you get the 7 points.  Got it?  If the dog loses by 7, that's a tie and no money changes hands.   Ok, next you have to pay the vig.  Vig is like interest on a credit card, which, on a $100.00 bet, is $10.00.  You pay this extra amount to the bookmaker, but only if you lose.  Meaning, if you lose, on a hundred dollar bet,  you pay the bookmaker $110.00, while he only pays you $100.00, if you win.  There is no fee on the bets that you win.  
So you will understand, Lenny says, "Lets take betting on 5 games.  Say you lose 3 of them and win 2 games.  You pay the bookmaker $330.00 for the losers and he pays you $200.00 for your 2 winners.  So you lose $330.00 less the $200.00 you won, or, $130.00.  Meaning you pay the bookmaker $130.00.
Now, lets say you bet on 5 teams and the teams you bet on produces 3 winners and 2 losers.  The bookmaker in this case, pays you $300.00 for your 3 winners less the $220.00 you owe him for your 2 losing teams, or $80.00.00. ($300.00 -$220.00 = you collect, $80.00.
In other words you are betting  $130.00 to $80.00 that you can pick 3 winners out of 5 selections. . . . .
Me.  "What??   Get out of here.  $130.00 to $80.00."

Yep.  I had never looked at it that way.  Even I could see that is not too smart.  So, I made a radical change in my betting.   On football, on baseball and on basketball.  Afterwards, when a weekend TV game was scheduled and Rae asked me who we were pulling for and I told her I didn't make a bet, she couldn't believe it.  While she didn't like my betting, she kinda liked having a team to root for while the games were on the TV.  So we pretty much stopped watching the games because now there was little interest.  This only lasted  a short time.  Until I started making small bets just so I could have an interest and watch  the TV games.   And then, much later, when the kids went to college,  if  TV games included teams from Miami or the schools where the kids went, U of Florida, or University of Georgia, or George Washington Univesity, we generally watched and rooted for them.. 

My relationship and friendship with Lenny was solid.  We  had been friends for so long we trusted personal confidences in each other without even thinking about it.  Another bond was how much I loved his father.  But I lived in Ohio at the time and rarely communicated with anyone back in Philadelphia, except Jerry.  Long distance calls, cost money.  Jerry' s office had gigantic phone bills.   On one of my rare calls to Lenny, he confided that he had fallen in  love with a young lady who lived in a Philadelphia suburb and he thought he might leave Alicia.   But we had little communication and other than when I visited Philadelphia, I wasn't too much up on what was going on with him.  Jerry and I, on the other hand, talked on the phone at least once or twice a month and often more than once a week. 
His firm had a some kind of deal with AT&T so they swallowed the cost of the phone calls.  After eating our subs at the White House, Lenny and I sat on a boardwalk bench and talked for over 4 hours.  He was very hungry for a sympathetic ear.
I went back to Ohio and more time went by and then came the time, some years later, when Jerry wanted to show off.   He invited Rae and me to take advantage of his new status as a gambler,  and he got us compted (which means the casino pays for all of our expenses) at one of the big casino hotels where he gambled.  After we got settled at the hotel I called Lenny. He came to Atlantic City to visit with me and say hello to Rae. 
The two of us went for another walk on the boardwalk. We found an empty bench and he brought me up to date.  He told me he could not leave Alicia for many reasons, some he could not tell me about, but he did need someone to talk to . . . . .
Some years ago a customer,  came into the Howard store, bought some stuff,  and asked Lenny to have lunch with him.  At lunch Lenny asked him what it was about since the guy was a lawyer and he didn't have any legal business at the time.  His answer was that it was a matter involving his father in-law and that if Lenny was agreeable, he would set up a meeting, maybe a lunch, with someone else,  and he would get more details.  The new guy and Lenny met. The matter was for Lenny to act as a low level courier for a  business his father in-law had an interest in.  The home office of the company was in Israel.    It was a simple procedure, he would go on a vacation to Europe which would begin  in London and include a stop in Paris.  He would pickup an envelope in one place, like London, and drop it off in another place, say Paris.  Lenny agreed to do it. 
In addition to this stuff, other things had happened in Lenny's life since we last talked.  Like when the manager of his store moved up and Lenny was offered the manager's job.  Advice from the people he was taking the trips for was not to take it because it would interfere with the schedule of what he was doing.  What he was doing took more of his time and at that time, his father-in-law started to send money to Alicia.  The money came regularly and it kept increasing.  Much more than enough to cover his trip expenses..  

Then some other stuff happened and he became more involved travelling to more places, all under the guise of doing business. The number of trips increased and they were a little  more time consuming, but he said he couldn't talk about it.  
And then a bombshell.  His lady friend, who did not know detailed information about what he was doing, told him he must leave Alicia or else.  This happened just before an important overseas trip and he did not realize it was actually an ultimatum that he leave Alicia.  When they parted he had told her to wait until he returned from his trip, when they would discuss it further.   And then, when he got back, he learned that she  had committed suicide.  
He started to cry.  We hugged.  The sobs were uncontrollable and lasted for a considerable time.  After he calmed down a little he said he decided to go on as if nothing had happened and he told Alicia nothing.  Then he said that was all he could tell me.  We had a another long hug and we walked back to my hotel. 
We didn't talk much after that until he got sick.  Jerry told me the doctors had discovered a brain tumor and it was inoperable.   It was a trying time for him and we reminisced on several long telephone calls but he never offered anything more on his adventures.  Those calls were the last times we spoke.  .
As kids he was a big part of my life.  We went to school together.  We had gambled together. We shot craps in alleys and alley ways, and played cards at the club and other places.  We shot pool at Bennies Pool Hall on 60th Street at Locust St..  We doubled dated and went out with girls to dances and street fairs and even on one occasion we had the same girl.  We played stickball and we went to ball games together.  We snuck into the movies together and Lenny and I were big instigators on mischief night, the night before Halloween, when we kids felt obligated to do mischief..stuff.   
One way was, we leaned a bottle full of urine against the door of this guy who was always treating us like the guy did to kids, in the movie, Gran Torino.  The guy in the movie was played by Clint Eastwood.  With the bottle at a severe angle against his door, we put a tap on his window.  A tap is an arrangement that made a ticking sound in the house and it was controlled by a string of cotton, from a spool of cotton to a safe place, completely hidden, across the street.  From there we jerked the cotton so it would keep up the tapping sound until finally, he opened the door . . . . 
We also took gates from the back fences and put them on the roof of their houses.  It was easy.  The gates were held in place by only 2 or 3 easy to remove bolts in the (opening) hinges.  
And Lenny was the guy who was trying to break down the outside door of a club that threw us out of their 'pay to get in' dance.  One of our guys hid in the bathroom of the club till it closed and then he opened the door and let us in.  We messed it up a little, and Tootie took the record player and some records.   We were leaving when Lenny began slamming the door backwards, trying to break it completely off.  A cop,  about half way up the block, noticed.  The cop shouted and began running towards us and he chased us.  I guess he followed me and Bobo because we were the slowest,  He followed us, me and Bobo, down an alley.  Bobo in front had led me into it on Larchwood Avenue.  The other guys went every which way.  The cop kept yelling,  he turned into the alley, behind me and Bobo,  still saying , "Stop"  and he fired his gun three times.  Boom.  Boom.  Boom.  The alley ended with about a 7 foot fence which was difficult for heavy Bobo, I pushed him up by his feet and then scooted over with one grab of the top and push with my sneakers.  The cop couldn't navigate it.  He was way too heavy.
Kids.  My memories are so clear on this kid's stuff. 
Its so hard to lose a friend.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Three Trillion Dollars

Marty Sullivan, noted economist, working in his garage.
Marty Sullivan is the noted Chief Economist for Tax Analysts, a non-profit who specialize in tax law.  The prestigious non-profit tax information service is not in any way connected to the U.S. government.
He stated on CSPAN that big business has a bit of a problem.  During the presidential  election in 2012 we learned about the prolific use of off-shore bank accounts by businesses and wealthy people to hide what they are doing with the money they made by avoiding paying corporate taxes and on money they earned out of the country.  We need a lot more light on what they are doing.  And in language understandable to the average tax payer.  As for profits from wholly owned foreign companies, they were able to shift them to  wholly owned subsidiaries in other  (tax free) countries.   In an earlier post we brought some detail on how this kind of skullduggery is used to manipulate the tax code.. 
And now Mr. Sullivan has discovered that the amount they have successfully avoided paying tax on, has reached a staggering 3 trillion dollars.  All that money is in off-shore bank accounts and,  as you can imagine, for 3 trillion dollars, more off-shore accounts are needed all over the place.  (Vesco, where ae you?)
In other words just the amount of tax due to the U.S., from company profits, languishing in foreign banks, in some cases has now reached an amount larger that the gross national product of the country where the bank is.  An example is Ireland.  Are they running out of countries and banks?  3 trillion dollars?  Woooo, oooooh

Money stashed in Ireland exceeds their national GDP.
There is movement by some lobbyists and congressmen,  to bring this money back to the U.S.  But to-do so, under current law, the money is subject to the tax that was avoided.    Naturally they want to do it for some piddling amount, like 5%. (about 1/8th) But even that number is staggering. 
I'm in favor of letting them pay say 5/8ths.
Lets try some math here  . . .  Wait a minute, how many zeros follow the  3 (in a trillion)?

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lenny & Tooty

As a kid, and after I became an adult, I had a lot of friends from different age groups, but mostly older..  Lenny was in my age group, we grew up together and we went to the same elementary school. And our friendship  continued into our adult years until Lenny developed a fatal brain tumor, which was discovered after he was in his sixties. 

Lenny look alike, Errol Flynn
Another one was Milf.  Real name, Milford.  Boy oh boy, did he hate that name.  And I agreed with him, it was a terrible name for a kid in that era.  But, I would  not call him John, which is the name he picked out for himself and liked.  To me he just didn't look like a John.   So I called him Milf.     And then, later,  I gave him a nickname that stuck, Tooty.  He had pretty boy looks with black, curly curls all over his head and he was very  well built. Tooty  was not much of a gambler, and never much of a sports playing kid either, except for pool (Billiards) which we all played, for money.  In pool, my best talent was staying out of games where I was over matched and had no chance of winning.  Of course that 'learning curve' was costly.  Whenever the rest of us went to play baseball or other sports Tooty was always somewhere else.
He lived with his parents in an apartment over a fruit store, a business they owned.    His chores, every day, were to get up early, before school, and load the fruit and vegetable stands in front of the store.  When the stands were filled his job was over and he would go to school and do whatever for the rest of the day.. 
He was the reason I tried huckstering.  He convinced me to do it because he could pretty much put a basket full of vegetables under each arm, so he thought anybody could do it.    He told me how much I could make in the alleys selling corn, for example, and how to go down to the  wharf and buy a bushel basket of corn or whatever I wanted to sell.  To me, in my mind, what I was going to do was determined by how much I could make, not on how hard it was to carry the stuff.  What a dumbbell.  Uh, oh.  I'm just putting this stuff down as I write and this post is supposed to be about both Lenny and Tooty.. 
Lenny had what was considered the classic good looks of the day.  Very masculine, he had to shave already, and he looked older, so most girls were as impressed with him as they were with Tooty.  Tooty had pretty boy, no beard, 'Tyrone Power', type looks, while Lenny was more in the 'Erroll Flynn' category.  
Further down, from where Tooty lived, on Sixtieth Street, near Spruce Street, known as  the drugstore corner where the downtown trolley turned east before stopping to pick-up passengers, there was another fruit store with a stand outside. The apartments on the second and third floors, atop this fruit store, were empty.  So a group of us, including both Lenny and Tooty, made a lease deal with the owner.  If he would fix the 2nd floor apartment into one long room.     It had a bath at the far end.  When the knocking down of the walls was finished we rented it from him for a year and it became our club house.  The club dues were pretty much for paying the rent.  Soon it had two sofas, one along each wall, and a table on one side with a small Bakelite radio on its rectangular top.  Also on top was a separate Philco turntable, which played dance music records.  The audio was played through the radio.. 
We used the club mostly for gambling.  We shot craps against the walls, we played cards, and we did all kinds of other gambling stuff.  While I was not a good card player, the rest of the members were terrible.  And I was a good learner, so I learned how to play gin, pinochle, hearts and a little bridge.  I was a terrible poker player because I could not stay out of a hand, and that continued to cost me as I got older.  But later when I was invited to play in higher stakes poker games, I just didn't play. Guys who cant stay out of hands, just get killed. 
Over the weekends we tried to convince girls to come up and (?) dance.  It became such a headache to the owner that he told us he wasn't going to renew the lease.  And then at the end of the year he went and  rented the club to a jealous rival gang who were all from a little outside of our neighborhood.  I think the landlord did this because we caused him so much trouble with noise and other misbehavior stuff and . . they paid him a little more rent.
There were three memorable incidents that happened at the club.  One was, we convinced this Tooty girl she could become a member of the club if she made out with every member of the club,. 
A 'Tooty girl' . . .whenever we went to a dance, Tooty would wait until dancing was well underway and then he would ask one of the 'not yet' dancing girls, to dance.  Sometimes he would wait until there was only one girl  not dancing.  When he was asked about his selections, he responded with, "Did your score yesterday?  I did." His selections became known as Tooty girls.
So Tooty convinced this Tooty girl she had to go through 'hazing' in order to join the club.  After (almost) every member got into her pants.  She got the nickname, 'Fish'.  And she was allowed to come up to the club whenever another member were present.  It was her  fascination with Tooty.  After that, a lot of times, when you went up the stairs and into the club room, you would notice her on the far couch mostly all mixed up with another member. 
Its not one of my favorite memories because  I realize now she just wanted to be with everybody else.  Its not an excuse.  Its was just the way kids like us did stuff.   Just like today, kids don't understand real consequences caused by doing stuff.  And, of course mostly because they don't want to..
Look! Look!  I got one.
Anyway a coupla weeks after she started coming upstairs we noticed Fred scratching himself like crazy and we kept telling  him to cut it out when one member said, "What the hell is the matter with you?  You got the crabs or something?"  
It was just something someone said out loud.  I don't know about anybody else, but crabs were something I had no clue about and I didn't want the other guys to know I was ignorant about the subject..
Well anyway, by this time we knew how to get into the third floor apartment, which had several rooms, and in one of them there was an old rickety table and some chairs.  And also by this time there was only one or two members of the club who had  not made out with the Fish. .  One of them was selected to go upstairs and help see who was infected.  We got him a magnifying glass.   I don't know where the hell it came from.  Looking back the result was hilarious. 
One by one we went up and sat on edge of the table with our pants down, and got examined under the magnifying glass.  When we came down, we sent another guy up.  The funny thing is the only other guy who had not been with the Fish, was Fred.   But he wanted to go up too and ironically, he was the guy who started the whole thing..  He was a wannabe member whose parents tried to keep a tight hold on him, and he wasn't allowed out much.  Anyway, no one thought it was necessary for him to go up for an exam because he was not the type.  He was, what we called a square.  His father was a lawyer and they had a house on 62nd and Larchwood Avenue.  Their house had an enclosed porch and the  furniture in it was more valuable than any of us had in our entire home, except maybe Lenny.  And they had a full time housekeeper every day of the week except Sunday. 
There was this thing about Fred, he was what you call hairy.  He had hair all over the place and especially on his chest and body.  Anyway he kept insisting and insisting he wanted to go up, until someone asked, "What harm is there?"  So he became the last examinee.   A couple of minutes after he went up we hear a shout.  We all run upstairs to the exam room..  There was Fred, practically naked, sitting on the table, and even from the doorway, you could see he was covered with something.  He had crabs all over.  Even in the hair in his arm pits.
By now we all knew what we were looking for and why.   No wonder he wanted to go upstairs. 
So we collected some money and sent someone to the drugstore, it was only about a block or so away.  The gofer bought and returned with some bottles of Cuprex.  I think that was the name.  We gave one bottle to Fred, he had supplied a dollar of the money and he needed the stuff the most.  We used the other bottles for every one else to use..  Medicinal prices in those days were still reasonable.

Afterward, Fred said he started putting Cuprex on his shoulders and by the time he got to the top of his legs he could see them beginning to fall off.  Which reminds me  of a joke I learned when I was a kid.  I may have put a sanitized version of this joke in an earlier post on my blog.  Goes like this.......
Cute little bugger
'To cure the crabs, you start with a bottle of alcohol and a magnifying mirror.  You rub a liberal amount of alcohol onto your  private parts area and put the magnifying mirror on the floor.  Then, after you wait a little while, so the crabs have time to consume the alcohol, you stand over the mirror, legs wide apart.   Make sure you give the crabs enough time to get drunk.  Then, when they look down and see these much larger private parts, they will jump down, eager to be on the bigger pair of testicles, and kill themselves when they land on the hard glass of the mirror.'
Oh yeah, Fred's explanation was, he was messing around with the housekeeper.
In one of the other  two incidents Lenny was featured.  It was a fist fight between the toughest kid in the club that now occupied our old clubhouse, and Lenny.  At first we thought Tooty would fight the guy, but they tossed a coin and Lenny won. (Or lost)  Lenny and this other kid went into the middle of 60th street and beat the hell out of each other with Lenny declared the winner when his opponent quit.  He said he thought he had broken his leg.. The fist fight in the middle of sixtieth was the talk of the neighborhood for months afterward because quite a few passersby paused to watch.  And Lenny became a local hero.

The next thing happened after the new club took over, they took extra care to lock the club up when they left.  And they let this guy sleep there as a way of guarding the place by keeping someone inside.   I  knew the watcher and it was not unusual for him to take me up to keep him company.

They hadn't made too many changes and the watcher showed me where they kept a 22 revolver.  It was hidden in the back of their record player. I kept telling everybody they kept a gun up there.  But they didn't believe me and pooh poohed it.  So one night when no guard was in the place, one of our guys jimmied the lock and about six of us went up to the second floor.  In those days the gun manufacturers hadn't bought the leaders of the NRA, if there was one, so guns were a rarity. Except those I saw in the movies, I had never seen a real gun.
Toy Capgun
It was almost pitch black in there with just a little illumination coming thru a window from a street lamp outside, on Sixtieth St. ..  It really was dark, but I went over and found the record player,  and put my hand into the back, under the turntable.  Sure enough there it was, still there.  I pulled the gun out.   It looked small, like a toy.  When the other guys saw the gun, they all started saying stuff like  "Ahh its a toy. Are  you kidding?  Its a cap gun."   It really got me going, so I said loudly, "Its a cap gun is it?  Its a toy is it?"  And then I pointed the gun at the far bathroom wall . . . and pulled the trigger.  BAM!!!!   Oh my goodness, it sounded like a clap of thunder. The room was basically empty except for the sofas which were certainly not large enough to absorb the sound.  It reverberated off the walls and scared the hell out of everyone.  Me too.  We thought you could hear it a block away.  We were just kids.   You never saw a faster scramble to get the hell out of there.  We jammed at the doorway and down the narrow stairs to get out of the building.  Whooo.  Afterwards nobody knew what happened to the gun but I found out later.   Tooty got it.  And he  made me promise not to tell anybody. 

This stuff has turned out to be  longer than I thought it would, so I think I will save Lenny's story to make another post.

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