#bradpitt #dating #hanginthere #single #love #happy #cute

Knowing Brad like I do, I don’t think he’ll mind me posting this (esp. after all he’s been through). So many times I’d tell him, “Hang in there buddy – you’ll find a girl someday!” and he’d laugh and say, “Maybe I’m good at playing cards.” Brad was a good sport but I could tell he was hurting inside. Also, I didn’t get the joke at first until he said it while we were playing rummy – I think it has something to do with luck? With Brad it’s hard to tell.

Dating’s not easy for anyone, but when I think of what he’s up against… let’s just say there were times when I thought it was never going to happen. TBH we were all pretty tired of him showing up solo, moping around, moaning about the unfairness of life, etc, etc. Talk about a buzzkill.

Anyway, good luck Brad of course not that you’ll need it hahaha. Enjoy that special lady & try not to get your hopes too high because we’d hate to see you get disappointed (again). Just goes to show, there’s a lid for every pot!

#bradpitt #dating #hanginthere #single #love #happy #cute

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A Fall memory

HeathLedgerJoker

I was taking the Long Island Railroad into NYC for some shows, chillin’ and looking over my notes. It was mid October 2008 and four teenagers in costumes stood near the doors, excitedly chatting about how they were going to get drunk and run around the Village (God bless you, young people). They weren’t too loud so I didn’t get angry like I do when I’m in public and I see people enjoying themselves.

A gorilla mask, a ballerina tutu over the girl’s jeans, a zombie… their focus was on alcohol, not winning any contests. The only one who put in effort was a makeshift Joker from The Dark Knight, which was still playing in theaters near you. His Heath Ledger makeup was sparse but he made up for it with villainous joy.

I looked up from my writing when I heard the click-click-click of the LIRR ticket collector punching her way through the car. In 2008 they still used paper in case you’ve only grown up using electronic tickets (God damn you, young people).

When she saw the teens 10 feet away, she paused and took a deep breath. “That’s odd,” I thought. “They’re a bunch of skinny little geeks, not very intimidating.” Plus she looked to be in her mid-20s, not much other than them and definitely not old enough to be a crank like moi.

She punched three tickets but when she got to Heath Ledger, she lowered her head and ignored his outstretched hand. He was handing her cash to buy his fare, but she wouldn’t look at him.

“I can’t sell you a ticket,” she muttered.
“It’s OK. I don’t mind paying the step-up charge,” he said in his best Joker voice, mugging and rolling his eyes. His friends laughed.
“You’ll have to wait for the other ticket collector,” she said, her eyes fixed on the floor.
“Oops, sorry,” he said in his regular voice. “Here, I have the money.”

A moment passed; she stood there without moving, her face looking down and to her right, his hand frozen in the air. Young Heath was confused, just like the rest of us. The Joker and his buddies were young enough to know that sometimes you get in trouble for no reason, and that that society’s rules aren’t always easy to decode.

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He lowered his shoulders and softly asked, “Did I do something wrong?” Which, by the way, is not a Joker look you usually see. Not exactly Nicholson, but the kid had range.

The ticket collector swiveled her head away from him like an owl, stared at the ceiling, and let out another long sigh:
“I can’t sell you a ticket… BECAUSE I DON’T LIKE CLOWNS.”

She closed her eyes and sighed again.

There was a longer, quieter moment. One of the teens laughed nervously. I tried to casually peak over my seat to get a better view and spilled half a Red Bull on my notebook. Shit. Young Health Ledger looked at his zombie friend and his zombie friend shrugged. A dead, useless friend.

The Joker held up his hands, palms facing out, and slowly said, “It’s OK. I’m not a really a clown. I’m The Joker, the bad guy from the new —“
“YOU’LL HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE OTHER COLLECTOR.”

The other collector never came, and the five of them stood there silently for 20 minutes until our train rolled into Penn. Silent, save the occasional clicking of her ticket puncher, click-click-clicking in the air.

good towels

RECENT VISIT WITH MOM & DAD (transcript)

MOM: Do you need dishes? We cleaned out your aunt’s apartment and she had a lot of dishes.
ME: No thanks, mom.

MOM: Are you sure? She lived to be 96, that’s a lot of dishes.
ME: I don’t need dishes. I eat from the crook of my elbows while standing over the toilet.

MOM: That’s not funny. How about towels, do you need towels? She had a lot of towels.
ME: Good on towels, too.

MOM: No you’re not. I KNOW you aren’t. You probably dry yourself with rags. These towels are like new. Otherwise we’ll have to throw them out, it’s a waste. They won’t take them at the Goodwill, even with the tags still on them. They wouldn’t take the dishes, either.
ME: I don’t need…

MOM: Come on, these are beautiful towels. Look at them. Why should we throw away perfectly good towels? I know you don’t have good towels. I know this…
ME: All right! I’ll take the stupid towels… guess I can use the small ones at the gym.

MOM: The gym! The gym? You can’t use a towel like this at the gym. These are GOOD towels. I can’t give you a towel like this to be used at the gym. The woman was 96 years old!
ME: I no longer have the strength to continue this conversation.

DAD (from the other room, unprompted): What?
MOM (handing me a cardboard box): Here. I packed up some of the dishes for you, too.

– fin –

 

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Fruitless

Every time I visit my parents, my mother hands me a bag of food on the way to the door – like I’m hopping on a bike to deliver an order. Usually, it’s leftovers in a plastic container, taped shut, wrapped in foil, in a paper bag, in a plastic bag with the handles tied shut. You should hope your donation kidney is packaged with such care. Topped with some Tate’s Cookies, a deep cut from the freezer, something weird a friend gave them in a gift basket… you get the idea.
And the tangerines. Always the tangerines. My parents accumulate tangerines like they’re running a Harry & David outlet. I’ve lived on my own for 25 years and do you know how many tangerines I’ve bought for myself? ZERO. None. Not a single fruit, neither a bushel nor a basket. I’ve purchased grapefruits, oranges, blood oranges, kiwis, lemons, limes, starfruit, even the tragically named Uglifruit (which also goes by Jamaican Tangelo and Uniq fruit – yeah, nice try, ugli!).
I’ve eaten mangos, papayas, cherimoyas, persimmons, lychees, passionfruit (wasn’t crazy about it), Bartlett pears, bosc pears, anjou pears, asian pears (RACIST), comice pears, longans, plums, bananas, berries, melons, and mangosteens. Apples like Granny Smiths (AGEIST), Pink Lady (also racist against Asians), Macs and Galas, Honeycrisps, Fuji (again with the Asians). Tamarillos, tamarinds, tamaratitas (OK I made that one up), medjool dates and Turkish figs, and black mission figs on a mission so dark & secret they’d have to kill you after.
I’ve eaten all of these and never once thought, “Better get a cart, not a basket. It’s tangerine season.”
It’s always tangerine season at Casa DeVito, in the most tropical area of Northwestern Connecticut. Mom & dad give them to me as if years ago I planted a tangerine tree in the yard and now I’m denying paternity. I won’t get away with that. And thinking I can only see these tangerines on a quick holiday visit? Nice try.
“Take these with you. These are your children. They are yours.”
I’m just one man, but today I will eat a tangerine at every meal. The Tate’s Cookies are already gone.
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Strong Man. R.I.P. Dr. Ken Leistner

When I moved to Long Island 20 years ago, I picked the town of East Rockaway for two reasons: it was 20 minutes from my new job and 5 minutes from Iron Island Gym.

I learned about Iron Island through Dr Ken’s columns in Powerlifting USA. At the time (in between my obsessions with music and comedy) I was obsessed with lifting weights and his columns were funny, informative, straight-forward. He knew everything about picking up heavy things, he was a legit tough guy, and he wasn’t afraid to call out bullshit. Even better, he was a twerp like me – maybe 5’6” in his prime.

When I first entered Iron Island, it looked like a normal gym – treadmills, stair masters, etc. Then around the corner walked a giant, sweating, straining, holding what looked like torpedoes in each hand. They were filled with cement and had handles welded on top (I think about 200lbs each), and matching him stride for stride was Dr. Ken in a sleeveless shirt and overalls.

You could see the big dude wanted to stop but he was scared shitless. Dr Ken was screaming, his veins bulging as much as the lifter’s, waving his wiry tattooed arms overhead, challenging him, telling him to keep going, keep going, never stop. I thought “What kind of place IS this?” as I watched them march toward the lifting platforms in the back of the gym. As the big dude collapsed on the floor, Dr. Ken casually placed one of the designated red “puke buckets” next to him, clapped the chalk off his hands, and strolled back to the front desk.

I introduced myself as a fan who wanted to join the gym. Doc nodded, shook my hand, and took a big bite out of a sandwich he had behind the counter. I knew I’d found my new home.

I’d never seen a man whose motor ran that fast. Dr. Ken only slept a few hours a WEEK. In addition to owning the gym with his childhood friend Ralph, he trained people, ran a chiropractic business, and would prepare and monitor customized workouts for the members. No charge. You simply filled it out as you were lifting and left it in a bin when you left. The next day, it was updated and the weights increased. He did this for anyone who asked.

I thought I knew what hard work was until I was trained by Dr. Ken. One day I noticed he’d increased my squats (always murderously high reps) by 40lbs – 40lbs! – with no explanation. I protested, “Doc, you’re killing me. There’s no way I can do this!” He sputtered and shook his head. “You don’t understand, Joe. You’ve got to go all out. You’ve got to work HARD.” As much as I dreaded it, I was touched that this man who’d lifted with and coached some of the best cared this much about my progress. That he cared that much about ME.

I learned that strength wasn’t something you flaunted. It was something you earned, something you built one rep at a time as your muscles cried out, your eyes bulged, your teeth rattled in your head. The sweat stung your eyes and the chalk and smelling salts burned your nostrils, but you kept going. Whether you lifted 10lbs or 1,000, you kept going and you didn’t quit.

Dr Ken didn’t suffer fools. He was just as likely to crack jokes over the PA system at 6am as he was to grunt and scowl if you said hello at 5pm. It didn’t matter if you were a 700-lb bench presser or a grandmother recovering from a stroke, he treated everyone at Iron Island with respect and made damn sure you did, too. I once saw him pause in mid-conversation to vault over the front desk and to confront a lifter who’d loudly dropped a dumbbell. “Remember, these are MY weights, not YOURS,” he’d say, and he meant it.

He was an intense dude. Sometimes he’d barely look up when I said hello, other times he’d say “I don’t like the way you’re carrying yourself,” grab me in a full nelson and lift me off the floor, shaking me until my back cracked like popcorn. Once after a competition, he put his arm around me to discuss some of the drug tests from the steroid-free lifters like me. He said they accidentally ran a recreational drug screen and the marijuana metabolites were off the charts. “THIS ISN’T GOING TO BE A PROBLEM WITH YOU, JOSEPH, IS IT?” he said, crushing me in a headlock. I promised it wouldn’t be!

Dr. Ken was no meathead, though. His grasp of training and medical literature was astounding, but he also loved music and forged a friendship with Henry Rollins, the surprisingly jacked singer for Black Flag. When he worked the mic at the power meets, he’d give every lifter hilariously detailed (and sometimes factually challenged) introductions before each attempt. And I never saw him happier than when he talked about his children, who I watched grow from busy little weirdos in Ramones & Black Sabbath shirts to well-rounded, kindhearted adults.

I lost touch with Dr. Ken after he sold the gym and later closed his chiropractic practice. But even then, I could call him for a recommendation and know whoever he sent me to would be a mensch. He was a family man in the largest sense; once he embraced you, you were part of his family. The people I met and sweated alongside at Iron Island are still some of the best I’ve ever met.

I think of Dr. Ken often, of course most often when I’m at a gym. Iron Island is still the gold standard. Any time I see a facility with overflowing trash cans, I’d think “Doc wouldn’t allow that.” Or if I see a bunch of gorillas acting like jerks or showboating in front of smaller lifters, l know, “Doc would straighten their asses out, that’s for sure.” Remember, they’re his weights, not yours.

R.I.P., Dr Ken. You showed me what true strength was, and that there was more of it in me than I knew. I’m a better person for knowing you, and there are so many others who would tell you the same.