All posts by Silvio La Frossia

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It is daybreak No. 3 after the storm.

We are still without power.

Our utility company has all hands on deck trying to restore power. I am certain that they are doing their best.

We prepared for the eventuality of not having power for up to a week.

The maximum ETA is that power will be completely restored by midnight Sunday. Hopefully we aren’t the last ones on that list.

But we have prepared well and can ride this out. Maybe not in luxury but neither are we living only out of cans and PB&J.

Our generator is handling our fridge, industrial fan, TV and some electronics. Plenty of lanterns and batteries, gasoline and propane for our generator, grill and camping stove.

The motto I learned as a Boy Scout wasn’t just a passing thing. I adhered to that motto, Be Prepared, to everything I do in life, especially in the face of these storms.

Too many of my community neighbors have been complaining about the length of the power outage.

The main reason is that they prepared for the storms that passed and not the one still to come. I have heard so many say that they never expected this much damage in Central Florida because previous storms turned, grazed or substantially weakened before arriving and passing through the very middle of the state.

But then came this storm, with the largest extension of wind coverage completely covered the entire state.

And then Irma’s drunken path moved her left to right back left and then again right, bringing incredible damage to the entire state.

Today I heard an official say that for the first time in Florida’s history, 99 percent of the whole state’s counties emergency control centers are at full activity.

With so many of the population and areas affected at once, it is only sensible that power and internet to residences would take a low priority.

Today people are being rescued from flooded areas, people returning to areas almost completely devastated and people still being forced to evacuate due to rising waters.

My in-laws fell into that last category. Their senior living community survived the wind and debris damage, and they had power restored until yesterday when they received word that the entire community needed to evacuate.

Even without electricity but with an intact structure, they are here with us. Together we shoulder the load and await the power to return.

Related:

Hurricane Irma: Of Battened Hatches and a Little Elbow Grease

Hurricane Irma: Who Needs Lights Anyway?

Hurricane Irma: Surviving Tornado Sirens and Power Loss

Hurricane Irma: Surviving Tornado Sirens and Power Loss

We went through a few scares early last night.

While we still had power and were listening to the weather predictions, I noticed water seeping into the family room — right where we had placed the sandbags the day before.

I left the comfort and safety of the house, put on a hard hat and poncho, and braved the windy rain to rearrange the sandbags.

That’s when I heard the sirens I had never heard before.

I went back to the front as my son was yelling at me that there was a tornado warning and one already touched down a few neighborhoods over.

That got my attention.

I scrambled back in.

The smartphones were all going off with alarms and the news guy was pinpointing the rotating winds, urging everyone to be low and ready to go into a safe room.

We had our closet door open and we all stood close to it while simultaneously listening to the outside, our phones and the TV.

Fortunately the warnings passed by 7:30 and we all sighed a little relief.

We switched to Netflix for a while and at 10 p.m. the power went.

We continued to follow the storm’s progress on our devices through my phone’s hotspot.

That’s when we learned that the latest landfall downsized the storms winds and category, but now the track had shifted enough to give Orlando an eyeful of Irma.

We broke out the cards and board game and waited.

She would be arriving with her worst winds about 1 to 3 a.m.

No one could sleep so there was wine and games.

We heard the howling winds from 2 through 3. By 4 a.m. the winds were back to the tropical force we had been experiencing all afternoon so we all went to sleep.

This morning after the curfew ended at 7 a.m., I ventured out.

The sky showed that it wanted to go blue again, but there were still plenty of tropical force gusts.

I walked around the property and surveyed the field.

There was considerable debris but most of the large branches missed our vehicles and home.

I saw some loose aluminum siding blowing in a neighbor’s front yard down the street, but nothing looked any worse than branches strewn about.

We were once again fortunate in Central Florida.

Unfortunately this near miss (or hit)  with less ferocity than originally predicted feeds the naysayers in the greater Central Florida area.

Those who  over confidently boast:

“See, there was no need to board up or stock up.”

“These storms never affect the center of the state.”

“They always turn or shift away.”

Yeah, that’s right. Until they don’t.

 

Hurricane Irma: Who Needs Lights Anyway?

We just lost power.

We had a pretty good run as I followed many of my close neighbors over the last three hours, announcing their power loss.

Just when we thought we could be clear, and just while the whole family was enjoying reruns of “Frasier” on Netflix, buoooooom.

I think that’s the noise it made. Nothing. An eerie quiet. So we are breaking out the cards and the backgammon board.

I guess we will be going to sleep soon but the latest information tells us the most destructive (potentially) winds will arrive around 2 a.m. So we will be sleeping with one eye open, ready to gather the family and dive into our safe room (the master bedroom closet).

We laid down foam padding that I had stored and is coming in handy now if we have to spend any time on the floor of our closet.

Rain has been coming down steadily since early afternoon,  at times with loud winds and rain going horizontally. Trees have been stubbornly holding on to their branches so far.

That could change soon.

We still have wine. We are good.

Next update sometime early morning.
Gotta conserve power on the laptop and the phone’s hotspot.

Hurricane Irma: Of Battened Hatches and a Little Elbow Grease

The latest on the stormfront from Silvio LaFrossia as he awaits an unwelcome gust named Irma:

Completely battened down. Plywood on all windows.

A quick aside to those questioning the reasoning on plywood barricading homes when images from post-hurricane areas typically show total devastation of property. what can a thin sheet of plywood?

The plywood is not placed to keep the full fury of Mother Nature out. If she wants in, she will get in.

What the plywood is there for is to deflect Mother Nature’s minions in the shape of flying debris. These evil minions fly through the air, sometimes in less than full destructive hurricane wind speeds, finding uncovered windows, breaking in and thus allowing much of Mother Nature’s other henchmen, wind and rain, to enter the house and thoroughly destroy it from within.

Less than $300 worth of wood and some elbow grease can prevent a hurricane’s near-miss and outlier squall winds from totally ruining your home.

A final check of supplies found a bit of a dip in some essentials, bread, simple over the counter meds and wine. One quick trip to the local CVS fixed that.

I witnessed a local construction company’s unique way of securing its containers from becoming flying debris.

The latest track, emphatically relayed by the all day, all weather, news show had the center of the storm shifting out west a bit more than all the computer models and experts expected. These storms can be so fickle.

So the path out moves Orlando away from receiving the eye and strongest winds as it traveled up the peninsula. Now the storm will hug the west coast and threaten the coast from Fort Meyers all the way up to Tampa with its fiercest winds.

Irma Checklist: Family, Plywood and Backyard Furniture

Silvio LaFrossia is sending bulletins about how he and his family in Florida are preparing for Irma’s arrival. Here’s his latest dispatch from late Thursday night:

  • Thursday was the last normal business day at work.  Our office will be open but employees were given the option to work from home if possible and allowed blackout hours to tend to some preparations for the storm. “Family first” was the motto from our CEO.

 

  •  I used the early evening to remove from the backyard older lawn furniture that went unused and was languishing under a tarp for so long. Rather than move it all into the garage, I put most of it out for trash pickup today.

 

  • I reviewed my plywood situation. I had some plywood sheets left from our previous home and hurricanes in 2004. Since then I have used some and am short to cover all my current windows. I hope to use the morning to hunt for some plywood at the stores and that they have restocked from earlier in the week.

 

  •  A large part of the anxiety my wife and I have is that our two oldest are at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., north of us and closer to the Atlantic Coast. But Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced late Thursday that he was ordering the closure of all K-12 schools, colleges and universities on Friday and Monday after the storm hits. Having my immediate family together lifted our spirits.

 

  • I still have the anxiety of thinking about preparations and safety of my extended family — my wife’s mother and father who live just south of us in Kissimmee Fla. Also, my mother, father and youngest brother, who is disabled, live just west of us in Ocoee, Fla. I have the additional task of checking in on all of them before and after the storm.

Related:

Hurricane Irma: Forget Bottled Water. Getting Wine Is Tougher!

Bracing for Irma: Tales From the Florida Stormfront

Bracing for Irma: Tales From the Florida Stormfront

We will be fine. We are well prepared. The only thing I wish I could get fixed is my chainsaw, which won’t start.

I just may have to get another one. I am pretty sure there will be branches to cut away.

Here is my hurricane tale through the years.

Andrew, Charley, Frances, Jeanne, Dennis, Wilma and Matthew. A list of friends?

Nah.

Those are the major hurricanes that have affected me since I made Orlando my home in 1992.

Each one was treated differently as far as preparation.

With each yearly storm season (June 1 to Nov. 30) I gained more experience in getting properly prepared.

I had just moved to Orlando when Andrew came calling. I was an apartment dweller at the time, fresh from the Bronx and totally unprepared.

Fortunately for me, Andrew only brought Orlando a lot of rain but brought its destructiveness to South Florida.

After that I became a homeowner.

I survived a couple of hurricane seasons without incident until a dude named Floyd came calling.

A very powerful Category 4 was targeting the middle of the state and go through the center, and through my home area as a very strong Category 3 storm.

As part of my preparations, I bought plywood and boarded up every window.

The inside of our home was eerily dark. And Floyd was (thankfully) a no-show. I stored up the plywood and a few quiet years went by until 2004.

That year we were treated to an evil trifecta of Charley, Frances and Jeanne.

I again boarded up for Charley.

Good thing I did. Small, tight, fast and powerful, Charley did a lot of damage straight through the center, entering south of Tampa and followed the Interstate 4 from west to east.

A double combination punch of Frances and Jeanne followed closely behind Charley turning Central Florida residents into a punch drunk group of citizens.

When Ivan was announced to be coming our way, a communal groan went up from us all.

Ivan spared Central Florida but instead gave the Florida panhandle a large dose of wet destruction.

Then things went very quiet, relatively, for almost a decade.

Last year Hurricane Matthew reignited my sense of hurricane preparations as it took aim at us here. But there was something very familiar to that track and the high winds. Very Floyd-like from 1999.

It ended up following a very similar path as it turned right before the state, gave the East Coast some surge and rain, but left Central Florida untouched.

It was a beautiful, bright sunny day.

But that miss only reinforced the naysayers who always contradict a careful person’s plans. They are always around at work, at school events or outside church.

Nah, it’ll turn, they say. They always do when they originate in the Atlantic.

There was some wisdom to that. And we can take some satisfaction in that they are mostly correct. But every now and then, a storm does something weird.

So now we have Irma.

Already a deadly and the strongest Category 5 in history in the Atlantic Basin. The track again is westward across the Atlantic but here is a twist.

The storm is huge, really huge, and it is not expected to make its right turn until it is just south of Miami, just before the Keys. And then it is tracked to go up the entire peninsula.

Even if turns a little bit east of projection, the entire peninsula will be treated to immense storm surges, biblical proportions of rain and wind gusts that can blow blue rain jacket-wearing weather personalities clear across roads and parking lots.

So once again I go into full preparation mode.

Water and food to last five days.

Full resupply of first aid items, batteries, fuel for generators and gas grills, lanterns, meds and games to pass the powerless hours away as we listen to the wind strike up against the boarded windows and hear the roof strain to keep its shape.

I avoided the long lines and water riots by taking advantage of the Labor Day weekend to get my supplies.

And although we had a decade of quiet, it was clear the storms would come calling again at some point.

We have plenty of supplies, and sufficient moxie.

We’ll get through it. Again.

Related:

Hurricane Irma: Forget Bottled Water. Getting Wine Is Tougher!

 

Hurricane Irma: Forget Bottled Water. Getting Wine Is Tougher!

Silvio, who lives near Orlando, Fla., offers this tale of hardship in the lead-up to Irma’s expected arrival in southern Florida. He will be providing further updates on Irma as long as he still has power — and wine.

I had already pretty much completed my hurricane supply run during the Labor Day weekend, beating out the rush for batteries and the aisle-5-bottled-water riots.

But there were still a few items to fully top off my supplies, especially red wine!

So to avoid the most congested hours of the supermarket battleground, I trudged off to the Publix supermarket near my job. I arrived just before 8 a.m.

Not having to be at work until a 9 a.m. meeting, I had plenty of time. Since I could avoid the water aisle, I was also assured of not going into work with blood spattered clothes.

I instead loaded my cart with some extra canned soup, canned meats, snacks and Gatorade.

But most important, I went to the wine section and picked up some Malbec/Cabernet blended reds.

Four bottles.

I got on line to check out between some disheveled water warriors and loaded my items on the belt, still with plenty of time to get to work.

It was only 8:20 a.m.

My turn to pay. Pleasant banter with the cashier and the manager filling in for a bagging clerk.

Until my precious bottles of red rolled up.

“I’m sorry. It’s too early for these,” she said as she removed my bottles from the belt and placed them behind her, almost defensively.

“What the FUCK!?” my mind screamed.

It was clearly on my face as I turned to the manager, who calmly told me that it was before 9 and they couldn’t sell alcohol before then.

“Do you really think you are protecting me from drinking four bottles of wine before 9 a.m.?” I asked very sarcastically.

“I’m sorry, sir,” she said. “The registers won’t ring it up.”

So there I was, early bird but without my wine.

 

A Chilling Childhood Memory of Murder

Inspiration: To draw, create or write. It comes in many forms.

One can draw inspiration from a sight, a sound or from a blog post written by a friend.

This story comes from the latter.

My good friend Chris recently penned a coming-of-age story about his first brush with mortality (someone else’s) in the summer of 1977 in New York City.

That was an incredible summer that included a very long heat wave in an economically struggling city that endured a major blackout while also gripped by a serial killer who took his murderous orders from a neighbor’s dog.

Oh, and the Yankees won a World Series in dramatic fashion later in the year.

An image that Chris described vividly was his first close look at a dead person not in a casket or at a traditional wake or funeral.

That image was my muse as it brought back a memory of my first dead body — actually two dead bodies.

My encounter happened in the spring of 1976.

I was in sixth grade, attending a public school that I started halfway through the year after returning from one of my parent’s long stays in Argentina.

It was a bright spring morning and I entered the schoolyard.

The three-story L-shaped school building was along the right side. Along the left ran a side street adjacent to the Cross Bronx Expressway, a hellish portion of Interstate 95.

Separating the students from the street was a 12-foot chain link fence. Put razor wire across the top and the school would be indistinguishable from a detention center or jail.

The top grade at P.S. 36 was the sixth, so we were the oldest — the top of the food chain.

As I entered the yard, I immediately saw that it was empty of runners and chasers of any age.

Uh-oh. Was I late?!

Nope, there they were, all piled up against the fence at the corner of the yard looking out at the side street.

The whole area was abuzz.

“Can you see it?!”

“Is it bleeding?!”

“Ewwww!!”

But I couldn’t get close enough to see anything. All the teachers who were normally inside the fence were outside of it, some telling the kids to calm down and get away from the fence and talking to each other, gesturing to a parked car.

From our angle, the car was just far enough up the street that we could make out some shapes in the front seat and not much more.

The teachers were moving in front of our line of sight to block a clear view. But what we knew from all the whispering and buzzing was that there was a dead body in the car.

The school yard rear delimiter ended past the school building.

It had the same chain link fence, and at that moment, most of the school had climbed up a large portion of it.

To the right was another fence and a back gate. A teacher typically was posted at the front and this rear gate to ensure that any child that passed through it would not attempt to leave.

It was unguarded. And now my friend Jaimie and I quickly devised a plot.

He lived in a house adjacent to that rear fence. He had come in the back gate, hooked up with me and another kid and gave us the rundown of what he had seen.

From his home window, he could not see much and his mom had shooed him out their back door and into the school gate before he could get a closer look.

But now he told us that we could go out that gate, in his house’s back gate, down the alley along the side of his house and get right up to the front and take a look.

We were like mini ninjas. We ran out the back silently. We ran through the back of his house and into the alley.

Somehow I was in front and ran right up to the passenger door of the car.

Like a comedy, my two partners in crime probably banged into my back when I stopped short. I don’t remember.

But what I do remember vividly was the open window and the view into the front of the car.

Two dead bodies, extremely bloody from the holes in the sides of their heads and bodies.

One was slumped over the steering wheel; the other had its head back in the passenger seat.

That image freeze framed in my mind forever.

I can’t recall any other details of the car or bodies, just that there was a lot of blood.

We then heard a yell directed at us, and just as comically, we stumble-ran back through Jaimie’s house alley and back into the school yard.

I can pinpoint that it occurred on a Friday because I remember trying to find something about it in the newspaper the next day. There was a small paragraph in the crime blotter. Two unidentified men were found shot to death in a parked car, and very little else.

I can’t say that the event shocked or scarred me.

Anytime I see “Goodfellas” I am reminded of it.

Recently I introduced my kids to the movie and afterward I retold this story to my kids.

They were more fascinated with my story than the movie.

We sat at my computer and I brought up my old school on Google Maps and switched to satellite view. Very little had changed structurally and I could point to all the landmarks in my story.

The only difference is a storefront now exists in front of Jaimie’s house, where the teachers were all milling around that day.

As I looked at the street view image I could still picture that car with its dead driver and passenger.

Oddly, this is my only memory of sixth grade at P.S. 36.

Editor’s note from Chris Mele:

Here’s a plot twist: It turns out that before Silvio and I knew each other, we had both had some experience of this very same caper.

Here’s mine:

It was a Saturday morning (the day after Silvio saw the bodies) and my best bud at the time Charlie Rauch and I got wind of this shooting.
We pedaled our bikes furiously up to the site as Silvio described.
But when we got there, the car was gone, though evidence of what had happened (broken glass and blood bandages as I recall) were on the street.
Ever the reporter, I think I asked at the local pizza shop or bike store nearby what happened and they told me the car had been towed to the 43rd Precinct house, which was then on Benedict Avenue in the Bronx.
We pedaled there (me with my camera) and sure enough, there was the car in the garage, the door wide open, no evidence tape or police tape or anything. 
I shot a bunch of photos, including the one posted here at the top!
Related:

 

 

Recalling ‘Baretta’ and the Blackout

“Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. Don’t do it!”

In the mid 1970s that was the intro for the hit TV show “Baretta” about a street-smart quick-talking undercover cop with the NYPD who lived with an old man and a cockatoo.

When “Baretta” came on, it was dad-and-me TV. Dad and I would watch Robert Blake as Baretta ham it up with Huggy Bear. (Google it. He was street ’70s cool!)

Am I going down this nostalgic path to wax poetically about Robert Blake, a child actor of “Our Gang” turned tough guy actor who was later accused of murdering his wife by shooting her in a car outside a restaurant and then acquitted?

Nope.

It’s to remember where I was when the lights went out in New York City on July 13, 1977.

History shows that the electrical shutdown started at about 8:55 p.m. with a lightning strike in Yonkers.

I didn’t know anything about that at the time.

But what I do remember is watching “Baretta” with my dad in our Bronx apartment.

The screen suddenly went blank and everything in the apartment went black.

My dad enlisted me to find out what happened. So I went to the first floor where my dad rented space for his knitting factory.

As I went up the stairs with a flashlight, I looked outside and noticed just how freaking dark it was out there.

The house we rented was on a corner and one side was parallel to a major highway. Our corner had at least three light poles so it was never dark — except that day.

Looking out the factory’s ground floor windows, something our basement apartment lacked, I could see a very dark Bronx street.

It was something I had never seen before.

“Dad?!” I cried out. He told me to talk to the landlord.

As I went up the stairs and gained a higher vantage point, I could see more of the street and streets on the other side of the highway.

There were no lights anywhere!

My landlord screamed to go back downstairs and turn on a portable radio to hear the news. The Bronx was blacked out. Later I learned it was wider than that.

So here we were on a hot July night with absolutely no lights.

What to do?

Our landlord got into a post-Fourth of July mood and broke out the fireworks that he did not sell the previous week.

He still had a bunch of firecrackers, Roman candles and bottle rockets.

He gave them to me and I remember my dad joining in.

My mom came up with my infant brother. My middle brother, who was too young to light the fireworks, was running back and forth delighting in the explosions I was orchestrating.

The previous week I may have been able to get my hands on a few firecrackers and bottle rockets but now our usually stingy and sour landlord was gleefully opening up a trunk full of leftover fireworks.

I was in heaven.

Rich, my friend from around the block and now About Men Radio brother, and I talked the next day about the looting and pandemonium that happened all night long in the city.

We later found out about the people in the subways and in Shea Stadium when the ballpark went dark and the stores that were broken into.

There were stories of good Samaritans, New Yorkers helping each other or simply gathering outside their buildings to meet their neighbors.

Or in my case, blow up some fireworks with them.

Related:

Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

A Different Kind of Bucket List

When friends of a certain age get together, a bucket list – things we want to do before we die — can become the center of conversation.

There are fun and exciting things to do in far and exotic places that are probably completely out of reach due to lack of money, energy and testicular fortitude. Zip-lining through a rain forest and para-gliding over a stretch of the Gobi Desert (is that even a thing?) are waaay too intense for this geezer and most of his About Men Radio friends.

No, the bucket list I have is a lot simpler and cheaper.

I’ve written before about doing my part to expose my kids to the classics – no, not literature or art.

My classics are the movies that I have quoted many times — those great movies (at least I remember them as great) — from yesteryear.

Memorable Guy Movie Monologues

These are movies that I grew up with, some old black-and-whites as well as some from the late 60s, 70s, 80s and early 90s. These are movies that are too old to be on my kids’ millennial radars.

In our house we have movie night and I would exclaim, “It’s a Dad’s pick movie night!”

And the groans would go up from my clan. My wife would groan because it may be a movie I dragged her to when we were dating that she probably (definitely) hated.

So, how was I going to expose my kids to the long list of classics I know they will enjoy, or tolerate, if they just gave it a chance?

That’s when I came up with the Bucket List. Actually it’s more of a list that is cut up into pieces and placed inside a bucket.

That’s right. I have a small bucket next to our TV that has scraps of paper in it, with the titles of many classic movies my kids have yet to see.

So, here is how this works: The bucket is filled with titles. About 85 percent of them are ones I put in there such as “The Great Escape,” “The French Connection” and “Taps.”

It’s an eclectic list of great and not-so-great flicks.

On a night that the whole group is home (my daughter is 21 and my two boys are 18 and 16, so getting them all together is challenging) I will call out, “Bucket List Night” and wait for the groans to subside.

We randomly pick a movie from the bucket. To have any chance of getting them to agree to this, I let my kids select a few of their favorite titles to include in the bucket.

One of them reaches in and pulls out a title and I read it out loud.

The most powerful one in our group — my wife — gets to employ a single veto. If she is unhappy with the selected title she can veto the choice. But the following selection MUST be watched!

The vetoed title goes back in the bucket and if it is selected again in the future, it cannot be vetoed a second time.

We have strict parliamentarian rules. After all, we are not savages.

Another rule I gave into: No horror movie titles. Arghh! That cut me hard like a mutated cornfield dweller’s machete!

Once a title survives the veto, it gets watched. And here is where my soft heart bends a little: If at 60 minutes, the movie hasn’t captivated everyone, we can terminate it. (Insert a poor imitation of Arnold here.)

We have watched a few of my favorites — along with some snark from my kids — but overall we enjoyed watching “Adventures in Babysitting,” “The Lost Boys,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Truman Show,” “The Green Mile” and “Midnight Run.”

My kids have had luck on their side as they had only a few titles in the bucket, yet they were rewarded with back-to-back selections they made.

It was my turn to groan but I endured because sooner or later they will have to watch “Rambo: First Blood,” “Spies Like Us” and “Commando” with me.

Bwahahahaha!!!!

 

Mourning — and Celebrating — Three Music Giants Who Died in 2016

It is finally over — the year that took so much away from us in such a big swipe.

The year of course is 2016, “a year that will live in infamy,” if you will allow me to paraphrase FDR.

It was a year filled with losses of the famous and talented. There are so many to count and in so many fields of entertainment and arts.

But there are three that stand out as the awful trifecta that death dealt us in this wretched year: two performers whose names are immortalized with a single name, Bowie and Prince, and George Michael.

Sadly these three titans of music died in the same year. Many of us loved their collection of work and mourned the loss of so much music that never became.

As I ready myself to say a very well-deserved good-bye and fuck you to 2016, I take a moment to enjoy a YouTube feast with some of their most celebrated songs and performances.

Every fan has their favorites. And it would be wrong for me to praise one over the other.

But in my heart I carry the joy of watching and listening to George Michael’s “Freedom,” David Bowie’s “Modern Love” and Prince’s Super Bowl halftime show that included “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Purple Rain.”

I know there are so many songs that each of these artists performed that are immortalized in video and accessible online.

But these songs and performances are the ones I hold in my mind’s eye any time their name is mentioned. I turn to these to relive a glorious time in my youth when I felt invincible and indestructible.

2016 proves that life is fragile and must be treasured because in an instant, and over an ill-fated year, it can be snuffed out indiscriminately.

I look forward to 2017, optimistically and hopefully, remembering the words, “You gotta have faith,” and “I’m still standing in the wind. But I never wave bye-bye,” and “You better live now before the grim reaper comes knocking on your door.”

Come on everyone, Let’s go Crazy!!

A New Year’s I’d Rather Forget!

Have you ever read something that flicked a switch in your brain, that suddenly filled your head with a memory long forgotten or repressed?

Recently my good friend John recounted a story about a visit to Guatemala. You can read it here.

His memory of his first visit to a Central American country was of an official of the army or police pointing an automatic weapon at him.

I have a similar story.

During one of my parents’ trips to our mother country, Argentina, I learned a powerful lesson about not provoking the powerful in charge.

It was the summer of 1979. Summer in the Southern Hemisphere meant Christmas and New Year’s festivities.

Part of the traditional festivities, still observed in the middle and lower class neighborhoods of the Buenos Aires suburbs, was visiting house after house — and eating and drinking at each one — to celebrate the new year.

It was New Year’s Eve 1979, and together with my cousin and a mutual friend, we headed out to uphold old traditions.

We went from house to house and celebrated with people we barely knew. But we ate at every home, and more important to this story, we drank cider at every house.

At age 16 and without the tolerance I have today, I can say I was probably pretty plastered by the time we reached our fourth or fifth house.

All I can remember is that we left a house and started to walk along a main avenue of this depressed neighborhood.

As we walked in a bit of a stupor, I noticed flashing lights up ahead.

Uh-oh! Cops, or worse, I thought.

I told my cousin that we should cut through an alley or double back because we were drunk and under age.

Nah, he said, and gestured most drunkenly. He said that it was just repairs being done on a pharmacy sign on the main road.

Now If I hadn’t been drunk, 16 and stupid, I might have said: “Who the fu#& is gonna be fixing the pharmacy sign on New Year’s Day at 3 in the morning!?!?!?”

But I was 16 and drunk and proceeded on the path.

As we got closer to the flashing lights I felt dread as I could see that this was no sign repair crew. It WAS the cops. Or as they were known in the dictator days of Argentina, the para-police!

I could see multiple vehicles starting to pass us as and I hoped they would let us go because we were only a couple of harmless kids.

Nope.

Brakes squealed, jeeps and cars stopped and all manner of uniformed and non-uniformed authorities came out shouting out orders all at once.

Halt and up against the wall were the ones I heeded.

I slapped the wall and spread my legs.

“Turn around,” I heard a very authoritative voice say.

We all did.

A man in civilian clothes approached the three of us. He held a very large pistol in his hand.

He motioned with the gun and said, let’s see some documents.

In Argentina, at that time, all civilians had to carry a national ID called a Cedula de Identificacion. It was a picture ID with a current address (Lord help you if it wasn’t current) and a seven-digit number.

You better have it memorized too.

As I fumbled for my ID card, I spied the uniformed officers holding automatic weapons forming a perimeter around the man in charge asking for our papers.

My cousin produced his document and walked toward the man. I found mine too and also started to walk toward him.

At the sight of two scared teenagers moving toward him at the same time, documents in hand, this para police jerk must have felt his life was in danger because he leveled his pistol straight at my forehead and said, “I didn’t call you. Back against the wall.”

I got back on that wall like Spiderman! Facing it and back in a spread-eagle position, scared like I had never been before.

I was probably muttering to myself, or possibly crying, when I did not hear the first strongly worded request for me to turn around. At the second shout, I pivoted around and slammed my back up against the wall.

The non-uniformed man in charge beckoned me with his pistol.

I remember him calling me hot shot. I still don’t know why.

So I moved meekly towards him, document in hand straight out as a shield or religious artifact warding off evil.

He snatched it from my hand, glaring at me and still motioning at me with his pistol.

Next came a quick interrogation of name, address and ID number. I blurted everything out, all correctly. Then the question that caught me off guard: “What are you doing here?”

Thankfully I stammered, “Nothing…just visiting friends and family for the New Year.”

My meek response satisfied him because he handed me back my ID, gestured with his head rather than his pistol to disappear.

I ran away, rounded the corner and heard a “psssst” from my cousin huddled behind a car.

I fell in next to him and watched how our friend and another pedestrian who must have somehow been near us when the police descended on us were shuffled into the paddy wagon.

They didn’t have their IDs on them. Holy shit!! Now what?!

Together with my cousin and a clear head that was scared sober from the encounter, we went searching for our friend’s mother who was in one of the houses we had visited earlier.

Fortunately there was a very peaceful ending.

We found our friend’s mom, we all went down to the precinct, getting there before the squad and paddy wagon. Our friend’s mom signed him out and the police asked her to sign out the other minors too.

Our friend recounted his trip to the station in the wagon. He witnessed a few more stops and saw a few individuals tossed into the wagon with bleeding heads.

I am so glad I had my ID — and that I was smart enough to not mouth off.

 

Silvio’s Worst Job

In the spirit of Labor Day, Silvio La Frossia shares his worst job from when he was 23:

I worked for three months as a shipping supervisor in a leather hide processing plant.

It was a union shop and as a supervisor — a young supervisor — I was faced for the first time overseeing union and nonunion labor.

It was a very unfriendly atmosphere with all the supervisors of various departments constantly sniping at each other, and as the youngest and newest, they all came to me.

I was inexperienced in handling and overseeing experienced workers who were much older.

My strengths were in organization, timelines and structure, but not in people management and especially not in a combative and tumultuous labor divide.

I could probably handle it a lot better today with years of project management and, well, years under my belt.

 

Memorable Guy Movie Monologues

I love movies and I am a guy.  So I really, really love guy movies.

There are a few things that are undisputed that make up a guy movie and one of them is it has to have one or a few memorable quotes.

It’s the quote that gets repeated anytime guys get together. I wrote about it at About Men Radio. But there are movies that are guy movies determined not just by a quote but rather an entire monologue.

I selected these five not as the top five best ever but simply as five great and memorable monologues.

 

Wall Street – Michael Douglas Gordon Gekko (1987)

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Ahh, the 80s. When corporate greed was acceptable, allowed and admired. The divide between the robber barons and the rest of the population was wide but accepted because the economic meltdown had yet to occur.

In this came an antihero who in his famous monologue explained why greed was good. And we all applauded.

Key quote: “The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good.

 

Animal House – John Belushi John Blutarsky (1978)

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Classic movie monologues don’t always have to be serious. They can also be from one of the greatest comedy movies ever made. This infamous monologue is delivered brilliantly by the late great John Belushi.

The director John Landis said Belushi had the most expressive face he had ever had the fortune of directing. Think to the laughs he generated in the cafeteria food line scene without ever speaking a word but then near the end he gives one of the most rousing comedic monologues ever delivered on the big screen.

Key quote: “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”

Blade Runner – Rutger Hauer Roy Batty (1982)

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What would a guy movie be without a great villain? In the great sci-fi adaptation of Phillip K. Dick “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep,” the villain of the movie, now titled “Blade Runner”— because really, electric sheep?! — delivers a monologue in the pouring rain.

As scripted, the monologue was fantastic and masterfully delivered.

But then Rutger Hauer, playing the part of the replicant Roy Batty, improvised the final line, “Like tears in the rain,” transforming a great monologue to a masterpiece!

Key quote: “All those moments will be lost in time. Like tears in the rain

Silence of the Lambs – Anthony Hopkins Hannibal Lector (1991)

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And while on the topic of villains, has there ever been a larger than life one than Hannibal Lector? Watching the great Sir Anthony Hopkins perform it simply freezes my spine, and it isn’t even the famous Chianti line. It is his final farewell to Clarice. Even though there is an interaction with the film’s protagonist, the delivery of the questions can be pieced together into a single, unforgettable and bone-chilling monologue.

Key quote: “You think if Catherine lives, you won’t wake up in the dark ever again to that awful screaming of the lambs.”

Jaws – Robert Shaw Quint (1975)

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The Indianapolis speech from the blockbuster “Jaws.” Very little introduction or explanation is required of this monologue. Any true card-carrying guy can almost completely recite this one. But no one can ever deliver it with the gravitas that the late great Robert Shaw did. Reportedly Shaw did not like his first delivery of it. The following day he re-did the scene and was supposedly very drunk.

Key quote: “…and the ocean turns red and spite of all the poundin’ and the hollerin’ they all come in and rip you to pieces.

 

A Soccer Fan of Divided Loyalities

Uh oh! What do I do now?!

I am faced with a conundrum that took more than 30 years to develop.

I am a soccer fan, not only because I played the sport from a very young age, but because as a native Argentine, the religion of soccer is ingrained in my DNA.

We worship at the altar of our favorite professional clubs, but we all set aside our religious sects to venerate the national team.

This worship is not unique to Argentina or Latin America. The fervor of rooting patriotically is in the fabric of every country.

I experienced this firsthand when in 1986 on a June afternoon I made my way to the heart of the downtown district of Buenos Aires.

Halfway around the world in Mexico City, my heroes of the Argentine National Team were about to face Germany in the final game of the FIFA World Cup.

When the final whistle blew, Argentina won 3-2 and I found myself in a large, pulsing living organism for a spontaneous celebration I would never forget. I later found out that the number of fans that converged around me and the giant screens reached more than 200,000.

Even as a naturalized United States citizen I still remained the rabid Argentina soccer fan that my blood cells are stamped with.

Living in a country that did not care for soccer at a league level and even less at a national team level, I had no worries of ever having my love for a foreign nation conflict with my adopted one.

That started to change, however, in the early 90s.

Soccer came to this nation slowly and then suddenly in 1994, the United States hosted the ultimate soccer tournament, the World Cup.

Historically, the U.S. always fielded a weak team, a mere speed bump for the major soccer powers on their way to the top prize.

In that World Cup though, the U.S. Men’s National Team not only held its own, but shocked many by upsetting an overconfident Colombia.

The U.S. team did not get much further and over the next few years its level of play peaked in 2002 by reaching a quarterfinal in the World Cup.

But in the last few years, the team has started to show a level of play that, although still not at the level of historically strong soccer nations, was starting to draw some attention.

Through all this, I was and am a strong supporter of the USA National Team. Fast forward to now.

Once again the USA is hosting a major FIFA tournament. It’s the oldest international competition and it is called La Copa America.

I again have been rabidly following both nations. Now I have my kids and wife joining me at every game, cheering my birth nation, Argentina, and their birth nation, the United States.

Now the conundrum: For the first time in their history, Argentina and the U.S. will match up in a major tournament and at a very high stage, the semifinal game of the Copa America 2016.

I have the conflict of cheering for or against one of the two nations that mean so much to me.

On Tuesday night I will be rooting hard for the nation I grew up rooting for all the while knowing that if my adopted nation pulls off the greatest soccer upset in history, I will not be disappointed.

I will still have the fervor and sincerest desire to see them advance and win it all.

ARGENTINA! ! !  USA! ! ! !

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How a Symbol of Love and Loyalty Saved My Finger

“All kings should have scars.”

That was what Queen Cersei said to her son Joffrey, who was soon to become king on “Game of Thrones.”

As hated as both of those characters were by fans, I have to agree. Scars are reminders of a battle, won or lost, that have left their mark.

Scars have a strengthening quality. For instance, where skin scars, it becomes tougher. All successful marriages have them — they are healthy and necessary for the longevity of the union.

My marriage to my high school sweetheart started with an eight-year courtship, and in May, we celebrated our 26th  wedding anniversary.

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This story, though, is about some of the physical scars that I carry on my wedding band.

I had been taking it off regularly to play guitar.

It felt a little weird while I fretted certain songs and then I sometimes forgot to put it back on when I went to work.

In fact, it was at work when my ring got some of its scars.

There were metal filing cabinets, each about six feet tall, filled with CDs, tapes, disk drives and other media.

Suffice to say, they were very, very heavy.

Building operations people were scheduled to move them but I decided to do it on my own.

I put two cabinets in place, and was moving a third when it slipped off the dolly and caught my hand between it and another one, right on the corners of both cabinets.

Thankfully I had remembered to put my ring on.

If I didn’t have the ring to absorb most of the impact, I shudder to think of what would have happened to my finger.

It was crushed onto my finger.

I used a set of channel lock pliers to reshape it and get it off.

But I won’t fix it with a jeweler.

That physical scar is a forever reminder of how a symbol of love and loyalty saved my finger because I remembered to put it back on.

Now I don’t remove it anymore.

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How I Survived My Daughter’s First Concert (and Mosh Pit)

My daughter turned 20 today.

So many feelings and memories surround the writing of that sentence.

I had to stop a second because my eyes started sweating a little.

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I have many wonderful thoughts of being able to be that larger-than-life presence in her life. I was, and still am, the daddy.

Although my role as protector has evolved as the years have passed, I recall a particular event where I almost had to go full pit bull as her guardian.

My daughter had turned 14 and was developing her own taste in music.

Of course, as parents we went full bore on all the sappy Disnified music and songs from when she was just a wee girl.

But now she had reached teenagerdom, and the cutesy posters in her room were slowly being replaced with celebrity posters and music idols.

With her birthday approaching, my daughter asked for tickets to see the band We The Kings, who were going to be playing at the House of Blues in Orlando.

I agreed to get the tickets but she could not go alone and I would not simply drop her off — not yet. Not at 14. Not my little girl.

So we had a date night. I was going with her. We headed off.

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I decided to eat at the House of Blues. It was a nice outing. We had burgers and talked.

She answered my questions about who these guys we were about to see, where they came from, their style of music, were they cute, etc.

My daughter obliged me my silly daddy questions.

She then informed me that the main band would play after four opening acts.

FOUR!?!? I thought. This is gonna be torture.

I had no idea.

Having patronized the House of Blues restaurant, we were given early-entry passes to the show.

We could pile in before the rest of the Kingers or Kingheads, or whatever they called themselves, could gain access to the hallowed halls of Blues.

We walked and there were only enough people standing to fill about three rows.

Uh-oh. No seats.

I had forgotten that this was a general admission event and there would be no seats. My first alarm went off, but I used to go to heavy metal concerts at small and large venues.

“I got this!” I figured.

As the rest of the patrons started to stroll in, I noticed a few things.

First, I was the oldest thing there. I was even older than the building I was in.

Second, everyone looked at me as if I were a narc.

Third, I was crowding in on my daughter’s first musical fan experience. So I quickly surveyed the room and found some steps that led up to a ledge only a few feet off the main floor where there was a bar.

I had no interest in drinking that night (hard to believe but true), only in the small nook with a railing that overlooked the floor.

I didn’t care about the view of the show, I just wanted to find a place where I could see Marina and I had found it.

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I leaned over and told Marina where I would be. She nodded, still sporting this wonderful smile and soaking in this new experience.

I trotted up to my perch and stood watch like a medieval sentry through the first two bands.

They were local, unknown bands and they didn’t draw a large reception.

I could still see the curly mop of my happy daughter. And she would look up to my position and flash me a smile and return my thumbs-up each time.

I had forgotten from my concert-going days that true fans and followers pile in as the night gets longer.

And then they came.

By the middle of the third band, I started to see a wave forward and to the side of Marina’s head. The crowd was growing and moving as one large organic being.

My daughter was now in this sea of bodies.

I was starting to sweat.

The fourth band was obviously a favorite as the crowd moved violently in every direction.

I could see Marina still enjoying herself, swaying with the crowd, still pretty much in the same area I had left her when I noticed a new configuration.

A mosh pit was developing!

Oh God, no!!

My little girl was right in the area where the crowd was parting to allow this abomination to take shape.

She was right along the edge of this pit. And I remembered, again from my metal days, what could happen to those unsuspecting individuals around the edge of a pit.

While I scanned, searching for curly hair, I saw him enter the circle: an experienced mosher, all 7-foot-9 of him.

He was a perfect sculpted specimen.

I know because he pulled his shirt off, threw it over his shoulder and proceeded to mosh, throwing arms and fists in every direction.

My eyes were focused on this monstrosity and willing that he not come anywhere near Marina.

I knew in that moment that if this man-child of Greek-proportioned musculature and probably 2 percent body fat came anywhere near my daughter that my 5-foot-10, soft-bodied dad self would fly down in a heartbeat to kill him.

I even saw it played out in my head: Me swooping down and beating this pseudo -Adonis to death with his own leg that I had just ripped off of him.

I didn’t have to though. He stayed at the other outer edge, making contact with more than one bystander. I looked over to the safe edge and scanned for curly hair.

I didn’t see any.

I lost her!

I know I must have displayed that on my face because I felt a hand  over my mine, which was death-gripping the metal rail.

I looked up and saw what was definitely a mom.

She looked right at me and said, “Did you lose your daughter in there?”

Holy crap. She knew.

Yes, I nodded vigorously.

She told me to calm down and that she would be OK. I didn’t believe her but I did settle down and refocused.

I scanned closer to the stage and there she was, almost at the stage level with a great view of the show and away from that idiot in the pit.

I breathed again and mouthed “thank you” to that mom.

The last opening act left and the lights came up a bit more as we waited for the main act.

Marina turned around and had an easier time of spotting me. She flashed a wide smile and a thumbs up.

I actually got to watch the main act and enjoyed the show.

After the show ended, I managed to get back to my little girl, who was beaming.

I hugged her, more for my benefit, and then we left.

I asked her how she enjoyed it, and the words came out at teenage speed.

On the trip home, she told me how she took advantage of the mosh pit forming and creating new space to get to a better location to enjoy the upcoming band.

And when the crowd surfers came by, she just ducked a bit to avoid them.

She took a glancing blow from some Keds sneaker but that was it.

She loved her first concert.

She thanked me and said she would never forget it.

Me too. And somehow, I survived it.

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Friendships That Endured Through Moves and Time

In my youth, going out after school down the block or to the park was where we met up with our friends. Even kids we just met, after a spirited game of war, or tag or anything else, those new acquaintances became friends.

Through my childhood years, I migrated back and forth between the Bronx and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Each of these moves usually had us staying a year or two in a city before packing up and moving back.

This happened a few times during my school years. So I would harvest a circle of friends and then leave them to start anew.

My earliest friends I have pretty much forgotten by name. I remember some activities and a few kids from the block, but nobody that I would contact today.

But in one of my returns to the Bronx, I met a group of guys that I would never forget.

Our moves were always disruptive of the school year.

With the switch from southern to northern hemispheres and of seasons, a migration to the United States usually meant coming in the middle of a grade and being that kid that was introduced to the class as “… joining us from Argentina.”

In sixth grade at PS 36, I did not make any enduring school friends.

Instead I met a kid from around the block who happened to go to the same school but we never interacted there much.

Anyway, Rich and I hit it off pretty well, sharing a love for comic books, Legos, science fiction and classic horror. These similarities bonded us as friends despite being polar opposites in our baseball love. (He is a rabid Mets fan and I am a diehard Yankees fan.)

Regardless, our friendship grew.

We played pickup softball at the schoolyard, sometimes just him and me hitting and catching for what seemed like glorious hours days on end.

When we weren’t outside, it was games, comics and pool — he had a great pool table in his family room. We battled constantly at 8-ball, with him besting me probably 85 percent of the time.

When the next school year started, I went to a Catholic school that was two parishes away from home.

On Day One, the kids in the yard lining up by grade all knew each other.

This was seventh grade and many of these kids knew each other from kindergarten at St. Raymond’s. I had left all of those early friends behind after several relocations, and my friend Rich was at a different public school.

So I scanned the faces for another guy who also looked new. I found him: Pedro. We chatted briefly and said maybe we would get lucky enough to end up in the same class. We did.

Once we were in our class and lined up again, I was standing behind a flattop-haired kid, taller than me and with a jacket with Boy Scout patches. Having enjoyed my Cub Scout years, I tapped his shoulder and asked him about his troop and patches.

We hit it off and Chris and I became friends. He later introduced me to his longtime friend John and a new kid he met that also lived nearby in his neighborhood: Pedro!

We became close friends and I was fortunate to spend some after-school days with them, but my neighborhood was about 14 blocks away, so my after-school days were spent more with Rich.

Through birthday parties and other gatherings at home I introduced both groups and we became five best friends.

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After two full school years I once again whisked off down south, starting high school in Argentina.

Two years later we once again returned.

This time though I had kept in touch with my “bros.” The long-distance friendship back then was through letters, cards and packages. Phone calls were prohibitively expensive and, of course, no one knew what an Internet was yet.

We traded letters, books, photos and cassette tapes. I wish I kept one of those. I still remember the one where Chris recorded latest hits off the radio and had everyone, including his sister and mom, talk up a song. I know I played that tape incessantly

When I returned, and with heavy long-distance help from Chris, I was able to attend the same Catholic high school as John, Pedro and Chris. Rich was at the Bronx High School of Science.

We all again went our separate ways to college, but we were all still in New York City, so again we did everything together, until again I departed.

This time it was of my own accord, testing out my future plans in my native Argentina. Since conscription was still a thing then, I had to complete a year in the Army there.

But the country was still in disarray after regaining democracy, and it stood on the verge of a takeover at any time (two failed coups did occur), so once again I returned to the United States.

Together with my new wife, we moved south again, but this time staying in the northern hemisphere and landing in Orlando, Fla. It would be 16 years before I got back together with the gang.

I located each of my AMR pals and connected through Facebook.

This led to a reintegration with a group of guys with whom I shared so many experiences and an online gathering space allowed us to catch up.

After a while, it’s as if we never went our separate ways.

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Although it’s been harder for me to meet up, I have taken full advantage of trips made to reconnect with one friend at a time or the group as we did for an elementary school reunion.

Now we share our anecdotes in our writings and podcasts. I look forward to those like a kid waiting for Santa.

And this week there will be a full reunion of the original AMR boys in a visit to sunny Florida.

I am so thankful for my friends, the real ones with whom I have shared a childhood and early adulthood.

I now look forward to those middle-age memories still to come. I don’t want to call it a bucket list, but when we get to those formative years, I hope I will still have these AMR brothers to share them with.

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Oh Rats! A Subway Stare-Down That I Lost

What creature would roam underground, scurrying from point to point through an intricate network of tunnels — dank, dirty and dingy — tirelessly trudging in claustrophobic surroundings?

I know them as New Yorkers. And they rule the subways.

For a long time I was one of them. Today I fondly think back of my days underground — and over ground when on the El — from the safety and sunshine of Florida.

But there is another New York inhabitant that is the true ruler of the subway, especially its tunnels.

This New Yorker has many cousins in fields, landfills and building basements and is an abomination born of the darkest of crevices – The Subway Rat!

This monstrosity is no ordinary rat. Its above-ground cousin shares similar disgusting traits, such as its almost cat-like size, hideous teeth and fur and voracious appetite. Did I mention it’s as big as a freaking cat?!

The New York Subway Rat has all those traits and exponentially raises it a few degrees.

Many New Yorkers never get to see one of these monsters.

They are the fortunate ones.

I am a New Yorker who faced one and lived to tell the tail…um…tale.

My commute back in the late ’80s was on the No. 6 train from Parkchester in the Bronx to the Garment District near Seventh Avenue. (No self-respecting New Yorker ever called it Fashion Avenue.) But the No. 6 doesn’t go to Seventh Avenue in the Garment District.

I would get off at the 42nd Street Station and then take the Shuttle to the West Side.

I would always go to the first car, not because I wanted to watch the passage through the tunnels from the front door, though I often did.

My principal reason for taking that spot was logistical.

The 42nd Street Station back then had a supervisors’ booth that had long been abandoned.

But the structure was still there and at the mouth of the tunnel, it jutted into the platform forming an inverted “U” from the front tunnel entrance. To either side of the “U” there was a narrow walkway that went right up to the tunnel’s mouth.

Since this walkway was always empty, no one would stand there to wait for the train and I could exit from the first car onto the platform without bumping into anyone waiting to come in.

It saved me a few milliseconds, and if you know a New Yorker’s morning commute, every fraction of a second mattered.

For months I exited the car without ever looking. Until one day…

Sniffing around this secluded platform, at the height of morning rush hour, just inches away from where I was about to plant my first step was a Subway Rat.

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He was this big: I am holding my hands out at least three feet apart!

I froze mid-step.

Average rodents will typically scurry away when confronted by a human. But this is Subterraneous Verminus Rodentus we are talking about here.

This — this thing — stopped sniffing the ground, swiveled and stood on its freaking hind legs!

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I was still frozen mid-step, and five cars away there was probably a conductor watching this exchange and wondering who would win, and more important how quickly, because he needed to get the train moving and close the freaking doors!

This New York Subway Rat knew who was boss. He was!

After a brief stare-down, it lowered itself and slowly, deliberately, walked to the tunnel and out of sight.

I exited the train, turned left and got the hell out of there.

I lived to tell the tale. But often I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t froze and if I had quickly used my soccer skills to kick that bigger-than-a-football-size vermin into the subway car before the doors closed.

Oh the pandemonium that would have created!

But I’m certain the rat would have landed on its feet, killed some passengers and slowly walked off the train and into its subterranean realm.

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Showing Dad Admiration and Respect Through Soccer

Respect: Of the many who demand it, few get it and even fewer deserve it.

I truly believe that respect is earned wordlessly, silently, almost imperceptibly through action.

I recall a certain event with my Dad that exemplifies this notion. It happened as I was entering my rebellious years. I was 14.

I held high respect for Dad from very early on. But once a boy becomes a teenager, he may show disrespect toward the very towering figures he put on a pedestal for so long.

Allow me to explain.

My love and devotion for the game of soccer is ingrained in me just from having been born in Argentine lands.

The very air in the country, heavily laden with the perspiration of countless players and games, practically infects all newborn boys with the fever of soccer.

How it grows and develops in an Argentine child comes from the father and then through endless street, sandlot and neighborhood games, moving toward more structured Futból leagues with his peers as he grows.

Having moved with my family to the Bronx as a toddler, an element of that soccer growth was interrupted. In the early ’60s, youth soccer was not as popular as it is now. My father, who in Argentina played at the professional level, continued in some adult leagues that played in Van Courtland and Flushing Meadow Parks.

But for me, chasing la redonda (the round one) in New York became strictly a father-son thing.

As I got older, Dad encouraged me to pick up the ball with my hands, and slowly but surely, a soccer goalkeeper was developing. He told me that since I did not grow up with the opportunity to play potrero (sandlot) soccer, that I should work to become a goalkeeper.

After-school trips to the park were a daily occurrence.

Since available soccer goalposts were a rarity, we would set up a couple of markers to serve as goalposts in front of a fence or wall with grass leading up to it and kick away — me crouching and diving, Dad stopping to give me pointers, explaining the art of the keeper and tirelessly kicking soccer balls.

It was heaven.

Summers, fall and spring, the training continued.

As I got a little older, the feeling of “I know more than you” started to also develop.

One day we went to Pelham Bay Park for our goalkeeper training.

At this session I made the mistake of thinking I could show my Dad up. I thought that not only was I the best, but that I was going to show him in a very flashy way.

How? In my case, by making stops while moving half-heartedly toward the ball, by chicken-winging my arm and knocking out the kicked ball with my elbow, by staying upright and turning my back to the ball and heel-kicking it back.

What I forgot was that the man in front of me was once a professional soccer player and I had never experienced a true soccer shot.

I quickly found out that he had always pulled his punches.

And I found out most loudly.

The next few shots came in a blur.

I remember getting a hand on a few, and how they hurt. The ones I could not stop, because they came at me as if fired from a howitzer, hit that wall behind me with a stupendous BANG!

They hit off that wall so hard that they went right back to Dad without my intervention and he readied himself for the next shot.

At one point the volley stopped and he walked to me. He calmly asked if we were done.

He seemed 10 feet tall again. He never directly addressed the barrage, never mentioned my display of disrespect.

We probably talked about soccer the way we always did on the way back home.

But in that one loud, wordless moment, he got back that respect that I vainly attempted to take away.

MegaCon: The Family That CosPlays Together…

As I stroll down a hallway, an 8-foot mechanized cyborg passes by me.

Resting in a semi-seated position and staring into a smartphone is a unicorn-headed half human.

Further down I see a line of droids ambling away.

And wait! Was that Stan Lee?!

Did I just bring you into one of my alcohol-induced dreams?

Nope, that was just a small part of MegaCon 2015 in Orlando, Fla.

MegaCon is the annual younger cousin to the now-famous ComicCon of San Diego. But not that much smaller.

This year over 70,000 super-heroes, monsters, robots, geeks and freaks passed through its doors.

Batman_Group

For me, a lover of all things comics from the early 70s, a giant comic book convention should have been an annual event from way, way back.

But it wasn’t. Early on I viewed all conventions, comic, Star Trek, scifi and horror as the domain of not just geeks, but rather stuck-up, solitary, scary collector-type geeks.

And in a convention they found the one event where they could congregate and be all geeky about their collections together.

I was not a collector. I was a reader.

I devoured comics and pulp mags, scifi, super-heroes and horror. But I never kept my comics and mags in pristine, collectible condition.

I read the hell out of them. I rolled them over, shoved them into bags, creasing pages that reduced their monetary value but with every reading, they increased in spiritual value to me.

Many were lost or traded over time. Some were even damaged by Silly Putty overuse. But they were never forgotten.

Fast forward many, many, many years to my family that now includes some teenagers, who grew up reading fantasy book series, anime and comics.

Three years ago they convinced me to take them to our first MegaCon.

I thought I knew what I was in for.

I prepared myself to spend the day letting my kids explore and I would limit myself to looking through comics, mags and memorabilia that interested me, whiling away the time.

What I got was completely different.

Yes the exhibitors were there with the comics and accessories, and many of them looked and acted like the comic book collector geek from “The Simpsons.” But there was so much more.

Full booths dedicated to the likes of the Southern R2 Builders Group, the Greater Florida LEGO® Users Group and the 501st Legion or as they are better known, “Vader’s Fist”.

Sure these were middle-aged folks spending thousands of dollars on building the most incredible replica of a fully functioning R2D2 droid.

But it felt right and not geeky.

Maybe it felt that way because these full-sized, fully functioning and moving droids are definitely the ones I was looking for.

It was my childhood brought to life. And the storm troopers, mercenaries, Wookies and Jedis of the well-known galactic fantasy tale were all there.

That was just the Star Wars stuff. There were exhibits from “Star Trek,” “Battlestar Glactica,” “RoboCop” and… “Plan Nine From Outer Space.”

Yes, there was the well-known and the obscure.

But what about comic book characters? If I were to guess I would say they were all well represented by the thousands of cosplayers.

From the bizarre, to the sublime, from the expensive and elaborate to the cheap and last-minute creation.

Wolverine, Supergirl, Thor, Spiderman, Rick Grimes…and Powdered Toast Man.

2013-03-16 14.49.47

There were so many anime characters I did not recognize that I had to constantly stop and ask my kids, “Who’s that?”

But the most interesting part was seeing that this was not a culture of geek exclusivity or freak elitism.

From what I saw in a day, every cosplayer was very gracious to every request for a picture or to engage in conversation. And so many poses — from heroic to horrific to hysterical.

Did I mention Powdered Toast Man?

Powdered_Toast_Man_01

Some cosplayers were surrounded by fans of all ages. And everyone wanted a picture.

I saw an 8-foot Groot, splendidly re-created, down to the slow difficult walk in that costume.

He wouldn’t have walked fast even if his tree-stumped legs allowed, because every half a step there was another photo request.

And when a fantastically accurate Star-Lord crossed his path, it was a true Kodak moment.

Groot_Star_Lord

MegaCon has now become an annual thing in our family. My kids take it to an extreme and I love it.

This year my oldest daughter went to all three days and dressed as two different characters.

In fact, we have started a budget for MegaCon 2016 for all of us, including my wife, to attend all three days and we will all be costumed.

The family that cosplays together stays together.

May the Force be with you.

Memorable Movie Quotes: Why They Matter To Men

Get a few guys together and there will be at least 10 memorable movie quotes battered about and at least one classic guy movie scene clumsily reenacted.

We can’t help it. It is deeply engrained in our nature.

Many times, guys will overlook it if the quote referenced doesn’t quite fit the mood or the conversation as long as it was masterfully delivered.

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”

There are a few unwritten rules, though.

The quote has to be correct. One hundred percent!

“I’m here to kick ass and chew bubble gum. And I ain’t got no more bubble gum.”

Arrrahh! No go. Go to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

Real guys reading this can immediately correct this quote. And the unlucky goop that attempted it is usually relegated to less than sidekick duty.

Until the day he launches a good one.

“You’re gonna eat lightnin’ and you’re gonna crap thunder!”

Bang! Nailed it!

We guys, including my About Men Radio brothers, subconsciously crave that special moment when we transcend mere mortals and not only nail the quote to the moment but organically live it or make it larger than life.

Although none of us will ever have a “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli” moment after gunning down a rival. (At least I hope none of us will!)

A few years back I had a moment. And there wasn’t another guy around, just my lovely wife. And although I love her very much, she can’t help but squash those little guy moments.

She will always roll her eyes whenever I watch/quote “Star Wars” or “The Hunt for Red October” or “Goodfellas.”

She will get up off the couch abandoning me if I stop the remote on “Gladiator” for more than two seconds.

So here I am rolling up to my moment in a minivan with my wife riding shotgun.

I pull up to the toll booth attendant and hand him my $2 waiting for a couple of quarters in change. I had absent-mindedly done this a hundred times.

Then the attendant dropped the coins.

As he dropped to a knee to pick them up, disappearing from view behind the half door it was my Sonny Corleone moment and I wasn’t going to let it go!

I bolted up in my seat swiveled my head from side to side almost hoping to see some fedora-wearing hit men leveling their Tommy guns.

I felt my wife’s hand on my forearm but instead of squashing my moment she whispered, “Relax Sonny.”

YES!!!

She recognized the scene without any prompting and added her own line to complete my moment! Typically a second guy completes a guy moment by delivering the final line, but unless my wife started going, RAT-A-TAT-TAT-TAT and then kicked me in the face for good measure, she couldn’t complete the actual scene.

But she recognized my moment, added her own line and made it memorable. She completed me.

I didn’t think I could love her more, but I was wrong.

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I’m Drivin’ in My Car…And Getting Into Trouble!

One night in 1985 while out with my AMR brothers cruising around, we almost all checked out.

An annual Italian heritage block event was held in our neighborhood in the east Bronx.

As was our custom, we would pile into a car and head out. This time it was my car and Zerega Avenue was our destination for the evening.

My car was really my Dad’s car and to call it a land yacht was to downplay its enormity. It was a 1976 Ford LTD. It was truly a land cruise ship. Piling into it was not a problem for just the four of us that night, Pedro, John, Rich and me.

The car was not a beater, but it had seen better days. Most of the dings, scratches and disrepair were courtesy of a teenage me that learned to drive in it and used it more than Dad did by that time.

On that fateful night, it had a burnt out headlight. Being young and broke I did not see the urgency in repairing or replacing parts immediately.

So off we went, with John riding shotgun and Pedro and Rich in the back seat.

We cruised the night a bit and headed in the direction of the festival. I can’t recall if any of us really wanted to attend the festival. We were just planning on cruising, cutting up and having fun.

Traffic was not heavy but we saw police officers directing traffic on the principal roads. I turned down a side street and, approaching a corner on the dark road, I saw a single flashlight motioning forward like an airport runway crewman.

But as my great white land ship got closer to the light, it started to motion to the curb that I should pull over.

I immediately remembered the busted headlight. Damn.

And that I had forgotten my wallet. Double damn!

I pulled to the side and a very young police officer came to my window. He asked me for my license and registration and with the same breath before I could reply to his first request he informed me that I had a headlight out.

From the corner of my eye, I saw his partner, equally young, flashlight in hand, approach the passenger side.

I told the officer that I was driving my Dad’s car and I forgot my wallet. But I did have the registration in the glove compartment, which I pointed to and was about to slowly reach all the way over to retrieve.

And here is where it all could have ended.

John lunged for the glove compartment, simply thinking that he was doing me a solid and getting my documents for me.

The cops didn’t see the nobility of the gesture as they each took a step back and trembling hands went to their holsters. Luckily, John fumbled the turn knob and I was able to calmly push him back in his seat.

I’m not certain what kept me moving calmly that night other than instinctively knowing that one does not make quick movements in the presence of officers on a dark side road in the Bronx.

After pulling out the registration and insurance card, the officer asked me to give him my name and spell it.

He returned the cards to me. His hand — and mine — were less than steady.

I guess he was satisfied that the spelling of my last name matched the one on the registration card. Thank the heavens my name wasn’t simply Smith.

He gave me a warning to drive home, get the headlight fixed and to not forget my wallet in the future. Yes, sir!

I pulled away slowly and started to drive away. Then a steady barrage of smacks and blows, intermingled with chopped unfinished sentences, started to rain down on the back of John’s head coming from the back seat.

“You dumb…” Smack!

“You never lunge when…” Bang!

“You almost got us…” Pow!

All of it was coming from Pedro. Rich didn’t say much the rest of the trip.

Thinking back on it, and without making light of recent events, we got off easy. I can only imagine that the young officers were just as frightened as we were. And we were extremely fortunate the glove box did not open, allowing John to reach in.

The officers stayed level-headed and did not draw, but all the circumstances in the event—four youths with no ID in a large car that is not theirs — could have led to calling in the sidewalk chalk outline artist that night.

I’m grateful that it turned out OK for us. And I don’t think I have ever again forgotten my wallet!

“Hey, Coach…”

“You got a second, Coach?”

Ughhh. The most hated sentence a volunteer parent coach can ever hear.

Why?

Because nothing good ever follows it. It is always some sort of complaint (my daughter didn’t play enough time), unreasonable request (my daughter should play the whole game) or unsolicited “technical” advice (my daughter should play center forward to beef up your weak 4-3-3 formation).

The only thing I can hope for as the coach is that at least the tone is civil.

I have been a sports coach, mostly soccer, since before I had kids of my own. Having been born in Argentina and with a dad who played some professional soccer in his youth, it was a matter of time before I started chasing and kicking “la redonda” (the round one).

I cut my teeth as a coach while as a young adult serving in the Argentine army. Yep, military conscription was still a thing when I was 20. I filled my off hours by volunteering at the Catholic parish youth soccer league.

In Argentina, soccer is an ingrained part of the culture. Children learn to play even before they are able to walk.

Parents rarely are present during formal coaching sessions and many times absent from games entirely. So I had the great opportunity to learn from experienced coaches and to freely coach a team of 9- and 10-year-old boys, all very talented and skillful little players.

After returning to the U.S. and getting married, it wasn’t until we had our own kids that I returned to coaching. It had been 16 years since I had last run a practice, so I signed up as an assistant coach because I wanted to see how things were done in the U.S., now my naturalized home.

By week No. 2 into that, my rookie season, the head coach suddenly had an out-of-town project to work on, and just like the plot of a bad sitcom, I inherited a team of uncoordinated, uninterested first graders to play a game I had learned to play structurally and properly. After setting up some drills to run, it did not take long for bedlam to ensue.

After a few weeks I started to get into the rhythm of the players (know thy audience) and scaled down the drills to more fun games that happened to involve a soccer ball.

Kids were having fun and I managed to sneak in some soccer drills disguised as fun. During their matches the team scored some goals and won some games.

Hurray!

Until…

My first encounter with an upset parent. Fortunately for me, this one didn’t go as it was playing out in my head. I had just finished getting the kids set up for a soccer drill when I saw out of the corner of my eye a mom dragging a red-headed boy by the hand and in my direction with a very determined look on her face.

The boy was one of my talented players but not good at following directions. I was expecting the worst from his mom. What occurred was unexpected but very welcome. After dragging her son, who was struggling against her, in my direction, she stopped short of coming straight up to me.

Instead she dropped to a knee, grabbed her son by the cheeks, pointed at me and without breaking her gaze into his eyes said: “This is your coach and you will listen to and do as he says. Do you understand me?!”

Then she shook my hand without saying anything else and walked away.

In the following years I became very adept at coaching a recreational team of players.

“Recreational” meant that you always had at least four players who were more interested in playing in the dirt, viewing cloud forms or chasing a passing butterfly than in the ball being kicked toward them.

As their coach, my hands were raw from clapping and my throat hoarse from yelling encouragement to a player running in circles far from where that ball was being played.

It is a part of the mantra of recreational sports. All children play regardless of skill, and they should all be encouraged enthusiastically and equally. It can be very tiring for a volunteer coach, but very satisfying as well.

And then it started. “Coach, you got a second?”

Sure, I thought, as I turned with a big smile. What would follow would always be, my kid isn’t receiving enough playing time, etc. etc. In my head I would reply, “How could he? He is too busy digging up ants as the opposing team barrel through your kid’s area on the field!”

Instead, I would smile and think back on that first parental encounter.

Food and Culture Come Together at the Holidays

Coquito y Empanadas!

For the past 23 Christmases I have been able to share the joyous holiday spirit with my lovely wife.

We combine two very different Hispanic cultures and customs.

To outsiders, Hispanics all seem to be the same because we share the same language from the mother country of Spain, Hispanics vary widely in words, customs and traditions.

Caribbean Hispanics differ from Central American Hispanics, and those differ immensely from South American Hispanics.

To compound the issue further, there are smaller subsets of those major groups that also differ from each other. But it is that diversity that strengthens us.

The blend of Hispanic traditions and cultures is huge in my family.

My wife hails from the northern part of Puerto Rico — the Bronx. (I kid.) Yes, she was born in the Bronx, but her Puerto Rican heritage is strong and forged by very many long summer vacations in Puerto Rico.

For my part, I was born in Argentina, the southernmost of Hispanics. I lived many years of my childhood in Argentina.

So through marriage we combined our cultures and traditions and no place is it more apparent than during the holidays.

From the pernil and pasteles at Thanksgiving to the asado on Christmas Eve, foods blend and bring together the cultures.

So this Christmas, like so many before, I proudly make a Coquito recipe entrusted to me by my wife’s aunt from Puerto Rico and I also will indulge in a batch of my Mom’s Argentine empanadas.

But, of course, I will share with friends. It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year.

Merry Christmas y Feliz Navidad!

Movies of Yesteryear Are Family Viewing Time of Today

“Get to the choppa!”

“Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.”

“Game over man, game over!”

Classic movie quotes. Together with my good friends from About Men Radio, we quote our favorites frequently. We are all of the same era, most of us the same age, hitting the mid-century milepost in the same year.

We love these movies. We watch them over and over, but we unknowingly view them with the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. With these specs on, our heroes and our movies can do no wrong. They are perfection. And boy, do we love to quote them.

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

But the true test of time for our beloved classics is the scrutiny of today’s teenagers. In the La Frossia household, I put up my classics to the viscious, modern critical eye of my kids.

All three of them teenagers, ranging from 13 to 18. Will they revel in the satirical violence of “RoboCop”? Or will they cut it down to size for the terrible sins of cheesy dialogue, phony sets or non-convincing FX?

“Your move, creep.”

What ends up being the most fun for each movie viewing is delighting in the reactions of my kids.

If the time is right, I will announce to the family that it is “Retro Movie Night.” It is sometimes received with a groan.

For them, they have to be in the “right mood” for a Dad classic. I usually win and I present a title for the evening.

I typically get bombarded with questions, especially when I mention a title and tell them to trust me and I do not give them a preview description.

Sometimes I get the most genuine reaction because they never heard of the movie, such as the original “The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3.” My kids have never visited the Big Apple, so they have never experienced a subway, much less one from the 1970s.

And they didn’t need to. The expertly crafted movie that is TToP123 quickly engrossed them and they bought into the suspense and drama.

“We had a bomb scare in the Bronx yesterday, but it turned out to be a cantaloupe.”

But that was an easy one because it is considered by many movie experts as a timeless classic. How will they react to a Dad classic such as “Westworld”? With its ’70s special effects, ’60s computers and Yul Brynner?

“Your move. Draw!”

They overall liked the movie. Of course, the snickering at the hovercraft effects, the comments about the computer command control — they informed me that they held more power in their iPhone than was in that control center — and the comments about Yul’s accent for a western U S of A gunslinger were intense.

The banter though added another layer of fun to my classics and gives me a chance to enjoy them all over again, almost as if seeing it for the first time as I live it through their eyes and join in their commenting.

“Get your stinkin’ hands off of me you damn, dirty ape!”

Thanks to an extensive VHS and DVD collection as well as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon I have a wealth of classics to unleash on them. If they are to enjoy today’s future classics like “The Hobbit,” “Lord of the Rings” or the Harry Potter franchise, they need to see “Jason and the Argonauts” and “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad.”

To love “Pacific Rim” they have to experience “Destroy All Monsters.”

It’s my duty as a dad that they get that.

“I’ll be back.”

 

About Men: Yes, Slappy, it Really is Harassment

This controversial public service announcement video created by Hollaback, an organization dedicated to ending street harassment is intended to be a social experiment highlighting the routine sexual harassment females deal with daily. It features a young woman walking around New York City for 10 hours and the unwanted attention she gets despite not being dressed provocatively or engaging with the men she encounters on the street in any way.

I first saw the video posted by my fellow AMR contributor Pedro on the About Men Radio Facebook newsfeed. Shortly thereafter it had gone, as the hip kids say these days, viral.

Quite frankly I was disgusted more by the YouTube commenters than by the extra creepy guy in the video that follows the girl uncomfortably close and silently for 5 minutes. A typical New Yorker walks a block in a minute so unless my math is off here…this guy shadowed her for 5 blocks!

I am a fiercely proud Argentine and spent my late teens and early twenties in Buenos Aires.  Argentine men (just like Italians, which is also in my blood) are piroperos fond of throwing out piropos, a catcall, to passing women.

In its most traditional sense el piropo is supposed to be a very complimentary, flattering and non-rude line. Sort of like a well crafted pickup. When employed correctly it should be almost poetic. The intended effect is to bring a smile to a woman’s lips. Sadly, most modern piropos are lacking in poetry and too many piroperos in Argentina are just plain rude and harassing.

I recall hanging out with friends in Buenos Aires and some of them throwing out the occasional piropo. I refused to. One day I spoke up against someone in my group who let fly with an especially rude piropo that visibly upset the recipient but titillated the rest of the guys I was with.

I was verbally pounced on after suggesting to the graceless piropero in my group that they should have some respect. Things escalated with harsh words and threats hurled my way by several of the others. Before things became physical I countered (in Spanish), “How would you fu@#ing feel if that was your girlfriend or your mother?”

That certainly defused the situation but I never really hung out with some of those guys again.

I’m not suggesting I wouldn’t take an admiring glance and quietly comment to myself or a buddy on a fine figure walking by. I would.  I just never felt that urge to piropear and I most certainly wouldn’t be pressured into it by some clueless lunkheads.

Some commenters on YouTube felt the woman in the Hollaback video should have felt flattered by the attention and just let it be. Really?!?! Let who be?!?! The creep walking with her for 5 minutes. Or the other guy continually asking her why she didn’t want to be friends? Or any of the other creeps who kept hurling UNSOLICITED comments her way?

It’s all unwelcome and it is most definitely harassment.

But don’t take my word for it, ask your sister.  Ask your wife.  Ask your mom…

Photo: American Girl in Italy by Ruth Orkin

About Movies: And on That Day, a New Horror Fiend Was Born

“Take your brother with you.”

That one line uttered by my mother absolved me from all guilt in the events that transpired on that summer weekend in 1981. It was not my fault but my brother Pablo still points the finger at me. I was forced by that order from Mom to have him come along to the double feature, at the Palace Theater in The Bronx, that I had planned to see with fellow AMR host and childhood friend Rich.

Rich and I shared a taste for the macabre. We read, traded, and re-read every Stephen King novel, Famous Monsters or Fangoria magazines plus anything we could devour that was horrific in nature and certain to provide, if not nightmares, at least a sleepless night or two.

horror_covers

By this point in time both Rich and I had watched the seminal Night of the Living Dead, originally released in 1968.  But honestly,  what self-respecting horror buff hasn’t?

That masterpiece of horror from George Romero predated another classic of the genre, The Exorcistby five years and was the first major horror film I caught in the theater.

I was 9 years old.

Exorcist

I somehow convinced my Mom back then to take me to see what has been called, “the scariest film ever made.” And I loved it. It horrified me yet also solidified my love for the genre. And I hadn’t yet completed my first decade.

On that summer weekend Rich and I planned on taking in a horror double feature—that’s two movies for the price of one kiddies. On the bill was a slasher film, Mother’s Day and the headlining flick, Dawn of the Dead. The sequel to Night of the Living Dead was released 10 years after the original.

dawn-of-the-dead-1978-posterIn order to attract an audience of horror and not porn lovers, the movie poster and newspaper ads had the full MPAA rating as “There is no explicit sex in this picture; however, there are scenes of violence which may be considered shocking. No one under 17 will be admitted.”

No one?

Well, in the summer of 1981 I had not yet reached 17 years of age and I don’t think Rich had either. Not only were we technically sneaking ourselves in but we were attempting to smuggle someone in who was a full seven years younger than the intimidating “No one under 17 will be admitted” warning allowed.

No one batted an eye.

Rich and I stayed cool walking my baby brother in between us to our seats for the opener.

Mother’s Day was a blast of early 80s gore and hillbilly nonsense but it freaked my brother out. To his credit, he didn’t show it …much. Rich turned to him and told him, “You think that was bad, wait until you see Dawn”.

Dawn of the Dead scarred my young brother, giving him nightmares for days but Pablo went on to love the horror genre and I was wholly responsible for that. In an interview conducted outside of a horror convention, he both blames me (not Mom) and thanks me for his introduction to (and eventual love of) horror.

Bro, you’re welcome.

About Food: A Gaucho Tradition Handed Down…From Mom

In Argentina, manly traditions are generally handed down from father to son. Gaucho traditions such as using a facón (a gauchos’ personal knife), throwing boleadoras (a gaucho’s hunting weapon), or making an asado (a gaucho grilled meat feast) are typically the domain of men.

Not so in the la Frossia household.

I am a man with strong Argentine roots but the art of an asado was passed on to me by Mom, not dad. I learned the process, preparation and grilling techniques of a traditional Argentine asado from her, and display the effectiveness of those lessons on special occasions with family and friends.  My plan is to build a traditional stone Argentine parrilla (grill) for future asados but will bow to tradition.

I’ll be the one teaching my sons and daughter how to prepare the asado for their families.

This multimedia piece was produced for the “Coming to the Table” series from Feet In Two Worlds.