Monday, February 25, 2013

Where Did He Go?

Chances are you are reading this because you saw my link on Facebook, but according to Google Analytics, there is a higher probability you found me through a search on Google for “corn gravy.” I am not making that up.

As much as I enjoy Facebook, I was reluctant to create a profile four years ago because as hard as it is to believe, I don’t like sharing every single aspect of my life. Believe me. What you get is a taste – there is soooooooooo much you will never know!

Social media, whether you hate it or love it, is a necessary evil if you want to promote your work, and if used wisely can increase exposure – good exposure. However, not everyone on social media is there to promote anything except their own miserable lives or become overly exposed – literally.

Many years ago, during the prior century, when we were first hooked up to the Internet at work, two people said things that struck me. One editor I worked with said, “The Internet is a virtual rat’s nest.” This was a reaction to our managing editor demanding we find more information about a particular case we were including in a book on bankruptcy law. I started in publishing as a legal editor.

The other, a boss, said, “You put a television screen on the desk in front of people, and then you get upset when they look for something interesting to watch.” This was a reaction to my office-mate watching “woman-on-horse” pornography during business hours. Not only did I go blind a second too late, but also, every day I pray for early onset Alzheimer’s, so I can finally get that image out of my head.

Beastiality and other forms of entertainment aside, I have noticed something about myself lately. I really am bored with the Internet. I can’t even get a rise out of XTube anymore. Maybe I have low-T?

In 2001, when I finally got connected at home via dial-up, I could spend hours in front of the computer looking at everything from antique cars, pictures of Lucille Ball, antique cars, muscle-worship videos, antique cars, wrestling videos, antique cars, bodybuilder videos, antique cars, Bewitched memorabilia, antique cars, and sometimes, the news. With dial-up, it took hours to load a page, so lots of time was spent waiting or getting kicked off and re-connecting. This was before I had a cell-phone, so I missed a lot of phone calls during that time, including the one telling me my mother had died.

I remember I was watching this site where people had webcams (I wish I could remember the name of it), and you could watch them walk around their apartments in their underwear while they did dishes or laundry. Seriously, I was fascinated with this early form of reality television. I could watch a hot guy in briefs fold towels and be fascinated for hours. Maybe I was just happy to see someone else enjoying housework as much as I do. That night, June 2, 2001, I was watching such a hot scene, when something told me to log off and check my voicemail, and that is when I got the news, five minutes after she died.

The early fascination with having this Interweb in my home wore off pretty quickly, and eventually I began using it more for research for my books, and of course, free porn. Have you seen Avenue Q? My favorite number is the one with the line: “The Internet Is for Porn.” As much research as I did, I think I spent twice as much time watching porn, and none of it good porn. Is there such a thing?

At one point, I thought I was one of those sex addicts who can’t get enough pornography, but unlike those guys on TLC, I did leave the house, go to work, participate in social events, and the minute I got home, I booted up and watched more porn. I also discovered that I like straight porn as much as I like gay porn. Naked sweaty bodies going at it. Hey, it’s better than any National Geographic documentary I ever saw.

Porn aside, I joined Facebook, reluctantly. As with anything in life, once I did, I dove right into the deep end, but the one thing I tried not to do was give hourly updates on my everyday activities. I mostly posted jokes and observations and the occasional big life moment news. I did have to stop myself sometimes when something would happen and I would think, “Oh I have to post this on Facebook.” What I tried to do was turn whatever it was into a joke.

It was not too long before I started to find out how annoying many of my Facebook friends were. Notice I said Facebook friends. I do not have 603 friends. Beverly Sills said in life you are fortunate to have two, maybe three, close friends you can trust with everything. The rest are acquaintances. She also said to get rid of all negative energy and influences. This was a world-renowned opera singer whose children were deaf and never heard her sing, yet she remained positive. I follow her advice as best I can.

Before long, I was either ignoring, unsubscribing or just unfriending people and for good reasons.

There are the ones who post everything, and I mean everything. I am sorry you aren’t feeling well, but do you have to post every five seconds that you are praying for death because you have the flu and your mucus had gone from green to dark purple? I almost hired a hit man, so the posts would stop. I can honestly say that I have never posted about my health. The closest I came was posting a picture of my colonoscopy to show how clean it was. One friend posted a picture of his sty, and he is reading this now because he is one of those two to three people who are real friends. I did call him on it because it was disgusting and way too much information. Thank God we didn’t have to experience his urinary tract infection.

There are the food posters. Another close friend does that. Granted, he is a marvelous cook who does more with food presentation than Taylor Swift does with her vagina, considering she has slept with every straight man in Hollywood, Nashville, New York and London. During her last pelvic exam, her gynecologist fell in. His food pictures I excuse because they are works of art, but come on everyone else, do you really need to take a picture of your latest purchase from the Ronald Reagan Building food court? Or worse, do I need to read a post that you are making scrambled eggs. Who cares?

There are the political posters. Being this was an election year, these people really got on my nerves. It didn’t matter if they were liberal or conservative, they were all obnoxious. You know why? Because the ones who posted all that crap were from the extremes of the liberal and conservative wings. I unfriended plenty of these folks, including a tea-bagging cousin who is no longer speaking to me. Thank God for small mercies. If I had known that was all it would take, I would have unfriended her crazy ass years ago.

My favorites are the correctors. First, all you know-it-alls, just about everything I post is for laughs. I do not take myself seriously, and if I post something with a malapropism, it is intentional. These people are obnoxious beyond compare. They have this need to clarify every point you make with a comment that is at least five-hundred words, so the world can know they read a book. Recently, I posted a comment about how I heard a pilot at BWI say that something he ate was “restaurant quality,” as in “’the southwestern chicken on Eastern Airlines was restaurant quality’ for all the Nanny fans out there.” I then received a long response about how Eastern Airlines was no longer and other tidbits about food on airplanes. I informed the know-it-all that it was a joke for all the Nanny fans, who would chuckle at hearing that in an airport, and he admitted he never saw the show. I then wanted to respond, “Then shut the fuck up.”

I didn’t. And yes, he will probably correct this. Ironically, he was the former boss who made the comment about the television in front of an employee on his desk.

All annoyances aside, I still was on Facebook more often then I should have been and mostly out of boredom, so last week, I decided to have a twenty-four hour "no Facebook day." I would have taken a no Twitter day, but I don’t twat regularly. The only time I twat is when I post a new entry in this blog. I have never seen my Twitter account, so I have no idea what my twat looks like. If you have seen my twat, please describe it.

Being the good Jewess that I am (my mother hated that word; she embraced JAP – Jewish American Princess), I chose Shabbat as the perfect time to log off and disconnect. At exactly 5:00 pm last Friday, I said goodbye to the Facebook world in typical self-centered social media fashion by having a countdown as if I am so popular anyone would give a crap, which enforced my belief that it was time to take a break. I know I am not that interesting, but that doesn’t stop me from trying.

I then turned off my computer.

What happened? I sweated, I shivered, and I convulsed like a heroin addict with no access to methadone.

Yeah right.

I ate dinner, watched a little television, and I went to bed. On Saturday morning, I got up and went to the gym without checking email and Facebook first. When I got home, I did something I rarely do anymore. I read the paper from cover to cover. Then, I ran some errands, had lunch with a friend and watched a movie.

As it turned out, I didn’t miss Facebook at all, and when Shabbat was over and the Havdalah candle was dunked in the wine, I didn’t turn on the computer. I didn’t feel like it. As a matter of fact, I didn’t go on Facebook until the Oscar pre-show on Sunday night, which was 50.5 hours later, and I only logged on then to comment on Seth McFarland’s toupee. That Hair Club rat on his head was crooked.

As I scrolled through what I missed in my two-day hiatus from Social Media, I learned that one friend took a nap, another posted a new shirtless pic to gain validation and be told his body would be beach ready (it really won’t), and another went on and on about sequestration; I had no idea he was on jury duty. 

I also had seven comments on my countdown, one of which said, “Wow, he was serious!”

In addition, I had 115 emails, of which only two needed a reply, and those could wait until Monday. The rest were junk.

In other words, I didn’t miss a damn thing.

I am going to do this every weekend. Should I always do a countdown?

If you missed me all weekend, follow me, join me, get on my mailing list and buy my books:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Greatest Compliment of All

Welcome to my 100th post on “Have You Heard the One about the Gay Jew in the Trailer Park.”

In the beginning, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I concentrated on my life in the trailer park. During the middle ages, I shared my observations on life. And lately, I have been talking a lot about how my writing and my life have converged, blurring the lines where Milton begins and his art ends or something like that.

A lot has happened between becoming a trailer park queen and a convergence of art and life.

Esmeralda, the amazing rescue beagle, ran away, came back, destroyed my house, refused to let me install window treatments, treated the carpet like a lawn, finally bonded with me and died one year to the day that she first ran away and found that beach in Jessup. She now shares a space on my dresser with Serena.

I sold a car, I bought a car, I sold a car, and I bought a truck.

I entered into a relationship, I ended the relationship before Valentine’s Day, I entered into another relationship, and I ended that relationship before Valentine’s Day. It saves on flowers and candy.

My sixth book was published, and I was asked to write a foreword for a book on Jewish women and Mah Jongg.

I turned fifty, and I can still kick and stretch and kick.

I bought a pound of weed – oh wait, that never happened. Nor did I sell it for more than I paid. Career change? However, they are right. A user is a loser. That is what those of us with street cred say. We do.

I finished massage therapy school and have my degree. Oh, you didn’t know about that one. You do now.

However, what happened this last weekend really brought my life full circle.

Saturday night at around 1:00 am, I was drunk texted by an ex, then I was drunk dialed by another ex, then I was drunk texted again the first ex, then I was drunk dialed by a third ex, all within an hour. As you have probably surmised, most of my exes are drunks, addicts or a combination of the two. Most are prone to black outs, so they usually never remember dialing me. But, all on the same night? I was wondering how they obtained libations in rehab and who let them use the payphone. Was there a conference in town for Milton’s discards? Is there a banquet hall big enough to hold such an affair? Pardon the pun. The trick would be getting everyone I ever slept with to attend as well. Pun intended there.

However, being drunk dialed and texted was not what made this weekend memorable or even interesting. The thing about dating the characters I have is that they only realize what they had after they had it, and by then, I no longer want them to have it.

Speaking of characters …

Let’s go back twenty-nine years. While sitting at the kitchen table in our house on Dresden Drive, Newport News, pecking away on my Brother Student Writer XL-1, my mother asked me what my screenplay was about. I told her it was about five Jewish women and one strange year. Her response: “It better not be about me and my friends.”

Quickly now, let’s sing together, “You’re so vain, you probably think this screenplay’s about you …”

I told her it wasn’t. My mother has been dead for a dozen years now, so guess what, Harryette? It was! And it still is about you and your friends! Oh God, I have been wanting to say that for almost three decades.

I never let anyone in my family read the screenplay, and when the book was published, I hoped no one who knew any of the women on whom the characters were based would read it either.

The reason I didn’t let my family read it was because I was always treated as if I were silly, and my parents only understood one form of communication – criticism. I will give you an example. When Harriet Lane, America’s First Lady was published, my father asked me what my next book would be. I told him I wasn’t sure, and he said, “Oh, you ran out of ideas, huh?”

He also didn’t like Harriet Lane, America’s First Lady because it was about a woman. Being the macho former sailor who only relayed stories of showering with other sailors during his time in the service, he couldn’t bring himself to read about a woman. Ironically, he raved about Peggy Lee’s biography – how closeted gay is that? I should be thankful. My mother had three tickets to see La Cage au Faux, and my father refused to go see a play about fags dressed as women, so I got to go with Mother and Aunt Anita, and I loved it!

Here is an Aunt Anita story that I have only told a few people. When she was dying of cancer and in a nursing facility, I went to visit her, and Montel Williams was on the TV in the social hall. She said very loudly, while pointing to the television, “Why is that shvatzah in my living room?” I was mortified.

By the time On Tuesdays, They Played Mah Jongg was published, only two of my mother’s friends were still alive. One had brain surgery, and I figured even if she read the book, she wouldn’t remember it. The other, however, was sharp as a tack.

Life is funny. I want you to take a look at your friends right now and figure out which one is going to outlive all of you. I can tell you from experience that you are completely wrong. Death is one of my favorite subjects. As you know, I love obituaries. Over the years, I have had two former classmates die of heart attacks while training for triathlons. One friend, who always said he wanted to become a doctor, have three kids and live in Florida, did just that then he died. He achieved all his goals and had nothing to live for.

Let’s look at my mother’s friends. Aunt Anita was the oldest, and she died from Leukemia at age seventy-two. Aunt Flossie loved to ballroom dance and died at age seventy-four while dancing during a competition. She went the way we all should go. My mother had scleroderma and died at age seventy-one (really seventy-three), but even after proofing her grave marker, it was still completed with her fake age. Even from the afterlife she perpetuated a lie. Aunt Renee died at seventy-nine. Aunt Devera, who is eighty-four, has had back surgery, heart bypass surgery and last year survived six weeks in the hospital with a tear in her intestines, is still alive and still drives, and I will bet it is a Cadillac! She also outlived two husbands. All of them, except for Flossie, smoked. If you asked me thirty years ago, who would be around, I would have said Renee or Flossie. I never would have predicted that only one would have made it into her eighties.

In looking at my own life, I don’t expect to outlive everyone. My biological father died of a heart attack at fifty-four, both his parents died of heart attacks in their forties, and my maternal grandfather died of a heart attack at fifty-eight. Having said that, I will probably outlive everyone and end up in a rat-infested nursing home, while my only surviving relative, my nephew, who is not into antique cars, takes all three of my cars to the junkyard for $75 each and visits me once a month wondering how he got stuck taking care of this drooling mess who keeps blurting out useless facts about Bewitched.

Aunt Devera is one of my favorite people in the world. She is five-feet tall if she is an inch, and for as long as I can remember, I have always called her Mrs. Wonderful, and she has always called me Mr. Perfect. When I created a character based on her, I let them call each other these pet names. But, for me, that was as far as the resemblance went.

Doreen Weiner, while a short woman with big boobs, a hairdo actually designed by a young Vidal Sassoon before anyone knew who he was, married to a real estate mogul and the driver of a Cadillac, was nothing like Aunt Devera, who was everything I just described.

Sidenote: Someone asked me how many aunts I have. The answer is none. My mother was an only child, and these were her friends. Back to the story.

Doreen was a very wealthy, man-crazy tramp who had to pay off her god-daughter, who was having an affair with her husband, so she would rekindle a romance that never was really there because the man with whom she was having an affair decided to marry someone else. Confused? Read the book. Doreen was also the mafia don (or is it donness) of the group. In a chapter in the sequel, Michael’s Secrets, that was eventually cut from the final print, Doreen arranges to have Arthur Stein … ummm … eliminated, and no one spoke of it again. Doreen was also the most sensible one of the group. She taught Michael how to drive and gave him her one-year-old Cadillac as a present when he got his license.

In the original screenplay, I pictured Joan Rivers playing Doreen and the following:

Female leads:

Florence: Liza Minnelli
Rona: Carole Cook
Arlene: Shelley Winters
Hannah: Lucie Arnaz

The male leads:

Sammy: Danny Thomas
Morton: Norman Fell
William: Tom Bosley
Arthur: Sid Caesar

Now that would have been a great movie!

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to Aunt Devera on the phone, and she asked me what of my books she had not read. I stammered. “Well,” I said, “Have you read Harriet Lane, America’s First Lady?” She wasn’t sure. I drew in a breath, and I told her I would send her that one and two others.

My hand actually shook as I put Harriet Lane, America’s First Lady, On Tuesdays, They Played Mah Jongg and Michael’s Secrets in a padded USPS Priority Mail envelope. I printed out a shipping label, and I put the envelope on my dinette with every intention of mailing it on Monday.

This was going to be a test, one I hoped I would never have to take. It is one thing to be compared to a character in your own writing, but what happens if you read a book, and you recognize yourself in someone else’s writing? I did state in the beginning of the book that “none of this ever happened, but it could have,” but how much does that protect you? Then there was another thing worrying me. What if she hated the book and the character based on her. Would I have ruined one of the greatest relationships of my life? And believe me, I have ruined a lot of relationships.

I purposely took the envelope to the Ben Franklin Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue. This is the most notoriously awful post office in the United States. Seriously, postal workers in Guam know how bad this branch is. Here is an example, I mailed two boxes from there and followed their instructions to the letter. The boxes were returned to me in Jessup undeliverable for reasons my local postal worker could not figure out. She said not to worry and took care of getting them delivered. When I told her which branch, she knowingly shook her head. A co-worker went to mail a certified letter. They pointed to the envelopes and told him which one to get. He presented them with the envelope to which they referred, and they said that it was the wrong envelope. I mailed flat rate packages with postage I printed online, and they told me I paid the wrong amount. Flat rate!

Anyway, I used them because I couldn’t lie to Mrs. Wonderful and tell her I mailed the books when I didn’t, but I figured they would never deliver it. I may be a terrible liar, but I am crafty.

For once, the bastards did their job.

Three days later I got a call while I was out. It was Aunt Devera, and her voice mail went like this, “Mr. Perfect, this is Mrs. Wonderful. I read On Tuesdays, They Played Mah Jongg, and I loved it. Call me. I want to talk to you.”

Well, the first part was great, but “I want to talk to you?” Nothing good ever came from “I want to talk to you” or worse “we need to talk.”

I called, and it turned out she actually did love it. Then she said something interesting, “I knew those women … Now, did I read it in order? Do I read Michael’s Secrets next?” 

What did she mean by “she knew those women”?

Sometimes, you just don’t press an issue. You see, Aunt Devera never played Mah Jongg and neither did Aunt Flossie even though the characters they influenced did. If Aunt Devera saw herself in Doreen, she didn’t tell me. Or, she felt the greatest compliment of all was having a beloved character based on her. I will never know. Better yet, I don’t need to know.

However, the greatest compliment of all was having the last surviving member of my mother’s circle of friends and truly one of my favorite people in the whole world and someone who influenced me more than just about anyone in my entire life love a book I wrote with a character based on her.

For twenty-nine years, I worried about nothing. Then again, she hasn’t finished reading Michael’s Secrets. Doreen and Rona are a trip in that one … or not.

Oh God, what have I wrought?

If you want your life immortalized by a Gay Jew in a Trailer Park, join me, get on my email list, follow me, or buy my books at

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Line of Accessories at Walmart

Joan Rivers, a Piece of Work is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. Official Book Club Selection, A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin is one of the best books I have ever read. The Eyes of Tammy Faye, narrated by RuPaul, is still my favorite documentary of all time. My favorite movie is Funny Lady, which has nothing to do with the price of eggs at Weiss.

What I learned from Joan and Kathy is that one needs to establish a brand for herself. Joan Rivers, the self-deprecating, insult spewing, potty mouthed comedian in designer clothes, is a brand. Kathy Griffin, the gossipy, story telling, comedian on the D-list, is a brand. Did you watch Suddenly Susan, starring Brooke Shields, pre-cast member suicide? Joan played Kathy’s mother.

I remember the first time I saw Joan Rivers. She was a guest on Dinah Shore’s talk show in 1972, Dinah’s Place, along with Ann Miller and Betty White. Ann Miller tried to teach the others how to tap dance. Did you know that Lucille Ball discovered Ann Miller and arranged for her to have a screen test at RKO, and Ann Miller was the one who actually introduced Desi Arnaz to Lucille Ball? Ann Miller revealed all this in an interview conducted a year before she died. Did you know Lucille Ball preferred appearing on The Tonight Show when Joan Rivers was hosting because Johnny Carson made her a nervous wreck, and she was a guest on Joan’s failed talk show in 1986 during the first week it aired, pre-Edgar suicide?

Do you give a shit about anything I just told you?

If useless information were electricity, I would be a power plant.

Back to the point I was trying to make.

Joan and Kathy taught me that one needs to create a brand for himself and market it. As I have related in my posts of late, I struggled for years trying to find my audience, which was in front of me all the time – middle aged Jewish women. Once I found the audience, I still didn’t know the best way to market myself to them.

When I created this blog, I wanted it to sound like the set-up for a joke, “Have you heard the one about the Gay Jew in the trailer park?” He had a brown Cadillac Eldorado on blocks, a tattoo of his mother on his left bicep, and always wore a Masada Maccabees baseball cap.

At the time, I figured the blog was sort of an identity but not my brand; however, as the last year and a half progressed, I realized I might be onto something. The question became “Had I created a brand for myself? Was I the Gay Trailer Park Jew? Or the Trailer Park Gay Jew? Or the Trailer Park Fagella? Or Queer for Mobile Homes?”

I used to hate the word queer, but as I have grown older, I have learned to tolerate it. But still, I would rather be called pansy, sissy, queen, faggot, poof, wanker or just about anything besides queer.

My mother pointed out a line in the Torah about men wearing the garments of a woman being an abomination and said, “That is proof God hates queers.” I wanted to respond, “What is God’s opinion of whores?”

My brother just did a spit-take.

I didn’t say it because I was thinking about how fabulous I looked in her wedding dress, and I did look stunning.

The good thing about having a blog is I can ramble on in non-sequiturs without interruption. There is a point in here somewhere.

To see if I had actually established a brand, I started playing around. Well, I have always played around, but this time with my online identity. For example, on a couple of Gay dating sites, I changed my profile name from “Kosher Muscle,” “Tall, Dark & Kosher” and “Mah Jongg Muscle” … I have to stop for a second. Did I really think I would find a boyfriend with profile names like those? Especially Mah Jongg Muscle? How would I respond to messages? “Five Bam … Bam Bam Bam.” Get it? Like Bam Bam on the Flintstones. Mah Jongg people everywhere are laughing till they pee then laughing at that.

Last summer, I changed one of them to “Trailer Park Jew.”

Did it work? Well, I started getting message like this:

“You’re kidding right?”

“Do you actually live in a trailer?”

“Is your mother contemplating suicide?”

And my favorite:

“I think Jews are hot; they have big dicks!” That had nothing to do with living in a trailer park, but I liked it anyway.

I started to get dates, but it wasn’t long before I was suffering from Yoko Ono syndrome. Why did the Gay man go on a date with Yoko Ono? To see the apartment of course (I stole that line from Jeffrey). Guys just wanted to see my mobile home. Once they did, we didn’t see each other again.

You have to give me credit. I have fallen off the romance horse so many times, I have a black and blue butt, but I keep climbing back on and riding that stallion for all its worth. Yippy yi yay!

Once the curiosity seekers were weeded out, something more interesting happened. I started selling books and gaining followers on this blog. Out of all the profiles with names like “Bottom Seeker,” “Top Dog,” “Muscle Play,” “Cock Hound,” “Fist-Full-of-Crisco,” “Slave Puppy,” and “Hole to Abuse,” mine stood out. As if Mah Jongg Muscle didn’t stand out. It did, but not the way I wanted.

I then started getting messages about how they enjoyed the blog and couldn’t wait for my next installment.

I had become a Brand Name Jew! On the train the other day, a passenger came up to me and said, “Aren’t you the Gay Jew in the Trailer Park?”

OK, that didn’t happen, but wouldn’t it be great if it did?

I am now working with a public relations consultant to expand my brand. Keeping in line with my weird and confusing life, she is the ex-wife of an ex-boyfriend. And for once, I have an established brand to market. Just think, a few years from now, you will be buying furniture and accessories from the “Gay Jew in the Trailer Park” collection at Walmart! I know what you’re thinking. Don’t they already sell that at Walmart?

Lately, I have been looking for a second home to buy as a sort of retreat or future retirement property, and I have been researching trailer parks in various parts of the country. A friend of mine said, “Why are you so stuck on living in a trailer? Buy a condo or rent an apartment?”

I responded, “I am the Gay Jew in the Trailer Park, which is a lot more interesting than being the Gay Jew in a Co-op in Mission Viejo.”

If you can’t wait for my accessories at Walmart, follow me, join me, get on my mailing list, or buy my books at

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Blurring the Lines

While I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person, there are some things I don’t quite get, and those things are usually relayed to me by friends who are artists, musicians or worse, actors. Whenever I hear an actor talking about his art and not prostituting himself for the sake of his talent and how he takes each role seriously as he ponders the motivation behind the character’s actions and words, my mind starts wandering, and the next thing I know I am planning my next trip to Walmart. I am occasionally drawn back into the discussion, but that is when I start thinking, “Are you self-medicating again?”

Recently, a friend of mine, a very talented artist and writer, told me about how he wanted to live in a way that blurred the lines between art and life and sex. Wait, maybe it was art, life, work and shopping? Oh hell, it was a sort of blending of one’s art and talent, so that one could not tell where one ended and the other began, or there were no definitive beginning and end points. I know I am still getting this wrong, and I know I will be corrected! He is trying to achieve this, and I admire him for it.

While this may work for artists, musicians and actors, does it work for writers, too? And if it does, could I possibly blur the lines between my writing and my life and my sex? Not my gender – although there are those who think I already blur those lines, but that is for another discussion entirely. As far as my sex life goes, well that would be like Ethel Merman’s autobiographical chapter about her marriage to Ernest Borgnine; it was a blank page.

Is my writing considered art? Well, don’t ask any of the critics out there. I recently received a rave review that said, “While this is not great literature, it is quite humorous and entertaining.” Good enough for me. So, they won’t be teaching The Great Works of Milton Stern in eleventh grade English class any time soon, I am fine with my contributions to the literati of the blogosphere. And, if the six of you who read this blog enjoy my ramblings, even better.

So, let’s make some assumptions. My writing is my art. This doesn’t mean I am talented because art is subjective. You know my opinion on expensive art. It’s too damn big. Who has walls that large? Certainly not someone who lives in a trailer. Hell, my walls aren’t even big enough for the velvet painting of dogs playing poker. As usual, I digress.

According to Webster’s, “art is the conscious use of skill and creative imagination, especially in the production of aesthetic objects; also works so produced or illustrative elements in printed matter.” My books are printed, and if you would do me a favor, print out a page of this blog

According to “You create highly emotive pictures using pen and paper instead of paint or other mediums; therefore, writing is art.”

Now, don’t get carried away, those notes you wrote claiming you had the longest period in high school, so you would be excused from gym class – especially if you were a guy – are not considered art. Clever, yes, but not art.

But, I think I can safely say my writing is my art. Through words, I paint a picture for you of a flaming queen with a circumcised penis who lives in a manufactured home – and you imagine a Gay Jew in a trailer park. See, how that works? How many of you are picturing my penis? If you need help, it is quite aesthetically pleasing as far as genitalia go.

Now, to the question at hand. Have I blurred the lines between my life and my art?

Let’s take inventory.

Am I Gay? Ask the three guys I blew last night in the parking lot behind Denny’s. They would agree I am. By the way, my brother just went blind a second too late.

Am I Jewish? Ask the chicken I boiled on Sunday to make soup. Ask me anything, and I will answer it with a question. Ask my mother, who would say, “If he isn’t Jewish, he missed an excellent opportunity.” My mother was Jewish, so the Torah says I am Jewish.

Do I live in a trailer? Would I actually say I did if I didn’t? My parents are dizzy from continuously rolling in their graves.

Are you actually reading this? I just heard six people say yes. One line blurred.

For at least eighteen months, I have blurred my life with my art, but wait a minute. Did it just start in April 2011 when I first made the decision to become poor Jewish trailer trash? Shut up. I know I have always been poor Jewish trailer trash.

Let’s go back to 1985, the year I graduated from college (there he goes telling his age again), and the year I wrote “The Girls” which eventually became On Tuesdays, They Played Mah Jongg, a screenplay based on my mother and her friends. Everyone who read the book thought it was my life story, but I insisted it wasn’t.

Or was it? The lines were definitely blurred, and some of the things those women said, women I knew as a child had said word-for-word.

Then came Michael’s Secrets, the sequel where I introduced a character based on me – Eric. I created Eric, so people would see that I was nothing like Michael. I was Eric.

Nice try, Milton. Apparently, you fooled no one, or did you?

My dear friend the artist told me after reading Michael’s Secrets that he could understand my behavior because of the way Michael behaved, and it explained so much.

How was I to take that? At first, I was a little insulted. Was my writing, hence, my art, being used against me? Was I being called a caricature? Or, was Michael being called a caricature? Were these lines becoming more blurred?

Age has a way of maturing you. OK, if that isn’t the most profound thing you ever heard …

Seriously, twenty-five-year-old Milton would have gone ballistic if someone accused him of being a character in one of his stories because quite frankly the characters in my stories are all one episode shy of a six-week stay in a psychiatric ward.

Fifty-year-old Milton’s reaction was different. There was no reaction. I spent a few days thinking about it.

While my friend the artist was consciously trying to create a life that blurred the lines between art, sex, work, driving and going grocery shopping, I had subconsciously achieved just that.

My life had become my art, and apparently the blurring began while President Reagan’s mind was blurring as well, evidenced by his quoting lines from his movies during a debate with Walter Mondale.

I actually owe my friend a debt of gratitude for opening my eyes to the fact that something he would find profound and admirable, I have somehow made a part of my every day existence without even realizing it. I am a chatty giant blur.

If you want to see sex blurred into that equation buy Men, Muscle & Mayhem, by Milton Stern (Alex, you don’t want to read that one).

If your art has become your life, or if you are just a caricature of your former self, buy Michael’s Secrets, and see if you think I … I mean Michael … should be committed. Follow me, join me, get on my email list, visit me at Eastern State Lunatic Asylum.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sticky Bunns, Pizza and a Bag of Weed

I began my two novels, On Tuesdays, They Played Mah Jongg and Michael’s Secrets, with “None of this ever happened, but it could have …” Keep that in mind as you read this.

I may be fifty, and I can kick and stretch and kick, but there are things I still have not done. I don’t know if what I have is a bucket list; however, there are some things I want to try. There are also some things I will be happy to go to my newly purchased plot in a nice Jewish cemetery in Southeast Washington, DC, without trying.

I don’t want to try scat. Seriously, how screwed up was your potty training that you find sexual pleasure in the movement of your partner’s bowels? I don’t want to bungee jump. I weigh as much as three and half third graders, which means I would be the one to “bun” but never “gee” as my head splats all over the rocks. I bet you never thought you would see bungee jumping and scat in the same paragraph, but if I were to bungee jump, I guarantee there would be some scat involved.

I also have no desire to experiment with drugs. I am nutty enough without the aid of controlled substances. However, I do believe in the legalization of marijuana. You want to smoke it. Go for it.

Marijuana is the only drug I ever did and only when someone else had it, and if was offered. I am no expert, but I think I can tell the difference between good and bad weed. Is that the cool term? Bad weed gives me a headache and makes me feel sick as if I just smoked an entire pack of Pal Mals, which I have done when nervous. Good weed makes me feel silly, and I giggle uncontrollably. Not laugh, giggle. The kind of giggle where you cannot catch your breath and they offer you a talk show in the afternoon that turns out to be the worst train wreck you have ever witnessed as you parade one freak after another onto your stage while wearing checkered shirts. Isn’t that right, Anderson? Do you think he smokes weed?

As I said, I have never bought pot, and until recently, I would not have had a reason to or even a clue how.

Before I go on. A lot of names and relationships are being changed in what follows to protect the innocent. I might even change my own name. Maurice has a nice ring to it.

My experience with grass and those who enjoy it – and notice I keep changing the term due to my lack of knowledge of the vernacular of the modern-day pot head – goes back to my teenage years. I have a relative, a very close relative, who enjoyed the parlayer of THC on a regular basis. He was known to sit in his room listening to either heavy metal or Tony Bennett (I know, right?), doing bong hit after bong hit with a towel stuffed under his door, while his dysfunctional family argued over generic and brand name cranberry sauce in another part of the house. He had a brother who coped with the family’s dysfunction by doing laundry twenty-four hours a day. There is nothing like a harvest gold Whirlpool washer to drown out the noise. Isn’t that right, Maurice?

A friend of mine who frequents my neck of the woods was relaying how when he travels he does not partake of green vegetables because he doesn’t know where to shop in DC. I suggested Whole Foods.

I am such a square.

That got me to thinking. How does one buy weed? Do you go to a bad neighborhood and look for someone dressed like Cheech or Chong? By the way, if you watch their movies sober, they aren’t funny. The above mentioned relative and I watched one sober and realized you need to be buzzed beyond belief to see the humor in “smoking Labrador.”

Ironically, when I was in Houston last, a gallery owner informed us that Cheech Marin bought a painting from him.

Where was I? Oh God, I am writing this as if I were high. No drugs were consumed before penning this piece, but it might be suggested to do so after.

I did a little research and contacted a few friends who enjoy the natural high that comes with smoking hemp – not the kind you use to make rope. One was able to help me and asked how much I wanted. Not knowing the first thing about this, I asked for a nickel bag, which in my day cost $5. He giggled more than Anderson Cooper. You see my day was when Rosalynn Carter was frying catfish in the White House kitchen and airing out her laundry in the Rose Garden.

I then said, “I will take $100 worth.” He giggle some more because there is a minimum purchase. Who knew it was like ordering Chinese. For free delivery, there is a minimum purchase of $20. I asked what the minimum was. He said $325! I responded, “Do you know how many handjobs I would have to give to come up with that kind of cash?”

Apparently, I am good with my hands because three days later, I had the cash.

I was already planning on visiting my friend Charles in New Jersey, and the “pick-up,” or is it “drop-off,” location was on the way back. After leaving New Jersey with three dozen sticky bunns and a large Italian sausage, black olive and mushroom pizza from Legends Pizza Parlor in Burlington, which Charles owns, I programmed the location where I would make my first “purchase” into the GPS. 

I have to tell you I was a little excited. For the first time in my life, I felt cool.

I watch a lot of crime dramas, so I expected to end up in a warehouse district pulled up next to a 1973 rusted out Chevy van. Boy was I surprised. I was in an upscale neighborhood, and a very nice European sedan pulled up behind me.

Backtrack. My brother, upon hearing I was moving into a trailer park, was convinced I would be arrested while wearing a wife beater and a Peterbuilt hat and smoking a Marlboro red. His favorite show is Cops, and he kept singing the theme song, “Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do …” every time I mentioned my mobile home purchase.

There I was in my pick-up truck, and for a moment I thought about taking off my shirt before stepping up to the sedan. I figured if I was going to get arrested for the first time in my life, I might as well play the part correctly for the dash cam; I might even run through the hedges, so they would have to chase me while panting into the shoulder microphones. It was thirty degrees outside, so I left my shirt on.

The gentleman rolled down his window. He was rather handsome, and his daughter was in a child safety seat in the back. He handed me an outdated USPS Express Delivery envelope, and I handed him a box of Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat, which contained the proceeds from the aforementioned happy endings.

We conversed for a few seconds, and I went back to my truck and put the envelope under the driver’s seat. Why didn’t I buy a minivan with all those cubbies and storage bins? I should have asked the dealer, "Where do I hide contraband in this GMC Canyon?"

I then went on my merry way. It was that uneventful.

As I mentioned before, I have never been arrested, and while visiting my friends in New Jersey, I remarked about how many people I know who have been. I once worked in a restaurant where I was the only one without a criminal record. I have never been A-list material.

As I was driving home with three dozen stick bunns, a large Italian sausage, black olive and mushroom pizza and a vacuum bag of weed, a call came over my Blue Tooth.

“This is IC services in [county redacted] with a call from [name redacted], will you accept the call?”

A call from inmate communications? Don’t ask me how I know IC services is inmate communications. The story would be too long to tell on this blog. It turns out a friend of mine was arrested in another state, which explained why the last communication I had from him was that he was having a spinach salad at Denny’s. Is it a crime to order a spinach salad at Denny’s? I guess it is.

My heart skipped several beats. Here I was in a truck with three dozen sticky bunns, a large Italian sausage, black olive and mushroom pizza and a bag of weed, and I was having a conversation about bail money with someone over IC services, which was being recorded over my Blue Tooth by Homeland Security, the FBI and the CIA.

Apparently, just being in that close proximity to marijuana causes paranoia.

After making arrangement through Western Union, which has an app for wiring bail money … in case you ever need it, I stopped for gas and coffee.

When I returned to my truck, this man was standing next to it, and I asked him what he wanted. He told me he had a bed cover to sell for $100. Hastily, I replied I wasn’t interested, got into my vehicle, locked the doors and took off. For a second, I thought he could smell the pot through the vacuum bag.

I had an hour more of driving, and I was convinced that my brother’s trailer park prediction was going to come true, so I took off my shirt, waiting to be pulled over … hopefully by a hot cop.

Apparently, just being in that close proximity to marijuana causes the munchies. While driving shirtless down I-95, I ate the entire large Italian sausage, black olive and mushroom pizza as well as a dozen sticky bunns. 

Now, the office knows why I showed up with only two dozen.

The extra-large coffee took care of the cotton mouth.

Remember, none of this ever happened ….

If you’ve been arrested while wearing nothing but a bra, follow me, join me or buy my book.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Half Bagelers

Everyone has their pet peeves. Some say I have more than most. I do, and some days, I encounter more things that drive me nuts than others. It isn’t easy being perfect. Just ask Aunt Devera. I call her Mrs. Wonderful, and she has called me Mr. Perfect for as long as I can remember. That reminds me. I need to call her this week.
I cannot stand people who walk super slowly on a Metro platform during rush hour. This morning, there was a guy who alone held up an entire flow of foot traffic as he meandered through Gallery Place. For those not familiar with the Gallery Place Metro station, let me describe it. If you emerge from the Green Line, you first walk up one broken escalator then turn a corner and walk the length of the Red Line platform through throngs of people who just alighted from an overcrowded train with smoking brakes, who are walking toward you on their way to the Green Line platform from which you just emerged. As you make your way from one end to the other, you dodge roller bags, people checking their phones and the one guy who walks slower than a Passover meal making its way through your colon. At the end of the platform is another broken escalator, and to exit the station, you go through the only working turnstile and walk up another broken escalator, assisting an elderly woman who cannot catch her breath after walking up three escalators and perform CPR on her before seeing sunlight once again. I do this three times a week, and fifteen minutes of my commute is consumed by walking through the Gallery Place Metro station.
I have been taking the Green Line ever since I moved into the trailer park, and for the last nineteen months, only one of the escalators has been operational at any given time, but usually, all of them are not working. The only reason I work from home one day a week is to keep me from going on a rampage.
I always preferred buses. Although one time on a bus, this weirdo was sitting with legs stretched out into the aisle, and I accidentally stepped on one of his feet. As I passed him, he got up and punched my back pack. I turned around and said, “What have you got against my back pack you stupid mother fucker?”
My other pet peeve is people who eat a complete meal while sipping coffee on a train. It is illegal to eat or drink on a Metro train. When a movie is being filmed on a Metro platform, officials from the transit agency watch to be sure no one is eating or drinking during any of the scenes. Ironically, it is not illegal to carry a cup of coffee onto a train. A friend of mine took a sip of his coffee while standing on a Metro platform and was ticketed and fined $300. After issuing the ticket, the officer handed his coffee back to him. He asked, “Are you setting me up?” He said he wasn’t. He could carry the coffee, just not drink it. Ridiculous.
One day, I was sitting on a train, and this guy was standing over me eating his breakfast from a McDonald’s bag and holding a cup coffee. I was just waiting for him to spill either on me – he was literally over my head. I finally said in a rather loud voice (of course, when I whisper, they can hear me in Ecuador), “If you spill one crumb or your coffee on me, the next time you blow your nose, that breakfast is going to come out of it.” Everyone stopped what they were doing and stared at me, so being one who loves an audience, I continued, “What are you staring at? Don’t fuck with me. I’m from Hampton Roads, bitches!” The guy took his breakfast elsewhere, and I continued to read my paper – in peace.
Another pet peeve is people who wear headphones while trying to carry on a conversation. Oh hell, I really can’t stand people who wear headphones, but especially those who try to carry on a conversation. Once on a bus, this woman got on, wearing headphones and proceeded to ask the driver for instructions as to which bus to take to her final destination. He told her, and she kept saying, “Huh?” Meanwhile, the bus wasn’t moving while he kept telling her, and she kept saying, “Huh?” I couldn’t take it anymore. I finally screamed, “Take those goddam headphones out of your ears, you dumb ass.” She looked at me and said, “Huh?”
I find the guys who work out together while wearing headphones the most annoying. They scream at each other without realizing it. They also spend more time scrolling through their iTunes to find just the right song than actually working out.
Speaking of the gym. What is with the guys who carry all their belongings with them and rather than put them in a locker, they plop them in the middle of the workout floor, pull out a gallon jug of water, and leave their stuff in everyone’s way? These people annoy me. Why do you need a gallon jug of water? If you are that dehydrated, you should be carrying an IV bag and a stand. That would take up less room than your bag of crap you obviously don’t need. Lou Ferrigno, my favorite bodybuilder of all time, never carried around a gallon jug of water. Strangely, it wasn’t too long ago that people started carrying around sixteen ounce bottles of water, now it is gallon jugs. In ten years, they will be pulling a cistern around the gym. Then, I will be really annoyed!
Of all the pet peeves I have, the half bagelers are the ones who drive me the craziest. You know who they are … and you know who you are. For those ignorant of this species, the half bagelers are those people who try to impress everyone else with their pseudo willpower buy only taking half portions of free food in an office. My skin actually crawls off my carcass when I walk up to a platter of bagels and see half bagels. No one ever eats the other half – never – like never, ever! That half bagel will sit there all day. You already had your hands on it when you sliced it, now you have left the other half to sit there exposed to the elements, and it will be stale within thirty minutes. Why? Why do you do this? Oh my God, take the whole bagel back to your desk and throw away what you don’t eat. It is going to get thrown away by someone else if you do anyway.
These same people eat half a doughnut. Really? Do you know how fattening a doughnut is? The bitch is fried! You already took one bite. You have turned down that road. You might as well finish the damn thing. You are not impressing anyone. You want to impress people? Step away from the doughnuts! Again, no one eats the other half. Never, like never, ever!
I am actually getting annoyed thinking about this. My blood pressure is on the rise. Here is a story that will make you rethink the half bagel or doughnut, especially if you are the one in forty-two million people who actually will eat the discarded half.
I sponsored a Kiddush luncheon after Saturday morning Shabbat services a few years ago. Not being a fan of bagels (I prefer Bialystoks), I decided to serve pitas for people to make tuna and egg salad sandwiches. One congregant picked up a pita, and while coughing up enough phlegm to glue an elephant to a diving board, she sliced the pita in half and asked if anyone wanted the other half. I kid you not. No one took her up on her offer.
Even without the phlegm coating, what are you going to do with half a pita? It’s a goddam pita!
This past weekend, I took a road trip to Burlington, New Jersey, to visit my good friends Charles and Ken and see their new dog, Leo, an English Mastiff, who at eight months weighs one-hundred-ten pounds and thinks he is a lap dog. He is the biggest, most adorable baby, and my new best friend. I swear if my trailer park didn’t have a thirty-five pound weight limit, I would have kidnapped Leo, big poops and all. Dogs don’t annoy me. People do.
Anyway, Charles owns My Sticky Bunns, the best bakery in all of New Jersey, and his stick bunns are award winning. He made me a fresh batch of three dozen sticky bunns to take to work. These sticky bunns are only one and half inches wide on all sides. Get it? They are little squares. They are small. 
My co-workers loved them. One of my co-workers, who enjoys a meal more often than I do, told me how delicious they were then told me how she only took half of one.
Seriously? Half? These weren’t cheap, and now half of one will sit there all day until I throw it out. Do you get how small these are? Once you took that first bite, the deed was done. You might as well finish it! No one wants your other half! Whom are you fooling? I once saw you eat two pizzas in fifteen minutes!
I am getting annoyed all over again!
My blood pressure went up; the hair on the back of my neck stood up; and I said things of which I am not proud. I cannot repeat any of it, but let’s just say it is a good thing I keep an extra box of Kleenex in my desk.
She won’t be taking a half of anything in the near future.
If you only read half of my blog or ate a meal over someone’s head this morning, or have a water tank at your desk, follow me, join me, buy my books.