Monday, April 26, 2010

What Goes On

Alright all my Puddlers, I am back to do one of my standard roundups for the week.  These roundups come on random days, so don't expect them on specific days.  However, what you can start expecting is to look on this blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays and find a new Podcast of Myself, which will now actually be called PUDDLES OF MY PODCAST. So, please be sure to update your iTunes updates and feeds.  The rest of this blog will be updated accordingly.

This was an action packed weekend with things that caught my interest as well as occurances in the NBA.  I know that I have been sort of deluging (word?) you all with the NBA content over the past week or so, but once I finish my coverage of the Lakers/Thunder series, you will be seeing a lot more music coverage.  However, I will get to all that in my bullet points.

One last word, the title of this post comes from the Velvet Underground song "What Goes On," not the Beatles song by the same name.  Just wanted to be clear on that.

Brass tax:

- Now that I am out of my office job, I am trying to piece together my life as a freelance writer.  One of my jobs will be articles coming out in the soon to be launched, Trashcan Magazine. The website is only a prototype for now, however, the hard issues of the magazine will be in a subway station near you starting this June 2010.  In the next few weeks or so, you can start looking for short articles of mine about the NBA and teaching your girlfriend how to understand football at the website, Made Man. Now, you might say, "Oh, Domino. You wrote for that website because it is like Mad Men." And that would be totally wrong.  I am contributing to that website because they pay me.

- Speaking of blogs, I just found a gem of a blog that has led me to find some gems of albums that have really bulked out my music catalogue.  I will provide you with some reviews of specific albums (as well as my musings) in the near future.  However, the blog can be found here.  I was even able to find an album by my main man Jesse "Ed" Davis.

- On the topic of music with a lot of soul and also some testosterone, Treme. This show is absolutely fantastic so far.  The season is only three episodes in and I have been enjoying it thoroughly.  I have not watched much of the Wire and I know that makes me an idiot.  However, I am going to compile them all in some manner so I can watch them all at one time - or I can just wait until they cycle through the whole series again on HBO On Demand.  The acting is fantastic (even Steve Zahn's annoying character) and the breadth of the characters that the narrative covers seems to be in the same Tolstoyan vein that got the literary scholars so in favor of the Wire.  Plus it features basketball star Jamal Wallace from Finding Forester.

- Now for some other links and places I have enjoyed stumbling across in the past week.  First up is the new Brooklyn blog, Brooklyn Exposed.  I had a chance to speak to the owner of this site, Sharon Beason, and she is trying to provide information that links up all of the neighborhoods in Brooklyn so that there is a reliable and consolidated source that can point you in different directions and means of navigating Brooklyn by neighborhood, whether it is by events, restaurants, museum exhibits, or spaces of outdoor enjoyment.  Ms. Beason owns her own Brooklyn-based business as well, the Brooklyn Concierge.

- The second link that was given to me was the blog of one Juliet Train Totten.  Her blog was passed to me by Janelle Sing and the name of Juliet's blog is rosiebegosi.  Juliet Train Totten is also part of Poppies and Posies, which Janelle and I discussed on her podcast episode.

- Ah, yes, speaking of podcasts.  Tomorrow, I will be putting up a podcast with my good friend, Professor Jon Ellowitz.  This episode may be my favorite so far.  The topics get a little heady, but we do get to talk about R.L. Stine.  Thursday, I will be putting up a podcast with my former college roommate and the current lead singer of The Sanctuaries, Mr. David Aaron Stern. Those of you who read this blog and know both David and myself have most likely been either looking forward to this episode or dreading it more than life itself.  However, the question you have to ask yourself is, why are you already listening to it?

- This week I will be recording two or three new podcasts.  One is with my friend Andrew Hage where we will be discussing the current New York technology scene as detailed in New York Magazine.  The second should be with the lead singer of Tony Castles, Paul Sicilian, and that will be completely devoted to the NBA.  The third will be with a friend of mine, Jenna Morse, and we will be discussing film in general as well as a film she recently finished.

- Tonight, I am going to start on the recent Pultizer Prize winning novel, Tinkers by Paul Harding, who studied at the New York State Summer Writer's Institute at Skidmore College - as did I. You can read an interview with Mr. Harding here or a New York Times article about him, here. I sent him an e-mail to congratulate him on his success - I'll let you know if I hear back.

- On Saturday, I spent the day wandering around in Cobble Hill.  Fantastic neighborhood.  You should really just go there when the weather is nice. At night, I got a chance to eat at the restaurant Prime Meats, which was pretty damn good and gave me a bit of a food hangover because I ate so  much.  Being there also caused me to miss my coverage of Game 4 of the Thunder/Lakers series, which brings me to..

- The NBA.  What can I say? Many of the first round series are not as close as one would have hoped. It looks like the Spurs and Jazz may run away with their respective series and it seems like the Cavaliers will dispatch of the Bulls tomorrow night.  However, a few points:

1. Lebron did have a terrific game on Sunday.  That three pointer he casually made from just inside halfcourt was pretty special.  It looked just like a regular jump shot. Lebron gained my respect on Sunday because for the first time in his career, he looked less like a little kid and more like someone who really cared about winning a championship. Don't get me wrong, infectious joy is terrific, but it usually doesn't make you a champion.  Joy only takes you halfway there.

2.  A man that has already been there is Dwyane Wade and he showed why on Sunday. Wade submitted one of the top "take over the game" performances in NBA Playoff history.  After the Heat blew a 21 point lead the let the Celtics take a six point lead going into the fourth quarter, Wade single handedly delayed Miami's elimination by scoring 20 points in the fourth quarter and 46 points for the game.  He paired that with 5 rebounds and 5 assists.  Wade was 5 of 7 from three point range and just reminded everyone why he is so dangerous.  Wade is averaging 30 points for the series and shooting over 50% and they are down 3-1 to the Celtics.  If you give Wade one other competent player, and if he puts up the same numbers that he is right now, the Heat are sweeping any team they play. I stand by that. People love to talk about Lebron, but Wade already won a title.  When you play with bad teams, it is easy for the public to forget.

3. Lakers/Thunder.  The Thunder absolutely stomped on the Lakers on Saturday night.  What interests me is the fact that the Lakers have not outrightly beat the Thunder in any game so far in the series, wheras the Thunder beat the Lakers on Saturday night.  We'll see how Kobe is going to rally his team for Game 5 in L.A. tomorrow night.  No one on Los Angeles can cover Westbrook and as much as this series will rest in Kevin Durant's capable hands, so much of it will come down to Westbrook.  If the Thunder let Westbrook control the game for them, then they can definitely beat the Lakers.  This series is starting to have a Golden State Warriors vs. Dallas Mavericks feel from 2007. That is what I expected and if Oklahoma City pulls out the win tomorrow night, then things will get very interesting.

Ok, that is the roundup for today. Stick with me this week as I have tons of stuff to throw your way.

Now, the next installment of From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt. This is the last installment from Section Two of Part Two of the novel.  After this section, we move on to the perspective of two grave diggers at the funeral of Rose O'Donnell, the matriarch of the family.  However, enjoy this installment you are about to read:

High towered signs for Best Buy and Home Depot passed by Mr. Kosciuzko’s window.  Through the highway trees, Peter could see the humble and blue sided homes of the town of Centerreach with their chain linked fences.  They were nothing like the homes from the Three Villages.  Their town had remained snug and sheltered from the influence of strip malls and hastily built homes.  Their town progenated an old Long Island – fishing villages, established families of many generations with homes on bluffs and colonial sign posts, horse farms and the stink of salt.  It was a place where a family like the O’Donnells could exist.  Peter wondered if there were still many places like it in America.  Maybe that was what this generation saw around them.  There was no orange tinted America left for these kids, there were only the rapid flashing images of the world – dead bodies in Iraq, grim Muslims in Afghanistan, the gleam of Japan, and the red shroud of China.  And why would you want to stop to create a family in that world of possibility and death?  Mr. Kosciuzko looked in the rearview mirror at Ben O’Donnell and his poised jaw.  Why would you risk loving someone to see them die, to engage in these ageless rituals of burial and mourning? 

Peter felt his heart throb or skip a beat.  This sensation with the sun shining and the passing of trees and homes in the heat made him feel as though he were on to some great truth.  If only he could stop the car to write it down.  These kids were smart, they knew the risks of love and death.  Mr. Kosciuzko thought of the funerals of his mother and father.  His father had died when Chris was a baby, so he did not have to explain it to him, did not have to explain that “Grampa was dead.”  Peter could still wallow in his grief then, in the fact that his father had died and that he was now the patriach of his family.  That thought was a burden - something he did not want then, but a role he had since, he felt, grown into.  The thought that there would be no more consults for advice about being a husband, no more phone calls asking his father about his knee or his golf game.  He’d cradled his father’s sapphire tie pin when they lowered the coffin – his mother crying on his shoulder.  Then his mother too had passed.  Chis was ten or so and Sonya had been five or six.  It was harder then to explain that they would not be going to grandma’s to sleep over anymore, that grandma wouldn’t be making them a little blanket nest of the floor of her bedroom for them to sleep on so they wouldn’t be scared. 

Mr. Kosciuzko sighed.  He put his right signal on, turned his head back to check his blind spot and merged lanes. He itched his right armpit.  You missed the people you loved terribly – there was no escaping that.  When the children were little and Peter’s parents would come to visit, Chris and Sonya would grab onto their grandparents’ legs when it was time for them to leave.  It was that same sensation that lived in and was shared by all people – the desire to hold on, to not let someone go.  Because it wasn’t the phantoms in horror stories with red faces and claws that were scary, it was the real live ghosts of someone who was there and not there – that was the fear you truly felt.

The divider rolled down and Ben O’Donnell put his head up to the space.

“Hey, Pete,” he said softly.

“How’re you holding up, Ben?” Mr. Kosciuzko asked.

“Oh, we’re just fine back here. Fine. Smooth ride.”

“I’m glad.”

“Would you mind turning the air up a bit?”

“No problem at all. Thanks for asking.”

Ben O’Donnell nodded.  He reached his hand through the space.

“Sorry about keeping this thing up.” He paused. “It just feels right.”

Peter was moved by the sentiment.  Ben O’Donnell was a good man.

“Of course. By all means. I get it all the time.”

Ben  O’Donnell laughed softly.   He patted Mr. Kosciuzko with his fingertips and rolled the divider back up. Signs for the L.I.E. appeared on the right.  Ben O’Donnell was a good man.  Mr. Kosciuzko remembered how Ben had held himself with dignity when his son Tom had tried to drown himself in the creek by the train tracks.  He showed no sorrow, but never seemed hard.  Everyone expected Ben to turn back to his drinking then, but he surprised them all.  Ben had stayed away from the bars once Rose made him quick drinking.  However, he had come into the Country Corner after it happened.  He ordered a club soda.  He had come in “just to get a breath of fresh air.”  And he sipped at the club soda and looked at the NBA highlights on the TV. To lose a child would be the ultimate loneliness.  Mr. Kosciuzko could barely wrap his mind around the thought.  He wondered what terror or loneliness Tom O’Donnell had felt to throw himself into the frozen creek to die.  What question was he looking to answer?  What question had he failed to answer?

Mr. Kosciuzko merged onto the access road for the L.I.E.  He passed Pete’s nursery on the right.  He signalled left and merged onto the interstate.  You had to forgive your children.  He knew that he would eventually forgive  Sonya for what she had done; for all she had done.  For maybe she did understand the importance of moving through life and loving.  Maybe she had loved Lee and the fact that she had gotten pregnant was just bad timing – she wasn’t ready to take that risk, to put her stakes down with him.  But if she moved to San Francisco to live, wasn’t that love?  And if it was, then how could you turn your back on it?  When was true love supposed to occur? How could you give it a sell by date?  Maybe that was what the youth were victims of.  An internet that let you Google, “When am I supposed to fall in love?”

Peter pushed the gas and moved into the left lane heading east.  He passed a truck.  He wished he could tell it all in a story.  Why it was important to love and to risk it all by having a family and investing yourself in another person. Mr. Kosciuzko thought himself a smart man, maybe as smart as Sonya or Maggie O’Donnell, and had bought into love.  He remembered seeing Ellen on their first date.  They had gone to one of the college bars in Oneonta. It was called the Rat.  He’d been nervous to ask her out for months in their European History class, but he had to do it.  Then she showed up at the bar, wearing a red blouse that made her skin especially tan and the freckles on her face seem so – impossible.  He had to excuse himself to vomit in the bathroom.  After he frantically chewed gum, he went back out and asked if he could kiss her. It was the boldest thing he had perhaps done in his entire life  before or since.  And she obliged.  It was over then.

Mr.  Kosciuzko accelerated eastward into the sun.  That was what life was for, he felt it strongly. It was love, it was family.  If you weren’t tugged in a million directions by people you loved, then you weren’t experiencing life.  He knew the universe was made of light and love; books had taught him that much and he felt that much.  Highway trees and exit signs flew past.  He felt, too, that Ben O’Donnell believed the same thing deeply.  That was what they shared, or what Peter felt they shared when he saw Ben’s jaw working and the character behind it.  Their children would learn someday.  All children would learn someday.  Although he’d been a teacher, he could not teach that.  Mr. Kosciuzko gripped the steering wheel tight and looked at another car he passed – a Subaru.  Perhaps he had been a failure.  He’d underachieved and been prone to inaction.  But he’d loved and tried his best to be loved.  He’d fished with his father and made love to his wife, he’d bathed his children and drunken a beer.  Peter felt his heart flutter in the glare of the sun.  It was like white flowers and the pull of an eloquent sentence.  He pitied and envied the O’Donnells.  All he could do was to put his foot on the gas.  If only he could write it all down in a story – to put word to it all.  But he couldn’t pull over now.  He had to bring the O’Donnells to their funeral.

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