Confessions a 20th century ne'er do well: Drinking, fighting, stealing and other things one generally ought not do

Friday, October 10, 2008

I put some songs online

Go to and search my first and last name to hear 'em.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I sometimes use evil skills to perform acts of goodness

I know many of you are shocked and appaled at the turn this blog has taken. Before I started to reveal my sordid past, I could tell by the nature of many of the comments I received that my readers had an attitude of: "This person seems helpless, clumsy and in no way in control of his life.... therefore I can like him, and will support his ham-handed attempts at social normalcy"

Now, it seems that my past includes behavior that goes beyond harmless misfit. I have willfully hurt others, and all in the name of a laugh! I'm not a harmless person at all! It seems I have no need for your pity! To hell with me and my mischevious behavior, I say!

But my evil behavior has at times been used for good.

In 1995, The sunday manager at the 7/11 near my home in Milford CT was locked out of her office. She was fretting at the cash register.

"Want me to try to open it with a credit card?" I asked?
"OK, give it a try," she said in desperation.

I might add that I hadn't actually carded into a locked room on my own before this, but I had seen associates make it work a handful of times. That story is for another day.

My first attempt was successful. Thus, I began my slow turn from a life of amusing myself with petty crime to a life where I used my larceny skills to perform acts of heroism.

In fact, she gave me a handfull of dollars from the register, and a free slurpie (which I kept till last week, when I threw it at Wes)

Today, I went to move a piece of furniture to the house my inlaws are renting when they move up to help us with the baby (due in oct. boy). The keys had slipped out of my pockets and were lying in the parking lot of my apartment.

So, using past skills, I managed to open a window and break into the house and deliver the furniture.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I tried to steal a car

The summer ‘92, a bunch of us were at a friends house, drinking and playing Risk. It was late, and only two of us were left in the game plus a spectator because I have some photos from that night.
“Want to go steal a car?” my friend said.
“Yeah!” I answered.
Stealing a car sounded not only cool, but impossible. A situation like this is kind of a game of Criminal Chicken – who’s going to blink first?
We were both a little too ballsy for this game.
We walked out onto the street. My friend held his hand in his sleeve and tried the doors of cars (always lock your doors – there may be future college graduates in the neighborhood). We walked for a few blocks. In the younger days of drinking, I didn’t miss the beer soon enough to want to turn around. Today, I can’t imagine wandering the streets looking for trouble without at least a bottle in each pocket and one in my hand.
Finally, the door opened. It was a chevy nova from the early eighties.
I slipped into the passenger side, and my friend into the driver's seat.
“Now what?” I asked, my heart beating.
“I’m going to hotwire it,” he said.
“Do you know how to do that?” I asked, heartbeat kicking it up a notch.
“Sure. You cut the wires,” he cut the wires. “and touch them together like this.”
He touched them together. Nothing happened.
Today, I’m fairly certain that that’s not how you hotwire a car. I think you’re supposed to use a screwdriver to break the top off of the ignition and then twist it with your hand.
After a few minutes of trying, a light went on in the house. We leapt out of the car and ran back to my friend’s house.
Our risk game was still on the table. We had to finish. I don’t remember who took over the world before we went to sleep on the couches in the other room.

The next morning, as we pulled away, I was fairly certain that there was a car in the cul-de-sac where my friend lived with a young guy and an older guy, the young guy pointing at my car. I drove without looking back.

Technically, cutting some kid’s wires doesn’t count as stealing, just vandalism – kind of lame, not really funny, gives the impression of some personal vendetta. I can’t help but think that if we were to have gotten caught, “We didn’t mean to ruin the starter, we were just trying to steal the car for laughs,” might have gotten us out of it, if the kid were cool (very VERY cool)

Which makes me wonder: Are there many detestable crimes that we hear about that would have been kind of cool if they hadn’t been interrupted before completion?

Friday, July 18, 2008

The first thing I ever stole - chocolate pudding

I volunteered at a soup kitchen when I was 16 years old, and that was where I stole my first thing. It was a huge can of chocolate pudding. God, I love chocolate pudding.

I really stole it because it was funny – in fact, that’s the only reason I steal anything. An adult authority figure found out and made me return it. At the time, I argued that it was chocolate pudding, and there was nothing nutritious about it, so what was I really taking from them?

Today I’d argue that I was allowed to eat as much chocolate pudding as I wanted while on site – even if that meant a whole can - and that they throw the can away after they open it. So what’s the hangup with time and space? The results are the same.

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have stolen the can of chocolate pudding from a soup kitchen. There really isn’t much room for elaboration on that sentiment, either.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A close fight call in college, and a tale of stupid people asking questions

My freshman year, I went to Brandeis University. At some point early in the first semester, I hooked up with a nice young lady basically kissing her for a little while. She lived on my floor, and we had met again at some campus event, and returned to the dorm room. Weeks later, I was in a crowded apartment which was part of a party taking place at the on campus apartments across the street from the main campus. Out of nowhere, some large gentleman pushes through the crowd, followed by a smaller guy who was saying, “That’s him.” The big guy grabs me by the neck and pulls me outside while the smaller guy says “You hooked up with so-and-so, and now I’m going to kick your ass.”

There were four of them. They brought me a little away from the party. I remember trying to stand up straight while this guy held me by the neck. I don’t remember the dialog, but when this guy let go of me there was some sort of accusations of ungentlemanly behavior on my part. The shorter guy accused me of forcing myself on her.
“But all we did was kiss,” I protested.
“She says you FORCED her to kiss you,” he insisted.
“She says I forced her…. to kiss me?” I answered, hoping that my implicit accusation of idiocy would be correctly interpreted by his friends as a reason to back off, and not (also correctly) be interpreted as further reason to kick my ass.
For some reason, I don’t like to back down when threatened. It’s always a gut reaction, without reasoning behind it, but if I had to justify it, I’d say that most people don’t want to go to jail or be criminals. And that people who aren’t afraid to cross the line don’t need provocation – in other words, if someone is pathologically violent, they’re liable to be that way no matter what.
A bully gets more mileage out of having someone who is afraid of him than actually fighting. His posturing gives him what he wants without his having to turn criminal. A group of guys like this gets more kicks of watching someone scurry to run than having someone who they’re going to have to deal with every time they cross paths, whether they find it easier to fight or not. And there is the law thing. I don’t know how well this works outside of a school setting where disciplinary action can be taken.
I happen to guess that the back story was that this young lady’s paramour saw her leave the party with me that night and demanded to know what happened. I suspect he had reason to assume that more than kissing went on, based on her own habits (nothing in my habits at the time suggested anything other than kissing ever goes on!). I also remember that after kissing for a while, she asked if my mouth was getting tired, which in retrospect, I think might have been a message that I should have progressed by then. In my innocence, it hadn’t crossed my mind that that option was on the table with this person I barely knew. Seeing his violent and controlling streak, I think her excuse under the gun was to tell him that I forced her. Maybe she wanted him to see us leaving together. Who knows? Women do things.
I also think that upon meeting and interacting with me, the group of fellows he chose to socialize with may have realized the preposterousness of her story. I was trying to stand up for myself, but I certainly never come across as tough and aggressive, especially when I’m shaking in my sneakers. In 1991, I was still thin and noticeably muscular, but I still don’t think I amounted to the kind of person that justified bringing out the possee to deal with – remember in my previous entry, someone managed to break my foot during a routine wrestling drill.
I remember the big guy rolling his eyes and punching his fist into his palm, making some kind of threat to keep away from her. I made some response that they couldn’t tell me who to keep away from, and she lives on my floor. (I had every intention to keep away from her, but not to tell these guys it’s because of them).
Then they let me go with a warning. I think I went back to the party and downed a few – it was early in my drinking career – and that was enough to send me wandering through campus, inserting myself into groups of people and telling them the story. It was still early in the year, so everyone was getting to know each other, and I really didn’t know anyone too well.
My roommate later told me that that guy was from Medford, which he said is a ‘tough neighborhood’. I confronted him in class the next week and in a rather supplicant manner told him I don’t want any more trouble. He kind of dismissed it, but I knew it was over. I’m not sure gathering the gang to attack me made him look in the best light – he may have had some huge stud in his mind based on his jealousy.

A short related story. We used to hang out with this guy brad. I couldn’t stand the guy, but he was in love with one of the other guys we hung out with, and he had a car, so he inserted himself into our activities by making them possible. So we drove over to Tufts (which is in Medford, hence the relatedness of the story) and Brad rolls down the window and asks some guy, “Are the girls here hot?” I always half cringed and half laughed when he did stupid shit like that. Cringed because he had no intention of being funny – he though that was a real question.

Myself, I ask stupid questions of strangers all the time, but mostly for my amusement, kind of a reality show thing without the TV. Like the time after a show when I asked some guy in a pizza place in Hoboken, “Do you ever wake up in the morning and think ‘I don’t wanna go to work!’ [with a whine]?” (after my song of the same name) And he responded calmly. “No. I like my job.” Which made me laugh.

So I half laughed because I find it kind of funny to ask people moronic questions. So this guy answers. “Yeah! And they’re easy as shit!”
We all laughed, but what was really funny was how anxious Brad was to find a party to go to, based on this guy’s answer. I realized the answer was designed to match the question.

Brad had a habit of saying stupid things to people when we went to other colleges. Once, we were on the Harvard campus, he asked a student whether this was a good school. The thing about him is that he had no clue that this could possibly be funny if you’re self effacing – if you’re asking the question is part of the joke. But his intention was to make Harvard students feel insecure. The joke was just dumb. And that is a lot coming from me, because I’m a master of asking dumb questions – but it is an art and must be used sparingly and this guy was an embarrassment. I used to sometimes ask people if they knew how to count to four. But that question throws my motives into question – which is part of the art of asking absurd questions. Brad’s motive was always clear, and embarrassing.
Another funny part of this was another guy who Brad spoke to, implying he was a student at Harvard.
“Oh yeah? Then what did you think of president Rutabeger’s speech?”, challenging his claim. As though the rest of the world actually sees hubris in claiming to go to Harvard when you don’t.
Only at Harvard would someone react with such mocking at someone claiming to be a student there – Brad’s (and I swear, that’s really his name) stupid question somehow got trumped by an even stupider answer!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

An outline

For those of you wondering the spirit of the post below, I'm trying to create a retrospective of more outstanding things that I've experienced. Outstanding in that I don't think many people have gotten beat up, and that someone getting beat up generally makes for a better story than the "I saw such and such movie/tv show yesterday" or, "I went somewhere where everyone has been or seen, and here is a photo of it" entries we all tend to do.

Other chapters to come:
-Almost getting beat up in college and beyond
-Encounters with the police
-Things I've stolen or tried to steal

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Here are a bunch of stories about getting beat up as a kid.

There was one kid I was friends with in grade school, but somehow we drifted apart. In later grade school, I was playing at a mutual friend’s house, and he made comments along the lines of “I used to be friends with him but I don’t like him.” Specifically for me to hear. At one point, I was running in the woods and tripped, falling flat on my face. “Good,” he said, running past. I wasn’t really impressed – I had been picked on by bigger and better kids.
We were playing some kind of tag game where this bicycle was base. I was holding onto it, and he came by and started trying to push me off of it. He wasn’t bigger than me. From there, it turned into fisticuffs. We ended up rolling on the ground, where he had me pinned. So I tightened my fingers where they were, which just happened to be right in this kid’s eye. He screamed, and cried a little. I don’t remember what he said, but he let me go and started ranting about how I shouldn’t have done that.
At the time, I had a rabbit foot keychain that I kept attached to my belt loop. We separated, and when he got a few feet of distance, he said, “So much for that lucky rabbit’s foot” and came swinging and kicking at me. Apparently, the rabbit foot was pretty lucky because an open palm on my end kept him at bay, knocking him to the ground.
I was more hurt (emotionally) and humiliated that this guy decided to pick on me than anything else (and kind of psyched that I essentially kicked his ass.) I went home crying. All I know is I had a dirt bike, whatever age that made me. It was kind of young.

In seventh or eighth grade, in science class, another kid who I had never really been friends with told me he could kick my ass. I told him he couldn’t. It kind of required a response, and it’s not like I could have agreed – that would have been like giving him permission! After school, right out front, he showed up to fight. Two whole classes of boys stood behind him, waiting to watch. I don’t remember how I got out of that (sorry) but I know nothing happened fight wise then, except my own terror – and humiliation.
Next, it was lunch time, and there he was with the boys from two whole classes behind him. (Nobody stood behind me). He walked towards me and pushed me. Stronger. I stood tall as I got pushed backwards. He pushed again. My heart was pounding. I didn’t feel like there was really any choice in the matter. I pushed back with all my might. He went back with my force, and then took another step back, winding up to chase me. The wind up, I think, was designed to give me a head start in running – which I took. I don’t think he really wanted to kick my ass, and I have no doubt that that’s probably what would have happened. I mean kicking someone’s ass is criminal. I’m fairly certain that on another occasion this same guy stole my bike, which I had been too lazy to lock – in my defense, most kids did not lock their bikes outside the school, and abandoned it in the stream, where the police found it.

In fifth grade, another kid from my neighborhood asserted his ability to kick my ass. I had no choice but to go outside the way he had (although maybe I did, but avoiding something like that only escalates things – I think some kids are averse to being criminals in the long run, and my running allows the fight to morph into a chase, which is more amusing for everyone and less criminal for him.) I walked out and in about two moves, he had me in a headlock with a bloody nose. Two other kids were watching. My mom was waiting right in front of the school with the car. I was an easy bleeder, so she didn’t suspect anything when she saw the bloody nose.

In eighth grade, we used to carry all our books under one arm. A bunch of guys kept grabbing my arm to make me drop my books. Finally, I let them fall and started swinging at this guy’s face. I missed. Twice. He put his hand on my shoulder, which I, heart pounding, threw off twice again, stepping into a defensive fighting position. The third time, I realized his gesture was meant to calm me down. As I walked away, two girls giggled to each other, for my benefit, “How do you swing and miss a face? It’s like trying to turn on a light and missing the switch.”

Another time, some kid stole my unicef money.

Another time, I got chased home by neighborhood kids throwing snowballs.

Another time, a neighborhood kid stood on my own jungle gym, throwing acorns at me.

Similar to the first story, there was one boy who was a grade older who used to pick on me in boy scouts. He was kind of a loser in retrospect, but what the hell did I care at the time? Like I had to time to differentiate the social status of one tormentor versus another? So he grabs me and holds me face down in the snow at some boy scout outing. So, like my fingernail in the first story, I just bit his hand. He pulled away in pain and started whining about how I was a pussy for biting him. I don’t know, I guess he should have kicked my ass for it if he was so tough. Another summer, somehow or other he got voted assistant scout leader for my little group. He harassed me a lot, once threatening to confine me to my cabin, as though he had such authority. Years later, we were both on the wrestling team. I remember he was given a varsity jacket out of pity, since he wasn’t varsity – like I said, loser. (I sucked at wrestling too, but I quit senior year, and would never have asked for a pity jacket!) Once, during drills, he threw me in a way that resulted in my breaking my foot. In all honesty, I think that was more my clumsiness than his intention – his clumsiness too, of course.

In eighth grade, I started lifting weights. No one ever physically picked on me in high school, and eventually I got big – people do outgrow beating people up.
Years later, I was visiting my friend Lou at Temple University in Philadelphia. We decided to go wander around near the Penn campus. At some point during this little excursion, we became pretty drunk, as was the nature of such visits. As it turns out, this guy who broke my foot went to Drexel, and we happened to run into him and his friends. He said hi to Lou.
“Who is this?” I asked, realizing that I was supposed to know the guy.
“This is so and so. From high school” Lou said.
I didn’t remember.
“Remember me? We were in boy scouts and wrestling,” he said friendlily, standing close to me.
“Wait a minute,” I said. “Didn’t you break my foot?”
He stammered, and his friends laughed and made ominous noises.
“Lou,” I said, punching my open palm and smiling. “This guy broke my foot during wrestling.”
“Didn’t you…” I turned and realized that he had retreated to the other side of his little group.
“He broke my foot,” I said with a laugh. “Lou, I should…” by then, the group had moved on laughing at the guy.

I happened to go to the same college with the guy who put me in the headlock and gave me the bloody nose. Pretty much from after that point he had left me alone, and I think we verged on friendly-ish in high school – as I said, most people moved on from it by then. We were friendly whenever we ran into each other on campus, but weren’t friends as such. On my 21st birthday, the same guy Lou came up to visit and we ran into this guy, who was very friendly upon encountering two former schoolmates. As it was my 21st birthday bar crawl, I was more than a little drunk, and this reunion sparked me to say, “You beat me up in fifth grade!” He basically just left – I don’t think this guy was scared, I just don’t think he wanted any part of such a conversation. What can I say? That’s what I remembered him for. It might have been a little wrong for me to hold on to that, but if he had lent me his skateboard in fifth grade, I might have remembered him for that.

Bad as it is for kids to pick on each other, I felt worse about bringing it up to this guy (not the other guy, that was fun). It was fifth grade. I suppose I shouldn’t feel bad – it’s worse that I still carried it around than that he had to hear about it. It’s just that I felt kind of maladjusted for carrying something like that around.