Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How I Met Your Blogger

I have been offering the Burning Wood floor to all readers since the birth of this blog. I thought it would spice things up a bit if the blog had more than my point of view once in awhile. Contributions have been few and far between. Actually, there haven't been many. Actually, here is only the third contribution in two years and 4 months.

This entry is from an old friend, loyal reader, and regular participant, ITSOK2BERIGHT.

It wasn't what I had in mind when I solicited contributions. A cute little concert review, a top ten list, or some suggestion of a new band was more like it. But, there was no way I wasn't going to share this.

Friday, I will complete what has inadvertently turned into a week of nostalgia and reflection, no doubt inspired by the holidays and the events before, during and after, with the first "Weekend Mix" of 2011. I think you'll dig it, so stay tuned. In the meantime, please enjoy ITSOK2BERIGHT's memories of moi.


Life is nothing more than a series of related chapters with which we pass through. Many of these chapters are brief and fleeting, while others can last a lifetime.

As we have read, Sal has gone through his share of life chapters. Our chapters intersected for the period of time he loitered in Sheepshead Bay. Other than Sal, all names are changed to protect the innocent.

Living in Sheepshead Bay in the 1970’s, I amassed a close-knit group of friends. As with most young boys, we started getting interested in girls. We all had simultaneous chapters being written as we dated girls outside of our core group. We would leave behind the rest of our group for these brief interludes, yet we would always come home to the boys when it was over. Girls can do that to us. Sal was the same when it came to abandoning his past for the sake of a girl. One of his famous lines was, “I would sell my mother to the Russians for her.” I don’t think he would have gone that far, but it was fun watching him drool.

(Editor's Note: I stole that line from Woody Allen.)

We were just entering high school, and getting heavily into Zeppelin. Being walking distance to Zig-Zag records, we started to pick up Zeppelin bootlegs, copy them to tape and listen to them until our tape deck batteries went dead.

At this same time, Sal was hanging out on East 19th St. with his favorite cousin (George) and his friends (Jerry and Kramer), including ‘the girls’, (Snooki, Jwoww, Sammi, her sister Angelina, and occasionally Julissa; she was in 2 episodes, look it up). Personally, I think the girls were the only reason Sal trekked from Manhattan to see George. We never met these girls, since these were Catholic School girls and we all went to public school. We played soccer on 19th Street that summer with some guys from school; 19th was a little wider than most streets in the neighborhood. Prior to that, we never much associated with those guys.

Immediately, we noticed the girls, and I believe they noticed us. (Well, others in the group, but not me). I think Sal and the boys showed a little jealousy, as they saw ‘their’ girls walk up the block to see whom this new group of guys were. They heard one of us was going out with a girl up the street (Frenchie) that they all fantasized over. I blew that relationship, and later on, Kramer never let me live it down.

We also played a lot of handball those days. Having a choice between PS 254 and St. Marks, we started playing at St. Marks so we can walk down 19th St. One day, I was walking down 19th St. with Arnold and there were Sal and his cousin sitting on the stoop listening to a Zeppelin bootleg. At first we kept walking, then we both stopped and went back to the stoop. I then asked that fateful question that still resonates in my mind, “Is that Zeppelin?” Sal and George went on to tell us what year the bootleg was from, what venue, what Page ate for breakfast, and so on. Man, did I open a can of worms.

Arnold and I knew right away that these guys were a little different than us, a little smarter and maybe a little more mature. But, they had one thing we wanted, the girls. Later that night, I was there with Arnold’s brother Lou, and this time, Sal had the girls with him. We interrupted them, and started talking about the Zeppelin bootlegs we’ve heard. This time Kramer and Jerry were there. Lou was a likeable character, which helped us tremendously. We talked on and on that night, from music to baseball, to my tape deck that blasted the tunes, you name it, we talked about it. Apparently, these guys were not much different than we were. After that, the rest is history. So Arnold, Lou, John Stewart, Tito Santana, his cousin Rico Suave, and the rest of us took over 19th St. as if it was ours. Though, Sal remained a little jealous. He kept telling Jwoww and Snooki how dumb Lou and Arnold were.

(Editor's Note: I never used the word dumb in my life.)

From that forced encounter came many relationships. Jwoww went out with Arnold, Snooki went out with Lou, Angelina dated Rico Suave, Sammi married Jerry after turning down John Stewart and me, Jwoww married George, Kramer dated Julissa, but in secret, I had a brief fling with Jwoww’s cousin from another state, and it goes on.

Other than relationships, this friendship also created a variety of garage bands. Lou played a mean bass; Kramer and Jerry were guitarists. There is a great story of Kramer walking out of Jerry’s basement when Jerry started playing a never-ending solo during one of their rehearsals. Jerry was the bassist at the time. As you all know Sal played the drums. George was also very musically talented, playing a variety of instruments. Arnold and I played the guitar, but never at the level of the others. Those were some extraordinary times, with the music, handball, concerts, hanging out at school, drinking, smoking, etc. Teenage life, too bad we only get to live it once.

Through all of that, the one indelible memory I have of Sal was on September 25th, 1980. I was walking home from school, and had just turned the corner onto my block. He was already hanging out with Lou on Lou’s stoop, since neither could find the time to go to school those days. I look up and here comes Sal running in full stride, right elbow firmly out there catching the wind. He gets to me huffing and puffing, saying, “Did you hear? Did you hear?” Well, up to that second I did not. Sal knew I became a huge Zeppelin fan, and that that news would affect me more than the others in our crowd, with the exception of Kramer.

(Editor's Note: 9/25/80, John Henry Bonham died. It also happened to be the birthday of one of the above characters. I'm not sure who, since all this name-changing has confused me. But I do remember the quote, "Great. Why did Bonham have to die on my fucking birthday?" )

Thanks for this, ITSOK2BERIGHT.  And thank you all for indulging us both.


Christine said...

I really enjoyed reading this, and what a GREAT title,"How I Met Your Blogger!" Funny and heartfelt, the story and the pictures brought back such memories--St. Mark's, where I spent 8 years being petrified to death of the nuns and teachers, Zig Zag Records, back when it was good, and The Sheepshead Bay Train Station, (without the pigeon crap included--very smart idea!)

Your days spent with ITSOK2BERIGHT and the other "tv personalities" must have really been memorable, and it's a thumbs up to you that he did such a good job expressing what it was like in those days, and that you were able to share it.

"I'd sell my mother to the Russians for her"--how romantic, Sal!

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed this post!