Friday, November 22, 2013

Downtown Boston Part 1. PEOPLE, places and things.

Everyone keeps asking why I haven't put any of my pictures in the blog yet. My response is that I just started the thing! Calm DOWN! But this isn't a problem. Enjoy the pics. Most of them are from DTX.
That's Downtown Crossing in case you didn't know. The undisputed Hub of the Universe of which I have been elected Mayor.

 These two women only move when you tip them.  Or when a crazy person tries to touch them inappropriately
 The mounted units are  gone but not forgotten. Although the giant piles of horse poop everywhere are not missed.
 Two guys were fighting over who gets to wear that red shirt. They both lost.
 Someone stole this mimes shoes. She was miming, "Help Police!" one came.
 Here in Boston we have many races, creeds and nationalities. Colonials are one of those and are unique to Boston. They probably should be avoided. Unless you have a time machine. Then please send them back.

 Boston is sometimes known as the other cradle of Liberty. The very first protest happened here. (Boston Tea Party? Remember dummy?) So obviously we have a protest just about every minute in DTX.
 You give one undead a small piece of your mind and then everybody wants one!
 This is the obligatory St. Patty's Day Pic. Everything in Boston has a friggin shamrock on it! Irish this! Irish That! I haven't seen one sweatshirt with a Jewish Star on it. There's OTHER nationalities in Boston people!
 Big bike race on State Street..... that's all I got.
 The Hare Krishna's are also all over the place in Boston. Dancing, singing and passing out those stupid books. If they invite you dinner, don't go. The colonials might be there too.
 This guy was not selling those signs. I asked if I could buy one and he told me to go to hell.
 Boston like other cities has it's homeless population. They do not pahk the cah anywhere though because they don't have one. What? I can't even poke a little fun at the homeless? For what it's worth I took his pic and invited him to come home with me. he's looking over my shoulder as I type this.
 I hate segways. I have no idea why. When people are riding them I believe they think they are better than everyone else. Although I saw a guy fall off one. He was definitely not better than anyone else. he was unconscious .
 This is the inner city balloon animal alliance. ICBAI.  They rock. Many at risk kids have been taken from a life of dealing drugs and prostitution and were shown the way of the balloon.
 This is Charlie Day from the Always Sunny in Philadelphia show. He's a huge supporter of the Street Vending program in Boston.
 This person is an Improper Bostonian apparently.
 All I know is one of them said, "We have to put our heads together on this." and the next thing they were stuck.
 It was Kenneth Parcell Day in Boston (30 Rock) and these gentlemen of course took it too far.
 This man screams incomprehensibly non stop all day. I told him that we could just read the sign but he didn't listen.
 The Hatfields and McCoys sometimes vacation in Boston and entertain the masses while they are here. I was told not to throw any more bars of soap at them after one of them hit the girl right in the washboard.
 I have no idea who these people are. BUT if you're on Bromfield go to Boston Brewin Coffee. The guy on the right is beautiful. I had to take his pic.
 How do get 1000 loud Bostonians to stop and shut up?  Easy. Just knock down a building. (Filene's)
and finally, Boston is full of annoying clueless students. This crew was from Emerson. I'm kidding, they were OK.....very Gung Ho.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sometimes I Remember Things Other People Would Probably Try to Forget

Is Boston EVER Quiet?

Boston can be a loud place. It’s not as loud as New York but there are times, during the day if you are right in the middle of it all in Boston Proper, it can be a cacophony of noise. The mixture of people on cell phones, ambulances, homeless people asking for spare change and a barrage of white noise that is indecipherable,  can induce a hell of a headache nonetheless.

That’s why when you are in some of these normally noisy places and you find it to be completely quiet it can be quite unnerving and spooky as well. After the Marathon bombing when the authorities were closing in on the bombers, the entire city was put on lock down. People were told to “shelter in place” and not to come into Boston if you could help it. I had to come to get some work done. Well, if the truth be told I came in because the TV kept telling me not to come in but we had work to do as well. Below you can see some of the pictures I took that day. It was about as close to a horror movie as one could get. I was almost expecting the walking dead to appear from the Granary Burial ground or from beneath the MBTA. But luckily Mother Goose and Sam Adams stayed in their boxes. It was a stark contrast to the mayhem of a few days earlier when no one knew what might blow up next. I walked the streets taking pictures of the emptiness thinking how peaceful it was. I contemplated taking a selfie in the middle of Tremont Street with no clothes on at all but decided that joking around on a somber day like this was probably a bad idea. And it was chilly outside and you know what that can do a guy’s package.

As I stood at the corner of Park Street and Tremont it got me thinking about another time almost twenty years earlier when it was just as empty, desolate and spooky. I was almost in that exact spot.

Some of you may know about the business I've been in for many years. One of the main parts of it is a somewhat unconventional retail business. We sell many things from pushcarts or kiosks. Most of them are outdoors throughout Boston. We do other things now as well but twenty years ago we were relatively new at working for ourselves and I, in particular wasn't anywhere near the street smart maniac that I am now. I had recently left a job where I was in a suit all day. Flash forward to me on the day in question a few months later and I was sitting at a pushcart selling baseball caps.

Two things that day made me an idiot.  The first was that it was the middle of winter, there was a foot of snow on the ground and not one single vendor or even person...or even pigeon or squirrel were outside that day. In retrospect I should never have opened but those were the days BK (before kids) when I was planning on taking another vacation. I hoped it would be a  long one and needed every dime to make it last. The second thing was that I was selling baseball caps. To this day I don’t know why we weren’t selling winter gear like gloves, scarves etc. But it was more than likely because it was a freak snowstorm and the cold New England winter had not completely arrived to bite us on the bottom.

I was all alone. It was a Sunday. No one at all came in to Boston. Occasionally someone would come out of the Green Line station and run down Winter Street but mostly I just sat there on a wooden bar stool next to a beautiful display of caps. Those were the days around the baseball strike so I also carried minor league teams like the Toledo Mudhens, Portland Seadogs and the Durham Bulls. On a good day people ate that stuff up. We were all pissed at the Red Sox for going on strike. This was many years from the 2004 World Series and every Sox fan knew defeat the same way I knew I wasn’t going to be selling a thing on that day. I even had Yankee hats back then. What was I thinking?

In my boredom I began to stare out into the park. The Boston Common is beautiful when it’s covered in a fresh snowfall. I could make out the Frog Pond through the trees and there weren't any skaters on it. The capitol dome gleamed despite the dreary, grey skies above it.

As I stared at the trees something appeared to move on the ground, in the snow. I was firmly entrenched in a daydream and didn't really focus on it at first but when the powdery white snow began to move and form a little cloud I took notice. Something alive was buried under the dusting of snow and it was moving! My first thought was that it must be a dog but it was way too big. It was definitely a human. Apparently someone had laid down on the ground and fallen asleep before the snow fell!  It was hard to tell whether it was a man or woman. They had a blanket over themselves when they sat up so it looked like a green and white ghost but as the snow fell away I could see that it was an extremely dirty person. When he stood up literally a puff of dirt came off him. He had a long beard that was brown, grey and yellow. He had on a hat that looked like it had been on his head for 100 years. It was black but it didn't start out that way.

He dusted the snow off himself and straightened his coat. It was a dark green trench coat that he wore over what looked like a garbage bag stuffed with burlap. He was wearing it like a shirt. There was a hole for his head and the other holes had dirty burlap poking through. He coughed for a while and I looked away having gotten bored. When I looked back he was staring at me.
At that point I took him all in. He was what I call the hard core homeless. It didn’t look like he had ever taken a bath and there was no way he spent a night in one of Boston’s many shelters. He lived outside and probably knew how to sleep in the snow or anywhere else. He was so dirty looking that ten bars of ivory and a sand blaster wouldn’t have helped. His boots had holes in them but he had stapled cardboard over the holes and wrapped newspaper around his legs over his trousers which were of course black but didn’t start out that way.

He stopped staring at me and began walking towards me. I was thinking to myself that there was no way he was coming over here. Why would he? I turned around and pretended that I was busy. I began arranging baseball hats and straightening things out. I was peripherally keeping a close watch on him and as he got closer it became apparent that he wasn't coming to me but to the wall behind me. At Park Street there is a brick wall where everyone sits. He headed to the far area of the wall and began walking down it towards me. Every few feet he would sit and then get back up as if that spot wasn’t going to work for him. He tried another. Now the wind began to blow and the aroma of this guy wafted over to my nostrils. A loud and forceful gag tried to leap out of my mouth. I put my arm across my mouth quickly and stifled it. As he got closer to me I tried to breathe out of my mouth only. If you could bottle the smell of rotting flesh and mix it with the stench of a million septic tanks you still wouldn’t approach the actuality of what I smelled that day.

He had stopped directly behind me and from what I could see without looking directly at him, he had found the perfect spot. Now it appeared as if he was reaching for something in his coat. No, that wasn’t it. He reached towards the front of his coat and unbuttoned it. Then he was fiddling with his pants. I took a few steps away so I could see what the heck he was up to. The pushcart itself was between he and I but now I could see what he was doing. He had pulled his pants down but his coat was covering him. He then placed one butt cheek on the wall and one off the wall in a weird sort of half sitting half balancing position. It occurred to me what he was doing just as he started doing it.

Have you ever heard the expression “The World is Your Oyster.” well the world was this guys toilet. He was using the wall as a sort of lean to/toilet area and I had a front seat to watching him poop. He let loose a very firm, very large steaming pile of excrement. I didn’t think he had any digestive issues because his stool sample looked quite healthy.

(not actual photo from that day)

To say I was flabbergasted would be somewhat of an understatement. Today's Cappy never would have let the guy even get near him. But yesterdays Cappy had not yet been spoiled by the horrors and cold reality of the lives that some people live.
So I pretended not to notice. The smell instantly got way way worse. He finished up and hiked his pants back up and sat there looking relieved. A few minutes later he stood up.

Now I hoped he would leave. Go back to the tree he lived under and re-bury himself in the snow.
But alas this was not to be. He still craved human interaction apparently because after a five minute coughing and hacking fit he decided to walk around the cart and see what I was up to.
At that moment I was trying to picture what it would be like to poop daily and never wipe.

He sauntered over directly in front of me and watched as I held my breath. He appeared to be looking at the hats. His long yellowish beard had food particles stuck in it. I was noticing crackers or bread crumbs.  He had one greenish tooth and long ropey snot was hanging from his nose. The Tull song Aqualung was playing in my head. I was just wondering how long I could hold my breath. He came closer. I finally said, HEY man! What do you WANT?”

He leaned in and quicker than I would have guessed he was capable of snatched a Harvard hat off the shelf.


He began unbuttoning his coat again and I was frantically looking around for someone to help me. Not one soul was there.

He reached into the filth and came out with what looked like a pouch of some kind. He pulled a HUGE wad of bills out of it. I noticed at this point that every single bill in his hand was a HUNDRED. This guy had thousands of dollars on him. He peeled one off and gave it to me.

I gave him back 88 dollars careful not to touch him.  “Do you want me to put it in a bag?” I asked
He ignored me and after putting his money back into the mess from whence it came pulled off the black, soiled hat he was wearing.  He tossed it into the trash. He propped the new, clean Harvard hat on top of the grayish, yellowish, brownish hair and left the area. He walked back off into the trees and promptly disappeared.

I realized that day that there was a lot of assumptions I  was making about people and about life and that I was mostly wrong in my conclusions. I have no idea what his story was nor did I ever see him again but I had a nice big pile of human poop behind me as a visual aid for when I told his story to others.

It’s amazing how the quietest of times can bring on the loudest of lessons. I never looked at the homeless the same again after that day. I realized that until someone proves themselves a bad person I would give them the benefit of the doubt.

I also leave a roll of toilet paper in the park once in a while just to do my part to help.

Spare some Chaaaaange?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dealing with D. B 's

World War Douchebags pt.1

My next book is going to be a coffee table book about douchebags. There’s just so many friggin people out there who exist simply to piss everyone else off. I wonder if they knew that they would be in a color photograph on someone’s coffee table forever immortalized as a total friggin dipstick, if they would re-think the behavior that would be giving them this title.

I think most assholes are just selfish. Most entitled behavior stems from someone not giving a crap what happens when they do …...anything. Stupidity can also enter into it but lets leave the brain dead out of the equation for a moment. Today I’m addressing the people who know better but do it anyway. Do what? You may ask? In my coffee table book under each full color picture would be a graphic depiction of what got them in the book. For example:

I love Boar’s Head cold cuts. Once in a blue moon I go grocery shopping in a place that sells these delicious slices of meat and must have pounds and pounds of it to shove into my gaping maw. Sometimes I even make a sandwich at home like normal people do, but  usually I open all the packages in the car and spread them out on the passenger seat so I can eat while I drive. I’m partial to the maple ham, rosemary turkey and beef bologna but it is all good stuff.

SO I saunter up to the deli counter and take a number. Usually it’s the weekend which means it is crowded. I hate crowds, mostly because when a crowd is waiting for something in a line of some sort then crowds decide they want to make friends.

I am cursed with a friendly face. I know this because no matter how much I scowl and frown people always seem to want to talk to me. I wear a baseball hat about 50% of the time I’m outside and I can pull the brim all the way down, close my eyes, make a horrible face and try to look invisible but SOMEONE will still try to talk to me about the weather. Why do people always want to talk about the weather? Yes it's been hot. Yes it's cold out. I'm standing in it! I see it. Go away! Sometimes I am on the train with a full train load of idiots and the dirty guy at the other end of the train will catch my eye somehow and yell across the whole train, “How bout them Red Sox buddy!” and if I yell back, “Fuck Off!” He’ll think I’m JOKING and laugh. I get away with being rude a lot because everyone always thinks I'm just kidding. I'm not kidding!There can be a dozen people standing next to me on the streets of Boston but I’m the one who the tourist taps on the shoulder and asks where the Cheers bar is. Why me? There's 50 other people who probably go to Cheers every day so they can act like their Norm. Not me!  So it’s a curse. It is. People never leave me alone.

Now you can understand why I want to do my time on the deli line, wait for my number to be called, order my honey ham and go. On a busy Saturday there’s usually around 10 people ahead of me so let’s say I’m number 69. They are up to 59 and I wait. 60. 61. yes the lady who is number 62 orders enough stuff for an army and is extremely annoying but I can deal with her. 63. 64.  OH, 64? “Has anyone seen 64?  Where are you 64?”"Ok next number then since 64 obviously left" ……..OK 65. 66.  Here it comes….  67.   68….
Now it’s my turn . The deli schmuck says “69”  I say, “Right Here!”

This is when number 64 shows up. He’s old. Real old. And he decided to grab a number and go shopping. He decides to come back AFTER they called his number and insist he go next. But he also denies ever leaving the area. “I was here.” “I didn’t hear you call my number.”  “ YOU skipped my number””I go NOWWWW!”

{Maybe I’m wrong. I think a life rule is that if you leave any line for an extended amount of time you are no longer on that line.In addition to that rule if you carry on like a bitch when you are in the wrong you lose your place in line. In addition if someone else is about to be served and is in the process of stating their order for Boars Head cold cuts you do not interrupt. You wait until that person is finished then calmly explain that you left and didn't get back on time. You apologize for being so stupid (and so old). You hope but not expect the deli shmuck to be considerate and empathise with you but you don’t make a scene because if you do you can expect what did happen to happen to you.}

I just want to give one more analogy then I’ll explain how I handled this situation. If I go to Disneyland and the line to meet Mickey Mouse is 1000 people long and I get on the line for a sec then ask the guy behind me to hold my place in line. Then I go back to my hotel and take a nap for an hour. When I get back to see that guy already on Mickey’s lap can I expect to push him off and take my turn? NO I can’t, can I ? I may be mixing up Mickey with Santa but you get the picture.

I watched Grandpa Joe have a mini meltdown about the conspiracy to make him miss getting his 1/8th of a pound of no sodium Alpine Lace Swiss cheese and waited. The deli guy was explaining that he just saw him appear from aisle 3, the Metamucil aisle. He asked me if I would mind if the man went first. Although I was there alone I said that I just wanted to make sure my wife who was 9 months pregnant waiting in the car was ok with waiting even longer. Although we were expecting triplets and she could pop at any moment I'm sure it would fiiiiine. I took out my phone and pretended to call her making everyone wait. I had a five minute call with my wife who I called Snookibottom about the man who wanted to go first, speaking very loudly and with a weird new accent I invented just for this occasion.

Now, the OLD MAN was waiting. He didn't like it. I got off my fake call and starting talking to him. I asked him if he had a big order. He said he didn’t. I asked him what number he had. He told me. I asked him where he was from? Now numbers 70, 71 and the rest all starting to huff and puff.

Deli man was getting a little fuklempt at this point because the whole store was waiting. He finally asked me to just give him my order already. “Are you sure?” I asked very loudly now not effing around any more. “I mean, we can all hang around pandering to this old fart all day if you want. I have nowhere to be.” "Maybe we should all wait outside so this guy can get his shopping all done with no other people in his way! I then made a big show of asking everyone there if it was ok if I went next since it was MY TURN anyway. Most people were laughing their butts off at this point. Grandpa Joe looked red faced. He had a look on his face as if he wished he never ever would buy cheese again. I ordered as slowly as was humanly possible , got my meat and left thinking.  “YOU sir just made a page in my new coffee table book”

I bet he waited right next to the deli counter, number in hand the next time he needed cheese.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Very Beginning of Cappy in Boston and YOU Were There:

I've been wanting to BLOG for a while. I need a creative output and cursing out whomever is on line in front of me at Starbucks isn't doing anyone any good. Although I have gotten incredibly good at insults and comebacks. I consider myself to be the comeback King. Someone may think it's ok to take 25 minutes to order a double decaf skinny non-fat organic dark robust clover brewed latte with a dollop of whip cream and a shot of caramel while I'm patiently waiting for a tall bold. BUT they better not be too fat, too skinny, have a weird hat, have their pants pulled down too far, have a strange lumpy birth mark on their face or a MYRIAD of other exploitable things going on because that is what I'm waiting for.

 That's been my creative outlet for ...really way too long. I know it is not right to tell people, (who I deem to deserve it) how I feel. It isn't my responsibility nor my job to correct bad behaviors through observational, at their expense, derogatory, albeit funny, humor. But for too long it's been an good outlet for me. This way when I go home and my cat has pooped on my pillow for the 100th time I do not open a window and drop her out of it. I have expelled the negativity on strangers. I clean up the poop, change the pillow case, hug my kids, kiss my wife (if she lets me) and go on about my day.

 I have wanted a BLOG for a while. Everyone has a friggin blog. Dawn has a shoe blog. Slim has a food blog. Marc also has a foodish blog. Why the hell can't I have one? I'm living a pretty interesting life and I have a lot to talk about. I have stories man! I have seen shit. I have really seen some shit. So this will be the first in a few dozen or maybe less BLOGS. Can I call it something else though? BLOG doesn't sound right. I'll get back to you on that.

 I was talking to someone the other day about things that scare us. It was Halloween and we were talking about scary movies. I friggin love horror movies. I'm not sure why. They don't scare me or freak me out at all. Although Hellraiser 2 did in fact give me nightmares. I've loved them since I was a little kid watching Chiller Theatre on WPIX NY channel 11 every Saturday night. My parents would go out and leave my brother and I with a baby sitter and I'd put on Chiller Theatre and proceed to scare the crap out of my brother. We would watch the old Hammer movies like the Mummy and Bride of Frankenstein or the 60's vamp movies with Peter Cushing as Dracula. I would always then try to scare my brother after the movie ended. I'd shut off the lights or lock him in a closet or something.

One night I wanted to take it to a new level. I wanted to scare the baby sitter and my brother! I went into the other room and knocked on the wall. The babysitter who in retrospect wasn't very bright went to the back door and opened it thinking someone had knocked on the door. Of course no one was there. I thought this was hysterical! She fell for it like two more times. My brother caught on and he started knocking on things too. Although the babysitter was a complete moron and answered the back door at least three times, eventually she caught on and stopped answering it and instead started getting pissed off. I knew I would have to take it to a whole new level to scare her and to get her to answer the door again.

 I decided to go up the stairs to the front door when no one was looking and reach my arm out and ring the door bell. Then when she came up to answer it, I'd scare the CRAPOLA out of her. Hey, I was eight. I didn't have a lot to work with. I knew I had to be quiet about opening the door. If she heard me unlock it everything would be ruined. I wanted to open it just a crack, then reach my hand out, ring the doorbell, close the door , then hide and jump out when she went to answer it. It wasn't easy unlocking and opening the door quietly. It was big heavy door and it was known to creak if you opened it too slowly. I had to be fast.

 I opened it just a crack and tried to squeeze my hand out. I just couldn't reach the doorbell and watch for the babysitter at the same time. I had to open the door a little wider, just enough to get my whole arm out and press the button a few quick times. I wasn't looking and although I was pretty sure where the doorbell was, for some reason I wasn't feeling it. I tried to peek out the crack and see where it was but it was too dark and it was hard to see around the corner where it was. I had to open the door a little wider, then stick my head out and see where the doorbell was, then I could press it quick and close the door quick, then go hide. It could be done!

 I could hear my brother and the babysitter playing downstairs. They were laughing. She couldn't hear the door over the TV and the laughter. Now was my chance. I opened the door wide enough to get my head and arm out. I actually put my foot outside and felt the cold cement with my bare feet. I was concentrating on the doorbell. I was half inside and half outside my house. I finally felt where the stupid doorbell was and prepared to press it. It was then that I happened to look up past the door, outside at the wall of the house.

 There right next to the door  WAS A MAN IN A LONG COAT AND A WINTER HAT PRESSED UP AGAINST THE WALL WAITING FOR ME!!!!!! HE TRIED TO GRAB ME! That's right. There was a fucking person outside my house leaning up against the wall. I think I surprised him as much as he surprised me. I took in a DEEEEP breath and proceeded to SCREAM as loud as I fucking could.

YAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGHHHH! I slammed the door and took off down the stairs screaming at the top of my lungs. "There's a man outside the house! HELP!!!" I was pretty hysterical at this point having scared myself far more than I could ever have scared anyone else. I was running around the coffee table in a circle screaming. "LOCK THE DOOR! LOCK THE DOOR! THERE'S A MAN OUTSIDE THE DOOR! HELP! HELP!" The babysitter ran up and looked outside.

Of course no one was there any more. Of course she didn't believe me. She did lock the door though. My parents got home after I went to bed. I had a tough time sleeping..... NO ONE believed me. Lord knows what that guy was planning to do. I think I stuck my head out and saw him right before he was going to do....whatever. Nevertheless he ran away after I set off the alarm. (my loud screaming voice) To this day I can picture him perfectly.

 This was the first of many times as a kid when I wasn't believed. Remind me to tell you the UFO story some time. There haven't been too many times in my life where the living crap was scared out of me. I don't scare easy but each time was a great story. If I was going to tackle a few of them the story titles would go something like this:

 1. The time I was 80 feet down under the ocean and I realized my tank had a leak and I was almost out of  air and proceeded to almost drown off the coast of Key West.

 2. The time I took a bunch of little kids deep into the woods to a "haunted" house in Maine to scare them at night and it turned out a crazy old man lived there, had a gun and fired it at us.

 3. The time my wife and I drove way off the beaten path in Hawaii and were almost mugged and killed by a bunch of crazy natives.

 4. The time I was on the top of a giant mountain out west and right before the summit the whole thing started to crumble out from under me.

 5. The time my brother woke the whole house in the middle of the night screaming "Someone's in the house! "Someone's in the house!"

Oh I have stories. I have lots of them. The streets of Boston stories are some of the best. I watched a guy eat his own poop once. That's a good one. I have seen stabbings, robberies, naked crazy people, every kind of scam known to man, all kinds of mental illness, unimaginable acts of kindness too. It's not all bad. Most of it is funny. At least to me. I also have lots of pictures. I've been photographing this stuff for years. How do you add pics to this? This BLOG should be interesting if it's nothing else. 

All comments and criticism modestly accepted until deleted.