Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My nieces came by to visit me with their children. I had Sherry, Cathy & Marybeth and their children Jacey (6), Jenny (4), Chella (5), Robert (2)and Mark (2). I had a full house. Of course Sherry and Cathy switched my bedroom all around. They ran around rearranging things, they said they couldn't just sit down and relax. They had to do something. Everyone gets that feeling when they visit me. When ever some one visits me and I have to refind all my stuff over again. My sisters do the same thing when they visit me. I had so much fun with the kids. I bought them a tattoo kit and they all got tattoos.
When I was in Hollywood, I had to find some place to live and I had to find it fast. I look in the paper and saw an ad for a "mansion" that had a room with a bath available. I thought it sounded interesting so I went there. Well, it wasn't a mansion it was a mess. A very large house with about 10 bedrooms. I needed a place and it was only $400.00 a month so I thought I'd take it for a couple months. How bad can it be. As I found out the people that were living there I realized I was in a halfway house and these people were all going through drug, alcohol withdrawals. One of the guys came up to me and said this was a drug free / alcohol free home but if I wanted to smoke a joint then meet on the roof at 11:00PM. The girl that lived down stairs from me was a dancer at "crazy Girls" (a stripper) . I think she was also a hooker because there were always men coming and going into her room at all hours of the night. Next door to me was two lesbians that had a pit bull and they were always fighting and I mean fist fighting. A guy upstairs was an actor... He looked like an actor but worked as a dog catcher for the city of Downey. Another girl lived across from me and she would open her door and show me her naked body whenever she was stoned. She passed out in the bathroom several times. Her room was plastered with photos of Barbara Strisand. The manager was a woman that had jet black hair cut in a bobby type of a cut similar to many other people. She had a tattoo on her backside just above her butt. Her "husband" had tattoos all over his body and worked as a tattoo artist on Hollywood Blvd. They had a daughter named Destiny that was 13 and very beautiful with long blond hair. The perfect little girl that isn't aware of how strange her parents are. She was kind of like the pretty girl in The Adams Family. It was the weirdest place I ever lived. Everyone had a place to keep things in the kitchen and there was always someone that would steal. There were fights, not only between the lesbians but the guys would fight too.
I picked up my electric scooter. It's very kool. I already was able to do more than I would normally be able to do. I made it home without being out of breath. It's nice. Every body should have one.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Last night I went to the hospital with my blood pressure at 220/110 and pulse 102. I didn't want to take any chances so I went to the emergency room. High blood pressure can cause a stroke. My blood pressure came down after about three hours. Today I went to dialysis and they took off 8 LB of fluid. I was 134 lb before dialysis and 126 lb after dialysis. My legs were swollen with fluid. It was a first for me. I'm not sure if it's from having too much salt. I ate some veggie chips and also a combination of the predisone that is still getting out of my system. Now I'm back to normal or whatever normal is for me. My legs aren't swollen anymore and my face is starting to go down. I'm very tired so I'm going to try to get some sleep.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Tammy called me from the VA and my electric scooter came in. I have to be there on Wednesday at 1:30PM to pick it up and take it home.
I was introduced to Michael Franzese, the Mafia head, one of the few Mafia guys to have left the Mafia and is still living. At first I didn't know who he was but then got to know him. He was now a Born Again Christian and in-between visiting his parole officer he was trying to set up a foundation that would help keep young kids out of jail and away from the likes of The Mafia. Michael wanted me to work for him in building his "Breaking Out" foundation. I had several meetings about it with him and his son, John. I also met one of Michaels best friends from prison Barry Minkow. I was starting to be surrounded with ex cons. From Rap to Mafia. When Michael and I met for coffee, I always got the feeling we were being watched. We always met out in the open. I came back to New Jersey because I got sick and Michael is still working on getting "Breaking Out" up and running in Santa Monica. I see Barry on TV once in a while telling people how to avoid people like himself. In Hollywood they are kind of like celebrities. Sure they are criminals but they are criminal celebrities and Hollywood likes that. I wouldn't be surprised if they eventually got stars on Hollywood's walk of fame.
Today I had to deal with government offices to try to get my dialysis bill paid. I don't understand why I have to go through this. They know I can't live without dialysis so why do they make it so hard. My blood pressure was up to 210/110 and then went down to 179/102. I'm sure it's from worrying about the money for dialysis. In each dialysis clinic there are social workers that should be able to help with these things but I have to keep everything moving. A good social workers is worth their weight in gold. I have the bills covered in Morris County but now that I'm in Ocean County I have to do everything over again. I have to change my address by sending a letter along with something with my new address on it and asking them to transfer my paperwork to Ocean County. Of course, the person that handles my case is on vacation. I think you get the picture. Welcome to the government and their slogan "If we can make it impossible for you to understand what we're saying then we will and God Bless America". I left a message for Dr. Vida and Dr. Albanese asking for help.
I have to write An Advanced Directive that lets the doctors know when they can pull the plug. My doctor said that everyone should have one. It gives one person the responsibility of doing what you would like done if you can't talk. It also gives a person the power of attorney. It's a strange thing to write out. It also makes me a little nervous because you want to make sure you are brain dead and not just in a coma. The "Do no resuscitate" rule doesn't work because I want to be resuscitated. The thing I don't want is to be kept alive by a tube for months with no hope of coming out of the coma but then there are miracles. Two times I was in the hosptial being kept alive by a tube. If I had "do not resuscitate" would they have done that? Would I have died without the tube making me breath? I'll think about the advance directive today and write it out.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

My best friend from highschool, Jeff Thomas and his beautiful wife Cynthia are grandparents now. Their son Michael had a little girl.
I produced a DVD for the Christian hard rock group Pillar(www.Pillarmusic.com ) . I had the opportunity to work with many of the top Christian groups when I produced the TV series "Action House". I thought it was funny that they all had dreams to "cross over". That means they all would leave the Christian music behind in a minute if they could get a little play on the regular radio stations. No one is ever satisfied. Because some record labels see money in Christian music they are signing the groups but then realizing that it's not going to happen. Most record companies don't care about the music. They care about the money.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I was living in The San Fernando Valley, working for Greenside Records. A couple of rappers / Gangsters came over the house. El Demonio and a friend of his who's name I can't remember. They wanted to stay the night and leave first thing in the morning. El Demonio was a big fat guy and we just finished his album. They talked about some of the things they've done. Trying to sound as gangster as possible. I was getting tired. I went out to the store and returned. I bought cookies and milk. I told them I was just having a snack and then going to bed. It was funny watching these gangsters have cookies and milk; and then it was bedtime. Some gangsters!
I just drove through Newark, New Jersey. More than 1/2 of the black guys are wearing long white T-shirts that go down to their knees. It looks like it's a uniform. It's not a gang thing, it's just a fade. A fade that I sure hope goes away soon. It's stupid looking.
I'm sitting here waiting for the van to come and take me to dialysis for another day of fun. Another day of two inch needles in my arm and then I get to watch my blood come out of me from one tube, go through an artificial kidney and then back into me. The nurse will give me red blood cells to make up for what I'm missing and she'll also give me Vitamin D as well as Iron. They will also take about four pounds of fluid from me. So if I go into dialysis weighing 129 lb then I will leave weighing 125 lb. If I'm lucky I won't cramp. You know the cramps you get when you play football, the ones you get in your calf. When they take too much fluid then you get cramps and they have to put fluid back into you. Let's hope it's not one of those days. I have t he best nurses and doctors so I usually feel very good now after dialysis. In the beginning I didn't feel good but now I'm use to it. If you're new at this, remember that it gets easier and better. The Van is here.....

Friday, August 26, 2005

I have to update my "Advance Directive" and I have to do a "Power of Attorney" and a "Will". I was told my by doctor that if something happened to me and I couldn't make a decision, it would be a big mess if I didn't take care of these things. The government would take everything. I also have to write down all the special things I have, passwords, etc. I'm going to take care of these things this week. But where do I put them? I don't want someone pulling the plug too fast. I come from a family with ADD so I want to make sure they take their medications before pulling my plug.
Caroline is almost finished with 1/3 of my storage space. She's throwing away a lot of stuff and a friend Nobu is going to sell some of the stuff on Ebay. She found all the footage I have of Fergie from "Black Eyed Peas" and all the masters to my completed films. I have to figure out what to do with them when I get them. What is the latest thing? Should I put them all on DVD, Mini DV, or just put them all on a hard drive. I have original footage on 16mm film. Any suggestions? My niece treated me to an hour massage today so I feel very good. My skin gets very dry from diaylsis so the massage was able to work lotion into my skin.
I'm trying to get everything organized. I'm trying to pay all my bills. If I go into the hospital, I want to be ready and not have to worry about my bills. Moving from Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey to Brick, New Jersey my auto insurance went up about $200.00 and that sucks. I have to find a new auto insurance company. It is so unfair.
Michael Lagerfelt, Caroline's youngest son, is going to come and visit me Labor Day weekend for a day. He'll fly in from Los Angeles on Friday night/ Saturday morning. Then we'll be together on Saturday evening, Sunday and then he leaves for Los Angeles at 8:00PM on Sunday night so that he can play football on Monday. It's going to be a fast trip. This is the only time he can take a break to see me and he wants to come before the school season really starts and before Caroline comes to New York to do Hamlet. Nicholas, her older son, will be here in September before he's off to Sweden to join the Swedish Army.
My godson Mickey said to me, "you know what I'm going to miss the most when you're gone? The laughter."
MC Man was one of our "artists"at Greeenside Records. He was also in and out of jail because he just couldn't keep his big mouth shut. His music was very hard core and the gangsters loved it. It sold very good at car shows and at gangster concerts (which there aren't many of). There was one in Ensenada a few years ago. Gangs from all over California went to BajaFest(2000) in Ensenada. It was a disaster. I was there and I stayed in my room most of the time. You know they all spent time in jail because they were had their shirts off and they had tattoos on their stomachs. If you lined them all up with their shirts off I'm sure it said something. Everyone sat with their own gang. It was the 405s, 609s, 213s, 310, blablablas, blablablas and they are all take this very serious. I walked around a little but if you weren't bald you kind of stuck out. I was with Knight Owl most of the time and he's 6 foot something and everyone wanted to fight with him.Knight Owl was from San Diego (619). He walked around with his "click" waiting to perform and just looking for trouble. I got the feeling something was going to happen so I went back to my hotel room and watched TV. All of a sudden I could hear all the sirens. You could hear the commotion. They were putting them in wagons. I'm sure it was just want they wanted. They just love jail and being gangsters.
Today I took my last 10mg of predisone. I sure hope my face starts to get back to normal. I hate having the chipmunk cheeks. I should just shut up and be happy I'm breathing.
One day (2000) I was out with Big Tone, rapper and head of Greenside Records and we had an appointment over in Hollywood with a video editor. Tone was driving and a Hoochy girl was in the passenger seat. After the meeting we went down to the bar in the building for a drink (this was on the corner of Cahuenga & Sundset Blvd). The car was valet parked. I went out to the car and Tone and Junebug were still in the bar. All of a sudden Tone comes running out of the bar with Junebug behind. This was straight out of a movie script. They get in the car. I'm in the backseat and the girl jumps in the car. Tone takes off like a bat out of hell. This was a first for me. What they hell is going on. Tone said "I couldn't help myself, I just had to punch him". So Tone and Junebug punched this guy and then they ran out. I just wanted to get home. I had visions of prison with these idiots. I started to feel like a little gangster myself. I felt like I was caught in a low budget film. Is this a nighmare...take me home. It wasn't a nightmare...it was my life.
Running a record label is a full time job. I ran the label from a small ranch that had four horses and a pony that used to bite my ass every chance he got. The rappers would spend hours writing their beats. I executive produced Lighter Shade of Brown's new album. So I arranged for the studio and made sure they kept on schedule. Rappers have a tendency of goofing off in the studio so they could make the bill go sky high if you don't watch them. Visitors are always a pain in the ass but they have to have all their friends visit just so they can prove they are actually in the studio. I sure wish friends would stay away when they were working. Recording is a job just like anything else but they all think they have to invite everyone they want to impress. Then you have the guys that smoke in the studio. I'm talking grass. This is really stupid. But hey, Stupid is a compliment with rappers. "You know what I mean" seems to be the expression. They are always saying "You know what I mean?". Well, if you mean what I think you mean then yes, I do know what you mean but if you don't mean what you are saying then I don't know what you mean. The real problem is I don't think they do know what they mean.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

A few years ago, a friend of mine Sandy Martin ("barfly"-one of my favorite films) called me. She was producing a film called "Lock Down In The Casa" and she asked me If I would be interested in helping her. The film was in early stages and was written and would star Latino Gangster Rappers. I met the rappers and it looked like it would be fun. The script was good and the music was better. All written by Junebug Slim, Big Tone and a few of the others rappers. During the production I got close to the rappers. They would invite me over their house and I would be there when they were creating music. There was a room in the house called "the beat room" and they would stay in that room night and day. The smoke would bellow out of the room. You can just throw them in food and they would just keep writing. They asked me if I would run Greenside Records, the record label owned by Big Tone and his partner. They offered me a great deal so I took it. After all, I was bored and this could be fun. It was! Leading the label were two guys named "Lighter Shade of Brown". They had a couple big hits and now they wanted to have a come back. The two were Robert and Bobby. Greenside would executive produce their next album and I was to oversee the album. We also had Junebug Slim, a rapper from Sacramento, Knight Owl, a rapper from San Diego. Knight Owl was about 32, weighed about 250 lb and hated anything that was positive. Capone was another one of the rappers. He mostly was a writer but he did perform on the sound track. There were always an assortment of huchie girls hanging around. This stuff was very underground. Mexican rap is a very hard sell. I couldn't produce any concerts because the police wouldn't let you put on a concert without having more security then you can afford. They were affraid of violence / drive by shootings. They mostly sell their stuff at car shows out the back of their cars. Oh sure I got distribution but the distributors screw artists and that is a fact. Any artist that thinks they aren't getting screwed better look twice. If for some reason you are making all the money you should be, then you're very lucky. (more to come.....
I woke up this morning with a very fat face from the predisone. I wouldn't have recognized myself if I didn't know it was me. I have three more days of 10mg of predisone to take and then I'll go back to looking like Vinny. Oh, I hate this 'fat face' stuff, but it is nice to breath. I only weight 125 lb but I guess 50 of those pounds are my head.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I got a Medicaid card and this could help me move my dialysis from East Orange VA to Ocean Medical. I talked with Mr. Bowers in Adult Medicade in Ocean County and he's helping me transfer it from Morris County to Ocean County. I don't really understand why Medicaid is different from county to county. The social worker at the dialysis center at the Ocean Medical Center is helping me along with the social worker at East Orange VA. I hope this works because I don't know how much longer I can take an eight hour trip for dialysis, three times a week. Illegal immigrants get Medicaid but it's hard for Americans to get for our medical bills.
I heard of a NJ program that can help with electricity bills. I use oxygen 24/7 and I was looking for some assistance to help me because it's medically necessary. I talked with the power company and they referred me to a NJ government program that provides assistance. I called them and they told me this was they office but they didn't have any funding. I asked them what they do in the office if they don't have any funding? She paused and said "well, we have a lot to do". I said "What?", "Do you have anything that can help me?". She told me to call back in November and they will have discounts for heat. I'm going to call them again and see if she's still sitting on her ass waiting for the funding.
I called "Dollar a Day" insurance that New Jersey offers to people that are low income. But there is a hitch. You can't get it if you already had car insurance. This insurance is for people that don't have car insurance and can't afford insurance. You have to be getting Medicaid but not all Medicaid recipients get it. You have to have a "*" next to your name or SAIP in the bottom right corner of your Medicaid card. So, I guess what they are saying is that there is a program but no one can figure it out. This is a typical government assistance program.
I called the Governor's office (609) 292-6000 to try to get some information on the low cost insurance that New Jersey offers to people. I filmed a lot in and around the Governor's office back in 1994 that I learned if you want something in New Jersey call the Governor's office. I was transferred to a guy named Paul that talked so low I had to keep asking him to please repeat that. Every question I asked he seemed to be speaking lower. Finally I said "Paul, I just can't hear you please speak up." and I said that pretty loud. So he did. He told me to call "Dollar a Day Insurance". And he gave me the number: 800-652-2471. I've been looking for this number for awhile and no one had it. Finally I did what I should have done in the first place.
I had to go to NJ Motor Vehicle to get my drivers license address changed. You would think this is an easy one. After all, I've been driving for about 40 years. I was born in New Jersey. So I went to the motor vehicle with my drivers license, military ID and apartment lease. Well it wasn't enough. I had to go home and then come back to satisfy their "6 point ID Verification Program." In the time it took me to go home and get the rest of the documents I'm sure 5000 illegal Mexicans ran over the boarder. But I had to show my original birth certificate. What a country. I wasn't prepared for a photo and I looked like a bum. Now I'm sure I'll checked every time I go through security.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My storage space is getting organized in Santa Monica and I'm in New Jersey. Believe it or not, it's very emotional. There are things I put in storage over three years ago because I had no choice. Caroline lets me know what's there which helps me to put my life back in order. How we take for granted the things we have, until we lose them. Some of my favorite possessions are lost forever. Like the stuff I lost in a friend’s basement when he had a flood. And photos. They mean nothing to any one else, but so much to me. And then there are things that should have been thrown out long ago. Like my Versace shoes -- my wonderful loafers that were worn out, but oh so comfortable. My constant companions during my days running Greenside Records, the Latino rap label. The rappers seemed to like them, simply because they were Versace. I had Versace jeans, too, that fit like a glove. So it’s more than just a label. I’ll never forget driving around in my blue 78 Fiat convertible, wearing sunglasses, rapper Big Tone in my passenger seat on the way to the airport. But those days are past and now we are here! More about that later.
It’s Tuesday and I'm off to dialysis at East Orange VA hospital. It's about a nine hour trip, especially in the summer. I'm waiting for all my paperwork to be completed so that I can get dialysis down here at the Ocean Medical Center in Brick, NJ which is only ten minutes away. I'll miss all my nurses and a few of the guys that I've been with for a couple years. Ernie has had diarrhea for a month and now he weighs less than I do. John is an ex-marine/ex-post office worker and a natural leader. He could run the entire hospital. Mr. Edwards knows something about every subject. Mr. King was in World War II and looks great at 80 something. Carter eats tons of ice than anyone and the longest subs during dialysis. Mr. Johnson has been married for 50 years and loves playing the Pick-It. A fun group of guys. I'm the token white guy.

Monday, August 22, 2005

3:43PM Santa Monica, California: Caroline dropped about a thousand small flyers all over the parking lot of the storage area. I know they are going to hate me. She asked if she can throw away my Versace shoes. I thought for a minute and then said, "Yes, that was another life.” That wasn't easy. "Keys on a chain?" “Yes, just throw them away.” If keys have been in storage for three years, chances are I don't need to open those doors anymore. Throw our all clothes. Save DVDs, they can be sold. All my master footage save. I can make money off that. Maybe. I'm so happy to start this process and Caroline is just the person to do it for me. She knows how important all this stuff is to me. Even though it's just "stuff".
2:40PM Santa Monica, California: Caroline went to my storage area and met Laura for a first look at my stuff. When she saw what she was facing, she screamed. She wasn’t able to see my film negatives because they were covered with junk. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure, or so they say. I have a Camera cover similar to the one Charlie Chaplin used on his noisy cameras, a refrigerator, boxes of Kings Kids Cards, DVDs of a Pillar film I produced, personal photos, my collector photos, clothes that I haven't worn in over three years. Now is the time to clear this all up. I'm going to do it. The first thing I have to do is get the film logged, so I know what I have. One step at a time.
Bill Turner sent me a DVD of a video we did with Pam Dawber one wacky weekend in Palm Springs creating The Pam Dawber Celebrity Gold Tournament. It was stupid and done out of boredom and I hope I have the copy that can be put on the shelf forever. I still haven't looked at it. Bill is a good and long time friend. He knows the Hollywood game. He knows the ups and downs. Bill lives in Downey with his dog. His ear is falling off. Not the dog’s -- Bill’s. He's so old, his ear is falling off -- earatitis, I think. He watches more TV than anyone I know. Tivo is his best friend. Bill watches two shows at once. He especially loves ice skating. He is one of the most creative people I know. I would love to just sit around him and see what he comes up with next that would make a good TV show. He just rattles off sitcoms, stories that can turned into series and show idea. As a matter of fact, he created the Fairy Tale Theatre with Shelly Duval. That was a big success but Bill didn't get to cash in on the success. That's how it is sometimes when star takes over. They want all the credit. Welcome to Hollywood. Always use attorneys and put everything in writing. That's a lesson I wish I learned.
Actress Enid Rogers called to say hello. Enid is about 93 but you’d never know it. She starred with Caroline in The Jockey Club Stakes. When Enid needed a knee replacement, Caroline invited her to California so that she’d be able to take care of her. We put a bed in the living room and everything was set up to make it easy for Enid. Then Caroline got a job and I was left taking care of Enid. We had loads of fun. I didn't have to bathe her, however. God is good. Enid does like to tip it a bet each night. Don't say you heard that from me.
I'm talking with Laura at my storage area. Caroline Lagerfelt will go there tomorrow and get a new lock for my storage area and then start to organize it for me. Then my life can start to come back together again. I haven't seen that stuff for three years.
With a goal set to organize me, my sisters attacked today. Pretending they were there for lunch, they threw away about three bags of clothes that I haven't worn in years. They also held up things, like my underwear, wondering how I fit into them. Janet held up my "Fruit of the Looms" and said, "These wouldn't even hold grapes." Then she started to laugh so much she ran into the bathroom. I had to keep walking behind my other sister Rosemary as she keeps trying to sneak things into the garbage. Then to top it off, one of my nurses came by to look over my medications which was a perfect invitation for my sisters to tell family secrets about Vinny. Two hours later I had stomach craps and needed to lay down. My sisters left and the nurse stayed on. She took my pulse for a long time. Her hand slid down my wrist while she was taking it, like she couldn't find my pulse. She listened to my chest, my back and then she tucked me in. I napped.
extra extra: It looks like Caroline Lagerfelt will be back on the boards in New York City. She will be playing Gertrude in a Classic Rep Production of Hamlet. Don't know too much more but now all speed ahead to get Caroline back in New York. Oh, why couldn't it be a light comedy. .
Caroline will start to help me with my storage area in Santa Monica. I am a pack rat. I have so much stuff that I don't need and I've been keeping for years. All I want from the storage is my film. I have negative 16mm film, one inch video masters, Beta Masters, DAT audio, and lots of copies. I need to have it all logged in so I know what is there. I also have lots of personal photos that I want. I'm a little nervous about Caroline seeing the space but I do trust her now. She's going to scream when she sees it.
I woke up this morning to one hundred geese flying in formation. I guess they were going south for the winter; the summer is just about over.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

While the president of the USA vacations a lady named Cindy that lost her son waits outside his house to talk with him. Now, I just heard on the news there is a connection between Cindy and a woman that assisted terrorism. By the time the press is finished with her I'm sure they will be saying that she once slept with Bin Ladin.
My friend Sonia called me this morning. She had a dream last night and wanted to know what it meant. She was walking in a dark hall, naked. I couldn't figure it out. Any suggestions?
OSCAR! Not the award, the dog. We (Caroline, Nick and Mike) drove to Santa Ana to pick out a Golden Retriever. The kids wanted a dog and now was the time. So we were off to get him. The dogs came in from Iowa and we had the pick of the litter which numbered seven. It took about twenty-five minutes to settle on Oscar. It was great fun. When we got Oscar home, he got sick. Puppy “strangles” or something like that. The owner told us to bring him back, that she would put him down and we could choose another. We couldn't do that. The boys already fell in love with him and it was too late but the vet bill was climbing. At close to $1000.00 I called Oscar over and I told him he better get better or it's doggie cemetery time, even Caroline has her limits. Oddly Oscar got better. You just had to be firm with him.
Then Caroline wanted me to take Oscar to puppy training which I agreed to do. Well, it was eight weeks of liver treats and a clicker. Sit-click, click, liver treat, down, click, click , liver treat. The liver treats were about $50.00 for a small box and the dog loved them. To him, they were like caviar. If someone gave me caviar every time I did something, I'd do what they wanted, too. After eight weeks of that Caroline suggested I take the dog to a Puppy Party. I didn't really want to but I did. It was very stupid. About six adults sitting in a room with their puppies all smelling each other and them saying "Aren't they cute". I couldn't wait for that to be over.
During this time I was getting used to the dog park. A big park filled with dog shit. People come in and they say hello to your dog and not you. They know the dogs by name but couldn't care less about the person. They are dog people. Some of them have about five dogs at a time. These are the dog walkers. How much shit can one person pick up at a time?
When I got home, Caroline had the clicker in her hand. Now I understand what she was doing. She clicked and both Oscar and I looked. Oh No!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

My nephew-in-law Eric came over last night and put together a shelf that Denise bought me. It looks great. Eric is married to one of my sister Rosemarie's girls, Marybeth. He sells real estate, she works for SAS. They have two kids Eric, Jr. and Mark. It's Saturday and I have to start getting ready to go to dialysis. I get picked up at 8:30AM. I have to travel the VA and I have about an 1 1/2 hour drive. Once I'm there I get into my chair, they stick these three inch needles into my left arm veins and then start to pump all the blood out of me. They do this for four hours and my blood comes out several times. I get cold and tired and fall asleep (If I'm lucky) and then they give me my blood back and I'm ready to go for the weekend (Provided I drink too much fluid). It's a good thing. The alternative is not good.

Friday, August 19, 2005

I think I’m the only one that produced a movie about homelessness and then became homeless. It was very odd. I found that while producing the film “The Sidewalk Motel”. I neglected all the things to keep me going and then found myself out in the streets. I did have a car and a cell phone so I was able to keep it a secret. I slept in the car at night and would run over a friend’s house to take a shower and get ready for the day. I eventually got my self up on my feet again. I had everything I owed in storage so I would have to make stops at the storage area in Hollywood. I lived out of the storage space with several others that I would see also coming to their space. Living in Hollywood….storage. That’s the life! At least the rent was cheap but the neighbors were a little shady. I guess I was a neighbor to them.
Making “The Sidewalk Motel” gave me lots of insights to homeless people and I wasn’t afraid of them. Many of the homeless downtown were just like you and me. They just got behind and then before you knew they were out on the streets. I didn’t have a family so I didn’t have to worry about anyone else, but families have a lot to worry about because they have children. Downtown the children get molested in the flop motels. It’s an awful picture but it’s true. I made friends with a couple that had two boys. They are featured in the film. They made just enough money for the night then they had to go out into the streets again; find the places to eat while the father would find day-work or beg and then get a room again for the kids. But no one really cares about homelessness. No one in the government, that is. They think… ‘the homeless don’t vote so the homeless don’t matter’.
When I was at the Ocean Medical Center I have to say it was also nice that you could actually understand the person making announcements. I don't know why some companies put someone that does not speak properly or clearly as spokesperson for them. You wouldn't hire someone to write letters for you if they didn't know how sentence structure and they didn't know how to spell the words. So why hire someone that speaks broken English to a be the person that is making the announcements. Congratulations to Ocean Medical Center because understanding is very important in the hospital.
I just ate a just picked Jersey tomato and it was so delicious. If you've lived in New Jersey and you like tomatos then you know the Jersey tomato is the best. Now, If I can just find a juicey peach.
Another day another miracle! Sometimes we are looking all over for the miracles when they are happening right around us all the time. I woke up today to a handful of miracles. It's a great day. My good friend Betsy Van Patten called me. It was so nice talking with her. I lost her for a little while. She lives in Los Angeles. Betsy is very beautiful and very talented, now she's a beautiful, talented mom.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

What is Hollywood thinking of? TV sucks. Have you looked at TV lately? Have you seen the promos? I mean, does someone eating bugs and worms made you want to watch the show? Fat people loosing weight? Does this make you want to watch the show to see how much they lost? Is your life so boring? Will they soon have a show with skinny people and we watch them eat and get Fat and then they can get on the Fat show. Oh, this is the Food Network. As we watch all the chefs gain weight.
Are you sick of GEICO commercials? I am! Are you sick of James Earl Jones’ voice? I am! Are you sick of Paris Hilton, Brad Pitt, and Shows that make people stars? “American Millionaire” reruns? Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, shows that builds poor people houses but don’t show them how to run them and pay for them after they leave. I just don’t get it. Why don’t they teach them how to work to afford the house?
Now we are going to be bombarded with TV shows on 9/11. Haven’t we lived it enough? I know it happened and I won’t forget but I really can’t look at that disaster anymore. I think it’s too early and needs at least 10 years. Even the children still remember it. When Hollywood makes its “9/11” film, it should be ‘history’ and not still fresh in our minds.
I woke up! I'm breathing! I'm alive! Yahoo! The day after getting home from a week in the hospital. My niece, Denise, was here when I arrived and helped me with all my pills and also helped me throw away things. Everyone loves to throw away things at my place. Then another friend Carlos Colon dropped by in the early evening and dropped off a bunch of fruit. Very nice to see him. I now live close by him. I'm also very lucky to have my godson, Mickey, who looked after me at the hospital and helped me by bringing stuff from my house and of course, throwing away stuff from my refriderader. He's a great godson and my only godson. Great to be home.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I'm home after seven days at the Ocean Medical Center in Brick, New Jersey. 911 and then it was all up to emergency. I couldn't breath. The first thing I noticed when I came back to thinking was the amount of white people. I was used to the East Orange VA Hospital and there I"m in the minority. What a difference. When I first started dialysis years ago I asked my doctor if I was the only white guy on dialysis because everyone seemed black. He said no, it was the area of the hospital. But actually there are more blacks with Kidney disease for some reason. Anyway, I had lots of tests and met some very good doctors. This place is close to my home now that I moved so it's important to find doctors close by me. I seem to be going to the hospital once a month and I need good doctors close by. Dr. Vida is a great doctor to start with and maybe he can introduce me to a good Pulmonary Doctor, Heart Doctor and Renal Doctor. Nurses must have a special training where they teach them the many ways of saying "I'll be right back". Because there are so many ways they can say that and leave for an hour. "I have to check with the doctor", "someone's calling me". "We have an emergency". "One moment please", "Coming!". And it goes on and one. Why don't they just say "I hear you but I'm just so damn tired I just need to rest", or "Why don't you just shut up a minute and give me a break". I just got home from the hospital so I'm going to rest. I'll be back later.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

My sisters: I am very fortunate to have two great sisters, Rosemarie and Janet. I don't know what I would do without them. Growing up there were rules with my sisters that my mother made. I wasn't allowed to go into their room. I wasn't allowed to look in their purse. I always had to put the toilet seat down. You couldn't pull their hair but they can pull yours. You weren't allowed to hit them but they were allowed to hit you. Sometimes you had to run to the pharmacy with a note, that they would give you from the bathroom, and you would have to rush to the pharmacy, give the note to the pharmacist and then rush home with a big box.
My sisters are always there when I need them. I love when we get together and laugh. It was nice waking up hospitalitial and seeing my sisters.
Animals in Hollywood get treated better than most of us. My friend Caroline sends her animals to the vet more times than I went to a doctor when I was growing up. Animals that I grew up with never saw a vet, my mother treated them like they treated me. You either got better or you would die. My father was very Italian and he didn't believe in doctors. Caroline has a dog, a cat, a rabbit, a couple chickens, fish in the house and coy in the pond. The chicken got sick and she sent him to the vet, the vet put the chicken in intensive care and then Caroline wanted me to visit the chicken. I said 'this is way I draw the line', I'm not visiting a sick chicken. The cost of saving the chicken was a couple hundred dollars. I had to say "Caroline, chicken is about 79 cents a pound, what are you doing. Then the rabbit had a little bump in his ear and he was off to the vet; after the vet and $100.00 the rabbit was back. Oscar, the dog is a regular at the vet. Especially now that he's getting older. If Oscar isn't going to the bathroom at the right time, he's in the vet. If he doesn't want to eat, he's going to the vet. She sends him to the vet and spends thousands of dollars on the dog. He's a golden retriever and a beautiful dog but I swear the dog just looks over at me in amazement whenever he's off to the vet again. And the Cat, Sushi, went to the vet because he peed on the couch. The Vet sent him to an Animal shrink, the kitty shrink said it wasn't the cat's fault it was Caroline's fault for not saying goodbye to the cat properly. Now whenever she leaves the house she has to say goodbye to the cat and make sure she has clean kitty litter or Sushi will pee on the couch. In Santa Monica there are doggie salons, doggie bakeries where they bake treats just for your dog. Animal clothing stores where you can purchase animal jackets and boots for over $100.00. I grew up wearing hand-me-downs. I hope I don't sound like I'm a jealous of an animal.
I created The Video Fan Club as a mail order business for teens. I produced videos of young teen stars talking to their fans. I then made this into a kids TV show and pitched it around to TV production companies. I had an attorney so I would make sure I was doing things right. I found a production company and they said yes. They liked the idea. This was 'my big break". I was so excited. I was going to do 13 shows to start with. We worked on the contract and although it wasn't a lot of money it was something and I wanted it. Then my attorney talked with them and he wanted to get me more money, don't they all. In his negociations he turned down the deal without me knowing it. I was upset and I told him to go back and just accept what they said. I didn't care. Something was more then what I had now, which was nothing. He went back but they said no. I was furious and I fired him. I went back and talked with the production company and they decided to move on . There went my big break. Oh Well. I learned a lot but I was sick of learning things. After a depression, I just had to brush myself off and start all over again. In this town you need an attorney to protect you from your attorney.
My Big Break! Hollywood is a series of "Big Breaks". I was introduced to a writer by my friend Caroline Lagerfelt. He wrote a book called "Mexican Standoff" and it was just sitting on the shelf collecting dust. I read the book and thought it would make a good movie. The writer said if I was interested I could have the rights to it and produce it. I made a deal with him, purchased the rights for $1.00 and was off to produce the book. I purchased a case of books from the publisher and sent it out to several people. I got a call from Wayne Powers, a young director that was signed with CAA. Wayne liked the book and wanted to write a screenplay with his wife so we made a production deal for him to do that. He and his wife had a production company called "The Powers That Be". I arranged a dinner for Wayne to meet the writer and we were off to making a film. We talked about all the possible actors that could play the leads. Then Wayne went off to write the screenplay. After they wrote the screen play they let agents at CAA read it and they liked it and wanted to get behind him so that he can direct the film. His agent called me into CAA and wanted to represent me too. They were going to package the film. I thought for sure this was "my big break" being represented by CAA, little did I know. I can't remember the agents name but he had an English accent; watch out for agents with English accents. What he really wanted to do was take the book from me and give the entire thing to Wayne. Eventually I was just an Associate Producer and they were having meetings about producing the book behind my back. The agent told me that this was the 'big time' and I should just let them do their thing if I wanted this to be made into a film. I didn't have an attorney representing me, which was my big mistake. Even the writer turned against me. If it wasn't for me nothing would be happening and now I was left in the dark because I was just 'one of the little people.' This is what happens in Hollywood. The people start seeing money and then they will try to take control. Remember someone is always after your job. Well, the movie never got made. Like thousands of others and Wayne didn't direct. I learned a lesson on this one. But it sure didn't get me down. I just brushed myself off and got right back in the game.

Monday, August 08, 2005

My mother! Now is the time for the primal scream. I used to tell friends that I was grounded just so they thought my mother cared. She didn’t. She never went to parent/teacher night or participated in other student/parent activities. I never worried about getting a bad report card, because she’d sign it without even looking at it. But, by far, her most appalling habit was that she didn’t think twice about revealing the most intimate details about herself or her family. I was dating a girl named Rita back in 1967 and nearly fainted when I heard my mother tell Rita that she cut the crotch out of her underwear because it made it easier to go to the bathroom. My mother could have made a fortune if she’d worked for “Frederick’s of Hollywood.” She invented the crotchless panty long before they even thought of it.
When one thinks of an Italian mother, the vision appears of a loving little lady at the stove stirring a delicious pot of meatballs and sauce. My mother burnt just about everything she cooked. Ah, yes. Memories of burnt toast being scraped into the sink, burnt pieces of lasagna stuck to the sides of the pan. Funny thing is, now, I like things burnt. Waiters are always a little taken aback when I ask that the chef burn something. They usually do it, but not without a signed affidavit that I wanted it that way.
I am not saying she was a bad mother. Being the youngest of four children, I was lucky I got my shots. I had everything I needed but not everything I wanted. Her philosophy was simple: “If you want something, go out and get it for yourself!” And she was right. And forget about brand names! That’s no way to save money. When the Beatles were popular she bought me an album "The Beatles...sung by The Bugs". And she didn't know the difference. She bought generic of everything. I never had the real thing. That’s one thing I didn’t carry over from my childhood. Today I buy the name brands of everything.
My mother’s most endearing quality was her laugh. Somehow she could always find the funny side of a difficult situation. We had to leave my Uncle Pat's funeral because she passed gas (and it wasn’t a little put-put). It was loud enough for all of us to hear. Well, she started in a fit of laughing that got us all started. We left before she actually peed her pants.
My mother was also very unpredictable. One day I was walking towards my house and saw a hearse parked out front. Little did I know that my mother was dating the undertaker who buried my father some time before. Apparently, they’d become – uh – friends when my mother worked as a school crossing guard in front of the funeral home. I was often invited for lunch. One day they sent me in the back to get my lunch and in the back room was a stiff lying on a slab. I ran out in terror. They just thought that was hilarious . I had nightmares for weeks.
Yes, my mother was quite the merry widow. She made friends with a group of widows and divorcees who called themselves the Merry Widows and the Gay Divorcees and went from being my father's wife to being a party girl with a bunch of wacky girlfriends. They were like teenagers. Her closest friends were Delores Butter and Jeanie Krump. They all smoked, drank and cursed a lot.They loved dirty jokes. Jeanie Krump was the wildest and was with a different man every weekend. She didn’t smell so great, either. My mother said she was like a French whore because she didn't take a shower but she kept putting on perfume. I hope this doesn't offend any French whores out there.
I asked my mother if she was going to get married again. She said that the first time you get married for love the second time you get married for money. At least it was nice hearing that she loved my father. She never got married. (I'm going to write a lot more about my relationship with my mother but I can't now write it all at once- too traumatic).

Sunday, August 07, 2005

My sister Rosemarie came over my place and washed my clothes for me while I was at dialysis. She must have washed my socks and underwear with my sheets which are red. Now all my underwear and socks are pink. I hope I don't have to take my pants off in front of my doctors. Fortunately I was used to this because my mother did it all the time. It's the reason I hated taking gym in high school. I never knew what color my underwear would be.
BACK TO HOLLYWOOD Hollywood is filled with car whores. I was driving my friends car through Brentwood. Remember Brentwood from OJ Simpson fame? The car was a 1972 white Jaguar convertible, it was beautiful but it broke down. I was left on the street waiting for help sitting on the car. Everyone started to flirt with me, women and men alike. I can assure you that if I had an older model Ford Taurus no one would have wanted to help me. They were asking to help because of the car, not me. They saw money. The almighty dollar. I didn't need help because I called A.A.A.
Whenever I drove Allen Carr's Rolls Royce, Mercedes convertible or Cadillac convertible people would flirt with me – or rather, the car. We called them car whores. I did notice that Mercedes people only flirted with the Rolls, but Cadillac drivers did flirt with Mercedes and Rolls but not other Cadillacs. It was all right to own a Cadillac, but if you wanted to climb that status ladder, you had to strive for better. Those lowly peons who owned cars of lesser value, flirted with the Rolls, Mercedes and the Cadillac. They would beep, wave and do anything to get my attention. I was happy when I was back in my own car, with no one paying attention to me.People in Hollywood are religious though but their vision of Jesus, or Allah, or Buddha or whoever is one who doles out money. They pray to win the lottery or find financing for their next project. Forget about their souls. Who even knows if the soul exists. That's just the way it is. Oh, sure there are a few that aren't like that, but the majority is. I was lucky to find a few that weren't like that to be my friends.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

This morning I had to call 911: It was 6:00AM and I had to use my Medical Alert Button to call 911. It was good to see that it worked because I couldn't talk. I was trying to breath and I couldn't really walk around. I got to my chair, pushed the button and then I did a nebulizer of xeopenex. It worked!. By 6:23AM I was starting to breathe much better. I was okay by the time a police officer arrived. I took a few hits of 6 L of oxygen and then the crew arrived from Brick Hospital. They took my blood pressure which was 170/90. I took my blood pressure pill then. I should have taken it at 6:00AM but when you’re having a hard time breathing, it becomes a priority. Thank God I didn't need to go to the hospital. The van to take me to dialysis at the VA Hospital was due to arrive at 9:30 AM. I have to find a place closer to get dialysis.

It's been a couple hours now and I got a little light-headed after the 911 crew left but I just took it easy. I’m glad I called 911 when I did. I don't want to be intubated again, so it's important to catch myself before it gets too far. I can't tell you how thankful I am to have made it through that episode. Now I'm on my way to the VA for dialysis.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The VA hospital recommended I see one of their psychiatrists back in 1997. I was living in Los Angeles at the time and my medical doctors thought that because I was taking so much prednisone, I should talk with a psychiatrist. So they set me up with Dr. Nokia. This doctor was a little odd; I got the impression that he needed therapy more than I did. All the other doctors wore white coats but mine wore a black coat. I asked him why and he said, “What significance does this have to you? I said, “None, I was just wondering” Then he asked me if I ever thought about ending my life. I said “No.” He asked me if I was depressed and I said, “No.” His disappointment was palpable.
He was about six feet tall and wore his hair combed straight down onto his forehead. Needless to say, I didn’t ask him why. He started asking me lots of questions and I tried my best to answer them. He wouldn’t answer my questions, though. He said, “I don’t give answers.” I asked, “So what am I here for if you don’t give answers?” I knew I was in for some strange sessions. He asked if he could tape our sessions and I told him I didn’t mind. When the hour was up, I bolted out of there.
Personal Appearances can make big money. If you're an actor on a TV series or you have a movie that is popular with teens, particularly teenage girls, then you can make good money on the weekends. I first did this with Greg Bradford after his movie "Skatetown USA". The movie was going to open in Venezuela and they wanted him to over there to do some TV promotion. One thing I’ve learned since this episode, get your money in advance! If you don't, you're not going to see that money. Especially if it involves a foreign country. That's what happened in Venezuela. I got some money in advance but they did everything they could not to pay me the balance for Greg's appearance. It was a live TV show and the time was ticking away before he was to go on the show. Then the excuses started to come. We had no choice but to put Greg in the men's room and say he wasn't coming out until we got the money. Sure enough, they got the money and everything went smoothly after that. They apologized and we were all very nice but I assure you if Greg would have gone on the show we wouldn't have had a chance.

By the way, Venezuela was my first experience with cocaine -- and a straw. Not that I used it, but that’s how they sold it. In a straw. At the time, I didn't know that Venezuela was one of the drug capitals of the world.

When Rob Stone was appearing in "Mr. Belvedere," we made several personal appearances. One of them was during Thanksgiving. Kirk Cameron from "Growing Pains" was also appearing along with Tony Danza. This was in Florida at a Skate Rink. The producer of the event paid lots of money to the stars, I'm talking thousands of dollars to just appear and sign autographs. The teens paid about $15.00 to get in and then they purchased posters, photos, t-shirts, buttons, you name it he had it there to sell. The girls went wild when they saw Kirk. He was very popular with the girls. Much more popular then Rob or Tony Danza. Tony did some of his personal appearances in bars so we didn't see him all the time but when we did he was lots of fun. Tony has a successful talk show now and. Kirk is a born-again Christian and wouldn't even think of doing this. It was different then. I remember having to push Kirk and Rob out of the path of a group of charging girls. Kirk was there with his mother/manager (Barbara) and his agent. I'll remember the name of his agent later but she was one of the toughest in Hollywood. We all had Thanksgiving dinner together that year. It was fun while we were there, but once we were back in Hollywood, it was like I never existed. Once you’re back in Hollywood, the shield goes back up. When I learned that Kirk was now a born-again Christian, I called Barbara and told her I would like to say hi to him. Now, Kirk and I were friends, I thought. But either he never got the message or he just didn’t bother to call. I suspect the former. That goes back to the story how I don't think parents should be personal managers. I'm sure they think they are protecting the stars. They don't realize they are just making them look foolish. Most stars get paid for making personal appearances for charities too as well as receiving great gifts and free dream vacations, all first-class of course. But once the show is off the air they are back to riding coach.

In the early 90s, Aaron Russo asked me if I wanted to be a personal manager with Aaron Russo Management. I thought this was going to be my "big break". In Hollywood things always seem like they are going to be your "big break". Aaron was well respected as a personal manager and producer. He managed the career of Bette Midler and The Manhattan Transfer. As a producer he produced "The Rose", "Trading Places" and "Wise Guys" among many others. He gave me an office at Paramount Studios in his suite of offices. Aaron yelled a lot and would often get upset and start screaming. He had a young star and wanted to sign Cher. Cher was calling his office and they were both wooing each other. Bette called the office a couple times and everyone would know because a whisper would go out over the entire office that "Bette was on the phone", "Bette was calling Aaron." When Bette called Aaron would take the call but not before closing his door. I loved being in the offices at Paramount. I got some press from The Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety making the announcement about my new position. I received calls of congratulations from friends and some people I didn't even know. Then after about a month or so, Aaron decided that he didn't want to go into management. I tried to convince him in several meetings in his office but he was determined and I had to go back on my own. I was very disappointed but that was Hollywood and you have to pull your self together and start all over again. Disappointment is a big part of working in showbusiness. I later found out that Aaron went into politics but was never as successful as he was in showbusiness.
I lived in Hollywood for about twenty years and during that time I had many jobs. I was an agent for a little while and I hated it. It's an awful job. Very low salary and you have to live the job. I was used to that stuff because I was a workaholic so I loved working but you really had to be a back stabber and I just wasn't good at that. One of the things I remember the most was the long days. Before you knew it you were putting your shoes back on in the morning and starting all over again. Being an agent is an endless job and your clients never appreciate anything you do. They don't know how hard it is to sell them. Especially when you have unknown actors. Just when you get them some attention they leave you for a better agent. One of my clients was Danny Bonaduci, as a matter of fact he still owes me $35.00 because if I wanted to submit him for a role I needed pictures and so I had to pay for his pictures to be duplicated and he never paid me back. I was his agent during the time when he really didn't want to act. He didn't want to do anything. I think I remember he said he was building a gazabo. This was with Jack Rose Agency. I think I only did this for about a year. During that time is when I met Allen Carr and he said to me that I wasn't an agent I was a personal manager. One day he sent a limo over for me at the agency and I wasn't an agent any more. Thank God. I loved being a personal manager. I represented unknown actors that started with no credits and in a matter of time I was able to get them working. I represented Greg Bradford (Skatetown USA, Zapped) , Katherine Kelly Lang, Betsy Russell (Private School, Avenging Angel, Tomboy), Corine Boherer, Rob Stone (Mr. Belvedere) , Ryan Lambert (Monsters Inc, Kids Inc.), Kelly became a big soap opera star, Corine you'll see on the Dell Commercials today. The one where the boy knows exactly what Dell Computer he wants and the parents just look at him. The only problem with personal management is that you get very close to your clients. You become friends and with some clients you get hurt. Being a personal manager isn't much different from being an agent, especially when it comes to them leaving you as soon as they start to get the attention of other personal managers. Once you get an actor where their head is above the water, they have money and they can finally breath then you have to be careful. There's always someone in Hollywood to steal your clients away if they think they can make money off them.
What a business.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Caroline Lagerfelt and I have been friends for about thirty years. She’s controlling and I’m passive aggressive so I guess that works for us. At least that’s what she says I am. We both have different memories about how we met. I know we met backstage at Circle In The Square during “Scapino”, she thinks we met at Joe Allen’s Bar. She said she was looking across the bar and I was there, I say she was backstage at Circle trying to get the attention of the director so she can get a part on Broadway. Whatever it was, it happened and we’ve been friends ever since. Sure we had arguments but they were always my fault, she said, due to my passive aggressive personality. And she knows best because she’s been going to therapy all her life.
I’m not going to tell you her credits. You can google her name and find them out although her Broadway credits are the most impressive but most people know her best from playing Cheech's wife on "Nash Bridges", a TV show that starred Don Johnson.
One of my favorite Broadway shows that she was in was “Constant Wife” with Ingrid Bergman. I must have seen the play twenty times. I even went to Washington when they played there at The Kennedy Center. Ingrid Bergman was so sweet. I remember when she broke her foot and she still did the play in a wheel chair. You can’t find too many actors today that would do that. Today, they sprain their finger and they are closing down production. I’ll never forget when Caroline and I made Lobster Quiche and Caroline invited Ingrid Bergman to dinner. This was when Caroline had an apartment down in the village. It was a small apartment and right before the dinner party Caroline decided that she needed new furniture and she had to strip the windows to their natural wood. She always has to make things frantic. If we aren’t rushing she’s not happy. Caroline bought bean bags to sit on and we stripped the windows, now knowing what a big job that was. We just finished when the guests were arriving and Ingrid Bergman arrived with her daughter Isabella Rossellini. I will never forget Ingrid Bergman having a cocktail sitting on a bean bag. She laughed and said “this is different”. Isabella was very soft spoken and very beautiful, this was way before she was a movie star. It was an altogether great evening and we all had a very fun time. I never met anyone in my life more gracious then her. The quiche was a big hit and it was the first and last time we ever made it. We have to make it again some time.

I was invited to Malcolm-Jamal Warner’s birthday part that he was having at the UN so Caroline and I went to that. It was very dress up and very fancy. Imagine a birthday part at the United Nations. Malcolm was living high because you make a lot of money on a series. At the party just before dinner was served, Malcolm’s mother, Pam, made an announcement to the guests that their were lots of famous people here and she would appreciate it if we wouldn’t ask for autographs. Caroline and I just looked at each other in amazement and then we looked around. The only person I could see that was a little famous was former mayor Dinkins. We couldn’t believe that she said that. I sure didn’t see Bill Cosby. When a major star is in a room you would know it. I remember once I was in a room when Elizabeth Taylor entered. All of a sudden the room got quiet. You knew something was happening and then you noticed that it was Elizabeth Taylor. Now, she’s a movie star.

I moved to Hollywood before Caroline. She always made fun of me for being in LA and for having a cell phone. Now she's in Los Angele and I think the cell phone is attatched to her ear. She never stops talking and she talks in English, Swedish, French, German and a couple other languges as well as an assortment of accents that seems to change with the person she's talking too or the role she's going to be auditioning for.
Every since I could remember I knew I didn't belong in Jersey City. I should have been living someplace else. We didn't even know what a playground was. I didn't like playing stick ball in the streets. You had to stop every two minutes for a car. What fun is that? The earliest I can remember was having the Chicken Pocks on Easter and of course eating a worm. My family never lets me forget the day I ate a worm. My first day of school I went to the bathroom in the my pants. That was awful. I think even the first day of school I went by myself. My mother wasn't the type to go to school and meet the teachers. The only time she would meet the teachers was when I was getting in trouble. Being the fourth kid, my family was tired of doing all the things they did for the first three kids. For example: There were hundreds of pictures of my sisters Rosemarie and Janet. Hundreds of my brother Joe, the first boy, but you would have to look hard to find one picture of me. I remember when I had to bring a baby picture of me into school. Everyone in class had to bring a picture in and then we would all have to guess who each picture belong to. My mother couldn't find a picture of me so she had me bring in a picture of my brother, an 8 by 10. She said no one would know the difference. My picture was last to be guessed.

My early memories of my siblings was listening to them argue about who didn't want to watch me. "I don't want him, you take him." I was like a punishment for them. Then I would have to tag along. Going out with my brother was always torture. One day he was playing with lighter fluid. He ran the fluid all around the ground and then with out me knowing it he ran it up my leg and on my back. He told me to light it and when I lit it I watched the flame run in a circle on the ground and then it ran behind me and right up my leg. I was on fire. Thankfully there was a pile of sand that I was able to jump into. Then there was the time when he shaved a mohawk cut on my head. I was always flinching whenever he came up behind me. It seemed that getting punched was a sign of affection. I couldn't enter a room without him being in the closet and jumping out to scare the shit out of me, or being under the bed and then reaching up and grabbing me. Joe was five years older than me. Once he locked me outside my house naked. He depantsed me in front of his friends. Oh, yea! Pink belly. Did you ever get that. That's when they hold you down and slap your belly until you can't take it any more. It's not worse though than getting tickled until you pee and they did that often. I guess you're wondering how I made it through childhood. Sometimes I wonder too. My brother called me up the other day. He was going through his twelve step program and he was up to the step where you have to make amends and ask for forgiveness. He asked me to forgive him for all the things he did. I did forgive him. Now he's OK and I'm going to theapy.

I lived in Jersey City until I was about 15. I got caught in a stolen car and my mother thought it best for us to move out of the city. So we moved to Sea Bright, New Jersey. That was about 1966. It was stupid to be in a stolen car. My sort of friends took the car and then asked me to get in. I did thinking I it was cool and they got into an accident and we were caught by the cops. I ran away but a cop came after me on a horse and actually shot up in the air at me. When he fired the gun I fell to the ground and he took me by my collar back to where the car was. When I was running I could hear people saying "catch him, catch him". It was the first and last time I got into big trouble. My mother was a traffic cop for the fifth precient in Jersey City and she knew all the cops. When the cops started talking to me they said "This is Marie's son". It wasn't fun. They put me in a jail and my mother had to come down and get me. She was crying and saying that they were going to take me away from her and send me to a detention center. When she got me out of jail she pulled me by my ears, she pulled my hair and she hit me in the back of the head with every sentence she said. Then she did that thing where she bits her hand and says something in Italian. You know then she's really angry. The cops watched this. then it was ok for a mother to beat her son. Today they would have arrested her. ....So, off to Sea Bright we went for a new life. Good thing she did or I probly would have winded up in jail. The kids in Jersey City didn't have anything else to do but get in trouble. Sea Bright was a whole different life. I loved it there.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I got sex education from a nun: I went to St Paul Catholic School in Jersey City not St Paul’s as was drilled into me by Sister Mary Luke. "It's St. Paul School, not St. Paul's School because St. Paul is dead and he can't own a school!" The nuns left a lot of impressions on me and many of them were negative. I remember Sister Mary Luke like it was yesterday, a six foot nun who must have been raised on a ranch because she spoke often of how she liked the feel of a horse between her legs. When she first said, it, my friend John Vazacaro and I looked at each other and tried not to laugh.

It wasn't beyond Sister Mary Luke to pick up the podium and throw it at you. One day she came into the room and we were all talking. She started to scream that the devil was in the room and we all had to get on our knees until the devil left. Well, it took the devil about an hour to leave and I was so happy he did because my knees were killing me. One day she started to cry in the class and she said "You kids don't know what it's like to smell a body burning". I don't know what that was about or what childhood memory came up in her mind. Another time she told us that they put a sign outside the school that said "SLOW CHILDREN". She said "Boy, were they right because you kids are the slowest kids I've ever known." Always a discouraging word from "Luke". We had about 65 kids in a class at St. Paul.

Another memorable nun was Sister Bernadette DeLourdes. "Bernie" as we affectionately called her. She was “out there.” (She didn’t know we called her Bernie.) She was about six foot three and weighed in at about 220 lb. Her face was big, round and pock-marked. Bernie was mean and we didn't want to get on her wrong side. Remember, corporal punishment was what nuns lived for. I’m sure it’s why some of them became nuns. And don’t even think of going home and complaining to mama. If you did, mama naturally assumed if you got hit by a nun it was your fault, and she’d hit you too. You couldn't win. One of Bernie’s favorite tortures was to walk behind you and if you had your hands on the desk, she would grab your arms, raise them up and slam them down on your funny bone. You can’t imagine how much that hurt. And yet it didn’t hurt as much as having your ears boxed. The procedure for boxing is -- sneak up behind said subject and slam both fists into said subjects ears. You know those comic strips where there are stars floating around someone’s head -- that’s what it felt like to have your ears boxed. Your head rings for about an hour.

Many times I had to stay after school. I’d wait in the cloak room for Bernie to come in and hit me with the ruler on the butt. And I tell you that nun could swing that ruler. The thought of Bernie runs chills through me. Sometimes I had to stay after and wash the floor around her desk so that her habit wouldn't get dirty.

Then there was Sister Mary Christian. She was young, very pretty and loved to talk about sex. Once she called me out of class and asked me if I touched my private parts when I took a shower. For real! Can you imagine that today? I didn't know what to say. I told her "no". She was happy about that. That was the right answer. The boys and girls were called down to the auditorium separately, of course, and Sister Mary Christian gave us a sex talk. The first thing she told us was that we shouldn't walk with our hands in our pockets because they meant we were playing with ourselves. After she said that; none of us knew what to do with our hands. Every time we saw her after that she was looking to see where our hands were. In the auditorium we didn't want to place our hands on our lap. We didn't know what to do with them. She then went on to talk with us. She held her hand up all the time with her fingers together like she was giving us the OK sign. She told us that babies were inside the mother and that they started growing with little fingers, little feet and fully developed bodies and they just got larger and larger inside the mother until it was time for them to be born. She didn't tell us how it all started, just that it started somehow. I guess this was better than the stork story. We knew she was a little nuts and eventually they took her away from the school and she never returned but she didn't leave without screwing me up.

Fridays we would go to confession so that we’d be able to receive Holy Communion on Sunday. For all you heathens out there, we Catholics confess our sins to a priest, do penance and then are forgiven. You tell the priest all the things you did wrong, it's a chance to get your sins forgiven. Then you can receive Holy Communion which is the Body and Blood of Christ. The best way to approach confession is to tell basic stuff like lying, cursing, disobeying your teacher. This way your penance won’t be much more than three Hail Mary’s and three Our Fathers with a good Act of Contrition. Well, One day I decided to tell the priest everything. I told him the basics, then I told him that I looked at dirty magazines, touched myself, stole a pencil from the store and I went on and on. The priest seemed to like this. The voice on the other side said "What kind of pictures did you look at? What were you thinking when you did this? Did you get any funny feelings?” The priest was making me very nervous. I’m sure he had to go to confession after I left. But at least he only gave me five Hail Mary’s, five Our Fathers and a good Act of Contrition. When I left the confessional a nun was standing close by. She looked at me and shook her head. She had heard everything. I was so embarrassed that I never said a real confession again. I was happy when the Catholic Church said you don't have to go to confession again you can just talk directly to God.

I was an altar boy for a short time but got caught eating the hosts and drinking holy water before Mass. I was hungry. What could I do? But the priest didn't think it was right so I got fired. I really wanted to be an altar boy too. By the way, the hosts were delicious.