Category Archives: Kids

For the Record

recordsThis comic somebody posted on Facebook really caught my attention.

I’ve told my kids about the days before iTunes, when you’d have to go to a store to buy music. Yes, there were even stores that sold nothing but vinyl records! Really, it’s true!
Making a special trip made music buying a ritual. From my house you could walk to Korvettes or to Record World at Roosevelt Field Mall.

Korvettes, while it had a smaller selection, always had the best price. Record World was more for connoisseurs — plus, going to the mall meant the compulsory visit to World Imports to see the groovy dayglo posters in the back and gawk at the bongs in the head shop.

Then you’d walk back home. Unseal the package, take out the inner sleeve — it always felt like a bonus when it was a printed inner sleeve — and put your new treasure on the turntable. Was there anything as good as that first perfectly pristine play of a new record?

Don’t get me wrong, I love that anything I want to hear is a click away. Everything is so easy now. Back then nothing was a click away.

0113

I knew exactly what I’d hear when I picked up the phone at 1:13am. Read this in shouting mode for the full effect:

Hello, this is recruit Madeo!
I have arrived safely at Parris Island!
Please do not send any food or bulky items!
I will contact you in 3 to 5 days via postcard with my new mailing address!
Thank you for your support!
Goodbye for now!

We tried to queeeze in a few words at the end of his scripted call, but he was gone in a flash, off for 12 weeks we can read about, but hardly imagine.

The Ballad of Bohack Pete

There was a kid in our town that they used to call Bohack Pete.

melon

Felix Unger, melon shopping at Bohack’s.

To those of you who grew up downstate, the Bohack name may be familiar. Bohack’s was a chain of grocery stores; it was along the same lines as A&P, back in the days when groceries were still fairly modest compared to today’s megastores. In the movie The Odd Couple, it’s where Felix Unger goes shopping.

Anyway, Pete wore sneakers that were clearly not Keds or Converse — in fact, they appeared to have no identifiable brand at all. Someone decided that such cheap and generic shoes could only have come from Bohack’s, and so he was christened Bohack Pete.

Did Bohack’s even sell sneakers? Doesn’t matter.

We’ll never know if Bohack Pete minded his nickname. I hope not, because if I remember him being called Bohack Pete, I’m sure he does too. It’s hard to say when kids became brand conscious. This story is from the 1970s — and by 1979 when I graduated high school, canvas sneakers were falling from favor and Puma and Adidas shoes were the accepted footwear.

It’s a small thing, but to kids, small things become huge things. I wish I could go back in time and tell Bohack Pete how in the future his sneakers would be the envy of hipsters everywhere.

Payback Time

Parents: how much money do you think you’ve spent on video games?

Consoles, cartridges, disks, online subscriptions, wireless controllers, memory modules… and how much of hardware is in a shoebox in the basement, replaced by the latest system?

Yeah, I know.

That’s why I’m so happy to report that I’ve finally gotten some of that money back! Yes, after shelling out untold piles of cash — particularly around birthdays and Christmas — the video game industry is now paying me. Ha!

checkJust last week, I received this check in the mail for the whopping sum of $24!
Woo-hoo! Windfall! The $24 is my share of the settlement of a class action suit, Pecover vs. Electronic Arts. My purchase of a copy of Madden NFL makes me one of the aggrieved consumers. Power to the people!

I’m not sure how many more lawsuits it will take for me to put a dent in my video game expenses, but it’s a start.

Farewell to Woodworth Lake

You don’t have to drive far into the hills outside Gloversville to be in the Adirondack Park — and just within the park’s boundaries is Woodworth Lake Scout Reservation.

Woodworth Sign

 I’ve spent many chilly nights in cabins at Woodworth, nights punctuated by breathtaking trips to even chillier latrines. The days were filled with sledding, hikes, games of Risk and meals prepared by the scouts. Some adult leaders — and I’m not naming names — would bring their own food to avoid the scout cuisine. O ye of little faith!

DSC_1582

Those winter weekends are a thing of the past now, as the Twin Rivers Council has quietly sold the 1200 acre camp to an undisclosed buyer. And I can’t say I blame them.

Nationwide, scouting has faced declining membership and skyrocketing expenses. Add to this the damage the Boy Scout’s public image has suffered in recent years, and you’ve got a tough situation. When Woodworth opened in 1949, scouting was in its heyday. Today, they have too much property and not enough scouts.

Consolidation like this, while painful, will help the council survive.

In the cabins and dining hall at Woodworth, generations of Boy Scouts have left their mark and memorialized their visit with inscribed plaques. Some are very elaborate, and others crudely etched in scraps of wood and bark. Many of those scouts are now grown men who have children of their own; I hope that their kids get to experience the same great things as the thousands of children who have passed through the gates at Woodworth.

Google Summer

I was looking up an address in the Bronx and stumbled across this Google Street View image that really says summer. Cooling off in the spray of a hydrant seems like something from the distant past, but here it is!

Keeping Score

When my father took us to ball games at Shea Stadium we always had pretty good seats, but the ultimate was the time we sat on the press level.

This was before the age of luxury boxes, so the accomodations were not plush, but it certainly felt special. We rode up the elevator and stepped out into and exclusive hidden corridor where we nearly walked right into Mets announcer Lindsey Nelson. I’d have asked for an autograph, but I must have been blinded by his plaid sportcoat.

As it happens, we were not far from the broadcast booth where Nelson and Ralph Kiner sat, so for much of the game I was distracted by what was going on down there with the cameras and all. I’d recently been bitten by the TV bug, so all that was more fascinating than the action on the field.

My father? He was a big fan and religiously kept score in his program. He followed the action with great concentration, and fortunately, always found time to keep me primed with hot dogs and peanuts.

These days there are apps for those who wish to keep score and they tap it out on their phone — but some people still do it the old fashioned way, scratching away with a pencil and program. This from a recent story in the New York Times:

On July 4 at Citi Field, Kevin Hogan, 54, of Richmond, Va., said keeping score by hand “helps fuel my anal retentiveness.” But he also thought the system, venerable as it is, could be better.

“I just asked the vendor, how come there’s no eraser on the pencil?” he said.

The vendor replied, “Don’t make any mistakes.”

I tried keeping score a few times, but it always got in the way of my eating and drinking, so I never made it through an inning or two.

Guitar Hero

Did I ever tell you about the time I competed head to head on the same stage with guitar legend Steve Vai? Well, gather around the blog and hear this TRUE STORY.

When I was in 11th grade at Carle Place High School, the student association put on a big talent show. This was 1978, so naturally, it was done in the style of the Gong Show. I don’t remember too many of the acts, but my personal favorite was the group who dressed up as punks and lip synced God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols. They had fake safety pins in their lips and noses and spit raisins into the crowd to simulate big nasty loogies. It was tremendous.

Then it was my turn. Though I could barely play the guitar — and not play the harmonica at all — I went out as some sort of Bob Dylanesque troubadour and croaked out a folk song that I made up on the spot. They mercifully interrupted my strange and terrible tune in short order and gonged me out.

Near the end of the show, out walked senior Steve Vai, who plugged in his guitar and brought the house down with the Star Spangled Banner. I remember arguing once with Mr. Vai in the weight room that Todd Rundgren was more talented than Jimmy Hendrix, but that night Steve Vai would have smoked them both.

A few years later, Mr. Vai was touring with Farnk Zappa and I was preparing for my illustrious career in television. If I’d only known better, maybe I too could have taken guitar lessons from Joe Satriani and ended up a rock star. Satriani also went to Carle Place High. Something in the water, maybe?

At the Movies

The Ape

The paper Don Draper was reading in the theatre.

The internet went crazy over Mad Men revealing the iconic ending of Planet of the Apes during its April 28 episode. Pardon me for being slow on the uptake; I’m still a few weeks behind.

But Planet of the Apes is something like 45 years old, so I’m not sure it matters. Should there be a statute of limitations on spoilers? If so, 45 years is long enough. Did I mention that Rosebud was Charles Foster Kane’s sled? Ooops, sorry.

The scene with Don Draper sitting in the movie theatre with his son watching Planet of the Apes was poignant for a lot of reasons, but for me it was a real hit in the gut because I was about that age when my father took me to see the same movie. And the ending completely freaked me out.

I recall other movie-going experiences with my father. My earlirest movie memory was going to see the 1966 Batman movie, which featured a brief on stage appearance by some guy in a Batman suit. In the twisted logic of a five-year-old, I was convinced it was my Uncle Ed dressed as the Caped Crusader. And then there was the James Bond marathon, where we sat through three or four 60s Bond movies at the Park East theatre.

Going to the movies will always be more special than TV. Sure, you may remember seeing things on television, but the intensity of the experience you have in a theatre is so much greater — and it’s not just about the film, but about who you were there with.