Sunday, August 31, 2008


Man, can the woman sing! I recently 'rediscovered' Brenda Lee's version of "Some Of These Days".....WOW, WHAT A VOICE!! I listened to it like 15 times in a row!! Brought back some good memories.

The above came to me in a recent e-mail from a dear, old friend of mine. (OK, yes, once upon a time, she was MORE than a “friend”; and no, she’s not really that old. Heck, she’s younger than I am… and nicer, too.)

The “Dear, Un-Old Friend” was referring to the self-titled BRENDA LEE album of 1991. And the “memories” she was referring to was when she and I went to Normandie Casino in Gardena, California, on April 14, 1992, to see “Little Miss Dynamite” perform live. (Brenda did the coolest thing I ever saw at a concert: she walked out into the audience and posed with lucky males in the theater while a roadie took photos with a Polaroid Instant camera, giving the developing photo to the lucky bloke while Brenda went on to select the next lucky bloke to pose with. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a lucky bloke, but it wasn’t for a lack of my “Dear, Un-Old Friend’s” waving to Brenda and pointing at me.)

Anyway, shortly after getting her welcome e-mail, I went through my box of dozens and dozens of old cassette tapes to drag out some neglected Brenda Lee tunes. And while I was plowing through the box, I came across a relic: It was a cassette from September, 1987 titled “WHAT I IMAGINE AND WHAT IMAGINES ME.” Flashback . . .

The movie industry newspaper VARIETY had this to say on Thursday, July 20, 1989:


Martin Brumer, a 28-year-old actor who’s appeared in “Days Of Our Lives” and “ChiPs”, was killed Tuesday when a car being chased by police ran a red light and struck Brumer’s car at the intersection of Arlington Ave. and Washington Blvd. in L.A.

The driver of the other car, robbery suspect [*name deleted*] fled the scene of the accident on foot but was arrested by officers two blocks away. Police said the 19-year-old from Inglewood has been booked on suspicion of murder.

A second suspect who was driving another car is still being sought by police.

There was an even more extensive article appearing in the Metro section of the July 20, 1989 LOS ANGELES TIMES newspaper, with an accompanying photo of the accident scene and a publicity still of Mr. Brumer in an inset:


In one of his first paying roles as an actor, Martin Brumer was a bank robber in an episode of the television series “ChiPs.” In the last role of his fledgling career, he played a burglar in the 1988 movie “Chrome Hearts.”

On Tuesday night, Los Angeles police said, the 28-year-old Santa Monica resident became a victim of the kind of man he portrayed.

Driving through a mid-city intersection, Brumer was killed instantly when his 1979 Volvo was struck by a speeding stolen Chevrolet driven by a 19-year-old Inglewood man who ignored a red light while trying to elude a pursuing police car, Detective Dave Martin said.

The driver of the speeding car … suffered only minor injuries in the 10:25 p.m. crash and tried to flee on foot, but was tackled and arrested by two officers, Martin said.

(The suspect) who has a recored of “narcotics-related arrests”, was booked on suspicion of murder, the detective said.

Brumer, a 1983 drama graduate of UC Irvine, who also studied Karate, was “an eager young actor who was determined to work hard to make it,” according to William Lee of Talent Bank, the agency that represented him. …

The article closed with this:

“He would call me once or twice a week to check whether he had any offers. Some people are pushy, but he was very nice,” Lee said.

Sherrill Kushner, 40, an attorney who lives next door to Brumer’s family in Santa Monica, said the young actor was considering a legal career. Brumer was expected to take preliminary law school exams in September.

Despite having gotten a few bad-guy roles, Brumer was more like a comedian off the set, Kushner said. “He will always be known as a guy who always made everybody laugh,” she said.

The subject of these articles, Marty (“Rhymes with party!”) Brumer, was my best friend. And the cassette tape, “WHAT I IMAGINE AND WHAT IMAGINES ME”, is a tape of music that I had made for Marty and which was returned to me after his death.

I’d met Marty (remember: “Rhymes with party”, as he used to like to say) in 1977. We were both members of the Santa Monica high school Theater Arts Dept. Marty was the guy standing in the middle between all those “alternative lifestyle”-looking dudes in the theater department who were forever prancing around singing West Side Story songs, and the Neanderthal (me) from the varsity wrestling team who just sat by himself in the corner, reticent, “doing his best James Dean” (although I had no idea who James Dean was at that point), watching all the fruitcakes and wondering if maybe he should give up the acting dream and go into big game hunting instead. (Aw, c’mon, you know I’m just kidding.)

Well, unbeknownst to me, Marty found me to be the most interesting person in the department because I was obviously the one introverted outsider. I mean, I fit in with that group like a lumberjack at a ballet. (Hmmm… shades of Monty Python. Maybe that wasn’t the best analogy I could have come up with.) But, well, what I’m trying to say is that, for all I know, Marty and I might have been the only heterosexuals in the theater department.

Anyway, one day, while wating for the teacher to arrive and unlock the room, Marty approached me stealthily and said in a hushed tone, “Are you Stephen McCarthy?” I went along with it, “Yeah, why?” Marty inched closer, “I’ve got a message for you from the big boss.” I played the insolent tough guy part, “Oh yeah? What’s that?” And with that, Marty pretended to draw a dagger from an overcoat and said “THIS!” pretending to stab me to death. And that’s how we officially met. Marty and I would replay that little scene many times in the ensuing years, and every year when I encounter the Judges 3:19-21 passage while engaged in my Bible study, I’m reminded of it all over again.

Later, after high school graduation, Marty (“Rhymes with—” Oh, I’m sure you remember by now) would join me at a good acting workshop I’d discovered, and then we’d attend another famous one I found later, and finally, I joined him at an acting school where he was working. We were EXTREMELY SERIOUS about the acting careers and we had many in-depth discussions about the art. (Most of them beginning with one of his standard opening throwaway lines such as “How’s yer urination?” Or, “If you’re going to drink and drive, make sure you’re drinking Evian bottled water!”)

Our friendship grew strong through the years until we really had become best friends. One year, for his birthday, I made a very large oil painting for him of the character he most identified with in a favorite movie – “AMERICAN POP.” (I sure wish I had that painting now.) And we used to make music compilation tapes for each other from our LP collections (LP?… well, think of a licorice pizza.)

There are four songs that most remind me of “Party” Marty:

One is Stevie Wonder’s “DON’T YOU WORRY ‘BOUT A THING” because I love the song to begin with, and because he put it on the “A Smile A Day Makes Happiness Stay” tape that he created for me in 1981.

Everybody needs a change
A chance to check out the new
But you're the only one to see
The changes you take yourself through

Don't you worry 'bout a thing
Cause I'll be standing in the wings
When you check it out
Don't you worry 'bout a thing

Over the years, I’ve liked the idea of Marty “standing in the wings” while I’ve checked out life and contemplated “the changes I take myself through” on behalf of both of us. I’ve missed him greatly, and I’ve often imagined some of the great conversations we’d have had if he had lived longer (I mean, the conversation after we got past the “How’s yer urination?” bit). I know I’ve changed a lot, and I’m curious to know how much he too would have changed as we traveled down the road of life together, discovering new things, discussing them and vehemently arguing over them.

Another song I can’t hear without immediately thinking of Marty is “BROKEN BICYCLES” from the Tom Waits soundtrack to the movie “One From The Heart” which he and I first saw together. Based on the number of times I heard Marty mumbling that song thereafter, I’d have to guess that it was likely his all-time favorite. No matter where we were going, there was always Marty singing to himself:

Broken bicycles, old busted chains
With rusted handle bars, out in the rain
Somebody must have an orphanage for
All these things that nobody wants any more

September's reminding July
It's time to be saying goodbye
Summer is gone, but our love will remain
Like old broken bicycles out in the rain

I remember one night Marty and I went out to walk and talk, and returning to his apartment from the Palisades Park, he suddenly put his Walkman’s headphones on me so I could hear the Rickie Lee Jones’ song “THE RETURNS”:

But after all
There are such things
And these are the things

That’ll turn your memories back into dreams again

Oh, it's all flying and waving
For you to keep trying
You're so close.
So close.

All the returns
One of these days,
One of these days,
One of these days.

Sadly, for Marty, there were no “returns”… unless we’re talking about the return to his Great Maker after such a short, unfulfilled life.

But the other song that vividly conjures Marty in my mind for me, is Bob Dylan’s “POSITIVELY 4TH STREET.” Not because Marty was necessarily crazy about the song, but because I nearly drove him crazy with it. I (being the good friend I was) deliberately tortured the hell out of him with that song just for kicks ‘n’ reactions. The song starts out with these lyrics:

You got a lotta nerve
To say you are my friend
When I was down
You just stood there grinning

You got a lotta nerve
To say you got a helping hand to lend
You just want to be on
The side that's winning

Just to torment my good friend, I often had that song queued up when I knew he was soon to come around, and the moment he arrived he would find it playing to welcome him. If I was picking him up to go somewhere, he’d find it playing the moment he got into my car. If he was due at my house, he’d enter to find Dylan singing, “You got a lotta nerve to say you are my friend…”

I had forgotten all about this song and the way I tormented Marty with it for years, until my recent rediscovery of Bob Dylan’s music and the realization of its influence in my life (see my May 25, 2008 Blog installment below titled “HIGHWAY ZIMMERMAN REVISITED”). I recently bought Dylan’s “Greatest Hits” but I didn’t even recognize the title “POSITIVELY 4TH STREET” since I hadn’t heard the song for about 23 years. But the moment I heard “that voice” singing those words, “You got a lotta nerve…”, it came flooding back to me: “Welcome back, Marty!” Hokie-Smokes! It was like an old, unremembered dream catching up to me in 2008; a very weird phenomenon!

Well, another thing I used to do to (playfully) irritate my old buddy, was to tell him occasionally that neither he nor anyone else would ever “REALLY know me.” After our years of good friendship, I think this statement began to get under his skin a bit. I had a way of annoying him just for the pure pleasure of it – think of it as my own little way of sticking it to “the big boss.”

Well, Marty got even with me one day by creating a cassette music tape for me which he titled “ODE TO STEPHEN McCARTHY.” This was a collection of music meant to prove that he really did know me, despite all of my protestations to the contrary. Side Two of the tape was six songs long, including Supertramp’s “HIDE IN YOUR SHELL”, David Bowie’s “ROCK AND ROLL SUICIDE”, and Stevie Wonder’s “HE’S MISSTRA KNOW-IT-ALL.” (Ha! Very funny, Party Boy!)

But it was Side One in which Marty showed his creativity and made his most forceful statement: Side one was just one song recorded over and over again, taking up the entire 30 minutes of that side. The song? Simon & Garfunkel’s “I AM A ROCK”:

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark December;
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen, silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I’ve built walls,
And a fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

Don’t talk of love,
But I’ve heard the word before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved, I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

Well, ain’t that a fine How Do Ya Do? And this was supposed to be a good friend of mine?! (Ha! What goes around, comes around, eh? Touche, Martay!)

The last distinct memory I have of Marty finds us at Fisherman’s Village in Marina Del Rey one afternoon and discussing the recent massacre of protestors at Tiananmen Square.

It was highly unexpected that Marty should be one of the first from my group of friends to die. The rest of us were major partyers, consuming massive amounts of alchohol regularly and performing all sorts of crazy stunts. (Some nights I had trouble falling asleep because my liver was crying “Uncle” so loudly.) However, Marty really was the orange juice or Evian drinker who went along for the fun but was not fully committed to the lunacy most of the time. If someone was likely to warn us, “You do that and you know the cops will be here soon”, it was almost sure to be “Party Marty.” But I’ll give him credit for hanging in there with us until the cops showed up.

Sure, we’d sometimes dog Marty for not drinking like us big dawgs, but I had a certain level of respect for Marty that I did not necessarily have for everyone else. I remember one night I came back to the Bay Street pad with a few of the boys and I was in an unusually high state of intoxication (when I zigged, the legs zagged). But when I saw Marty sitting on the couch, I was too embarrassed to let him observe me in that over-the-top “liquidated” condition, so I just said “Hey, Marty,” while heading straight to the bathroom and locking the door behind me.

It was nearly 20 minutes before anyone got curious enough to ask “What happened to Stephen?” and to force open the bathroom door. And when they did, they found the room empty with the window wide open. The Beatles once sang about a woman who “came in through the bathroom window”, but I’m the guy who once poured himself OUT of one. (I just zigged and zagged the streets for a couple of hours until I was sure Marty had left the scene.)

Evidently, Marty had a premonition that he was soon to pass away. His mother later told me that he had begun to pester her incessantly, saying, “Look, if something happens to me, this is who I want you to give my things to—” She would interrupt him, insisting that she didn’t even want to think about this. But he kept broaching the subject day after day. This in itself is very strange, because Marty was all about LIFE – not death. I’m the one who was much more apt to discuss my death, and in fact, Marty and I often did: he used to joke about all the lies he’d tell the media about me after I was gone. (He and I both just assumed that between the two of us, I was the one who would make it biggest in the acting world and die first.) Marty and I sneaked into a cemetary one night and I believe he never did quite get over seeing me lie down in a freshly dug grave (I shouldn’t have done it – I was certainly drunk enough to know better!)

Well, Marty eventually wore down his Mom’s resolve not to hear his requests, and so one day in July of 1989, she told him, “OK, Marty. I’m listening. Say it once, and never mention it to me again.” So, he told her what she was to do with his property. He had gotten into photography and had even sold a few photos that were published as magazine covers, etc. Marty and I used to take little photographic day trips around L.A. and so he wanted me to have his expensive camera and photography equipment. He told his Mom who was supposed to get all of his other important stuffs; she made a mental note of it, and then a week or two later, he was gone.

Afterwards, I did attend the trial of Marty’s murderer at the L.A. County Courthouse and I was relieved when he was found guilty and sentenced to prison.

In September, 1987, I made a musical cassette tape for Marty titled “WHAT I IMAGINE AND WHAT IMAGINES ME” and I inscribed it: “OK, Marty… NOW you know me!” This was evidently meant to be my own musical autobiography, in which I used a variety of songs to reflect multiple aspects of my life, thoughts and personality. It seems Marty’s Mom had returned it to me after his passing in ’89, but I just put it in a carton with my other tapes, never played it, and forgot all about its existence until just a couple of weeks ago when I ran across it. I pulled it out and listened to the entire thing, thinking it would be interesting to get a look at my own mind from about 21 years ago. There was no song listing, so I never knew what I was going to hear next; it was a real grab bag, and all the while I was listening, I asked myself: Why THIS song? Why did I associate THIS song with who I was in ’87? What was I trying to express about myself to Marty by choosing this particular number?

Well, it was a cool little retro self-examination of the Stephen T. McCarthy circa late ‘80s. The first thing I noticed in opening the old tape box was a folded piece of paper on which I’d typed the William Blake poem “The Price Of Experience”:

What is the price of Experience? Do men buy it for a song?
Or wisdom for a dance in the street? No, it is bought with the price
Of all that a man hath, his house, his wife, his children
Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy
And in the wither'd field where the farmer plows for bread in vain

It is an easy thing to triumph in the summer's sun
And in the vintage and to sing on the waggon loaded with corn
It is an easy thing to talk of patience to the afflicted
To speak the laws of prudence to the homeless wanderer
To listen to the hungry raven's cry in wintry season
When the red blood is fill'd with wine and with the marrow of lambs

It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements
To hear the dog howl at the wintry door, the ox in the slaughter house moan;
To see a god on every wind and a blessing on every blast
To hear sounds of love in the thunder storm that destroys our enemies' house;
To rejoice in the blight that covers his field and the sickness that cuts off his children
While our olive and vine sing and laugh round our door and our children bring fruits and flowers

Then the groan and the dolor are quite forgotten and the slave grinding at the mill
And the captive in chains and the poor in the prison and the soldier in the field
When the shatter'd bone hath laid him groaning among the happier dead

.It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity:
Thus could I sing and thus rejoice: but it is not so with me

I had not the slightest idea what I would find in this (as it turned out, mostly morose) autobiographical musical melange, but I got a pretty good laugh quickly when I realized that the entire first half of the 90 minute tape was exclusively instrumentals. (Ha! That was just so “ME.” In essence, I was saying, “OK, Marty, I’ll let you in on my deepest thoughts and feelings, but I will use songs to convey them” but then I turn around and say it all sans lyrics. Ha! The first time Marty listened to this, he must have thought: “Stephen, you a$$h***!”)

Anyway, here’s a listing of the instrumentals that comprised Side One:

“TRAVELS” by Pat Metheny; “MAIN THEME FROM THE MOVIE TAXI DRIVER” by Tom Scott; “SARAH’S CRIME” by Toshi Hinata; “INARTICULATE SPEECH OF THE HEART” by Van Morrison; [Unknown Saxophone Solo] possibly by John Klemmer from his “Touch” album; “ARE YOU GOING WITH ME?” by Pat Metheny; [Unknown Bossa Nova Saxophone Solo] by Stan Getz, probably from the “Getz/Gilberto” album; “SEPTEMBER NIGHT” by Van Morrison; “CITY, COUNTRY, CITY” by War.

As much as I’d like to be able to say that the entire tape was instrumental in nature, I’m afraid I caved in on the second side and attempted to give Marty a little of myself in actual lyric form. I’ll include a song listing here along with what I’m guessing was the most relevant lyrical content at that time. I started my “talking” side with The Blues of Muddy Waters.

#1: “I’M READY” by Muddy Waters

I got an axe handle pistol on a graveyard frame
That shoot tombstone bullets, wearin' balls and chains
I'm drinkin' TNT, I'm smokin' dynamite
I hope some screwball start a fight
'Cause I'm ready, ready as anybody can be
I'm ready for you, I hope you're ready for me

I been drinkin' gin like never before
I feel so good, I want you to know
One more drink, I wish you would
It takes a whole lotta lovin' to make me feel good
'Cause I'm ready, ready as anybody can be
Now I'm ready for you, I hope you're ready for me
(2008 Note: Yeah, well, like I said, I was a “Drinking Man” once upon a time. I don’t know what I thought I was ready for, but probably a bowl of Excedrin and a pitcher of Alka-Seltzer.)

#2: “AIN’T THAT PRETTY AT ALL” by Warren Zevon

Well, I've seen all there is to see
And I've heard all they have to say
I've done everything I wanted to do
I've done that TOO!
And it ain't that pretty at all
Ain't that pretty at all

So I'm going to hurl myself against the wall
'Cause I'd rather feel bad than not feel anything at all

You know, I just had a short vacation, Roy
Spent it getting a root canal
"Oh? How'd you like it?"
Well, it ain't that pretty at all
So I'm going to hurl myself against the wall
'Cause I'd rather feel bad than not feel anything at all

Gonna get a good running start and throw myself at the wall as hard as I can, man

(2008 Note: Zevon had a twisted sense of humor – stole it from me. I’d exhume him and sue his a$$, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t be that pretty at all.)

The days slide by
Should have done, should have done, we all sigh
Never thought I'd ever be so lonely
After such a long, long time
Time out of mind

We made mad love
Shadow love
Random love
And abandoned love
Accidentally like a martyr
The hurt gets worse and the heart gets harder

(2008 Note: Uhm… Well… OK then. Just pat my hand gently and soothingly say, “There, there.”)

#4: "OL’ 55" by Tom Waits

Well my time went so quickly, I went lickety-splitly out to my old '55
As I drove away slowly, feeling so holy, God knows, I was feeling alive.
Now the sun's coming up, I'm riding with Lady Luck, freeway cars and trucks,
Stars beginning to fade, and I lead the parade
Just a-wishing I'd stayed a little longer,
Oh, Lord, let me tell you that the feeling's getting stronger.

(2008 Note: What’s interesting is that in the ensuing years, I have come to associate this song not with myself, but with another good friend, Andy, who committed suicide in 1986. Naturally, Marty and Andy knew each other, both being loyal friends of mine, but with certain traits of theirs being at opposite ends of the personality spectrum, ironically, Marty and Andy didn’t like each other much, even though I loved them both.)

#5: “SUMMER” by War

Ridin' 'round town with all the windows down
Eight track playin' all your favorite sounds
The rhythm of the bongos fill the park
The street musicians tryin' to get a start
'Cause it's summer
Summer time is here
Yes, it's summer
My time of year

Stretched out on a blanket in the sand
Kids of all ages diggin' Disneyland
Rappin' on the C B radio in your van
We'll give a big "ten four" to the truckin' man

(2008 Note: For me, this is a very wistful tune as it reminds me of my idyllic youth, growing up in Southern California. Ah, the good ol’ days; turn back the clock.)

#6: “KING OF THE ROAD” by Roger Miller

Trailers for sale or rent
Rooms to let...fifty cents.
No phone, no pool, no pets
I ain't got no cigarettes
Ah, but, two hours of pushin' broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I'm a man of means by no means
King of the road.

(2008 Note: Love the song; love Roger Miller period – he had a weird sense of humor. And Roger always reminds me of my Pa, who had a wacky sense of humor himself. But, Dang Me, I don’t know why I included this particular song.)

I was sitting in the Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel
I was staring in my empty coffee cup
I was thinking that the gypsy wasn't lyin'
All the salty margaritas in Los Angeles
I'm gonna drink 'em up

And if California slides into the ocean
Like the mystics and statistics say it will
I predict this motel will be standing until I pay my bill

Still waking up in the mornings with shaking hands
And I'm trying to find a girl who understands me
But except in dreams you're never really free
Don't the sun look angry at me.

(2008 Note: Obviously, this was before I threw the “babes” out with the feminist bathwater.)
#8: “CARMELITA” by Warren Zevon

Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I'm sinking down
And I'm all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town

Well, I pawned my Smith-Corona
And I went to meet my man
He hangs out down on Alvarado Street
By the Pioneer chicken stand

(2008 Note: For those of you younger than about 30, Smith-Corona was a brand of typewriter. I’ve never done any hard drugs and only smoked weed once in my life. Unlike Bill Clinton, however, I’ll admit that I did inhale it, thus disqualifying me, I suppose, from ever running for the White House. But it is apparent to me that even as far back as ’87, I recognized my great potential for not living up to my potential. And by the way, back in the ‘70s, there really was a Pioneer chicken stand on Alvarado street in L.A. near Echo Park with lots of unsavory characters hanging out there day in and day out.)

#9: “SAN DIEGO SERENADE” by Tom Waits

I never saw the morning 'til I stayed up all night
I never saw the sunshine 'til you turned out the light
I never saw my hometown until I stayed away too long
I never heard the melody, until I needed the song.

(2008 Note: I think that “San Diego Serenade” contains probably the greatest song lyrics ever written, but the song’s connection to me is only general and therefore somewhat tenuous.)
#10: “BRIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD” by Van Morrison

Into this life we're born
Baby, sometimes we don't know why
And time seems to go by so fast
In the twinkling of an eye

Let's enjoy it while we can
Won't you help me sing my song
From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road

(2008 Note: Hey, how’d this positive attitude crap get in here? Sergeant-At-Arms, are you watching that door or not?!)
#11: “WINTER WONDERLAND” by Johnny Mathis

Gone away is the bluebird,
Here to stay is a new bird
He sings a love song,
As we go along,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

Later on, we'll conspire,
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid,
The plans that we've made,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

(2008 Note: Alright, clearly I was trying to make this thing a bit more upbeat at this juncture, but don’t worry, folks, it can’t last long. I know myself too well to expect that.)
#12: “A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES” by Tom Waits

(*See? What’d I tell ya?)

(Piano Intro: “Auld Lang Syne”)

Hey, sight for sore eyes; it's a long time no see
Workin’ hard, hardly workin, hey man, you know me
Water under the bridge. Did ya see my new car?
Well it's bought and it's paid for, parked outside of the bar

And hey barkeep, what's keepin’ you? Keep pourin’ drinks
For all these palookas. Hey, you know what I thinks?
That we toast to the old days and DiMaggio, too
And ol’ Drysdale and Mantle, Whitey Ford, and to you

Oh, you know the old gang ain't around, everyone has left town
'Cept for Thumm And Giardina, said they just might be down
Oh, half drunk half the time, and I'm all drunk the rest
Monk's still the champion, oh, but I am the best

Guess you heard about Nash, he was killed in a crash
Oh, that must have been two or three years ago now
Yeah, he spun out and he rolled, hit a telephone pole
He died with the radio on

Flo, she's married with a kid, finally split up with Sid
He's up north for a nickel's worth, for armed robbery.
And I'll play you some pinball, though you ain't got a chance
Then go on over and ask her to dance

And hey barkeep, what's keepin’ you? Keep pourin’ drinks
For all these palookas. Hey, you know what I thinks?
That we toast to the old days and DiMaggio, too
And ol’ Drysdale and Mantle, Whitey Ford, and to you

(2008 Note: I had forgotten this song over the years, but when it got to that line about the fate of Nash, I found it very poignant and even a bit chilling. It’s almost certain that when Marty died, he had the radio on. In fact, at the moment of impact, he might very well have been listening to one of the several music tapes I’d made for him. I only know that “WHAT I IMAGINE AND WHAT IMAGINES ME” wasn’t in his car’s cassette player or I wouldn’t have it in my possession today.)

#13: The last thing recorded on the tape was a snippet of dialogue from the soundtrack of the movie “TAXI DRIVER” in which Robert De Niro playing the part of Travis Bickle says:

“Loneliness has followed me my whole life. Everywhere. In bars, and cars, sidewalks, stores. Everywhere. There's no escape. I'm God's lonely man.”

(2008 Note: I have no idea why I concluded the tape with this.)

I found it kind of fascinating to musically reflect on where I was as a person back in ’87. I have my doubts, however, that if I were attempting to create a musical autobiography today I would reuse even one of the songs I recorded 21 years ago. What I’d probably do now in 2008 is just fill a tape from beginning to end with Simon & Garfunkel’s “I AM A ROCK” and be done with it.

Ya know, call me crazy, but I’m starting to think that maybe Marty knew me even better than I knew myself. But Marty is GONE while I Rock ON. (And a rock feels no pain.)

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


As soon as I woke up this morning, I glanced back at my alarm clock and it read: 8:48 AM. My first thought was: "That’s exactly what time it SHOULD be."

Let me tell you, it is a rare occurrence when I wake up with such a positive attitude, and those few times when it happens, I spend the rest of the day just waiting for two shoes to drop.

While I’ve been waiting, one of my old drinking buddies, Cranium, e-mailed me a bit about Political Correctness which I thought was pretty funny. I’ve decided to post it here (with just a few adjustments to it made by Yours Truly).

Due to its subject matter, ordinarily I would post something like this on my Blog titled XTREMELY UN-P.C. AND UNREPENTANT. In this case, however, I’ve decided to post it here instead because… well… because… Look, man, I ain’t got no reason. I don’t need no reason. I don’t have to show you any stinking reason!

OK, here’s how to say it correctly in The Land Of The Free And The Home Of The Brave (or, The Land Of The Petrified And The Home Of The Tongue-Tied) . . .

Due to the climate of political correctness now pervading America, Kentuckians, Tennesseeans and West Virginians will no longer be referred to as “HILLBILLIES.” You must now refer to them as “APPALACHIAN-AMERICANS.” And furthermore . . .


1. She is not a “BABE” or a “CHICK” - She is a . . .


2. She is not “EASY” - She is . . .


3. She is not a “DUMB BLONDE” - She is a . . .


4. She has not “BEEN AROUND” - She is a . . .


5. She does not “NAG” you - She becomes . . .


6. She is not a “TWO-BIT HOOKER” - She is a . . .


Well, Womenfolk, as always, it is not REALLY all about you. And so let’s now learn . . .


1. He does not have a “BEER GUT” - He has developed a . . .


2. He is not a “BAD DANCER” - He is . . .


3. He does not “GET LOST ALL THE TIME” – He . . .


4. He is not “BALDING” - He is in . . .


5. He does not act like a “TOTAL A$$” - He develops a case of . . .


6. It's not the plumber’s “CRACK” you see hanging out of his pants – It is . . .


Thaaaaat’s right! We plumbers demand respect from now on.
Oh! Wait! I’ve never been a plumber. Never mind; go ahead and call it what you will.

Gotta run! The first shoe just kicked me in the “Rear Cleavage” and the other shoe will drop soon.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A FREUDIAN Hair And The Field Goal Kicker's SLIP

Dreams have always been a kind of specialty of mine. Since early childhood, I have been dreaming wildly and vividly (with dreamless stretches from time to time). I also seem to have a knack for interpreting my dreams. Whether or not my interpretations are valid or just the result of a pretty good imagination is open to debate, although I know without a doubt that I have received answers to life issues while in the dream state. (I once even had a dream that interpreted for me the dream I’d had the previous night!) And “Lucid Dreaming” is not something completely unexperienced by me.

The Bible tells us that God can speak to us in our dreams (for example, see Genesis chapter 41), although certainly not all dreams are messages from God (see the 23rd chapter of Jeremiah). But with this in mind, from 1995 through mid-2001, I kept a Dream Journal in which I recorded my dreams and interpretations (when I felt I had one that fit). On the first page of my notebook, I typed, “My Biggest Dream: To become so wealthy that I can afford to get drunk in an airport bar.” Of course, today, I would settle for just being able to afford to fill my gas tank. Anyway, I had a doozie of a dream last night and it went like this . . .

My Pa (who passed away in 1996), my brother Napoleon, and someone else (my sister, I believe), and I drove to a (unknown) friend’s house to watch Super Bowl XLIII, which was between the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings. Obviously, this Super Bowl match-up would be impossible since both teams are in the same Conference (and even in the same Division within that Conference). In the dream, I was rooting for the Minnesota Vikings and I was absolutely sure that they would win the game.

In reality, I wear a neatly cropped goatee, and in the dream, I went into the bathroom and tried to use a toenail clipper to trim one hair in my goatee that seemed just a tad longer than the rest. But when I attempted to cut off the end of this one hair, it actually pulled the hair out further from my chin, thus lengthening it instead. I tried again with the same result. Over and over again I attempted to cut this hair with the toenail clipper and each time it pulled the hair out yet further until the hair was now at least a foot long, probably longer. I started to panic, fearing that I might actually pull my guts out with this hair. Finally, with one great effort, employing all of my strength, I managed to clip the hair off. I then went back to watching the Super Bowl.

Late in the game, with the score tied 7 to 7, the Bears brought out their field goal unit. A real big deal was made of this because it was to be the first time in history that a woman would play in an NFL game. You see, the Bears field goal kicker was Carol Burnett. Uh… yeah, THAT Carol Burnett.

It was a very short kick and Carol managed to knock the football through the uprights, but instead of receiving three points for the field goal, the Bears were given only two points. I’m not sure why one point was deducted from the usual amount; maybe it had something to do with the shortness of the kick, or the fact that Carol Burnett is a woman, or maybe because she recently died. (Oh, wait, that was Harvey Korman who died, wasn’t it?) Well, easy kick, a death in the family, or a glass ceiling in the NFL, for whatever reason, the Bears got just two points and the score was now Bears 9, Vikings 7.

With very little time left in the game, the Vikings drove down the field, and then with only seconds remaining on the clock, they completed a short pass in the end zone to win the game 13 to 9.

Leaving our host’s house after the game, we had to walk across a big empty field in order to get to my brother’s car. And when we climbed into Napoleon’s big, old, four-door sedan, we discovered that it had rained and the floorboards were massive pools of water, but we just plunged our feet into the ponds and Napoleon headed the car for home. On the way, my Pa mentioned that he had been impressed by the good behavior of the Chicago Bears’ fans. (If you didn’t already know this was a dream, my Pa’s remark would surely have given it away!)

Getting out of the car at home, I mentioned to my brother that if Super Bowl XLIII had been reality instead of a dream, I would have been rooting for the Bears and not the Vikings. (This, by the way, is a bald-faced LIE! Although I do not like the Minnesota Vikings, I would, under all circumstances - excepting when they had Randy Moss - root for them over the Chicago Bears.)

Believe it or not, I do understand where a couple of the elements from this patchwork quilt of a dream came from: Yesterday, I was wearing my Super Bowl XLII baseball cap (it was a Christmas gift from a friend who gave it to me because the game was played here in Phoenix). And while I was in a fast food burrito joint yesterday for lunch, a teenage boy came in wearing a Cleveland Browns T-shirt. (Yeah, I know! I thought the same thing: “The Browns?! I didn’t know anybody outside of Cleveland supported the Browns!”) But this got me to thinking about how I don’t really mind the Browns and would root for them over a majority of other teams in the NFL. I was also thinking about The Dawg Pound – a section in Cleveland’s stadium where the fans bark like dogs at the opposing team’s players. So, I get the dream’s football association.

If it was indeed my sister who joined us boys to watch the game on television, this would seem to mimic what occurred on the field of play, where Carol Burnett was the sole woman surrounded by men.

But I don’t think there’s much else to be made of this dream and I’m not going to give it any more consideration. I mean, as Sigmund Freud supposedly said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” And sometimes a really long hair is just a really long hair, and sometimes a woman’s leg is only worth two points. I’m inclined to think that this dream had less to do with what was going on in my subconscious and more to do with what was going on in my stomach: maybe it was that pint of Ben & Jerry’s “Vermonty Python” ice cream I ate shortly before going to bed last night. At any rate, I’m not going to attempt to analyze this dream further, but just take comfort in the fact that Da Vikings beat Da Bears.

Hmmm… I just now noticed that I need to clip my toenails. Seriously! I’m sitting here at this computer barefooted. Ha! Life is too funny!

~ Stephen T. McCarthy