Thursday, April 30, 2015

New York Sports

I've been a New York sports fan my whole life.  I have my dad to thank for this.  I don't think his father was as interested in sports (except for professional wrestling), but I'm glad he is.  The Mets and the Giants are his two favorite teams, but he'll also pull for the Jets, the Rangers, the Islanders, the Knicks, and the Nets.  Anybody but the Yankees.  He hates them.  He's an old Brooklyn Dodgers fan, so I don't blame him.  The longer I live away from New York, the easier it is for me to like the Yankees because they're usually the only New York team that wins.  They give us what little bragging rights we have.  Let's face it.  It sucks to be a New York sports fan.  Our teams get the most amount of attention and have the highest expectations, but always seem to fail.  And, of course, my two favorite teams are the Mets and the Jets.  The two worst.

Since the NFL draft is tonight, I'll start with the Jets.  There isn't much to say, really.  The best thing about being a Jets fan (since Joe Namath) is that the Giants beat the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl.  How sad and pathetic is that?  Our biggest thrill in the last 45 years has been watching our crosstown rivals beat our arch-nemesis.  Here I'll say it - draft a fucking quarterback worth a damn!  Mark Sanchez wasn't the answer (although I believe the loudmouth, foot-sniffing Rex Ryan ruined his career), and neither is Geno Smith.  For the love of God, no.  Not Geno.  If Marcus Mariota is available and the Jets pass him up, I'll ... I'll ... I'll do the same thing I do every year.  Pay a million bucks for Sunday Ticket so I can shout and curse at the TV (like my dad taught me) while watching them lose.  After all, we're the team that passed up Dan Marino for Kenny O'Brien.  At least we had the Sack Exchange.  At least we had that.

Then there's the Mets.  They've won the World Series twice.  I was only a few months old the first time, so I can't remember that magical year; however, their great players lasted for a few years (took us back in 1973), and I still remember Tom Seaver's tearful goodbye to the city.

Their '86 team was a different story, however.  I was 17 years-old.  I watched every single game that season.  We lived in Phoenix by then, and my dad installed a gigantic satellite dish in the backyard for the sole purpose of watching New York sports on television.  I'm not talking about one of those dinky dishes you see today in suburbia attached to the roofs of houses like Mickey Mouse ears, either.  I'm talking about fucking NASA satellites, the kind that search for extra-terrestrial life in the universe.

Keith Hernandez was (and will always be) my favorite player.  I can't tell you how excited I was when he appeared on my favorite show, Seinfeld, a few years later.  But we also had (I'll go around the horn with Bob Murphy's voice playing in my head) Wally Backman, Rafael Santana, Ray Knight, Mookie Wilson, Lenny Dykstra, Darryl Strawberry, Gary Carter, and Dwight Gooden.  What a lineup!  If I'd managed that team, I would've won several championships.  Davey Johnson - what a worthless piece of shit he was!  Couldn't control his own team.  And damn his fucking platoon system.  I could strike out Tim Teufel right now.

By the way, I feel the same way about the 1990's Atlanta Braves and the worst manager of all-time - Bobby Cox.  Who the hell has Greg Maddux, Tommy Glavine, and John Smoltz on the mound for all those years and walks away with only one ring?  Terrible.  And they weren't even snorting cocaine (that I know of).  At least that gave Davey Johnson some sort of excuse, as pitiful as it may be.

Back to the Mets.  Everybody remembers the Billy Buckner error, as well they should.  But that entire season was pure magic.  Dare I say, amazin'?  You win 108 games in the MLB, and you're doing something special.  No doubt.  But it's been all down hill from there.  Even their most recent 11-game win streak was tough to get jazzed about.  I know they're doomed to fail.  They're losers.  That's what they do best.  Sure, pitching wins championships (they have that), but you need offense to make it to the playoffs (they don't have that).  They'll sputter and cough like the dying engine of my old '79 Nova.  They always do.  That's why it sucks to be their fan.  I can hear my uncle (a huge Boston sports fan, but I still love him) telling me, "Forget the Mets, Tommy.  Forget the Mets."  But I can't.  Loyalty is our most important quality.  I'm an Italian from Brooklyn, after all.  My great-grandmother cooked meals for Al Capone!  What do you expect?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Queensboro - The First Chapter

I'm excited to announce that my second novel Queensboro will be available through CreateSpace and in a few short weeks.  Queensboro is the follow-up to Crow Creek, a novel I wrote roughly 18 months ago after I dreamed of a young mother being buried alive in a sinkhole.  That first book tackled heavy issues, including the loss of a child, religious hypocrisy, marital infidelity, and fracking.  I'm pleased with Crow Creek.  I received solid reviews and made a few dollars along the way.  Queensboro isn't exactly a sequel.  Sure, some of the same characters show up.  Sheriff Gleason and Black Jesus are there.  Where would Crow Creek be without them?  But I had a different story to tell this time.  I wrote about health care corruption, gentrification, racial discrimination, police brutality, and feminism.  I masked these issues behind acid-dripping death worms and some of the best villains I've ever crafted.  I thought it might be nice to share the first chapter with my readers.  You can learn more about me by visiting my website

Amanda Simmons didn’t leave Jacobs Court after lunch the day she freed Grayson Helms from his scaffold.  The Red Queen was too excited about the next morning’s Sector Six dispersal to account for which of her executives returned to Carolina EnTech for afternoon meetings anyhow.
Amanda had moved to North Carolina for all the right reasons.  The mild climate (the Pacific Northwest was dreary even for her tastes).  College sports, especially basketball.  Low taxes, thanks to the conservatives in office.  Affordable real estate.  Warm people.  Good Christians with strong family values and dedicated support for private schools, free enterprise, and small government.  So trusting.  She could probably stay the rest of her life.
She crept into the triklinion, the red python birthmark warming the back of her neck.  Grayson was one of the early donors, if not the first, so they kept his bed on the third subfloor.  The dining room was quiet, except for the buzzing machines, and sterile.  Amanda punched a few buttons to override the system and silence the alarms.  She couldn’t take any chances.  There were enough lab assistants and sentries to cause a stir, even though many of them weren’t on the feed.
Grayson lay naked and prostrate on the scaffold, his cock shriveled to a useless nub.  Amanda found the human body repulsive and tossed a flimsy gown over him so she didn’t have to see any more than she needed.
When she unscrewed the first conduit, the fitting hissed.  The connections hadn’t been lubricated for a while.  Grayson didn’t move his eyeless totem-pole face, but Amanda knew life existed somewhere inside.  Had to.  The drainers couldn’t survive without fresh blood.
They had the drug to thank for that.
After she finished, Amanda led Grayson down the platform.  He could barely walk.  The engineers supplied enough nutrients (peripheral neuropathy was an ongoing concern) but only minimal exercise between feedings.  She held his hand as they climbed the escape stairs and left the apartment building in darkness.  His palms were cold and clammy.
Chances were Braudie Meyer would take the blame for the breach.  The Red Queen hated him and the rest of her executives.  They asked too many questions.  Amanda knew when to keep her mouth shut.
Maybe the Red Queen would point a crooked finger at another flunky.  What did it matter?  Some random employee would be held accountable.  An engineer who’d worked on the Skull Project with Grayson many moons ago, perhaps.  Amanda didn’t care.  All she wanted was a break down in the system.  A failure.  She’d been making her way through clinical laboratories for years trying to latch onto the right program.  Never used the same name or background.  Identities and résumés simple enough to falsify.  Corporate bigwigs easy to manipulate.
Once she snatched control of EnTech from the Red Queen, then she’d be free to negotiate the way she wanted.  The Red Queen had made the mistake of thinking the power resided in the drug.  The truth was that domestic and foreign defense contractors would pay stellar prices for advances in biological weaponry.  Not to mention how much Sector Six would fetch on the black market.  There were all kinds of desperate militants and underground terrorists sick enough to launch an invasion.
Amanda knew the power was in the money, but one step at a time.
First Grayson Helms.
What would happen after that?  Well, she’d just have to wait and see, wouldn’t she?