Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer Re-Run

We are off to Maine for a week of lobster eating and probably freezing our butts off.
Since, I expect my hands to be dripping butter and clam goo all week, it would be messy for me to attempt to type a blog.

So, enjoy this entry from our trip last year. I hope I finally see a moose.


I fell when we were up in Maine last week.

Here’s what happened:

My wife, Kathie, and I always visit Pemaquid Beach when we are up there. It isn’t much of a beach by New Jersey standards. It’s rocky and weedy and the water is cold. Still, it is beautiful in a Maine way and the scene of many happy memories from the days when we went up there with the kids every year.

Then, they never enforced the two dollar per person admission charge and you could evade it altogether by entering the beach at one of its ends, rather than the main entrance. Now they are making a more concerted effort to collect it. Kathie dropped me at the end that required me to walk through a swamp to access the beach. She went to the parking lot and paid her two bucks.

After wading through the muck, I had to climb a huge mound of sand that had been placed where the swamp trail meets the beach in an apparent effort to block it. I climbed up and over this obstacle and was on the beach. Hey, two bucks is two bucks.

I found Kathie and she said she could not carry my chair and book from the parking lot. I took her ticket stub so I didn’t have to pay admission to get back on the beach and went to fetch my things.

As I was returning along the sandy path that wound in front of the concession stand and passed some picnic tables before leading to the beach, I was feeling all happy and content with my two buck savings. As usual, this was when disaster struck.

Suddenly, I lost my footing and lurched forward in a Spiral of Doom. My falls are rambling, sprawling affairs with lots of arm flapping and leg wagging ala Ray Bolger’s Straw Man.

I came to earth under a picnic table at which a late middle age woman was seated talking on her cell phone. She looked at my twisted corpse in shock and said to her phone mate: “I have to go. A man has just fallen at my feet.” Now, you know the chance to utter those words must have made her day, if not her entire vacation.
“Are you all right?” she asked. “You fell a long way.”
“Not so far,” I replied. “I’m only five foot ten.”
“No. You started to fall over there,” she said pointing at a spot 25 feet away. “ I thought for a second you were going to recover, but then you seemed to give up.” She sounded disappointed in me.

I realized I was having a conversation with someone from under a picnic table and decided now was a good time to get up and take stock.
“ I seem to be fine. Sorry for interrupting your conversation.”
I immediately launched an investigation into the causes of this calamity. I suspected divine retribution for my admission fee evasion, but soon found solid physical evidence for a more mundane explanation.

My efforts revealed the following: I tripped on a root that was hidden by the sand in the path; and I was wearing sandals.

The Witness said that she would report the root to management. In New Jersey this would have resulted in the whole area being sealed off with crime scene tape and the beach being evacuated until it could be determined if foul play was involved. This is Maine, however. Since the root was as thick as my arm, I suspected it has been happily tripping fee evaders and payers for generations.

The sandal thing is another story. I hate sandals. The only reason I was wearing them was that I was at the beach and I had a momentary brain freeze that made me think I could get away with it. Sandals, in my view, are a public health hazard. I believe New Jersey, a state that requires wearing a crash helmet for most human activities, is about to require helmets and kneepads when sandals are worn.

It should come as no surprise that people who REALLY don’t want to fall-high iron workers, tight rope walkers, mountain climbers-don’t wear sandals. I saw a History Channel special that revealed that the Fall of Rome was caused by the fact that all of the occupants were wearing sandals at the time.

Anyway, I thanked the Witness, gathered my scattered belongings and headed for the beach. Just to cover the retribution thing, next time I paid the admission.

Friday, July 17, 2009


As the Father of Pants Pocket Photography (PPP) I am pleased to announce that it is sweeping the country.

Based on overwhelming response to my last blog ("Pocket Shots") introducing the new art form it is evident that Americans from coast-to-coast are PPPing in their pants and loving it.

Funnun submitted a wonderful example she shot inside her habit. It is titled “Pocket Full of Miracles.” The good sister reports: “I haven’t had this much fun since the diocese banned corporal punishment.”

Another reader, Stopnstart, credits the photo sensation with easing his prostate condition.
“Since I started PPPing, my gonads have shrank,” he gleefully proclaims. Three cheers for your gonads, Stopnstart.

Fashionista worries that tight pants aficionados may be excluded from the fun. Fashionista, either get a smaller camera or loosen up!

Canman, a California proctologist, reports a technical breakthrough: “I have found my ColonCam works perfectly for Pants Pocket Photography. I can even double bill Blue Cross.” I think that may be cheating, Canman.

I am thinking of running a contest of reader submissions. I don’t want to spring for a prize though, so I am looking for a sponsor. That credit card company would be a good bet. They would just have to change their slogan to “What’s in your pocket?”

How about the AARP? They should jump on the bandwagon. We geezers take millions of inadvertent cell phone shots inside our pants. Now it can be perceived as a form of artistic expression, and not the onset of mental deterioration….. that can be their motto: “It’s not Alzheimer’s, it’s art.”

There’s a fly in the ointment though. I just got an email from the lawyer for Billy Mays estate saying that, prior to his demise, he was set to promo a Pants Pocket Cam for $19.99 (order right now and I’ll double the offer). Too bad, Billy. Guess I will just have to mop up my tears with my Shamoo and huckster on without you.

Singleagain sounds a cautionary note, however. His wife left him after she spotted his wedding ring, six beer bottle caps, a motel room key and a condom in his first Pants Pocket Photo. This isn’t cinema verite, singleagain. A little artistic editing is recommended.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pocket Shots

No, the photo above is not a lost work by Mark Rothko. It is the first work in a new art form, invented by me: pants pocket photography. I call this work, “Left Pocket, Blue Shorts.”

Like most great cultural discoveries it happened by accident. Several months ago as my son was cleaning all the old messages and photos from my cell phone, he remarked: “Dad, do you know you have a few gazillion photos of the inside of your pants?”

“No,” I replied, “why would I take pictures inside my trousers?”

“You probably did it by accident. With your cell phone turned on in your pocket you probably squeezed off a few shots every time you moved or turned. Didn’t you hear the clicking sound?

“Yes,” I responded, “but I thought it was my trick knee sounding off. It comes as a relief to learn it was my phone.”

“Do you want to save them?”, he asked.

I looked at the pictures all of which had a dark, murky, mysterious look about them with strange unidentifiable shapes floating like creatures at the bottom of a sea cave.

Somewhat embarrassed as I was presented with the evidence of yet another technology gaff on my part, I told him to go ahead and delete.

Now when I am walking I prevent this from happening by keeping a tight grip on the phone. Of course, the sight of a man with his hand thrust deep in his pocket grasping a hard cylindrical object, causes many of my fellow walkers to cut me a wide berth (“Is that a cell phone you’re clutching, or are you just happy to see me.”).

Upon consideration, however, I rued my haste in sending this material into oblivion. This could be the Next Big Thing. A photographer friend of mine does very nicely by taking photos of leaves in various undulating positions. He gets big bucks and has had shows at Madison Avenue galleries.

If pictures of his lawn sweepings are grist for the artistic mill, why not an in-depth study of the unexplored world of pockets? The galleries will eat it up.

The picture above is my first effort. You, dear reader, are in at the birth of a major movement.

I shot this picture by sticking the lens of my Nikon digital SLR camera into my pocket. The blasted thing won’t shoot if there is not enough light, so I had to insert a small flash light as well. Why didn’t I use shots right off my cell phone? Simple, I couldn’t figure out how to get them from my phone to the computer.

The tan objects you see in the photo are rubber bands. I keep them handy to fire at snot nose brats who walk on my lawn or at those annoying cat birds that seem to be everywhere. I shoved a supply in my shorts about a month ago and there they will reside until the clothes drier melts them into a solid lump. The black object is my cigar cutter which, frankly, I am surprised to see since I had given it up for lost.

See if you can guess the name of this work:

That’s right, “Pocket Full of Rye.” You catch on quick.

The expressive possibilities of this art form are limitless. Once I have fully explored the depths of my drawers, I will be asking celebrities to shove a camera in their own bottoms.

Stick around and see what develops.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Califon Carnival

The Califon Carnival has ended. This event held the first week in July and sponsored by the local volunteer fire company is the official start of summer in our community.

It is five nights of food, rides, games of chance, and fireworks. It is the highlight of the Califon social calendar, which doesn’t say much for the Califon social calendar.

It is small by most standards encompassing a football field size lot with perhaps a dozen rides, an equal number of games, and a few concession stands.

And like most things Califon, it is journey to a simpler past. It is exactly like the fireman’s carnivals I used to attend as boy during the summers at our lake cottage. It hasn’t changed in the 32 years that I have been attending. They switch a few rides around, add some new features, but the core remains the same.

The kids love it. Kathie and I still go. Now that our children are grown and gone, our grand nieces and nephews are the main reason for our attendance. Our nieces begin asking us around Christmas if there will be a carnival this year.

They came again last week and a fine time was had by all. Faces were painted, cotton candy consumed, and enormous sums of money spent in pursuit of winning each child a cheap trinket.

When we got back home, we sat out in the bank parking lot next to our house and watched the fireworks. Eventhough, you can’t see the ground displays from there, we have an unobstructed view of the aerial works. Years ago, our neighbors down the lane used to carry the wicker sofa from their porch up to the lot and sit and sip their beers while taking in the show.

Many “townies” go every night just to feast on clams, burgers, and the best funnel cake anywhere, while sitting at a picnic table under the bright carnival lights.

We did as well when our kids were in their early, pre-driving, teens. The carnival is a big deal with this set who dress-up in their latest duds to strut and flirt among their peers. We, like many parents, would go, take a seat on a strategically placed bench, catch up on the latest news and gossip, and keep an eye on things.

Though the carnival is still a big deal, it was a bigger deal years ago. In the days before reality TV kept people glued to their sofas, they would come from miles around to attend.

Cars would fill the town. They would park everywhere with total impunity: in driveways, on lawns, where ever they could squeeze regardless if they blocked someone else. My neighbor, a large man who wore overalls, would discourage would-be parkers by sitting on his front porch with the light on, a baseball bat clearly visible on his lap.

One night a car carrying four outlanders pulled right into my other neighbor’s side yard without so much as a by-your-leave, locked up, and marched off to the carnival. Unfortunately, they failed to note that the neighbors septic had backed up into her yard in precisely that location.

Upon their return, the revelers’ car became stuck in what they took to be mere mud. Three of them got out to push and noticed that the substance splashing on their clothes was of a more pungent, organic nature. Cries of anguish and disgust filled the air as they freed their car and proceeded on their long and odiferous journey home.

Well, this is starting to sound too much like the “Prairie Home Companion”, so enough already.