We saw our neighbor Sal Giannetti cutting the brush and brambles on either side of the old cow path going down to some land he owns behind ours with his father's scythe this afternoon. Had to rub our eyes once or twice, and then take a picture.
This back-in-time sight put me in mind of Robert Frost's poem Mowing:
There was never a sound beside the wood but one,
And that was my long scythe whispering to the ground.
What was it it whispered? I knew not well myself;
Perhaps it was something about the heat of the sun,
Something, perhaps, about the lack of sound —
And that was why it whispered and did not speak.
It was no dream of the gift of idle hours,
Or easy gold at the hand of fay or elf:
Anything more than the truth would have seemed too weak
To the earnest love that laid the swale in rows,
Not without feeble-pointed spikes of flowers
(Pale orchises), and scared a bright green snake.
The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows.
My long scythe whispered and left the hay to make.
By Johnny Mustard
I had written a very infrequent blog a few years ago called "Fatherhood in Fifty" which was basically 50-word (or fewer) snippets from my life as a doormat husband, that were so priceless and classic you know I couldn't have made them up. I initially got the idea from the emails I sent to my dad while the kids were all in diapers, and then continued because they were so cathartic and comical, on the re-reading of course.
I always started out the email with "Dad, it's bad..." and then went on to relate the latest funny/unfunny happening, usually with a punchline that was mostly unintentionally very clever, and kind of existential at the same time. To give you an example, here's one of my favorites:
Cate (4-years old) and I are riding in the car, on the way to school, or Dunkin' Donuts.
Cate: Dad, do you want to play the body-parts rhyming game?
Cate: Ok, you start.
Me: Good one Cate! Your turn.
Cate (deadpan): Tasshole.
I'm not making this stuff up. I wish I could — then I'd go to Hollywood and rake it in. Seriously, I've had several people ask me to reprise the series, so since I'm half a century old I'll rename it "Fatherhood at Fifty". When I told a friend about it he said I should call it "Dadtard". Haven't decided yet, but here's the first one:
The kids are home from school having a snack when Neuman (my 7-year old son) asks me, out of the blue:
Neuman: Dad, what's your favorite animal?
Me: What's yours Neuman?
Neuman: I love tigers. They are strong and friendly. What's yours dad?
Me: Your mother.
Neuman: She's not an animal!
Me: Oh yes she is, Neuman, yes she is.
And then there's this gem, which just happened last week:
I'm in the kitchen washing the dishes and my wife and daughter Jane are watching a movie on the computer.
Jane: Mom, why aren't you watching the movie?
Wife: I'm looking at your father.
Jane, looking at me, and then back at her mom: Excuse me while I throw up in my mouth.
When writing a letter of recommendation, you've got to realize right off the bat the Board (of anything) has waded through more b.s. and lies than everyone else in the history of the universe combined. Are you kidding me? Every single person who's ever come up before them is 100% perfect, Christ-like in his compassion, wisdom, generosity, etc. It's nauseating just to think about the extent of the hyperbole.
So it'll behoove you to take the exact opposite tack instead:
77 Park Avenue Condominium
77 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10016
To Whom It May Concern:
Here's the bottom line — you don't want Dan Berger and his wife Kyle in your building and I'll tell you why.
(To start off parenthetically with an aside, brain surgery is not rocket science. That doesn't mean it's a piece of cake, but it's not like you're trying to send someone to the dark side of the moon and back or anything.)
First thing you're going to need is a patient. Preferably one with a brain tumor. If you can't find one with an actual tumor, find someone you don't like, or who's dumb anyway in case something goes wrong. As an aikido teacher I read about once very succinctly put it: sometimes you have to waste a guy to restore harmony to the situation.
The first thing to remember whenever you're involved in any kind of betting situation is to not be an idiot. If you already are an idiot, try not to act like one.
Pay attention, you're about to go to school. You might even learn something for a change, something worthwhile this time. There are two basic kinds of craps— casino craps (or bank craps) and street craps, better known as "shooting dice." Actually, there are a lot more variations than that, but for simplicity sake we're going to limit our discussion to those two.
I once played a game of street craps, and I use the term "played" very loosely, in the trunk of a friend of mine's mint white Lincoln Versailles (look at that blue leather Landau roof!) in East Pawtucket, Rhode Island circa 1976, but the lessons learned from that little misadventure, for me at least, are not something I can easily convey to you champs out there today without a tire iron handy.
I'm not usually caught with my pants down, not intentionally anyway, but there I was with them around my ankles in the middle of the night on a deserted island when I heard it. Imagine an infuriated bull gnu snorting into a megaphone. I wheeled around incredulous, but then I heard it again. It was so loud I had to laugh. Gored to death on a desolate beach without any pants on—the comic possibilities were endless!
It's a recurring dream: I'm enjoying breakfast in the sky, with a 360 degree panorama of the earth below me. I think I can even see it rotating slightly, slowly. The blue is azure, the sun's blinging. It's quiet while I shovel a couple of delicious croissants in. The stewardess asks me if I'd like more coffee. I say yes, and then she proceeds to pour it into my lap. By accident — the plane has been hit by a missile it feels like. Or maybe a bomb blew up on board. I can't tell, because there's shattered glass flying all over the place and I can't hear anything. Then I wake up.
If you really think about it, there are only three words you need to know in French: bonjour, croissant, and... surrender. Just kidding. I was having dinner with a friend recently and his father, the caricature crazy Frenchman from Woonsocket (RI) happened to be in town for dinner. The "Colonel" told me, once he found out I had lived in Paris, that a man couldn't consider himself civilized unless he spoke French, which sounded a bit ironic in that accent of his. Or maybe he said "sophisticated", which would make it even ironicer.
Even though the conversation was mostly a hilarious, hyphentated-adjective-filled diatribe against a mutual acquaintance, it got me thinking about what you need to know, if you don't actually speak the language, to sound like you do at the next croquet/cocktail party you're invited to. And I'm not going to waste my time with the simple stuff like soupcon, decolletage or je ne sais quoi— if you don't know those already then don't bother reading any further.
There's a lot of "recalcitrance" in poetry, but try to find something that rhymes with it! Seriously, we feel like we're trying to live poetically in a certain sense over here, and we're surrounded by it everyday, but most of the time we're just 'getting and spending' and miss it.
Sure, we know it's historically anti-establishment to not wear a tie, and we are a t-shirt company for crying out loud, but we think it's kind of smartsy and cool to sport one every once in a while. For effect, of course.
"Indian Summer" is a seat-of-the-pants feature-length documentary we wrote, produced and directed about Indian Motorcycles. We also did the tongue-in-cheek advertising campaign, which was so effective we sold out immediately when Hollywood called, I mean all the copies we had in less than 2 months.
It was such a blast making this movie — we learned something new every day, put out a product with guts and class, and made a bunch of money in the bargain — isn't that what success is all about? We also met a ton of characters even Central Casting couldn't make up — check out this classic clip (and quip) of Irenee Dupont, nephew of the owner Paul Dupont, riding his 1953 Chief in the house, with wife Barb on the back:
Recalcitrance is a terrible thing to waste.
THE OFFICIAL UPPITY HANDBOOK is our attempt at a know-it-all guide to the really important stuff in life, like "How to be the world's worse dad without even trying" and "Three must-read books if you're on death row." Just kidding.
This one says it all: Common sense. Nerve. Backbone. Self-reliance. Perseverance. Integrity. 3 o'clock-in-the-morning courage. Seriously, why not flaunt your lack of political correctness with wit and style, and a little grit to boot?
What you/they're made of.
This 100% cotton, Made-in-the-USA Uppityshirt is not distressed, pre-shrunk, or faked to look like you've worn it forever, because you haven't. We believe you can't buy character. If you want your Old's Cool to look old school, you know what you have to do — wear it out into the world and make something of yourself.
Catholic Virtues and 7 Deadly Sins.
A quick list, in case you forgot — Cardinal, theological, mortal and venal. All included.
prudence, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope and charity
sloth, greed, lust, gluttony, pride, envy, and wrath
Are you Old School?
Email your photos and your stories to us at: Elbow Grease is the Word! The best ones will get posted here — and we may even send you something free for the effort.
We visited Jim Petty yesterday and took a picture of him and his gorgeous Jaguar XK120 (large photo, above), while comparing notes on our old school childhoods. Thanks, Jim.
We just got this email from Valerie Martinez:
"Yesterday, for the first time, I wore my Old's Cool shirt that I won through A.Word.A.Day. I was walking through the grocery store and a man (in his 40s maybe) laughed out loud and then said to me, 'Love your shirt! Thanks for the smile!'
So thank YOU again for the shirt!"
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