Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2017/01/31 - Freddie

When I was 13, I lived two houses down from a pedophile. I didn't know he was a pedophile, I just thought he was a cool older guy, about ten years younger than my dad. 

We lived on a busy city street with lots of people, cars, trucks, and busses going by. It wasn't unusual for people to hang out on their front stoops.

It seemed as if Freddie was always sitting on his front stoop smoking cigarettes when I walked by. He was super friendly and before long I was stopping and talking with him for a while. One day he asked me if I wanted to come in his apartment for a couple of beers. I jumped at the opportunity. 

We were on our second beer when he asked if I wanted to see some cool pictures. I was totally blown away! He had an album full of pictures of himself with real movie stars at events like the Oscars. I was impressed, and getting real high from the two beers. 

He was sitting right next to me on his sofa and had the picture album open between us when I felt his hand creeping up my thigh. I jumped up, walked towards the door and said "Freddie I think I need to go." 

He got the hint.

One night, a couple of years later, there was a crowd in front of Freddie's house with men screaming for him to come out. I never got the details, but there was some incident with a young kid who lived around the corner. Now his father, older brothers, friends and onlookers were outside his house screaming and banging on his apartment door. Freddie never came out, but the whole neighborhood saw the incident and soon after Freddie moved away. 

Fast forward 20 years. I was living in upper Westchester County, hours away from my old neighborhood and dating a woman who, at the time had a 16 year old brother, Billie.  

One night she told me that her parents were worried about Billie. He was hanging out with this older guy that owned a bar in Manhattan. Then she said he recently took Billie to the Grammys. That got my attention and I asked if she knew his name. She said Freddie, and I almost fainted. She also say that she had a picture back in her apartment of Billie and Freddie sitting at a table at the Grammies. I couldn't wait to see it. 

Looking at the picture I immediately knew it was him, even though he had aged considerably. It sent a chill through my body knowing he was still out there and still on the hunt for boys. 

Sometimes it a small world. 


Monday, January 30, 2017

2017/01/30 - The Little Rich Bully

The year was 1960, the location was Queens, NYC. Tall maple trees lined streets shading the the daylight sun from kids playing below. On summer days the street on my block was like a playground. Girls were jumping rope. Boys were playing ball. Little kids were spinning tops or playing skully with bottle caps. Some rode bicycles, some rode roller skates. Some just drew pictures on the blacktop street with colored chalk. Every once in a while a car would pass, interrupting the activities, but that was okay. Meanwhile parents watched from their stoops and porches. 

This may sound like heaven for kids, but there were also bullies and fights. 

South Ozone Park was a white Italian neighborhood with a mafia element, spotlighted in the movie "Goodfellas", in an era when street gangs were being romanticized by movies like "West Side Story".

I was 9, and my cousin Gary was 11, and we were playing in the street when a group of kids rode up to us on bikes and started a fight. I don't remember much of the fight, except hearing afterwards that Gary gave one of the smaller kids "nuggies" while his friends rode off in defeat. 

But the very next day when Gary had gone home to his own neighborhood, I saw that smaller kid walking towards me with his older brother who was even older and bigger than I was. The younger boy was pointing to me, while his brother started attacking me, saying I needed to "pick on someone my own size". There were street fighting rules. 

So he proceeded to kick my ass in front of the whole neighborhood. I don't remember too much of that fight either, except it ended with me on the ground with him sitting on top of me, holding down my biceps with his knees, freeing up his hands to hit my face.

I remember I kept trying to reach up with my legs to grap around his head, and almost succeeded the first time, but just wore myself out trying again and again. Meanwhile he kept slapping the sides of my face again and again and again, telling me to "give'.  

The funny thing was that the whole neighborhood was watching from the sidelines, kids and adults, and no one even tried to break it up. I deserved that beating, it was sanctioned, and I was totally humiliated. Eventually I gave up, and walked the 100 feet to the front door of my house in shame. In retrospect I realize that beating humbled me and taught me a good lesson about being a bully. 

I thought about the story today as I read the latest Donald Trump news. Ironically the Donald and I are only a few years different in age and he actually grew up only 5 miles away from me. 

I wondered if the little rich bully ever got his ass kicked like that. Probably not. 


Friday, January 27, 2017

2017/01/27 - Scream therapy, Orange no more?, Orientation

Ok I'll admit that I'm a little bit strange. One of the things I sometimes do while I'm riding alone and out of earshot is sing, especially songs with a little bit of screaming. For a recommendation, "It Ain't Me Babe", by Bob Dylan is a great starter song. 

It's great therapy. 

So today I'm riding along, feeling high, feeling strong, singing along with my Trekx Titanium headphones to the song "Fools in Love" by Joe Jackson. And I'm belting out the line "Fools in love, are there any creatures more pathetic?", not realizing two women were walking ahead of me, just around the bend. 

I instinctively shut up hoping they didn't hear me, but as I passed, one of the woman said "Sounded good!" I said thanks, but was totally embarrased. 

Has anyone noticed that Trump's hair is turning from orange to gray/white?

Sexual orientation = who you make love with
Gender orientation =  who you make love as


Monday, January 23, 2017

2017/01/23 - How much bullshit you got?

The year was 1969. I was sitting on a curb next to my best friend "Little Steve", waiting for a ride. Little Steve was 6'1", but nevertheless one inch shorter than I, Big Steve. 

We were just outside Kansas City Kansas and had been sitting and suffering in the hot summer sun, waiting for a ride, for over 4 hours. Earlier in the day were had been escorted off the highway by the Kansas State police, with a warning that we were only allowed to hitchhike on the entrances to the highway. Unfortunately very few cars were entering the highway using the entrance where we were waiting. 

After what seemed like an eternity, a car stopped and the driver rolled down the passenger side window shouting "How much bullshit you got?" Steve and I looked at each other, wondering what he was asking. I suspected he was inquiring if we had any drugs. We were pot heads, but smart enough not to hitchhike across the country "dirty". And actually most of the rides we got were from hippie-types anxious to turn US on. 

'What do you mean?" I asked, and he replied "I need to be at work in Denver tomorrow morning. If you guys can talk and keep me awake for the next 8 hours, you got a ride!" We jumped in his VW Beatle, and proceeded to tell that driver every story we knew.

The next morning Steve and I woke up in the living room of the driver's beautiful condo in Lakewood, CO. He had already left for work and left us alone, trusting us in his home. He left a note saying "Help yourselves to coffee and breakfast and please be sure to lock the door when you leave".

This was our first day in Colorado and we were already in love with the state. We were young and ready for adventure. Although our cardboard sign read "California or Bust", we spent the rest of our summer vacation from college in Colorado. I swore someday I would return to live there. 


Friday, January 6, 2017

2017/01/06 - 14erWorld Memories

A friend recently forwarded me the guest list for the upcoming "Gathering", a direct descendent of the "14erWorld Gathering" which was a huge party that I hosted every Fall for the members of my online website business. It's been about four years since the site has gone away, but the event has survived, albeit downsized from the extravaganza it was years ago when I was giving away calendars, climbing books, pizza, had guest speakers, raffles and vendors.

I no longer go to the event since I've become the bad-guy for shutting the site down. All of the assholes who ultimately caused me to be fed-up have been forgiven or have become heroes in the world of trolls. 

Every outdoors person dreams of making a living doing what he or she loves most. I was no exception. I dreamt of somehow making a living hiking, climbing, and taking pictures. 

But unlike most dreamers, I actually tried it. I quit a very high paid job as a software developer and gave it my very best shot. 

Unfortunately I had no business experience, no financial backing, and only enough cash to survive a few years. Add to that some bad business decisions, an aggressive competitor, and a little bad luck, and it was no surprise that the business failed.

But I came a way with a pride in the fact that I followed my dream, and I did get seven fantastic years of hiking, climbing, and taking pictures. Except for watching myself go broke, I was living the dream. 

I don't think about it much nowadays, for I have recovered nicely and "moved on" so to speak. But as a I read over the guest list, I'm once again tortured by the incredible potential that was wasted. 

Trip reports were the heart of my business, but it seemed like the members who had the most value to offer, gave the least. I had recruited almost all of the big-shots in Colorado mountaineering, but besides for a few notable exceptions, they were more interested in using my business as a platform to sell their own products, rather than adding value to 14erWorld. 

I suppose this is understandable, but I think they missed out on a golden opportunity, and this is what tortures me. I gave them a voice to promote themselves and their brand, through their adventures and they didn't take advantage of it. 

These climbers regularly climbed hard routes. They climbed unique routes. They climbed obscure peaks. They hiked in winter. They hiked in horrible conditions. They had pictures to share and stories to tell that would have members on the edge of their seats and would have ultimately kept the site alive and thriving. Instead they just chose to be vendors, too busy or too arrogant to share their adventures for free with lowly 14Worlders. 

Ultimately I am to blame for the demise of 14erWorld. A better man would have figured out how to realize the potential. I had a tiger by the tail, without the skills to hold on. 

But as one of my members so aptly put it, when 14erWorld was at its peak, it was like "catching lightning in a bottle".


Thursday, January 5, 2017

2017/01/05 - Strava Art

Strava lovers are going to love this. It's art created by GPS tracking an activity like cycling, hiking, running, etc. 

Check it out