Enjoy the hilarious comedy of Big Daddy Graham, a wonderful dinner, open bar of beer and wine and amazing raffle prizes benefiting the Colette W. Bleistine Paying It Forward Foundation on Friday, April 27, 7:00 PM at Bogey's Cafe & Club, 501 Pitman Road, Pitman, NJ . Click here for tickets!
Click on Ray to hear the amazing ovation he got at the Pitman's Broadway Theatre on Saturday, February 10th, which was the first Saturday of our Super Bowl!
BIG DADDY'S CLASSIC ROCK THROWDOWN
If you are a music lover and you haven't been listening to BIG DADDY'S CLASSIC ROCK THROWDOWN with Spins Nitely, then check it out!
Every THURSDAY at 8 PM. Listen live athttp://wildfireradio.com/big-daddy-graham. By the way, all you have to do is click on that wildfire blue line and the most current show will AUTOMATICALLY begin to play, Just give it a moment
This week on BIG DADDY'S CLASSIC ROCK THROWDOWN?
WE SALUTE ... SPINS NITELY!
Don’t forget last week’s ONE HIT WONDERS (part 2) Don’t miss!
TRIVIA AND QUIZZO...
TUESDAY ~ PJ Whelihans in Maple Shade NJ at 7 PM
My daughter Ava is running a Quizzo nite every Monday night at the NORTH QUARTER CREOLE in Wilminton DE starting at 7pm. Then it’s CHICKIE & PETE'S in Drexel Hill every Tuesday at 7 PM! Plus every Wednesday night at 8PM at PJ WHELIHANS in Haddonfield. Don't forget Thursday night at 7pm at CHICKIE & PETE'S in South Philly!That's a busy schedule!
Big Daddy Graham-Marc Farzetta & Joe Conklin taking a stab at Sinatra's "Summer Wind!" Click Here
BIG DADDY'S LOOKING FOR THE TWENTY BEST ONE HIT WONDERS
If a band comes from another country (like the Easybeats) and had other hits there, but only the one in America, then that song qualifies. If members of a band went on to great things with other bands (or came from other bands that had hits), then that one hit with the band qualifies. Like Free's "All Right Now." (Hmmm. Though their "Fire and Water" received a fair amount of FM airplay. There's a lot of rules here) )But if you are with a band that scores hits, then you have a solo hit, then you would not count as a "One Hit Wonder" as a solo act. Like John Waite. Complicated enough?
Here are the songs that have been nominated so far. This doesn't mean they will make the Final Cut.
IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER (Please don't ignore those 3 words!)
Hey! If you need any mortgage work done whatsoever get hold of my main man Ken Miller at 856-830-1131 or 609-238-3293 firstname.lastname@example.org NMLS #152270
RAVINGS FROM A MAN WHO NEVER SLEEPS... 4/15
Here’s my latest article from South Jersey Mag...
WHERE DOES A JOKE COME FROM? (IN HONOR OF APRIL FOOLS DAY)
Where does a joke come from? I’m not talking about a joke of the “three men walk in a bar” variety. I have no idea where those jokes come from. It would take a combination of Sherlock Holmes and a much better writer than me to come up with the origins to such jokes. Very few standups tell those types of jokes today. Somewhere along the way it became uncool to tell “joke-jokes.” But I love them and start off every one of my shows with such a joke as a salute and homage to them. I believe every one of us should have at least one joke-joke at our disposal. But once I get that joke out of the way, I then go into my “material.” And I can tell you where the bulk of those one liners comes from. Simple observation. You’re driving and something comes out of the radio that tickles you. Or a billboard. I might be hanging at a bar and a friend states something in an odd way. I then lay that “thought” into my “BITS” section of my I-Phone. Then before I go on stage, I write down ten of them down on index cards. Not the entire thought, just a key word. Then when I’m fifteen minutes or so into my set and I’m on stage with the crowd cooking, I literally take those cards out of my pocket. I then explain to the audience that they are about to be “Guinea pigs” for material I’ve never done before. Some get a huge laugh and then eventually become part of my show. Others bomb so bad I never try that thought again. Here are ten index cards that are in my pocket right now. “CAN’T TALK!” I love it when you call someone and they scream “I can’t talk right now!” Then why, God forbid, didn’t you let it go straight to voicemail? It’s 7pm and I know you’re not in work.
DRY CLEANERS I’ve been going to dry cleaners for over fifty years. Just once, just one stinkin’ time, I would love to hand the woman my ticket, and have her say, “Oh, here’s your pants right here.” That has never happened to me. Never. The odds are astronomical for that never to have happened just one time. But no, she’ll push that button and the carousel wheel thing will go from here to Kansas and back before my pants will turn up. Please, just one time.
MARIAH CAREY Ever wonder if Mariah Carey could sing in a turtleneck sweater? Madonna is the only woman on earth who has sold more music than Ms. Carey, and I’ve yet to fully hear one note that Mariah has ever sing because . . . .well . . . .let’s just say I’m distracted. Every note of her entire career has been sung with maximum cleavage. I’m certainly not complaining, just wondering.
TRAFFIC LIGHT I have never, in twenty two years of living in Jersey, gotten the light at Rt. 70 & Springdale. No matter what direction I approach that intersection from, I get that light. And I could name many, many other Jersey crossroads. How can this be?!
CABLE BILL Ever wonder if when a woman who lives in the Philippines calls to complain about her cable bill, some dude who lives in Mt. Laurel picks up the phone? “Hey, why you calling me, ya meathead!? I’m in Jersey. I got your cable bill right here!
NEGATIVE ENERGY Everyone is always so quick to jump on your case for using energy in a negative way. “Why you wasting your time getting upset over something that you can’t control?” I’m sure these same people remain perfectly calm when the person in front of them at the bank is trading in thousands of pennies that they have been saving up since the Korean War. So why doesn’t someone invent a car that runs smoother when you’re flipping the bird at a car that won’t get out of the passing lane? How about a vehicle that burns less fuel when you’re cursing out some teenager backing out of a Wawa while they’re texting? A car that encourages you to lose your temper. I’m telling you, I’m on to something.
QUICKSAND When I was a kid, someone in a TV show or movie was always stepping in quicksand where they would sink their way to a slow and bizarre death. Now I can’t tell you the last time I’ve seen a quicksand scene. Same thing with piranha and mountain lions. Geez, I recall that there were sewers where if your wiffle ball rolled down it, that ball was history because the bottom of that sewer was rumored to be teeming with piranha. It’s all gone the way of truth serum. But what do I really miss? Movies with giant Roman boats that were powered by fifty slaves or so rowing at the bottom of the ship. Now imagine this. You’ve committed some crime like shoplifting a piece of bread or maybe you were just born into into the wrong family at the wrong time. “Herb, I know you’ve just turned sixteen, but the best I can offer you is a rowing position on the “Roman Candle.” Granted, that’s all you’re gonna do the rest of your life and it’s a bit smelly, but you will be in the best shape of your life.” Alright, there’s your destiny. No junior Prom. No Netflix. No Panzarotti’s. Just rowing. Every day for the rest of your life. It can’t get much worse than that, right? But wait, it does. Because they’ve neglected to tell you that they’ve hired this drummer from the Vikings Marching Band that you must row in beat to or this huge muscle-bound oaf will whip you. Are you kidding me? Just once I’d like to see one of these slaves go, “you know what, that’s it. I’ve had it. Just kill me now. It’s not like I’ve got the weekend to look forward to.” I’ve always wondered why all these slaves didn’t do that. What would the owners of these ships do? They’d be stuck in the middle of the ocean. These rowers needed better union representation.
MASSIVE As if the words “heart attack” aren’t enough, why must one insist on placing the word massive in front of them? Believe me, if I have two friends of mine die from a heart attack, I’m not going to feel any worse for the friend with the massive attack. And it seems like the work massive only applies to heart attacks. Ever hear anyone complain about a massive splinter?
SPRING WATER I was in a Raymour & Flanagan recently buying a pull out couch. The friendly salesman at one point offered me bottled water, which I graciously accepted. The water bottle said “Raymour & Flanagan on it. Hmmm, I was unaware of the “Raymour” spring in the Alps. Or the “Flanagan” streams in Switzerland. (Which is where I always imagine these streams of water to be)
CAR TOWED It’s amazing how much humor there is out there that you couldn’t make up if you tried. I was recently parking my car when I noticed a sign that said “CARS TOWED AT OWNERS EXPENSE” Like the grubby guy behind the grubby counter when you go to reclaim your car is going to go “Yeah, we got your car, but you know what? You don’t have to pay to get it back. It’s on us.” Thanks a lot, pal.
Any humorous observations you like to share? Send them to bigdaddy295@aol. Happy April Fools Day!
My latest article in the Sea Isle Times...
SINCE WE LAST TALKED
Since we last talked? Well, let’s see. Something that all of you reading this have been waiting for your entire lives finally occurred. THE EAGLES WON THE SUPER BOWL!!! Sea Isle has always been an amazing Philly sports town. I remember the summer the Birds signed Terrell Owens. I strolled into one of Secret Service’s Jam Sessions and they were chanting “T.O. T.O. T.O T.O.” and he had not played a down yet. Imagine how nutty it’s going to be this summer? I can’t wait! And how cool is it that one Jason Kelce is a Sea Isle regular? He’s so insanely popular now, he’ll need a posse of security around him just to a hoagie. But my daughter Ava, who knows him a little bit, swears that’s not his style and imagines he’ll be just as accessible as always. Expect to see a record amount of Eagle beach towels, hats, umbrella’s, etc. this summer. Here’s an idea. I think one of Sea Isle’s bars should have one, and only one, TV that no matter what time of the day or night you go to that club, that TV is showing Super Bowl LII. 24/7. Wouldn’t that be too cool? You would actually bring a friend who maybe hadn’t been down this summer yet to proudly show that TV to them. Let me hear you all the way to Strathmere, E-A-G-L-E-S!
THE WATERMELON HOUSE It was painted pink and turquoise by Sue & Don Dorff in 1984 after their kids picked the colors. It sat on the corner of 35th & Central and was instantly recognized at great distances from sea and air. It was one of the more unique dwellings in Sea Isle history. Although, Don and Sue were not the original owners, the first thing they did when they bought it was paint it those remarkable hues and add the deck you see in the photo here. Every Memorial Day Weekend they would put up this poster. They transformed their garage into the infamous Lemon Lounge that was so popular there were lines to get in on the weekends. Sue had this amazing grill permanently placed in the driveway and often I would walk over there to hear her exclaim, “Oh, you’re just in time for a burger.” (Like that was an accident) Alas, Don and Sue have moved to Florida and this magnificent dwelling was leveled over the winter. It should have received a “national landmark” certificate where it would have been against the law to touch even one of the deck spokes which, (As you can see if you look closely) all had a different color, painted lovingly by their daughter Keiley. The house may have been demolished, but you can’t erase the memories of all the fantastic times I had at that house. Good luck Don and Sue. I hope there are no beach tags in Florida.
GOVENOR CHRISTIE LEAVES OFFICE First he ordered us off the beach. Then he sits on a beach that supposedly was closed. (Does a North Jersey beach qualify as a “real beach?”) Now I’m not overtly political, so I’m going to leave my judgments of his work to myself, but I will say this. Somewhere in North Jersey this summer, there’s going to be a beach with less room on it when he plops his heavily fortified beach chair on it. I know. A fat joke. I couldn’t resist.
TOM PETTY Many awesome musicians passed since last summer ended. Fats Domino, Malcolm Young (of AC/DC), David Cassidy (My wife had a huge crush on him back in the day), Robert Knight (of “Everlasting Love” fame,) but none will have the effect on Sea Isle’s legendary music scene that the death of Tom Petty will have. While many bands perform AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long,” there is not a band, or a solo artist accompanied with just an acoustic guitar, who doesn’t perform “Free Fallin’” or “American Girl” or “I Won’t Back Down” to name just a few of the incredible suitcase of songs that Tom Petty left us. “He wrote songs that only did everyone know the words to, but he wrote them in keys that made them comfortable for everyone to sing. For an artist who sold millions of records, he was STILL underrated” says Greg of the legendary Juliano Brothers, who says they could do an entire set of Petty tunes and no one would complain. So this summer when you’re belting out a Petty tune, take a moment to pause and relect on the incredible Tom Petty. MARK EIDENBERG We lost a great one over the winter when Mark tragically passed away on January 4th. For over 20 summers, a buddy of mine by the name of Darren DeGaetano and I had a beautiful routine . I’d be sitting on the beach and I’d get a one-word text. CAROUSEL? I’d put down my Daily News, tell my wife I’ll be right back, and walk up to 43 St. (For the record, “right back” in Sea Isle loosely translates into “three and a half hours.”) I’d walk up and there would be Mark behind the bar. His standard “hello” was usually something along the lines of “Hey Big Guy. Still on the air? I stopped listening to you a long time ago.” He was so sarcastically funny. Who knows how many thousands of us were served by Mark? Over 20 summers he worked that bar. He’s on the Mt. Rushmore of Sea Isle bartenders. Bars are made of so many facets. Liqour. Music. Food. Barstools. Glasses. Bottles. But bars succeed or fail because of the men and women behind the bar.
Mark was a dedicated family man who not only was a terrific athlete, so were his and his wife Terry’s sons that he also coached. The Dennis Township Football Association was an organization that he loved and gave countless heartfelt hours to. But what more can you say of any person who passes than “he was a really nice guy.” That’s pretty much it, isn’t it? And that he was, that he was. He was as integral to this town as sand. I guarantee you that the first time I get that “CAROUSEL?” text from my buddy this summer, our beers will be a little salty because they’ll be mixed with tears. Miss you already, Mark.
THE TWINS “My daughter Keely gave birth to her twins, Jameson and Lucy on August 8th. Please read the lettering on the sign in this photo and tell me this isn’t the coolest photo ever!” My daughter’s husband Matt is raising them right.
My latest article in the 7 Mile Times...
COMEDY IN AVALON & STONE HARBOR
I imagine I am at a point in time where I have to explain who Ed McMahon was to younger readers. He was Johnny Carson’s longtime sidekick on “The Tonight Show.” “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” was not the first late night talk show. Steve Allen and Jack Parr own that distinction, but Carson perfected it. And the template that Johnny and Ed created is still in place today for Kimmell, Fallon, Colebert and crew. And Ed McMahon? Ed perfected the sidekick role so well by laughing at Johnny’s jokes, playing straight man during skits like “Karnac The Magnificent,” that most of today’s late night hosts don’t even bother with a sidekick. Not to mention that Ed’s responsible for one of the more legendary moments in cinema history when a murderous Jack Nicholson in “The Shining” chops his way through a door and exclaims “Here’s Johnny!” That was Ed’s famous line when he would introduce Carson at the beginning of every show. So why am I mentioning Ed at all? Well, Ed helped make Avalon famous because he owned a house at 19th and the beach beginning in the late sixties and seventies and Ed and Johnny would talk about Avalon frequently when they would chat about what they did over the weekend on their Monday show. And as a Jersey shore loving young teenager, that just filled me up with pride. Avalon? Our Avalon?! I mean you couldn’t get much bigger than the Tonight Show. Particularly when it came to breaking comics, so I even took more special notice. So, since throughout the 80’s and up to a few summers ago, I booked comedy nights at four different clubs in Stone Harbor and Avalon, I thought I would remind you of some of the amazing standups that have graced the stages over the years on our 7 mile island. Please take notice that I am putting these comics in alphabetical order. I don’t want anybody thinking I favor one over the other. They are all amazing talents.
JAY BLACK Jay has written over three movies for the Hallmark Channel starring the likes of Paul Sorvino, Erika Christensen, Joe Piscopo, Scott Wolf, and many others. As a standup he has won the College Comic of the Year three times. Trust me, a stop as a standup on one of the late nights or a Golden Globe nomination (The Oscars disgracefully rarely nominate comedies) as a writer is in the works for Jay. You’ll remember you read it here.
JOE CONKLIN The most brilliant impressionist ever. Period. Most folks, and rightfully so, are amazed how drop dead perfect his voices are. But what’s not appreciated enough is how brilliant of a writer he is. Week after week, month after month, year after year, Joe has to keep producing new songs and new bits. And don’t forget when a new player, coach, celebrity or politician (Both his Trump and Obama were perfect) are in the news, he has to master that voice immediately. He’s uncanny.
TODD GLASS Todd is a regular on Jimmy Kimmell, Conan O’Brien, Tosh.0, to name just a few TV programs, and was the first comic who went on before me where I said “I’ll never follow that maniac again.” A complete lunatic on stage.
DOM IRRERA Bada bing! One of the funniest cats ever, I just worked with him at the Tropicana in Atlantic City a month ago where he’s still packing them in and that showroom seats 2000! He’ll hate that I’m writing this, but he was already a legend when I began my career. He was one of the first “local” comics that I saw where I said to myself “What’s the point, I’ll never get that good.” An amazing standup with a long line of acting credits including “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” “Seinfeld” “The Big Lebowski” and the currently running Showtime hit “I’m Dying Up Here.” I opened up for him at The Rocking Chair because I knew he was coming from another show and possible could be late. I ended up stretching my set to 50 killer minutes until I saw he was there. I mean I smoked the room and within ten minutes the audience forgot I even existed! And he’s funnier than ever. I was standing next to Dom once when a stranger approached and asked Dom what kind of humor dud he do? And Don replied “The funny kind.”
ROSIE O’DONNELL No need to rattle off credits when you are a “household” name. People forget that before Rosie became the icon that she is today, she was one hell of a high energy, take-no-prisoners standup. Stinkin’ hilarious. I wish she would perform in the area more.
MIKE SACCONE Performed many times on the 7 mile and dig this story. Mike and I once discovered that we both enjoyed counting money on Sunday mornings. You usually got paid on Saturday nights after a three day or weekend engagement. Well, Mike had reached the final round of “Star Search” and if he beat a comic named “Spanky”
RAVINGS FROM A MAN WHO NEVER SLEEPS... 3/5
Here's my latest article for the South Jersey Mag...
On Dec. 15, I had a decision to make. Joe Conklin and I always have a guest emcee for our Two Funny PhillyGuys extravaganzas and the show was scheduled for the Broadway Theatre in Pitman on Feb. 10. However, for advertising purposes, I had to nail down the emcee by this December date. We had used NFL Hall of Famer RayDidinger before and the crowd always loved him. So his name was in the mix. The Eagles were 11-2 on Dec. 15 and talk of the Super Bowl was in the air. But the Eagles had just lost Carson Wentz for the season. I kept looking at that Feb. 10 date and realized that would be the first Saturday after Super Bowl LII. What if a miracle happened and the Birds still managed to get to Minnesota and win the stinkin’ thing? Wouldn’t it be wild if Ray was the emcee that night? On the other hand, if the Eagles collapsed, the show might be better off having an emcee that wasn’t so tied to the Birds. I rolled the dice. I booked Ray and the night exceeded my wildest dreams. When Ray got introduced the ovation was deafening and went on for a minute and a half, and if you don’t believe that sounds that long, give the ovation a listen at BigDaddyGraham.com.
So let’s review. The game was awesome. The fact that I was the first full-time host on 94WIP after the game was an honor. The parade was every bit as memorable as we dreamt it would be. Jason Kelce’s speech was one for the ages. But it was the truly genuine and heartwarming standing ovation that Ray Didinger received that Saturday night that I will always remember the most. Here’s more from South Jersey residents who were either at the game, the parade, or both!
Gerald is from Sicklerille. He had a successful mobile disc jockey business called “Party Time” that performed at weddings and private parties. He did a private party for Sammy Hagar on the Camden Riverfront and Sammy made him an offer to join him on the road, which he did, leaving everything behind. A year and a half later, he decided to become an actor and he hasn’t stopped working yet. “The hardest thing for me to leave behind was my Eagles season tickets. I’m one of those ‘bleed green’ guys,” he says. Gerald has a buddy who works in an NFL front office, so Gerald was offered a free ticket to the Super Bowl. Free! But he had a decision to make. “I was so confident that the Birds were going to win, that I contemplated not going to the game, and coming home for the parade. I couldn’t do both. But a free ticket?! That’s an easy decision.” He found a room 20 miles outside the city, Ubered himself around and had a blast witnessing, in my opinion, the Greatest Football Game of All Time.
CATHY AND JEFF WEATHERBY
The Weatherbys’ tickets, however, were decidedly not free. They were offered ticket packages through Jeff’s company, but they were ridiculously expensive. If the Mantua residents and longtime Eagles season ticket holders were to go to the game, a lifelong dream, they would not be able to pay for one year of their son Conner’s high school tuition. “So he misses senior year, no big deal,” Cathy decided. “I’m sure college admissions bigwigs will understand that we’re talking the Eagles and the Super Bowl here.” I’m sure they’re joking, but who knows? They ended up meeting Brian Westbrook, just about every media head on Radio Row, and had dinner in the same restaurant with Carson Wentz on Saturday. “We’d do it all again in a heartbeat. It was the most exciting trip ever,” says Jeff. “I hope they go to the Super Bowl next year.” Not sure if Conner, or their other two kids, Ryan and Sean, feel the same.
Pat and Mike, who haven’t missed a game in 17 years, grew up in Gloucester City and are now Mullica Hill residents. I have traveled to London, Paris, Rome and Camden, and everywhere I vacation, other tourists, no matter what part of the world they’re from, will always ask me the same question when they find out I’m from America. “Oh, I guess you know Pat Settar?” So of course the entire family was at the parade. Mike explains, “We were expecting a nightmare of a journey, but we took the PATCO from the Ferry Avenue station, and had our standing spot on Broad Street by 8:30 a.m. The whole trip took about a half hour. We just got lucky. We saw every player and every coach and then walked up the Parkway and caught all the speeches. A day we’ll never forget.”
JAMESON & LUCY
My daughter Keely’s twins were born on Aug. 9, 2017 and if ever a picture told a thousand words, this is the one.
See you at next year’s parade!
A ROW HOME CHRISTMAS...
First of all, thanks to the almost 2,000 of YOU who came out to see the show. My whole career has been "no you~no me."
Most importantly, I must thank the director of the show, Anthony SanFilippo. It's not easy to direct the star of the show when he also wrote the piece and from day one, Anthony let it be known who was the boss and he made the show tighter and funnier. Go see ANYTHING he directs.
To the amazing talents who hosted the very entertaining and often hilarious Q&A's after the show. (Alphabetical order) Angelo Cataldi, Ray Didinger, Phil Heron, Rhea Hughes, Mike Jerrick, Eleanor Kerrigan, Glen Macnow, Rob Maaddi, Phil Martelli, and Spins Nitely.
To the media members who went out of their way to help promote the show. (Alphabetical order) Bryan Cole, Joe Conklin, Thomas Drayton, Spike Eskin, Marc Farzetta, Ava Graham, Karen Hepp, Robert Huber, Lauren Johnson, Ken Katz, Paul Kurtz, Andrew Porter, Charlie Scalies, Cindy Webster, Neal Zoren, Wildfire Radio, and 94WIP.
Matt Boyle (who you should contact at email@example.com if you need any video, film, or audio work), he's amazing. To my daughter Keely for giving me the greatest Christmas present ever, the fantastic twins, Lucy & Jameson. (Matt also contributed)
The Players Club of Swarthmore welcomed me with open arms and both their stages are excellent venues to see a show. Let me thank their friendly and professional staff who personally worked on my show. (In alphabetical order) George Ainsle, Jen Armstrong, Betsy Berwick, Donna Dougherty, Reba Ferdman, Emily Fishman, Amy Graham, Lee Greenwood, Rick Greenwood, Dave Griffith, Esther Grubb-McKinnie, Charlie Hoover, Carolyn Hopson, Harriet Hudgins, Rebecca Jami, Dani Kennedy, Lori Knickerbocker, Denise Kolodziej, Dot Kowal, Suzette Krausen, Sue Larson, Chuck Lowry, Pat Maze, Mikhaela McKinnie, Leslie Miller, George Mulford, Reine Patterson, Marissa Perri, Renee Perri, Andrew SanFilippo, Stan Schneider, Bohdan Senkow, Kathie Senkow, Alan Stamford, Davida Weiler-Stone, Adam Young and Charlotte Zeigenfuss.
Additionally I want to thank Producing Director Ruth Wells Fischer and President Jim Carroll who worked with Anthony to get this show approved by the Board of Governors at the Players Club as well as the cast and crew of Italian American Reconciliation and specifically its director, Kristy Boyer Chen, for being so willing and gracious to change their rehearsal schedule to allow A Row Home Christmas to go on the Main Stage.
And last but not least, my wife Debbie, who suffered through months of my angst and stress in putting this all together.
Dag, I hope I didn't forget anyone.
RAVINGS FROM A MAN WHO NEVER SLEEPS... 2/21
Here's my latest article for the South Jersey Mag...
I am writing this on my laptop sitting in a parking lot in Maple Shade. My car thermostat says 12 degrees. 12 degrees! Now I know what you’re thinking to yourself, why am I writing this in a car to begin with? That’s a story for another time. The question I am asking myself is “why am I sitting in a car in a parking lot in Maple Shade and not Miami, Florida?!
I can’t remember a colder winter and I’m sure the weather geeks like my wife would say, “Oh, you’re forgetting the winter of 1998. That’s the record holder.” Well, guess what? I did forget the winter of 1998. Just like I will do my best to erase this winter from memory. (That is unless this is the year the Eagles win the Super Bowl. Deadlines being what they are, I am writing this the Friday before the Eagles are due to beat the Vikings. A game the Birds will prove victorious. There, I said it in print, and you’ll be reading this after Super Bowl LII.)
As Bob Dylan once said, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” I don’t need temperature, wind chill, barometric pressure, or any technical jargon to know if it’s freezing or not. I know it immediately in the nine seconds it takes me to walk from my front door to my car in the driveway. And it sucks!
So I started thinking. Is there anything good about cold weather?
It has to be freezing to begin with for it to snow to begin with, and although the older I get the least I like it, standup comics become standups because they are basically immature people who never grow up, hence we always think young.
So when I hear that there could be snow on the way, I swear to you the first thought that pops in my head is “will we be off from school tomorrow?” The fact that I have not been in school for 97 years doesn’t prevent that notion from entering my brain. There was nothing more exciting to you as a kid then getting a day off due to snow. The very rumor of snow would get your heart pumping.
And if you were a teacher and it started snowing during the day, during your class, you might as well stopped speaking right then and there. Not one kid would be listening to you anyway. They’d be too busy getting word from the kids closest to the window or whether of not the snow was sticking or laying. And if this rumor would start around bedtime, there was no sleeping.
I swear kids get off from school due to weather much easier then we did back in the day. I went to Catholic school and KYW could announce that an earthquake hit Medford. That a tsunami was tearing through Gloucester City. That a power outage had disabled all of South Jersey. And the first thing you would hear on the news would be, “but parochial schools will remain in session.”
Alas, I’m not in school anymore, so there is no time off due to snow. It looks pretty while it’s falling. . . . . . For about an hour. Then its break out the sidewalk salt, the window scrapers, the shovels, you get the picture.
I know, I could have put this under the heading of “SNOW,” but I wanted to make sure sledding got it’s own segment because everything about sledding is fun and awesome. And unless you are really old or so out of shape that you can’t walk up the hill to begin with, it doesn’t matter how old you are. You either sit up straight or lay on your stomach and go! How many times have you taken your kids out sledding and end up stealing that Flexible Flyer and flying down the hill yourself with your son or daughter (or both) laying on top? It’s the best.
It’s not like skiing where you really have to know what you’re doing and own all the proper gear. Heck, if we didn’t have a sled we used a trash can lid or whatever was handy that you thought would get the job done. No ski lift. It was, and remains today, gloriously free. It was safe unless you had that bump that sent you flying through the air, but if it had that hump, it made the ride that more exhilarating. It wasn’t like you were going to end up like that poor dude crashing on “Wide World of Sports.”
I took my daughters to a hill that was at exit 58 off Route 55. Washington Township had it’s Big Moose on Wedgewood Golf Course. Mt. Laurel had Laurel Acres Park. Everyone reading this had their spot and what’s the first thing you notice when you start taking your kids there? That’s it’s not this Mt. Everest that you remember, that it’s really just a nice little hill. (By the way, I might do an article on famous South Jersey sledding hills in the future, so write me at bigdaddy295@aol if you have one you would like mentioned)
According to my pal Jim Kennedy who works for AMC in Cherry Hill, movie attendance actually goes up in cold weather. “Cabin fever” grabs hold and while you’ll freeze your keister off walking from the lot to the theatre, it’s not like you’re out strolling around outside for a couple hours. And you still end up with that “at least we went out and did something” fulfillment. Although I must admit the colder it gets and the older I get, the easier it becomes to stay at home and watch Netfix.
If you are a man, this paragraph will mean nothing to you, but as someone who lived with two daughters and a wife (who happens to be a woman) for 25 years, I can tell you it’s of life and death importance that a woman have matching apparel for every conceivable weather condition existent. Fox 29’s Sue Serio predicting ten below zero weather meant a quick trip to the mall for matching coat, gloves, scarf, and hat. (Even though it’s reached that temperature like twice in over a century)
While I would like to say that I could think of a dozen other cool things about cold weather, the truth is it was a struggle to come up with the four I did. I hate it!
RAVINGS FROM A MAN WHO NEVER SLEEPS... 1/10
Here's my latest article for the South Jersey Mag...
A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING
January 1st. It’s come and went. Did you decide that this was the year you were going to lose weight? Quit smoking? Put the toilet seat down? (And by the way, ladies, how hard is it for you to leave the seat up?!) But I’m going to look at that date a little differently this year. I was recently performing my favorite pastime, channel-surfing. I happened on some dumb teen flick with a scene that I have seen countless times in many different forms. Someone dragging on their first cigarette. Some nerd having their first shot of tequila. Some extremely nervous pimply-faced boy trying to ask a girl out. So in honor of the name of this magazine, here come a few of my favorite “Firsts.” And all of them occurred right here in South Jersey.
When I was in high school, I used to occasionally hitchhike to West Catholic High in West Philly. but that doesn’t really count since the only drivers who stopped to pick you up were parents of your friends who were driving to the school themselves. They knew you. The first real hitchhiking experience I ever had started in Collingswood. Me and my bud Fred, who had moved there with his family, were sitting around bored on a hot summer day. I had taken the speedline to get to his house as neither one of us owned a car. We were fifteen and Fred said “Hey, let’s hitchhike down to Wildwood.” To show you how truly times have changed, we told Freddie’s parents that’s what we were going to do, and neither one of them barely looked up from their newspapers. Not today! And neither one of us had ever truly hitchhiked before. Well, to make a long story short, we were such amateurs, that somehow, after an hour and a half and four rides, we ended up in Glassboro before we gave up. Glassboro! From Collingswood. We were apparently going sideways. But here’s the cool part of the story and I swear to you every word of this is true. While we had our thumbs out standing at this intersection, it started pouring on our side of the corner. Drenching us while it wasn’t raining at all on the other side of the street. That has never happened to me again. This occurred right in the area where the Landmark is on Rowan Campus and when I have a show in Atlantic City, I drive right though this intersection on my way to the expressway. And this tale comes automatically pouring out of me if someone’s is in the car with me. “You’re not going to believe this, but right here . . . . . . . “
The first time I ever had a panzarotti was in South Jersey and here’s the interesting part. I’ve never had a panzarotti anywhere other than South Jersey. God, do I love them. Gonna run out right now and get one.
1966 FORD GALAXIE 500
I had two older siblings, a younger sister, and a pair of parents growing up. No one had ever owned a car. I was starting to branch out of my rowhome Philly roots when my previously mentioned best friend moved to Collingswood and I wanted one in the worst way. One day we were walking in Westmont and there was a car parked in front of a house with a FOR SALE sign slapped on it. The paint job looked to be the color of a jawbreaker after it had been sucked on for a while. It sure looked beautiful to me. There was a phone number on the sign which we called and it turned out the dude wanted $400. We set up a time for me to test drive it. We rapped on the door and this grizzled old dude (picture Tommy Lee Jones in “No Country For Old Men”) answered it. I paid little attention to what should have been my first tip off that I should just walk away. There was no key for the ignition. That’s right, no key. You had to start it with a screwdriver. It drove pretty decent though. Or at least I thought it did. A “Flintstone” car would have came off like a Cadillac to me. The moment of truth came when I told the guy that the best I could muster up was $300. He gazed at me and mumbled “My boy, you are getting the deal of the century” and took it. Well, the way things turned out he probably moved the next day. That’s if he even lived there to begin with. The first thing that went wrong was that the oil light went on. What the hell did that mean? When we pulled it into the service station and asked what that meant, a bunch of greasers laughed at us and said “Well, I guess that means the car need oil” and they all laughed their keisters off. After charging us twice a quart that we would have paid at a Pep Boys, we started pouring the oil in, get ready for this, the tiny little hole that you pulled the oil dipstick out of. So naturally, all the oil just started running down on to the ground and after the mechanics finished busting another gut they told us to get that %&*# car off their lot. Three months later the car just upped and died in South Philly on the way to a Phillies game. I took the plates off and just left it there. Someone later told me that the car was converted into a condo that’s now going for $450,000. Live and learn.
THE CHERRY HILL MALL
I was dating this girl who lived in Haddon Township. One day she took me to the Cherry Hill Mall. We were at the end of a “relationship” that never had a beginning, really. It was the first mall I was ever in. What do I remember about it the most? The amount of stores under one roof? The climate controlled temperature? The food court? No, I had never seen so many great looking women assembled in one spot. It was wonderful and to the end of that relationship, which I’m sure was just fine with her.
THERE’S A BACKUP AT THE ALTANTIC CITY EXPRESSWAY TOLLS
The first time I heard those infamous lines coming from KYW, I gave it no never mind. It didn’t sound all that ominous. Hah! I have now spent the rest of my life learning every Jersey back road there is to avoid that mess. But sometimes you have no choice and I figure that by now I could have read every “Game of Thrones” book cover to cover 17 times if I added up all the minutes that I have wasted in those lanes.
Try to have a good new year and get some advice before you do something for the first time. Don’t be stupid like me.
HEY! I'M LOOKING FOR ALBUM COVERS. I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE CONDITION OF THE VINYL...
There is this amazing talent in the New York area by the name of Rachelle Garniez. She's an versatile singer who accompanies herself on piano, guitar, and, yes, accordion. She's a gifted songwriter with a tremendous sense of humor. She often performs at a really cool Village venue Pangea that seats maybe fifty that itself is worth checking out. Go to these sites for more info: www.rachellegarniezcom.virb.com & www.pangeanyc.com
You can take an inexpensive tour of RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL that's well worth it.
Check out MASH ARMY & NAVY on 8th Ave between 45 & 46th streets. A blast from the past!
Folks are always asking me about piano bars in Manhattan. There's two I would recommend and they couldn't be any bit different. DON'T TELL MAMA is on 46th St between 8 & 9th Avenues. It's a comfortable narrow long bar where you either sit at thee bar or at a table. They have a singing piano player and every fourth song or so a member of the bar or serving staff will get up and sing a three song set. And sometimes a member of the audience will get up at the mic and sing. And they have awesome food also. It's a really fun joint, but completely different from MARIE'S CRISIS CAFE which is at 59 Grove St in the Village. (Make sure you have the address handy before you get in the cab.) MARIE'S is a tiny hole in the wall basement club where there is a piano player but no professional singer. YOU are the singer. It's insane. People (like my nutty wife) go there TO sing. There's no microphone and literally 150 people or so will be singing at the top of their lungs to some Broadway tune Which, by the way, IS ALL Marie's does. They don't mix in pop tunes like MAMA does. The two couldn't be any different from each other and any more fun if a piano bar is your bag.
A HOTEL TO STAY AT? We always use some hotel site and often stay at one of these two hotels which I would both recommend. THE BELVEDERE on West 48th St is clean with a nice lobby and it's very convenient to Broadway and many clubs and bars. THE WARWICK is pricier, but still affordable when you go through Expedia. It's at 54th & 6th and many famous folks (like the Beatles and Liz Taylor have stayed there.
As obvious as this sounds, you can spend a couple hours exploring Central Park and never get bored.
LEXINGTON CANDY SHOP on Lexington between 82 & 83rd St. has been opened since 1925 and is a don't miss trip.
BIG ONION WALKING TOURS are a lot of fun and reasonably priced. I have taken many of them and they never disappoint.
54 BELOW on 54th St. is literally the basement of the famous Studio 54 disco. It's a terrific place to see anybody. Top notch club.
Finally made it to BIRDLAND for one of those CAST PARTY shows. What a great time and the sight lines are excellent. Legendary jazz artists perform there and if you ever thought about seeing one of them at BIRDLAND, do it.
A BRONX TALE the musical is really good. I wasn't expecting much and I was very entertained.
You can get a really good cheese steak at 99 MILES TO PHILLY at 94 3rd Avenue. The owner is from Philly.
LETS CALL IN SICK!
Philly wins 56 to 45! (There was no "X")
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