Friday, May 25, 2012

September 11th Memorial

Last week, my friend Jimmie and I visited the September 11th Memorial for the first time.  By the way, he only likes to be called "Jim," so naturally I call him "Jimmie" and spell it with an "ie" at the end to really annoy him.  His annoyance is my pleasure.
The September 11th Museum will be on the same site, but it's not yet complete.  The target date for its opening is September 11, 2012.  

Jimmie and I went on a drizzly Monday, so the crowd wasn't overwhelming, but it was robust.  Note:  In order to enter the grounds, you must have a ticket.  They're available on the internet for free (you can click HERE   to access  the web page), although a monetary donation of your choosing is suggested.  Don't be a cheapo.

Security is somewhat tight; guards check your ticket at three or four points along the serpentine route into the Memorial, and then you have to go through a metal detector, just like at an airport.  The extremely sensitive metal detector picked up on some small bit of metal in Jimmie's rubber boat shoes.  I set off the machine too, even after removing all metal on my person (belt, ring, change, wallet, etc.)  The alarm continued to blare each time I passed through, before I realized what was triggering the alarm:  Not metal ON me, but metal IN me - the titanium hip that was installed in me ten weeks earlier. 

I had been issued a card to prove to security officers that I had a titanium hip, but I didn't think to bring it with me.  The guard, however, didn't really care; when I told him that I had a metal hip, he simply shooed me through the line to keep things moving (I hope Al Qaeda doesn't read The LG Report and pick up on this security weak spot.)

The Memorial site is much more imposing and impressive than I had imagined.  Here's a picture of one of the two pools:

It's difficult to get a sense of scale from this photo, but each of the two pools (which are in the original footprint of the two World Trade Center buildings) covers about an acre.  The waterfalls drop 30 feet down. Names are inscribed, as you can see, along metal barriers ringing the pools.  Each name appears on the barrier of the specific World Trade Center tower that each person was believed to be in when they died. 

Jimmie and I searched for the names of three specific people. 

First we found Mike Cahill.

Mike worked at Marsh (the first plane hit directly into his offices) and when I was a colleague at that firm, he used to help me out regularly when I had questions about fidelity insurance, his specialty.  You'd never meet a nicer guy.  His memorial service on Long Island was one of the most moving experiences of my life.  Jam packed church. Powerful eulogies, including the final one, by his wife, which had everyone sobbing before it ended.  It's hard to describe that day adequately.

The second name was Sal Tieri.

Sal was another truly awesome guy who didn't have an enemy in the world. Honestly. His memorial service was held on the edge of the Atlantic at the beach club his family belonged to in Sea Bright, NJ.  Another exceedingly sad affair, punctuated by the strains of a bagpiper.  He met his wife when they both worked for AIG.  Sal was in the home office in New York and Maureen worked in Detroit.  They had spoken on the phone for months when Sal asked if she'd send him a photo of herself via interoffice mail.  Maureen said no dice, he'd have to fly to Detroit if he wanted to see what she looked like.  He did, which took some nerve because Maureen says that Sal hated flying, he always feared that he'd die in a plane crash.

The last name that Jimmie and I found, which was literally in the last ten feet of the entire two acres of names that we searched, was that of Danielle Kousoulis.      

I never knew Danielle, but I know a number of people who knew her.  I saw Danielle's story on 9-11, after I had made my way back through the chaos of downtown to my home in Gramercy Park.  About six friends and colleagues who didn't live in Manhattan were with me.  Smoke rising from the WTC site was visible out my living room window.  We turned on the TV and happened to see Barbara Walters interviewing Danielle's boyfriend, who was walking downtown from his job in midtown to try to help her. Danielle worked at Cantor Fitzgerald on the top floors of the North Tower of the WTC, above where the first plane hit.  I took special note of Danielle's name because I knew that she was Greek, like me.  A month later, my college alumni magazine arrived and I learned that Danielle had also graduated from Villanova.  Small world, I thought.  About ten months after that, a friend at work asked if I'd like to play in a memorial golf tournament to raise money for a scholarship in the name of his family friend who died on 9-11 -- Danielle Kousoulis.

I've played in Danielle's memorial golf tournament almost every year since it started, and it has always been a very heartwarming and uplifting experience.

I know that these three people, and the thousands of others who died on 9-11, didn't technically die in a war, or as soldiers defending our freedom, but, nonetheless, they were patriotic Americans who lost their lives to those who would destroy the American way.  I'm going to take some time to remember each of them this Memorial Day weekend, along with the many other Americans who bravely gave their lives fighting for our freedom. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother of Invention

[Editor's Note: This is a re-posting from Mother's Day 2010.]

My mother, Anne, who passed away in December of 1993, had a great sense of humor. She exercised it with discretion however, unlike her son, who has been known to don hillbilly teeth and dangle a string of rubber snot after a fake sneeze. To each their own.

The story I'm about to relate is one that I think of fairly often, especially around Mother's Day and my mother's birthday in July. It starts during my senior year at Villanova in the mid-1980s.  The fact that I was in college in the first place, I should point out, was attributable to my mother. In my last year of high school, I had decided that I didn't need any additional matriculation.

"Ma, I don't need to go to college, I'm smart enough already," I remember announcing in our kitchen one day.  I honestly believed it.

My mother wisely disagreed.

I don't know why, but she had determined that Villanova was the right college for her sonny.  I felt strongly that if I was going to be forced to pursue higher education, it should be in a warm climate, like Florida or California.

My mother would have none of that however.

By employing a series of subtle psychological maneuvers, the likes of which the CIA has still not seen to this day, my mother tricked me into choosing Villanova. Not only that, but I went believing that it was my idea in the first place.  But that's a story for another day...

                                           LG, his sister Maria and mother Anne in 1989.

One of my college roommates, Steve, came to visit me at the Jersey Shore for a few days from his home in Maryland over the Christmas break over our senior year. Steve had been an Orientation Counselor for the incoming freshmen that previous autumn.  Orientation Counselors were generally outgoing and personable upperclassmen (and women) who were chosen to help assimilate newly-arriving students to life at Villanova.

Orientation Counselors were expected to follow a whole list of written rules.  There were, I believe, some unwritten ones as well.

Steve, circa 1983, at a tailgate.
Chief among the unwritten, in my opinion, was: Do not take advantage of your status as an Orientation Counselor/Upperclassman/Mentor to date freshmen in your orientation group.

Steve must've missed the discussion of the Unwritten Rules. When the orientation dust had settled, he was dating a freshman.

I can feign righteous indignation at his actions now, many years later, but had I been in his shoes (for which I applied, but was not selected), I probably would've done the same thing.  But I digress...

Steve's girl's name was LizAnne. She was from Summit, New Jersey. One night during his visit, we were returning from a bar at about two in the morning when Steve noticed the "Summit Avenue" sign about three blocks from my house. 

"Hey, can we steal that sign for LizAnne? She'd love it," he said.

We were in college, it was the 1980s, and having street signs in your dorm room was cool.  Honest.

"OK, I have an idea," I said, never being one to turn down a challenge, especially at two in the morning.

There was a length of sturdy boat rope in my trunk, and a trailer hitch on the back bumper.

"We'll tie the rope to the hitch and wrap it around the sign and pull it off the pole," I said.  It was McGuyvering at its best.

Being very familiar with the mission-critical considerations of committing mischief at night in a car (which differs from other types of nightime mischief), I turned off my lights so that any potential witnesses wouldn't be able to read my license plate.

We circled the block, arrived at the sign, and fastened the rope around it. Nobody in sight.  It was a calm and clear night.  Great conditions for stealing a sign, I thought.


I gunned the engine and lurched the car forward about ten yards. The Summit Avenue sign exploded off its perch and shot under the car.  However, in the process we pulled the pole beneath it almost flat to the ground. 

The front end of the sign-stealing car, a 1977 Chevy Concours.  The license plate has been intentionally cropped, just in case the police read this. The "Juggernaut" label on the hood is an unrelated story for another day.
Uh oh, major damage.

Steve fished the sign out from under my car using the still-attached rope and we high-tailed it out of there.  I drove to my house with the headlights off.  No sense taking chances on getting caught, I thought.

About a week later I was back at school when my mother called.

"A policeman came to the door this afternoon," she said.

My heart stopped momentarily.

"For what?" I asked, pretending to be shocked.

"He said that someone stole the Summit Avenue sign last week, and that a neighbor saw a car with a Villanova sticker on the back window pull away. The officer said that the only car in town with a Villanova sticker is yours. He's seen it parked in front when you're home."

"What did you tell him ma?" I asked, knowing that I had a problem on my hands.

"I started screaming at him, I told him that my son would never steal a sign and that he should get off my porch and go bother someone else!" she said.

My heart, which had briefly re-started, stopped again.

I didn't know what to do, but somehow the instinct to tell the truth kicked in. I figured my mother, who apparently thought so highly of my honest nature that she would shoo away a police officer, would understand.

"Uh, mom...uh, I actually did steal that sign," I confessed.

"What?! What are you talking about?" she asked.

"When Steve was visiting, he wanted it for his girlfriend, she's from Summit. We hooked a rope around the sign and pulled it off with the car. I can't believe someone saw my Villanova sticker. It was dark out and I had the lights off. Damn, I can't believe this, this stinks."

"I don't know what you're going to do, they'll be looking for your car when you come home," she said.

"Well, anyway, thanks ma, I appreciate your sticking up for me. I'll figure something out."

Immediately after hanging up, I went out to my car and scraped the Villanova sticker off the back window. This was Step One in my plan to throw the police off my trail.

It just so happened, that semester I was taking a course in play writing at Rosemont College, an all-girls school near Villanova.  I hit upon what I thought was a brilliant idea: I bought a Rosemont College sticker and put it on my car's back window, right where the Villanova sticker used to be. This, I thought, would fool the police but good.  They were over their heads when dealing with this master criminal!

Just about every friend I had asked why I had a Rosemont College sticker on my window.  Invariably, I'd launch into a detailed account of the Night of the Sign Theft.  People were generally understanding and sympathetic to a maneuver designed to keep the cops away.

That sticker stayed on my car for well over a year, until, finally, I got tired of telling everyone the story in Boston, where I had moved for law school. By then, I figured, the statue of limitations on sign theft had run out.

For over 20 years, I had been telling that story whenever a related topic would arise in conversation, such as sign theft (a popular topic among my friends), police visits (ditto), car window stickers, or the like.  Then, one day, about two years ago, my sister, for the first time ever, overheard me telling the story at a barbecue.

"Don't you know the truth about that?" she asked with a disbelieving air.

"No, what?" I replied.

"There was never any policeman at the door. Mommy made up that whole story to scare you into not doing anything like that again. I thought you knew."

I was busted, BIG TIME.

More than 15 years after she passed away, my mother was still getting the last laugh on me.

Somewhere above, I'm sure she's looking down and getting a good chuckle every time her sonny tells this story -- with the newly-discovered ending.

This is a good weekend to take some time to reflect upon, and appreciate, your mother, living or not. She no doubt made a lot of sacrifices to get you to where you are today -- maybe even a few involving a white lie or two, all for your own good.

Here's wishing a very happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there, you deserve it!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

From Utah: The Cheeseboy Speaks!

Today The LG Report is very excited to be interviewing the J.D. Salinger of the blogosphere, Mr. Abe Yospe, a/k/a "Cheeseboy," author of the very popular and hilarious "Blog O' Cheese."  However, BOC fans know that Abe has been on a hiatus as of late.  His last "real post" was in September of 2011 and then he posted a short teaser on February 25, 2012 asking readers if he should return to blogging.  Not being content with enduring the long silence (ala the aforementioned J.D. Salinger, another great reclusive writer), The LG Report decided to go right to the source with hard-hitting questions for Abe.  So please sit back and enjoy (but don't sit so far back that you can't read your computer screen...)  
The LG Report:  Let's get right to it: Rumors are the Mitt Romney is looking for a first-grade Mormon school teacher to be his running mate and he wants a colorful and personable wise ass.  You fit the bill perfectly.  Interested?  And, if so, what would your major policy issues be?

Mitt, from what elementary school grade would you like a teacher as a running mate? First? Perfect!

Abe: I have no interest in running with Mitt Romney.  I am not of, shall we say, his political persuasion.  However, if Obama decides to dump Biden, I’m all in. Or better yet, if Biden runs in 2016, I’d love to be his running mate. Man, it would be so fun to hang out with that guy and play pool and sing karaoke. Biden and I would make one hell of a karaoke team! I can imagine us doing the perfect Peobo Bryson/Regina Belle duet.

Abe to appear soon.

I think that would be the major policy issue I’d focus on. Improving the nations moral through karaoke.  Also, we’d start a reality show following Joe and my karaoke career. It would probably be on ABC Family or something.

The LG Report:  Sorry, we got that wrong, we were just handed a correction, Mitt Romney has no such interest, he wants a credible VP candidate who can help him win.  Please disregard the question above.  Our bad.  That's the last time we eat those funny mushrooms before writing out our questions.

Abe: That’s fine. If he really wants a credible VP candidate, he should probably pick a former woman governor from Alaska.

The LG Report:  Abe, ever since you "semi-retired" from blogging (if that's accurate), you've caught fire on both Facebook and Twitter where you wow millions (or hundreds anyway) with your razor wit and amusing sarcasm.  Why do you prefer the "micro-blogging" format of those two social media outlets?

Abe: Instant gratification. With blogging, I usually had to wait 2 or 3 days for comments to really pour in. On Twitter, I can write a joke, post it and get instant feedback within minutes.

By the way, you too can follow me on Twitter. My Twitter name is @Cheeseboy22

The LG Report:  You have a pretty impressive list of Twitter followers including some writers from "The Family Guy" and others (we won't divulge them all since we don't exactly know who they are, although LG is among them.)  Can you reproduce for us five or so of your personal favorite Cheeseboy Tweets?

Abe: Sure. How bout I just list my five most popular:

1. If you are proud of your follower count, know my 33yo brother lives with my parents, tweets ONLY about Star Trek & has over 8,000 followers

2. Picking up this tiny piece of paper would take 1 second, but instead I am going to run over 100 times with the vacuum at different angles.

3. Accidentally wore a red shirt and khaki pants to Target yesterday &, long story short, I think I have been promoted to assistant manager.

4. Whenever I go to Subway, when they ask if I would like my sandwich toasted, I say yes & then I raise my cup of Coke & say, "To my sandwich!"

5. I'd kill for a microwave that plays Europe's “The Final Countdown” during the last 30 seconds.

The LG Report: We know you're happily married, but as a Mormon, if you had to select a 9th wife from among the Ladies of the Blogosphere, who would it be and why?  Strictly platonic of course.

Abe: Hm, its been so long since I’ve talked to all my blog groupies.  I’d have to say one of these three:

Kelley from Kelley’s Breakroom. We have more of a brother/sisterly relationship, so it’s actually too bad I am not from Alabama.

Abe's Blogosphere Fantasy Wedding Cake Topper. Kelley on the left. Or maybe right.  Hard to tell.
Tammy from Time Flies. We are polar opposites politically, but she is so cool, I could probably overlook that.  Kinda like a James Carville/Mary Matalin thing. But of course, with more hair.

Robyn Alana Engel from Life By Chocolate. She’s Jewish (I’m half Jewish) and she’s an expert at finding loser guys online. I could totally see this working out.

The LG Report:  Please don't consider us Eastern Elitists with antiquated views of Utah and other places west of Times Square, but how often do you bathe?  Honestly, we're all friend here.

Abe: I bathe twice weekly. And even that is a lot of warming of water on the stove.

The LG Report:  You spent some time in Pennsylvania in your younger days.  I'm sure you're aware that there's an airport named Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton Airport, nicknamed "Abe."  Seems like quite a coincidence.  Did you change your name at some point to become associated with this prestigious transportation hub?  Have you ever thought of calling yourself "Abe O'Hare?" 

Abe: I was aware of this, however, I thought the acronym was pronounced “Ab-e”.  Now that I know the correct pronunciation, I will consider the O’Hare thing. It just seemed silly the other way.

Notice how Abe gets his name in there?

The LG Report:  What's that smell?

Abe: My 3rd wife enjoys making homemade soap out of goat’s milk.

The LG Report:  If you couldn't be a teacher, what would your ideal job be?

Abe: I’d love to write for Jimmy Fallon.  He’s a very positive comedian, rarely negative, and I like to think of my jokes as the same.  If I couldn’t write for Fallon, I’d probably settle for Conan.

The LG Report:  Jim Gaffigan sends his regards.  LG just had lunch with him the other day.  He's not friends with you on Facebook but LG is trying to convince him to be.  What's your message for Jim?

Abe: Jim, you owe me twenty bucks. Also, you better up your game. John Mulaney is gaining on you.

The LG Report: Are you in the Secret Service? If so, when were you last in Colombia?

Abe: Yes, I am in the Secret Service. We Secret Service people are trained to say that we are in the Secret Service. Then people are like, “No way they are really in the Secret Service”.  I have never been to Colombia. They tell us to say that too.

The LG Report:  As we said, you're a proud Mormon but you also have some Jewish roots.  Have you ever considered starting the Mormon Pumpernickel Choir?

Abe: Had not considered it. Probably because most Jews prefer Rye. 

Everyone says Abe has a pumpernickel sense of humor.  He's the greatest thing since...
The LG Report:  If you could change one thing about yourself, other than your hairstyle or lack of fashion sense, what would it be?    

Abe: I wish that I could be better at pretending to like sushi.

The LG Report:  Anyone you'd like to give a shout-out to?  Any Tweeters people should be following (other than you, obviously) or bloggers? 

Abe: There is this very underrated Tweeter. He’s hilarious. His name is Lazarus and his Twitter name is @LazarusNYC

The LG Report:  Last question Abe: Can we expect to see Cheeseboy back in the blogging saddle anytime in the foreseeable future or has that ship sailed, that horse galloped, that plane departed, that bullet fired, that rocket launched, that gas passed, that... well, you get the idea.  Coming back? 
The Cheeseboy was certainly grilled by The LG Report
 Abe: I thought about coming back. Maybe just post my best tweet of the day and then add a little more jokey joke to it. The most time consuming part of blogging was visiting everyone else’s blog and commenting on them. It was very difficult to do and I felt guilty when I didn’t get to them all. So that, I don’t miss. 

We’ll see if I come back.  Right now, I’m enjoying my retirement and enjoying these Colombian beaches.  Ah crap.

Abe, thanks again for being a good sport and playing along, we appreciate your stopping by.  As mentioned previously, people who miss your hilarious blog can get their Cheeseboy fix on Twitter at @Cheeseboy22.  

See you back here again soon folks, thanks for visiting The LG Report


Monday, May 7, 2012

More LG Tweets....

 Kids, has a new format and, frankly, LG is annoyed at having to learn its intricacies, so he's seat-of-the-pants'ing it here.  Below are some Tweets from the last few days on LG's Twitter account, hopefully something in here will make you smile, if not crack a rib.  If you crack a rib, please close this webpage before you call 9-1-1, we don't want to be held accountable (for anything, really...) 

Trojan Condoms is suing Capital One for stealing their ad slogan, which is "What's in your wallet?"

The Washington Redskins say their name isn't racist. In unrelated news, they've banned the sale of firewater after the 3rd quarter.

Benjamin Moore just announced three new paint colors: Mocha, Mahogany and Tanorexic Mom.

Investment tip: If they legalize pot, you should immediately buy stock in Fritos and Taco Bell.

Technology tip: If you accidentally delete a voicemail message, to retrieve it just call Rupert Murdoch.

Tony Soprano would've been more intimidating if his name was Tony Baritone.

If the "tanorexic" mom has too much of a tan, does that make Kim Kardashian "canorexic?"

I'm still learning: My stepson said he was hungry and wanted a hot pocket so I put a lit charcoal brick from the grill in his pants.

Whenever I forget my social security number or ATM code I just call the people at Google.

BREAKING: Rosie O'Donnell to play Sheikh Khalid Mohammed in "A Terrorist League of Our Own."

Junior Seau's family donated his brain to science. The tanorexic mom's family is going to donate her face to Coach.

Tonight is the Super Moon. Last time a moon this large was seen was when Kim Kardashian pulled down her jeans on the school bus in 1997.

In Mexico, their IRS considers you to be a lottery winner if you haven't been killed by a drug cartel.

I won't say it's out of touch, but I would've signed up for a MySpace account but I didn't have a valid Telex address.

I refuse to do my act at The Laugh Factory because they use underage kids to manufacture their laughs. Plus, I have no act.

We  should be back soon with a very funny interview, stay tuned!