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Welcome To The June Issue of Mil Mania!

` Volume 2, Issue 6, June 2006


Music Mayhem    

As noted in the December edition of Mil Mania, I will continue to include news in every issue to keep readers up to date on the latest happenings with the three acts most prominently featured on www.artistinsane.com.  In addition,  for each issue I will also choose one additional artist — in some cases a new discovery I’ve recently made, in others an individual or group whose work I’ve long appreciated — to make a one-time appearance here.  And, of course, as with all aspects of Mil Mania, feel free to offer suggestions.


This month’s featured artist: 


The Escape Club — I
heard a phrase from this
group’s second album a
few days ago, and de
cided based on that re
minder to share a bit
about my appreciation of
this rather small but indeed (to me) memorable body of work.  As proved the case with March’s featured artist, Cyndi Lauper, however,  I must offer the disclaimer right up front that my ultimately positive impression was not immediately spawned by what many of you may know them from — their hit song “Wild Wild West”, but evolved much later...upon hearing the wonderfully understated ballad, “I’ll Be There” (and watching its accompanying video).  I in fact bought the album on the strength of that song alone, and were that the only reason I kept it among my collection through the years that followed, still would not feel disappointed.  As it turned out, however, there were several other songs I liked very much as well, and which therefore became the reasons the album never in fact made it to the shelf for several years — remaining instead on the short stack of CD’s atop my stereo which were in most frequent rotation. 
     Boasting the controversial title,
Dollars and Sex, one could form many conclusions prior to listening to the album itself...most of which I daresay would be wrong.  For, although there are indeed certain “wild” indulgences, there’s also much that’s surprisingly grounded and wonderfully tongue-in-cheek.  For example, the album opens with a tortured lover’s stubborn lack of acceptance that a relationship is over (“The Edge of Your Bed”), from which it moves into a rollicking comment on rock and roll stereotypes (“Poison”) before mercilessly mocking shallow women of the jet set in the scathing  (but oh, so catchy) “So Fashionable” .  And, by the time it reaches its final track — an exhortation to “Come Alive”, I’m willing to bet you’ll be glad to have taken the time out for this quick “escape”.

     As a side note to my appreciation for this group, I’ve published to my website a letter I wrote in 1998 proposing Trevor Steel for a certain position that was finally filled 7 years later — perhaps proving my then arguably “insane” view may have instead been merely a great idea that was a good bit ahead of its time. 




Third Eye Blind played a televised performance as part of  the Arena Bowl recently, as well as a show at the Indy 500 in late May.  And, they continue to post previously unreleased music and news updates via the blog on their official page at myspace.com. 
    Also, I must note that I’m way behind schedule on starting the aforementioned individual bios for each of the band’s members, but will keep you posted when I’ve finally finished these and sent them off to Adam at
The Village Churchyard.
     Finally, here’s
a link to a brief but interesting recent article (which, incidentally, starts midway down the page)

Brian Fitzpatrick played a series
of shows in late May (alas, none of which I was able to attend!&*^&!), and will be performing in the upcoming
Black River Festival in Chester, NJ in August.  In the meantime, he’s playing guitar in a band backing Carrie Engdahl, an artist whose debut EP he produced — and which I got a sneak listen to a few weeks back.  Great job, Brian — in wearing all of your hats for this project (producer, guitarist, and cover designer/graphic artist) very, very well!!! 
     I also got a sneak scoop that Brian indeed has a host of new tunes as potential choices for a new album — and look forward to hearing a few of them at live shows in the months ahead. 


Michael McDermott’s having a birthday on August 24th, which means I’m once again organizing a very special event — The 5th Annual McDermott  Birthday Celebration!!!   But, ssshhh….it’s a.. 

     That said, I won’t be giving away any

clues as to the finished gift lest Michael should get wind of what we’re up to... but you can click here in the next week or so to check out all the details of how to get involved (a brief teaser page can be found by following that link now).



      In the meantime, in case you’re new to all of this, you can go to...


...to view last year’s finished product.

   I’m really excited about this year’s theme, and am looking forward to many McD supporters becoming a part of this truly special “party”! 
     Also, since last month’s issue I’ve completed the promised review pages on Michael’s NYC shows at
The Bitter End and The Living Room — the latter of which proved an especially memorable and moving set of music. 
     Here’s hoping for the encore of an East Coast return SOON!



Ravings of
a Mad Woman

This column corresponds with the Mad Ravings On section of www.artistinsane.com, and is dedicated to selected reviews of movies, television and books… most of which are unlikely to represent “the latest” in any of these categories, but rather a  random selection that represents a new and/or noteworthy discovery to me.


     Another task in the when I get “around to it”  category for a year or more at least has been to expand my website’s “Mad Ravings On” section to include television as a category.  Though by no means a TV junkie, there have always been at least one or two shows available during any given season that I enjoy...a term I use loosely, since the series that has at last moved me so completely as to dig out that round TUIT and start writing is one I find profoundly affecting — though very often in far less than enjoyable ways.
     The series in question is the FX drama now in its third season,
Rescue Me.  Starring  its co-writer/creator Denis Leary, the show chronicles the lives of a group of New York City firefighters...heroes who lost three members of their crew on September 11th, one of whom was (Leary’s character) Tommy Gavin’s cousin.  An ensemble piece that offers a full view of not only Tommy’s and his co-workers on duty adventures, the show also delves deeply into each’s personal lives, all of which are wracked by personal demons, broken relationships and essentially “hard times”.  As one summary description I once read noted, Rescue Me is largely about a team of individuals who save others as their own lives are falling apart.  And, while I realize that hardly presents an appealing premise on which to “sell” a show, the actual viewing experience (on the whole, at least) is surprisingly less grim...largely because it so beautifully captures the strength and resilience of the human spirit in facing adversity — thereby bringing about many “small” victories even as each character is forced to deal with arguably “major” defeats.
     For example, one of my favorite scenes from Season 2 features Tommy (who is a recovering alcoholic) standing outside a liquor store, very strongly tempted to go make a purchase.  As we watch, the scene jumps forward, taking us through Tommy’s downing that first drink, and another, and another, and onto a montage of the devastation in his life and family relationships that will result from that one slip.  As the audience watches in horror, lost in the pain Tommy himself feels at re-entering this downward spiral, the camera suddenly brings us back to Tommy still standing outside the liquor store, having actually never entered, and follows him (and the picture of our relief) as he slowly walks away. 
     By the same token, I must confess there are moments throughout the series that make me cringe at times just as there are (far more) moments that I so love.  For, part of revealing truly ALL of these deeply flawed characters is to share as well their sometimes objectionable humor and crudity as well as  their far from politically correct views —circumstances that add up to some truly shocking situations. 
     Be that as it may, as an artist deeply appreciative of my fellow artists’ triumphs — in any artistic form — I revere the show most strongly for the truly enviable level of both acting and writing so fully packed into each episode.   Every member of the cast is masterful, from Leary’s sarcastic, edgy Tommy to Steven Pasquale’s innocently dim Sean to one-time real life firefighter Jack McGee’s wizened and compassionate Chief .  Each presents his character with a deeply involving believability, and inspires empathy and pathos, in addition to a familiarity that makes every one of their trials truly all of our own as well.
     If you’re not already a fan, I suggest you go rent Season 1 on DVD...while it’s easy to get hooked from just one episode, having come in late myself, I can attest that to go back and see “where it all began” makes for an even richer viewing experience.  And, once you’ve checked out all of Season 1, I dare you not to head back to the video store immediately thereafter in search of Season 2. 
     But hurry...Season 3 is currently in progress and you don’t want to have to wait until next May when it’s released on DVD to be “rescued” from having missed it.

Click here to check out a page of some other of my all-time favorite series from seasons past and present.

                          (If you haven’t met me yet, you might
                           want to read the
Dec. issue  first.)

                          I expect most of my readers will remember that in
last month’s issue I included a letter from Anon Y Mous, who took issue herself with my characterization of On The Road as “that Kerou-crap book”.  And, I therefore invited her to share a few reasons for her fondness of this author.  Here’s her response:

“Dear Molly.
     I suppose
On the Road had a tremendous effect on me because I simultaneously read Windblown World, a  journal Jack kept while writing that book. I came to know the man behind the words...his tenderness, passions, self-doubt, his vision of the world and all things in it as holy.  Your objections to OTR stem from plot, and the poor choices vagabond Sal Paradise (aka Jack) made while traversing America.  Yet that plot could also be viewed as a vehicle to show this lowly wanderer in his various quests...yes, sometimes a drunk with questionable judgment...but he also drank of life, tasted love, reveled in the rapture of music and trembled in transcendence.  With Jack’s poetic prose, I  often felt like I was on the verge of discovery with him, enticed by his energy and collecting the cadence of his rapid words and inventive imagery like jewels strewn before me.
     I could write extensively on how beginning with On The Road, Jack came to influence his generation and subsequent ones, but even he did not relish that spotlight.  Instead, I’ll leave you with Jack’s oft quoted words from On The Road that encapsulate his spirit:
 “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!”
      Molly, read the two books mentioned above simultaneously, and come over to my side of the road.  I’ll make a KerouRat of you yet.”
     Well, Ms. Mous, first I want to say that I appreciate your taking the time to write back to me, and I understand your very thoughtfully expressed opinion, which I’m sure your fellow Kerouac fans share.  However, I must confess that in contemplating all of this while gnawing on the delightful Lucky Charms I found awaiting in my bowl this morning, I became increasingly confused by your comment that my objections with On The Road “stem from plot”.  Actually, I don’t think this particular book has any plot to speak of...given all that really “happens” is Sal/Jack makes two trips across America and contemplates a third...all of these journeys largely inspired by scurrying around after a womanizing, gibberish-spouting character certainly not worth (either literally or figuratively) following.  And, while I don’t doubt in the least the companion volume you’re referring to (Windblown World) more fully elaborates on the character of Kerouac himself, I believe as well that the qualities in him of which you speak, and which I could see admiring in a more discerning individual (self-doubt, passion, etc.) are fully present in OTR. 
     My objections, therefore — well, aside from the offense of calling the idiot Dean Moriarty a “rat” as the worst insult he can apparently come up with near the end of the book (and, oddly enough, if he’d stuck with that conclusion, as I agree with its intent even if not the manner of expressing it, I’d actually like both the book and Kerouac a whole lot more) —  instead stem pretty much entirely from character...more specifically, from Kerouac’s  lunkheadness in glorifying a complete and unrelentingly wearying loser.
     Another thing I truly appreciate about your comments, however, is your own glorification of the word “madness”, and the recognition that not all madness is “a bad thing”.  However, again I think Kerouac’s use of this term is very different from my adoptive mom’s, for example, as Kerouac was referring to ALL embraces of fearlessness and new experiences as “good things”.  They’re not….especially when they are “experienced” at the utterly careless expense of others — as nearly all of Dean Moriarty’s experiences were.  It’s therefore continued admiration of such a selfish and in fact, childishly unenlightened individual, and a view of him as indeed “holy” that makes Kerouac most contemptible. 
     Positive “madness”, by contrast, at least as I perceive it, is the knowing pursuit of a goal the pursuer is convinced to be worthwhile, despite the objections, even ridicule, of those who may not share a belief in or grasp of that worth.  It’s a synonym for courage, which some might apply to even individuals whose value
is indeed readily understood, such as the characters discussed in the “Ravings of a Mad Woman” section of this very publication.  After all, these characters themselves have noted on the show reviewed therein that it’s a form of madness that allows them to rush into a burning building as everyone else is rushing out.  But, this madness/courage is undertaken at great risk to themselves for the sake of others, not out of mere recklessness for the sake of “adventure”.  So, do I believe, is the madness that is great art.
     As for coming over to your “side of the road”, therefore and becoming a KerouRat (clever term, by the way, and on which therefore I applaud you), you may recall it was the “madness” of possibly ending up in the ditch on
any side of the road that proved my predicament the day I was forced to embrace “madness” myself by trusting the strangers who became my adoptive mom and dad.  Had I instead just dashed out “madly” in search of new and greater adventures at that time, I know for sure who I’d be now — a dead rat.
     Interestingly, this whole topic, and particularly that conclusion, ties in almost uncannily with another question I received from a reader just days ago:

"Molly, based on my own experiences, I have a difficult time trusting people. And when I do depart from my comfort zone and take that "leap of trust", I rarely land on two feet. Do you have any advice for navigating through the landmines of trust?"


                                                                         Entrenched in Distrust


     It’s arguable I’ve already answered this question in my comments above.  However, to elaborate briefly, I guess I’d have to say that although you “should never judge a book by its cover”, still it’s a fact of life that one has to make some pretty quick decisions about the individuals we meet for the sake of our own safety and that of those we love.  As you already know, I had both everything to gain and everything to lose by trusting whoever came along while I was stuck under that mailbox, pregnant and alone, when my adoptive mom and dad came along and found me.  You know, there are a lot of people in this world who still think “rat” the worst term they can come up with to call someone they dislike, and I could have easily fallen into the hands of such a person.  But, when dad put his hand down to gently let me climb aboard, I never thought to hesitate.  And, boy am I glad for that today! 
     In other words, the best “madvice” I can give to you is trust your instincts in whatever situation you find yourself.  And, of course, use your good sense to try and keep from ending up alone and pregnant under a mailbox.  Adventures are all well and good; but after certain of those, “commonplace things” like a warm mattress and a full bowl of food can seem pretty extraordinary — and I can’t even begin to express how gratefully I would have uttered “Awww” upon receiving them for the first time when my big “adventure” ended — if I only had the proper type of vocal chords to make that possible.

     Thankfully, I think mom and dad got the message just the same.  And you know what else...I swear I’ve even heard them say it back.

     Hmmm… I think I smell macaroni and cheese so I’m going to have to wrap this up. 
     Thanks again to everyone — and keep those letters coming!

                           Molly Madvises 

                      (by... Molly, of course!)








Happy Father’s Day!!!

Click here for a bit of history and other info about this very  special holiday.







And, click here to see a couple photos of my own dad...the topic of this month’s “Temporary Insanity” column below.






                 Newsletter Spotlight 

Comments from Mil Mania readers
                  on the May issue...

In A Nutshell

A Quote of Quotes


Because the “mass of men
lead lives of quiet desperation”,
“do not go where the path
may lead”, but instead take
“the road less traveled by”.
For, “there’s beauty in the
struggle to make music”,
and although the future
holds “a thousand [roads]…
when it comes it’ll only
be one”…


“I want I want I want” to
“leave a trail”, to “walk
in beauty” — “with my
people if I [can] find
them” — and go “some-
where I have never
traveled, gladly, beyond
any experience”.  For when
at last our many roads
converge, this will have
“made all the difference”.


Credits for above quotes:

Thoreau  “Walden”                Steinbeck  “The Grapes of  Wrath”

Emerson “Do Not Go…”       Bellow “Henderson the Rain King”

Frost  “The Road Not Taken     Byron “She Walks in Beauty”

Stephan Jenkins  “MTV’s           Cummings  “Somewhere I Have
   Ultimate Cover Band Challenge”                  Never Traveled”

                                            At last!  With July closely pressing upon
                                     us, the June edition of
Mil Mania is finally com-
                                     pleted — and it’s one I’m very proud to be pre-
                                     senting to my readers.  As noted in the May
                                     issue regarding Mother’s Day, so too is
                                     Father’s Day  a special occasion celebrated on
                                     many different dates in different countries
                                     around the world.  And, I’m therefore excited to
                                     not only feature this holiday quite prominently
                                     here — but to take advantage of the opportunity
                                     to share a bit about
my dad in this month’s “Temporary Insanity” column.  I hope you will enjoy this brief insight into another aspect of my heritage.

     I’m also excited to share an extensive bit of feedback sent by a subscriber for the Molly Madvises portion this month….which has made that particular section a wee bit longer than usual.  However, I trust you will find it both informative and thought-provoking — and, of course, I encourage other readers to send in questions, comments, etc for “Molly” to comment on in future issues.  Thanks so much for those who have contributed thus far.

     Also on the subject of Molly and company, I must offer both thanks and apologies to my gifted rodent clothing designer, Marna, who rushed to get me the latest shipment of “ratwear” so I might link a page of it from this issue — illustrating such wonderfully fun outfits as a cowgirl costume (complete with hat) and a truly remarkable wedding dress and veil.  Unfortunately, I am yet to find time to take the photos necessary for preparing a “fashion show” of these items.  So, I’m merely mentioning it here as a little sneak preview of something to look forward to in July.

     As you’ve already noticed by the length of this introduction, part of the reason this month’s Mil Mania has taken so long to mail out is the number of special items it contains — another of which is the announcement of the 5th Annual McDermott Birthday
Celebration, which is discussed in the
“Music Mayhem” column below.  An event
that debuted in 2002 while trying to come
up with an idea for an individual card/
very small project as I’d prepared for this
artist in 2001, it came about as I realized there
were probably many other supporters of his
work who likewise very much wished to gift
him in some way for gifting us with his amaz-
ing talent.  Hence, the first of these celebra-
tions was born.  And, in the years ensuing
they’ve grown into something far greater than
I’d ever envisioned.  Thanks to those of you
reading this who’ve helped make that the case,
and I look forward to working with all of you
again on another such bit of mad inspiration.

     Lastly, thanks as well for encouraging the
ongoing “mad inspiration” that is
Mil Mania.


  Writings From The Asylum

                                  The Leap to Limbo (tentative title),
                                Chapter 8   “Misery Hates Company”

     Afternoon sun from the balcony streamed through the bedroom door and out onto the living room carpet where Sultan lay curled up on a discarded T-shirt.  As the persistent ringing of the phone made its way from Josh’s dreams into his gradual state of wakefulness, he realized that the answering machine must be full – not surprising since Tommy had continued trying to reach him seemingly every hour since that first attempt while Josh was rummaging through the bedroom desk two days ago. 
     During the interim, Josh had been alternating between continued bursts of songwriting and depleting the stash of liquor he’d recently unearthed – steadfastly ignoring the phone the entire time.  At least now he didn’t have to listen to Tommy’s increasingly annoyed tones on the other end of the line insisting he and the band “needed to talk”…a message that had certainly kept the image of a record in the forefront of Josh’s mind – a broken one.  Maybe Tommy would finally get the hint he didn’t
want to talk right now.  Besides, Josh knew what he wanted to talk about, and his answer was still no.  He didn’t want to go to New York; he didn’t want to go anywhere.  He just wanted to sit in this apartment, write songs, drink himself into oblivion and forget the outside world existed.  Julie had been gone only a week today and the world beyond his window was going on just like nothing at all had changed.  Only everything had changed for him.  Still, the world would go on without him, too.  “So,” he thought peevishly, “let it.”

     An insistent knock at the door forced Josh out of his isolated reverie.  In keeping with his new experiment of monkish solitude, however, he made no move toward it,  but held a finger to his lips, urging his furry companion to conspiratorial silence as Sultan looked quizzically at the door, then to Josh – and back at the door as an angry voice roared through a barrier that suddenly seemed paper thin.
     “Josh, I’m gonna kick down this door, then kick your ass if you don’t come open it.  I’ve been calling you for
three days.  If you don’t want to talk to me, I’ll just call the police and have ‘em come see if you’re dead.  And, at that point you’d better be or my ass’ll be in jail for killing you.”

     Josh ran a hand through his hair in exasperation.  At last, he muttered,  “All right, I’m coming.  Just shut up already, would you.”

     Tommy stood glaring in the hallway as Josh flipped the locks and pulled the door wide.  His expression changed to incredulity as he took in Josh’s unkempt appearance and obvious failure to shower for quite some time.
     “Je—s, look at you,” Tommy barked. “You are dead.  At least you smell like it.  What the hell have you been doing in here?”

      “Nothing that concerns you.”

      “Hmmph,” Tommy scoffed.  “Everything about you concerns me right now.”

       “Ha ha.”

       “So, are you gonna ask me to come in, or what?”

       “Actually, I was gonna ask you to stay out.  But I doubt you’d listen, anyway,” Josh returned in resigned irritation, stepping aside at last.  Making an exaggerated, sweeping gesture and nodding in mock gravity, he ushered Tommy to enter.  Tommy did so, grimacing in disgust as he took in the scene of dirty clothing, empty liquor bottles and various other forms of trash littered around the room. 
     “Geez, Josh, you trying to win one of those contests where they give a makeover to the messiest room.  Sh—,
I’ll enter you.  You’d win hands down.”

     From his position by the still open door, Josh asked in a testy tone, “Did you actually come here for a reason or did you just run out of balls to bust everywhere else?”

     Tommy glared again.  “Yeah, I came here for a reason.  It seems you’ve forgot we happen to be in this thing called a “band” together.  And, in case you’ve also forgotten, after ten years of yes, busting our balls, we just got a record contract.  You may be the hotshot “leader” in all of that, but if you think you’re gonna get away with messing this up for all of us, you’ve got another think coming, bud.  I can tell you that right now.”

     “What the hell does that mean,?!” Josh exploded.  “I already told you I’m not gonna pack up my life and move three thousand miles across the country just because a jerk in an Armani suit in some high rise says so.  They came to see an L.A. band, they signed an L.A. band, what’s the big shock that maybe we have something resembling lives in – hmm….L.A.?

     “Je—s, Josh, what is your problem?!?  You know how the business works.  Beggars can’t be choosers, dude.  We’ve been working for this exact opportunity for ten frickin’ years.  Who cares if we have to record in New York City – who cares if we have to record in Timbuktu?  We’ve got a shot, man.  Finally, after spending night after night in clubs that…”  Tommy paused to look around the apartment with a malicious grin, “that…smell worse than this place right now, and are filled half the time with even bigger jerks than you, or not filled with anybody – working just for drinks some nights and all the rest of the shit that goes along with the “privilege” of getting gigs.  Come on, man, get over it”

     “Get over it,” Josh spat back with deadly quiet.  “Get over what, exactly?” he challenged.

     “Don’t go all wounded puppy on me.  Maybe in another time and place we’d have the luxury of being touchy-feely sensitive and allowing you to wallow in your grief for the next ten years, but life goes on. And so do opportunities – right on down the road if you don’t grab them when they’re right in front of you.  We have this, Josh.  Don’t lose it for all of us.  You want to sit around and let beer bottles pile up around you ‘til you can’t see the front door,  right now I don’t really give a sh—.  But don’t think you’re gonna take the rest of us down with you.  We’ve worked hard for you, too, you know.  You’re the one that gets all the credit, anyway.  So, I’m saying it again, man.  Get over it.”

     “I’m over it, already,” Josh responded angrily, once more stepping out of the path of the open door.  “I’m over this conversation.  It’s done.  And, you’re leaving.”
     “Fine, Josh.  I’ll leave.  But this is
not over,” Tommy promised as he headed out the door.  Taking one more glance around the room, he tossed back from the hall.  “And, clean up this sh—hole.  Otherwise, the board of health’s gonna condemn it and you’ll have to relocate, anyway.  And, I kind of doubt the street is a place you’ll really want to go, either.”


As introduced in the first issue of Mil Mania, this column shares the latest chapter in a novel I’m writing to present here in serial form.

Although this isn’t a comment on Mil Mania itself, I thought the series of photos this reader sent me simply remarkable, and therefore wanted to pass them along.


“Thought you would enjoy this…”   


“This is truly amazing. Be sure to click on NEXT PAGE at the bottom of each page; there are 5 pages in all.  A woman found a hummingbird nest and got pictures all the way from the egg to leaving the nest: 24 days from birth to flight. Because you'll probably never in your lifetime see this again,  enjoy — and please share.                 
 Click in on this URL below. Takes a minute to open, depending on the speed of your internet”...



Thanks, Nancy, for sharing this great link!

Text Box:        As always, feel free to drop by 
     my (recently updated) “space” at


Temporary Insanity








     Given both the fact that I began preparing this column of the newsletter on Father’s Day, and I’ve already featured a bit about my mom and her painting in a recent issue, I thought it might be appropriate to posthumously introduce you to my dad.  I’ve already spoken briefly about him in a couple of other pieces on my website, including a bit of commentary regarding a Gilmore Girls episode found near the bottom of the Random Rants section, and other pieces found in the poems and essays portions of Mil’s Writing. 
     To begin with “just the facts”, his name was Charlie and he was born in Maine, where he attended Fryeburg Academy (if you’ve met me, you’ve probably seen his class ring on my right hand), from which he was graduated a year early, at age 16 (one of many trails where I followed in his footsteps, by the way, having been graduated a year early myself, likewise at age 16).  He also attended the University of Maine (in Orono), earning a B.S. and M.S., stopping only a semester short of his Ph.D. when he decided at last to embark on the working world by relocating to my mom’s home state of NJ.  He had actually met her while on a summer internship at the same NJ company where my maternal grandfather worked, and she had subsequently moved to Maine with him upon their marriage.  After two years, they returned to her hometown and he began putting to use his Chemical Engineering degree (with a minor in Pulp and Paper) at a local company that soon sold to Rexham Corp., for whose Flexible Packaging Division he became Manager of Technical Development, and for whom he devised a host of new products patented by the company, many of which continue to be in wide use yet today.
     Based on all of that, you may think my dad was a bit of a “geek” or at the very least a pretty dull guy.  And, although he was indeed (also like me) a rather private individual – with his own streak of social ineptitude (from which I’m well aware, despite humorous protestations of other causes, my own aspects of this spring), it might have confused his business colleagues just a little to learn he loved Saturday morning cartoons, re-runs of
The Honeymooners and other TV comedies, as well as several detective shows that challenged his problem-solving nature by figuring out “whodunit” – not to mention the bumbling Inspector Clouseau, who was always a  particular favorite.
     His primary hobby, however, was fishing, and it probably would have surprised his business colleagues even more to see him in his weekend attire of loose-fitting jeans, flannel shirt and black laceless sneakers – garb that arguably made him more closely resemble a homeless person than a white collar exec.
     Of course, that garb fit right in at his non-water-inclusive weekend hangout – the local gas station, which was owned by a good friend.  And, frankly, proud as I will always be of his enormous intelligence and business acumen, I am far more so of his humility and ability to comfortably be “just one of the guys” – a view shared, I learned recently, from others who knew these varied sides of him as well.  More specifically, my husband was talking with a neighbor down the street recently (who lives next door to what was my grandparents’ home when I was a child…which is only doors away from where I and my family lived at that time), and somehow the subject of my dad came into their conversation.  At mention of him, this neighbor went on to reminisce that he, too, had hung out at the gas station on Saturdays, and recalled how much he’d enjoyed my dad’s company as he helped out with pumping gas, and his invariably heading to the nearby convenience store to buy doughnuts for “the crew”.

     But don’t let this benign image fool you – there was a much sterner side to him as well.  As a parent he was a strict disciplinarian (a word I use here as a sincere compliment, though I’m not sure it’s the correct one, actually, as it doesn’t imply harsh punishments of any kind, nor a routine of  household chores or list of “dos and don’ts – rather a matter of mom only having to say “I’ll call your dad at work” if we became unruly, and I guarantee we whipped into shape…the mere thought of “that look” or a raising of dad’s commanding voice was definitely more than sufficient).  It was really all a matter of respect…which is something he demanded of (and earned from) not only me and my brother, but also any friends we brought home for dinner.  And, ironically, even the most behaviorally difficult of these at school or in other situations didn’t just willingly abide by his rules – they positively loved him.  Yeah, they feared him more than a bit, too.  But, they loved him nonetheless.  (And, of course, as I’ve noted elsewhere EVERYBODY loved my mom…meaning my home as an early teen was a very popular place.)  Of course, if you know me today, you know another clue I’ve picked up from the trail my dad left is indeed just such a strong focus on the importance of respect, and a willingness to even risk not being liked all that much if it’s a matter of choosing between the two. 
     I’d like to say at this point as I try to wrap up this essay that I could go on and on filling in blanks and adding to this list of memories in such a way as to help you know my dad a bit more deeply than they allow.  Unfortunately, the rather strange reality of losing a parent at fifteen is that one both knows that parent very, very well – yet in many ways knows him not at all.  In moving through adulthood myself, I’ve wondered time and again how he felt facing certain life situations, how he would deal with various circumstances, what our relationship would be like now, etc.  Still, it’s a likewise odd reality that there are times I literally feel myself “become” him – i.e. when reacting to certain life situations, dealing with various circumstances, it suddenly strikes my consciousness that such moments “are” my dad…not something I can explain, by any means, or something anyone (other than perhaps my mom) could identify, but something very, very real…and something of which I admit I am very, very proud.

     In any case, I hope this brief remembrance has helped you get to know Charlie in at least some tiny way.  But then again, given what I said in that last paragraph, if you know me, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion you might already know him pretty well indeed.










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