FTC Deep Cut- NJHS 1991

I like thinking of new and possibly exciting things to write for this blog.  I reposted old stuff twice: once for Christmas, once a couple weeks ago when I had a crazy week.  I came across this the other day and just had to share it with everyone.  I found my first article I ever wrote, which was published in the September, 1991 edition of the Norwood Junior High newsletter.  It was a review of the Van Halen concert at Great Woods over the summer, and was the first concert I ever attended.  Enjoy.



When I heard Van Halen was coming to town, I called up the boys and started planning. I knew we had to have a foolproof plan in order to convince my mommy and daddy to let me go. So they did let me go.  After unloading our D&G Deli subs from Tim Ferrari’s Dad’s limo, and Rich Kfoury took his shirt off and whipped it around over his head and the older chicks whooped in delight, I knew this was gonna be a good time.

First, I couldn’t believe people actually bring their grills all the way from their house to the parking lot! There were a lot of people yelling and wearing VH stuff and listening to all their stuff, but if you are going to hear a concert of a band, wouldn’t you want to listen to something else before? I like their new live album, it’s a live one. So we got in to see Vince Neil open and do some of his songs without Mötley Crüe because they broke up. I was also excited cause this was my first live music I was hearing. When he started playing, I realized, “huh, this doesn’t sound like the albums.” So it wasn’t that good, but it was nice before playing “Home Sweet Home” (which was the most voted for song ever on Dial MTV) Vince said that every time he’s in this part of the country we (and indirectly that includes me) make him feel like he is home. I felt great that I could play a part in helping this famous guy who’s far from home feel like he was home. He stopped playing music and then we waited because all the guys were setting up for Van Halen.

When Van Halen came out, the lights went out and everyone went crazy, including me. They played so many songs. They just kept playing them, all night. All the favorites. Black and Blue. Best of Both Worlds. Jump. Dreams. It was a little weird hearing Sammy sing some of David Lee Roth songs, but with all the lights and the band was good, it was still an amazing experience. The highlight was during the drum solo, I looked over and Steve-O and Kfoury were talking to some older chicks! By the time Michael Anthony was finishing his bass solo and lighting it on fire, they were both smoking a butt! It was crazy, and no one’s parents found out, so it was ok.* The concert was so fun, by the end everyone was dancing and being crazy, and we didn’t care how we looked, and I played some air guitar, and some leg guitar, and on the way home everyone in the limo agreed we wouldn’t tell anyone else how silly anyone was being, so you just have to imagine just HOW silly and cool it was.  And we also knew we had a crazy night because Sammy told us that everyone tonight was much louder and crazier than the crowd last night.  Know what was great about that?  After he said that, everyone went even crazier, thus further proving his point that this crowd was far superior in the “going crazy” department

So I think going to concerts is a good thing. You can dance and do what you want. And Van Halen is AWESOME, and if you have a chance to see them at a concert go to do it. The lasers and the rock and roll and Eddy and Alex and Michael and Sammy really put on a good show, especially when they get in a line and all take really big steps with totally straight legs all at the same time, like they practiced it or something. That really got everyone excited. So for reasons like that you should go see Van Halen.  We had a great time!!!

*Dear Mr. Cammarratta, because this happened over the summer, when school wasn’t in session, and it wasn’t at school, you can’t do anything to Steve-O or KFoury.  I checked with my lawyer.


Monday Song #11

Wrapping up Beck month with a live performance. I think this song best sums up his music: heartfelt yet tongue and cheek lyrics and legitimately tight rhythms that leave the listener thinking, “I don’t really know exactly how to feel about this song.”

When I’m President….

I am just going to do a free write for 20 minutes.  So what the heck am I going to write about.  I used to do this every day back in the old country. I remember those days when I would make myself write 500 words every single day. What did I used to write about? I think a lot of it was “so I just have a little more to go before I fill this page up….” And that kind of stuff, but it would be totally worth it for the times when I hit a groove and really got super descriptive or on a good train of thought.  What is the thought in the very front of my brain…. Man I am full of cake. When are we as a society going to end the insistence on desserts and sweets all the time for everything? The time I noticed there was a serious problem was the first time I saw the snack isles at Staples. It shows how common it is to sit still and eat junk. When I’m elected president, on my second day, I will enact a law making it illegal to transport more than a certain number of servings of desserts. I will have to consult my cabinet for an exact amount, but I’m thinking anyone caught with more than 8 servings of sweets in their car will be subject to a fine of $50-100 per serving (again, my cabinet will help me reach an exact number).  This will put an end to the office birthday cakes for EVERYONE’S birthday, the aunt who brings 28 cupcakes and 50 cookies to a family gathering of 12 people, the ensuing take-home tray that no one wants to take, but no one  can say no to, and will give bloggers who are also fathers of two, um I mean “people” with self regulation issues something to think about when they are in the mood for a “Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked and Shaw’s Chocolate Chip Cookies” sandwich for dinner.  This rule will not limit the amount of dessert ingredients one can transport, but really, who is going to show up at a holiday party and set up shop in the kitchen. This rule will also make going out for dessert much more acceptable, causing an increase in dessert stands, ice cream parlors, and eat-in bakeries.  Most importantly, this will cause people to burn calories, with either thought or actions, in order to consume mass quantities of calories. I’m trying to think of how people could work around the law. There are the obvious smuggling methods, you know, meeting a baker in a dark alley, removing the hollow passenger and putting grandmas birthday cake in there. But how could one get around it on a technicality, not just simply breaking the law…. I can’t really think of anything. It is a pretty straightforward rule.  It will be vetted by my cabinet, but certainly not in committee.  I plan on making this an “executive order,” no debate.  I will not let the lawmakers and Big Dessert get their paws on this one.  The stakes are just too high.


FYI: On my first day in office, I would create a list of songs / artists that would be banned from being played in public space. These songs will not be allowed in grocery stores, malls, and anywhere else large crowds of people gather (with the exception of clubs, concerts, and other places where entrance is paid and voluntary). Count your days “Love Shack” and “Boys of Summer.”



In celebration of Beck Month, I have developed a game called “Beck or Jibberish.”  I have chosen random Beck lyrics, came up with a couple of nonsensical phrases myself, and some lines from other random songs.  You, the reader are to pick which is which.


  1. 1.       Mouthwash jukebox gasoline
  2. 2.       Peace and love and telephone’s off their hooks
  3. 3.       Get crazy with the cheesewhiz
  4. 4.       Hop in my Chrysler, it’s as big as a whale
  5. 5.       Grapes hanging from the vine with the moon in the stars
  6. 6.       Purple monkey dishwasher in the rear
  7. 7.       The last thing he said he didn’t want no shortnin in his bread
  8. 8.       Lights go out and I can’t be saved
  9. 9.       Face down in the guarantees
  10. 10.    Damn, I feel like a woman




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Monday Song #10

I just heard this song for the first time while searching for videos on youtube. I looked in my iTunes library and saw that I have the entire “Guero” album and I have never heard it. What a slacker! It was apparently released in 2005, which may explain why it didn’t end up on my radar; I spent most of that year in a remote village getting ground lamb patties and rakia shoved down my throat. Sorry honey, looks like the Beck binge is NOT over.

Prompt and Ditched

The website writersdigest.com has a weekly writing prompt.  I occasionally check them, have saved a few and decided to post one up here this week.  Below is the prompt, followed by my response.


You’ve just been to the worst concert of your life. Afterward, you head to a bar with friends and start drowning your disgust. Moments later, the musician (or musicians) shows up. You decide to confront the musician about the lousy performance and ask for your money back. The musician suggests a different approach to repaying you. Write what happens.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) 


So Mike Jerome turns from the bar towards me and is holding two shots of tequila and offers me one.  “Sorry bro-hamm, we’re still working out the kinks.  Wish you could have heard us in Tuscaloosa, much different than tonight.” The shot burned down my throat, and seemed to ease my rage a little.  Hearing one of the members of the group involved in the worst display of live music I’ve ever seen admit as much was very validating.

“While we can’t refund your money, we can make you an interesting offer, and this is only for you, cause you had the guts to come over here and let me know what you thought.  None of this chicken-shit snickering behind our backs, yelling from the crowd, or twittering about hashtags and whatever else.  You had the decency to look us in the eye and give it to us straight.  So what are your plans for the rest of the evening?”

While I wanted to just go home, I told him we were just going to hang out to see if the Sox win and head home, but I could “be flexible.”

“Great.  Wait right here.”  The drummer disappeared, I ran over to let my buddies know something was up, I wasn’t sure what, but I will fill them in later.  The other two Ezerans come over, shake my hand with a knowing look that their drummer has filled them in on my tirade.  None of them say a word and walk out of the bar, and I just follow, with the intention of doing so until they tell me to leave them alone.

“Jon, we’ve been waiting the entire tour to meet a true fan to bestow this honor upon, and now the moment has arrived.  Get on the bus.  We’re going to shoot our next album cover right now.”

I was amazed there were silk sheeted beds, a live-in sushi chef, and a hot tub on the bus, and when I said so, I was told, “The ‘90’s were REALLY good to us.  We tour now because we’re bored.”

My mouth stuffed full of sushi, I get off the bus in a pretty down-trodden area of town, where I would guess a scene from the Departed was shot.  We line up in front of an old building.  I definitely hear something going on inside, muffled voices, empty glass bottles being kicked around. 

Only now does it hit me:  I am far away from my car.  With everyone milling about, I don’t see any camera equipment or anything, so I ask, “What kind of look are you going for on the cover?” and that’s when I see movement towards the bus.  “The non-asshole look!” I hear shouted from the bus entrance.  The door closes in my face and I hear Kevin Griffin’s voice shout, “Don’t mess with the EEZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!”

Alone, far from the car, rough part of town, ditched by Better Than Ezra.  Should have pushed harder for the refund.


Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!!!

The Train from Sarievo to Mostar

The train from Sarajevo to Mostar has views and scenery that rival the Alps.  With the echoes of recent history lurking in the back of your head, your mind can literally explode if too much time is spent thinking about the juxtaposition of the beauties of nature and the horrors of war.  As I shared some random thoughts with my three travel companions whose faces I’ll never forget, but names I never knew, we are interrupted kindly by a traveler in the next compartment.

This man was dressed as if he was ready to work in the mine; camouflage pants that look like they’ve been to hell and back, giant sandpaper hands, hard hat on the seat, and a general vibe that this dude is the essence of tough.  He was delighted to speak English because he hadn’t spoken in some time.  He was overjoyed that we liked his country and vacillated between telling us how great and beautiful it was, and how horrible and “shit” it was.  Having spent plenty of time in the Balkans, I was used to this line of conversation, knew exactly how to navigate it.  I was the only American in my group, the others were Canadian, Hungarian, and Australian, and our new travel buddy cornered me and the Canadian dude.  When we told him where we were from, his face lit up, and using my Balkan senses, I could tell he had been to the US and I prepared for the usual back and forth about how great the cars, buildings, women, supermarkets, and television were.  Life is full of surprises, and what came next in our convo was certainly one of them.

This guy told me where he lived (I want to say Oklahoma, but I’m not sure), told me all about the wonderful people he met and stayed with.  He threw some names at me of people that were famous in his eyes, “Yes, this is great man.  Very very good man.  Real.  True.” Then he reached into his pocket and said, “Hey, you know these guys?” and whipped out a wallet with a swastika patch sewn onto it.  It had some words around the symbol, and looked more like a seal to an organization rather than something someone can pick up if they know the right/wrong store to go to, so I assumed this guy was serious, and I wasn’t about to examine the patch to verify its authenticity.

Now there was this tension in the air that maybe only I and the Canadian dude felt.  The guy headed to the mine was laughing away, looking at my companion saying, “I like you. You trouble. You are Canadian Mafia, yeah…. This guy, my friend, I like you….” Etc. etc.  The final piece of information to complete the awkward picture is that the Canadian guy’s Jewish.  So the Bosnian guy starts asking me a couple of direct questions, and my buddy slips away and joins our other two companions who wisely and slyly slipped into another compartment.

As I’m bombarded with questions of whether or not I know this guy or heard of that group, or been to this town, I have a moment when I step back and chuckle to myself that a) I am speaking with a real life Nazi, and b) I never thought people with so much to hate would be so jolly.  This guy is laughing about all this “training” he did (I didn’t have the guts to ask exactly what he was training for) and how he was in prison for five years and how “I say ‘fuck you’ to judge.”

I really wish I could have seen the look on my face during all this.  I had to laugh at all his jokes and maintain friendly eye contact, making sure my eyes were part of my smile, not just my mouth.  Something inside me knew if this guy got a hint of the weirdness I was feeling, things could go from awkward to scary real quickly.  The train ride went on, and we passed a field with rolling hills, the kind that gave us just enough of something to look at, and we shared a moment of soaking in this beautiful landscape, which was a nice way to end our time together.  The train began to slow, and he shook my hand, and said, “Good-bye my friend,” and looked into the Canadian guy’s compartment and gave him a friendly wag of the finger and said “You Canadian Mafia, yes you, good-bye my friend.”  His buddy / co-worker came out of their compartment with the guys hardhat, smiled at us and gave a friendly shake of the head followed with his thumb pointing loosely sideways in the Nazi’s direction, which means in any language, “Get a load of this guy, huh.”

Surprisingly all three of my travel companions magically appear in our compartment as soon as the train starts to move again.  We share a nervous laugh as I offer the Canadian guy five whole American dollars if he told everyone on the platform at the station exactly what his religious affiliation is.  He gives me a “Shut up,” under his breath and we wave to the our friend and, just like that, he is out of our lives forever.  We all rehashed what happened, laughed, and for the rest of the day, the Canadian guy’s nickname was “Canadian Mafia.”  I hope the Hungarian woman he was traveling with kept it going after they left town.

The conclusion we came to once our compartment was free of anyone who favored of one race over another was there was nothing we could have done in that situation other than smile, play nice, and hope nothing crazy happens.  There was nothing we could have done to change that man’s views on race and diversity.  Challenging him, asking why he thought the way he did, or acting in any way hostile would have been the wrong thing to do on many fronts.  First, from a personal safety sense, angering someone who could literally break one of us in half in an enclosed area with no chance of escaping, surrounded by an unknown number of his friends is just one of the worst decisions any of us could have made.  On a deeper level, one of the joys of traveling is meeting people who live in the place you travel to.  Leaving oneself open to experiencing everyone and everything a land has to offer may lead to situations just described.  If I were angry, condescending, or judgmental, it not only would have accentuated that I wasn’t truly open to everyone and everything Bosnia had to offer, it would have shown I did not do my homework (which is a must when traveling off the beaten path).  Being shocked and appalled that I ran into a person with “controversial” feelings on race, in a country with recent history of ethnic cleansing, would have been extremely naïve.

Without getting any more preachy, the largest take-away is this:  I saw someone with admitted ties to a Nazi-related group with his arm around a Jewish man (remember, he didn’t know my friend was Jewish).  Traveling helps create experiences that to many would be unthinkable.  I saw one on a train between Sarajevo and Mostar, and I will never forget it.

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