Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Final Stretch

In the last few days I’ve made great progress on my book. I think I really like it. (That’s like saying I think I’m pretty.) 

I like Fairhaven too. 

I’ve unfairly drawn an unflattering picture in black and white. It’s a very pleasant town and I’ve been very comfortable in my little cottage. 

I’ll post better pictures later and leave it at that. 

Here’s an excerpt from Frats and Cats:

“For just a brief moment, my attention shifted from the drone of Mrs. Jensen’s monotone recitation of roll call to the buzzing of a horsefly that landed just inches from my Civics textbook. I was fascinated by his size. He was a fat old sucker. And he just laid back and looked at me.

“Harvey Morris?” As luck would have it Mrs. Jensen called my name just as I was pushing my textbook over the head of the fat horsefly. The book dropped right off my desk.

“Here!” I answered an octave higher than usual.

“I think we all noticed that you were, Mr. Morris.”

Giggles erupted behind me as I sunk lower into my chair with that damned horsefly still sitting in the same place, daring me into action again. I picked up my textbook and looked at the floor. 

The horsefly finally made his way back through the classroom window closest to me. It was slightly cranked open like it always was with a moss covered oak branch on the other side. The temperature inside the classroom was maybe two degrees cooler than the 85 degree temp outside. My shirt clung to my body. I felt like I was bathed in sweat and continually wiped my hands on my pants just so my pencil wouldn’t slip through my fingers. There were a/c units in some of the classrooms at Upperline High School but not that one.

Truth be told, Upperline High School could barely afford to be open. It was the worst high school in New Orleans. Actually, it was the worst high school anywhere. Even the national secondary school listing for Upperline stated that “based on test scores, dropout rates, and socioeconomic status of the students, Upperline High School is one of the worst schools in the country.” 

Sitting in my desk on the 6th day of May in 1971, I was one of the many socioeconomically and educationally impaired students in Mrs. Jensen’s Civics class to answer the roll call. That’s me. Harvey Morris … better known as R.V. Morris, a nickname given to me by my older brother Stan.

Needless to say, I learned very little throughout my high school years other than “how to leave in the middle of the day and not be missed” or “how to avoid being beat up by using the right exit doors”.  I could have chosen to study “illegal habits that could get you killed or at the very least, arrested” but stuck with the basics instead. 

I wasn’t a stellar student, not by any stretch of the imagination. I wasn’t on any superlative list and not really known for any particular great accomplishments. In fact, the only notable thing that I ever did prior to my senior year didn’t even happen at Upperline. It happened in the sixth grade at Lafayette Elementary School. The school held a talent show on a stage that was set up on the playground. For some unknown reason, my mother signed me up to perform in a clown costume, playing the ukulele while singing Dean Martin’s That’s Amore while Peggy Marchelli did a ballet dance around me in a tutu. The judge and MC that night was Dick Van Dyke who worked at the local WDSU TV station before he became THE Dick Van Dyke. Peggy Marchelli and I came in 24th out of 25. Johnny Kushner’s tuba came in 25th.  

Some of my Upperline classmates who were also classmates with me at Lafayette remember the talent show well and would often serenade me with That’s Amore in the cafeteria. Thank you, Mom.  

There were two entrances into Upperline High School. One was on the Joseph Street side and the other was on Nashville Avenue. Students who used the Joseph Street side were known as “frats”. Frats wore weejuns (Penny loafers), had button down collars (usually madras) and listened to John Fred and The Playboys at The Valencia Club on Saturday nights. 

The Nashville side was where the “cats” or  “hoods” parked their ’57 Chevys. Greased down hair for guys and teased up hair about the size of a basketball held in place by lots of hair spray for the girls. They typically spent their weekends at the LaPlace Drag Strip.”

Sunday, May 15, 2022

More From Fairhaven

 

Just taking a break from writing the great American novel because I know that you ... my dear readers ... are dying to know what I've been up to up here at the cottage. 

1. Here's a picture of the neighborhood. The mist you see moves in and out at various times of day. I am waiting for my first sighting of Steven King's clown ... Pennywise.

2. The television set in my cottage is limited to reruns of House. This is not a bad thing. It prevents me from being tempted to turn on the tube and detract from why I'm here ... to finish my novel. I'm taking the high road.

On second thought ... it really sucks.

3. My food choices es are pretty good up here. There are 10 pasta "houses", a breakfast place called Scramblers and a fish place. Kidding. There's no fish place.

4. This morning I dropped my EarPods in the toilet. Now I can't complain that the reception is crappy. (get it?)

5. Back to work!


Friday, May 13, 2022

Jaws ain't got nuthin' on me!

Travelled to Fairhaven, Mass. (West Island) last night where I am spending a week finishing my fourth book at a little cottage that I found on Vrbo. 

I sound like I really know what I'm talking about, right? Truth is ... I don't have a clue about all this Vrbo stuff and I've never been to Fairhaven in my life. But I got lucky. I looked it all up and it truly is a cool place to "retreat" and focus on my writing. Also, Debbie is probably happy to get me out of the house. 

I posted this image in black and white because this place reminds me of Jaws and my vision of what Amity would look like. 

I also posted it because I look better without color (okay and without even being in the picture ... but I thought I should at least put myself in so you'd know I was really here. You know ... kinda like the guys on the Weather Channel in the middle of a hurricane who have to foolishly prove that they are in the middle of the storm ... LIVE. )

Okay, back to work on novel number 4! 

More later.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

New York State of Mind

We just got back from NYC yesterday.

I would have told you sooner ... like when we were actually there ... but Deb thought I should wait to blog when we got home, you know, in case someone might be stalking us and watching our house. I get it. The roofers, the window replacement guys, the electricians and the plumber who work regardless of whether we are home or not were deemed safe. The three people who read my blog, we don't trust. (Maybe four).

Our trip began Thursday night. That's when we flew the friendly skies and slim fitting seats of Southwest Airlines into La Guardia, which is beautiful these days (for those that haven't been to New York since the remodel of that musty old  ... go outside ... then inside ... then outside ... airport). 

We took a cab to our hotel, which was the beginning of a semi-nightmare first night ... not the cab ride, the hotel room. To begin with, I think someone was murdered in our room right before we checked in. There were mysterious stains next to the bed, and by the bathroom, and by the windows, and in front of the closet. My God, it must have been a mafia hit on an entire family. Only thing missing was the horse's head. Then we discovered the toilet didn't flush and the phone didn't work.   

Debbie took the first stab at talking to the front desk. They sent a plumber up who tried with a plunger and then later with a snake. In broken English he told us (I think) "It not flush too well but should work okay for .... How long you stay?" 

That was long enough for me. I booked us in a nicer hotel and left that night. When we checked out of the palace we were in, the hotel manager was nice enough to charge us half price because "you didn't tell us sooner that the toilet didn't work." Not making this up. The hotel shall remain nameless... NOT! (It's the MILLENIUM).

Not a total loss the first night. We dined at one of our favs, Carmine's. Always great food and plenty of it. We split a chicken parmigiana and some sauteed spinach. 

Slept like babies and woke up late. Explored Times Square with the three million other visitors that crammed the streets. Clearly, New York is back and no one is afraid to be in crowded areas any more. 

We ate a late lunch at Virgil's Real Barbecue.

Love that place. We got a couple of big old pork sandwiches and fries. I had two strokes on the way back to the room but it was worth it. 

It's always interesting sitting there in the city of Babel where on my right were Eastern Europeans, on my left were Puerto Ricans and behind me were Middle Easterners. And right in the middle of the table was a big old plate of barbecue. 

Everywhere I go, I seem to attract loud talkers. You know the type. They talk to their tablemates as if they were sitting across the room instead of right in front of them. The conversation is always personal "So Madge, the yeast infection is SO MUCH worse. I got a new doctor who poked around down there for hours. SO UNCOMFORTABLE." And poor Madge looks around sheepishly trying to whisper her responses but fails miserably.


Back to the room, changed and quickly out the door to see "Mr. Saturday Night" with Billy Crystal.

What a great show!

Billy Crystal was truly in his element. He was so damned funny and had me laughing even at his setups: "Two jews sitting on a bench ..." 

I thought this play was one of the best I've seen. Full disclosure ... I think anything Crystal is in is the best I've seen, so I'm probably not the most unbiased critic ... but we loved it. By the way, I took a picture of Billy signing Playbills after the show. No one could get close enough so I photoshopped Deb getting up close and personal.  

Took another of Deb and one of the costars Chasten Harmon who played the agent. She was also terrific and Debbie didn't need to be photoshopped.


Next day we saw  "Hadestown".

Not one of my favs but the production was really incredible. We were on the first row ... great seats but I think we might have missed some of the big stage effects because we were too close (Can you believe I'm complaining about front row tix?)

Anyway, the storyline is a version of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, where Orpheus goes underground to rescue his lover Eurydice.  See? That's why I didn't really get into it (Or get it ... at times).

I did get a potato latke at Junior's however ... after the show. And two big black and white cookies for the room (thanks Stever Greenbaum for getting me hooked on those!)

We found another cool place to eat ... Victor's on 52nd. 

Great atmosphere and great food. Interesting placement for the outdoor eatery. 

There are now tons of bike paths in NY and this one is dangerously close to the patrons when they walk in and out of the restaurant. So close that we saw one get hit. The bikers are incensed that anyone would not stop for them of course (much like the bikers and skateboarders in St. Pete and Tampa). I take the high road ... I think they all should use their feet or get off the damned road.   

Okay I'll take my meds and calm down.


Sunday, our last day, we saw "MJ The Musical". Our buddy Quentin Darrington was one of the stars of this show ... BUT as bad luck would have it, he had COVID and was unable to be there. We texted and I told him that the musical ... which was based on Michael Jacksons life ... was really awesome. The music, actors, staging ... everything ... was unbelievable. Helps to be a fan of Michael's music but when the Thriller theme starts playing and you don't at least move your shoulders in your seat, you're probably dead.



New York is still a happening place.

By the way ... Deb snapped this picture of me because my hair had its own trip up there. I look like an author! (or maybe just a little Stephen King ish).   




 


      

Final Stretch

In the last few days I’ve made great progress on my book. I think I really like it. (That’s like saying I think I’m pretty.)  I like Fairhav...