Sunday, February 5, 2012

December 23, 2011 The 2006 Christmas Letter

   Let’s start at the beginning, New Year’s Eve. The biggest party & best DJ gig of the year, I’m counting down to midnight. 4, 3, 2 , 1 Happy New Year!!!! A bunch of drunken hotties giving me New Year’s Eve kisses. NO!!!!! WHY NOT? Because I’m only pretending that it is midnight. It is only 9pm and I’m DJing at an outdoor ice rink freezing my ass off. I’m surrounded by the loser kids who couldn’t score some beer or pot and fat suburban housewives with their henpecked husbands asking me why I won’t play some stupid song from the movie “Madagascar” for their snot nosed kids. Just so you don’t think that I am a lost cause. I did smile when my niece Kristian gave me a big New Years hug & kiss when I was skating around the rink with her while my nephew Kyle filled in as DJ for me. Since the first day was so exciting, how could the remaining 364 possibly maintain that level? Unfortunately, most didn’t. A few days are worth mentioning so I did in this letter. I try to keep this little letter amusing each year while updating everyone on our lives. It gets harder every year. Chrissy says it’s the only thing about me that gets harder each year. I could gloat about the Republican’s getting the beat down they so richly deserved, but my ass will hurt for years from the fucking they gave all of us for the past 6 years…and I’m not even a congressional page nor do I associate with evangelical leaders. HEY, QUIT COMPLAINING!!! Did you really expect me to mellow with age?   


   Even though I live in the suburbs, I despise every aspect of them. The strip malls, chain stores, the lack of any creativity and individuality, the soul sucking blandness & the insistence on conformity are just a few of my complaints. I want my niece to know there are other options. My mom says I like Kristian the best because I always tell stories about her. Well, maybe that’s true because here are two more stories about the ‘little girl next door’. Chrissy was babysitting Kristian one day and played the movie “Rent” for her. She loved it. She took it home to watch it repeatedly. I made her a CD of the Broadway soundtrack. She would sing and dance to all the songs. Her favorite is the gay transvestite “Angel”. I was so proud to see my five year old niece singing songs about artists, gay & straight lovers and heroin. As luck would have it, the touring production of Rent came to Chicago, so I decided to take Kristian. She was nervous about going to the play, so Kyle went along too. As soon as we got in the car I put on the Rent CD. She starts singing along…no longer nervous. I had heard that Jonathan Larson who wrote Rent insisted that the first 2 rows only be sold day of the show. So at the box office window I am given seats in the second row. I asked the guy if Kristian would be able to see the stage from that close since I never sat that close myself. He said no problem. Then a supervisor came to the window and said “this play isn’t appropriate for a little kid”. I assured him I was familiar with the play and it was fine with me that she sees it. He shook his head and continued to protest (he must live in the ‘burbs). I shut him up by saying “you sell the fucking tickets, I’ll raise the kid!” While checking our coats Kristian got all excited because she saw Angel, it was a transvestite dressed as Angel who ended up sitting in front of us. Our seats were amazing, spoiled kid, first play and she gets 2nd row, I told her Aunt Chrissy was going to be very jealous. Kristian loved the play, sang along to the songs and told me that Angel is a man who dresses like a woman but likes other men. There is hope that she will overcome a repressive suburban upbringing. One night we took Kristian to Café Borgia for dinner. Even though it’s an Italian restaurant, all the waiters are Mexican. I try to teach the kid something whenever I spend time with her, this night it was family heritage. I was explaining that I am Italian, Irish & German and that Chrissy is Lithuanian, Romanian, German & Polish. Since her mom is Chrissy’s sister that makes Kristian Lithuanian, Romanian (I might have said gypsy instead), German & Polish. She had trouble grasping the relationships but it was slowly sinking in as I kept explaining it. I thought she had it until I said that she was also Mexican. She thought for a moment then yells “I’M NOT MEXICAN!!! MY DAD IS”!!! The waiters all stop and turn toward us and began to laugh. She repeated it several times before I gave up and finished my penne porcini.


   In March we went to Cali for my Aunt Pat & Uncle Ed’s 50th Anniversary party. Fifty years, now I’ve joked it seems like I’ve been married for 50 years, but that won’t be true until 2038. Let me simplify this as only I can, THAT’S A FUCKING LONG TIME!!!! Rumor has it that fifty years ago, Ed & Pat were on a date and Ed dropped his keys, as he knelt down to pick them up, Pat said “I DO”. We had a great time with my cousins and brothers. Since it rarely happens that we are all together, these times are very special to me. At the party a photographer came around to take pictures of each couple. The way we were seated, he thought Jeff was with Geo’s girlfriend, Marcy. At first we were going to move but decided to just go with it. That left Georgie with Chrissy and Jen with me. When she realized this she said “Wait, I get Gregg?!!!” with joking disgust in her voice. This started an argument among the girls about which Ott boy was the worst. Each defended (that may be too strong a word for what actually happened) her man somewhat and gave reasons why the others were the worst. Chrissy & Marcy thought Jeff was the most annoying, which stunned Jen and me. I thought Chrissy would have voted Georgie most annoying. Then all three girls agreed that my mom married the worst Ott boy. We were supposed to go to Mexico with the Delgado’s, but that got canceled at the last minute. Now Chrissy had to decide…spend 10 straight days with my parents or go somewhere…anywhere…she decided Death Valley was a better option. We had a great time there; we hiked through several canyons, across the salt fields and up the mountains for 3 days. Death Valley is an amazing place to visit. We decided to drive to Joshua Tree National Park afterwards. As we drove across the Mojave Desert, our cell phone got a signal again…we had 3 messages. The first was my mom checking in with us. How’s Death Valley? Call me. The next was mom again a little worried. Your hotel said you never checked in. Where are you? Call me! Guess who left the third message? Gregg, call me back right away. Your father says he isn’t driving out to the god damn desert to find your fucking ass. Where are you?!!! Chrissy was laughing her ass off as she listened to the messages. She wanted to let my mom worry about us. I said we’d better call before some park ranger or state trooper finds us and says to call your mom because she is driving them crazy. I don’t want to pile on an old lady nearing her dotage but, whenever Chrissy & I visit her, she writes HI GREGG & CHRISTY on a little message board on the kitchen counter…when Jeff & Jen were coming out, she took the day off of work, hung a WELCOME JEFF & JEN banner across the garage and was so excited at the airport that she ran up to some guy she thought was Jeff and was hugging the poor bastard who had no idea what was happening. She didn’t let go of him until I pointed to her actual son walking toward her through the crowd. Chrissy had to pick me up off the floor I was laughing so hard.


   We met my mom in NYC in June. We all stayed at my Aunt Maryann & Uncle Freddie’s. One day we took a trip to the Brooklyn neighborhood where they grew up. We stopped at Our Lady of Lourdes School, Marion Street (where the Otts & Valentinos lived), Bushwick Ave & Chauncey St. (where my mom lived). On Chauncey St., I took pictures of my mom on her old stoop. You could smell marijuana coming from an apartment in the building. Then some guy in a window across the street yelled “are you buying that building”? My mom said “no, I used to live here”. To which he replied shockingly “you used to live here”? Let’s just say white folks haven’t been seen around there since the 1960’s. We took my mom on a Circle Tour around Manhattan. While on line she bought a Styrofoam Statue of Liberty crown, which she insisted on wearing. Tourist!!! While waiting on the boat at the docks, another boat was loading for what appeared to be a private Father’s Day party. We watched several hundred African-Americans dressed to impress board the boat. It’s not that the outfits were ghetto, let’s just say white people couldn’t or wouldn’t wear most of the outfits we saw. They all brought food & bottles of booze with them. When the DJ kicked in with the old school R&B mixed with sweet soul music, Chrissy & I wanted to switch boats, but no way would they allow us on that boat with my mom wearing that goofy spiked crown. Years ago, Chrissy gave my mom a cloth doll dressed as a nurse. It’s a frumpy little doll that makes you laugh whenever you look at it. She is called Nurse Doll. Clever. My mom kept her at work on her desk. Over the years, her co-workers posed Nurse Doll for all kinds of compromising pictures. Nurse Doll made the trip to NYC. We took nurse doll everywhere, Museum of Natural History, Central Park, Coney Island, Lower East Side, Times Square & the Circle Line cruise. Lots of people laughed at Nurse Doll or maybe at us as we posed her all around the city. I made a music video of Nurse Doll’s trip. You can see the video at

   American Idol. Admit it, you have watched it. Anyway, early in the show, Taylor Hicks became a fan favorite. He looked 45 years old but was actually 28. My friends, Jim & Chrissy, were the first to say I looked like Taylor. Then Chrissy’s friends at work told her that I looked like him. I didn’t think so. Well this dopey looking white guy with no soul and no dance moves (does kind of sound like me) ends up winning. Great! Now I hear I look like him more often; while shopping for a suit, djing at weddings, etc. I still don’t see it. While in NYC, I was paying at the window of a parking garage in Long Island City. The attendant, a young black man from some Caribbean island, just stares at me. I thought he couldn’t speak English. Then he comes out of the booth and stammers, “you, you’re from American Idol”. Chrissy is laughing so hard she probably wet herself, my mom & Aunt are laughing harder & harder because the guy won’t believe me when I tell him I’m not Taylor Fucking Hicks. He kept getting so excited that he met Taylor Hicks, I just signed an autograph for the poor bastard. Is this why people come to America? To meet losers from American Idol!


   In late September, we drove through Canada to Nova Scotia, then back through New England. Highlights of the trip…the Old City areas in Montreal & Quebec City…whale watching in New Brunswick…the amazing tides at the Bay of Fundy…the Acadian churches on Prince Edward Island…seeing whales and moose on the same hike in the Cape Breton Highlands in Nova Scotia…hiking & biking in Acadia National Park in Maine…seeing the fall colors in Vermont & New Hampshire. We stayed at B&B’s most nights on the trip; it really gives you a chance to meet the locals and learn of cool places to visit in the area. Almost every Canadian asked us about George Bush. After I gave my opinion, I had to answer the following questions…how did he get re-elected? Americans are stupid. Is he retarded? No, please don’t embarrass the mentally handicapped. Does America still support the war? No, don’t confuse supporting the troops with supporting Bush & his lying henchmen. Who still believes Bush’s bullshit? Only people stupid enough to believe Rush Limbaugh’s drug addiction is different than Kurt Cobain’s. While in Quebec City, Chrissy arranged to see Tiguak at the Aquarium. For those that don’t remember, Tiguak is the polar bear cub Chrissy hand raised at Brookfield Zoo. It has been 5 years since Chrissy saw Tiguak. When we arrived, Tiguak was pacing in her exhibit. As soon as Chrissy yelled down to her, Tiguak ran to her, stood on her hind legs and began chuffing & moaning (a polar bearing greeting). It was amazing to me, she clearly remembered Chrissy. She led Chris around to the viewing window and got face to face with her. The keepers at the aquarium were also amazed. Tiguak never acted like this. They let Chrissy feed Tiguak in the back. There was no doubt among those present that Tiguak remembered Chrissy. I had tears in my eyes, but Chrissy never did. She was just excited to see her baby. Weeks later, while giving a group of teachers a tour at Brookfield Zoo, she was telling the story of her visit to see Tiguak and broke down. She apologized to the group, who told her to stop apologizing because they were also crying.

   A few other tidbits…while in Canada we never saw any geese…probably because they are all in the United States shitting in our parks…I only saw three concerts this year, Marah & Flogging Molly twice, while in Canada we stopped to see some music. The bar was so empty, the singer, Steven Bowers, decides to sit at a table and play for the 8 of us. This guy is a fantastic songwriter and performer. We listened and talked music with him all night long…my hockey team won the winter league championship…our oldest cat, Ammie died this year. She was actually named Amaretto, but known as the Dago kitty for her love of pasta…so we marked her grave with a Virgin Mary statue holding a bottle of Amaretto. Let’s continue on a religious theme, I’m not overly religious. I know you’re shocked by that comment. Anyway, I believe religions cause more problems than they solve. Sometimes it’s hard to believe God really exists, and then something happens to make you believe. During 18 nights in Canada, our only B&B problem occurred on Prince Edward Island. The owner of the Trailside Inn didn’t have a room for us. He did get us a room down the street. He took us to a house owned by this eccentric artist named Mary. She is packing up to move to Toronto for the winter. The house has that musty, strange old lady that lives by herself smell. We decide to stay anyway. We talked with Mary about her artwork and family history in Maritime Canada until late in the night. The next morning she was still sleeping, we left $60, a thank you note and fresh fruit (we had bought at a farmers market in Montreal) on the kitchen table. Later that day, while on the ferry from PEI to Nova Scotia, I spent most of the trip talking to this huge burly Irishman with wild red hair. We talked about living in Nova Scotia, fishing for a living, whales and the Tiguak story. He was taking a job at a mine where the owner needed him to catch a thief. If he handed the thief to the owner he would be paid $5000. Chrissy asked me who I was talking to out on the deck; as usual I never caught his name. As we drove our car from the docks, I saw the Irishman hitching a ride. We picked him up and he laughed when he saw it was me. He introduced himself as Joseph. As we drove, it was obvious he hadn’t bathed in awhile, but we enjoyed his company. After we dropped him off, I told Chrissy that the past 24 hours were our “World’s Fastest Indian” day. It’s a great movie about a easy going New Zealander (Anthony Hopkins) who travels to America to race his motorbike at the Utah Salt Flats. It chronicles all the strange, off the wall people he meets along the way. Then I realized that maybe it was more than a coincidence that we had met Mary & Joseph. Maybe it was a message that someone was looking after me, that whenever you begin to doubt, a little assurance is sent your way and it’s up to you to figure it out. Hey, it was just a thought at first, but over time I really began to believe it was something ordained. So, in the spirit of Christmas, the next time a stranger or someone different than you comes into your life, don’t just cast them aside. Maybe they were sent to you for a reason, maybe they could brighten your day or enrich your life or maybe just maybe they are just some pain in the ass. I guess that’s for you to decide.

Peace & Love, Gregg & Christy

No comments:

Post a Comment