Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 12, 2013 My Social Club Idea

I still love that movie. So what does the Breakfast Club have to do with today's blog? Well, I am using this clip to introduce my idea for a social club and because it means something to a dork like me. So here's  my idea...once a month I would like to invite everyone to spend a night out...some kind of get together...nothing special...I just think that people don't spend enough time sitting with friends...face to face...over a meal or drinks just talking, laughing, catching up and telling stories about their lives. Let me explain in more detail, I have fond memories from throughout my life of spending time with friends and family sitting around a table, hanging out in the yard or on the stoop...doing nothing but enjoying the company. In the past two months, I've had several nights out that convinced me I need to do this more often. My birthday dinner with Debbie & George over fantastic food and multiple pitchers of sangria was the most fun I've had all year. Then I spent two days with one of my favorite people to talk to over dinner and drinks, my Aunt Maryann. I spent a beautiful December night walking and talking around Williamsburgh with my friend, Marie. I spent Christmas Eve with friends who are like family to me, the Drescher family. Last week, I finally had dinner with close friends that I haven't seen in a year, Todd & Vickie. I probably haven't laughed that much since the last time we got together. So that is why I've decided to try this...I haven't come up with the perfect name...the 1950's Social Club...the Anti Social Club...the Social Club for Dorks...or maybe just the Social Club sounds it whatever you like. If you are interested  please send me your e-mail address to or friend me on facebook. So here's how I imagine this working...each month I will announce the details, if you can make it, let me know...if not maybe next month. I would like to get a list of everyone who is interested in this idea so I can decide the best way to make this work for everyone interested.

So here is this month's idea...January 23rd at 7pm at the Warsaw Inn in Lynwood, IL. I chose this place because it has really good food at very reasonable prices...$12.95 per person on Wednesday nights. It is also an all you can eat buffet of homemade Polish food so if we happen to have a big group we can table hop easily. So if you plan on attending please let me know otherwise Chrissy & I will be eating dinner...alone...again. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

December 25, 2012 The Christmas Letter

 For those of you that have never received a Christmas Letter from me, let me explain. This is my attempt to parody those Christmas Letters that try to convince you that the writer is living a perfect life. I make no such claim, this is my based on a true story version of the past twelve months. I hope you enjoy it and if not, hopefully you had a laugh or two. If you'd like to hear the music while reading, just click on the videos.

“Go down to the market get lost in the crowd, go home to my records I play them too loud
Christmas is coming it's been a long year, I wish you were here” – ‘Christmas is Coming’ by The Payolas
I really do wish you were here. I mail this letter to over one hundred people and this year I thought about how few of you I’ve seen in recent years. Hopefully that changes in 2013. So please send me your email address ( or friend me on Facebook. I have an idea to get friends together more often. That said, welcome once again to my annual attempt to tell the story of two strange people and their goofy dogs versus the cold cruel world in a truthful and humorous way. Because I struggle writing this every year I came up with a new idea. I’ll use Christmas songs to introduce each story. So indulge in your favorite drug of choice, snuggle up to the fire and roast your chestnuts. For those that want the condensed version of this insipid letter, this year includes a sexual foursome that includes bestiality, at least one poop story but probably more than that, multiple golden showers and trips to Miami, New Orleans, Mongolia, Utah and New York City. I know it is long past Christmas as you read this, but I did start writing this in early December in my favorite city….

Nothing compares, Christmastime in my hometown, people walking in the snow, kissing under mistletoe, ice skating in Central Park, everybody’s feeling fine, New York City Christmastime” – ‘New York City Christmas’ by The Cover Girls
I spent a week in NYC in December. Wandering aimlessly, Christmas shopping, eating and spending time with friends and family. There is no other place that feels more like Christmas to me than NYC. Everywhere you go, Christmas music is playing and people are wishing you a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. The highlights for me were spending two days with my Aunt Maryann, the first day we put up Christmas decorations, then my Christmas wish came true, she made veal cutlets for dinner. The next day I did something I have never done on my many trips to NYC. I spent the entire day with Maryann in Manhattan. We stood on the TKTS line for play tickets, had a quick lunch before a matinee performance of Newsies, then an Italian dinner at Monte’s in the Village. Sometimes the simplest of things end up being the most special. After Chrissy arrived in NYC, we once again stayed at The Inn on Second, a Brooklyn brownstone where the owners, Fran & Joe treated us like family. So what surprises did NYC have for us…a Steampunk Burlesque fundraiser for Coney Island in a Chelsea art gallery…a night in Williamsburg with our friend Marie that included a book signing at a sign painters shop, the Brooklyn Night Bazaar which included live music, food vendors and artists booths in a city block sized warehouse and the Mitzvah Tank where Orthodox Jews were spreading holiday cheer on the streets for the first night of Chanukah…a somber walk on a cold rainy morning in Coney Island, where the effects of Hurricane Sandy are still seen everywhere…shopping in Chelsea, Soho, Nolita, the Lower East Side & Tribeca….taking pictures on rainy cobblestone streets long after dark and eating street vendor pretzels and thinking of my Aunt Nora who also loves those pretzels. But what I will always remember happened on the E train while heading into Queens to have dinner with my family. Somewhere around Times Square a large group of well-dressed people got on the train, the impeccable suits, cool hats & fancy shoes with goofy holiday socks made me think they were performers of some type. At first one or two of them would start singing, half joking around. Then they would cajole others in their group to sing. Eventually the impromptu singing, hand clapping, foot stomping, incredible harmonizing and huge smiles brought Christmas cheer to the entire train. They were amazingly talented and their joy was infectious. “And what happened, then? Well, in New York City they say - that the Gregg’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then - the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Gregg found the strength of *ten* Greggs, plus two.” (all apologies to Dr. Seuss) I wished them all a Merry Christmas as I left the train. I was handed their card and was wished a Merry Christmas by the members of The Rock Church who hold services at the Apollo Theater. Once again New York City shows me the true meaning of Christmas. I hope that every one of you had a similar moment this holiday season.

“An airplane, a doll house, some sticky yellow goo, but nothing that I found in stores was good enough for you” – ‘The Christmas List’ by The Puddles
In order to save money on our health insurance, we had to take a half day physical. There were all kinds of tests involved but the strangest one involved pooping into a cup for three consecutive days. It was difficult to reach down between my legs and still be able to force out a crap into a cup without shitting on my hands. But that’s not the point of this story. It was right around Easter and I’d been eating a lot of jelly beans. So there was a Technicolor aspect to what filled the cup. This produced the following conversation. Chrissy: “Jesus Christ fat boy! Look at that! You’re gonna have to pay extra when they see that!” Gregg: “It looks like I shit jellybeans…tell them I’m the Easter Bunny.”

“Carve the turkey turn the ball game on, Mix Margaritas when the eggnog's gone, Send somebody to the Quik-Pak store
We need some ice and an extension cord, A can of bean dip and some Diet Rite, A box of tampons and some Marlboro Lights, Hallelujah everybody say cheese, Merry Christmas from the family” – ‘Merry Christmas from the Family’ by Robert Earl Keen
Chrissy had several chances of collecting on my life insurance policy this year. The first was my trip to Miami to visit my Aunt Nora and my cousin Karen. There was no chance my sweetheart of an Aunt would hurt me but my cousin is family on the Ott side. So Chrissy probably figured I could drive her crazy enough to consider it.  It turns out I was the biggest danger to myself. I spent the first two days alone in Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park. Before driving out on the dirt roads, I stopped at the Big Cypress Swamp Visitor Center. When I asked the park ranger about hiking, she said there weren't any trails. After telling me that I should stay in my car for safety reasons, she must have noticed the look on my face because as I walked away she yelled "Don't get close to the alligators, they can move faster than you!" While driving on the Turner River Loop Road I saw a few deer just after seeing a Panther Crossing sign. So I got out of my car hoping to see a panther chase down a deer. No such luck. But on the walk back to my car I saw an alligator slowing swimming towards me. Damn, why didn’t I bring a longer lens? I was so excited, my first alligator in the wild, I walked toward it to get a better picture. Then the angel park ranger appeared on my shoulder, “Alligators move faster than you”. Then the Christy Devil appeared on my other shoulder, “HMMMM, 800K in life insurance. Fuck her! Get the picture you slow fat bastard!” When I got back in the car I was so excited my heart was racing. Little did I know that I would see about 75 more gators, all kinds of birds, turtles and really strange trees in the next few hours?

“Daddy drank our Christmas money.  Dirty rotten louse. So mommy threw his ass out of the house. Daddy drank our Christmas money. Let's go kick his butt. He can't drink if his mouth is wired shut. Whiskey bottles litter the living room.
Smells like mom's perfume peeyew.” – ‘Daddy Drank Our Christmas Money’ by TVTV$
I spent a week in NOLA with family I rarely see, my brother Jeff and my cousin Laura. Jeff & I went to Jazzfest, hung out in the French Quarter, partied on Frenchman Street and saw great live music on the streets and at the Spotted Cat & Balcony Music Clubs. We also had great food every night including boiled crawfish and homemade gumbo that Jeff got from friends. I also spent two days with my cousin Laura in New Orleans. We spent a day in the French Quarter and a day touring the amazing cemeteries around town. I fell in love with this city. The food, the music and the cool vibe that permeates everything that occurs throughout the city makes it a special place unlike any other city in America. Somehow the strangest thing that happened all week was a frantic phone call from my brother. After spending my first two days with him at Jazzfest, I headed out to Cajun country to spend a day with my cousin Laura & her husband Donnie. Along the way I stopped at the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge, a fancy name for Louisiana swamps. I drove the dirt roads and hiked along the waterways for a while, then spent the day touring the Cajun towns of Eunice & Opelousas with my cousins. I left my cell phone in my rental car. By the time we got back to Laura’s house, I had several voicemails. Each one was my brother Jeff getting more frantic wondering where I was. I was laughing when I called him back but he was pissed off, yelling at me so loud Laura could hear him across the room. “Why didn’t I call? Where was I? I thought you were dead in the swamps or squealing like a pig for some toothless local out there.” The madder he got, the more I laughed which created a never ending cycle. I finally calmed him down, told him that Chrissy knew my plans but she didn’t call worried about me. Jeff replied “Of course, she was hoping to collect that insurance money. Now I don’t blame her!”

 “You're a mean one, Mrs. Grinch. You really are a heel. You're as cuddly as a cactus, You're as charming as an eel, Mrs. Grinch. You're a bad banana with a greasy black peel.” – Dr. Seuss
Chrissy had an eventful year. She graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a Masters of Arts in Zoology degree which means she has mastered the art of picking up poop. Seriously, I’m very proud of her. I need her to make more money so I can retire and cruise the country in my motorhome. She also broke her foot by tripping over elk antlers she was carrying at work. She went to Mongolia for a month five days after she broke her foot. It was an Earth Expedition she did for her Master’s class. She went hiking, horseback riding and even rode a camel. She toured some national parks and the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. She helped nomadic herders set up their ‘gyr’, also known as a yurt and was treated to their wonderful hospitality. They also sang Happy Birthday to her in English then in Mongolian with traditional throat singing. She made it home in good condition but her walking cast came home in pieces.

 “The season's upon us, it's that time of year. Brandy and eggnog, there's plenty of cheer. There's lights on the trees and there's wreaths to be hung. There's mischief and mayhem and songs to be sung. They call this Christmas where I'm from” – ‘The Season’s Upon Us’ by the Dropkick Murphys
While she was gone, Oslo & I were causing damage all over the house. One day we were both relaxing on the hammock in the yard. I knew it was beginning to wear out but it held both of us. Usually when I get up, Oslo jumps off. Today, he just stood up and I turned around when I heard the fabric rip. Oslo’s front legs fell through to the ground with his ass end still on the hammock. I started laughing. When I realized he couldn’t pull his legs back up through the hammock, I laughed so hard I was crying. I watched him, jumping up & falling back through the holes. I was still laughing as I tried to get him to calm down so I could release the hammock from the stand but he was frantically trying to free himself. I had tears streaming down my face when I finally freed him. Another day I was play fighting with Oslo when I realized I had to get to the toilet ASAP. I barely made it, dropping my pants as I ran into the bathroom. When I sat down I suddenly realized Oslo was chasing me, too late…BAM! POW! It was like the old Batman show. When the cartoon pop ups disappeared, me & the toilet seat were on the floor, Oslo was straddling the bowl and shit was everywhere. This is what happens when you leave the boys home alone.

“You deserve a cute boy, who’s horny and queer, To make the most out of Christmas cheer
I wanna be your Christmas present, I wanna be your Christmas queer, I wanna be your Christmas present, Have a homo Christmas this year” – ‘Homo Christmas’ by Pansy Division
Most of you figured Chrissy would have left me for a younger man by now. Surprise!!! In September I left her for a younger man, my hockey teammate Mike. We spent a week hiking, mountain biking and backpacking in Utah. Mike almost collected half the insurance money Chrissy promised him. It wasn’t because he deliberately tried to kill me, but because I almost died trying to keep up with him out on the trails. Actually I enjoyed every minute of the trip, mountain biking on the grueling SlickRock Trail in Moab, camping in Paria Canyon, hiking in four national parks and two state parks. What I really loved was Mike had no unexplained mood swings, never complained he had to find a bathroom (even though he left me behind on the Fairyland Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park and later admitted he had to hurry because he was about to shit his pants) and he paid for half of everything. Truth be told, I had the same amount of sex as I would have had if Chrissy was with me. So now I’m beginning to rethink this heterosexual thing. (Editor’s Note: Upon rereading this I need to clarify the sex comment. By saying the same amount of sex, I meant no sex.) My brother George joined us for a couple of days and provided this classic exchange in Zion NP. While getting ready for a hike, Mike & I are filling our camelback water reservoirs when I asked George, “Aren’t you bringing any water?” Geo: “No. I don’t want to carry the extra weight.” Me: “What are you gonna do if you get thirsty?” Geo: “I’ll suck off you two!” I burst out laughing but manage to say “I have never been that thirsty in my life.” Mike, who is trying not to laugh, says “No thanks. I’ll give you a water bottle.”

“Silent Night Holy Night, All I want is to hold you tight, Tell Kris Kringle and that Drummer Boy, If this sled is rockin’ don’t bother knockin’, Everybody wants peace for Christmas, All I want is a piece of you” – ‘Piece For Christmas’ by Big People
It started as a typical Sunday for me. Up early, took the dogs for a hike in the woods, did some work in the backyard and then hurried into the shower because I was running late for the White Sox game. This is where my day took an unexpected turn. Someone who looked a lot like Chrissy was in the shower, I say that because all of a sudden it seemed to me that shower sex would be possible and if this was really Chrissy that happens about as often as a total eclipse of the sun. Of course she reminded me to that my friend’s mom, Mrs. K (protecting the innocent) would be here soon to go to the Sox game. So I have to be quick, apparently it had been a long time for her too because she forgot being quick was my specialty. It seems the years are catching up with us because a comfortable position wasn’t found in the shower. So we tried with her sitting on the vanity. Still no luck. So just like in the romantic Hollywood movies, I picked her up and carried her to the bed. (For the record, Chrissy says it was more caveman than leading man, I clubbed her and dragged her by the hair to the bedroom). Anyway I laid her across the bed and tried to get my groove on. She complained the shade was open, so I tried to reach it without dismounting and fell off the bed. Standing naked in the window I pulled the shade down as the mail lady walked up to the house. So what, I’m on a mission. Back to business we go, when all of a sudden she is giggling. I try to ignore it because I remember that being normal during sex with me. But it continues, so I ask what’s up? It turns out that Oslo is tickling her ears with his nose. He loves to smell people’s heads and Chrissy’s is hanging off the bed. While I am trying to shoo him away, I feel something cold on my butt with every down stroke. It turns out to be Roxie sniffing my butt when she can reach it. Now Chrissy is laughing uncontrollably and I am trying to reach the finish line. I can almost see the Mission Accomplished banner across the aircraft carrier when I hear Mrs. K calling for me at the front door. Mission Aborted.

“I offer Santa my...cookies, He loves to put them into his mouth, His long beard tickles, He gives me the giggles, He finishes his snack and then flies south, Santa Claus takes a pause from his long night of delivering, His big "North Pole" can sure get cold, his jolly butt's all shivering” – ‘I’ve Got Some Presents for Santa’ by Sarah Taylor
Here are some of my favorite moments, interesting stories or just plain goofy shit that occurred in the past year.…my brother Georgie making us laugh while camping in Paria Canyon by doing Jim Carrey’s “The Mask” impersonations with a flashlight in his tent….The Kiss Cam at a Panthers hockey game on St. Patrick’s Day where a young man kept kissing his Guinness beer instead of his date, then she poured it over his head….A little girl in the NYC subway telling her father “You’re an embarrassment” because he was walking up the stairs on the left causing a traffic jam….With a severe storm on the way I was one of the last people to evacuate Grant Park during Lollapalooza because I didn’t have a smart phone and didn’t get the evacuation text until I saw it on a video screen as it was lowered to the ground….When walking my dogs, I’ve seen Oslo pee on Roxie’s head a few times. I always yelled at Oslo telling him this isn’t an R Kelly video. But I now realize that Roxie is at fault. Whenever she sees him peeing, she moves her head into the stream. Since she is a Great Pyrenees, I now joke “that damn French girl loves a golden shower!”….Chrissy stopped going to punk shows with me years ago, so I was surprised she went to Riotfest. Sure she has flaunted the zoo’s policy on natural hair color the past few years but her purple hair fit in perfectly with the young punks as she moshed, pogoed and crowd surfed to Reverend Horton Heat, Fishbone, Gogol Bordello and Iggy & the Stooges….At my friend Debbie’s wedding, her mom Mary was the only one dancing to “Come A Little Bit Closer” by Jay & the Americans so I joined her. She was mimicking the lyrics to the chorus and I tried to keep up with her, bad decision on my part because I can’t dance. The harder I tried, the louder the laughter got. After giving me a hug & a kiss, I thought Mary was thanking me for the dance but what she actually said was, “You can’t dance!”…Sure I complain about getting old but while DJing a fundraiser for Vital Ground at Brookfield Zoo; I had two moments that proved to me that being old doesn’t mean you have to stop living. When I played ‘Ring of Fire’, an 80 year old lady yelled to me, “It’s about time you played a Johnny Cash song. I listen to him every morning on my IPod.” Then after playing the Irish punk song “Rebels of the Scared Heart”, an even older gentleman asked “who sang that Irish song? I loved it and want to download it”. With a huge smile on my face I said “Flogging Molly”….Driving home on a beautiful summer night from the Wilco concert with my little sister and flower girl, Cindy. I was DJing with her IPod on the car stereo. We were singing our favorite songs together at top volume to the amusement of those driving past us and the toll booth attendants….Last and most importantly a special moment everyone should have every day. It’s that moment when I come home from work, no matter how bad a day I had, when I open the door and my dog Oslo is there, tail wagging, excited to see me. It makes me smile every time. 

“Once upon a time in a far off land ,Wise men saw a sign and set out across the sand, Songs of praise to sing, they travelled day and night, Precious gifts to bring, guided by the light, They chased a brand new star, ever towards the west , Across the mountains far, but when it came to rest, They scarce believed their eyes, they'd come so many miles, And the miracle they prized was nothing but a child” – ‘Nothing But A Child’ by Steve Earle
Chrissy’s Great Aunt, Ann passed away this year after 86 years of living life with that childlike amazement that made her seem much younger and I loved her for that. I think I miss her so much because she was always willing to do something on the spur of the moment. “Hey Ann, do you want to go out for dinner, to a street fair in Chicago, the farmer’s market in Lincoln Park, champagne brunch with my hockey friends, the One of a Kind Christmas Market at the Merchandise Mart, a play at the Towle Theater, breakfast with my friend Adam? It was always yes. It didn’t matter what or where she was always willing to do anything. Shortly after she passed away I turned off Calumet Ave toward her house, I felt like picking her up to go out for breakfast. It wasn’t until I turned onto her street that I remembered she was no longer there. When I turned around in her driveway, I had to wipe away my tears. She’s the first person that I saw regularly that has passed away, so it hits me more often that she is gone.  We could talk for hours about politics, family, places we’ve visited, religion, the latest news story or the goofy shit going on in our lives. I was visiting her in the hospital when her lifelong friend Frieda showed up after golfing only 9 holes because it was 97 degrees that day. I instantly knew why they were friends. Their back & forth banter sounded like me with my friends. Then Ann gets mad at Frieda because she didn’t bring her oxygen tank on the golf course with her. When Ann said she was stubborn, I laughed out loud. They both stared at me, so I explained that I called Ann stubborn when she refused to use her walking cane in public. Ann told me to be quiet that was different, what if something happened to her out on the golf course. When I replied, “there’s a really good chance that a doctor was out golfing too.” Frieda laughed and said, “I like this kid.” So this year in honor of Auntie Ann, I’ll wish everyone a long life that is full of adventure, enjoying simple pleasures and the willingness to always try new experiences. It kept Ann much younger than her years and hopefully it will do the same for all of us.