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18 July 2010: To say that I was surprised would be an understatement. To say that I was stunned would be to under exaggerate, as you shall soon see. I KNEW that the Michigan Public was being hoodwinked, but even I had no idea how bad business was for my old buddy Max. The following is by no means meant to infer that working at Wal Mart is not an honorable thing to do...because it is. In fact, I respect anybody who tries to put bread on the table instead of milking welfare and unemployment for everthing they can get. Bu tMax puts on such a public face, especially lately, with his philanthropic causes. Privately, apparently, it is QUITE a different story. I would like to apologize for the relatively poor quality of the video, as I could not believe what I was seeing for only the second time. I would like to point out, however, that this video was obviously done in one continuous take and has not been edited or doctored in any way. There are no cuts from the Thanksgiving Parade or anything of that nature, and I would be happy to submit the original to any expert for authentication. To see where Max Lexington, my good friend and old boss, is working right now....CLICK HERE.
28 June 2010: Like many others, I have now been informed about the death of Senator Byrd. The headlines are everywhere. I am sure that he was a good and capable man. I am sure that he had a hand in a great deal of ground breaking legislation over the years that helped many people (I just can't find mention of any). But also like many others, I am beginning to have a problem with the phrasing of many of the sub-headlines. I do not wish to offend any of my readers that may work for a local, state, or national government...but...Robert Byrd did not serve his country for all of those years. As far as I know, he got paid for it! That is correct. Serving his country implies that he did it for free or for very little money. As far as I know, he accepted every paycheck and perk that was offered to him. A very generous pension was also waiting for him if he only would have retired and took it. I'm guessing that he voted "yes" for any pay increases for Senators as well, but I will have to check his voting record. I do not think his life was ever in danger from an IED or an enemy bullet either, which separates him from the men and women in MIlitary Service. Now, I realize that he did not get paid when he was elected president of his local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in 1942 (seriously, he was) so perhaps we could say that he performed admirably while serving in the Klan for three years. I don't think I saw that anywhere in his obituary, however.
20 June, 2010 Went out to dinner last night at the Blase Cafe on Siesta Key. I am not sure if the tar balls in the Florida Panhandle are driving more tourists south or if it is just the lure of the summer deals, but Siesta Key Village was humming! It was a little too muggy at 7:15 for any but a few intrepid souls to sit out on Blase's front patio, so my guest and I went indoors. It is very hard to describe the tangerine, wildly decorated interior of this place, but I will give it a shot. Imagine an old Florida saloon combined with a French Bordello designed by an Amish furniture maker who popped acid in his youth. Pictures and posters vie for attention from every wall, and the cheetah skin hanging behind the bar stretches out behind pyramids of liquor bottles. A framed lithograph to the right of the bar declares that Women with Low Cut Tops will be looked down upon! The kitchen door is directly across from the main entrance and if one were not careful when they first walked in it would be easy to wind up helping the prep chef. A right turn takes you down a gaudy hallway to one of the dining areas while a left turn leads you into the dining area with the bar. One of the owners is Ralph Cole and he seems to spend the majority of his time berating his young staff to make every entree a work of art. He looks like a cross between the Ralph Lauren guy and a tenured math professor at a small college in California. The crab cake tower looked excellent, although my guest refused to share. My Jambalaya was perfect, especially with the doughy bread dipped in a separate olive oil concoction. If noise bothers you, turn to the right when you go in, although at one point I heard Sade crooning to me through the din as I ate. If you are Max, perhaps it is time to go to the light and stop fibbing to the public about the amazing furniture deals you are giving them. I refer to the stuff you are getting from overseas while Michigan unemployment sits at 14%. Hour Magazine forgot to mention that, I see. Blase means unconcerned or laid back, but I found that Rami the bartender was very concerned when he did not see a waitress with us immediately. He came out from behind the bar and doted on us even before he found out that Ralph worked out at the studio. I was missing some coupon for the free entree, but they insisted on giving it to me anyway. I tried to pay them back by overtipping and resolving to make Blase a monthly habit.
05 May 2010: My Sammy continues to enjoy near rock star status. In the morning, there is usually not enough time to go on one of our epic walks. We must settle for a half mile jaunt. The Sammy never fails to elicit smiles, waves and attempts to start a conversation about dogs. The most common question: Is she hot? I have a variety of ready answers that run from caustic to sarcastic to funny. Other questions pertain to whether I give her water or not....seriously...is the dog that unusual that they can't think of a better conversation starter than that?!? A typical "short route" walk takes us down Tamiami Trail...sort of the main drag...to the offices of a small law firm. The Sammy likes going number two on their front lawn for some strange reason, and the grass is growing quite lush. Several weeks ago, the dog and I heard hooting and yelling coming from the direction of the Marathon Station/Arbys/convenience store. An attractive woman in a pair of work boots, work pants, and a white wife beater was running toward us. I was not staring at the work boots. Due to traffic noise, I was unable to tell what she was yelling about, but I was pretty sure the big smile and the extended arms were not for me. If I were a hot chick, I would not be running at guys like me, no matter how irresistible the dog was....but I already wrote about the worlds creepiest serial killer in Book Two, so that story idea has been done. I am used to women of all types fawning all over us, but this woman drove a GIANT FUEL RIG! We talked for some time. She has been doing it for just over TEN YEARS! I told her she probably had the hang of it by now, and she laughed and slapped my arm. I am SO charming when I have the stupid dog to break the ice. I knocked the woman unconscious and threw her in the back of an unmarked van....JUST KIDDING! I did have time to go back to the studio, however, to get my camera because I needed proof that a woman in this profession need not look like Rosie O'Donnell's ugly sister. Click here.
30 May 2010 My apologies to those loyal readers that were fearful I may have dropped off the face of the earth. And to Max....I am still here....I am never going away! Business is very strong in Sarasota, but that is not the reason for the two week delay in updates. I have been extremely busy writing, have written about 30 pages thus far, and would rather not comment on the subject matter at this time. I wish to give Max as little advance warning about the subject matter or the date of publication. Suffice to say that it is about an entirely different matter than my two novels, and is not about Joe Zada just yet....although new information continues to come in on him every week. The Sammy is not only doing fine, she is an integral part of the marketing of my new book! I am really rolling the dice here as far as counting on her to LIVE at least one more year. On another subject, I am constantly amazed at the extreme poverty I sometimes encounter on the beaches down here in Sarasota. One young lady, whose picture I snapped with my cell phone camera just yesterday, could barely afford a swimsuit that covered the most essential parts of her anatomy. In case you are wondering how I am able to snap a discreet picture without arousing undue suspicion or being labeled a middle aged pervert, I would like to let you in on a little secret. I merely ask a friend to pose in front of my intended subject....and then just snap the picture over the shoulder of my friend.
11 May 2010: “Our experiences from the past year have proven that our customers sleep better, and better sleep leads to more energy, more enjoyment of life and better health.” Quote from the new CEO of Max Lexington’s chain of furniture stores. Oh puleease! I had some terrible experiences with Max regarding his ability to keep his word and make the simplest of decisions, but that is not considered PROOF that he is a lying sonavabitch….it is merely my OPINION! Did the CEO cite a scientific study? No, because there wasn’t one. Did he cite an impartial survey of some sort that compared the sleeping habits of Max’s customers with those of other furniture or mattress companies? Don’t be silly, Max wouldn’t pay ten cents for a survey of the Koi in his fish pond, let alone one where he could not control the outcome. Perhaps he had a custodian or someone call one of his mattress customers and ask them how they slept? Yeah…I don’t think so. In fact, the only thing that we know for certain is that Max’s advertising lackeys are prone to making up facts and statistics out of thin air without anyone but this humble author willing to call them on it in a public forum. I shall do what I do with all of Max’s printed lies…forward it to the State Attorney General, Mike Cox…but I am not optimistic.
08 May 2010: Most, if not all, of my regular readers will recall that my old buddy, Max Lexington, owns a chain of furniture stores in southeast Michigan. They sell mattresses as well, and have been preparing to branch out with a chain of mattress specialty stores. My regular readers will also recall that Max keeps a Mistress on the side. His wife and family are VERY opposed to this “other woman,” but Max continues to sleep with her and enjoy her companionship anyway. A good friend of mine sent me the latest advertisement for Max’s line of mattresses, and it contains one of the most ambiguous claims I have ever read. It also contains one of his most embarrassing claims ever. Let us begin with the embarrassing one, shall we? The title of the ad is: How’d you sleep last night?
Seriously? 31 store chain and they start with the non-word “How’d”? Not bad for a third grader, but that isn’t the embarrassing part. Near the end of the pitch, it states that we “spend nearly a third of our lives in bed.” Now please pay attention because then the idiot copywriter wrote “The problem is many of us are spending it in the wrong bed.” Seriously!?! I am SURE that is what Max’s wife, 10 children, and 34 grandchildren are thinking…that Max is spending his time in the WRONG bed…HIS MISTRESSES! Doesn’t anyone at his office PROOFREAD this stuff? Max, in the future, send it to me before you send it out to the entire state. I will point out HUGE, embarrassing statements like this for free, just out of pity! More to come….
03 May 2010: The sub shop I have referred to is a family owned business that the current owner purchased many years ago. The fare is not too bad, but the only bun offered is a white, mushy affair that the owner takes great pride in having baked daily right on the premises. It is a 35 year old tradition, he claims. While I am sure the dog has no preference, I do not gum up my intestines with white bread, no matter how briefly it has been out of the oven. As such, I only patronize the establishment once a month at most, and only when I am too busy to go elsewhere. The owner is a hard working German immigrant, and he drives a bright blue Toyota pickup truck with the name and phone number of the sub shop on neatly lettered magnetic signs on each door. During the course of the day, the owner runs errands and makes deliveries to commercial accounts himself in his bright blue pickup. The moment the truck leaves the premises, the Samoyed gets excited. She knows that her chances of enjoying a fresh quarter pound of delicious smoked turkey, ham, or roast beef increase one hundred-fold the instant that blue tailgate disappears down the highway. When the truck is safely away, the women suddenly swarm out the back door like large bees with aprons, vying for the attentions of my pampered pet. It is simply too coincidental. The owner is reputed to be a thrifty man. I cannot imagine him spending $1,200 a year feeding my dog all of these delicacies to which she has become accustomed. Thus, I have been unwillingly drawn into a growing SCANDAL that may soon reach major proportions. I have certainly NEVER observed the owner himself in the process of feeding the dog. He gives me a friendly way now and again, but has never once acknowledged my Sammy. I do not believe this daily feast is going on with his blessing. Although I cannot bring myself to prohibit the sub shop ladies from feeding my eager pet, I would like to state for the record that I do not encourage it either. When this SCANDAL eventually explodes, as all scandals do sooner or later (right Max?) I do not expect to be completely exonerated in the matter, but I do hope my furry companion will be able to strike a plea bargain with the DA that involves some type of supervised probation rather than actual prison time.
30 Apr 2010: The Samoyed slowly developed an outdoor routine to complement her workout studio routine. There is a round-pebbled alley in back of the studio. I tie her to a long lead in this alley every morning. She enjoys barking at passersby and before long, the ladies who work in the sub shop two doors down began to notice the big fluffy dog that had become their new neighbor. Their relationship began with a snack…a little bit of smoked turkey left over from the mornings fixin’s. My Sammy barked and wagged her approval. Another little morsel found its way to the alley after the noon lunch rush. Soon, the ladies would take turns feeding the spoiled Sammy everything from roast beef to poultry to bacon. There would be cooing and warm greetings and much exchanging of doggie kisses between the three enamored ladies and my grateful Samoyed. The dog would be reassured, over and over, that she was the prettiest pooch in Florida, and on the entire planet for that matter. My white dog now looks forward to her stay in the alley more than she ever looked forward to a bowl of ordinary dog food. Her morning is simply not complete without the attentions of these women, and she is willing to brave the afternoon heat (don’t worry, chunks of ice find their way into each of the dogs many water bowls) to meet with her culinary friends several times per day. But a SCANDAL is a-brewin’. I could not refrain from training one of my security cameras on my dog’s alley resting spot. The roast beef is brought out to her in sandwich bags…about a quarter pound at a time! It is the same with the turkey and all of the other delicacies. The large, frequent portions explain why the dog now shuns the food in her bowl until the weekend. I have done some ‘ciphering. They are feeding the fluffy mooch at least $25 in prime meats per week…and that’s the wholesale estimation. Next…the blue truck that determines whether or not the dog shall be fed…..
25 Apr 2010: My fading pet managed to eat a small bowl of Moist and Meaty and slept better than she had in days. One of my drivers left for the airport, and my staff and I got back to work…on the dog. Her celebrity at the workout studio continued, with clients who would normally be tentative in a gym environment leaping up to do an exercise so they could return to petting the dog as soon as possible. My staff and I made sure that the dog went for a little walk every two hours, and by the end of the week I had set a record by walking the Sammy ten blocks without her staggering once. There were hundreds of squirrels in the neighborhood, but without the extreme bushy tails of the inhabitants of Michigan trees. The dog strained at the leash every time she saw one. As she strained, returning to her sled dog roots, she seemed to grow stronger. Her appetite increased, and she jumped up from her frequent naps with much more pep. We happened across another Samoyed residing several blocks away, and soon my dog was vigorous enough to trot over for a playdate. The dog was energetic enough to ride downtown the following Saturday too, to one of the most dog friendly cities on the planet…Sarasota. Oodles of pooches parade up and down the sidewalks, sniffing and wagging and groomed to perfection. A bowl of water lies outside the door of every tenth shop, beckoning to each four-legged passerby. The dogs like to take a few cursory laps at each bowl they discover, like furry Sommeliers at an impromptu wine tasting. After a weekend with her friends, my Sammy was eager to continue her now regular routine of hanging out at the gym (Click here) and being fussed over.
22 Apr 2010: I have built a small apartment in the back of the Florida studio complete with an extremely comfortable sofa bed and cable TV. The exhausted dog christened the side lawn of the studio. One of the drivers stayed with the newly arrived dog in the apartment and they both managed to get some sleep and keep each other company. I took the Sammy on a short walk in the morning and it “staked out” some lawns in the immediate neighborhood. The three of us went out to breakfast at Dutch Oven without the dog. As we left in her SUV, she had her furry little face pressed against the glass door and was barking frantically. As usual, I did not see a single Dutch person at Dutch Oven, but I did see many people who could have voted for FDR. By the time we got back, the dog had settled down to a periodic whine. I allowed her to stay in the studio during the days workouts…and she was a HUGE hit. Every client insisted on petting her, and anyone willing to sully their hands fed her out of a huge open bag of doggy treats that were sitting on the desk. The dog began to settle into somewhat of a comfort zone, alternating between greeting newcomers at the door and taking little catnaps. At the end of the day, I decided it was time to test my Sammy’s physical limitations with a long walk. At her new weight of 85 pounds, it looked as though running may be out of the question. We plunged into the subdivision that adjoined the rear alley of the studio and at first, her enthusiasm was extremely evident. There was a great deal of marking lawns, investigating shrubs, and lunging at squirrels…and the DOG was doing it too! But after only two blocks, the pace began to slow, and all tugging on the leash ceased. Her head drooped, her tongue hung low out of her mouth, and her breathing grew more laborious. We turned back, and after three blocks, her steps became more tentative. Within half a block of the studio, the dog’s hindquarters began to slide sideways with each step. Her spirit was still willing and we pressed on. I started stretching my upper torso, preparing to carry her the rest of the way should the need arise. But we made it back to the studio…just barely.
20 Apr 2010: The SUV and its intrepid drivers made it to Sarasota during the mid-afternoon of a sunny Sunday afternoon. The Sammy was still alive but yipping every 15 seconds or so in spasms of exhaustion, home sickness, and starvation. Upon tumbling out of the SUV with the drivers, the dog stumbled around to sniff its surroundings and christen the side lawn of the workout studio. In the far back of the cooler in the studio, the same one that houses water and protein shakes for the clients, I stash a cold six pack of beer for special, thirsty guests. The two drivers gratefully accepted one and guzzled them down. The dog ignored me and staggered about the gym, sniffing and glancing frequently at the SUV out in the lot. I checked the mail box outside the front door and my Sammy made a half hearted lunge for the parking lot. I grabbed the dog’s collar and tossed it back inside, quickly re-establishing my former role as leader of our little pack. The dog then accepted a few sips of water from her bowl in resignation and settled down at my feet. She looked groggy and apprehensive simultaneously. The three of us chatted about traffic and discussed various dinner possibilities. All of them included taking the exhausted dog with us and leaving her in the SUV with a clear line of sight to the restaurant door. We drove to Big Al’s Sports Bar and Grill. I am hooked on a dish there called angry lobster. Not only could the dog see the door we had entered through, but once seated I was able to see the vehicle through a side window. My Sammy looks like an 85 pound fur ball…unusual in Michigan, but a freakish sight in Southern Florida. Sporadically, crowds gathered around the SUV and then dispersed. I am not very sentimental, but a song kept popping into my head. Click here. To be cont.
18 Apr 2010: Arrangements were made. Drivers were solicited. A small SUV was purchased, and six weeks ago my Samoyed and all of her favorite toys were packed into the back of the vehicle to begin the two day journey south to Sarasota. In the dogs current condition, it was decided that any attempt at a ride in the cargo section of a jet would be her last. Never the calmest of canines, it was easy to sense she would share my anxiety of jet travel without ever having been aboard one. In fact, this particular breed disliked car travel…drooling, whining and pacing about frantically as though at the end of each ride a special doggie electric chair would be awaiting her. I heard anecdotally that the ride was thus nearly intolerable for her drivers…until the Benadryl began to kick in around mid-Ohio. The drivers had been instructed by my vet to give her one with each doggie snack, and by Toledo she had been given about six pill-laced little snacks. Her eyes never really closed until Tennessee, but at least she had stopped trying to leap into the front seat to drive. They stayed the night in northern Georgia, but the dog fought the drugs successfully enough to make several attempts to share both of the beds at least a half dozen times. A barking fit in the middle of the night ensured that one of the drivers got as little REM sleep as possible, but a 4 am. run around four motel complexes settled the dog down enough to keep management from asking the trio to move on. The dog began its hunger strike the next day, but was lured out of it (and into more Benadryl) by a small hamburger from a MacDonald’s drive through. The Benadryl were losing their effect, however, and in spite of whining vocalizations while in the SUV, the dog would strain at its leash to get back to it after potty breaks. In less than 36 hours, the dog had decided that the little vehicle was either its new home or the only possible means back to its snow covered back yard in Michigan….and was not about to let it out of her sight. To be cont….
15 Apr 2010: Six weeks ago, I got the ball rolling on a mission of mercy. I have owned a Samoyed (it’s sort of a white Siberian sled dog) for eight years. She was a year old when I received her from the rescue shelter. She celebrated her ninth birthday earlier this month. She was happy in Michigan, and especially enjoyed sub-zero temperatures, laying in snow banks for hours and only leaping out to bark at half frozen squirrels and airplanes. When I opened up the studio in Sarasota last summer, I left her in Michigan. I did not think she would adapt well to hot Florida summers, and had never known of another “Sammy” that lived beyond ten years anyway. I entrusted her care to the daughter of a close friend. But six weeks ago, the dog’s health began to decline. She was having trouble with her hindquarters, and got up slowly. When her caretaker brought other dogs over playdates, the Sammy participated only half heartedly, and never for more than five minutes. She slept much of the day, and lost more of her old zip every week. I alerted the pilot of my private jet to be ready to take off for Michigan at a moments notice for my pet’s potential wake and funeral. Then, upon further inquiry, I determined that there was a possibility my dog was circling the drain due to loneliness more than simple old age. To be cont…
11 Apr 2010: Some very good friends invited me to attend the Manatee County Fairgrounds with them yesterday. I accepted. Manatee County is the first county to the north of Sarasota County on the Gulf side. The main attraction was the Ribs and Rhythm Festival, and the headliner was none other than the Charlie Daniels Band. I like country music (especially some of the newer stuff) and am savvy enough to know that Charlie Daniels appeals to a slightly more redneck side of the country music spectrum. But…oh my gosh, I have NEVER seen so many tattoos and missing teeth and strange looking sideburns (both men and women) in my life. I have traveled remote areas of Kentucky and Tennessee and the Carolinas and have observed some people that were not quite done evolving yet. But even those cultural Neanderthals looked like Grosse Pointe Yacht Club members in comparison with the crowd I got to rub elbows with yesterday. I fell in lust with this one right off the bat, as I’m sure anyone will understand. The amazing thing was that the entrance fee to this inbred dustbowl of a fair was $15, and people were lining up and jostling each other to pay. We ate some overpriced ribs that were very tender and tasty and left long before Charlie Daniels began to play. I have included several other candid shots to prove that all of Florida is not composed of pretty people and bikinis.
06 Apr 2010: Just had an Easter visit from one of our favorite Michigan clients and her family. I have a small tank of goldfish in the rear of the office. In honor of the visit, I named one of the goldfish after her 18 year daughter, Melissa. The real Melissa was thrilled. I netted Goldfish Melissa and explained that it was customary to allow the namesake goldfish to swim in the big tank instead of being all cooped up in the little tank. The little tank is 10 gallons, but the big tank is 72 gallons. Real Melissa had never heard of such a tradition, but seemed okay with it. I put Goldfish Melissa in the big tank, but Rampage the Oscar immediately ate her in one gulp! Nothing remained other than a tiny cloud of glittery gold scales. Real Melissa was horrified and traumatized! Her eyes grew teary. The young lady had formed an emotional bond with the darn fish in less than twenty seconds! She would not speak with me during dinner that evening (like I ate the stupid thing)! During dinner, her mother whispered her concerns about the incident to me more than once. With counseling, Real Melissa should be just fine. Goldfish Melissa…not so much. Next time, I shall try to video the little scene and put it on YouTube.
01 Apr 2010: A part on the RV’s water heater malfunctioned this morning. It has become nothing more than a Water Warmer. It took about ten minutes to analyze the malfunction and another ten to remove the bad part. After five more minutes on the internet and one phone call, I was in route to the RV Parts store to pick up a brand new $20 part. The owner was a gregarious good ol’ boy and we got along fine. After half an hour, I paid for the part and asked him for directions to any place with great fried chicken. On the way there, I found myself in a semi-rural, semi-industrialized area. I spotted what I assumed to be crows on the side of the road in the distance…..except they were NOT crows, and they were NOT very far in the distance. I passed five adult Vultures as they were having a fine dining experience with a large chunk of road kill on the menu. It is difficult to tell from the pics I took with my cell phone camera, but the guy on the far right looks exactly like an attorney that I went up against in Court.
29 Mar 2010: It rained all day yesterday, and as a result today’s temperature has plunged down to a projected high of 70 degrees…although at least the sun is out. More info on one of the frontrunners for Michigan Governor, Mike Cox. His tawdry little office affair occurred about ten years ago, and he only came clean about it once he was threatened with exposure by a political opponent. It seems as though his naughty acts were performed with an assistant prosecutor who worked in his office as well. I can understand an affair with a subordinate or someone who looks up to you. Thank God ol’ Mike wasn’t working at the YMCA at the time. On another subject, the astute reader will recall a Sarasota client that I wrote about who espoused the virtues of a strict vegetarian diet and then lit up a cigarette immediately after leaving the gym. She is originally from Europe, has been in this country for about two years, and resides with her wealthy boyfriend. She claims that he is overbearing, abrupt, and judgmental. I met him during a dinner party and must admit that I rather liked the fellow. She has been working out five times a week at the studio and at the age of 35 is turning back into a little Hungarian hardbody. I do not smell smoke on her as often as before and would like to think that I had something to do with it. A friend of hers claimed that my European project was a former Playboy covergirl and centerfold. I would smile and nod politely and assure her that I didn’t just fall down with the rain. Last week, the young lady herself decided to prove it to me. Her cell phone has a relatively HUGE picture screen with a great deal of photo storage. Shyly, she handed it to me and encouraged me to thumb through her Playboy portfolio. A real gentleman would have glanced at one or two and handed the phone back while voicing some pleasantries. THANK GOD I am not yet at that point socially! You think you know someone until you see 60 high-def pictures of them with their clothes off!
25 Mar 2010: Michigan candidates are lining up once again to run for Governor. Mike Bouchard is a former state rep and Oakland County Sheriff. Mike claims to be very upset about the new National Health Care bill. He wants every voter to know that he has a solution for Michigan. If Michigan is foolish enough to elect him, he intends to WITHHOLD any money earmarked to go from Michigan to the Federal Government for Health Care. This Moron is content to spend millions in Court after the Feds sue Michigan, rather than follow any laws that he deems to be unfair. I wonder how many “Deadbeat Dads” ol’ Mike The Hypocrite prosecuted during his tenure? I would guess that more than one of these Dads thought the child support was a little high. I don’t think that mattered much to Mike as long as he was prosecuting them on the taxpayer’s dime. Let’s face it, the Feds will win in Court on that one, and Michigan will have spent millions more on lawyer’s fees that could have gone to something a little less frivolous like…say…creating JOBS. But Mike doesn’t have any ideas on how to do that, now does he? Speaking of frivolous, I haven’t seen any “Click it or Ticket” billboards up on the freeways lately. The Michigan attorney general, Mike Cox, who is also running for Governor, was behind that brilliant waste of money. We won’t address Mr. Cox’s dallying with his Mistress just yet, or whether he was punched while he dipped his willy. While I can understand the irony of having my own taxpayer money spent to threaten me as I drive, I also enjoy using the billboards as a REMINDER to UNBUCKLE my seatbelt every time I pass one. Call it a one-man rebellion against Big Brother if you wish. I certainly don’t agree with the law (motorcyclists don’t have to wear seat belts, and my cars have an airbag) and I wonder if a Governor Bouchard would let me withhold any tax dollars I felt were going toward the billboards. I have a much better use for those billboards. How about using them to direct entrepreneurs to one of the hundreds of vacant Michigan Industrial Parks with cheap rent?!?
21 Mar 2010: I can see where this six-days-per-week of sunshine down here in Sarasota is going to get old real fast. I don’t think I will be able to take another 45 years of it before I begin to long for the weeks and weeks of Michigan clouds. The workout studio has now officially passed the halfway point. By that, I mean that the weekly workout tally is more than half of the maximum number that I planned on doing when I first opened. Warm weather piques the curiosity of potential clients, and when the temperatures nudged into the mid seventies on a steady basis last week, I averaged one new client per day. This more than offset the loss of two cherished snowbird couples. One pattern I continue to experience here that I have never experienced before is when a client increases the frequency of their workouts to FIVE DAYS PER WEEK! This has happened several times already, and additional clients have expressed an interest in doing so. Needless to say, this kind of consistency yields dramatic results. Due to a former Michigan client’s visit, work has leaked out amongst some of my studio clients. Many are now aware of the two novels in spite of my anti-promotion policy. I am only averaging two book sales per week to workout clients, but anticipate more as purchasers finish reading them and want to discuss details during the workouts. This is only fair, as the people of Sarasota deserve a chance to be appalled by Max’s behavior too.
17 Mar 2010: Many of you that read Grosse Pointe Pimp and the sequel are well aware that Max employed his three sons in the family business at various times. He tried to promote his eldest son, “Larry,” to an upper management position, but there was a lot of yelling. It didn’t work out. So Max bought an upscale furniture chain for his eldest and youngest son to run. There were four huge stores. After a while there were two. Then there was just one. Today, there are zero. All three sons wound up back at the parent company. In what capacity, you may ask? That’s complicated, but I am here to help you keep up. The parent company had the same president for 20 years. His name was Bill Barto. He worked hard, the employees liked him, the 30 stores turned huge profits, and he was extremely competent. But Max fired him. Max preaches the gospel of loyalty, but Bill found that it was just a one way street. As soon as Bill was gone, Max installed his eldest and middle sons as “Co-Presidents”. That sounded like a terrible idea to me, but Max never called to ask my opinion anyway. Business got worse, many of the stores went up for sale with no takers, and less than two years later, Max DEMOTED his two sons. I’ll wager the boardroom got a little quieter after that. Actually, he FIRED the middle son…but continued to use him in some very pathetic television commercials. In one of them, the son read a book to some inner city kids. Max does not have any stores in the inner city, so the commercials never really gave me the warm and fuzzies. The son looked very uncomfortable in the commercials, but Max tortured us for another six months with them anyway. In another much press-released and ballyhooed change, Max hired a man named Marshall Whaling as co-CEO along with Max. He used to be a senior vice-president at Circuit City. They don’t sell furniture there, but Max thought it would be a “good fit.” Marshall fired a lot of Max’s employees to make the chain more profitable. After all, the new commercials promote Max’s stores as “family” stores, so Max couldn’t very well do it. It didn’t work. The whole damn “family” kept losing money. Last September, Marshall himself got the axe. Now the new CEO is Kim Yost, a Canadian guy who was in charge of a 30 store chain of bedding stores based in Edmunton. I’m not sure if Max is still co-CEO, but I will find out…of course Max may not know either, so please be patient. So there you have it…SIX different CEO’s for Max in four and a half years, if you count Max as one. Sounds like things are going well…except that I’m looking at Max’s January sales sheets right now. It’s not good news. In spite of YEARS of such stable leadership, his chain is still HEMHORRAGING money. I am very worried for Mr. Yost. If something happens, he would be number SEVEN. Now, don’t you feel better after being caught up?
15 Mar 2010: Several years ago, I resolved to become more of a “glass is half full” individual…with mixed results. I have been watching Michigan’s glass intently for some time now, and I fear there is a hole in the bottom. A recent article in the local Detroit area papers made much ado about a BRAND NEW automotive related plant…even though it is to be located in Holland, Michigan, some 200 miles away form Detroit. The plant is going to produce batteries for electric cars, but it is owned by a Korean company. Please bear with me for a brief history about employment statistics. At its peak, Ford’s River Rouge complex employed 90,000 people! Today, it employs around 6,000. The General Motors Poletown assembly plant employs about 3,800 people. This much ballyhooed battery plant will employ a whopping 400 people! Oh, goody. But wait! It’s not going to hit peak employment until at least the year 2013…so be patient. Meanwhile, Michigan continues to lose approximately 153 jobs per day, so at least this plant, after ramping up to FULL production sometime in the next three years, will have offset 2 1/3 days of Michigan’s job losses. That should save us from disaster. Jenny Grandmole has finally comes to her senses and begun emptying out the State prisons as out tax base continues to plummet. Until recently, Michigan boasted of the second highest ratio of prisoners to citizens of any other state. Of course, this means that Michigan is now laying off prison guards by the dozens, but maybe we can eventually lure another little battery plant to take up the slack. Actually, I think it’s about time that we have begun a policy of incarcerating just the people we fear, and think of some other way to punish the people we are mad at. Oh, but wait, I almost forgot. Now we have hundreds of brand new ex-prisoners to employ. I’ll check for any available openings in the upper echelons of Detroit’s City government. Having an ex-crackhead in charge would still be more cost efficient than another Kwame.
11 Mar 2010: Today’s update pertains to the fish tank at the Sarasota workout studio. It is a sad update with suspicious overtones. Most readers will recall my ill-advised attempt to mix Baby Oscars with adult, adolescent, and baby guppies. The Oscars ate all 60 baby guppies within the first eight hours, but continue to deny it to this day. Two nights ago, one adult female guppy and seven male guppies remained. The males had VERY colorful bodies (predominantly blue) and wide, colorful tails that were predominantly orange. That no longer matters now. Yesterday morning, when the timer turned on the aquarium lights, all seven male guppies were gone. I immediately cast an accusatory eye to the baby Oscars…although it can be argued that they are now on the cusp of entering adolescence. After much posturing on all of our parts, I voiced my suspicions to both Oscars. The fin pointing began almost immediately. They have names befitting their personalities. Rampage is the larger of the two and began indicating that the two albino catfish were behind the male guppies disappearance. I reminded him that this particular type of catfish is known for its peaceful nature, and that the catfish were not much larger than their alleged victims. Chaos swore that he saw the Panga catfish lunging at one of the male guppies, and threw himself in between the two in order to thwart any violence. I reminded Chaos that although the Panga catfish is bigger now, and a very fast swimmer, his eyesight is extremely poor and a food flake has to practically hit him in the nose before he finds it. Rampage broached the possibility that the guppies were sucked up by the filter…until I showed him the tiny slits on the inlet tube that would not come close to accommodating a guppy. In desperation, Chaos claimed that all seven were holed up in a turret of the tiny, fake castle in the middle of the tank. I did not even dignify such ludicrousness with a response.
08 Mar 2010: My buddy Glenn did in fact go to Famous Dave’s Barbeque on his birthday. So far, no reported hemorrhoids from the wooden benches, so he dodged THAT bullet. He did not have the chicken, either. He had the Cajun catfish. I think he passed on the chicken or the ribs for similar reasons. I surmise that with the ribs, the old guy was worried about breaking a tooth. Sometimes the chicken has small bones, and he was probably worried about choking on one. At his age, one cannot be too careful. The catfish are boneless, and thus relatively risk free. I have also decided I can’t possibly be as old as him. I’m going to pull my birth certificate and double check. On a happier note, my old buddy Max Lexington is paying the property taxes on his Grosse Pointe Shores mansion right on time. It’s listed in the wife’s name right now, but the company is also listed as co-owner. Last years Summer and Winter taxes totaled $155,000. I wonder if he’s paying the taxes on his Mistresses two condos in a timely manner as well. I don’t think he has had any luck selling the Florida Yacht yet, but he doesn’t pay taxes or registration on that baby, anyway. Even though it is used exclusively in U. S. waters, he has it registered in the British Virgin Islands in order to avoid forking over any fees to the United States Treasury. I think that is VERY smart…and don’t worry, Max, this is just our little secret.
04 Mar 2010: I have known the same guy since 5th grade. His name is Glenn. He turned 53 years old today. Does he plan on taking the wife and kid and celebrating at Ruths Cris steakhouse?...no…Capital Grille in Troy?....no…perhaps the Excaliber?...not even close. I have been to all of the aforementioned with my good, good friend Max Lexington (good, good friend are his words, not mine), and with dates. But Glenn is not going anywhere near those. Nope. He has personally chosen Famous Dave’s Barbeque, just two miles from beautiful downtown Roseville. He intends to sit on a hard wooden bench and peel off paper towels from a roll placed upright on the table. I think the brand they use is Brawny. He claims he likes the chicken there. In his geriatric state, I think he should only patronize restaurants that have cushioned chairs. When I get that old, I’m only going to…..Oh My God! I just realized…Glenn was my classmate in 5th grade…NOT my teacher! That means that if he is 53….I am…OH NO!
On a happier note, I just learned that my 18 year old daughter is driving down on Spring Break with six other girls and four guys…in two vans. They plan to leave at 7 pm and drive through the night, arriving at a rented condo on the beach by 3 the next day. What can possibly go wrong?!!?
27 Feb 2010: Yet another category of television shows that one should try to avoid starring in at all costs are the ones that simply state: My Big Head or My Left Foot. This invariably means that you are a citizen of an impoverished third world country and you are considered a walking freak show by all the residents in your town. Usually, a body part has continued to grow due to some bizarre, undiagnosed condition or an immune system malfunction. What few pictures the parent/parents have of the afflicted individual’s childhood are enhanced and displayed slowly to the viewing audience throughout the program so that we may see how what was once a funny little bump has now become an enormous growth. The growth has to be watermelon size or bigger to garner the interest of the producers. The most extreme case of this genre was a show that featured a 95 pound British woman with a 190 pound growth over the entire right side of her body. One would think that this would have become a primary area of concern for her family, doctors, and friends when the tumor weighed…oh…say…ONE POUND!! I believe she tried to have it looked at when it was in the 30 pound range, but her physician at the time declared the operation to remove it too hazardous to her health. Transfixed, I watched portions of the operation after the tumor was 6 1/3 times the original size, and the surgery reminded me of the Arnold Swarzenegger movie where the alien hunter skins the commandos one by one and hangs them from trees. The show checked back with the lady one year later, and she actually appeared to be doing quite well. The narrator DID mention that the lady would have to be checked regularly for any sign of the tumors reappearance. File that under No Sh__ Sherlock! If God forbid the tumor does come back, I hope her doctor decides to operate before it get a single pound past 150.
25 Feb 2010: Another show I would absolutely NOT want to be the star of is Mystery Diagnosis. This show often begins with some unsuspecting sap going about their daily routine when they are suddenly confronted with blinding pain/sudden loss of consciousness/numbness in every extremity/loss of sight in one eye while it bulges out of the eye socket/strange, hideous sores that quickly evolve into deep, puss filled craters accompanied by severe hair loss…..you get the picture. However the symptoms begin, THEY ALWAYS GET WORSE. The directors use ominous music and blurry flashbacks to describe the rapid deterioration of the hapless patient. A series of doctors is usually mystified over a period of weeks, months, or even years while the symptoms abate and reappear with no apparent rhyme or reason. If the star of the show is “lucky,” a wise doctor or genealogist finally diagnoses the malady at the last possible moment, although usually after some horrible disfigurement has taken place, along with job loss and the death of the family dog. To the show’s credit, it usually tries to show the star at some point in the future after they have adapted to the loss of all four limbs or the removal of half their brain. This is definitely NOT a show that I ever want to have to sign a release to appear in.
23 Feb 2010: I was watching television last night because I simply ran out of things to read. I mean, of course I had already planned on watching 24 and cheering on Jack Bauer (he’s beating up bad guys this season in spite of a deep stab wound to the abdominal region and electroshock interrogations by the head of the Russian Mob), but I continued to watch afterwards. There are three categories of shows that you definitely DO NOT want to star in. The first is a program such as Dr G. Medical Examiner. In spite of the very methodical and experienced Pathologist that hosts the show…the star is always the CORPSE! And that corpse has always come by that one hour of fame by dying in a grisly or mysterious way. The coroner grimaces a little whenever she arrives at an especially gruesome part of the autopsy, and she occasionally does part of the voice over in the “flashback scenes” as the star begins to feel very ill. Usually, the “end” comes quickly and the flashbacks re-enact the various symptoms the star was having prior to the demise that every viewer can now see was inevitable. In several episodes, the viewers are intentionally left wondering until the very end with only minimal clues supplied to them. To be cont….
19 Feb 2010: Warmish weather is gradually returning to the land. The semi-tropical climate that Floridians so enjoy boasting about is attempting to reassert itself around Sarasota and Siesta Key. I expect the high to be about 65 degrees today, and perhaps 70 tomorrow. The nights are not as cold…we should drop to only 50 or so tonight. Residents are beginning to plant their tomatoes in huge pots on balconies and back decks. I have been informed that Summer is too hot for these plants, and the perfect time is right now. By Monday, I will no longer be able to cool the studio in mid-afternoon by propping open the back door. Reluctantly, I will have to turn on the massive air conditioning unit that sits on top of the roof…if only for brief intervals. After three months, the business is solidly in the profit zone, but it has been my experience that warmer weather brings out the locals in force…so we shall see if new inquiries increase even more. Yesterday the warm weather brought out another old acquaintance. Yeti was sighted on the premises! Two doors down from the studio, a nice young couple run a business that specializes in Custom Fish Tanks and extremely colorful saltwater fish. The female proprietor was in back of the establishment tossing items into plastic refuse bins. She was startled as the unkempt bearded Yeti crept by her in broad daylight, hugging the bushes in at the rear of the property. He clambered over a shaky fence and tromped off when she yelled out. I have an office in the back of my studio, but by the time I terminated a phone call and responded to her shouts, Yeti had vanished. The fence is new…I don’t think he expected to encounter it as he cut behind the businesses along the main drag. But the fence alone may not be enough to discourage him from a particular path. Yeti, as far as I can discern, is the last of the homeless people that I have to discourage from trespassing on the premises. I am fully aware that he might be following some sort of ancient migration route and my battle will be an uphill one. Without a doubt, Yeti is the most elusive of the group and I shall have to redouble my efforts to communicate my wishes.
17 Feb 2010: Fish Tank cont……With over 60 suspected homicides on my hands, I started to develop a list of suspects. I ruled out the three small albino catfish almost immediately. They seemed very peaceful and determined to limit their dining experiences to crud they found resting on the bottom. Prolonged observation of the catfish in the past revealed a “live and let live” persona that did not include lunging at the baby guppies, unlike my primary suspects…the baby Oscars. I questioned the Oscars, but they both vigorously denied any involvement. During the interrogation, one of the suspects lunged at one of the nearly adult male guppies! I cannot say that I was sorry, especially after this adolescent guppy’s determined and repeated attempts at incestuous fornication. It was during this suspicious behavior that I observed the Oscar had been sucking his stomach in the entire time I had been questioning the babies fate! It also explained the Oscar’s lack of interest in the fish food flakes I had offered them moments ago. The other Oscar had a similar bulge in its abdominal region. They both continued to deny any involvement…but this new evidence was simply too overwhelming for them to explain away with a flip of their fins. Upon introducing the baby Oscars to the tank, I was fully aware that this particular type of fish thrives on live food, but was under the impression that it would be some time before would be able to hunt down EVERY one of the 60 baby guppies…and that several might even survive to near adulthood…but I misjudged their enthusiasm. I found one of the adult female guppies dead this morning with her face chewed off, but received the usual round of denials. The Oscars look bigger to me, are back to eating flakes again while lunging at the smaller male guppies. I fear it is only a matter of time before this reckless behavior leads to yet another fatality.
14 Feb 2010: When the weather gets cold in Sarasota (under 60), I spend more time reading. I read five newspapers online, political fare, economic news and opinion (let’s face it, no matter how acclaimed the “expert” it’s just his opinion), blogs, novels, current events, etc. I read every word of my readers emails, whether I agree with them or not. I devote at least one hour per day to health news and views, journals, and published research articles, if only to show off to clients at the studio when they realize their muscle-head trainer knows as much about their medical condition as their physician. When I meet a client for the first time, I ask them a series of questions in as casual a fashion as possible while I design their workout around any past or present medical issues. Sometimes the new client lies, as though I would throw up my hands and send him or her packing if they revealed a particular red flag. My buddy Dan the Cop has cued me in on several “telltales” to look for as they answer. For instance, when I ask if their blood pressure is high and they answer “yes” but look up and to the right, it means that it is because they are now taking the proper medication. I always leave them an “out” in which to explain, and they usually do.
I obtained just such an oral history on a 54 year old male client one month ago. He pulled up in a beautiful Mercedes. He seemed both personable and intelligent. He alluded to some minor back and knee issues, and was quick to assure me that they were merely a result of his lack of exercise at the moment. We worked out twice per week for two weeks. Hours before his fifth workout, he called the studio and expressed his regrets for not being able to come in that day. He was “wiped out,” he said, and hoped to feel better in two days. He did not feel better in two days. It took him ten days to recover from a workout that my mom would have sailed through. After a ten day hiatus, he came back in to the studio. He sat down at the desk and, sheepishly, cautioned me that we would have to take it “a little easier.” He explained that his body did not make enough red blood cells due to a SEVERE BONE MARROW CONDITION, and thus took longer to recover his energy after a period of exertion. Using my best poker face, I filed this brand new information under JESUS CHRIST, I WISH YOU WOULD HAVE TOLD ME THAT BEFORE, and we moved on. A quarter of the way through the workout, he began to ask my advice about his SEVERE GASTROINTESTINAL CONDITION, and I had to grab onto the squat rack to keep from pitching over. I immediately ratcheted down the level of the workout to somewhere between World War II Vet and Newborn Infant. He is scheduled to come in twice this week. I will not be surprised if he arrives in an ambulance.
10 Feb 2010: Fish Tank cont… A guppy takes about three months to reach maturity. When fully grown, they are about 21/2 inches in length. They have a life span of two or three years depending on the water temperature. Of course, this life span can be MUCH shorter if other hungry fish are present while the mother guppy is giving birth. My tank has a moderate amount of plant cover, and the other three female guppies were well fed…so most of the first broods survived. Are you ready for an interesting fact about female guppies that might make you cringe just a little? Once impregnated by a male guppy, the females are able to store sperm for several months! That is NOT a typo. The females give birth once a month, but don’t need no baby daddy hanging around ‘cept but three times a year! Nevertheless, I could not help but be repulsed at the thought of the rampant incest and eventual inbreeding that I would soon be hosting. The following pictures are not those of the guppies in my tank, but if one were to scroll two thirds down the page, some of the blue ones are fairly representative of mine. For pics of incestuous guppies, Click here. To be honest, the few male guppies that are near adulthood have not filled the tank with flashing bits of color the way I had originally hoped, although I admit to some impatience on my part. In addition, 20 adults and 50 or so babies do little to fill a 72 gallon tank…and I simply cannot get past the incest part so…I purchased two baby Oscar fish. They are black and brown and orange and very stocky. They are about three inches long. They resemble a large mouth bass. Unfortunately for the guppies, the Oscars, even in their “toddler” stage, are VERY aggressive. The Oscars took about 41/2 minutes to acclimate themselves in the new tank…and then they began to hunt. Apparently, the favorite food of baby Oscars is…baby guppies! To be continued…
07 Feb 2010: Former clients of the old fitness studio in Michigan will doubtless remember the 72 gallon tropical fish tank that graced an area behind the front desk. It housed a variety of inhabitants such as angel fish, tetras, silver dollars, and snails. Some of the angel fish were quite delicate and expired long before their due date. Some of them, however, reached adult hood and had offspring of their own. Even the snails had snails. If this gives one the impression that once the aquarium lights went off, a good time was had by all...that is simply not true. Often, the frisky little guys were “intimate” in broad daylight too. Upon moving, I found good homes for everybody but packed up the fish tank, its stand, and all of the filters and equipment in a Florida bound truck. One week after re-opening, I set the tank back up. The new water took two weeks to cycle and condition itself, much to the chagrin of several sacrificial guppies that I used to test it with. After the two weeks (and six fish corpses) the water evened out. At last, two female guppies did not die by the next morning, and were soon joined by two more. All four were pregnant upon arrival, and within two more weeks I have my first batch of 15 baby guppies. More batches followed, and within two months about 70 guppies, three albino catfish, and two albino apple snails were calling the renewed fish tank home. At least half of the first batch was male, and as they grew they developed colorful bodies and tails and a confidence and “randyness” that grew every day. Soon, they were chasing around and courting their own mothers, much to the delight of my new clients and my own inward disgust! To be continued….
04 Feb 2010: I would once again like to apologize if I seem to be gloating about the weather down here in Florida. It was a brisk 54 degrees when I stepped out of the house, but it is 65 degrees as of this writing and we are expected to see a high of 75 today. I feel the need to stress that the difference in temperature between Sarasota and our hometowns is a frequent topic of gleeful conversation here. As is the case with many transplants, I have the temperature of my home state readily accessible on several areas of my computer, and it is satisfying to check the temperature gradients on the national map whenever I see it posted on the weather channel. As an aging weight trainer, winters in Michigan were beginning to present more of a challenge. Last winter found me waking up in the morning with tweaks and twinges in my shoulders and back that I did not remember having 10 or 15 years ago. Careful analysis led me to conclude that I could A. Find a physician, get a checkup, explain that I had no intention of backing off on the amount of weight I was pushing, and ask for a prescription of some sort or B. Back off on the amount of weight that I was pushing! Fortunately, there was a C. I moved the entire studio to Sarasota, where the average winter temperature reaches 72 degrees by mid day. I no longer have to brace myself against frigid winds or bone numbing cold when I exit my home/car/business or a restaurant, store, or friend’s house. After careful measurements, I have concluded that my winter stress levels are 93.45672 % lower. Less stress means less cortisol is being produced…and thus less inflammation. The calendar has been peeled back about ten years, and anti-inflammatory drugs are no longer even a consideration. In the next update, I shall discuss the owner of the building that houses the studio. But with my morning workout over and the clients on their way to other activities, I am off to Siesta Key Beach to test my lounge chair and perform a bikini review.
01 Feb 2010: Disclaimer: Today’s update is by no means meant to rub in the fact that the weather here in Sarasota is very conducive to long walks and being outdoors. End of disclaimer. I have been outside a great deal as of late. The days are getting longer, people are beginning to plant their gardens, and the snowbirds are arriving in full force. Restaurants are jammed, and I attended a spectacular outdoor car show yesterday at the local mall. Every walk, run, or outing does not involve the beach, however, despite its close proximity to the studio. I have traversed many miles through neighborhoods, both on streets and sidewalks. It is almost impossible NOT to notice one particular thing…there are virtually NO heaved sidewalks…and NO rubble strewn streets. Ice does NOT crack and heave concrete or asphalt down here the way it does in Michigan. If I stumble during a run, it is because I am daydreaming, not because of an unexpected crater beneath my running shoes. I have traversed several hundred miles by now, and have finally come across a section of sidewalk that is in need of repair. Granted, it is only the one section, but the ironic thing is: it is right in front of the studio. Click here. After a great deal of pondering and speculation, I have deduced that, because it is a section directly adjacent to a driveway that leads to the main road, a large delivery truck must have passed over it on more than one occasion. There is little doubt that this is what is responsible for the horrific (and apparently unique) condition of this isolated section. Nevertheless, I shall remain diligent in my search for more.
29 Jan 2010: I thought that some of the more eccentric clients I worked out with at my Grosse Pointe fitness facility had prepared me for anyone that I might encounter in Florida. Summer (the Mistress, not the season, had some quirks.) A frequently inebriated (got sauced during lunch…then came in to work out) attorney (very successful…even ran for Judge) confessed about his extensive collection of “Women’s Prison” movies. He later confessed to hating most women (which worked out okay, because he gave most female clients the creeps.) A former auto show model with a greatly enhanced chest enjoyed demonstrating her different fantasy positions in between sets (no pun intended.) A psychotic young man wanted me to get him in shape for the police academy for a third time. He had failed the oral evaluation, with flying colors, twice. None of my female trainers would approach within ten feet of him.
But today’s client was very interesting and in the running for most unusual. Originally from Hungary, she was a famous television personality (I double checked.) At five foot five, she weighed 96 pounds today (also confirmed.) She had modest implants (I’m sure, but would rather not say how.) For most of the hour, she spoke about whole grains and organic foods. She expounded on the vast benefits she had received from her vegetarian diet (although she ate fish on occasion.) She detailed her extensive back, knee, elbow, and ankle problems from gymnastic endeavors in her native land. She spoke of the natural supplements that she took faithfully. At the end of her workout, she and her friend sat at the desk, scheduling their next appointments. I reassured Miss Hungary that I would rehab most of her injuries quickly. She looked grateful. Then her friend blurted out “now if you could only get her to stop smoking!” Miss Hungary blushed. I waited until returning to my office before I slapped my forehead.
26 Jan 2010: I have never had a kidney stone. Friends of mine who have had one tell me the experience is horrible. They claim it is by far the worst pain they have ever experienced. The entire process of passing one down the urethral tract is, apparently, akin to hell on earth. I know that I do not have a kidney stone, but I am experiencing a tremendous amount of discomfort at this moment. The admission I am about to make is causing great consternation that is beginning to border on actual, physical pain. An agent of mine sent a page from a magazine. It was from the “Best Dressed” feature. The magazine is distributed in the Detroit area. It is called Hour magazine and it known for its glossy pages full of advertisements of classy restaurants, bars, plastic surgeons. Hour offers the occasional article about local “scenes” and top ten lists of lawyers and doctors. Your chance of making a top ten list increases dramatically if you purchase a huge, glossy ad first. The page my agent sent me depicted a photo of Max…decked out in a very expensive suit, coiffed to a tee, and photographed in a very flattering light by a very talented photographer. Here is where the personal pain comes in…Max looked…ugh…he looked…ouch, OMG, this really hurts…he looked g, uh gu, (wince) he looked good in the picture. Christ! There! I SAID it! Somehow, the outlandish, over-the-top Gucci glasses work for him. They’re out of place in Michigan, but would fit right in around the more upscale areas of Boca Raton. The suit draped just right on him. Even the last face lift is holding up well. I am going to need a Darvocet in a minute if this throbbing ache doesn’t quit. I thought admitting all of this would help. I thought it would be cathartic. It is not. Chicchini Clothiers in Birmingham, Michigan is one very talented bunch. I wonder what they would want to make a suit for me. Probably my Corvette. Perhaps I can wear these t shirts a bit longer.
22 Jan 2010: If by chance you were wondering, let me assure you. Driving in Florida is as exciting as ever. While I am sure that many people over the age of say…85…are very fine drivers, there seem to be some down here who are NOT. Okay…there are a LOT of them that should hang it up immediately! Down here, long lines of traffic don’t necessarily mean there’s an accident up ahead. It might mean that grandma is lost and straddling two lanes at 25 mph in a 45 and is an accident waiting to happen. Turn signals have little meaning…theirs, which may have been on since they left their driveway…or even the day before…or yours, which they don’t notice. I no longer have to worry about being struck by my parent’s car…they are 1200 miles away now. My sainted Mother gave me a little insight into some of her thoughts when driving. As we spoke on the phone, she indicated that their new car can be very distracting to drive, what with all of the instruments and buttons and levers and dials. She has yet to figure out how to dispense windshield washer fluid onto the windshield of their Buick. The remote side view mirrors belong on the Space Shuttle. The radio will forever remain a mystery. Operating all of these high tech gizmos can take some of her attention from the road. They have owned the car for two years this month. The auto manufacturers are clearly at fault in this instance. “If the dash didn’t look like the cockpit of a jet airliner, it wouldn’t take (her) so long to figure out all the controls!” My father is a WWII veteran with one “good” eye. A year ago, I was speaking to my brother on the phone. I complained that a ride to the hardware store with my father had been very exciting. My brother chastised me for taking such risks and said “If we go somewhere, I drive or we DON’T go. It is not my father’s fault, either. Other drivers have become very impatient over the past several years, and most tailgate him, pouncing on the opportunity to pass. I can bench press over 400 pounds, but for some reason still remember this man and his fearsome temper from when I was an idiot teenager and angered him…which was often. He’s shorter now and weighs 40 pounds less, but can still intimidate. I assure him that in spite of his age, he still has the reflexes of a jungle cat. This makes him giggle. I’m certainly not going to be the one that suggests he put his license in a drawer and leave it there. He may seem peaceful and jovial of late, but no one needs 145 pounds of WRINKLED FURY leaping at their throat!
18 Jan 2010: All of Michigan readers will be relieved to know that the weather is back to normal down here in Sarasota. I can tolerate the 78 degree days very easily when they are followed by a 73 degree day. Jaunts to the beach have to be timed very carefully. It was nearly 7 degrees cooler there yesterday…even though I am less one mile away as the crow flies! Thus it was only 64 and very hazy when I arrived, but soon warmed up to 70 or so as the sun warmed the sky and sand. The astute reader will recall the update about my mailman, Postal Dude. The surf was up dramatically yesterday, and I was not surprised to see his brothers, Surfer Dudes One, Two, Three, and Four paddle out in their wet suits. It wasn’t exactly Maui, but they rode the waves in skillfully. I was going to tell them how “gnarly” their surfing was, but as soon as they reached shore they would begin to battle the waves and paddle right back out again. In addition, the surf was quite loud, and I did not want to appear to be shouting at them. I am of the firm belief that I am looking less “friendly” as I grow older. When I speak loudly to a stranger and forget to smile, they begin to look concerned…as though I am about to request that they hand over their wallet or to suggest that I am about to injure them in some fashion. On another subject, I just finished reviewing the tapes of the North American Auto Show premier night. Max, I say this as someone that you once called your “good buddy” and “friend.” Those thick framed glasses have GOT to go. They make you look like a cross between Elvis Costello’s father and a shuffle board contestant.
15 Jan 2010: I think that many would agree that it is time. I know Joe Zada is probably in denial about this, and I’m not sure at this point that he will have any say…but I think it is time we started to discuss which Federal Prison Facility he will be staying at. Depending on whether or not he is judged to be a flight risk at sentencing, it is my opinion that he will be housed in a minimum or medium security facility. There’s a nice one in Miami, if you don’t mind a drug kingpin or two on your cell block. Click here. There is some bad news for the dozens of people that he’s stolen from, however…this facility is air conditioned! That is correct. It gets hot there in the summer. I’m not sure if “the hole” is, however (that’s where they put you for misbehavior issues or for protective custody.) Everything I read tells me that openly gay prisoners have a higher degree of difficulty in Federal Prisons. Now might be a good time for Joe to take a kickboxing lesson or two…or a thousand. If you are one of his many victims, though, all is not lost! There is a chance, especially if he tries to flee the country, that he will be housed at Coleman Federal Prison. It is a minimum, medium, and maximum facility. If he is deemed a flight risk (and he might be, even if he doesn’t try it) the Feds might park him at this one. Click here. Make sure that you scroll down and read about the multiple, random stabbing that occurred there two years ago. That should make you feel a little better. I have speculated that these two facilities are in the running simply because they are relatively close to Joe’s Wellington, Florida estate. There may be circumstances, however, that dictate Joe’s incarceration should be in Michigan, where this whole mess originated, and where many of his victims reside. If he did not try to flee prior to the trial, the logical choice in this case would be Milan, Michigan. Click here. I have a preference as to which one he will reside at, but I am not optimistic about the Feds giving me any say in the matter.
13 Jan 2010: I welcome and treasure each and every one of your letters…I really do. The critical ones make me a better and more topical writer, and the laudatory ones swell up my head and make me look better in the eyes of my friends. The information packed letters provide a great deal of fodder for future updates, and certain letter writers have proven so trustworthy and accurate that I now save oodles of time fact-checking and verifying. Yesterday’s letters, however, were a classic case of shooting the messenger. It’s not my fault that many of you choose to winter in that frozen wasteland to the north. When I lament that the temperatures down here have been about 20 degrees below normal, please do not howl at the unfairness of my 55 degree days versus your 20 degree days. And as I report on the 70 degree days that are expected to resume this Thursday, try to refrain from gnashing your teeth and censoring my reports. Things are different down here, and gloating about the weather is a universal acceptable topic amongst us locals. People are different down here as well, which leads me to the topic of the Postal Dude. My mailman looks like a combination of a blond California surfer dude and David Cassidy in his Partridge family days. He always wears shorts (and black shoes and socks). Postal Dude is very tan and insists on delivering the mail directly to the desk in the gym, even though it’s at the rear of the workout area this time. He always greets you with “How’s it goin’ today?” in a Keanu Reeves voice. He scoops up the outgoing with a “have a good one” or a “keep it real.” I was walking in the residential area in back of the studio on Saturday and spotted Postal Dude racing down the street in his little mail truck, and thought I saw him shifting gears like a NASCAR driver. I don’t know a lot about Postal Dude yet, but while he was dropping off my Netflix movie one afternoon he did mention, out of the blue, that Slum Dog Millionaire was the most awesome movie he had ever seen. Go figure.
11 Jan 2010: I have visited Florida many, many times. I have resided here for long stretches during the winter months whilst on various assignments. I can not internalize this any longer. I wish to lodge a formal protest. The last straw was this morning at 8:30 am. I arrived at the fitness studio fully aware that the State was experiencing a record cold snap. The Corvette’s heater works fine and the early morning sunshine made the ride in quite pleasant. HOWEVER, there is a low spot in the front parking lot that collects rain water…and it rained on Saturday. The low spot had a certain sheen to it this morning and upon exiting my car, I was drawn to it in horror. The low spot NO LONGER contained rain water…at least not in liquid form. It was iced over! IN SARASOTA, where the average high this time of year is 72 degrees! The average low is 55 degrees! From many years in Michigan, I am fully aware that the ground has to achieve a certain chill prior to supporting the formation of ice after a cold night. I was aware of some cold nights in the past two weeks…but the discovery of randomly forming ICE, one hour south of Tampa, is very depressing. Perhaps the Florida Tourist Bureau is not aware of this situation. I shall bring it to their attention immediately.
08 Jan 2010: The weather forecast in Sarasota calls for an unseasonably cold weekend…and then for a gradual warming trend. The average high for this time of year is supposed to be 71 degrees, and in six more days it appears that will once again be the case around here. Lest anyone think that I have neglected to gather information on Joe Zada, I have not. While up-to-the-minute news comes in to me only sporadically, I have been continuing to collect information on the antics of this guy for the past 20 years. This guy has been REALLY busy! It takes FOCUS and drive to steal a lot of money and lay waste to hundreds of lives…and the most warped business plan imaginable. I have been playing catch up to the stories about all of the Ponzi scammers in the Sarasota area as well. Their cases are beginning to wind their way through the areas Federal Court system. One thieving couple, the Morgans, attempted to flee the country before any indictments were handed down. They wound up in a Sri Lankan prison…supposedly for some improper paperwork. In a strange turn of events, the couple begged the Feds to extradite them back to the U.S. They claimed the rat bites and murderers were making their overseas prison stay very unpleasant. The Feds complied and shipped them back here last month. While all of the scammers in my area have a consistent Modus Operandi that they alter as necessary, none of them has the creativity of Joe.
06 Jan 2010: My daughter is an 18 year old college student. She has a lot of friends. She attends parties. She listens to music and text messages at least 150 times per day. She wears cool clothes and jewelry. My daughter knows what is “in” and what is not. She knows who is “hot” and who is not. I had a long phone conversation with her yesterday. One of the main topics we touched upon was the subject of me joining the supercool and hip group Black Eyed Peas. She listened patiently to my proposal. After a long pause, she broke it to me gently. Her explanation was a little bit condescending but delivered in a very loving manner. I will not be trying to join this Hip Hop group after all. I promised her I will not bring up the subject again. In spite of the cold weather (51 but sunny today) business has started to pick up this week. I became so entrenched in the recession/depression mentality of Michigan that I forgot that people still DO make resolutions to reinvent themselves and take better care of their health after the first of the year. My studio has four new clients on the books already this week with three days to go. It is reminiscent of the beginning of a January at my old studio in Grosse Pointe (technically St. Clair Shores) when many new signups would eventually result in up to240 workouts PER WEEK! Of course, I am only at 30 per week here thus far…but I began accepting clients a mere seven weeks ago. My system has changed as well. I will no longer employ 11 trainers to accommodate an influx of new clients. I will only employ one other trainer. But I have already contracted with the youth pastor of a local church to provide me with qualified teenage labor. My intention is to keep my clients costs down by allowing a well trained “Apprentice” to supervise warmup sets, handle scheduling, and answer the phone. This should free up my time enough to work out three or four clients at a time and concentrate on the most strenuous potion of their workout as well as any dietary faux pas they may have committed. In the meantime, I am looking forward to the predicted return of sixty degree temperatures in six more days. Unfortunately, next Tuesday’s high in Michigan is expected to only be 28 degrees. Sorry.
03 Jan 2010: I had almost forgotten. I DO have a New Years Resolution! I now recall watching Rockin’ New Years Eve with Dick Clark. One of the guest entertainers was a group called Black Eyed Peas. As the father of a teenage daughter, I have been “down with” their music for some time. It is kind of a hip-hop and Rap mix. On New Years Eve, they were performing at a large venue in Las Vegas and every once in a while Ryan Seacrest would check in with Fergie, the lead female singer. The group also performed numerous numbers from both current and previous CDs. It looked like they were having a lot of fun. So…I have resolved to JOIN the Group! Of course, I realize that this goal will be rife with obstacles. As a middle aged Caucasian bodybuilder of Polish heritage, I have absolutely NO sense of rhythm. I can barely sing. I have been told that I should not dance. I can’t play any musical instruments either. I have read that Fergie is a recovering Methamphetamine addict, and of this date I have never even tried marijuana, and I might not have a great deal in common with other members of the group as well. Another issue is that, as musicians, they probably stay up quite late after a evening gig, and I like to turn in no later than midnight in order to get at least eight to nine hours of sleep to recover from very strenuous workouts. I would be loathe to make any concessions on these hours, and I hope they would understand and be willing to accommodate me in this regard. Admittedly, I am not quite sure at this juncture exactly where I would fit in, but as the saying goes: Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
01 Jan 2010: Happy New Year. Since I am already following a rather well thought-out plan, there is no need to resolve to make life-changing or drastic alterations beginning with today. If I cut back on my alcohol intake anymore I will be in a negative consumption mode…something I don’t think is possible. I could stand to lose ¼ pound or so…perhaps I’ll only have two plates at the buffet tonight. With so little to change…my efforts can be best put to use suggesting changes that other people can make. To my ol buddy Max…Wouldn’t it be nice if your marketing department wrote an entire ad page without the word SALE on it and subsequently followed by some misleading, outrageous percentage that no one really believes…and a fake list price that no one would ever pay. You, more than anyone, are responsible for diluting the meaning of the word SALE until it is nearly valueless in the Detroit area. Why not just show a nice pic of the furniture, the price in a small font, and use the extra space to describe the foreign made crap you sell more thoroughly? Not your style? Too classy? You know best. To my wireless phone company, SPRINT. I see that you’re sponsoring the entire NFL now. I resent that. I fought with you for years to reduce my bill…and you made just enough adjustments every two years to keep me hanging in there. The memory of the $600 phone bills during my employment with Max still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I watch football on a regular basis, but I also watch Cribs, where the players show off their houses and cars, and now I think I’m paying for them. Have you noticed that the flashier your marketing is, the more rapidly your stock loses value? To the POPE, you are HEMORRHAGING priests. It’s time to let the few straight ones marry women before my former religion is just an annotation in the history books. And I’m still waiting for an apology for those two hour masses in LATIN during my childhood. I received NOTHING from them and it’s taken me 35 years to develop a minimally workable moral compass. I didn’t even learn any Latin, you morons!