Category Archives: Rememberies

Midnight Matinee, October 13th

OK, here’s what happened. I noticed the water rising in my bathtub and in the sink. The stopper was nowhere near the tub, so I watched helplessly as the level of the water rose to the rim of the tub and started falling over. This is gonna totally fuck up the carpet! I rush out of the bathroom, slam the door and look back to notice the water level is already two feet high on the glass walls of the bathroom. To the living room! I must save my guns and guitars, at least put them up on the furniture or something. Too late, I’m sloshing around on water to my knees and couch cushions and various detritus are floating past. I have a thought to open the front door to drain all the water from my house, (excellent idea!) and start to wade toward it.

Upon opening the front door, I hear terrible screaming and my friend (who looks very much like Bill Paxton when he had a bit part in the original Terminator movie, so that’s what I’ll call him) goes erratically sprinting through my yard, he’s holding his hands and all four fingers of his left hand have been sheared off and he’s understandable unhappy. Bill Paxton is making a ruckus, running in circles and holding his curiously blood-free stump of a hand, and is totally being a pain in the ass to two other people who are chasing him. A preppy dude (I’ll call him Chad), and a smarmy Eurotrash dude (whose name might as well be Felipe and I just know I’m gonna hate) who are trying to catch Bill Paxton to render him some assistance. I join the chase.

But good old Bill is having none of that. I’m guessing he’s not thinking too straight at the moment because of his recently missing four fingers and manages to knock down me, Chad and Felipe several times as he runs around in circles like the proverbial headless chicken. Chad and I gamely get back up and rejoin the chase, but all of a sudden Felipe is getting indignant because Bill Paxton keeps knocking Felipe down and so Felipe wants to kick the shit out of Bill instead of helping him out. It’s all Chad can do to keep the enraged Felipe from Bill Paxton’s ass and so Bill is not getting any help and is still screaming.

I kick Felipe in the back of the knees while hooking a thumb into his left nostril and wrap him up in a rather clever WWE type submission move and take him down. Now Chad can try to talk Bill Paxton into going into the house so he might lie down until we get an ambulance or something. So I’m on the ground with Felipe (and my thumb still wedged firmly into his left nostril), Chad has the understandably upset Bill Paxton calmed down just a bit and agreeable to going into the house. Of course, Felipe is still being a dick! Eurotrash scum…

Then a short blond girl I’ve never seen before comes upon the scene, whips out a pistol and screeching, fills Chad full of hot lead! Then I reached over most carefully and turned off the alarm clock built into my smart phone. Whew!

I almost always know when I’m dreaming and sometimes I can control these dreams, but usually its just more fun to sit back and watch the show. My mind can come up with the weirdest shit sometimes. This one reminded my of a Benny Hill episode crossed with Pulp Fiction, for some reason. I gotta stop eating chili, liberally dosed with hot sauce, before I go to bed…

My First Car

In early 1981, I just got out of bootcamp and went to Millington, TN to continue my education as an electronic technician in the US Navy. I knew I was only going to be there for nine months or so, but my young mind got the idea of owning a car stuck in it. I didn’t even have a driver’s license at the time and I was making shit for money as a newly minted enlisted man. These obstacles should have shut down that idea, I wish they had. But no, youth and ignorance just plunge on regardless.

Surrounding the base at that time were many used car dealers and using the word “predatory” to describe how their business practices would be too polite. Anyone with a military ID card, “E-1 and UP,” and a down payment, could drive one right off the lot once all the paperwork was signed. In my recent travels as a truck driver, I driven to many such military bases and those folks are still there, right outside the gate, in some cases.

Not my original, click for the sales listing

Not my original car, just one that looks alike. Click for the sales listing.

So at the age of 18, I was the happy owner of a 1977 Ford LTD 2 door coupe. I can’t even remember what the payments were, that’s how stupid I was. But the cars was a dream (for its time), it was white, with a red vinyl half top and beautiful red upholstery and driving it was like navigating a land yacht across smooth seas. I drove that sucker everywhere and would load it up with my (so-called) friends and cruise the tittie bars of Memphis and the surrounding areas, spending what little I had left of my paycheck on beer and lapdances.

But into every life a little rain must fall and I started having engine problems, starting with oil burning and overheating. A trip to the auto shop revealed that the engine in this beast was the legendary 400M. Legendary for its aability to crack its own heads. But, not having any money left for a proper repair, I tried to fix it myself at the auto bays that were on the base, where they rented out space and tools. Armed with a Chilton’s manual, I attempted a repair only to find out I was helplessly over my head (after I’d tore down the engine) and gave up.

I managed to save some money to have “professionals” do it and was able to get it put back together enough to drive it to a real shop. That must have been quite the sight driving through Millington that day, the car’s hood strapped to the roof and smoke boiling from every orifice as I got it to the shop.

I got it back shortly before I was due to move on to my next duty station in Virginia. It seemed to run well and I packed my meager belongings and set off to drive the 700 or so miles to my next home. I’d just got past Nashville, when the overheating began and I had to stop frequently to cool it down and add water. Just east of Knoxville, the engine started smoking in earnest and I managed to get it to a campground/rest area before it completely seized up on me.

The good folks there let me stay the night for I was nearly broke and managed to get some money from the Navy Relief to get a greyhound ticket to my destination with the idea that I’d come back for the car later, but I never did. I was too busy and too broke, still paying for the smoking ruin I left in Tennessee.

It may still be there, quietly rusting in place for all I know, but I doubt it. Yet for all the trouble that car gave me, I loved that beast and I still miss it.

A young man’s first love, I guess.

Jeffrey James Olsen, Engine 10

Jeffrey James Olsen, Engine 10 Manhattan I didn’t know Jeff Olsen, but from what I hear he was a great guy. He was described by a friend as “talented and gut-bustingly funny, he had the comedic timing of a pro, did one of the funniest Captain Kirk impersonations ever, and he could throw a damn fine keg party with a staggering amount of people in attendance.” Sounds like my kinda guy!

Jeffrey Olsen was a firefighter with Engine 10 in Manhattan, right next to what would be later known as Ground Zero. He was last seen heading up the stairway past the fortieth floor of the north tower of the WTC. This page is for him.

I’m no great writer so I’m gonna pass on an excerpt of a story from the Staten Island Advance:

The only thing Mr. Olsen loved more than fighting fires were his three children. He lived for Vincent, 8, Tori Rose, 3, and Noah, 19 months.

“He was a totally devoted father,” his wife said. “He took them all fishing, he took them all camping. He is a nature freak, so we always had them outside doing something.”

And the firefighter could even get into the “girlie things” with Tori Rose. He loved painting his daughter’s nails and doing her hair.

“He tried to instill in them everything he loved in life,” Mrs. Olsen said. “I tell my children that he is a hero and that 6,000 lives were taken, but it could have been 30,000 if the firemen didn’t do such an incredible job.”

The youngest of six children, Mr. Olsen was also a devoted uncle to his 12 nieces and nephews, many of whom live in the same neighborhood.

“He was just somebody who was charismatic to be around,” said his sister, Cynthia Dinkins.

For Neil Olsen, his baby brother was also his best friend. Whether they were smoking cheap cigars at a campfire, standing waste deep in the Delaware River during a fly fishing trip or trading Star Trek trivia, the two were always sharing their hopes and dreams.

Described as Jim Carrey and Jerry Lewis rolled into one, Mr. Olsen was a magnet for people who were drawn to his sense of humor and love of life. “He was very loyal, compassionate and hysterically funny,” his wife said. “One of his friends, another fireman, just said to me that to be a fireman, you have to be half compassionate, half comedian and all crazy. That was a perfect description of Jeff.”

The best memorial for Jeffrey James Olsen was the words from his wife, Denise:

Dear Jeff,

Your memory is something we will always hold dear. The thought of your smile will always melt my heart. I live for the day that we will meet again and I can feel whole. I searched my whole life for you and you were gone so quickly. The children love and miss you and not a day goes by that we don’t mention your name. You will forever be a part of our souls.

Miss you and love you more

If anyone out there has memories, comments, pictures of Mr. Olsen, please drop a line in the comments and I’ll add them here. Thanks.

UPDATE: Please don’t post your long-winded rambling WTC conspiracy garbage in the comments here, they are not appreciated.

2,996: A Tribute to the Victims of 9/11

I signed up with 2,996: A Tribute to the Victims of 9/11 and will do a 9/11 tribute to Jeffrey James Olsen, a NY Firefighter assigned to Engine 10, Manhattan. Getting info together is not at all easy but I think everyone who died should have their own memorial page, not just be a name lost on a long list.

So pop on over and sign up, if you haven’t already.

UPDATE: I had the beginnings of a tribute made and foolishly set it up to publish in the future. Newsflash: it disappeared! Freaking WordPress… I’ll rebuild it tomorrow…