Things That Irk Me

images There are many things that irk me.

People putting their feet up on furniture, smokers, and those yakking on their phones in public.

Caregivers Tweeting rather than giving care, along with dog walkers who sit instead of walk.

Our prevailing tactless, Teflon coated medical community who’d prefer a round of golf over their Hippocratic Oath.

Abandoned animals, wives who ignore their husbands, and the big kahuna of them all, littering.

You’ll often see me early in the morning picking up cans and potato chip bags, candy wrappers and various parts of the newspaper. I just can’t help myself. I used to cause scenes whenever I saw someone litter, but now let them see me pick it up, hoping it will embarrass them enough to think the next time. And I learned this gentle tactic from a woman I knew named, Beth Sutherland Nelson.

I wrote OUCH back in 2011 to remember her. It’s one of my favorite essays, not because I wrote it, but because of her…

When I was 18, I shared a beach house with a bunch of wonderful people in Lordship, Connecticut. There was one other woman living there by the name of Beth.

Beth eventually married Mickey and they had three kids, her youngest being a girl. She taught Amy who was 3, anytime she saw someone litter to say OUCH, on behalf of the earth. Witnessing this, if you were lucky enough, melted your heart. This wee creature stunning people into picking up what they carelessly threw away.

Beth died of breast cancer fifteen years ago, but her sweet, gentle parenting still resonates.

I live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and the conspicuous consumption, especially where children are concerned, is off the charts. Yesterday I met a 3 year-old with his own iPhone so he could call his grandparents in Miami. It made me a little sad not to mention envious since he was also wearing Gucci loafers the size of Twinkies.

Children aren’t really children anymore. They’re just short adults forced to answer to taller ones. I have nothing against smart Upper East Side kids fortunate enough to attend the best schools, learning things that make my head spin. I only wish they could still be kids a little while longer.

The biggest parental responsibility that seems absent, is good old-fashioned common courtesy.

Today when I saw a five year-old toss his empty M&M’s bag on the sidewalk, I watched the parents who saw it too, ignoring it as if littering was perfectly acceptable.

Parents should be required to take a test. You can’t man anything even remotely dangerous without a license, so should raising kids be any different?

No, I didn’t lecture nor show pique oddly enough, but when passing them, I did pick it up and say, OUCH, on behalf of the earth.

God bless you Beth, wherever you are.   images-1


Posted in animals, Family, History, Home, humor, kids, Love, parents, words | Tagged , , , | 52 Comments

There but for the Grace of God Go I…Mother Fucker

I’m writing this for me, not anyone who may happen to read it.

I am so colossally tired of apologizing for my hearing loss.

It’s to my credit, and believe me, deserve an award, that I haven’t stabbed anyone.

The haughtiness of it, is really what astounds me the most.  Impatience, ridicule, the superiority that comes from looking down at another.

I remember working with a group of people in 2013, the first year it happened, and how I was treated. They whispered, they stared…remarks were made over my weight loss, everyone assuming was due to cancer. Nope, nerves, that work overtime when one suddenly loses a sense, sadly common, not included.

Can you blame them?

Three of these people since then, have been gravely ill, all recovered I’m happy to say. Two had major heart issues, the third cancer. How I wanted to say, so you see, anything can befall anyone, at anytime. Does that change who you are? Aren’t you still that same schmuck, I mean…person…just facing a challenge?

Instead of treating them in kind, I was compassionate, caring and attentive. I prayed for them that they’d be out of the valley sooner than later, and they all are, for the most part.

Unfortunately for me, my affliction is chronic only praying that, by the grace of God, doesn’t get any worse.

I rarely hear from the big arrogant three, and that’s okay. Illness, after all, changes you, and not always for the better.

My heart, that was pretty open before, is now the width of the Chesapeake, and you know what…for this I am grateful.


PS   Hearing loss is not contagious. I’m having bumper stickers made.    Unknown 2.jpeg





Posted in Faith, Gratitude, Health, humanity, humor, words | Tagged , , , , | 43 Comments


There’s a young lady standing on the corner wearing a faux leopard coat J. Crew makes I’ve always admired. If I were just a little younger, I too would look like Sheena of the Jungle, hailing a cab.

As I approach packed with compliments, I see two huge tears sliding down her pretty, 20 year-old (if that) face.

She looks up like a deer scared and confused, shocked by something. “What is it?” I gently ask.

She, without pause, shows me a text she’s just received.

Apparently, her boyfriend just broke up with her by phone.

I immediately get angry at the gutless way this kid casually behaved.

I have to say, she took it better than me, keeping her poise despite more tears.

“Did you have any idea he was going to leave,” I ask, trying to comfort more than pry.

“He did it one other time, when I went away with my parents, to Italy. He got mad. He started seeing another girl, but then left her too and came back to me.”

I listened noting her trust in a perfect stranger while thinking, what a little shit. He needs to have his ear pulled good and hard, along with a coupla’ other body parts.

I remember when I was her age heartbroken over a guy named Jack who I was sure, I’d never get over. Well, since then, I’ve known many Jacks, but also know she’ll never believe she too will forget this lily-livered lad who just tossed her away like an empty coke can.

“You’re a young, beautiful girl, and he’s an idiot, and you look smashing in that coat.”

Like all kids her age, vanity, at least for a second, switches gears long enough to preen.

Two things come to mind.

Maya Angelou saying…when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

The second…a leopard never, ever changes his spots.

I watch her stoically slip into a cab, knowing, a woman might get wounded, but her strength always bats last.   images.jpeg











Posted in animals, Beauty, Culture, Fashion, humanity, internet, New York City, Women and men, words, writing | Tagged , , , , | 43 Comments

So How They Hangin’

I heard this expression, remembering it from growing up, an old neighborhood way of saying, so how the hell are ya, as if your balls were a barometer.

Since one thought inspires another, it then made me think of my beloved Italian Granddad who called balls, bollings.  I remember when he rescued two black kittens, a male and female. He held up the little guy that fit right in his palm and said, “Susalina, see the bollings? He a’boy.”

Balls certainly have a place in our culture other than proper pants.

Balls to the wall meaning, with maximum effort, energy and speed.

Break your balls, by the balls, bust your balls.

Blue balls, big balls, Jerry Lee Lewis singing…Great Balls of fire.

One of JFK’s favorite expressions was: let’s grab our balls and go.

When he was about to debate Richard Nixon in 1960, his brother Bobby took him aside and said,” Kick-em’ in the balls Jack, kick’em in the balls.” I guess the Kennedys were just a balls kinda’ family, in more ways than one.

Sara Jessica Parker said, balls are to men what purses are to women.

The singer Joan Jett…Girls have got balls. They’re just a little higher up, that’s all.

There’s even a bad joke about Hillary Clinton: The reason Bill doesn’t like when she wears skirts, is because her balls show.

Yes, balls whether stuffed in a pair of chinos, Fruit of the Looms or a pair of pantyhose, make their point metaphorically or otherwise.

My personal favorite is when my pal Ed says, his balls are the size of the Capitol Dome.

Imagine putting your pants on over those.  🙂




Posted in Culture, humor, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 37 Comments

A Basset May Come’a Callin’

I still think of Carmela the Basset Hound as though she were a long lost sister, just one with stubby legs and long, silly ears.

For those of you who never read the Carmela Chronicles, she belonged to a snooty neighbor who didn’t take very good care of her, so I, Joan of Bark, slyly entered the picture becoming her best pal.

You don’t see many Bassets in my neighborhood since they’re too silly looking for the nose-in-the-air, elite set. They simply don’t go with that Mercedes or mink coat. cropped-BassetHounds-2.jpgGoldens, Labs, Poodles and Yorkies that fit in your Fendi, are the favorites here on the up-your-ass, Upper East Side.


Lo and behold, one just moved in.

A male, the size of a German sub, named Tripp. Tripp Goldstein to be exact. Yeah I know, he sounds like he owns a football team…the San Antonio Bassets…except that he’s black and beige, like a pair of Chanel spectator pumps, with a tail that swings nonstop.

And of course the breed is famous for its stubbornness, so when I saw him with his walker, trying to pull him one way when he was determined to go another, I laughed out loud.

Carm was like that, though like any woman, could be easily wooed with compliments and treats. That’s the real reason we’re referred to as easy. Give us a coupla’ Oreos, and we’ll follow you anywhere.

I tooled over to introduce myself.

The walker was nicer than most, meaning he wasn’t loitering on the corner texting, and said that the owners were away overnight.

You mean this big boy spent the night alone?

This got my wheels (the one that’s left) turning.

I’ve written a note to Tripp’s parents offering my services complete with a resume that makes me sound like the Meryl Streep of doggie-sitters.

Oh look, honey, she did Shakespeare in the Park, with Kevin Klein and Lassie.

Yes, I oohed and ahhed over Bassets as though my mother was one, hoping they didn’t think I was a nut, admitting that I was, just a harmless one.

As far as fees go, I never took a dime for walking Carmela, always a labor of love, not that her cheap Argentinian parents ever offered. When I think how cold and careless they were I break into a sudden chorus of Babalou.

She ended up being adopted by a great family in Pennsylvania, the best thing that could have happened, and well, since she’s not much of a writer, we’ve sadly lost contact, but back to the Basset at hand.

To be quite honest, I should pay Tripp to let me walk him and bring him home for a little canine canoodle.

I’ll keep ya posted, because who knows, I might very well have a new boyfriend who’s short, squat and stubborn sleeping next to me very soon.

Let’s hope he doesn’t snore.     Unknown-1.jpeg




Posted in animals, creative writing, humor, inspiration, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , | 53 Comments

Best Story of the Week…March 7th

It’s Sunday at 6 a.m. as I limp to the park, my left knee mysteriously throbbing like a drum.

I hear someone weeping in the distance.

It’s a Latino girl in her car, crying the blues. Naturally, Joan of Bark goes over.

“What is it…are you okay?”

“No, I am no okee’.”

“Can I help?”

“No, my fad’en, she no come to help de-liva noos’.”

That’s why she looked familiar. She’s the local paper girl I see scampering around most mornings.

Now she’s crying harder.

“Listen, I was all set to run, but my knee hurts, so maybe this is a blessing in disguise.”

“A’ scuse me?”

“I’ll help you. Just tell me what to do.”

“No Senora, I cannot. You, you, yua’ Senora.”

Was that her way of saying I was old? No good turn goes unpunished, I’ll tell ya, but Joan still insisted.

“Come on. It’s okay. God sent me.”

See, this did the trick, because Latinos are famous for their faith. Just mention the Lady of Guadalupe and all bets are off.

“Okee.’ You dive?”

“Well, that’s not a great idea being Lucy behind the wheel, but I can make the drop.”

“A’ scuse me?”

“Deliver. I’ll deliver.”

“No, no, Senora toss out window. I dive slow.”

“No, we’re from Connecticut. We don’t toss.” I can’t say how many times I’ve rescued a Times in the gutter that didn’t quite make the step.

So for 45 minutes, as Conchita drove, I delivered the Sunday Times, my knee suddenly fit as a fiddle.

“Oh Senora, gracias, I pa’day’ fa you.”

“That’s great. A girl can’t get enough prayer. I’ll tell ya what. How bout we drive to Starbucks. I’ll treat.”

As she pulled up I said, “So, what’ll it be? Coffee, tea?”

“I no drink coff-iene. High bloud’ prussure’ Chocolata?”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her chocolate could send her and her bloud’ prussure’ to the moon, since she had such a rough morning already.

Oh what the hell.

“Whipped Cream?”

“Yayz..por favore.”

I left her parked at the curb smiling like she had just won a contest.

As for me, I beamed, my day beginning so brightly, just being able to help.

Service…it could change the world.


Posted in Culture, Faith, humanity, humor, media, New York City, readng, Uncategorized, words, writing | Tagged , , , | 67 Comments

Trumpets Blare

I was listening to an argument between two male friends about our Commander in Chief, more or less, playing the referee.

I didn’t participate, saying nothing, and saying it often, a handy tool when discussing politics.

One guy said, there’s no way Donald Trump will be reelected, while the other insisted that he would, and moi hates to say it, but alas, agrees with contest-ant number 2.

I kept that to myself while separating them like Ali and Frazier, suggesting perhaps we needed some immediate dessert.

I’m Italian and know, a little Pie al’a Mode could fix just about anything, even an election.

Personally I don’t think people care about the conduct of our leaders anymore.

Just take Bill Clinton and his oral history, if you will. There he was canoodling with a girl in the Oval, not much older than his daughter, lies about it, gets impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice, stays in office and is more popular now than ever.

Did you know he’s one of the highest paid people on the lecture circuit, gleaning anywhere from 250,000 to 500,000 dollars per speech?

I believe if he were to run for president again, he’d get reelected.

You know why? Because nobody really cares what he did. We live in a an all bets are off, world, and let the best rat win.

Now his wife, on the other hand, who doesn’t possess Bubba’s charm, well, we know what happened to her, the Trumpet blasting her right off the bandstand. Now if she had oral sex anywhere, we’d be more than happy for her. I’m just saying,

But back to my two middleweights.

As they yelled at each other, after gently suggesting they agree to disagree, which they totally didn’t agree with, I hailed a cab, got in it, leaving them on the corner, still fighting.

The downside of saying nothing and saying it often is, you more than likely will end up paying your own cab fare, along with your own pie.

Oh well, that’s showbiz. 😎


Posted in Culture, dessert, humor, media, Politics, Uncategorized, words | Tagged , , , | 56 Comments

The Directors

You thought this was going to be about Spielberg, Scorcese and Cecil B. DeMille, didn’t ya?

Nope, it’s about a group of funky funeral directors I know.

I lived across from the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home for almost 4 decades, befriending many of its workers.     Unknown-4.jpeg

For the record, Campbell is the last stop for the rich and famous including Judy Garland, for whom their chapel is named for.

Anyone well known, even if it’s just for packaging, like John Lennon and Kate Spade who were both cremated, their last stop is Campbell.

This morning, a funeral was about to commence at St. Ignatius Loyola, New York’s  second, next to St. Patrick’s, biggest, most esteemed Catholic Church. It’s where Jackie Kennedy, Lena Horne, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Aaliyah and Oscar de la Renta all had their funeral masses.

I stood watching this group of men in their black best, hands serenely folded behind their backs, wait like solemn soldiers for the hearse to pull up with the current guest-of-honor.

They saw me spying, smiling slyly but never breaking stance, all guys I’ve sat with snacking on chips while hearing stories on a slow day.

Rumor has it, before they launched the show, 6 Feet Under, the writers grilled a director who shall remain nameless, they should have handsomely paid as a consultant.

How does one decide to become an undertaker anyway? One guy said, it was in his blood, since his dad and granddad were one.

Another claimed, he always had a fascination for the dead that led to Embalming School.

One of their more resident screwballs told hey, it’s a business that never grows cold, I mean, you know what I mean, right? wink wink.

Yeah, sure I do…will you excuse me?

I can’t imagine dating someone who chronically smells like formaldehyde and frozen gladiolas, yet they’re all married with families, nice cars and high-end homes.

When the hearse finally pulls up like a black, shiny chariot, 6 pallbearers that could have been members of the Gambino family, hop out, opening the back, easing out their charge.

The casket was one of their Rolls Royce models that could easily feed Somalia, a shame really, when you think about it, but then again, when you have big bucks, all bets are off, and I mean off, when you’re going Unknown-5.jpeg for that last ride.   Unknown-2.jpeg





Posted in Uncategorized | 44 Comments

Best Stories of the Week…February 28th

It’s 6:a.m. and 25 degrees, as I wait for the light to change crossing into the park, when I see a young guy, in a suit, coming towards me with his jacket open wearing only a button-down.

Me in my 4 layers couldn’t help saying, “Hey, it’s freezing out here. You’re not even wearing a scarf.”

“Couldn’t find it,” he says.

“Where the hell is your wife, if you don’t mind me asking?” Assuming he was married living on Fifth and all, and he says…

“He’s sleeping.”

I then run into Caroline from the next building and her greyhound, Bess, who looks a little sad, not unusual for her breed, but Bess normally is a real party animal, no pun intended.

“What’s wrong with Bess? She seems not herself.”

“She’s not,” says Caroline. “We changed her food to bring her cholesterol down, and she’s not happy.”

I never knew dogs even had cholesterol, but of course, it’s the Upper East Side so one must assume.

“I’m sorry, I hope she’ll be her best Bess soon.”

“Oh she will. I promised her we’d leave for Palm Beach a week early. That’ll perk her up.”

It would perk me up too, and no, I did not make this up.

Last but not least, I went on a job interview for a Diabetes drug requested by the ad agency. Usually they want more robust people, but hey…when they ask to see you, you go. I walk in and sure enough every person waiting is fat. When I sit down, they all look at me curiously while I think, wow, if they decide to stampede, I’m dead.

When it’s my turn, I can’t help saying to the ad people, “Um, aren’t I a little too thin for this?”

They were shocked. “What happened? Did you suddenly lose a lot of weight?”

“I’ve always been this weight, but you saw my picture, right?”

“One second,” one of them says, while Googling my agent’s website.

Well, there I was, looking like I had jumped 12 dress sizes except, it wasn’t me. My name was under the wrong photo.

Turns out, Maxine, I’ll call her, was tweaking her site and something went a bit awry causing me to gain a good 70 pounds.

Guess I’m not gettin’ that job, but we did have a good laugh, and I got a story out of it.

So many tales to tell, in the Naked City.





Posted in Uncategorized | 43 Comments

Love From the Ethers

This will be my last piece to commemorate the passing of Bill Hicks.

Like Yoko, who only celebrates John’s birthday on October 9th, I too will only celebrate Bill on December 16th, the day of his birth.

Early this morning I walked to Strawberry Fields. As I gazed at The Dakota where the Lennons lived, Yoko still in residence, I remembered what’s so vivid about my own loss.

Not the sadness that came with the news, but the simple wonder of all that was Bill.

I can still see him so clearly, well and vital. It reminds me of how the New York Times always runs a photograph of the person who’s passed in their glory, rather than decline.

So does my memory it seems.

I believe his spirit soars, occasionally visiting since I feel his presence often. It’s usually when I’m in despair needing strength that suddenly appears.

He was strong right till the end, I’m told, dying a good death, as they say in the Catholic Church. I never much liked that phrase, but understand it at least a little better now.

I guess it means, one’s comfortable as their soul takes flight, straight on till morning, to borrow from Peter Pan, a book Bill liked. He told me once how he always wanted to be like one of the Lost Boys who never grew up, never growing old.

I had forgotten that, when during a morning meditation, it knocked on the window.

Despite missing him, I’m happy he got his wish since now, he will stay that boy forever.



Bill Hicks.       December 16, 1961- February 26, 1994           Unknown-1




Posted in art, Books, Culture, grace, humanity, humor, inspiration, Love, Women and men, writing | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments