Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sportsmen's Mecca

The mens clothing blogs prattle on about The Andover Shop and J.Press and Brooks Brothers and the like. For those of us seeking our kicks afield, there is one place that is truly amazing. This joint is the size of multiple airplane hangers and houses everything one needs or wants for hunting and fishing and shooting and camping and boating. This is one of those "if we don't have it...you don't need it" type of stores.
Yesterday I was in Court in Allentown,Pennsylvania. So when I was finished the legal business for the day...I pointed my vehicle west to Hamburg. A random Monday afternoon is the perfect time for a Cabela's trip because the weekend hordes are not clogging the aisle and the check-out lines.
I scooped up 12 ga. ammo for the September 2nd opening of dove season and some new warm weather camo for same. I had to resist walking into their gun room and fondling the beautiful double guns...an exercise that can lead to an expensive impulse purchase. I scored some new gear for my son for the dove hunt and got out of there while my finances were still intact.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Batman Boxing

"Holy twelve ounce gloves" screamed Robin. Under current WBF boxing regulations neither capes nor wrap around shades are permitted in sanctioned boxing matches.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Jazz for a Summer Evening

I know these guys...drank beers with these guys many a Friday night at 3 A.M. after the last patrons left and we locked the front door. These guys are work-a-day jazz musicians. They pay the bills sleeping through covers of "Sweet Caroline" in wedding bands and at Bar Mitzvahs. They can mail in a sweet riff during "We Are Family" at a Country Club dance and then show up at the Club and sit in for the last set and blow your doors off with a solo that emanates from deep in their artistic soul. You can talk Eagles all day with Byron, and Bootsy ran the streets with Bill Cosby and will tell you stories.Larry knows the classic American song book like no one and can talk about the early versions and the history. Sid Simmons has passed away(see earlier post) but was a gracious and soft spoken man who is still one of my favorite Jazz piano players of all time. Sid would sip a Remy and smoke a long skinny black cigar and laugh at your raunchy jokes.

Find this CD on-line or at a local store, mix a nice gin and tonic with Gordon's and store-bought ice and Schweppes tonic and a healthy slice of lime, settle back in a cushioned wicker chair on your porch or patio or deck...hit play. Sip deeply from your drink....let the Philly style Jazz flow over you.
It is about 4 weeks until dove season opens so there is nothing better to do...and why would you even think about it anyway when Swana has his trumpet to his lips, Byron is on the drums, Boosty and Larry are trading solos and Mike and Sid are holding down the fort.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Baby and Bucket List

 Right now, the serious wagering in the U.K. is all about whether the forthcoming Royal infant is sporting a braciole or a feminine accoutrement and depending on which...then what the name shall be.
 But in June the Royals and their subjects flock to Ascot for the races. Indeed, this year the Queen won the Gold Cup when a horse she owned,ridden by Ryan Moore, took the wire. This was the first time in 207 years that a reigning Monarch won the race.
 Horse racing in the U.S.A. seems to only really capture the attention of the public during the Triple Crown months and then really only during the Kentucky Derby when every cul-de-sac in the flyover states hosts a sorry ass version of a Derby party. Real U.S. enthusiasts pay attention to the Traver's in August at Saratoga and the Haskell at Monmouth and the Breeder's Cup in the Fall.
 However, in Britain ,according to a study cited by the New York Times, horse racing is the second most popular sport behind Football(soccer.) U.S. racing used to enjoy a similar status in the late 50's and horses such as Sea Biscuit captured the Nation's attention years before that. Most recently Secretariat was a superstar...but that was 40 years ago. Casino gambling and other factors have led to a sharp decline in track attendance and interest.
The dress code at Ascot is taken seriously. Attending the Races and wearing a cut-away and top hat in the Royal enclosure and betting on these races is on my "bucket list" and I do have some connections which may get me into the coveted venue. Whether I ever make it there or not , it is encouraging to see the Royals put their considerable might and pocket book behind racing. It is refreshing to see the sport being supported by Brits on such a wide scale.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Boxing's Big Night

 On September 14 Mayweather will fight Mexican star and wildly popular contender Canelo ALvarez. This major match-up is reason enough to dig into ones pocket and purchase the Showtime pay-per-view. This is sure to be an amazing fight. Now, it has been announced that tough  Argentinian Louis Matthysse will fight Philadelphia's own Danny "Swift" Garcia. Adding this fight to the card is a monumental bonus for fight fans. The quote below is from Ring magazine. I have watched Garcia train in the gym and apply that training in the ring. I am a big fan of this tough kid from the Puerto Rican badlands of North Philly. To see him on this major event is gratifying for all the Philly faithful.

"Floyd made it very clear that he wanted to give to the fans the biggest and the best fights on his card possible, and with this fight being made, Garcia versus Matthysse, this going to be a tremendous card. This fight is a main event alone, and it has 'Fight of The Year' written all over it. It's just another example of how Floyd has put the sport on his back," said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions.

"And he's trying to bring an awareness to the sport with this fight getting the world wide platform that it truly deserves, and in my eyes, this is just another step in the right direction of making boxing a main stream sport. You have Lucas Matthysse who is running everybody out of the ring. Nobody wants to fight him, but Danny Garcia stepped up and said, 'I want to be the one to beat this guy.' Matthysse has tremendous punching power, but we must not forget, Danny Garcia can punch with either hand."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sammy T

Back in the late 70's and early 80's gasoline was rarely a self service gig. During my high school days I earned my spending money by pumping gas at an ARCO on Lancaster avenue. After school and weekends I would be on the macadam in the ARCO blue pants and shirt pumping gas into the Fords and Mercedes of Main Line motorists. I sometimes think many of my important life lessons were learned in the garage bays sneaking 7 oz Rolling Rocks with the mechanics. One of the guys I met in those days was a "made" guy in the Riccobene family.

The owner of the station hired Sammy as a manager of sorts. When the owner bought other out-of-business stations, Sammy and I would take a U-Haul and clean out all the tires and batteries and oil and belts and other merchandise and take it to a warehouse. Sammy took me under his wing in a way. We stopped for cheesesteaks at Chink's in South Philly and had a cold beer or two on Oregon avenue at the Fireside tavern.  We worked together many long nights at the station and he told me stories of fixed horse races and how the street "number" worked and how to watch for signs a poker dealer was cheating when dealing in a neighborhood game...stuff a kid from the Main Line had no access to.

One day at work I got a call from a girl I was dating. 10th grade...early Spring. She had been arrested for shoplifting at a local department store and needed to be bailed out. I was visibly upset when I hung up the phone in the gas station office. Sammy asked: "Hey kid, what's eating you?"  I confided in my older buddy that my girlfriend had been "pinched" and he smiled when I used the wise-guy vernacular. "How much?" asked  Sammy. "I need five hundred." Sammy reached into his oil stained blue khaki uniform pants and pulled out a massive roll of bills. He shucked off five one hundred dollar bills and said: " Go spring your squeeze."

Not long after that Sammy stopped coming around the station. The owner said he found a better position at a Sunoco in the City. Sammy still called me once in a while and I saw him at the casino not long before I left for college.

In the Fall of my Junior year at Lehigh I was walking back to our off-campus house. I would routinely stop in at Pat's News stand to get the Philadelphia papers. As I stood at the rack of papers, I leafed through The Daily News. There on the page was a story recounting how Salvatore "Sammy" Tamburrino had been murdered by members of the Scarfo mob. Little Nicky, the ultra-violent head of the Philly Mafia is pictured above. He had sent Nick Milano and Phil Narducci in search of members of the Riccobene family to hunt them and kill them.Sammy was gunned down in a candy store he owned while his horrified mother watched.The account in the paper read as follows:

Tamburrino, 35, a member of the Riccobene faction, was shot to death in his variety store in Southwest Philadelphia. According to informant DelGiorno, the murder was committed by Frank Iannarella, Philip Narducci and Nicholas Milano on orders from Philip Leonetti.

I was stunned. I stood there with my text book under my arm and nearly got choked up. I paid for the papers and walked out, heading for Adams street on the South side of Bethlehem. I remembered his offer of the bail money and how I felt mature and tough having cold beers in South Philly with Sammy as a 10th grade kid. Sammy was gambler and loved to bet on nearly anything. As I turned right off  New street, I thought to myself: "It's a safe bet nobody else at Lehigh has had a buddy clipped in a Mob feud."  Sammy would have made book on that bet.


The field of sunflowers we plant at the duck hunting club is looking great. In a few weeks we will be camo'd up and hunting doves over these flowers.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Sadly, we lost another one. One of the original members of our duck hunting club passed away last Saturday. Ted was a consummate gentleman, soft spoken, friendly,and gracious. He was a fly fisherman, a champion duck and goose caller, a serious drag racer...a sportsman by any and all measures.. I spent many cold mornings with this fine man in duck and goose blinds and many evenings  around the dining table at the club.
He will be missed.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bird Dogs

My Upland Game dog counseling my Waterfowl dog.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Holiday Weekend

Three thousand seven hundred plus or minus pounds of muscle made in Michigan. My 1969 442 convertible was unleashed from the garage this weekend. What better way to celebrate the birthday of our Nation than by piloting an iconic American classic. With an engine bigger than Bunyon's Blue Ox Babe's butt...this car has the  power to slam you back in the seat and get rubber between first and second AND second and third.

The thunderous growl of the pipes and the raw power create an experience kids today do not get from contemporary  finely tuned performance vehicles.. Well, at least my kids will know the feeling.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Basics

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,---That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." 

 Excerpt from The Declaration of Independence.

I prepare this pre-Holiday post from an office only a few short blocks from the room where this whole thing materialized. We take this Holiday seriously here in Philadelphia. It is not all just parades and hot dogs, fireworks and watermelon. The area around Independence Hall is called" America's Most Historic Square Mile." It is worth visiting these historic locations and absorbing some of the essense of the enormity of the task that Franklin and Jefferson and the boys undertook. I for one question whether the current pack of slugs and wastrels in Washington,regardless of party affiliation, can conceptualize that they have power based on the consent of the governed. When that pesky 2nd Amendment debate flares up....as it has recently...remember what these guys did down at 6th & Chestnut here in Philadelphia so many years ago. One might need arms to "alter or abolish" a form of government that becomes "destructive." Embrace the gravity of the words in the Declaration of Independence tomorrow when you hit the beach or linger at the pool or ice down the beer and grill the steaks.

Monday, July 1, 2013

20th & Lehigh

6 years old. First time at the ballgame with my dad and two brothers. Double header against the Pirates.
The vendor slaps open the metal top of his hot-dog case. A swirl of steam and a lighting quick poke of a fork. The dog hits the roll and with a gunslinger fast swipe of a tongue depressor sized stick, mustard is applied. The Old man pays for it and the first bite is all soft roll and hot grease and the tang of mustard. A watery Coke from a big waxed paper cup washes it down. My brothers are eating peanuts and the Old man is intent on the game. He sips a beer.
Dick Allen, Tony Taylor, Don Money and Johnny Callison. These were the players I remember from that era.  A game in late June. I remember we lost the first game. I fell asleep for much of the second game...waking periodically if action on the field evoked a cheer from the crowd. I would open my eyes and see the old rust colored steel rafters under the stadium roof over-hang. My thighs were sweaty against the seat and my brothers were reading the program. I guess 18 innings of baseball were to much for a 6 year old. But my memories of the long gone Connie Mack Stadium are a treasure.