Communing with "fat bastards," french-fry murderers, and guys who wear enough jewelry to open a Zales - plus, a note on the Trump indictment
Several distinct Sinatra eras - the Capitol years, the Nelson Riddle arrangements, etc. When I was somewhat gainfully employed, I had all sorts of music playing in my office but when Sinatra came on, silence reigned so "The Voice" could be savored without distraction.
Love Bruno Kirby’s unrequited adoration of Frank in This is Spinal Tap.
There are times I wish could write and there are, maybe five or six writers of different kinds who are at the top of the list of people I wish I could write like. They generate powerful experiences, beauty, clarity, aching familiarity with just an arrangement of words. Magical. One such, Cormack McCarthy passed over the river to rest under the shade of the trees today so I can’t thank him in person, but your still here and on my short list, thank you for what you do.
I hate Frank. Allow me to explain. It was a cold sunny Saturday in April 1984. I was at Recruit Training Center Cape May NJ (aka Boot Camp Cape May). 8 weeks of hell. Time Magazine, or Newsweek back then after sending writers to each of the Armed Forces Boot Camps A, N, AF, MC and DoT CG, rated the USCG as the hardest (all trainings combined) boot camp. Anyway, we were allowed to receive hometown news clippings in our mail from family and friends to keep us connected to the "real world". Everyone enjoyed mail call. Yes it is exactly as you saw from the movies or M*A*S*H. Honestly you did not want to be the "mailman" To continue, I was made aware in a previous letter in March from my mom Martha that she and LouLou (my Godmother, my dads sister Aunt Lorraine) were going to see Frank at the Civic Arena there at home in Pittsburgh in the coming weeks. LouLou purchased seats on the floor a few rows back from the stage. I really thought nothing of it at the time. A clipping from the Post Gazette about the upcoming concert and the letter from my mom. A few weeks passed hell continued the days and nights came and went. Then came that fateful Saturday, mail call. I had a special delivery by none other than Boatswain Mate Chief Sweeney our Bootcamp Commander (aka Drill Instructor) A fireplug of fear who lovingly called all of us his "Box of Rocks". You never and i mean never wanted him to enter the barracks bellowing for us to come to attention. God forbid you were sitting on the toilet taking care of business. Anyway, we snapped to attention awaiting the terrible news to follow. I need not share those details just know it was never good and generally painful. Mailcall had just occurred we were all reading and sharing stories from family, girlfriends etc... Then came the slamming opening of the door and bellowing of us Fing Box of Rocks to come to attention....Side note. It was our responsibility to call Attention On Deck when ever anyone other than the Box O Rocks entered. We missed the call and BMC Sweeney made us pay for it. Trust me we paid dearly. Standing there in various forms of dress and undress some of trembling at the thought of of our Faux Paux. Yours truly first in line A being the first letter of the alphabet had the first bunk closest to the door and our brutal "Sea Dad". He had in his hands a large sealed manilla envelope stuffed to almost overflowing. Pay attention this is where this gets good. BMC (Boats) Sweeney states rather loudly that one of his BoR's received a package. (Forbidden, only letters) from home and would anyone like to guess amongst us 80 or so rocks who it was for? No one dared say a word or raise their hand let alone a sideways glance. Please no one don't. BMC Sweeney had slowly shifted forward to stand in front of yours truly repeating his request louder and louder daring anyone. Well he snaps a left face movement to be within an inch of my nose. I can still feel his breath on my face as I stared straight thru his head praying my eyes did not twitch and come in contact with his eyes. God please no. Well my little pebble Abraham care to guess? He screamed in my face our noses so close a piece of paper would not slide between. He was on his toes to get F2Fwith his pebble. Oh Shit I guess it is me. 5 minutes of sheer terror centimeters from my face. Well this is why I hate Frank. In the overstuffed manilla envelope was the entire previous Sunday Edition of the Post Gazette coupons and all. The entire Fing paper! My lovely and wonderful Aunt LouLou sent me the entire paper. Front page headline was the recap of the entire concert. My punishment for Aunt LouLou's mistake....I spent the entirety of Saturday into Sunday AM. If memory serves me correct until about 0430. Mind you we get up @ 0500. I had to read every word from every page EVERY PRINTED word numbers included out loud. Every word of every page including inserts. It did not matter if anyone was listening or even there, I read and read and read and read. All because of Frank. BASTARD....I still love you LouLou.
In the year 2100, when memories of AC/DC, Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé have dimmed in the passage if time, todays Gen Zers will rediscover the amazing voice and tempo of the great one - and middle aged lovers will dance to Ella and Frank as this boomer has for 30 years - notwithstanding my continued amazement of Mr Hendrix’s magical and demonic guitar work
Your phrase - "strong men, who lift things for a living" - is a treasure.
Are you on twitter?
Huh? No thundering, screeching 5000 word indictment of the indicted rat that the media has all but drowned with lavish coverage and countless words? Oh, would that it was only that easy to rid the ship of that particular vermin. If it would really only take another bucket full to do the job, I'd be happy to hoist one up from the well myself.
But really...just a passing note? And a Note?
Who says there's no God?!
Or maybe Labash actually took my recent advice and took over the role in the absence of George Burns, deciding that we all deserve a little tender mercy, even if we don't *actually* deserve it.
Whatever the case, good on you Matt. I'll take the former Chairman of the Board of the Rat Pack over the CEO of Rat Bastards, Inc., all day, any day and twice on Sundays. At least the former managed to provide some pretty good entertainment while not being a particularly credible threat to the welfare of the entire country, while the latter and his bunch has, by hook and crook, conspired to clog up our court dockets for years to come, thus reducing the opportunities for our going after more dangerous and notorious criminals and bringing them to justice. Like those drag queens, maybe. Or some of those nasty illegals dirtying up the place and stealing all those jobs from hard workin' 'Mericuns as the first step in replacing you and me and mine.
Dang it! I always knew that son of a bitch was really a sleeper, an Evil D in disguise. He used to parade around right out in the open as one. Should have remembered that old leopard and its spots thing. Those people are so darned sneaky and really are not to be trusted. Why, they'll go to absolutely any lengths...
But I digress. Sorry.
Thanks for the chance to again listen to and see Ol' Blue Eyes do what he did best. And to think about what that really was. Which was maybe to simply make some of us just feel human on occasion. Flaws and all, both his and ours.
Why does Frank have a safety pin in his collar button hole? What was he telling us...that he was a prick but he had it under control?
Personally I think it was one of Ronan’s diaper pins but that’s a whole other story. Maybe when you have some spare time, Matt?
Enjoy your vacation, Matt.
When I saw the picture of Frank Sinatra in his fedora, I thought of a conversation I had with my brothers on yesterday's family zoom. They both worked for a while in the family men's clothing business, which was going great guns during the period of time when all well-dressed men wore hats with their suits. I asked them when this custom stopped and one of them said, "In 1961, when Jack Kennedy decided not to wear a hat at his inauguration." Don't know if this is right, but he sure sounded like he knew what he was talking about.
Thanks for the archival piece. My being a Sinatra fan dates back before Nelson Riddle to the great recordings with Tommy Dorsey, though it wasn’t until the late 50s that I could drink legally and get really vicarious about it being “ a quarter to three…”
I love your pieces, Matt. They provide a much needed break from the craziness.
I think my New Jersey-born, blue-collar father liked the younger Sinatra's singing, as I recall a couple of albums around our house when I was growing up. But with a low tolerance for ostentation, hype, or any form of bs, Daddy was no fan of Sinatra the man and had no trouble expressing his opinion. I can only imagine what he would've said said about Trump.
It's fine, judge me if you must, but I _liked_ the disco version of Night and Day. It was probably super embarrassing when it was released but it sounds great to me, listening in 2023.
Interesting juxtaposition, Sinatra and Trump. Both kinda mobbed up, Sinatra with the mafiosi, Trump with the Russkis. Both beloved in their twilight years by their followers, Sinatra by the big Band generation as its lights flickered out one by one, Trump by his trump-chumps, a bumptious crew of slack-jawed rubes as adept at lying to themselves as their hero is at lying to them. In the end both will be remembered for their records, Sinatra's in vinyl, Trump's in police blotters.
Me? I was never a fan of either. While I could appreciate Sinatra's mellow voice and perfect phrasing, the goomba schtick made me think 'punk' rather than Chairman of the Board. And Trump has always been the personification of the arriviste nouveau riche, a serially bankrupt four-flusher who confuses ostentatious displays of gilt with class and non-stop grifting with successful capitalism.
Both horrifying scumbags as human beings, both amassed armies of devoted followers. Says a lot about us human beings, doesn't it?