Davins Comedy Blog

NANA - By Pip Helix (Davin's Den)

My Nana was born in 1899, which as a child, confused me.  How could someone be from the time before the 1900’s and be alive?  To be fair, that would only make her 64 when I was born, the youngest child of her youngest child.  Still, that number seemed to be magical, as if she was not only from another time, but from another dimension.  She knew all kinds of old-fashioned things, lost arts and ways, that I found fascinating and comforting.

Nana was a professional nurturer.  She had 5 daughters who grew up during and in the aftermath of the depression, and she was used to making due with whatever she could scrounge up to make a nice home for my grandfather and her daughters.  She made the clothes my mother and aunts wore, cooked and baked everything they ate, and kept her modest house clean and covered with doilies.  She excelled at the domestic arts, and was also a pretty decent painter for someone without any formal training. 

When I was small, I would spend nearly every day at Nana’s with my mother, who it seems could not be trusted to be alone with me.  My mother’s schizophrenia was barely reigned in during those years, and my father told the story of racing home from work with his heart in his throat after getting a phone call from my mother, who said that the voices were telling her to put the baby’s hand in the fan.  The fact that I have both hands is a matter of that white-knuckle ride my father took, and the little bit of sense that told my mother to ask from help before obeying the voices.  It was decided that we would spend every day with Nana, newly widowed, until Dad was done with work.

During those days, my Nana showered me with hugs and attention and love, all while endlessly listening to me prattle on.  I don’t know how she stood the pain of seeing my mother, deteriorated to obviously paranoid and delusional, while keeping up with an active and very talkative toddler.  When I got my own first home, I unwittingly started to decorate it like an old lady, trying to recreate the warmth and security I felt at Nana’s house.

She would make me very weak coffee with milk and sugar, so I could have coffee while she and my mother did.  I had an old playset of pots and pans at her house, handed down a million times, including dishes and a couple of food items – a plastic lobster, a corn on the cob, and one other thing I don’t quite recall.   I don’t know how many meals I served Nana which were variations on that menu, but she happily ate them all, along with gallons of imaginary tea.  I felt safe napping in her back bedroom, with the sound of the small planes from nearby Teterboro airport buzzing overhead as I slept on the chenille bedspread.  Of course, she still believed that you treat burns with butter, and held some odd beliefs – “Let’s eat dessert before dinner tonight, like the Jewish people do.” – but was never unkind, and tried to keep the peace with everyone.  My cousin once admitted to me that Nana told her, in strictest confidence, that she was her favorite grandchild.  We laughed when I told her that I had been told the very same thing.  I’ll be that all of the grandchildren got the same special message.  Whether that was the healthiest thing or not is up for debate, but it made me feel special, and my cousin said the same.
There was a time, when I was a teenager, that I was angry at Nana for not having stepped in and helped us financially when my Dad could no longer afford our house, when I was four years old.  In those days, health insurance didn’t do very much for mental illness, and my mother’s multiple shock treatments cost an extraordinary amount for a family living on a postman’s salary.  Eventually, he could not pay both the medical bills and the mortgage, and something had to give.  My father’s parents helped out a bit, but Nana didn’t.  There was a belief in my mother’s family that somehow my father had caused my mother’s illness, because she had been fine up until childbirth.  Unfortunately, it was childbirth that brought out her schizophrenic tendencies to the fore, but ignorance led them to blame my father, and therefore, no financial aid was forthcoming.

The shame of having to move back to apartments after having made it into a house was more than my father could bear. Besides the loss of face, the most heartbreaking part of losing our house was losing our family dog, who we could not take with us into the “no pets” apartments my father found.   I watched as my brother handed over the leash of his beloved dog to strangers, and then watched his heart break into a million pieces, some of which he left on that front porch.

I held onto that anger for some years, trying to reconcile the loving woman I grew up with and the stingy woman who would let our family suffer such a downfall.  With maturity, I came to understand that she was living on very modest means herself, and wasn’t in the position to save our house.  Also, I could understand how it seemed like cause and effect that my father’s entrance into my mother’s life corresponded with a lively, intelligent and talented woman descending into madness.  The heartache they must’ve felt to see such a change in my mother was probably overwhelming, and they needed somewhere to place the blame.  So sad for my father that people’s understanding of mental illness was still in such an ignorant state at the time.  He didn’t deserve any blame for anything, except for his drinking, which I’m sure he did to cope with a terrible situation.

Now that all of this is well in the past, I remember my Nana extremely fondly, and find that in times of trouble, I put myself back in her house, in that back bedroom, and I feel the warmth of the sun streaming in the window, while I snuggled in chenille, and the familiar sounds of the small airplanes buzzing overhead.  I think of her when I take my coffee with too much milk and sugar, and I wish that I could talk to her now, woman to woman, and find out who she was when she wasn’t nurturing everyone else.



Halloween is in several days and the big Compound party is tonight.

The Compound parties are always a blast, and three years ago Anthony Cumia thought themes would be good idea. In the past years, we had an Eighties theme, a Jaws theme, and a TV show theme. This year it will be commercials.

As I get ready for the party tonight I am looking back. When I was a kid it was a major deal, why?? You got to dress like an asshole, bang on doors and ask for treats. I wish I could do that every day.

You would plan what you wanted to be and thought it would be the coolest costume ever, and that day came, you were a super hero.

You thought when you rang that door bell people wouldn’t know if you were there for candy, or to save the day. I was planning to tell people don’t worry citizen that there was nothing to fear that I’m just here for a tasty snack.

I was a super hero and I was invincible, and nothing could stop me,,, except for the cold. A cool fall afternoon meant a jacket from Mom. I explained to my mortal mother that Super Heroes don’t wear jackets. She explained to me that they do if they want to trick or treat.

You know what it’s like when you ring the door bell and the lady asks you who are you supposed to be? And you have to open a snorkel jacket and show her an “S”. I should have just said Eskimo and called it day.

I never really gave out the candy when I was married, that job fell to my wife as with my schedule I never get home until midnight. That being said I did make sure that the candy was top notch because bad candy means eggs and shaving cream.
When I was a kid when you would get shit candy, an apple (razor or no razor) or pennies this was a guaranteed spot on the hit list for that night. So I knew if I did not want my house to look like an omelet or a Gillette commercial it’s Milky Way all the way.

Halloween night was fun, egging and spraying shaving cream over everything in site was a pisser. One year my Mom even bought me shaving cream, as long as I wore a jacket.

As I am writing this I had a thought, do kids today even go out egging?? I think they just have an app on their phone for that now. Well another lost art gone to the wayside.

As I got older I stopped with Halloween, I was not one of those guys at eighteen that would bang on the door and the lady would open it, and say who are you supposed to be?? Stoned and hungry lady, give me a three musketeers.
For years after I never participated in Halloween or dressed up for parties. I could not be bothered. The good thing about Halloween parties though is it gives chicks the excuse to wear the skimpiest stuff they can which is good as candy I say.

The one thing about this time of year is I sometimes forget its Halloween time and I will go to the diner and wonder why these people are dressed like assholes? Then it dawns on me that I’m the asshole who can’t read a calendar.   

For the past ten years I have gone back to dressing up at parties because you look like an uptight dick if you don’t. I am actually am an uptight dick, but better to look like someone else that night. I don’t want to give away what I am wearing at the party tonight but I will be in a tee shirt and it may be cold at the Compound tonight. I am going to wish I had a jacket.

Mom was right again.     


CONFLICTED SILENCE - By Davin Rosenblatt

It occurs to me that even the most politically correct around me have no issue with talking ill of the Hassidic Jews in the region where I live. The non-politically correct do as well.  When neighbors get together and the prospect of the Hassidim moving in comes up it is almost always unified against them.

I should give a bit of background perhaps. In my region there is a neighborhood called Kiryas Joel.  It is almost exclusively Hassidic Jews. If you go there wearing a short skirt they will certainly make you feel unwelcome. It is their enclave and they have no problem trying to make you  conform to their religious preference.  They also vote as a block so they have a lot political power. Politicians bend to meet their needs therefore they receive a lot of tax dollars. Dollars that other communities do not get. This creates resentment.

They also move into other areas and try and get on school boards. Their children do not go to the public schools. They go to private school called Yeshivas.  They try and get on the school board and then do not want to invest tax payer dollars back into the school system. Then the school system fails.  Now this is not all Hassidim but it does seem to be how a lot of them operate in my region.
When rumors surface that they are planning to buy property in the local communities a sense of dread falls over the locals. Including people that are very close to me.  For my part I don’t want public schools defunded and I really don’t like a homogenous population of any type around me. I like diversity. I don’t like a pack like attitude. Anyway, local towns have actually changed laws to make sure they can limit the power an influx of Hassidim would have. It is like people look at their town as a crop and the Hassidim are locusts about to descend and leave nothing but an empty husk.

Still, if Puerto Ricans or African Americans practiced the same approach as the local Hassidim would people be so open about their disdain? Would it be acceptable? Would people say it in hushed tones to me? I don’t think they would. I know some think what they are doing is wrong because I say nothing. I just listen and then they feel the need to try and clean up what they said. The clean up is almost always parts of what I outlined above. But does justifying ones bigotry excuse it? I don’t think it does. I can’t say I am much better. I don’t want the Hassidim moving in and doing what they have done other places. I don’t campaign against them. I am more of the wait and see approach. If they try those tactics I will do all in my political power to put an end to it. I don’t want one political block having say over my whole town. Maybe I am too trusting. Maybe I should be more proactive.
Still it just strikes me as wrong to speak openly and negatively about a whole group of people I have not met. It strikes me as some think it is acceptable because they are Jews and history shows us bigotry against Jews is always more tolerated. When they speak negatively about the Hassidim I don’t stick up for the Hassidim. If I was sure what they did was right I think I would. I am conflicted.

The anti-Hassidim feeling very well could lead to open hostility if they move in. This could make the Hassidim even more insulated and less likely to consider what it means to be a good neighbor. It is not hard to see that once you are hostile to one type of Jew that it could easily spread to other Jews. Anti-semitism could rapidly increase.   I think both the Hassidim and the community are victims here. The Hassidim are victims of being judged without getting to know them individually while some communities have become victims of the Hassidim playing the political game better than everybody else.  It does strike me that some who detest how the Hassidim have played the game praise the president when he finds loopholes and work arounds to get exactly what he wants. Maybe it is fine when you are not personally on the short end or maybe it is fine if it is not a Jew gaming the system.

History tells us this will not end well for the Jews. If it does get worse I hope it becomes clearer to me that I should say something. That I should not let people think I will give these feelings of hate an audience. For now I will probably continue to remain silent. My silence seems to give people the feeling that I am not on board with them and the feeling that they need to clarify. Maybe my internal doubt can manifest itself into others doubting that it is alright to talk about strangers in such a way of disdain.


Shrink Shopping - By Pip Helix (Davin's Den)

It will come as a surprise to absolutely no one that I have been seeing a therapist for about as long as some of you have been alive.  Oh, this is news to you?  You clearly don’t listen to our show.

Well, I have as many issues as a newsstand, as they say, so I have been on the couch for years.  From issues arising from my mother’s schizophrenia, and my father’s death, to depression, to other fun items that have cropped up in the ensuing years, I have worn out several therapists.  Well, it’s more accurate to say that therapists have come and gone, due to retirements or moving to other jobs, but throughout it all, I have been going to the same general therapy group all this time.  As a matter of fact, it’s the same group that my mother had gotten her treatment from for many years. 

When my family struggled with issues due to my mother, we had group sessions with her previous therapist, which made it easy to skip over the whole deal of trying to explain her particular behavior.  After my father died, my mother, brother and I had group sessions with the same woman, and then after that, I saw her alone for several years.  It was difficult to transition from her to my second therapist, but we did develop a rapport, and it was a blow to have her suddenly leave the practice due to unknown medical reasons. That meant I moved onto number three.  She is very nice, and is comforting, but we don’t seem to actually be getting anywhere.  I am an onion, and there are levels to my madness, but I think in a year or so, we have stayed on the surface, and I am getting more of a pat on the head and a lollypop than anything else.

Now, not all therapists can prescribe medications, so that meant that I had to see a psychiatrist from time to time to renew my medications, too.  I adored the first one, who left to join another practice.  I HATED the second one, who was condescending and insulting, and I am having a problem feeling comfortable with this third one.  She almost seems to have more issues than me, particularly an eating disorder she seems to still struggle with, and I am getting concerned that our meetings to renew my medication are more about her needs to vent than my need to get my meds and get the fuck out of there.

So, for the first time, I am dipping a toe in the waters outside of this practice, and looking for actual, moving forward type of help.  It is scaring the pants off of me.

I searched the internet for possible new candidates, and found one woman who seems okay so far.  I just met with her for an intake kind of visit, where you are asked a bunch of routine questions to narrow down just what kind of sicko you are, and on my side, it was to see how we fit.  It was tough to tell how this will work yet, but I kind of felt like I was cheating on my therapist the whole time.  I haven’t cut ties with the old place yet, because I don’t want to do that until I’m sure I’m in a good place.  She seems more professional than the place I am used to, and that is a bonus, but it’s scary to move away from the familiar.  But, in terms of where I am in my life, and my general happiness, I have to be brave and step away from what seems to be palliative mental health care, and onto a bit of tough love- let’s get your lazy ass going - type of care. 

Next step is trying to find a new psychiatrist to prescribe meds.  I don’t want to just break with my nice therapist and have to keep going back to that person who is not a good fit for meds.  I guess I need to finally break with the old practice altogether.  It is familiar, but it is also haunted with the ghost of my mother’s former presence, and with unhappy associations of other sorts as well.  I have a list of possible choices, and I am going to ask my insurance company, too.  It’s all been something I have been thinking about for a few months, but actually doing it is making me anxious as hell.  What a stupid time to quit smoking.


TIME AND COMMON SENSE - By Joe Currie (Davin's Den)

As an entertainer I go on Face book  and twitter as a necessity, as Davin’s Den does a lot of political commentary I need to be abreast and do research on current events and this takes a lot of my time.

Here is where time and common sense come into play.

For those of us in the nine to five world we get up, have to do whatever it takes to get the kids to school and us to work. We get our news on the way to work as we sit in traffic and on the way home as we sit in traffic. The rest of the day consists of phone calls, meetings and deadlines, we don’t have the time or luxury to sit look up statistics.

When we get home we are exhausted we have dinner, a little TV, help the kids with their home work and get to bed to repeat the same routine for the next day.

We grab the news when we can and then make our decisions based on how it affects us in general and then apply common sense to it.

When I hear that the tax cuts I have been given are crumbs I don’t need statistics, these crumbs translate to over one hundred and twenty dollars in my pay check every month. This money pays my electric or cable bills every month, not liberal rhetoric.
It’s common sense, and if you speak out you get criticized.

When I read that a meeting with an adversary is treasonous and you speak in favor of it you get criticized. Let’s apply business common sense to this. If you have business partner or customer that you feel could affect sales due to their objections over issues you want to meet them, play golf with them, or go to dinner. You want to know them, see what makes them tick. A lot of animosity you have with someone thaws when you meet them in person and get a dialog going. Also getting a feel of someone is also essential in future negotiations.

When you speak out about trade agreements you get criticized. Common sense would dictate that we have had unfair trade agreements for years and they need to be corrected. Tariffs are a current concern but they will lead to the long term solution of getting the new agreements in place. In addition a lot goes into importing goods. For example, it takes at least three months from time of order to time of delivery of merchandise from China, if it is the Chinese holiday, add another month. Also if your container is held up in customs add two more weeks for delivery. Ask any purchasing manager and they will tell you, getting domestic product is much easier and now with the margins so close some companies are making the switch to domestic products. Most people want domestically made goods and while somebody is sitting quoting me a statistic I am in a bin making sure my customer gets the last of a domestically made good. This manufacture of this good is also finding out now that they made a big mistake of switching to an import and are reassign their decision at this writing.

 When you support someone taking a stand on over privileged, pampered athletes that received a free education, that were wined and dined to pick the place to get the free education , and make in a season where many of us won’t make in years kneel during the national anthem you get criticized  . For the under two minutes that song plays we stop and stand together it says we are not a perfect country but we have the freedom to right the wrongs in it. Its common sense but if you speak out you are a racist and wrong.

When you hear a senator who is a proven phony talk about campaign reform and your common sense says they are a carnival huckster and this is just for votes you get criticized.
When a racist group gets attacked by a subversive group that is violent and your common sense says that both groups are terrorist organizations you get criticized for being a racist.

When you see a movement that chose mostly people that don’t comply with the law and with criminal records martyrs, you use your common sense and speak out on it you are called racist.
The bottom line is there are two fractions in this country. The common sense observation is the first fraction is one that had eight years of getting their hand held and have had the benefit of any objection to them shot down, and the people that questioned  those objections shot down and labeled as racists and hate mongers. This contingent knew that it was a slam dunk that they would have four more years of this. When the reality hit that would not be the case, they were left traumatized and disillusioned and have treated the new administration with a hatred that contradicts any of their ideology of acceptance especially when none of their fears have come true.

The second fraction of this country were people that saw the country start to be divided, other countries seeing us at a position of weakness, the police portrayed as the enemy, and an anti-business climate as well all while being told this is who we are. The people spoke out and said this is who we are and we will not be lead by a carpet bagging huckster that the office of president was to the good of herself and not the people.

I am the second fraction, I wake up, eight to five, and I toil for every dollar. I don’t need a statistic I see it in common sense.

 I see more money in my paycheck, I see the business climate picking up, and I have seen people I know that have been out of work for at least two years back at work, I am seeing the immigration situation being addressed. I didn’t vote for someone to teach Sunday school, I voted for them to get results and I see it in real time day in and day out and that’s common sense I could go on, but I have to get ready for work.         


CRITICAL THINKING - By Davin Rosenblatt

As long as I have been an adult I have always valued critical thinking.  I think it is why I went to law school.  I was never good with numbers so subjects like statistics were never attractive to me even though it is cold hard facts and there is no room for feeling or emotions.  I liked being able to get as much information as possible and choosing the best solution.  To me that seemed like the obvious choice.

However, perhaps I am in the minority in this country.  I see so many people just motivated by emotions and feel when the facts and logic and experience and history clearly say this is the incorrect path.  It drives me nuts.  Discussions between people ruled by emotion and people ruled by fact seldom go anywhere.  It is like talking in two completely different languages. Both people think the other is clearly missing the obvious and is a moron.

I think emotion is great when you are cheering for your favorite team.  I just don’t think it should be the guiding principle in most major decisions and choices. It can lead you into some very big mistakes.  We all think our first love will be our forever love. We can’t imagine life without that person. Our parents tell us to slow down as we have plenty of options and a whole life ahead of us. We think our parents are idiots.  Invariably, for most of us, our parents were correct and our first love was not our forever love.  As we grow older we still use emotion for love but those of us that find fulfilling relationships also use the information we gathered from our failed relationships.  We pick up on certain traits that are deal breakers for us. Certain life styles that will not make us happy.  We use that information to avoid getting into a serious relationship that will inevitably fail.  The lucky ones take all of the failure and turn it into success.  I would suggest that they sprinkled in some critical thought into their quest for love.

I think people fall in love with their politicians.  There were a lot of people who absolutely loved President Obama. He could do no wrong…even when he was wrong. The same holds true for President Trump.  Things that they use to hate they love. Russia comes to mind. Deficits are another. There are plenty.  When these people fall in love with their president they defend him like he is their boyfriend even if it is obvious the president is making a mistake.  I never fell in love with a president. There are presidents I like and presidents I don’t like but I always knew they worked for me. It was not emotional for me it was business.  That is what allows me to go from topic to topic and not view a president as all bad or all good.  I think critically about what they are doing and how it affects things I care about.  See I have emotion but it does not rule the day.

Politicians know we are ruled by emotion.  They create slogans for us to latch onto. Hope and Change. Make America Great Again. It is much catchier than “things will be slightly better if we vary our path a little”. Nobody could get behind that. Most people do not take the time to look at a politician’s background. Their past, their votes, their wins, their losses their flaws. Nah most of us grab onto the slogan and a well delivered speech. 

I think letting our emotions rule us and not looking at things critically is tearing this nation apart. Nobody dares to think, research, or listen.  It is much easier to get all worked up and scream. My guy is the best and your gal is the worst is much easier to wrap our minds around even if the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. I’ll give you an example from this week’s radio show.  We played a new ad from Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren. She talked about among other things how bad Goldman Sachs was bad and Trump’s cabinet was filled with people from there, looking out for the middle class, and how lobbyists control Washington.  These are things she has been talking about for years.  Donald Trump ran on many of those same points to great success.  Yet Trump and Warren feud. Trump fans hate Warren and Warren fans hate Trump.  I am guessing it is because neither really listened to what the other side was arguing for and what said candidate was doing about it. Nah, it is just easier to believe the other one is bad instead of critically thinking about what is being presented. So we fight and name call and hate.

I believe there should be renewed emphasis on critical thinking in schools starting in Kindergarten.  Looking at information and processing it. I am aware this is done now but I think we need to double down on it because it is just not sinking in.  Now we have more information than ever at our disposal with easier access yet most of us prefer to believe a meme cobbled together by some basement dweller. If we can really emphasize that knowledge and critical thinking are things to be prized maybe we can slowly ween ourselves off of the toxic public discourse.


THE VET - by Pip Helix (Davin's Den)

I looked deeply into my cat’s eyes this morning, and told him how much I love him and that everything will be okay.  He was sitting in his cat carrier already, and was meowing his discontent. Having been to the vet twice recently for tests which assaulted his body and dignity, I’m sure he was aghast that we were doing this to him again, and anxious about what was to come.

What he doesn’t understand is that this is going to be a really important day for us all, kitty, Mr. Helix and me.  Our dear Creamsickle (deliberately spelled like that to make him more badass, well, as badass as you can be when named after ice cream) has a tumor on his lung, and the vet has been giving us more and more alarming news since we first began noticing how thin he was becoming. Today, he is having surgery to have the tumor removed and biopsied, and from there we know what his prognosis will be.

Initially, the vet said that his prognosis was months, but months in which the tumor grew and pressed on his lung, making it more and more difficult to breathe, and making him increasingly uncomfortable.  Right now, the only thing that seemed wrong was that he got quite thin over a period of time, and that he developed a wheeze not unlike that when a cat is about to cough up a hairball, only with no disgusting results.  He acted fine, ate ok, and was his usual loving self.  The vet said that the sound he was making was a cough, and an indication that something was wrong.  Boy, was that an understatement.

The prognosis with surgery is unknown right now.  It seems this tumor is in a difficult place to remove it entirely, caught up in some kind of lung structure that I don’t completely understand, and that there is a good possibility (I should say bad possibility) that they will not be able to remove it completely.  Whatever is left will grow again, and depending on what the biopsy tells them is how long he may live.

Creamsickle is one of the two cats that Mr. Helix had when we brought our households together and created the Brady Bunch of cats.  Sadly, the other cat he brought Mushyhead got cancer a few years ago, and all the chemo in the world didn’t save her.  It’s with the memory of this and the demise of other beloved cats that we give him over to the vet this morning, hoping so much for more quality time for him. Neither of us want to torment him for nothing, but we have been assured that to leave it alone, the tumor would quickly become such a burden on his breathing, and he would be gone in months.  The prudent thing to do, the loving thing to do,  is this surgery.

So, today we swallowed with a huge lump in our throats, and told our cat how much we love him, and that it will be okay.  I hope we weren’t lying to him.


MAKING TRACKS - By Joe Currie (Davin's Den)

Since I was a kid, I would always dream of being in a recording studio making an album. For the past thirty years I have been, two albums and several EP’s and endless demo tapes.
The first time I went into a recording studio was back in nineteen eighty eight, with Joe and Anthony Cumia , our bass player Mike and our drummer Lou. I was so nervous and it was such a nerve wracking experience. The saving grace was we all never were in a recording studio before so it was a learning process for all of us.

Several years later our band Finster, different name same line up would be heading into Paris studio. The studio owner Brian Unger was a great guy and a very good engineer and Paris would be our home for many years. These sessions at Paris were very good and we put out our demos. If you were an Opie and Anthony fan, the song “Dara” came out of those sessions as well as some other great tunes. 

Several years later in 1992  Rot Gut went into Paris to record the “Live at the Apollo” album. I just fought my way back into the band as the recording progressed and played on one track. At that time sampling was a big thing and Joe Cumia utilized it as much as he could so much so the final song on the album was a song called “whatwuzthatthing” a five minute song with fourteen different samples. Even though I did not gather or record the samples I had to cover it live and I was able to thanks to my Trusty ASR-10, and SO-1 samplers. That was a memorable summer as we lived in that studio to get the project done. It is an amazing process that you would watch these tracks progress week by week. It is essentially like painting a picture as you are consistently adding something to move something from a sketch to this beautiful painting. 

At this time we were rehearsing two nights a week and I was practicing every night, we did a recording session we won from a competition. The session was for a compilation album of Beatles cover tunes featuring all Long island bands. The project was called “Across the Universe” and the song we picked was “I wanna be your man”. The version we did was not like the Beatles version, we were Rotgut and it had to have our own stamp on it which it did. The song went from grunge, to punk, to reggae, back to punk again in three minutes. We had four hours to do it and the keyboards in the song were very demanding as I had to cover a horn section, a calypso section, and samples as well. I was able nail everything, and the studio was not that much of a big deal any more.

In 1996 we had an all day recording session at my house recording the preproduction for our next project which we called “butts in the ashtray”. Getting ready for it was grueling, the reason why is Joe Cumia is very demanding and not afraid to sink his fangs into me and he did a lot. But he put a work ethic in me that I have never forgotten and that work ethic carried over into comedy when I got back into that in 1997.

 Soon after we went back into Paris to turn the Preproduction of “Butts in the Ashtray” into the EP ‘Slack & Wack”. We were so well rehearsed that the sessions were fun and stress free. Again for you     O & A fans the song “Marcia Brady” came from these sessions. I was covering horn parts, piano and I wrote, edited and triggered all the samples, we actually had a live horn section and I wrote some of the parts for them. I never sat at the control console or had much of a say in the mixing or production. I was told to sit in the back of the studio and keep out of the way. And I sat there, but I did not realize what I picked up until my next recording session.
My next recording Session was with Race Odyssey with Rock and Roll Johnny Race who I still play with in my ohter band Sexy Suzn. John was married to Anthony and Joe Cumia’s Sister Dawn at the time. As Anthony left to do radio Rotgut went on the shelf and I joined up with Johnny.

We entered a studio owned by Don Cassel, Don was noted for being the engineer for the classic rock song Inagodadavida by Iron Butter fly. We had a great time making the album and I actually was at the consol helping mix the album. While I was mixing with Don and John I was wondering how I knew what to do instinctively. I attribute that to listening to Joe Cumia and our Engineer Brian back at Paris Studios and subconsciously picking up all the knowledge of what to do. People commented that album had a wall of sound feel to it and that’s exactly what I wanted.

My next time in the studio was a monstrosity back in 2012. I was in the band McClinton and we were doing the remake of Phil Collin’s “In the Air Tonight” it was done ass backwards and the session was never completed.

When you record you want everything to be perfect because if it is not when you listen for years to come any imperfection will grate on you, with this in mind, I prepare for a recording session like Eisenhower prepared for D day.

Our band Fragile Sky is now in the studio cutting four tracks for distribution, downloads, and to sell at shows. The day of the album is gone. When you record, the drums and the bass go first, then the guitars. With either the vocals or keyboards going next. In these sessions the vocals went next.

This is a big help to me as I like to get a copy of the actual working studio tracks as I can work with them at home so when I go to the studio I know the songs in and out. Every musician has an idea what you want things to sound like in your head. The trick is to get what you want in your head on to the song. I had all sorts of sounds I wanted for the project and I used four keyboards for the sessions to get them. To leave no stone unturned I sat with each keyboard and went through each one, played the studio track against it and see if it would work. I then would make notes and compile a list. This process took eight hours and to complicate matters one the keyboards that most of these songs were written on fried at a show and could not be repaired.  
Once this list was compiled each song was played and each keyboard went against the other to see which one would be the one that would be used for the track. This process took one weekend. With the keyboards picked I would go through each track again, again, and again to know each song in and out not to waste any minute of studio time. I then would go to rehearsal and play along to the studio track for the band to listen to, and then do the song live.
Back home I would then make notes and then sit for hours again to make sure everything was perfect.

There is no better process than this as I arrived at the studio for my session prepared which was handy because I had only a certain amount of time before our harmonica player showed up and I had to be done. The tracks went pretty smooth. I also picked up some interesting recording tricks from Mike from my band and our engineer Frank. You do hear about disagreements in the studio and it did happen as Mike had an idea for a sound and I had my mine. The great thing is I joined the band because Mike’s theory on sounds and song construction are along the lines of mine so we combined our ideas and the songs came out great.
My tracks got done on schedule and Filipe our harmonica player came in and ripped the place apart.

Stay tuned for the release date and come on out to a show.    



We all think we have a good sense of humor, are open minded, and can take a joke.  Many of us are wrong.  Many of us like jokes that do not make us uncomfortable or talk about something that we don’t find funny. We are picky. We know what we like and if it is not what we like then the joke must not be funny.  That is completely wrong.  Comedy like all art is subjective.  I would argue that if one person laughed ever it was a funny joke. It may not consistently get laughs but somebody found it funny.  Is the person who laughed wrong for laughing? Of course not.

There have been many times where an audience member is laughing and having a good time and then I do a joke that they do not like. Their demeanor changes. They tighten up. Sometimes they heckle. Sometimes they leave. Sometimes they throw objects. Sometimes they tell me after the show that they did not like a certain joke. It is fine that you do not like a joke or a topic. I do think it is a bit unrealistic to go to a live comedy show where you do not know the performers and expect you will like every joke or every topic.  Even more absurd is the feeling that an audience member must tell the performer that they are bothered. I do not see how that is the performer’s issue.  That is the audience member’s issue.  We don’t get to watch You Tube videos of the audience before they walk in. The audience can do some research on the performer. Years ago I had an audience member walk up to me after an hour long set. She said she did not like my joke about diabetes because somebody she loved had diabetes.  So she likes 59 minutes but one minute bothered her so now it was my problem. I told her I had diabetes too and we could share a needle. It was a lie but if I had it too maybe then it was ok. It seemed to placate her and it saved me from having to explain to her how comedy works.

Speaking of how comedy works I now have done that during my show.  I have told an audience member who got offended about a joke about children being sexually abused.  I took the time during my set to explain I never make fun of the victims as I think that is distasteful to me.  I make fun of the criminals.  I tell her comedy is subjective.  I tell her to hang in and there will be more jokes coming that she will like.  She stuck it out and I even got her to laugh at some more child abuse jokes. Kudos to that lady for keeping her mind open.

Unfortunately, I think there are places that are not open minded that still think they want comedy.  If you put a lot of restrictions on a comedian you really don’t want a comedian.  You want knock knock jokes. You want a children’s show. You don’t want a comedian. I am not saying it is necessary for a comedian to be offensive. I am just saying there is a chance it could happen and it is your problem not the comedian’s problem.  There was a story in the news about a comedian / ventriloquist / illusionist who was performing at Purdue and the show did not go well. He had a female student on stage and had her stand back to back and said, “At least I got a feel.”  He also had the student touch his upper thigh.  Now is it something he should be doing at a college? Perhaps not. However, he was accused of sexual harassment.  That is not harassment. At worst it was misreading the room.  Students left in tears. They actually cried over this performance.  They of course made a hash tag about it.  The school said the performance did not represent their values.  The reality is many colleges should not even hire comedians anymore.  In a society where people get triggered and need a safe space over jokes hiring a comedian is a terrible idea. Just set up a big screen and show videos of guys stepping on rakes and getting blasted in the nuts.  It does not require thought.  Now I know I am being risqué, as a student might have had a ball injury and feels triggered about this constant assault on random testes.  The point is if jokes hurt then don’t put yourself in that situation.  In order to do comedy you need to have a set of juevos. Most people are afraid to speak in public. We do it, and we bear our soles.  I never really considered us brave. I considered us doing what we are called to do. However, if hearing jokes has the power to bring people to tears imagine the strength of the people who dare repeat said jokes night after night.  Unless of course the words are not really the issue.  Maybe the real issue is that comedy is not for everybody. Maybe people need to realize that. Maybe comedians need to stop trying to put comedy in places where it will not be appreciated.  Comedy is special.  It has the ability to take power away from those that have it. It has the power to give power to those who have none. It has the power to make you forget your problems.  But it can really only do those things for people that are willing to embrace comedy and not try and bend it to their will but instead be open enough to accept comedy for the gift it is even if you are not a fan of that particular gift on that particular night.

Comedy isn’t for everybody.  Comedy is for the open minded.  It is ok of you are not open minded. You can binge watch Full House. Just for the love of god don’t see Bob Saget live.  You may not have the fortitude for his comedic stylings.


Selfish Behavior Hurts the Handicapped - By Pip Helix (Davin's Den)

There has obviously been a downward slide in public manners and civil behavior in recent decades.  People seem to think that they should be allowed to do whatever they want whenever they want, without a second thought to how it affects others.  Loud-talking on cell phones, demanding upgrades and comps wherever they go, and finding ways to game the system for their own advantage at the cost of others. All of this self-important behavior is unfair to other people in general. One particular part of society that is being affected by this selfish behavior is the disabled community. 

Of course, great strides have been made in making the world more accessible for people with disabilities, especially since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  It’s only right that every effort should be made to make accommodations for wheelchairs, hearing problems and sight issues, etc., wherever possible.  In the interest of full disclosure, I have long been more acutely aware of these issues, since I worked part-time in college for one of my professors who was wheelchair bound.  Also, with my mother’s mental illness and my father’s failing health in his later years, I realized that sometimes there needed to be a little give involved to help them through certain obstacles.  However, my brother’s recent mid-calf amputation has really pushed the issue back into the forefront of my mind.

There is a Seinfeld episode where the main characters go to a mall, and George choses to park in a handicapped spot for their selfish convenience.  A wheelchair bound woman was injured due to having to park further away, and an unruly mob gathers around the car to wait for the person who illegally parked in the handicapped spot she needed. Obviously, part of the premise of Seinfeld is that the main characters are terrible people who do terrible things and never learn lessons, so no one was condoning their behavior and you are not meant to root for them to win this particular battle. Still, it was always a very annoying episode to me, because it irks me that people ever think it’s okay to take those spaces, even for “just a second”, or that they flat-out think “Screw them, I need a space.”  Uh, don’t you think that people with handicaps have been screwed by life already? How about a little decency? I would have been standing in that mob, yelling for George’s head.

A recent article on the Huffington Post website spoke about how people are ruining the idea of emotional support animals by faking the need for them, or bringing more and more outrageous examples of emotional support animals onto planes. I understand that there are people who may still scoff at the need for such an accommodation in the first place, but that is usually the lucky ones who have never experienced first-hand the crippling effect of some mental illnesses or emotional damage that would require someone to need such a thing.  Lucky you. For the people with legitimate emotional or physical issues that have been helped by support animals, the misuse of this accommodation by people who just want to bring their peacock onboard is very damaging.  When the public perception of support animals turns to cynicism and scoffing, those who truly need and benefit from this help suffer needlessly.  I mean, on top of the suffering they are already experiencing.

Look, in a desperate moment, who hasn’t used the handicapped stall in the bathroom, when no one was around who might need it.  I’m not a saint.  I admit to using them when no one in a wheelchair was in evidence, and I hurry to get out of there.  If a handicapped person were to come in, they would have to wait 1 minute tops, and they could talk to me through the door to let me know they needed the stall.  It’s not the same with a parking space, where there is no way to call other driver out to move their car.  And by the same token, a person who wants to travel with their penguin on an airplane (it’s happened) should have a legitimate reason.  If everyone now looks at people with support animals as fakers gaming the system, because there are so many, then people with PTSD and other issues have to deal with unwanted scrutiny during airline travel, which is already stressful enough for people with no mental or emotional issues.

What we can all do about this trend is to remember that we don’t always know what kind of issues others are going through, but try to be mindful of the ways we can keep from making their journey more difficult.  Educate others that it is not okay to park in the handicapped parking, or to fake having issues just to game the system.  It dilutes the sympathy that other able-bodied people have for handicapped accommodations if every self-important person thinks that they are entitled to it as well.  How about just thanking the deity of your choice that you don’t have to negotiate the world with that person’s challenges, and can walk to a further parking space, or fly without crushing anxiety.