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  #111  
Old 01-27-2018, 06:35 PM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Saturday

Itís Saturday and the sun didnít come up this morning. It was raining when I woke up at 4:30, and still raining when I got up at 8:30 Ė and almost as dark. That much rain leaves water standing in the driveway here, and I have to wade to get to my Honda, so Iím not likely to go out today. I had breakfast and put the mug and the bowl in the sink and looked around. Need to do some house cleaning, but not today. It will still be there tomorrow, or the day after.

I turned on the light over my pool table and chalked the cue. Cut a ball to the left, but I didnít cut it enough and it hit the near rail and would not go down. I cut one to the right, but I overcut that one and sent it past the five inch pocket and hit the short rail. Some things donít change. Been working on my stroke and itís better than ever before. Hitting the cue ball clean and straight, but my aim is terrible. Everything is lined up wrong. I couldnít hit a bull in the ass with a handful of gravel. Yesterday I was hammered by a guy who should never beat me. The same the day before, but a different guy. I turned off the light and did the only thing I could do Ė went back to bed.

Like a lot of other folks in this country, I am a big fan of news about the mob; organized crime, the American mafia. Youtube has plenty of it, including biographies of the big names and news about whatís happening in the various cities, reports of who is getting whacked and who done it. There are newsmen and journalists who do little else, and who have great sources. The old guys hate them, but a lot of the younger ones love the spotlight and the notoriety, even when they are on trial for this and that and in danger of getting some serious time in Federal or local jails. Part of the life, they love the ink.

One of the best writers about the topic is a guy named George Anastasia, who keeps up with it along the east coast for the Philadelphia Enquirer, and also teaches a course in crime reporting at a nearby college. With another crime reporter, Dave Schratwieser, they made a series of videos called ĎMob Talkí, recording as they strolled along in Philadelphia. I think Anastasia is scheduled to narrate a TV series this year called ĎKingpinsí. They advised that Skinny Joey Merlino seems to be the guy in that town since he got out of jail, but that could change if he is sent back. Stuff like that.

Joe Valachi was the first of the mob rats to let the country see under the skin of the American mafia. In about 1962 he went before a Congressional committee and told them whatever they wanted to know. Sammy ĎThe Bullí Gravano become famous for pretty much the same thing in later years. Both believed they were under the threat of death when they turned on the mobsters, and their testimony put a lot of good fellas in jail. Valachi was just a soldier, but Gravano was John Gottiís next in command.

In contrast, a young man named Michael Franzese gave up a high position as Ďcaporegimeí in the Colombo crime family and walked away from the life after doing eight years in a Federal pen. This action was unheard of in the Cosa Nostra, where as a made man he had taken the oath to never leave, and to never betray his associates. He not only quit, and apparently got away with it, and he has made a name for himself as a speaker on his born-again Christianity and his work with young people all over this country and beyond. Today his attitude is unique. He makes no apologies for the life he lived and the crimes he committed, but preaches on the evil of it as he warns others not to be deceived into thinking it is a romantic existence. Quite the contrary Ė mistakes are not tolerated and people are killed almost routinely, often by their friends and often for seeming to build too much power and popularity. Bosses act brutally if they see someone as a threat to their positions. Franzese at one time was Ďearningí up to ten million dollars a week as his crew defrauded the Federal government by those prodigious amounts in gasoline taxes. Again, Youtube is full of his exploits.

Franzese is in great demand as a speaker and a great hit with his audiences. He is a handsome man with a lot of charisma. Casually dressed, he will give some insight into his own life and his own faith without making a pitch for conversions, and then he takes questions on any subject. He tells his listeners they may ask anything they want, and he will answer as best he can. I have viewed several of his talks and found them to be immensely interesting. He admits relationships with gangsters of every stripe, many well-known to fans like I am. He admits to being present at some brutal scenes, although he never quite defines his own participation. A fascinating guy with many court appearances in his resume, he believes his success in making a getaway is due to the fact that he has never sent anyone to jail with his testimony. On the other hand, he is always watching his back.

American audiences, in their questions, want to know about the American mafia and about the criminals he has known and the things he has done. Young people here are fans of the Godfather movies. In contrast, in an appearance at Cambridge University in the UK, most questions were concerned with his faith and his spirituality. He is happy to speak on both.
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  #112  
Old 02-10-2018, 02:09 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Carnival

Mardi Gras has south Louisiana by the throat already, and the actual date is still three days away. Many parades have disappeared down the street, but more are on the way. The forecast is for a lot of rain Saturday and Sunday, but some of the krewes say they will roll, regardless. After all, they have been getting ready since this time last year.

Here in Baton Rouge, there will be full coverage tomorrow on the Spanish Town parade. Spanish Town is a compact little neighborhood that abuts the capitol grounds. Lots of quirky little old houses and interesting inhabitants, and their parade, which began as a small local event, has just growed Ė like Topsy. Itís now a major attraction, and likely not a family-oriented festival. It is irreverent, immodest, and not PC, and the king and queen might both be cross-dressers. Largely homemade floats that show great imagination and more than a little artful handiwork, and there will be drill teams of all kinds. If you happen to be in town . . .

Down the river in New Orleans, a hit squad of law officers raided a bunch of the joints in the French Quarter a couple of weeks ago and shut them down with charges of lewd and lascivious behavior and prostitution and fun stuff like that. Sort of an effort to get a jump start on carnival season, no doubt Ė well, good luck with that, bro. They formed a committee of some kind for the same purpose and assembled to talk about what they should do. This brought on a demonstration and picket line by the girls, who carried signs with messages like Ďstrip clubs are our economyí Ďstop fÖ.ing with our livelihoodí and Ďwe are not victimsí. Probably nothing important will develop here. Never has before, anyway. Imagine New Orleans without the strip clubs. Iíll bet they are already up and running again.

I am seeing a lot of new videos on Youtube, including plenty of one-pocket action and plenty of new young players who can shoot the lights out. They are fearless and deadly and speak foreign languages. Many younger players are dressing in black and, being lean, wearing stovepipe pants. At a glance, some of these matches might seem to involve Johnny Cash versus Roy Orbison. I just watched a great contest from 2013 in which Scott Frost beat Shane Van Boening in a race to three. I didnít get to hear the names of the commentators, but one of them sounded like Lou Butera, who talks as fast as he plays.

The guy said he had been playing for forty-seven years, and he was having trouble with the colors on the new Cyclops balls, especially the two green shades, and after all those years he still has not noticed that the color sequence on balls 1 thru 7 is repeated on balls 9 thru 15. I have heard of that before, and probably mentioned it here in my journal, but itís always hard for me to believe.
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  #113  
Old 02-16-2018, 11:18 PM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Winter Olympics

I moved up a notch today and played one of the better one pocketers around the room. I like to play this guy because he plays hard and feels no need for a running commentary of the contest. Against him I play hard also, for all the good it does me. On a good day I can be competitive, and even win a game now and then, but today he left me feeling like I had spent the afternoon down on my hands and knees in the desert. He had me shooting uphill all the way Ė every turn at the table found me in serious trouble and without any chance to do anything positive for my game. I cannot play error-free one pocket and he made me pay for every mistake. I feel like I should have done better, but Iím not sure how.

With the winter Olympics now on TV, I know Iím missing a lot when I am busy playing one pocket, but that canít be helped, can it? There are multiple screens in the room and I was able to get a quick look between turns at the table. The photography was first class and the bright colors of the uniforms against the white snow made a fine show. I never saw my opponent look up even once, and maybe that is a partial answer to my dilemma. Perhaps I will get better results when that thing is over.

There is a sport called curling, in which a bunch of bearded guys in bowling shoes play a sort of big-boy slow motion heavyweight shuffleboard. The ball is a slip-sliding kind of teakettle full of bricks. It all seems to be quite a sedate scene until one of them gets down real low on the ice and puts the ball in motion, at which time the action begins and the other guys are suddenly in a panic to polish the rink in front of the ball, which moves at considerably less velocity than pocket speed. One of the most entertaining sights to be seen in the local poolroom is the bunch of idle players on their barstools sweating, coaching and kibitzing a curling match on TV. Worth seeing, man, whether you are a fan of the sport or not. Curling, my ass. And it doesnít seem fair that we have never had the winter Olympics in south Louisiana Ė itís winter here, too, you know.

Yesterday would have been my sixtieth wedding anniversary, had I persevered. No congratulations are in order on that account. Tonight I find myself trying to recall what Baton Rouge was like in the day of my marriage, and itís hard to know where to begin. Bowling establishments and poolrooms have come and gone since that time. Public telephones are history, as are so many other things. Hereís a very pleasant recollection that I canít even explain. The Borden milk company had a distribution center right on Florida Boulevard. There was a small brick office building and a small parking lot facing the street. In the office there was a receptionist at a desk out front; a cheerful smart looking lady well dressed in business attire. There was little traffic in that office, and the lady had a leisurely job that seemed to include light typing and managing a switchboard that had only about six holes. Also in the lobby was a little soda fountain. Through some happy accident that I have long since forgotten I discovered that I could go in and order an ice cream cone or a milkshake or a caramel sundae (no banana split), and that neat lady would rise from her desk and come to the soda fountain and fill my order with a smile. Iím certain the service was not open to the public, and there was no sign outside to indicate the thing was in there at all, but now and then when I was passing and saw no more than a couple of cars in the little lot, I would stop and have a treat. There was never a charge for anything I ordered, and the lady would send me off with a conspiratorial grin and urge me to come back any time. I canít believe I was their only soda-fountain customer, but I never saw another. Great Bordenís ice cream.

The whole operation is gone now and the receptionist, if sheís still alive, would be about ninety years old. A great memory from the distant past.
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  #114  
Old 02-22-2018, 01:45 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Now it can be told

On a very hot day in the summer of ’75 the biggest Teamster of them all motored to a Waffle House near the town of Sperro in Michigan, where he expected to break bread with a couple of good fellas. The wise guys, however, failed to show and Mr. Hoffa waited for most of an hour before giving it up and leaving the scene in an old Packard automobile with two unknown parties. There are multiple versions of the events that followed, and this is one you may be reading for the first time.

His companions drove Mr. Hoffa to a split-level ranch style three-bedroom bungalow in a rural area about forty miles to the east of Sperro, where they struck him repeatedly on the head with a blunt instrument, causing his death. They removed his wristwatch and fifty-four dollars from his wallet, leaving his union card for identification purposes. They rolled him up in an olive-green area rug and locked him in the trunk of the Packard and drove the vehicle into a grove of chinaberry trees at the rear of the property, where they left it. It is commonly believed that the killers escaped in a second auto that had been left behind the house for their convenience.

On the following day, a phone call was received by one Benny Distefano, who lived near the village of Boller in Pender County. The caller failed to give his name and inquired whether this was the Benny who had known Mr. Hoffa since the sixth grade and was a close friend. Apparently it was. He told Mr. Distefano that Mr. Hoffa had been whacked yesterday, as per instructions from several Detroit residents, and that nobody was likely to give Hoffa a proper burial unless Benny did it himself, and was he interested? On this short notice Benny decided to do what was needed. We are happy to hear that, said the caller, who proceeded to explain where the Packard and Jimmy Hoffa could be found. Don’t dilly-dally, the man said, as Jimmy has been in the trunk already twenty-four hours, and the weather is quite warm to say the least. Over and out said the voice on Benny’s telephone.

So Benny Distefano hurriedly followed the directions to the grove of chinaberry trees, where he found Jimmy Hoffa quite easily, as you might imagine. Being a large man, he was barely able to load the bundle into his Mercury station wagon and drove it back home with all the windows open. Also, being a small truck farmer, he owned three or four cultivated acres in which to pick a suitable spot for a grave. Before sundown on that same day he planted Jimmy Hoffa some four feet deep between the radishes and the cukes. Over the next few days he raked the small area flat and enclosed it with a little picket fence.

Benny’s wife, a dutiful spouse who had learned not to ask questions, was told of the grave in the garden, but had no idea who had been in the olive-gray bundle that was buried there. Benny felt a degree of satisfaction and even piety, for having rendered the final service for his friend. His produce, however, suffered a bit around the local markets, being passed over by some buyers on account of the weird aroma that seemed to follow it to town in the Mercury wagon until the fall weather set in.

On the eve of the twenty first century, poor Benny lay on his deathbed, breathing his last breaths. In a weak and raspy voice he instructed his wife to fetch the bundle of small bills he had hidden those many years ago in a Roi Tan cigar box that he kept on the top shelf of his closet. There’s a grand there, he told his wife, and you must use it to buy a modest stone for my friend Jimmy Hoffa, on which should be chiseled only his name and a suitable loving phrase. A minute later Benny was gone for good.

The thousand-dollar purchase was made from the local marker maker, who delivered it and set it in place within the weathered fence pickets at no extra charge. But Benny’s last words had not been clear to Mrs. Distefano – the name was garbled and unknown to her and she had done the best she could. This explains why, even today, the end of Jimmy Hoffa remains shrouded (if you will) in mystery and a throw rug.

The small granite stone bears the name J. Hough, and the generic pious platitude “Gone but not forgotten”. But Jimmy is not really gone. He can be found, incognito, among the vegetables out in Pender County, if one knows where to dig.
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Last edited by vapros; 02-22-2018 at 12:42 PM.
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  #115  
Old 03-05-2018, 01:50 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Atchafalaya Houseboat

I found a fantastic video yesterday on Youtube, and tonight I am here to recommend it to all the members on our site. It was connected to a story that I had heard many years ago but had forgotten. It would not be realistic to expect that all you guys would be as fascinated with it as I am, but itís great entertainment and enlightenment for those who spend a half hour to watch. It is called Atchafalaya Houseboat, and there it was, on the same screen with a tutorial on how to use a bidet. Is Youtube great or what?

Between Baton Rouge and Lafayette is the Atchafalaya Basin, nearly a million acres of it and the biggest and most fertile wetland in the country. Itís eighteen miles across and ninety miles long and it runs pretty much north and south. It produces some twenty-three million pounds of crawfish every year, and thatís more important than you might think. It is to us, anyway. Fish and waterfowl, varied and abundant, but the last of the Cajuns who lived fulltime in the swamp have moved to higher ground. This beautiful place is still quite pristine. I wonít try to explain about big rivers except to say that the Mississippi, which has wandered around here and there over much of this country, wants badly to reroute again and join the Atchafalaya for a shorter route to the Gulf of Mexico. This would have happened already, leaving Baton Rouge and New Orleans high and dry, but for the Army Corps of Engineers and their control structure at Old River. The Corps stands on the corner there, like a cop, and decides which way the water goes today.

In 1972 a young lady named Gwen completed her graduate degree in speech and journalism at LSU and cast around for a quiet spot to get away from the turbulent society of the day. By the way, this was a really beautiful child and today is a beautiful lady who now lives in Georgia. Along with a childhood friend named Calvin, she stepped off into the swamp and stayed there for eight years, about as alone and isolated as it is possible to be. They acquired a big flat barge and an old house to tear down for material, and with a hammer and saw and a borrowed stepladder they built a house on the barge. Weíre talking a real house, not any sort of shanty or fishing camp. They didnít know how to do it, but they did it anyway Ė it took seven months to build.

They lived the life they had chosen and they loved it. It was a hard-working life, catching and selling fish to buy the absolute essentials. They had a garden on the levee and grew vegetables and raised chickens in a floating pen and sold eggs. They met and knew the fishermen and trappers who made their living on the water and in the swamp, including the very few who still lived in the Basin, as Gwen and Calvin did. The couple eventually separated, Gwen marrying a seaman she met on one of the tugs on the river. Calvin still lives on the edge of the swamp, and visits there to hunt and fish.

The video has great footage of the Basin, the swamp and the wildlife that lives there, sponsored by the folks at Louisiana Public Broadcasting. It runs for some forty minutes, but that includes a fifteen-minute pitch for financial support, an annual function of LPB, and you can fast forward past that segment, unless you would like to see the interview with Gwen, who made the trip from Georgia for one more trip into the Basin with Calvin and to appear with LPB. Still a handsome woman, she has written her account of the experience in a book of the same name, published by the LSU Press.

There are many great photos of Gwen and Calvin and the houseboat included on the video, nearly all taken by CC Lockwood, probably the best-known and most accomplished nature and wildlife photographer in this country. His work can be seen in outdoor studies commissioned by National Geographic and done up in coffee table books. Lockwood spent a great deal of time in the basin in his work and became one of the most welcome visitors to the houseboat. The three are lifelong friends.

Make no mistake Ė this is not a story about a beautiful place where worn-out people go to rest and get old and die. Itís about a beautiful place where a young couple in rubber boots, just buddies in the beginning, made themselves a home and a tough, wonderful life and lived it. Not forever, but for a long time. Gwen Roland noted with great satisfaction that the swamp has closed in behind them and healed any marks they left there. Thatís as it should be.

Donít forget. Watch Atchafalaya Houseboat. There may be a quiz on Monday.
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  #116  
Old 03-13-2018, 11:56 PM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Latest news

Lots of negative news items today. OJís hypothetical account of what might have happened to Nicole and Ron appeared last night on TV. Hard to figure why he ever did such an interview Ė just staying in the news a while longer, I suppose. President Trumpís alleged adventure with a stripper is scheduled for 60 Minutes soon, and here in Louisiana our Secretary of State is in similar trouble and under pressure to resign. An employee of his office says he has been stalking her. A couple of people in a U Haul truck ran over and killed a law officer in a Walmart parking lot just up the road. A guy shot a woman to death and then led the police on a chase to the bridge over the Mississippi, where he jumped into the river. Had his reasons for both, no doubt.

High crimes and misdemeanors against women have been front page stuff for a long time now, and the media loves it. Sort of a mother lode, in a manner of speaking. No end in sight.

Here on our site, no crimes are currently being committed, as far as I know, which is not to say we are without minor offenses against one another. Reading a link posted here recently I noted this phrase Ė Ďan ongoing degradation of public discourseí which describes the popular pursuit of firing out put-downs, cheap shots and scornful communications onto the internet. Al Gore, or whoever it was, created a tar-baby. Body language, voice inflections and facial expressions never make it past our keyboards, and our fences are poorly mended the following day as we scramble to get the Preparation H back into the tube with stark words and the occasional goofy emoticon.

All my posts since day one have concluded with ĎIf it ainít funny it ainít muchí, a minor disclaimer intended to reassure readers that I mean no harm. Even so, I have trod on a few toes over the years, without malice aforethought, and the injury can be traced to the failure of my words to convey my intentions. I might chuckle or grin when I write, but the reader is denied the sight or the sound Ė the message is only in what he sees. I have the luxury of this journal to avoid calling any reader by name; I can write to all the readers at once, and itís much better that way. A bit less editing required. Even at that, some of my best stuff is left on the cutting-room floor. Knowing what to write is no less important than knowing what not to write. I have never won a political argument Ė never seen one won, either.

Well, what else? Hereís one on a lighter note. I watched a good movie this weekend, in which the villain is a psychotic murderer, played by Luke Perry. I was about to say he was an ugly SOB, but I decided not to. Knowing what not to write, you know . . .
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  #117  
Old 03-28-2018, 08:28 PM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Trivia it ain't

Local stuff today – lots of news around my town. Couple of good items and the rest are of the other kind. The scotch-doubles match on Sunday at the local pool room was a big hit, even on short notice. Dennis Orcullo and Danny Smith staged an impressive comeback to beat Alex Pagulayan and Francisco Bustamante, and a crowd of local fans were treated to some top-level one pocket. The players put on a good show for modest money in the middle, and I would recommend such events to local promoters around the country. See what you might be able to do. This was good.

I recently went to the library to hear a talk by Mary Manhein, who is one of the few forensic anthropologists currently in action. She is known as the bone lady, and has published several books, including some fiction. She is the creator of the Faces Lab at LSU, and is called upon often by law enforcement to help with the identification of bodies. On several occasions she has taken bare skulls and filled out the faces, using formulas established by measurement of many live faces. Very good speaker. This was good, too. Also speaking was one of her graduate students who has labored for several years, using GPS to construct and document the outline boundaries of a lot of old cemeteries in the low-lying territory of south Louisiana that will soon be drowned by the rising water level of the Gulf. Burial at sea, so to speak. Needed to be done I suppose.

On the other side, a fourteen-year-old boy has been arrested for crossing into the wrong lane in his 2017 model car and killing two people on a motorcycle. Nailed ‘em head-on. Two counts of negligent homicide for a kid with no driver’s license. Nothing good to be said about that.

Porn star Stormy Daniels has reneged on her hush-money deal and ratted out the President on Sixty Minutes and the end of that mess is not yet in sight. Ms D is not a beginner in self-promotion, just as she is not an amateur at doing stuff for money or wedging her name into local headlines. While not even a Louisiana resident, some years ago she tried to run for Congress, promising she would screw people honestly. This is another bad news item.

In 2016 two Baton Rouge police officers responded to a call and wound up in a violent confrontation with Alton Sterling, a black man. In the melee, Sterling was killed by multiple gunshots from the police and local feelings ran dangerously high. An artist rendered a large portrait of Sterling on the wall of the convenience store where the event took place. The two officers have been on paid leave since that time and yesterday the DA announced that no charges would be filed against them for their actions. National experts took part in the investigation and decided that the shooting was justified, but that the officers handled the matter poorly. This case adds another name to the list of cop-on-black shootings that fuels outrage among some Americans.

The announcement was noted and reported nationally by just about everyone, and the family and their attorneys have declared their intention to file suit for justice, and it seems likely that money will be involved. The mother of three of Sterling’s five children intends to push hard to have the officers fired. It must be noted that Alton Sterling was not the harmless victim recalled by his family. He had a police record and at least one previous violent confrontation with the law. It must also be noted that the police officers used some bad judgment and some foul language toward Sterling as they took him down. Another inflammatory event in which nothing good could possibly happen – and won’t, either.

On the bright side, there is a crew breaking concrete right outside my kitchen window, preparing to patch some horrendous pot-holes in the driveway where I live. My Honda should appreciate their efforts.
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Last edited by vapros; 03-28-2018 at 11:00 PM.
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  #118  
Old 04-09-2018, 12:51 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default On being a journalist

Many years ago I wrote a weekly column for the Lafourche Comet, in metropolitan Thibodaux, Louisiana. In my mind I was the local version of Andy Rooney and some of my stuff was funny, but not all of it. At the time, I was running the twelve-lane bowling establishment on Hickory Street, doing some speech writing and editing for the Louisiana State Medical Society and doing play-by-play for high school football on Friday nights on station KCIL. Oh, and a daily bowling news show on the station every day, too, where my sign-on was an old song called Swinging Down the Lane. Rooney might not have been all that funny, either, if he had been doing all that stuff.

Maybe you think Ďmost anyone could write a column if he had a whole week to come up with some material, but sometimes I could not, especially at around midnight on the night before deadline. Like other writers, I suspect, I had a few fall-back sources that could always be tapped. (even so, I sometimes sent in some pretty lame columns). Being a conservative Republican, I occasionally turned to Jimmy Carter for help. Olí Jimmy was a successful peanut farmer down in Plains, Georgia, making him one of the few presidents in my lifetime that earned his own money, and a fair-to-partly-cloudy politician at best Ė but an opportunistic one.

During a presidential campaign, Jimmy made a solo fishing trip into the swamp during which he had to use his paddle to turn aside a swimming rabbit that approached his boat. Press secretary Jody Powell ratted him out to the media and everybody got good mileage from the president and the killer bunny. The best part was that the press got it all on film. Solo trip, my ass.

He had a trusted advisor named Hamilton Jordan who became a famous slob when he got to Washington. The media discovered that Jordanís car was extensively cluttered by McDonaldís sandwich wrappers and mouldy French fries, and that he had slept in it many times in the early days. Jimmy had a brother named Billy who drank so much beer they named one for him. I must confess that I have abused them all in print on more than one occasion. They were just too easy.

Itís the same with my journal here. Being an elderly schizoid from the bowling world and having long ago used up my few pool stories, sometimes my spot suffers from a lack of attention, and I canít even claim that Iím too busy. Iím not. The Journals forum was my idea in the first place and Steve blessed the idea and I intend to do better with my own corner of it. On this website we have many members who can write, even if they might deny it, and sometimes we have seen great pool stories (but not lately). It is more sad than funny to recognize the wealth of good stories floating around in the ozone Ė stories that seem doomed to die with the people who could tell them Ė and to never be recorded at all, adroitly or otherwise.

There is plenty of room here among the journals for some fresh motion. Currently on the Memberís Cafť there is a great thread by some pool players who dig in their yards and grow interesting things, healthy comestibles among them. (Iíve been waiting forty years for a chance to use that word.) And they have great pictures, too, that would decorate this forum pretty good. Not everyone can be a peanut farmer, Democrat or not, but these guys are making good use of their time away from the pool table, anyway. I have had yards in my time, but I wasted them, and thatís nothing to be proud of.

So I meant to say today that Iím going to write a bit about one-pocket and me in this journal, maybe before the end of this week. Itís something I know a bit about. In the meantime, lemme note that I can see my eighty-sixth birthday from here, and that I am a better one-pocket player now than I was at eighty. I will tell you about it.
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  #119  
Old 04-16-2018, 01:14 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default My A game

A week ago in this journal I promised to explain why I am a better one pocket player today than I was six years ago. To prove my point, my plan was to play several times in the coming week and create some positive stats to report today. Instead, I got to play only once this past week and lost to a long-time adversary I had intended to beat convincingly. Played like Ned in the primer – so much for impressive stats – but I stand by my promise. I really am better now, but what I am saying is that my A game is much better now, at least when I can bring it, and therein lies the rub.

On a couple of recent occasions I have played with a local player whose one pocket game is considerably better than mine. He shoots straighter, can function when jacked up and can also draw the cue ball, all advantages over me. He plays hard and silently and does not intend to lose any games to a player at my level. However, I always play without comment myself, and with my best effort to deny him his advantages and to take good care of Jojo, I find I can hang in there pretty good and win some games as we go. Jojo is in charge of all one pocket games, I’m in no doubt about that. I lost by 5-3 and then by 4-2. Better than I expected and cause for a bit of encouragement. I really like to play this guy, but I find that level of effort is hard to sustain.

At age 86, I don’t schedule my appearances at the local pool room. I have to wait to see how I feel when I get up in the morning. Always sleepy after breakfast, and have been that way for many years, but that happens to be when I have to go out if I’m going at all. There are days when I arise with scarce the vitality to waggle my pecker after I pee. Nothing to do but stay in the house. On the other hand, I am spared the vision failure that seems to afflict many older people. I can see the edges of the balls just fine – and I have no trembling in my hands. It’s a matter of continuing frustration that I haven’t become a better shot maker than I am, but it is what it is. I like the object ball to lie close to the rail, as it gives me a line to follow. ‘Splain that to me.

So, I am a better player today because my A game is better. Watching Efren Reyes videos has made it better. Now I have to learn to bring it to the table more often and to make it last more than a couple of hours. My intentions are always good, but too often they go by the boards.

I had a discussion with Joe Long a few days ago (BR LongArm). Discussions with Joe are always interesting and I try not to pass them up. The railbirds might think we are arguing, and with some cause. Joe and I are very different kinds of people, but probably the two biggest one pocket fans in this town. Whatever else, I think we are a couple of guys who understand each other, and that’s important. And at holiday time, he often invites me to his house for dinner, and Joe’s house is a fine place to eat. We used to play some cheap matches – race to three for twenty bucks – and he gave me 10-6 and the breaks, so he plays this game at a higher level than I do. The match was right; I could either win or lose.

This week we discussed this web site and were in agreement that it is by far the best place for one pocket players and fans, but we had differing views concerning optimum priorities here. My own thinking is that the game is best served if we promote participation and interest at all levels – from my level to his and beyond. Play it and talk it up and bet on it, if you like and the match is favorable. Joe would like to see more emphasis on competition that might establish a current ranking among the top one pocket players through tournament play. For our information, he is charting money winnings in the major events, a possible basis for determining who might be in the field for an annual championship event. A guy who will put his money where his mouth is would not be a bad place to start. Just an idea at this point, said Joe.

To me, action among the big-name players is more a source of visual entertainment and fuel for spirited discussions and betting. A great deal of it is now readily available to watch, whether real time (free or ppv) or by DVD. With few exceptions, one-pocket heroes come and go quickly. Who is best today will always be of great interest to most of us, but not a basis for our web site. Our Jack Nicklaus has not yet been named. Joe commented that I am a bit negative and pessimistic. I took a deep breath, preparing to debate with him on that, but had to let it go by. He was probably right.
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Last edited by vapros; 04-22-2018 at 01:48 PM.
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Old 04-22-2018, 01:56 PM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Goin' to Jackson

Very good one-pocket viewing today on YouTube, from the Green Room in Jackson, Mississippi – I don’t know which year. Two outstanding matches, back to back, with Cliff Joyner beating Danny Smith and then Billy Young. Tom Wirth might have termed it semi-controlled aggression. No one passed up an opportunity to shoot, and even most of the boldest ventures were successful. Lucky, as a viewer, that I could rewind and get a second look at what happened. Big Truck could have used some help on the commentary. He introduced a second guy into the booth, but his visitor sat quietly until he finally said he had to go home.

Billy Young was a big heavy guy and he matched Joyner shot for shot and escape for escape and could have won the puny eight hundred-dollar first prize with any help at all. In a race to five that went hill-hill, they played nine games in just over one hundred minutes. Do the math. Great entertainment that rivalled the Varner-Daulton matchup from South Carolina that I had found earlier.

I’m enjoying the recent posts in the Action Stories thread on this site. It was a great idea that seems to have taken hold and is off and running. If we are lucky it will be a continuing popular feature here. There has never been any doubt that the stories were out there, if only someone would give ‘em up – and now some of them are coming to light. Goody for us. Many are from the west coast, and any tale that mentions Cole Dickson or Keith McCready or Ronnie Allen is a sure bet to draw a crowd. Keith is still on his feet and could offer plenty, even if they come to us through JAM. Poker or not, he could be one of our best contributors if he would.

As many of you know, my background is in bowling rather than in pool, and I have been in more than a few bowling centers. However, bowlers never moved around to new places looking for action, as compared to pool players, so when I say more than a few I don’t mean hundreds of places. A few dozen, maybe. There are several reasons for this, one difference being that gambling – especially big money gambling – has always been a pool thing, not bowling. Also, bowling in someone else’s house is a form of suicide, and you find this to be true at an early age. Don’t go on the road – much too bumpy out there.

So, it comes as a bit of a shock to hear how many adventures took place on the pool tables in bowling alleys. This first came to my attention in Alfie Taylor’s fine book, The Other Side of the Road, and I’m seeing it repeated in the current action stories. I never really knew any such thing was happening on the little tables there, and I’m assuming they were nearly always bar boxes, too. Always figured it was a bunch of juvenile delinquents in there, probably abusing the tables and sticks. I was not so aware of the grownup delinquents that must have been in there. Can’t recall nine-footers in bowling alleys, or at least I did not notice.

Today I am seeing the irony of the bowlers out front, performing on a hundred thousand dollars worth of equipment and betting five or ten dollars, as compared to the thousands of dollars changing hands over a coin table that might have cost three hundred in that day. My analogy would be better yet if I could report on a couple of high rollers out in the rain on the parking lot, pitching quarters at a crack in the concrete and betting millions, but even my imagination won't stretch that far.

Gambling at bowling consisted of pot games, or jackpots as they were called in some areas; several guys on a pair of lanes betting anything from three bucks per game to a max of twenty. On pool tables they would be ring games. The big-time bowling was always tournaments, and especially the big-name teams in my day. Talking here about the St. Louis Buds or the Strohs from Detroit or TriPar Radio in Chicago, etc. Individual matches would be home-and-home; maybe ten games at your place and ten games at mine, for total pins. I have done some of that, but not for really big money.

Another major difference was organization. Bowling had it, pool did not, and that has mysteriously reversed. Success in bowling depended on league play, but today it is more important in pool rooms. Bowling practice and technology has gone off and left me, as has the strength for it that I had. I don’t follow it any more. The only constant is change.
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Last edited by vapros; 04-22-2018 at 02:43 PM.
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