All I Have To Do Is Drink

The Everly Brothers
Don & Phil weren’t there for the free lunch.

I extended our artistic empire to a Bowery-bum drop-in center down the street. One of our loft neighbors worked there and asked me to entertain at a sobriety anniversary party. I declined since my guitar repertoire consisted of two songs – “All I Have to Do Is Dream” by the Everly Brothers and not “All I Have to Do Is Dream”by the Everly Brothers. And, I had to watch my hands to play both. I sucked. And, I knew it. Thus, I had never imposed myself on an audience. But, our neighbor assured me that this audience would appreciate anything I could offer. So, against my better judgment but already planning to dress all in black, I took the gig. 

Santa Claus on The Bowery in NYC
Santa wasn’t there for the free methadone.
I don’t think.

On party day, quivering with stage fright, I fought my way into the drop-in center past a line of bums waiting for their lunch. Then I fought my way into the party room past a line of junkies waiting for their methadone. There I faced a roomful of the scariest scum ever to crawl out of a Bowery sewer. But, it was like Old Home Week because I recognized most of the bums from my doorstep – faces red, swollen and scarred, eyes glassy, smiles toothless, hair plastered to their skulls with Brylcreem. And, on top of those skulls sat pointy party-hats with a big red on the front. There were balloons, garlands and a birthday cake with a candle in the shape of a big red 1. Clearly, these men were celebrating their first anniversary sober. I didn’t know if it was their first year or month but judging from the smell that wafted from their persons, I guessed it was their first day sober. And, probably their last. 

Boy outa Brooklyn a murder-memoir by Jack Antonio 
Image: the smiling face of Steeplechase park in Coney Island, Brooklyn
Available as a paperback and eBook
And as an eBook here

The Four Horsemen of the Mailroom

The Four Preps
The Four Preps or the Four Aces?

I worked in a mailroom with an actor who had been a stand-in for many of the close-harmony groups of the 1950s – The Four Freshmen, The Four Lads, The Four Aces, The Four Preps, The Four This, The Four ThatPeople didn’t know what those singers looked like so it was easy to slip in a sub. His closet had been stuffed with plaid sports coats and college letter-sweaters. He had also been a busy jingle-singer on the radio. In the 1940s and ’50s, radio programs would broadcast live from New York then wait three hours for the time change and perform again for the West Coast. During those three-hour breaks, bored singers drank. He was bored. He drank away his wife, his voice, his career. He was twice my age and, like me, working for the minimum wage.

“Please, God,” I prayed, “shoot me before I become him.” 

The Four Aces
The Four Aces or the Four Lads?
The Four Lads
The Four Lads or
the Four Freshmen ?
The Four Freshmen
The Four Freshmen or The Brothers Four?
Boy Outa Brooklyn a murder memoir by Jack Antonio 
Image: the smiling face of Steeplechase Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn
Available as a paperback and eBook
And as an eBook here