Thursday, January 8, 2004

Okay, okay! Not sure if I can come up with 20 things you may not know about me (especially if you've read this journal regularly the over the past year) but I'll give it a shot and try not to repeat anything. Take your pick in laying the blame for this: Dawn, Tony or RAC.

1. I skipped the first two weeks of all of my classes my senior year in High School. I lied my way back into all but one, my Health class, a half-year requirement. Took in the final semester and had to take my final on a different day thanks to a schedule conflict. The test was misplaced and not graded and the day before graduation, at rehearsal, I was told I wasn't graduating. They found it later that day and everything worked out but I was as scared as I'd ever been for those few hours.

2. I was on the Winter Track team that year. Hurdles and the 400m relay. Nearly blacked out during my first relay competition. Went from 1st to 5th in my first hurdles event after tripping over the last hurdle. The assistant coach was also my Meterology teacher (half-year elective, anyone?) and gave 5 points towards the final grade for every individual medal won. I won two medals. I got a 75 in the class. (Side note: He was also a Jets fan, his stated reason for letting me back into his Oceanography class after missing two weeks, per #1.)

3. I smoked weed for the first time that year, in the courtyard where most people openly smoked cigarettes. This was Lakeland High School, the school I was uprooted from Mt. Vernon for at the end of the 11th grade because it had better test scores and was in "a better environment." Translation: white neighborhood.

4. I turned down a scholarship to the School of Visual Arts (film) in 1987 to concentrate on being a full-time Jehovah's Witness.

5. My first roommate after I left home (and the JW's) in 1988 had a girlfriend that was on Pan Am's Flight 108 that crashed in Lockerbie that year. We had a Christmas party planned for that weekend and she was to come down for it and stay for the week.

6. I drank my first beer, Budweiser, in that apartment in late 1988, followed by three more during a game of quarters. I threw up, brushed my teeth and drank two more before passing out. The next morning, I was awakened by knocking on the door. My mother, who had no idea where I'd moved, had somehow found me. She claimed Jehovah led her to me.

7. I sold cars, Fords, for a week and a half in 1988. The first 4 days were spent in a back room watching videos about the different cars and cold-calling people right out of the phone book. Spent three days on the sales floor getting stepped on by more experienced, cutthroat salesmen. Lost my first potential sale when the manager kept trying to push them into a Taurus when what they wanted, and could afford, was a Tempo. Quit the next day and never picked up my paycheck.

8. In 1990, I moved to Miami Beach on a whim with my cousin and a friend after playing hooky from work one day and walking around Staten Island where we were living at the time. The move was sparked by an old 70s convertible Impala we saw that was for sale and dreams of an exciting road trip. Four weeks later, we were heading south, on Greyhound. Took a cab to South Beach, wandered Collins Avenue and ended up renting a room at the Geneva, a small unconverted art deco hotel that housed many a senior citizen.

9. While attending Miami-Dade Community College, I joined the school newspaper. At the height of Desert Shield, I fabricated a quote for my first published article from an unnamed student, comparing the FBI's questioning of Arab citizens to the Japanese internments of World War II. I felt the point needed to be made.

10. From 1987-1990, I worked at Friendly's, the Bank of New York, a Ford dealer, Friendly's again, the Federal Reserve Bank, Doubleday Bookshops, Reggae Rockers (dance club), Big Easy (Cajun restaurant), Suncoast Restaurant (in Jordan Marsh) and the Colony (hotel restaurant). The last four were in Miami. The Colony, struggling while I was there, became one of the hottest places in South Beach a few months after I left. I read about it in the Army.

11. I attempted to join the Army three times between 1988-1990 but couldn't get around needing a waiver for my flat feet. They clear your records after two years and I got in early March of 1991, clearing the medical screening by standing so it looked like my feet were arched normally. The Gulf War was on at the time.

12. Besides completing Airborne school and jumping out of a plane 12 times, I also went through Air Assault school, rappelling out of helicopters hovering 100 feet off the ground. I briefly considered attempting the Special Forces qualification course.

13. Upon returning to NYC from the Army in late 1993, I fell into the publishing field after two temp assignments at K-III Directory Corp (which later became Primedia, where I worked in 2001). On the 3rd day of my second assignment, one of the Circulation Assistants quit, leaving behind a mess. I quickly taught myself the fulfillment program she used and voluntarily took over her workload. Nine months later, I was hired full-time and began a "career" in audience marketing.

14. I slammed as an individual in five Friday night slams at the Nuyorican Poets Café in 1997-98 and only lost one: the Grand Slam Finalé. I tied another, with Alix Olson, when both of us made the team that won in Austin that summer.

15. I had already qualified for the Grand Slam Finale before I ever won a Wednesday night slam open. It was the only Wednesday slam open I ever won.

16. I proposed to Salomé from the stage at the Nuyorican on March 20, 1998 (the same week I took over the reading series at Bar 13) at the end of a team slam against Philadelphia. Roger Bonair-Agard, who came with me to pick up the ring having no idea beforehand, spent much of the evening trying to talk me out of it. He ended up being my best man.

17. The first year of a little bit louder, it lost money as often as it broke even. It wasn't until I added the slam format in September 1998 that it really got its legs and a more consistent following of poets and audience. Salomé was the regular door person the first year or so and I often doubled as host and DJ.

18. I've always liked what poetry does for people way more than poetry itself. I actually intensely dislike most poetry. Most poets, too.

19. From 1991-2003, I've worked for the US Army, K-III Directory Corp., Starbright Graphics, Habitat Magazine, Poets & Writers, The Academy of American Poets, Freelance, Primedia, American Express Financial Advisors and Thomson Media.

20. All things considered, I think Bloomberg is doing a pretty good job and would vote for his reelection. Right now, Ferrer is the only one that could take my vote from him.


I probably read this journal as much, if not more, than anyone else. As much as I like communicating, whomever you may be, it primarily serves as both a writing exercise and a release. (The site meter is set to ignore my visits, though.) I am interested in who's following along, though, so drop me a quick note in the guestbook. :-)

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