Category Archives: Author Notes

Apple Pie and Chevrolet

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I saw this guy in an older Chevy Pick-up this morning. He’s about my age, wearing a John Deere hat, big wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth. I’m left wondering Red Man or Levi Garrett.

The truck had some Trump bumper sticker’s,  a “Stop Planned Parenthood” bumper sticker, a flag,  America flag. I was pretty sure his radio was to set to some country music station…

I’m hoping there would be Hank Sr. or George Jones. Those guys were goddamn poets. Maybe some Earl Scruggs. I don’t think you can really appreciate music until you have immersed yourself in Foggy Mountain Breakdown. I’m serious about this. All of this. Continue reading Apple Pie and Chevrolet

We Are All We Have

All day I’ve been thinking about the mix in my family and friends. It’s a pretty even mix,

Hispanic, African, Eastern European, Northern European, Mediterranean,  Middle Eastern, Caribbean. It’s been that way all my life. Unintentional, just how it happened.

I don’t love everyone, I hate a few people. That has always been based on who they are or what they did to deserve my hatred. I seriously don’t understand the bullshit that is tearing this country apart. If I love you I love you. If I don’t there’s a reason, that reason has nothing to do with your skin color, or where your ancestors came from. Continue reading We Are All We Have

My Mom’s Doctor is a Scary Muslim

LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES – FEBRUARY 4: Demonstrators against President Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban come together at Los Angeles International Airport, in Los Angeles, California, United States on February 4, 2017. (Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

 

My mom has Alzheimer’s, a brutal disease. Her doctor is a Muslim. His name is Islam, actually, Mahbub Islam. I have his cell number, he has mine. He’s answered my call at 1 AM on a Sunday morning.

He calls her “Mama” and hugs her when he sees her. He calls me “Billy,” actually BEELEE. I’ve seen him have tears of frustration in his eyes as we try to work together dealing with congestive heart failure, kidney failure, pain management and a whole slew of elder care challenges. We have had many heart-to-heart talks about palliative care and exactly that means and what we are dealing with here.

“This is not the place for heroics, Beelee, this is about caring and comfort.” Continue reading My Mom’s Doctor is a Scary Muslim

The Black Dirt

Black Dirt Onion Field, Pine Island, NY

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday I was driving through the Black Dirt, it was ninety-five degrees.

The temperature coming off that dried muck had to be near one hundred, if not more. I’ve never felt hot like that particular and peculiar hot coming off those goddamned fields.

In Orange County, in the 1970’s, to have worked out in the Black Dirt is a rite, a passage, it is something you did so that forty or fifty years later you could tell the stories with authenticity. Continue reading The Black Dirt

War On Drugs Hidden Victims

The war on drugs has hidden victims, babies and kids pushed under the rug, in hopes they will just go away. Tiny babies born addicted to heroin and Percocet, Oxy and Fentanyl.

I know one. She came into this world sick. Dog sick. Dope sick. You’ve never seen sick until you’ve seen dope sick. I can hardly imagine being born that sick. I’ve seen grown men in tears and puking and shaking, near death, from being dope sick. It’s hard for me to fathom this happening to a baby. Continue reading War On Drugs Hidden Victims

The Good, The Bad and Junkyards in Jersey

 

 

 

 

Everyone knows they are going to die, I’m not sure we all believe it. I don’t believe it. I don’t live like I believe it.

My friend with cancer, tonight, I realized she knows it and believes it. There is a profound difference between the two. It’s a coming to terms with everyone’s greatest fear. I saw the reality in her eyes. I saw a fear filled peace.

I run from it, refuse to accept it or believe because I’m so fucking scared of it.

I should accept it. I’ve done enough stupid shit, been so close too many times. Continue reading The Good, The Bad and Junkyards in Jersey

A Farm

A few months ago woman mailed me an old picture; a cow in a field of short grass. In the background was a man and a boy on a tractor, they were in straw hats. Even from fifty years away I could still feel the heat of the sun that day. I could smell the grass, now hay, cut and drying in that sun.

I slowly became lost in the photo. I remember that cow, we ate her. Tough meat. She went down fighting, I remember the day. I stood there while she was shot in the head. Continue reading A Farm

This thing called life — sitting on a couch in Newburgh, NY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had a surprise meeting, a meeting of the minds, I suppose, last night with this young woman, Jennie Torres, a writer, a student.

We talked about writing, novels and short stories and blogs and music. We discussed the importance of creating change, if nothing else creating a dialog though our work. We discussed the difference between great writing and the nonsense available as published work today; too many stories of wizards and demons and vampires and bare-chested men with wings – and not enough actual literature that makes people think.

The difference between telling a real story story through music, hip-hop, or glorifying a negative image of a culture that already has far too much negativity and prejudice attached to it.

The importance of poetry, real, raw, angry poetry.

The importance of keeping it real.

I showed her this Hemingway quote:

“In the morning there was a big wind blowing and the waves were running high up on the beach and he was awake a long time before he remembered that his heart was broken.”

It was amazing to see her reaction, from her appreciation for simple, perfect sentence structure, to the emotions she felt from this handful of words. Continue reading This thing called life — sitting on a couch in Newburgh, NY

Great review of The Third Step – Thank you William Bittner

 

Just finished reading “The Third Step” by William Lobb. First and foremost I would like to say thank you to William for gifting me a print copy of this book. Sometimes gifts come from the most unexpected places and I will forever be grateful for this experience.

Now, “The Third Step” is, from my perspective one of the most enlightening and life altering experience I’ve had, and will probably have in 2017. This is early in the year but it will be a hard task to beat this read. If you are familiar with The 12 Step Program used in AA/NA you will know that The Third Step is “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him”. As an Agnostic and a person who has worked the program for the last 4,837 days this was and still continues to be one of the most difficult steps. William’s character Frankie being an Atheist has a difficult time figuring this one out as well. This reads like the memoir of a struggling Alcoholic Drug Addict and his adventures through life and the struggles along the way. He becomes a killer (which he seems to enjoy), and starts running drugs up and down the east coast in a truck filled with and hidden among produce and flowers for the mob. It is not until Frankie ends up in New Orleans among the dregs and what some consider the low life of society that he finally starts to get his life together is some form or fashion. His help comes from the most unexpected places and people. Not from the clean cut, bible thumping, holier than thou group of thugs, but from the kindness of strangers, i.e. prostitutes, leather clad gay men and as I said before the dregs of society will be the ones to lift Frankie to a place where he can finally take a look at his inner demons. Demons that seem to travel with him on his journey whether real or imagined that exist for him in a very big way. The writing was excellent and the story was at time way too real. Gritty, dark, honest psychological thriller adventure worthy of the genre. I will look back on this book many times in my life and it will stay with me for a very long time. I highly recommend this read for anyone who has or is going through recovery as it will be very relatable. I also recommend this for anyone who isn’t going through recovery as it will give you an insight into the struggle and challenge of working a program such as this. Getting to a place where we can embrace clarity and gratitude without having to make the struggle with who this higher power is to us. Realizing that maybe we put too much thought into it that we forget to just be…I am moved and grateful for this read, journey and experience. Thank you again William.

Synopsis: (from back cover): Dark, gritty, and riddled with back alley characters, The Third Step is one man’s journey into the black recesses of his own soul…

Meet Frankie, a young, disaffected amateur boxer, really more of a punching bag, a drunk and a drug addict. He is a loser at love, except for his relationship with his grandma, who, rumor has it, is a white witch. She, along with a handful of others, serve as his moral compass.

Frankie fights a lifelong struggle to find an understanding of the creator of the universe, not the poisoned caricature painted by the church and the “holy” people who seem to torment him.

His journey takes him from the East Coast down to New Orleans to face confrontations with his demons, both real and imagined. Along the way, the story is littered with tales of drug smuggling, murder, an affair with a woman who may be the devil herself, and an ultimate quest for revenge.

Frankie comes to terms with his addictions, but his search for a deeper understanding of this God entity and his need to connect with his soul could be his ultimate addiction, one that may follow him beyond the grave… (less)

Continue reading Great review of The Third Step – Thank you William Bittner