The Nazi-CIA Connection

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In what constitutes a corporate media “scoop,” the New York Times recently reported on how “newly disclosed records and interviews” broke [sic] this story: “In the decades after World War II, the CIA and other United States agencies employed at least a thousand Nazis as Cold War spies and informants and, as recently as the 1990s, concealed the government’s ties to some still living in America.”

Such is life in a corporate propaganda state…

The Nazi-CIA connection is ancient news but is finally getting play some seven decades later when it’s safe to file it under “Mistakes, well-intentioned.”

Here’s my “scoop”: The Nazi-CIA connection should be filed under “Policy, standard operating.” Please read on for a much-needed history lesson…

handpointRTig Click here to read my full article

(Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism can be ordered here.)

Self Defense for Radicals

This is Your Ocean on Acid

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The oceans aren’t dying. The oceans are being killed.

handpointRTig Click here to read my full article

(Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism can be ordered here.)

Waterbugs don’t do burpees

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This story begins with five waterbug facts:

  1. Not really a “waterbug” but rather an American Roach (Periplaneta americana)
  2. Can reach up to 2 1/8 inches in length
  3. A strong flier and both sexes have fully developed wings
  4. Reddish-brown in color with a yellowish band near the head
  5. They prefer warm, damp areas like basements

I offer this information because some of the gyms at which I’ve trained clients have been at basement level. Therefore, it was impossible to avoid the occasional visit from a multi-legged, reddish-brown creature at such venues. Needless to say, my clients were not amenable to sharing mat space with a Periplaneta americana.

Inevitably, however, it almost happened…

Here’s the set-up: It was a humid August morning. A female client and I were the only people using an Upper East Side basement gym. In other words, we had ourselves got a moist, low-traffic basement environment.

Right on cue, with my client performing a set of push-ups, I discerned movement out of the corner of my eye. If you’ve ever seen a waterbug run, you know what I mean. These bastards can cover ground quickly and they are not diminutive.  If one decides to scurry past you, it does not go overlooked.

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Fortunately, my client was wiping her face with a towel. This gave me a chance to reach out with my left leg and lightly foot-slap the Periplaneta americana into the corner…out of sight for now, but definitely not out of mind.

Why didn’t I squash it, you wonder?

Practical reason: Even if I were able to kill it on my first try (highly unlikely, I’ve seen waterbugs survive 10-20 foot stomps), this would result in a very conspicuous death scene smack dab in the middle of the stretching area.

Philosophical reason: Thou shalt not kill.

Our two-and-one-eighth incher played hide and seek with me for the rest of the session and I garnered some odd looks from my client as I maneuvered her from one end of the small gym to the other.

Hey, the stakes were high. If she caught sight of him, and she’d never wanna train in that facility again…leaving me in the desperate position of finding a new gym that welcomed outside trainers before I lost her as a client.

When Periplaneta suddenly vanished, I spent the remaining few minutes of our workout sweating…just waiting for him to magically appear a few inches from my client’s face. Besides the inevitable screaming, such an occurrence could create the type of bad energy that could forever taint a trainer-client relationship.

She eventually finished up and left…leaving me to spend the rest of the day hoping Periplaneta hadn’t hitched a ride in her gym bag.

The one that got away…

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Last week

I wrote the greatest poem in history

Didn’t realize it at the time

Riding the subway…a Manhattan-bound R Train

Wrote the poem by hand in my notebook

Sloppy script

All this typing has ruined my once-proud handwriting

The rocking of the g.d. train didn’t help

Other side of the page was a to-do list for the day

Got home that night and tore out the page…forgetting

the poem on the flipside

Tossed the paper in the recycle bin (like a good citizen)

Following morning: garbage trucks were here

to pick up the clear bags filled

with newspaper and cardboard

…and discarded verses

That’s precisely when I realized I’d written

the greatest poem in history

But you’re just gonna have to trust me on that…

Why 14-year-olds don’t run the world

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It was Spring 2003. After training my early-morning clients on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, I’d ride the N or the now-defunct W train under the East River back to the friendly confines of Astoria. I never failed to raise my eyes from whatever book I was reading to smile when the train rumbled out into the sunlight. We made through a 100+ year-old water tunnel yet again! Hallelujah.

Once, when heading straight to another gym where I’d do my own workout, I got off the train two stops early—36th Avenue, my old stomping grounds—and I soon noticed that Joe’s Pizzeria has fallen victim to Astoria’s creeping gentrification.

On the corner of 36th and 31st, the decades-old pizza joint had its windows covered with newspaper and was undergoing a metamorphosis into yet another Manhattan-style eatery.

Years ago…many years ago…my friends and I were regulars at Joe’s (although we never got a satisfactory answer as to why it wasn’t named after Gino, the owner). We’d hit up passersby for jukebox money, order a slice, and then wait for other customers to put their money down on the counter so we could pretend it was ours to pay for the slice (and maybe even get an Italian ice on a good night).

Through it all, Gino seemed to like us. He even sponsored our 14-and-under softball team with jerseys that unfortunately read: Joe’s Pizzera.

No spell-check back then.

Whenever we won (which we did often), Gino would give everyone on the team a free slice. Not satisfied with the meager schedule of games provided to us by the (original) Long Island City YMCA, we’d occasionally don our jerseys on off-nights and show up with heroic stories of late-inning comebacks.

Gino never questioned our arduous softball schedule (or lack of bats and gloves) so we got more free slices. There we were, listening to Grand Funk Railroad, a group of juvenile delinquents in pizza sauce-stained jerseys…fueling up before a long night of mischief.

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These images and more came to me in a flood as I neared at the soon-to-be-trendy-café. When I got closer, you see, I discovered that the newspaper being used to block out the windows of my old haunt was, shock and awe, the first issue of Wide Angle—a local newspaper for which I was serving as senior editor at the time. In fact, there was my column (named Cool Observer) facing out to the street, covering a window that a much younger version of me once gazed out of.

This was a life-flashing-before-my-eyes moment.

I played first base for the Joe’s Pizzera softball team…unusual for my size but, hey, I’ve never done the expected, I guess. I made the all-star team and my Dad wanted to come watch me. It was being played at the old L.I.C. High School yard just 3 blocks away from our fourth-floor walk-up…but I asked him to stay home. When you’re 14, parents are useless (unless you consider being annoying a use).

Midway through the game, I made a big play in the field and looked around at the folks clapping for me. That’s when I noticed my Dad watching near third base…trying to hide behind the entrance gate. The next inning, I doubled with the bases loaded. I ended up coming in a close second for game MVP award. I did all this while my Dad surreptitiously watched. Thankfully, he ignored my petulant edict. 

I guess that’s why 14-year-olds don’t run the world.

Joe’s Pizzeria (with or without the second “i”) is gone now and the pages of Wide Angle (also long gone now) once camouflaged its future incarnation. I wonder, what would the 14-year-old me think of all this “progress”?

Would that long-haired punk even notice the odd character—wearing a purple hemp winter cap with the word “vegan” emblazoned on it—wistfully gazing at a window covered in newspaper?

Would he find any interest in the subversive message of that Cool Observer column? Would this glimpse into the future inspire curiosity…or dread?

Nah…the 14-year-old me would’ve had only one thing to say to his older counterpart: “Ya got a quarter?”

Planet of the Living Dead (Halloween 2014)

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Halloween is an odd holiday. The ostensible concept—as it has evolved to become—is to shock, startle, frighten, petrify, horrify, and/or terrify…all while consuming enough high fructose corn syrup to keep the American Dental Association content for another century or two.

Step away from the candy corn…

Every year, as October 31 nears, loyal consumers also squander a small fortune to adorn their soon-to-be-foreclosed-upon abodes with Made-in-China images of tombstones, skulls, ghouls, goblins, monsters, zombies, and even the occasional bloody severed limb or two. But let’s face it, none of these cardboard depictions remotely compare to the real-life horrors we passively accept as normal.

handpointRTig Click here to read my full article

(Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism can be ordered here.)