CONTAINER DIARIES

September 27, 2014

DEBATE THIS

The following dialogue is a work of fiction.

Friday night. Late September. Two teenagers hanging out on the stoop on Windsor Place. 

“Fuck Derek Jeter!” Johnny shouted.

“Whaddya mean, fuck Derek Jeter?” answered Billy.

Johnny wasn’t having any more of the non-stop coverage on the Yankees shortstop of the past 20 years.

“I’m so tired of all this bullshit with Jeter on TV!”

“Yeah well he’s one of the greatest Yankees of all-time,” Billy assured his friend.

Everything on TV was about Derek Jeter. The New York Post, New York Times, Newsday and the Daily News all had the Kalamazoo Kid on their covers this morning.

IMG_1922

“I don’t care, and he’s not one of the best Yankees of all-time,” Johnny shot back.

Oh boy, that infamous comparison between ballplayers. You can just feel it coming. Remember Mickey Mantle, Willie Mayes and Duke Snider?

“Yeah he is,” Billy protested.

“Gimme a fuckin break Billy. Last night was bullshit. Any other manager would have walked Jeter with an open base.”

MLB Network had the game live. Bob Costas and Kim Kaat were on the call. If you were a diehard, or stuck at work, you listened to Suzy Waldman on the radio. Maybe not the radio part.

Derek Jeter had the game winning hit with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Yankees had a man on second. Some sports talk radio callers this morning wondered if Orioles manager Buck Showalter should have walked Jeter to set up a possible double play.

“Showalter was drunk!” Johnny babbled.

By now you could imagine, Johnny was a Mets fan who hated the Yankees. Billy was a Yankees fan and hated the Mets. But many Mets fans from the neighborhood respected Jeter.

“Look bro, it’s Babe first, Gehrig second, Mantle and then Joe D.” Billy added.

Johnny sits there waiting for Billy to say Derek Jeter is fifth, ready to jump all over him.

“And Jeter is the fifth best of all-time.”

“NO FUCKIN’ WAY!” Johnny shouted as an old lady walking across the street looked over at them.

“Whaddya lookin’ at, mind your own business lady!” Johnny screamed.

By now Billy was laughing his ass off.

“Leave the lady alone,” Billy barked. “That’s Joey’s grandmother.”

Johnny was pissed. Perturbed and steaming.

“I mean Billy, even Yankee fans are tired of all the coverage.”

“Here comes Scooter, let’s ask him,” Billy uttered.

“Fuck Scooter, he’s a Yankee fan. Whaddya think he’s gonna say?” Johnny stressed. “Plus he doesn’t even have cable.”

“He knows the history of the ballclub,” Billy reminded Johnny.

“Later for him, he’s like 90 years old!”

Scooter came walking by the boys on the stoop. He looked at them, stopped and started to talk.

“SHUT UP SCOOTER!” Johnny shouted. “I don’t wanna hear about Jeter, Yogi Berra or Mickey Rivers.”

The old man couldn’t get a word out so he continued on his way. Billy was laughing again.

“Look man, Jeter is good, I will give him that but this tribute shit is too much.”

Billy was a bit frustrated trying to get Johnny to understand what all the fuss is about.

“I got an idea. Let’s go up to Farrell’s, stand outside and ask every baseball fan that goes in and comes out,” Billy stressed.

Johnny stood up and spit the sidewalk.

“That sounds like a plan,” Johnny said as both boys made their way up to Farrell’s.

The patrons in Farrell’s were both Yankee and Mets fans. Same for football; you had Giants and Jets fans, split down the middle. The Knicks had way more fans than the Nets though. Matter of fact, many of the Nets fans were once Knicks fans but decided to switch over. With the Nets home arena on Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, it was convenient to root for the Nets.

The two teens stood outside the side door of Farrell’s on 16th street and waited for people.

“Yo, Frankie, is Derek Jeter one of the greatest Yankees ever?” Billy asked.

Frankie looked at Billy, then at Johnny.

“Of course he is.”

“Where would you rank him?”

“Top 10, maybe top 5?” Frankie answered as he spit on the curb and put out his cigarette before heading into the bar.

“Thanks Frankie,” Billy shouted as the door slammed.

“You know what, this is a stupid idea, let’s get the fuck outta here,” Johnny protested.

“Nah man, we’re gonna ask a few more baseball fans.”

“OK, you ask the question, Larry King.  I’m outta here,” Johnny teased as he started walking up to the avenue.

“Yo Johnny, where ya going?”

Without looking back, Johnny answered, “I’m going to get an egg cream at Rae and Otto’s.”

Billy stood outside Farrell’s.

“Yo Kenny, Derek Jeter a top five Yankee of all-time or what?” Billy asked another Farrell’s patron.

“Fuck Jeter and fuck the Yankees!” Frankie shouted as he walked into the bar.

But before he disappeared Kenny added, “Those scrubs are not even in the playoffs!”

Billy walked away and headed across ninth avenue to the Korean deli.

“You would think Mets fans would give Jeter some respect?” Billy mumbled to himself.

September 2, 2014

OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO

Filed under: Farrell's — hoopscoach @ 10:12 pm
Tags: , ,

Megan Reynolds of Brooklyn Magazine took in a few spots in the neighborhood. She gives us a brief rundown.

Can’t seem to put my finger on it, but I’m not feeling her description of Farrell’s.

You could very easily end the night at the Double Windsor, but keep it together just long enough to visit Farrell’s, conveniently located across the street. This move is probably going to be where you lose your beer snob friend, and the people that you’re with that don’t like the actual smell of a bar, but those brave soldiers that have stuck it out with you to the bitter end will be rewarded with the coldest beer you’ll find, served in styrofoam cups. It’s a dive bar in the truest sense, but really, nothing ends the night better than an ice-cold Bud. Take it to go, if you dare, or just finish it standing in the cooling night as you look for a cab.

Girls at Farrell's

July 15, 2014

YESTERDAY…

An interesting take on Brooklyn over the years. Nice mention of the neighborhood.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/travel/my-brooklyn-then-and-now.html?_r=0

In Windsor Terrace, Sunday-afternoon drinkers holding plastic foam cups of Budweiser spill onto the sidewalk outside Farrell’s, where Pete Hamill’s father spent many a twilight, while yammering 20-somethings pick from an impressive and rotating selection of craft beers at the Double Windsor across the avenue. I’ve happily stood at each bar when it was three-drinkers deep.

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

May 9, 2014

SILENT WALKING

PPW signThursday, May 1 – Late night…

From my old apartment on the corner of Windsor and Ninth to the boys schoolyard it’s 212 steps.

Don’t believe me?

When the rain finally stopped I crossed ninth avenue, stood in front of my old door and actually counted how many steps it took me to go from my old corner to the yard.

It was quiet… scary quiet if you really want to know. To some, it was probably peaceful quiet.

Not a parking spot to be had on Howard Place. I even saw a few cars kissing each other; bumper pressed against bumper.

As I walked alongside Holy Name I looked at the black picket fence on my right. Then I glanced up at the school windows. It’s still the same.

I remember dribbling my basketball up Howard Place.  I could feel each dribble. I’m sure the residents of Howard Place hated that noise; especially at night.

Boy what I would do for a basketball right now. I’m like a junkie feenin’ for a fix.

Crossing the wet street I walked over to where the Trapp’s used to live.

Down their basement steps they kept a bunch of basketballs. If you didn’t have one, you were free to grab one, use it and return it when you were done. I’m sure if the current residents are looking out their front window, they’re probably wondering what I’m doing looking down their steps.

Just think about the cash the Trapp’s could have made by renting those balls to kids? But wait, I was always broke.

But that wasn’t what the Trapp’s or the neighborhood was about when it came to basketball.

I walk back up the block towards the yard.

Passing Tommy Houck’s house, I think back to all the whiffle ball games we played in front of his house.

Crossing Howard Place to my surprise the gate to the yard is open. I step into my “paved paradise.”

Standing on the pavement on the first court I look around. There’s an empty feeling inside of me, almost surreal.

I think back to this place when kids actually hung out here at night. I glance over at the rectory where the priests would stick their heads out the window and scream at me.

“GET OUT OF THE SCHOOLYARD!”

That thought sends chills down my spine. They scared me big-time!

Thinking back to the good old days I see John Corrar shooting his left-handed jumper from the right corner.

There’s Jimmy Rauthier getting the ball in the post and drop stepping on someone for a bucket.

How about Gerard Trapp whipping a behind the back pass to a cutting teammate?

Or, the three guys playing on the taps court, six of us playing Around the World, 21 or even one-on-one.

I start taking imaginary shots; sorta like a boxer shadow boxing in the ring but  I am shadow shooting. I just made that up. Go ahead and use it. But wait, no one does that anymore.

The guy passing the yard on Howard Place must think I’m crazy. As I watch him make a right turn on Prospect Avenue, I think of all the guys who used to line the silver fence and watch the summer league games. Some nights they were two deep.

Come to think of it, back in the day when people saw me in the yard so much, they must have thought I was nuts.

Nothing’s changed. My love for the game has grown.

I head out of the yard, up Prospect Avenue and cross ninth avenue. A couple of guys are shutting the gate at Joe’s Pizza. I see they now have a Dunkin’s Donuts on the avenue. I’m sure if my mother Carol was still alive she’d be spending a lot of time here.

The place is empty, I order an iced coffee and two donuts. That’s a lot of sugar for this time of night.  But who cares? I’m on vacation.

Sitting at a small table by the window, I pull out my newspaper and begin to read.

“We close in five minutes,” the nice man with a middle east accent, mopping the floor says to me.

After I polish off my late night treats I walk back across the avenue and down Windsor Place towards tenth avenue.

It’s amazing how empty the streets are, sure it’s a little after eleven on a Thursday night but back in the day you always saw someone out on the streets, in the city that never sleeps.  Or is that Manhattan?

I get down to eleventh avenue and bump into Buzzy getting out of his car, he works the 12-4 shift.   Buzzy has lived on Sherman Street since we were kids. To my surprise he recognizes me and we chat for over thirty minutes. He gives me the rundown on PS 154…boy has that yard changed.

We have a few laughs talking about the past.

Headed back up to the avenue via Windsor Place. I’m hoping to run into the actress Debi Mazar; but she’s probably sound asleep. She had a role in Goodfella’s and was seen on HBO’s Entourage from time to time. I thought they should have given her more love on the HBO series.

I pass Farrell’s once again. I stop in to see Duffer and we chat about old times.

Ten minutes later I head over to the circle, then to the parkside.

I sit on the totem pole and notice a few people walk by but again, I don’t recognize anyone.

My friends and I spent many nights hanging out in this area. Tonight though, it’s a ghost town.

“Where’d everyone go?”

Close to 1 a.m. I head back over to Joe’s apartment where I crash for the night. Gotta love my childhood friend allowing me to stay in his apartment for the weekend.

Hard to get that offer these days.

Well it’s getting late, I have to be up early in morning. Have a lot of people to see and places to go. Plus, I can’t wait to sink my teeth into a Sesame bagel with cream cheese from Terrace Bagels.

And, tomorrow night is the Old Timers Dinner out in Bensonhurst; I am looking forward to seeing some good friends from back in the day.

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

April 10, 2014

BREAK A LEG

Front of Farrell's (Pat Feenton)No, no, no,  I’m not telling you to go out and break someone’s leg because they said something about you behind your back or maybe they owe you money.  There’s a universal phrase “Break a leg” in theatre used to wish a performer “good luck.”

Journalist, playwright, good friend and writing mentor Pat Fenton will be at Farrell’s this coming Sunday along with actors Jack O’Connell and Honor Molloy. The trio will take us back to Pat’s old Windsor Terrace neighborhood performing a dramatic reading of three scenes from his play “STOOPDREAMER.”

Pat intimates the dreams, trials and travails of just ordinary people trying to find the American dream in post WWII.

Irish-American stories about a lost part of Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, that existed around 17th Street and 9th Avenue before Robert Moses drove the Prospect Expressway through the very heart of it in 1953, and divided it forever.

FARRELL’S BAR
215 Prospect Park West
Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. 11215

Sunday, April 13th. 2 P.M. to 2:45.

Admission is free.

If you can’t make it, don’t worry, like Pat told me, “just pour a pint and pretend you are back in Farrell’s for the reading.”

Yo Pat, Break a Leg brother!

March 6, 2014

“BOTTOMS UP!”

Filed under: Beer,Blog,Farrell's — hoopscoach @ 3:56 pm
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Cool story about Budweiser beer via the New York Daily News. And if you’re talkin’ suds in NYC, gotta mention Farrell’s.

It still sells here, and it’s here to stay,” says John Powers, a bartender at Farrell’s Bar and Grill, the Windsor Terrace watering hole that was once the East Coast’s biggest seller of Budweiser.

The bar’s regulars are wise to Bud’s legacy.

“It’s the best beer in the city,” says Tom Cannizzaro, 49, a plumber in the neighborhood. “It’s a clean, fresh taste — nothing compares.”

Rich Duffy

December 31, 2013

WHERE THE HAPPY PEOPLE GO

While this blog entry is inspired by real people, places and an actual event, names have been changed to protect the innocent. 

It’s New Year’s Eve night.

IN THE BASEMENT

I was putting on my coat and gloves in the living room of our five-room, railroad apartment thinking of how I was going to ask mom for some money.  Later tonight we have it all planned out though; hit the liquor store on 16th street for some booze and despite the temperature being in the low teens, we would head over to Prospect Park, get drunk then hop on the train to Times Square and watch the ball drop.  I had been over to the city plenty of times but never on New Year’s Eve. In the past we watched the ball drop on TV. On this night it was about the bottle. Pretty soon, every night would be all about the bottle.

First I needed some dough.

“Can I have ten dollars?” I asked mom as she was sitting on the couch watching TV.

“For what?”

“Me and my friends are hangin’ out.”

Mom looked at me with a puzzled look on her face.

“Hanging out?”

I was beginning to get annoyed.

“Yeah, hanging out,” I answered. I hate when she answers my questions with a question.

“I don’t have any money,” she barked.

Frustrated, I zipped up my coat and stormed out of the apartment.

“WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST SAY THAT!” I screamed to her as I walked down the stairs, out into the cold night.

Mom would turn me down all the time.  I was getting sick and tired of having empty pockets.  I needed a job but I hated to work.  Plus I was tired of hearing her say, “Get a job.” I tried delivering the Daily News once but I had to wake up too early for that. My cousin had a paper route and boy did that suck, and I was just helping him.

I walked across the street and stood outside Ballard’s Pharmacy waiting for my friends to show up.  After dinner this was our meeting place.  When everyone arrived, we marched along ninth avenue to Prospect Park.

I hopped up on the blue mailbox that was planted on the sidewalk on the corner and watch Jason close the iron gate of the store. I notice he has a brown paper bag tucked under his arm. I’m sure it is filled with money. Probably all the cash they made from the whole day. Ballard’s was always packed.

Jason placed the bag down on the sidewalk as he reached up and pulled the gate down.

I thought of running by and scooping up the bag and sprinting down Windsor Place, I’d then have money and be able to buy some booze. Nah, I couldn’t do that, Jason knows me and knows I live across the street. They would put me in Spofford  up in the Bronx and I’d be fucked.

Looking down Windsor Place towards 8th avenue I see Missy, Naomi and Kennedy walking up the street coming my way. As they approach, I see Naomi chewing bubble gum.

“What’s up?” I yelled.

Missy and Kennedy say hi but not Naomi.

Pretty soon more and more of my friends begin to show up.  Our group, which is close to twenty strong begin to walk along ninth avenue towards Prospect Park.

We’re an army of teens about to hang out all night.  We don’t care what people say. We make our own rules.  As we pass Farrell’s, I look through the huge window in front and see a tall man holding a container.

In our neighborhood, it’s a two-step process; start out drinking on the street as a teenager, soon as you become legal, you step inside Farrell’s, walk up to the bar and order a drink.

“We goin’ over to the city or what?” Willie asks while we pass the pizzeria.

Everyone has mixed reactions. Some want to stay in the neighborhood, some want to go over to Times Square.

“Fuck yeah!” I scream out.

I’m hoping Naomi wants to go over to the city. It was just last night that we had a big fight over the phone and I broke up with her. We’ve been boyfriend and girlfriend for a few months. We’re always getting into fights.

A few of my friends start heading to the Bodega and liquor store. A cop car pulls up in front of the park and the cop in the passenger’s seat tells us to move inside the park.

No one says anything back, we do as we’re told. We’re wise-ass kids but when a cop tells us something, we listen.

About an hour later, everyone’s hanging out having a good time.

“Yo Willie, let’s go to the city,” I cried.

Willie is involved in a conversation with his girlfriend Gabby, I think they are dating.

“Yeah sure, it’s only nine, we have plenty of time,” he declared.

I walk away from him and sit on the bench.

Looking around I see groups of three and four of my friends standing in isolated circles talking and drinking. Everyone has a beer can or plastic cup in their hand. I’m sitting on the bench and haven’t tasted a drop of booze all night. How can I, I was broke.

I glance over and see Naomi talking with some kid who I don’t recognize. I get a bit jealous. Matter of fact, I always get jealous when she talks to other boys.

Getting up from the bench I leave the park and head home. I walk upstairs and no one is home. Earlier in the day I had heard mom on the phone talking about a big party down at Timboo’s.

I figured now’s my chance. I head straight for the liquor cabinet.  Mom always has a few bottles of booze in there so I grab the bottle of vodka. I also see Gin, Johnny Walker, some Jack Daniels and a bottle of wine.  Grabbing the vodka I look  at it and notice it’s half full. I stuff it inside my coat and head back to the park. No way Mom is going to miss this.  There’s beer in the fridge but I don’t like the taste. Walking along ninth avenue I have my hands in my pocket holding onto the bottle so it doesn’t slip out.

I get to the park and pull out the bottle and start sipping.  It tastes awful. Looking over at the bench I see a carton of Tropicana orange juice and a few empty cups. I play bartender and mix myself a screwdriver.  Down at Timboo’s I had seen the bartender mix this drink for my father.

Now I feel part of the group. I hear Naomi’s laugh above everyone’s talking, but the booze has some people yelling now instead of talking.  She’s standing alone with the same kid.  They are having a good time; more jealousy creeps in.

“Yo Red, Happy New Year,” Sammy screams out to me as he raises his can of beer and we toast.

I tap his can and drink up.  As I sip from my cup I glance over at Naomi and her new friend. Not sure how much longer I can take this.

Respectfully,

Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

November 12, 2013

SITTIN’ ON THE STOOP WITH…

Cathy Gigante-Brown…

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I’m a Bay Ridge girl, born and bred in Brooklyn. I was born at a hospital called Brooklyn Doctors which isn’t there anymore but I believe it was located at 45th Street and 15th Avenue. I grew up in Bay Ridge, on Gelston Avenue, and went to St. Patrick’s. For high school, I “escaped” Catholic school and attended Fort Hamilton, where I had great teachers who encouraged my love of writing. I was a shy kid who could write much better than I could talk and that’s how it all started. I’m also grateful to Mildred McVay, my third grade teacher at St. Pat’s, who instilled in me of a love of reading. (I thank her in the “Acknowledgements” section of THE EL.) I set a number of scenes in the book in places familiar to me growing up–a noteworthy accident takes place on the corner of Gelston, for example.

The EL

In Chapter 24, a scene in your book takes place in Farrell’s.  What was the reason for using Farrell’s?

I’ve lived in Windsor Terrace since 1994, just a couple of blocks away from Farrell’s. Even though I’m not much of a beer drinker, I’ve always loved the sense of camaraderie of Farrell’s. People celebrate there, mourn there, get jobs there…I’ve never seen another place like it. So, when I needed a place for a clandestine family pow-wow, the back tables of Farrell’s seemed perfect. The characters lived in Borough Park and in a sense, Farrell’s was a world away for them. Few people knew them there, so they could speak frankly, plot and bond. I even put Houlie into the scene (but changed his first name) even though he probably wasn’t even born yet. I wanted to pay homage to Farrell’s, to its spirit, and it seemed to fit perfectly into the plot. I hope it worked!

If you can sit down tonight and have dinner with any three people, who would they be and where would it be? (Don’t worry, you’re not picking up the check…)

I guess I should say something noble like Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln but I think I’ll be selfish and say my mom and dad Teresa and Francis Gigante, and my great-grandmother Marguerite Cirigliano who inspired the “Bridget” character in THE EL. Both of my parents have passed away (my dad almost 2 years ago and my mom 19 years ago) and I would love to have one last dinner where I could ask them things I didn’t and tell them things I should have. I’ve always wanted to meet my great-grandmother who died about 7 years before I was born. And dinner would be a home-cooked meal! To cook with Marguerite and my mom would be amazing, and to share all of the things women talk about when they cook together would be a gift.

Your three favorite books of all-time?

That’s a tough one. Let’s see. In no particular order: Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ 100 Years of Solitude and Pete Hamill’s Forever.

Are you working on a new book?

Yes, I am. The working title is “Society’s Child” and it’s set in 1979 Brooklyn, mostly the Sheepshead Bay area. It’s about a female drummer in the club-date business (aka “society music”)…you know, weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc…who’s trying to “make it” and get a recording contract. It’s very different than “The El,” written in journalistic style from the drummer’s POV, and also from the POVs of various people close to her. I’m a little more than halfway through. I wish I had more time to work on it. For “The El,” I took off six months and managed to write it. I’ve been working on my second novel a lot longer but I love being able to squirrel away any time I can to work on it. I love writing about Brooklyn and the colorful characters in it.

Cathy Gigante-Brown lives in Windsor Terrace and is the author of “The EL.”

Click here for more information on her book.

Respectfully,

Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

November 8, 2013

THE EL

Filed under: Blog,Catherine Gigante-Brown,Farrell's — hoopscoach @ 10:32 am
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I’m currently reading a really good book by Catherine Gigante-Brown, “The EL.”

Farrell's Indoor Sign

There’s an entire chapter that takes place in Farrell’s. (Look for an interview here on the blog with Catherine real soon)

Click this link for more information on the book. Here’s the book description via Amazon.

The EL

A stirring historic novel set in Depression-era Brooklyn, “The El” weaves an unforgettable family saga.In the shadow of the elevated train (called “The El,” for short), a loud, lusty Italian-American clan resides: Poppa, the kindly patriarch; Bridget, his loving wife and mother of their six grown children; Rosanna, their eldest, who is married to Tony, an evil, dangerous drunk; Kewpie, their nubile teenage daughter and Tiger, their scrappy ten-year old son. A stark drama quickly unfolds as a terrible secret is revealed.Told through the eyes of a quirky, colorful array of characters, the Paradisos struggle through seasons of joy, loss and desire, and experience simple delights. Here, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. It is a place of unconditional and unrequited love, where the unimaginable is indeed possible and the whims of a violent alcoholic threaten to destroy the idyllic applecart of the family’s existence.”The El” is simultaneously homey and horrific, innocent and erotic, magical and shocking. It is a complicated mosaic of light and dark, full of savory flavors and vivid, memorable images.If Pete Hamill and Joyce Carol Oates could have a literary lovechild together, it would be “The El”…with a bit of “50 Shades of Grey” thrown in for good measure.

 Respectfully,

Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

October 17, 2013

SITTIN’ ON THE STOOP WITH…

Brian Lang…

Where did you grow up?

I grew up on 17th Street between 9th and 10th avenues.  Although my parents divorced when I was in my teens, my apartment at 510 17th St had my mother Mary Ann, father Mike, brother Mike, and my sister Pat.

17th St was an amazing block. I had my cousins Richie, John and Walter.  There were great guys like the Camarano’s, Allie Russo, Tommy Plantamuro, the late Nicky Guido, Dennis Mullaley, and the Laux brother’s Billy and Tom. Can’t forget about Mike and Sue Hardman. We had good people like Brian, Mark and Jody Carrachia. Michael and Pee-Wee Pagan and Douglas Herman. The McKee’s, Kenny Driscoll, and who can forget Boooolaaaa!

Sports was played all year-round.  Stickball, whiffle ball, off the point, football, sponge ball and softball. Believe it or not we didn’t play basketball.  I broke the mold with that one. When it got too hot in the summer we opened the johnny pump. None of us knew that we didn’t come from much money. We were living the dream!

Brian Lang

Describe your experience of Holy Name?

Going to Holy Name was the single greatest gift my mother and father ever gave to me.  It is there that I received the education that has lasted me a lifetime. Ironically, those life lessons didn’t come from the textbooks, they came from the daily interactions from the friendships that were formed. The people in my life today are the same people from my youth.  Martin Cottingham, Eric Swanson, The Sturges brothers, the Rafferty’s, the Mackay’s, the Harte’s, the Dougherty’s and Thomas Dolan.

The teachers were awesome. I remember Brother Lawrence taking us to a Big East  basketball game at Madison Square Garden, St John’s vs Georgetown. It was my first college game; Chris Mullin vs Patrick Ewing.  I will never forget that night, the Garden was rocking. I left there a big Ewing fan. I was amazed at his game.

Brother Lawrence met us at the 15th St train station and rode the train with us to the Garden.  When the game was over he said, “O.K. see ya’ I have to go to the Bronx.”

Martin Cottingham, Tim Sturges and I rode the train back home by ourselves at 9:30 at night. We were too dumb to be scared!

The Parish went into turbo charge when Father Jim Devlin arrived.  Instantly he put the hoops back in the schoolyard .Not those half-moon thing’s either, real square back boards. Then he started the flag football league in the park, I think every kid in the Parish was on a team. Basically you played with the kids you hung out with.  He single-handedly revived a sleeping Parish. I believe he was the one who created the momentum which is still going today at Holy Name /St. Joseph the Worker.

The highlight of the day was when the school bell rang  at dismissal.  You met your friends in the boys school yard.  Steve Finamore, Glen Thomas, Little Jimmy Maloney, Jimmy McDonough, McDermott, Matt DeNardo, Daniel Ferrity, Danny Toner, Jack Malone, The Cunninghams, Riggins’, The Shashaty brothers, The Heegan’s, Andy Purdy, Chris Robinson, Orlando Pabon, The Rutter brothers, The Stratton’s, the Palanca’s and the Lavassuer brothers.  All good people. The boys school yard was the center of our universe. We couldn’t live without it!

Do you recall the first time you walked into Farrell’s for a drink? 

My first beer in Farrell’s was on my birthday when I was 21.  I didn’t even waste my time trying to be served before hand because I knew I would be denied.  All my buddies were there waiting for me;  John Rafferty, John Macky, Phil McKenna, Eric Swanson, Danny and Jimmy Sturges, it was great.  I’m older than Martin Cottingham and Tim Sturges so they couldn’t get served.  Gerard Trapp was working the stick behind the bar that night.

“You have I.D.?” Gerard asked.

With a smile I answered, Yes I do..

I’ll have a Gin and Tonic, I said.

“Oh no you’re not!” Gerard replied.

Really?

“You will thank me in the morning,” Gerard assured me.

Thinking back on that night, he was right!

The best thing about going into Farrell’s you always get your family history played back to you with the other generation of guy’s that are there.

Someone always knows your grandfather, father, brother, or cousins.  I have the pleasure of going on the Farrell’s football trip with guys like Duffer (John Powers), Pete Connoly, Billy Kahaly, Sookie. John Davis, Bucky, Broadway, the McKenna’s and the Heegan Family. This season we ran into Danny Mahoney, A.K.A., “The Chief.”  It was great to hang with him, he’s a good dude.

Choose one store up on the avenue; give me the one thing you recall about that store and a story from your experience.  Can be your favorite store, least favorite, etc. 

What I remember fondly is Tony Pinto from United Meat Market. He was so nice to everyone. I remember as a little kid he would engage me in conversation on all things. I couldn’t believe this man with his store packed would take the time and talk to me. He had a great way of making you feel good about yourself. It was no surprise that when the Sturges’ dad died he hired Timmy and Jimmy to work at the store. Later on in life when I started dating and marrying his older daughter Tracy it was the same, he was always a pleasure to be around and the best person to talk to. I owe much to him for letting me see how a true gentleman operates in life. When his entire family his wife and daughters  lost their home in Breezy Point we moved back to the neighborhood. My girls and little Tony Pinto, Tricia’s son got a kick going back into their grandpa’s butcher shop. I am pleased to see Rocky and Joe doing an amazing job with United just like Tony.

Give us an update on what you are up to these days? 

I am presently living back in the neighborhood while we await the permit process to rebuild our home from the fires that occurred during “Sandy”.

Last year a few month’s before the storm I made a promise to myself that I would get healthy again.  I started running, biking and incorporated swimming into the mix.  I started doing triathlons and competing in road races.

In a year’s time I ran eight, half-marathons and will be running the New York City Marathon in November.

I teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to raise funds so they can help families rebuild there lives post-sandy.

So far, family and friends have helped me raise $14,000.

I am a proud union electrical foreman in Local 3 and have a beautiful hardworking wife.

I have known my wife Tracy Pinto most of my life and am very proud of the way she has helped keep normalcy with my children, post-sandy.  My kids love sports; soccer, swimming and hoop’s. All of our free time goes to them and we love it!  Being back in the neighborhood I love that my daughter and I can shoot around in the school yard just like the old days. I feel blessed, I have the best family and friends a man could ever ask for.  How fortunate I was to grow up in such an amazing parish of Holy Name.

Thanks Brian…

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