Observations on quality time with my 85 year-old father: Racism edition

Its Memorial Day weekend here in the states and many people are writing about their family’s military history. As I come from a long line of cowards, I’ve got nada to say on that subject. Well actually, my uncle was in the army. He’s the only gay member of the family, which I think says something not only about the family, but him, the military, and this country. But that’s a story for another occassion. This story is about racism.

Race is a subject that seems to permeate all other subjects. Every week we hear about another person killed in a police shooting, with race at the center of the surrounding controversy, with protests to follow. Race can be a mine field as a topic of discussion but it’s there and probably shouldn’t be ignored. I don’t profess to have an answer to the issues surrounding race relations in this or any other country. But, as always, you can depend on Lou Weiss for a number of opinions on the subject. Through him I received an education which stays with me to this day.

When he got out of prison at age 72, Lou displayed new insights into race and social justice. He’d say things like, “You know, the black man doesn’t have a fair chance in this country.” I guess jail can change a man, because I remember as far back as 1968, during the presidential campaign, when he said he was going to vote for George Wallace. You know, the segregationist third party candidate. I was aghast at the time but I realized that it wasn’t that my dad was a racist. Well, not the cross burning, white sheet kind of racist. It was that he was fed up with Republicans and Democrats and wanted to cast a protest vote. I never said he was a reasoned thinker or that he couldn’t fall prey to demagogues. In fact I also remember him making a case for dropping nuclear weapons on North Vietnam. I was only eight at the time but even then I even knew that it was a bat shit crazy idea.

In his store on Canal Street he always hired what would now be termed a “diverse” staff. He wasn’t being benevolent. To him, it was just good business. He figured that if you have customers of color, it would make sense to have staff of color. In the 1950’s, when the area was mostly Jewish and Italian, his sales staff were Jewish and Italian. When the store started to have more Black, Chinese and Puerto Rican customers, he started to hire Black, Chinese and Puerto Rican staff. My goodness: Lou Weiss did something right!

By working there I learned a lot from his multi-cultural staff. I learned how to say “penis” in Pilipino, “butt” in Spanish, and “Mother F*cker” in Chinese, although I never did find out what dialect it was. I also learned the Spanish language phrase for a man whose wife is having sex with another man. And of course there’s the word “homosexual,” which I learned to say in Spanish too, although I sense it wasn’t used in a gay positive manner. Just a hunch. I learned mixed phrases like “I got a pinga for the chinga baby!” That was a way of informing a women that you possessed a male sex organ and could use it to have sexual relations with her. I heard that one a lot, although I had my doubts as to its effectiveness. I guess you’ve sensed by now that it was an all-male sales staff.

The Chinese and Malaysian guys hated each other with a passion, which I guess goes back centuries. This was news to me as were a whole set of hierarchies among ethnic groups. The Cubans thought the Puerto Ricans were “mountain men,” and all the Hispanics hated Brazilians because they wore Lacoste shirts. I must be part Hispanic, because in high school I also hated anyone who wore a Lacoste shirt. Maybe I’m really Sephardic?

Yeah, racism seems to be universal. As Victor, a sales person from Santo Domingo would say, “I’m not racist. I hate everyone equally.” But they all worked together, when they weren’t stealing each other’s customers. But, what’s most important was that they’d steal equally from any nationality. Yep, just another sign of what a great country this is. Equal opportunity hate.

My father would not only hire people of color, but also ex-cons, junkies, and illegal aliens. He implied it was his heroic way of helping the downtrodden but I learned the real reason when he decided he needed to hire another sales person. We put an ad in the paper and after sifting through applications and checking references, it came down to a choice between a twenty-something white guy and a nineteen year-old Puerto Rican. Perhaps I was showing my own biases, but I thought the white guy was the better choice. For one thing, he was more mature and could look you in the eye, unlike the other applicant who’d stare at his feet while he spoke to you. The white applicant was also more educated and his knowledge of the merchandise was superior. However, my dad favored the Puerto Rican guy. When I asked him why, he said it was because the guy had nothing better in his life and would therefore be beholden to him. Forever. To me, not only was he inaccurately stereotyping people, but to take advantage of someone like that was a notch above slavery. But, Lou Weiss was the boss and his choice was final.

By the end of the summer, the “beholden” Puerto Rican teenager had quit to go back to school.  In my mind, I can hear the old Yankees’ sportscaster Mel Allen: “How about that?”

© Curt Weiss 2015

Observations on my 84 year old father: “Back to the Drawing Board” Edition

Observations on my 84 year old father: “Back to the Drawing Board” Edition


Dad: Curt, I need a CPA.
Me: Why?
Dad: Well I got that death benefit and I don’t want to pay taxes on it.
Me: Dad, you may need to pay taxes on it. If that’s what the law says…
Dad: I tried to put it into an IRA, but they said I was too old. Why would they punish people for being too old?
Me: I don’t think they’re punishing you for being too old. I think IRA’s were created so people would be encouraged to save for retirement. According to the IRS, you’ve been retired for 17 years. Just go to H&R Block.
Dad: I think this is too complex for them.
Me: Dad, I’m sure they’ve dealt with people acquiring death benefits before.

Sometimes people make things more difficult than they need to be. Sometimes they just don’t want to pay their taxes. Take the Fogelman brothers, Mitch and Murray.* They owned the Rivoli Merchandise Corporation, established in 1961 at 50 Howard Street in Manhattan. They were near the corner of Mercer Street, just behind Canal Street and Canal Hardware, the shop my dad owned.

Rivoli was one of the many businesses in the area that had accounts with Canal Hardware. They would buy stuff like nuts and bolts, brooms and mops, Lysol and Lemon Pledge. Most would pay too much for these items in exchange for neighborhood convenience. Bleach, which would cost no more than a $1.99 a gallon at the supermarket, would cost $3.99 at Canal Hardware. When you need something quick, and there’s no real supermarkets in the neighborhood, as was the case in 1990, you’re OK with paying a 100% premium for a counter brush delivered to your door.

Rivoli never paid on time. Not that they didn’t have the $47.83 they owed. They just were too busy and disorganized to get around to paying it. It was my job to go and collect, not that I was any sort of mob enforcer. I was a gentle, friendly reminder to middle aged Jewish business owners who knew my father for 35 years, that it was time to hand over a check for that toilet brush.

This one time though my dad wanted me to enquire about renting their space. He was flush that month and as narcissists have grandiose ideas, he was convinced he needed to expand. The money was burning a hole in his pocket and the IRS would only take it if he didn’t spend it…or hide it. As Rivoli had been around for close to thirty years and always complained about how lousy business was, he thought they might be happy to just rent us their space.

Through the back door and past the garbage bins I go, across Howard street and over towards Mercer. As you enter Rivoli, all you can see in their dimly lit warehouse, that probably hadn’t been painted since the Truman administration, are half open boxes strewn about in complete disarray. Falling out of them are tchotchkes. These are packages of stuff you’d see in 99 cent stores or the junk you’d win when you turned in your skee-ball tickets. I’m talking about colorful erasers and pencils, super bouncy balls, spinning tops, plastic rings, etc. Otherwise known as junk. Perhaps even known as crap. Take your pick.

Mitch would be darting amongst the flotsam and jetsam with a pencil behind his ear while Murray would be at a desk in a side office with papers and reams of documents strewn about. When Murray looked at me, it would be with the disdain of someone who’s had their rightful misery interrupted by someone who dares to have the luxury of being 25 years younger than him at their disposal. Usually he just dealt with whatever papers he had in front of him, comb over flopping across his hand which held his forehead in place. They had a young, African-American bookkeeper/office assistant who said nothing but also had a look of utter disgust on her face at all times. She seemed to know she needed Rivoli to make a living and barely tolerated it, Mitch, Murray or visitors. We all need a goal in life and this was her constant reminder of what not to aspire to.

As for Mitch and Murray they both were middle-aged and overweight, had comb overs, half glasses on a chain around their necks and rashes on their elbows. Their best days were behind them and they had to pay the bills, put the kids through school, keep the wife out of the few hairs they had left on their sweaty heads and hope to live long enough to retire to Florida with the money they still had after they paid the tax man his vig.

I’d call out to Mitch who’d never remember my name, but would remember my father.

“Hi Mitch”
“How’s Lloyd?” he’d ask.
“Not bad,” I’d say. “I need to pick up a check.”
“Sure” he’d say. “Hey Murray! Give the kid a check. Canal Hardware. How much is it?”
“$47.83,” I’d say.

Then I’d ask him how business was.

“Business? It’s terrible! And those fu*king gonniffs at the IRS…”

Murray, who was silent through his exuded misery, would momentarily raise his head to interrupt Mitch, to pipe in and second the point: “Fu*king gonniffs ! ! ! !”

Back to Mitch…

“It’s worse than ever!”

I figured it was time to make my pitch…“Well, why don’t you just let us rent your space? You wouldn’t have to worry about this facachta business and can just make money off of renting it to us.”

Mitch, who was a whirling dervish of diabetes and seemingly a minute away from a heart attack at all times, stopped dead in his tracks.

“Why should we rent to you?”

I replied “Like you said, business is terrible.” Mitch looks me dead in the eye and with an air of outrage and defiance says “Where’s it written that business should be good?” Murray joins in and barks out, “Forty years feast, forty years famine!”

The bookkeeper seems even more deflated than before. She wished they’d taken the deal. I take my check and go on my way.

It’s back to the drawing board for the bookkeeper and Lou. Especially Lou. The IRS will do that to you. Life will do that to you.

At least Lou has all of his hair.

© Curt Weiss 2015

*I must confess that I can’t guarantee that Murray is the correct name. I know Mitch is correct because I googled it, but for the sake of myth, let’s all just agree that Murray sounds appropriate. I know it’s the same as Glengarry Glen Ross. Just work with me here.

Observations on my 84 year old father: “One Night with Lou” Edition

Observations on my 84 year old father: “One Night with Lou” Edition

On a recent short trip to LA, I spent one night with Lou at his bachelor pad. Lou started working his magic early in the day. He mentioned that he had chest cold symptoms and that he’d want to leave early from my sister’s Xmas party later that evening. This is how he rolls for every holiday party, even when my mother was alive. Only difference now is she’s not there to arrive bearing large platters of food. When he would start moaning about leaving an hour after he got there she would usually roll her eyes and say “Oy, your father wants to go home already,” or ignore him altogether. She knew he’d just want her to make a full meal for him while he watched boxing. She learned to forestall this by not only bringing loads of food to the party for the guests, but a separate meal for him, usually spaghetti and Chicken Cacciatore with garlic…on the bone of course.

Before we left for the party he started chopping up fruit so he could prepare his Herculean meal first thing in the morning. He’s still making his weird food concoctions. As he’s prepping it, he’ll inevitably try to get me to taste a chopped up piece of fruit. He’ll try and hand me a half grape, always sliced lengthwise, but his finger will be right in the meat of the grape. Call me a priss, but I wouldn’t accept soup from a waiter if his finger was in it, and won’t do the same from my dad…especially since I don’t see any soap in his bathroom. By the way: the grapes go in to his cereal. If he has cherries, they go into his drink concoction, floating like ice in a cocktail. Note: the next morning, as usual, half of the breakfast goes into the garbage. The leftover drink does get covered up with cellophane and go into the fridge. He seems to be evolving ever so slightly.

On the drive over I prodded him for info. Some blogs are crowd sourced. Mine is Lou sourced. He did his standard review of his multiple court cases, untrustworthy lawyers and doctors, and other related pursuits like wanting to buy a car, another back surgery, sell a screenplay, etc. He didn’t mention wanting plastic surgery. Another subject that was never broached: my mother.

It’s difficult to find things to talk about that don’t rile him up, depress him or encourage his madness. If I mention some of the old characters at work, it goes something like this:

Me: “Dad, I wonder what ever happened to Feliciano?”
(Feliciano was a Puerto Rican sales person in his store who was as close to Groucho Marx as a Latino could get).
Dad: “Ah, he stole from me.”
Me: “What about Charles?”
Dad: “I don’t remember him.”
Me: “He was from Haiti and had been a local assemblyman.”
Dad: “I think he started his own business with what he stole from me.”
Me: “I saw Ricky’s son online. He’s a big deal dentist now.”
Dad: “Well his other son testified against me. He showed up on the stand in makeup and false eyelashes. He’s a real problem for Ricky.”

I switch conversations and search for other types of small talk.

Me: “Dad, have you gone over to the senior center lately?”
Dad: “Yes, I had a nice conversation with a lady (pause). She turned out to be 93 (shakes his head)”
Next subject:
Me: “So dad, did you get your e-mail address all straightened out?”
Dad: “Yes. I needed it for a dating service.”
Me: “You mean a senior dating service?”
Dad: “Yes.”
Me: “But dad, you don’t like older ladies.”
Dad: “That’s OK. I said I was 64.”

I saw this coming. He told my sister that he said he was 74. As usual, he can’t even get his lies straight.

All in all though, he seems to be doing relatively well under the circumstances. As a narcissist he has the ability to think only of himself and his needs and not get overwhelmed by the emotions that others might. Ergo, the death of my mother seems to bother him financially, but not emotionally to a great extent, at least outwardly. Yes, he gets isolated, seeks companionship, and even has hinted at wanting to use his you know what to do you know what, something my mother and him didn’t seem to do for years as they had separate beds. I know: TMI, but all lessons for the rest of us as we age.

Before I left, he asked me to drop him off in Santa Monica. He likes walking on the pier and I’m sure it helps his breathing problems related to his cold symptoms. In the back of my mind though, I also suspect he wants to be in Santa Monica because there’s plenty of doctors and hospitals. This way he could feign some illness, get rushed to a local hospital and stretch it out to where it become an all-expenses paid vacation by the beach. I drove him up and down the strip to find just the right spot for him to jump out. He’s trying to find a new place where the kids are hip. That Lou gets around.

© Curt Weiss 2014

Observations on my 84 year old father, “What Next?” edition


Lou called me Thursday morning. After seeing his name come up on the screen I shuddered…and then chose not to answer. I’d rather listen to his voicemail first, and speak to him after prepping.

Dad: “Hi Curt, dad here. Curt, by any chance do you know what my e-mail is? Give me a call. Thanks.”

His e-mail address…again. I’ve written this down for him at least twice and it’s on a post it note on his computer monitor. But this is suspicious. Actually, anything he does is suspicious but knowing he wants to actually use his e-mail address leads me to possibilities that are suspect at best. I’m guessing it’s to make some sort of medical records request in pursuit of yet another baseless malpractice law suit. He’d never know what to do with the attachment. He’d end up calling me to figure it out over the phone, which would be a fate akin to one of Dante’s levels of hell. It’s also possible he’s just trying to impress someone…a young lady of about 63 or 64 perhaps. A modern chick.

I call him back and before we can get to the e-mail address, he mentions that he tried to take his written test at the DMV but they stopped him in his tracks as the report his doctor made seems to actually be in their system. Ah, so he’s using trickery on me. The voice mail says one thing but the true reason for the call is another. That Lou Weiss is a wily one.

Back to the DMV. Not only do they say he has sight issues but it also says he is “mentally unstable.” You can’t imagine the emotions that run through me as I come to realize that there is actually an official document in the California DMV’s records that state he’s “mentally unstable.” This is validation. I am not alone in my suspicions. It is now official. He’s nuts.

Dad: “How could that have happened?”
Me: “Dad, remember I told you about this a few weeks ago. Your doctor did this.”
Dad: “How would she know?”

“Because she’s spent time with you” is what I’m thinking. I hold my tongue and continue.

Me: “Remember I told you that (sister who still speaks to you) spoke with her and….
Dad: “My daughter did this?”
Me: “No dad. She spoke to your doctor and…
Dad: “Why is she speaking to my doctor?”
Me: “She speaks to your doctor to make sure your medicines aren’t contra-indicated and you don’t forget what your other doctors have told you. This is part of driving you around from place to place.”
Dad: “She doesn’t do any of that. Let’s get back to that e-mail address.”

As usual, he was too obsessed with blaming and denying than actually wanting to discuss ways to get his doctor to work with him to get a driving license.

“Mentally unstable.” I don’t know how my mother put up with him.

© Curt Weiss 2014

Observations on my 84 year old father, Emerson Fittipaldi edition

Observations on my 84 year old father, Emerson Fittipaldi edition

As Speed Racer’s driving lessons progressed, he continued his daily vehicle care:

Dad: “If I don’t start the car then the battery dies.”
Me: “That doesn’t mean you need to drive it any further than one end of the building garage to the other and back.”

Well, according to the Jewish Mario Andretti, the car broke down and a cop came over to offer help. Strange that there was a cop in the building garage. Anyway, he helped him get the vehicle towed to a mechanic who said the motor was finito. So, now he needs to junk the car. The same car I told him to junk for anything he could get back in March as there were so many things wrong with it that it was just a matter of time before it died. I got him an offer of $240 which he laughed off. Twice he told me he had accepted offers of $2,000 for the car, in spite of Blue Book being nowhere near that. Naturally that bit of fiction has evaporated into the ether. He has now junked it for $300…after putting a few hundred dollars of work into it. But think of all the memories he’ll have from the joyrides…assuming he still has any short term memory. In his mind he might still think he’s driving his Cadillac Seville. Like the 1986 model he tried to sell to one of my Uncles in the 1990’s…saying it was a 1989. Hey, “6’s” and “9’s” look so similar, anyone could have made that mistake!

So, now he has to do exactly what I told him he had to do nine months ago. I should know better than to try and use common sense and deductive reasoning with Senor Manchild, particularly when he has ulterior motives. All along, like a teenage boy, he wanted a car. But Lou has a plan. Soon he’ll be riding on down the street, waving his freak flag high.

© Curt Weiss 2014

Observations on my 84 year old father, post-Thanksgiving edition

Observations on my 84 year old father, post-Thanksgiving edition.

The Loid never ceases to astonish me. But then again, I shouldn’t be surprised by anything he does at this point. In fact, I can often predict what he’ll do. I think of what would be the most risky, brazen, selfish or illogical thing to do, and assume he’ll almost surely do it. It lessens the surprise.

The latest development with the Duke of St. Andrews Place revolves around his car. In spite of having no driver’s license or insurance…he’s driving!!! Yes, you heard it right ladies and gentlemen. Mr. “I’m legally blind”, who forgets his grandchildren’s names and his own address, is driving. (By the way: he also forgot a doctor’s appointment where they were supposed to remove a catheter from his pecker, and walked around with it for three extra days. Maybe he liked it?)

He first told me he only drives around the block to make sure the car will run since he’s trying to sell it. He then admitted to my sister, the one who still speaks to him (also known as “TOWSSTH”) that he drives to the gym. She then asked his doctor about it, who said she was calling the DMV as he shouldn’t be driving because he’s legally blind and has memory issues (is there an echo in here?). She also said she diagnosed him with depression almost two years ago and prescribed Remeron and Lexapro. Of course, he won’t take them. He says he’s worried about the side effects of bad dreams. I think he’s worried about impotence. Never mind that he’s 84 and the only action he gets is from his catheter. He’s looking for a younger lady to charm and take him to Florida after he gets plastic surgery.

Ya know, it really does hurt to say that with anything close to a straight face. As usual, I digress…

Finally, sister who doesn’t speak to him (hereinafter known as “SWDSTH”), in a fit of meanness, (or as the rest of us refer to it, “every waking moment of her life”) put a lock on his steering wheel Friday morning. By late morning, as he was getting ready for his daily joyride, he discovered the lock. He calls TOWSSTH and leaves a message. She texts both me and SWDSTH, but won’t call him back. “I’m afraid of his narcissistic rage.” Understandable. His message said he was calling the police! As the three of us exchange texts, it’s decided that I will call him. I’m a thousand miles away, so what can he do to me?

We finally connect. He assumes TOWSSTH did it and proceeds to tells me some dark secret of her teenage years, which I already knew, as if that justifies him continuing to lie and break the law. “What does that have to do with anything Dad?”

Me: “Dad, you can’t drive without a license.”
Dad: “I only drive it when I need to.”
Me: “Dad, that doesn’t change the fact that you can’t drive without a license or insurance. And anyway, first you told me you only drive it around the block, then you told TOWSSTH that you use it to drive to the gym, and we all know you drove out to Santa Monica yesterday. If you hurt someone or damage any property you’ll be fully liable.”
Dad: “I only drive it when I need to.”
Me: “Your doctor called the DMV because she said your memory and eye sight should negate you from being allowed to drive.”
Dad: “She only said that because your sister told her to say that.”
Me: “No Dad, she came to that realization on her own after TOWSSTH said you were driving. Ya know, lots of families take the keys away from elderly family members. If you’re so sure you can drive safely, then why don’t you apply for a driver’s license and take the test?”
Dad: “Because I don’t have the money for it.”
Me: “That still doesn’t allow you to drive without a license or insurance. What are you thinking?”

I never got an answer to that question. This is instinctual, not thought through. His wants are described as needs and then justified by all means necessary.

As to the cost, TOWSSTH is paying for his driver’s tests and lessons. If he passes he gets the keys back. But also relating to costs, note that TOWSSTH told me that he recently got a picture of himself from when he was twenty, with no shirt on, blown up and framed for $170. This is his priority. I think he’s going to use it on a dating website…assuming he ever figures out that internet thing.

Who would have thought that at 84, my dad would seem to have two things on his mind: cars and girls.

© Curt Weiss 2014

Observations on my 84 year-old dad: the “What’s he building in there?” edition

Observations on my 84 year-old dad: the “What’s he building in there?” edition

Some of you may recall that back on June 16th I reported on my father’s latest escapades into a place where truth and reality continue to be a rarity (feel free to review at https://curtweiss.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/observations-on-my-84-year-old-dad-fathers-day-edition-originally-posted-61614-2/). At that time one sister stopped speaking to him while the other had already basically disowned him. At this time I am in the unenviable position of having the most contact with my father of any family member. This means he calls me…often. He still calls them, but I am the only one that eventually responds.

When the phone rings there’s a usual scenario. First the landline: The only time it rings its ether my father or telemarketers. It’s hard to tell which one is selling me a larger bill of goods. If the television is on, a graphic appears with his name and number on it. I shudder, roll my eyes, say something like “what the f*ck does he want now?” and ignore it. Then my cell will ring, with my mother’s name popping up on the screen. I’ve yet to take her name out of my contact list. It would be another nail in her proverbial coffin…in spite of the fact that she was cremated three months ago. As the sequence of ringing phones continues, there’s often a text from one, if not both, of my sisters saying that he’s called them too. So, there are now as many as four phones he has dialed, of which he’s not connected with anyone nor has he left a voice mail.

At this point, my sisters and I continue our texting. We try and guess what he wants: what piece of paper he’s looking for; what web research he wants one of us to do; a new “hackuh” he’s discovered at the gym; news on a malpractice law suit he’s pursuing; can we find him an agent, etc. We also discuss what an a** hole he is and what lie he’ll tell us. You know: the usual.

Once a week, maybe two if he actually leaves me a voice mail, I call him back. Part of it is to alleviate my occasional guilt towards what would seemingly be the abandonment of my father, the same abandonment he confessed to my mother he was worried would happen to him if she died before him. Now, stop and think about that for a moment. Here’s a man, talking to his wife of 57 years, the mother of his three children, on what would ultimately be her death bed, and telling her that HE’S got a problem that she should worry about and attend to. Gee, what else could be on her mind? Is that the ultimate narcissistic act? Not some version of “how can I help you my dying, devoted wife?” but “here’s how your pain, misery and suffering impacts me.”

But I digress…

The other reason I call him is I’m just curious as to what wacky sh*t he’s up to! See, I know how dangerous it can be talking to him. He’s a conniver of the highest order. But, come on now! I mean, I’ve got a book to write and I need free content! It’s like being a literary Youtube or the Huffington post blog section! Free content! And luckily, he does not disappoint.

According to Sir Cock and Bull, when he was at the convalescent home (the one he walked out of a few days after back surgery and insisted he needed for rehab), he SLIPPED ON FECES IN THE BATHROOM AND RE-INJURED HIS BACK. You heard it right. But, I wasn’t sure I heard it right, so I made him say it again. And he did! And, you guessed it, he’s looking for an attorney to discuss the case with. Now mind you, he’s saying all of this in the breathy voice he puts on whenever he wants to sound sick and get sympathy. I heard him use this voice when trying to convince someone who placed seniors in assisted living facilities that he had breathing problems and needed to be placed in a home in Santa Monica by the beach. When the phone call was over, he went back to his regular voice. So, when I hear this voice on the phone, it’s more evidence that he’s lying. Usually, the fact that he’s talking is enough, but the put on voice seals the deal.

Did he mention slipping on poop to me the day he left the convalescent home? Nope. Did he mention it to my sister before she told him to take a flying fu*k and hung up on him? Nope. Did he mention it in the letter he wrote to her a few weeks later as she wouldn’t return his phone calls, explaining how awful the place was? Nope. Just as he did the evening after I exploded on him for lying to the bank officer, telling them that my mother needed a new debit card even after she’d been dead for a week, he’s reverse engineering again. This is one of his most finally honed skills. True, it didn’t keep him out of jail, but it satisfies his diseased mind. It relieves him of any guilt, makes those challenging him wrong, connives the legal system and puts money in his pocket. It’s a narcissists’ superfecta! All he has to do is re-write history. “Of course the place was horrible! There was sh*t on the floor and I slipped on it! I was physically hurt and emotionally degraded and have to sue them for the good of all senior citizens! I’m Superman and Mother Teresa all rolled into one! Bow down before me, my royal subjects!”

But, the story doesn’t end there:

Lloyd: “I met someone who’s going to get my screenplay sold.”
Me: “Really dad. Where did you meet him?”
Lloyd: “At the gym. He was in a TV show. You ever hear of Star Trek?”
Me: “Yes dad, I have heard of it. What character did he play?”
Lloyd: “The character? I think he said Spock”.

Well, just beam me the fu*k up Scotty!

The stories that he develops in his mind are built on reality. But I think there are gremlins in his brain, that no matter how much he hops up and down on one foot, and bangs the side of his head, just won’t come out. The gears are all flapping wildly and clanking like an engine in need of oil. But that doesn’t stop him. He keeps turning the key, hoping the motor will run.

What’s he building in there? We have a right to know!!!

© Curt Weiss 2014

Observations on my 84 Year-old Dad: Father’s Day Edition

Observations on my 84 Year-old Dad: Father’s Day Edition

It’s Father’s Day. I guess it’s time to fill everyone in on what’s up with 84-year old Lou. It has been over two months since I last opined about him. I kind of got busy with life: selling my book (found an agent), catching up on the work I missed dealing with my dying mother for 28 days, rampaging for Sylvain, etc.

“What’s Lou been up to” you ask? He has not gone to post–op rehab. What say me? I say, dad presently has no children that wish to speak to him. “What now?” you ask? Perhaps I’m jumping all over the place and confusing you. Well, Lou Weiss keeps you on your toes.

Let’s start about two few weeks back:

Dad – “I’m having a surgical procedure on my back next Tuesday. They’ll be performing a laminectomy on me.”
Me – “Is that arthroscopic or do they open you up?”
Dad – “Ya know, I’m not sure. I better find out.”
Ya think?
Dad – “I’ll be in a convalescent home after that for two weeks of physical therapy”
Me – “Where?”
Dad – “I’m not sure. I better find out.”

That might be smart. This was the kind of stuff my mother always took care of. She was the smart one. I mean, outside of marrying my father…

Tuesday comes. He has my sister (the one that was speaking to him at the time) take him to the wrong hospital. This is after reminding him he might want to pack some clothes…and a toothbrush (doesn’t he usually have one in his back pocket?). This is also after bugging him for a few weeks for the name of the doctor (wrong), the hospital (wrong) and the name and address of the convalescent home (wrong and wrong). After all, he is going to be gone for two weeks……………

After finding the correct hospital, his surgery is delayed a day as the doctors don’t like the results of some pre-op blood tests. The next day though, he goes under the knife. After a day or so he has some physical tests to determine his post op needs. Super Jew walks 500 feet without the aid of a walker. It seems he all but tore a phone book in half for his adoring fans. “You’re free to go home Mr. Weiss.” And what of his post-op rehab? “Not needed” they say. But…the Loid knows better and he insists on his two weeks of rehab. But…the insurance company does not agree (my father causes me to use the dreaded and dangerous literary device known as the ‘double but’, where two “but”s are used close together in a paragraph – It’s only used on rare occasions when talking about psychopaths). They never approved anything beforehand and by walking 500 feet, Macho Mandlebaum failed the needs test.

Does this stop Lloyd Weiss? Nothing stops the Hebrew energizer bunny. He refuses to leave the hospital. Sister who still talks to him (Hereinafter known as “SWSTTH”) spends two days trying to find him after-care. Meanwhile, he remembers that no one is checking his mail box. He asks SWSTTH to check his mail, go into his apartment and bring his “911 file” as he’s met someone in the hospital who knows something about computers.

At this point, I am compelled to explain the “911 file”:
During his trial back in the late 90’s, my father wanted evidence introduced of a a 911 telephone call transcript reporting the fire in his Canal street store. Ya know: the fire he was found guilty of setting. No transcript could be found. He does have a report though, listing the time the call was made, a short description of the call and other pro-forma information. Every time I see him, he shows it to me and asks if I’ve seen it. “Yes dad, you’ve shown it to me about 35 times.” He maintains that this transcript would “exonerate” him, proving a conspiracy by not only his ex-partner’s wife, the building owners, the police and fire department, but is also ‘worth millions’, as he would have to be recompensed for his three years in the pokey and the property taken from him (the long term master lease of 305 Canal Street’s basement and storefront). Another name for this is “delusions of grandeur”…also called “megalomania,” but more accurately referred to as “narcissistic personality disorder”. Several medical professionals have also pointed out his “mild dementia.” “Mild” they say. They obviously haven’t spent enough time with him.

Mind you, he could have made the call himself, reporting the people he paid to burn the joint down, thereby creating an alibi for himself. Another feat of reverse engineering. But even if it wasn’t, this unto itself is not proof of his innocence. A fire occurred and someone called 911. Big deal! When I point this out, he will hear none of it. He has obsessed on this quest to find this transcript for years, to the point of searching for a “hackuh” to get into the city’s 911 telephone archives. He’s even walked up to unknown teenagers in the library who are sitting at a computer and asked them if they can “hack a computuh” (ergo, why my father = Ray Donovan’s father).

So, dear SWSTTH, having gotten facacta (look it up…no, it’s not a type of bread) info from him from day one, who’s spent days trying to clean up after his latest fool’s parade, is now being asked for the 911 file. Her flame of concern and compassion is turning to a few smoldering embers by now. I get “the call”. This is the point where she calls me and says “I can’t deal with his mishegas alone anymore. Please help.” As I learned with my mother’s decline last year, it’s the time when I need to step into the breach before SWSTTH becomes sister who has killed him (which would cause me to refer to her as “SWHKH”).

Now I get on the phone. I talk to the hospital social worker, who connects me to someone at another organization, whose job it is to place seniors into assisted living. He says my father is sitting in his hospital room in his bath robe, doing crossword puzzles and watching TV. He’s taking up space in a critical care unit that can be used for someone who needs REAL critical care. After considering the donation of my father’s brain to science while he’s still alive, assumedly to be replaced by that of a chicken (I could use the free eggs), we instead set out to find him somewhere to go for two weeks to be looked after. While this assisted living stay would officially be temporary, what we’re hoping is, he ends up liking the place and wants to stay. People that don’t know him very long seem to like him, and when most of the people you meet are in their eighties, you don’t have to worry about them being around long enough to find out how compulsive, irrational and neurotic you really are. With cantankerous, delusional, old farts like my dad, the challenge is getting them into assisted living in the first place, as they cling to their independence. And payment? He says my father agreed to pay up to $1,200, as insurance won’t pay for rehab when the patient doesn’t need rehab. He later denies he ever agreed to pay anything. Surprise!

After several more calls back and forth (to my dad, my sister, the counselor, the person that runs the place…all while I’m at my own paying job mind you…) we find him a place on the west side for 14 days at the reduced rate of $87.50 a day with food. That comes to $1,225. I agree to pay the extra $25. All that’s needed is for a nurse to visit him in the hospital for a medical assessment. They’re even willing to consult with his general practitioner to find a way to finagle Medicare into paying for physical therapy, thereby circumventing his show of super human strength to at least get him some free post-op care.

I call him with the good news. “No need for that” he says. “I got Medicare to pay for a place. They’re coming in a few minutes.” Seems like the squeaky wheel got the grease and he’s getting his way. After getting the name and address out of him, I call back everyone who has moved mountains and spent hours of their day looking to meet my father’s needs, and thank them for their time and efforts. In the back of my mind I know on one hand the Loid is feeling very proud of himself, having finagled the system to get what he wants (‘Boy, everyone else is so stupid!’ he’s probably thinking). On the other hand, he has screwed up so much over the last year when it comes to navigating the world of medicine and insurance, I wait for the other shoe to drop.

A few hours later I get a voice mail from SWSTTH. The other shoe has dropped. Verbatim transcript of the message follows:

“You have to call me. You would not believe what happened. I just got a call from the nursing home. Dad walked in there, didn’t like the toilet, said the backyard was too small…and left. I have no idea where he is. He left against treatment advice. He packed his bags. I’m assuming he’s getting on a bunch of busses and coming back from Santa Monica to Korea town, which will take him a minimum of two hours this time of day, if not three, with his ‘I can’t take care of myself, my back hurts too much.’ And he has no medication. Welcome to my life. Bye.”

I speak to SWSTTH. She said when the convalescent home called her, they also said that he was surprised they didn’t have his medication and since he didn’t like the food (he apparently got there after dinner was served and they scraped something together for him) they went out and got him Chinese food. He still left.

A few hours later I get a call from SWSTTH. She said the Duke of St. Andrews place called her. After hearing his complaints she reminded him that there wouldn’t be physical therapy there since his post-op Olympian display at the hospital. They also won’t have his medication that late in the day (why didn’t he just take it with him?) nor will they have a doctor on staff (another one of his complaints) and he should know this as he went through this with my mother. He of course brushed all of this off. He couldn’t understand why she’d want him to stay there. After spending days cleaning up his messes, looking to find him a place to stay, hearing about his 911 call madness…AGAIN…and his dismissing all of her efforts as well as anyone else’s, well…that was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. She left the phone call with a few choice four letter words and went on her merry way. SWSTTH is now the second sister who doesn’t talk to him (now known as SSWDTTH).

And now…I’m the only child that speaks to him. He’s called me several times, each time asking me to explain why SSWDTTH won’t talk to him, and would use such language with him. I tried explaining that SSWDTTH put a lot of effort into solving his problems, and he seems to go on his own path nonetheless, leaving us the mess to clean up. He immediately dismissed her contributions…and mine. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t talk to him…and I ignore most of his phone calls. Just a guess.

On subsequent calls he again re-iterated that the place was terrible and he filed a complaint against them. “For the hour you were there?” I ask. The next phone call he said the place had complaints made against it, as if that would justify his behavior. I said “Yeah Dad, they have complaints because you made them.” Again, he is a master of reverse engineering.

On his first call after getting back home, he said that “The bus ride wasn’t so bad. Maybe I don’t need any physical therapy?” Lord help me. He’s lucky I’m three states away. Correction: I’m lucky I’m three states away.

There’s a rubber room waiting for him…if not me…

© Curt Weiss 2014

Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day -18

Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day -18

My father has created this view of himself as a marketing expert. He took some courses (a course perhaps) in the late 90’s and became an “expert.” When I made the mistake of saying the name of the department I worked for, he repeated it back and said, “That’s a marketing opportunity.” Or when I mentioned that my employer had over ten thousand employees he said, “That’s a marketing opportunity.” I sense what he really means is “There must be a good scam I could pull there.” I thought to myself, “You’re not getting anywhere near them.” The next thought I had was “Remember: Tell him nothing.”

For example:
*When he got out of the hoosegow, he had some plan to sell generic Viagra from India on the internet. Though he wouldn’t admit it, I’m sure it was in partnership with some miscreant he met in the slammer. Let me remind you, this is someone who can’t remember how to get into his own e-mail, or that every e-mail address needs to have an “@something” and a “dot something” in it. And of course, when he does get into his e-mail, he has no clue as to what that thing on the side of the page that says “spam folder” is, or that it’s filled with endless messages trying to sell generic Viagra from India. Talk about a saturated market! What does he think it is: a collection of recipes my mother created for processed meat products? Loco Moco indeed!
*He once had an idea for a beef brisket restaurant called the “Brisketeria.” My mother, who I should say made a nice brisket, would run the kitchen and he would be the business and marketing end. That’s a really scary thought. Who would invest in it, Carmine Gallente? Do any of you remember the scenes in Goodfellas where the deliveries are coming in one door of The Bamboo Lounge and going out the other?
*He once partnered with a dentist to market some medical device about ten years ago. Never made a cent. Still, the only money he’s ever made in dentistry has been the malpractice lawsuits.

There was also a time when he added the word “International” in there too. Or as he would say, “Intuhnational”. When I went back to school in 1990, he kept saying I should go into “Intuhnational Banking.” He must have had some sort of money laundering scheme in mind (was that what he was doing on all those foreign trips he refers to in the seventies?). His thoughts on banking came down to this: get one loan to pay off another. Keep that going and you never have to pay back the loan. Others call it Amway.

I Google my dad every once in a while to try and see what he’s up to: who he’s suing, etc. I found the link at the bottom a few years ago. It says he has 101-500 employees. He actually tried to get “Dad has the plague” sister to answer the phone for him at their apartment and say something like “Lloyd Weiss Enterprises”.

Lloyd Weiss Marketing Solutions: he’s got all the answers. It’s a good thing I never went into banking. He’d never leave me alone.


© Curt Weiss 2014

Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day -11

Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day -11

*My sister said my dad was having problems finding a file that had all of my mother’s pension documents in them. My wife, who cleaned the disaster known as my mother’s desk, is sure of where she put them.

Me – “Dad, look in the bottom left hand section of her desk for a set of pocket folders.”
Dad – “There is no left hand section of her desk.”
Me – “Face the desk dad.”
Dad – “Wait a minute…my pants fell down.”

Am I living in an episode of the Abbott and Costello show?

*He sees conspiracies all round him. “The DA is withholding evidence!” My sense is the only conspiracy is the one his brain is perpetrating on him. But it’s partially true though; his partner robbed from him; his accountant robbed from him…he probably robbed them too. I told him to stop living on the margins. “She’s not ‘non compos mentis’ dad. She’s ‘dead.’” The truth is fluid to some people, but when the truth is so awful, maybe the ones who are creating the alternative reality are the smart ones?

*There was always music in my dad’s store. Among the favorites of the staff, and some customers too, was a collection of Perez Prado, the Cuban Mambo King. Many of the sales staff were Latino: Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, etc. They would fight amongst themselves but always enjoyed Perez Prado. The Chinese salesmen liked it because the Latinos would get so into the music, they’d forget to make sales. More customers for them. I would buy these records in a shop in the Times Square subway station called Record Mart that specialized in Latin music. One day the sales person asked me, “Are you Puerto Rican?” ”No” I said. “But my dad thinks he is.”

© Curt Weiss 2014