Search This Blog

Loading...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Don’t miss my FREE GIVEAWAY for WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE on Goodreads starting September 2



Did you ever wake up under a chicken coop covered with overnight droppings? I have. Have you ever barbecued yourself on a hot stove? I did. Have you ever come home smashed, ending up the unintended clown for your daughters’ sleepover? I did. Were you ever so hungover you forgot your own name? I was. I once went with my brother-in-law for a haircut, an excuse to go to a bar, and lost him for three days. I almost fell off the roof of the Peabody Hotel, smashed, looking for the famous ducks.  

WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE - How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini is my tale of boozing through roughly twenty-five years of my life, performing some hilarious antics that defy belief. In a quarter century I made it my job, a career, if you will, to pursue hard drinking in lieu of becoming the typical working stiff. It was more important to get to the bar for the first drink than work late for advancement. But I was still lucky, mostly finding people and companies that drank as much as I did. I was a happy drunk that has one hell of an adventure to relate.


                                                          
Sign up to get your FREE BOOK here.

                                                   Thanks and good reading!



Tuesday, August 23, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini


The sales manager of this company [in Des Moines] came to Memphis to interview me, and he stayed at the Peabody Hotel where I worked in the basement for the TV station. I had to get into the hotel and up to his room without anyone seeing me. It took some finagling but I was able to get away without anyone knowing what I was doing. He was a great guy and we hit it off immediately and I was asked to come to Des Moines for another interview. In those days most of the planes landing there were DC-3s.

The minute I got off the airplane in this cold, desolate looking place I reached the conclusion that I didn’t want to be in Des Moines, Iowa. I was brought up in the South where the weather could be challenging but I would rather spend the rest of my life in Jackson, Tennessee than one day in Des Moines. I would also come to understand a saying passed around by this company’s alumni: “It’s a nice place to work if your family can afford to send you.”

Journey with me boozed up to sobriety in WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE. It’s a trip on Amazon here.

Monday, August 22, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini


We had out-of-town friends visit us regularly in Memphis, but our favorites were ‘Warren’ and ‘Jessica,’ not their real names, from Norfolk, while in the Navy; remember Baxter’s Barn? They wanted to go to the Peabody and see the ducks, then go to the roof where there was dancing. We were too late to see the ducks this particular night so we proceeded upstairs where the band was already playing. The Peabody roof bands were featured regularly on CBS radio nationwide.

A friend of mine who had one of the finest radio voices I had ever worked with, “Harry Rhodes,” not his real name, was doing a band broadcast on the network that night. Harry rarely committed a blooper but this night he was somehow rattled when introducing the show and said, “And now CBS presents the music of Benny Firestone coming from high atop the Potel Hebody. He repeated that three more times before getting it right. The drunks didn’t know the difference.

Journey with me boozed up to sobriety in WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE. It’s a trip on Amazon here.

Friday, August 19, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini


Eventually I moved over to WREC-TV (later to become WREG), Channel 3, with studios in the basement of the Peabody Hotel. The Peabody had its own stories. It was, and still is, famous for its ducks that swim in the fountain in the hotel lobby. Every evening they are put to bed by their caretaker by rolling out a red carpet that stretches from the fountain to the elevator bank. Apparently this feature brought in visitors from all over the world, some not so good for these innocent fowl.

The ducks are marched into the elevator on the carpet and taken to the roof where their penthouse was located. No one but the caretaker is allowed to ride with the ducks. The next morning the procedure is reversed and the ducks are returned to the fountain through the elevator, via the red carpet to the fountain. You are allowed to stand around and observe but you can’t get too close to the ducks. Unfortunately this kind of protection would prove inadequate in a mindless display of stupidity.

The hotel was hosting a group on one occasion, which I believe was a bunch of college fraternity alumni; my memory is vague since this has been almost fifty years ago. The Peabody had a mezzanine that surrounded and looked over the lobby, and a cluster of the frat guys had congregated around the mezzanine with drinks in hand. The ducks were still innocently swimming in the fountain entertaining the guests. As usual, there were several people standing around the fountain looking at the ducks.

All of a sudden a barrage of drink glasses began to hit the fountain and some of the ducks, even guests. They were coming from the drunks on the mezzanine, and the volley went on for several minutes until security stepped in to stop the chaos. My recollection is that some ducks might have been killed, others injured. No guests were hurt. The frat guys were questioned but no one would give up the culprits. In my lifetime I have been on many drunken tears but would never do something like this.

Journey with me boozed up to sobriety in WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE. It’s a trip on Amazon here.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini


The wrestling matches were in their glory during this period (late 1950s), and I worked camera, eventually directing the show. Our cameras were in the balcony of the auditorium where the matches were held, and had to be carefully attached to the protective railing. Advice given to all cameramen in setting up was, “if you accidentally drop the camera during setup, you might as well go over the side with it.

Journey with me boozed up to sobriety in WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE. It’s a trip on Amazon here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini


Eventually I left this station to work for a competitor in Memphis, and for more money. However, Channel 5 did have its moments, one of which turned out to be a very famous one, at least as the future would dictate. I met a very young, and still on the way up, Elvis Presley, one night. He just walked into the studio and said hello. He had asked the receptionist if he could see the studio, the door was open and we weren’t on the air, so he caught me in the middle of setting up the next show.

He very politely asked if I would give him a tour of our studios, which I readily agreed to. By this time the engineering crew was congregated around the window from the control room to the studio trying to get a good look at Elvis. Actually, I was embarrassed, since our main studio where we were at the time was converted from the offices of an old bank building and looked like it. Since this was my first job in television and these were the pioneer years, the 1950s, we were just beginning to make the rules.

I showed him around, explaining that almost everything live he saw on the tube from this station came from this studio. There was also an announcer’s booth, a small cooking show studio downstairs, and a stage on the second floor with an auditorium for special events. But we still did the bulk of our “productions” from this area that was not much bigger than a large living room. Hey, this was the beginning of TV, where it all started.

But Elvis seemed impressed, and, that said, I still cannot tell you just how much fun I had in this oversized playroom, because we were just learning what television was all about and still setting the guidelines. Guidelines we changed on a daily basis to make things more entertaining for the public. This often included mistakes that completely broke up the crew, but as the guy in charge, I had to remain cool in the chaos. However, there were a couple of times when it was so bizarre that I almost lost it.

Before the King left the studio, he reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a Zippo lighter and showed it to me. He asked me if I thought something like this would sell with his picture on it. It was Colonel Parker’s idea, he told me. I replied that I was sure anything with his picture on it would sell. He thanked me for everything and even graciously waved to the control room crew before leaving. I had taken him in to meet them and he was fascinated over how we produced shows.

It wasn’t until later I realized that at this point he had not yet appeared on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” That was September 9, 1956, when 60 million viewers watched the birth of the “King of Rock and Roll.” Elvis garnered a whopping 82 percent of the television viewing audience. If he had been on the “Ed Sullivan Show” before coming into our studios, I’m sure it would have been a huge let down. But he did leave appreciative and the next time I saw Elvis Presley was on the “Really Big Shew.”

Journey with me boozed up to sobriety in WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE. It’s a trip on Amazon here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Goodreads the GOOD site for writers


Goodreads, the site where readers go for the best books to read, and writers go to promote the books they write, recently attained the title of the world's largest book-focused social network, fifty million reviews. You want to go to Goodreads.com when you're looking for the latest in fiction and non-fiction but there's so much more which you will soon discover. Make friends, let others know what you're reading and vice versa, Set up a bookshelf for the future. This is truly the home for readers and writers.

Huff Post recently ran an article about Goodreads Giveaways, which is a great way for new writers to get their books into the hands of interested readers. I ran the promotion and had 285 requests for my book. Probably would have had more but only ran for a week giving away only two books. The Huff Post writer  suggests 30 days and as many books as you can afford to give away. On my next giveaway I plan to run for 30 days and offer five books, but that's your decision.

Monday, August 15, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini


As a smaller fish in a larger market, I was offered a job at WMC-TV, Channel 5 in Memphis, but would have to start as a studio cameraman, and because of my experience in photography, also as a nighttime newsreel photographer. While in school it was necessary to put the heavy drinking on hold, but spending the day in classes and the evenings working and studying left no time anyway. This random discipline in abstinence would come in handy when I finally decided to give up the drinking life.

This was only momentary until one night a couple of guys from the station talked me into going out and having a few drinks at an after-hours place. Fortunately it was Friday and no school the next day, so there was no reason to curb my intake, resorting to the old habits of drinking until I couldn’t move. My friends brought me home to a very unhappy wife who left me at the front door in a lump. Somehow I managed the control to not do that again for a while.

Journey with me boozed up to sobriety in WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE. It’s a trip on Amazon here.

Friday, August 05, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini


I would compare my discharge from the Navy with the day several years later when I would find out I didn’t have prostate cancer after switched biopsy records had proven the diagnosis wrong. Relief with a capital “R.” The incident almost resurrected my boozing habits after years of sobriety. And I cannot recall any other occasion that brought me this close to the bottle, but I can say that during this one time and in every other instance my wife, Barbara, was there as my support.

Journey with me boozed up to sobriety in WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE. It’s a trip on Amazon here.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini


I find it interesting how some guys know just how much to drink when they are out trolling the bars and know when to stop, or at least slow down, when they meet someone interesting for the evening. If they are on the prowl they instinctively realize they are about to score and drinking into unconsciousness will not get the job done. I, on the other hand, seemed to relish my find so much that I had to celebrate it with more booze. Even if we made it back to my room it was usually lights out pretty quick.

Journey with me boozed up to sobriety. It's a trip in WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE on Amazon here.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini


I cannot count the number of bad influences I am supposedly guilty of, but I know deep down in my liver that they all were adults, of a sound mind—at least most of them—with the ability to make decisions on their own. But I carried the mantle with enthusiasm and in most cases with pride. Although I have to admit that in several instances I was the first to shout, “It’s time for a drink.” That was like a call to action for me that had become the most important thing in my life.

You can buy my book on Amazon here.

Monday, August 01, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini



On one [Navy Shore Patrol) patrol my partner, who wasn’t much bigger than me, and I were pulling this hulk of a swabbie up the gangplank of a destroyer when all of a sudden he bolted and fell over the side into the water. The Officer of the Deck was an Ensign who said to leave him there because they had something to fish him out with. Apparently he did this every time he went ashore. As we were leaving someone had moved a hoist to that side of the ship and the swimmer was being brought aboard.

You can buy my book on Amazon here.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini



My boss, a full [Navy] lieutenant, would make periodic trips to Anacostia Air Station in Virginia just outside D.C. and not far from where my wife and daughter were living with her sister. We were on our way to Anacostia one evening with the Lieutenant in the back seat, and me in the front of the SNJ trainer. It was already dark and about halfway to D.C. he lost the lights in his cockpit.

We were using the radio beacon for navigation so it was relatively easy for me to take over flying the aircraft, since he had given me some basic instructions in the past. Just before entering the approach to Anacostia, we lost the radio beacon, and due to my inexperience we veered off course and ended up in Pentagon air space. We were immediately welcomed by four military jets that escorted us down with one on each side. Nothing like an official welcome to the U.S. Capital.

YOU CAN BUY MY BOOK ON AMAZON HERE.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-And Free Books


I had to thank Braddock for saving my life once while I worked for him. On weekends I went to Washington, DC, where my wife was staying with her sister and brother in law until we could get a place in Norfolk. On one such weekend, I was scheduled to get a free ride to DC on a MATS (Military Air Transportation Service) plane. But Braddock had work for me to do, so I missed the plane ride and would leave later with friends by car.

I watched the MATS plane take off out my window thinking how easy it would have been to fly to Anacostia Naval airport and my wife living close by would pick me up. I watched this hulk in the sky, barely at the end of the runway, but about 300 feet airborne, shudder with no warning, turn slightly to the left and plunge to the ground where it was immediately engulfed in flames. No one survived, and it almost made me reconsider the religion business.

GIVING AWAY copies of my book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE at GOODREADS here.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Free Books



GIVING AWAY copies of my book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE at GOODREADS here.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini


One thing that happened before I left [the Naval Station], a film company was making the film, “Beneath the 12-Mile Reef,” in Key West and contracted to use the church parsonage as the location for several scenes.

Robert Webb, director of the “12-Mile Reef,” whom I had met at the parsonage, was looking for extras for a scene where Gilbert Roland is brought up with the bends. He asked me and a couple of my Navy buddies to stand on the dock and display our shock when they rushed by with Roland on a stretcher. We did, but guess we weren’t horrified enough, since the scene was cut from the movie. Webb did hire me to clean up and put the parsonage back in its original condition. He paid me $84, big money in those days.
You can buy WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE here.

Watch for my FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY starting JULY 25/SCROLL DOWN


Friday, July 15, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini


During my stay in Key West I tried all the bars, especially Kilroy’s, where a lot of the locals hung out and it was said that Ernest Hemingway sometime frequented. The writer had a home in Key West where he lived and wrote for ten years, producing books such as “A Farewell to Arms” and “To Have and Have Not,” whose locale was Key West. Hemingway’s cats were still at his home, leading me to believe, along with a later experience covered here, writers preferred the calming effect of felines.

You can buy WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE here.

Watch for my FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY starting JULY 25/SCROLL DOWN


Thursday, July 14, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini


Jacksonville [Florida) was uneventful except for an incident at a whorehouse. I met some friends at the Naval Air Base there from Jackson, Tennessee and naturally we had to go out and get plastered. I ended up obliterated, passed out in this den of iniquity, and don’t remember anything after that. But I do vaguely recall before the darkness settled several barely dressed women seductively walking around me. You can see how out of it I was because I don’t remember being the least bit aroused.

You can buy WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE here.

Watch for my FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY starting JULY 25/SCROLL DOWN


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini



Jackson [Tenn.] was also the first place I ever smoked pot. I was with two older friends and we were working a roadhouse on the outside of town. One was the bouncer, the other was the doorman, and I was the photographer. All the men there were with someone else’s wife, so no one really wanted their picture taken but I persisted, coming up with a library of photographs I would later discover could have been very valuable.

I bummed a cigarette from one of my buddies and after a few minutes I was the happiest one there, except I didn’t know why. This was in the late 1940s when the street term for marijuana was “reefer,” and when they told me that’s what I had just smoked, I still didn’t know what it was. It would be several years before I tried that again.
You can buy WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE here.


Watch for my FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY starting JULY 25/SCROLL DOWN


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini


Highway disasters around this small town [Jackson, Tenn.] were more numerous than you might expect, partly due to the fact that you weren’t able to go into a restaurant or bar and buy a drink. You had to buy a bottle, usually a fifth, and hide it while drinking, so most were inclined to finish it off before the end of the evening. It took years for these dry regions to realize they were killing off their citizens.
You can buy WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE here.

Watch for my FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY starting JULY 25/SCROLL DOWN


Monday, July 11, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini


After several drinks, my dance floor agility improved dramatically and the two of us were even enjoying ourselves. [At fraternity dance] But once I get started with the booze, there is no slowing me down, so I was relatively plastered when the dance was over. My date and I were descending the steps of the Jackson Country Club when I, by then almost completely impaired with the wobblies, stepped on the back of her formal and pulled the front right off her boobs. 
You can buy WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE here.

Watch for my FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY starting JULY 25/SCROLL DOWN

Sunday, July 10, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini



I was so smashed when I returned home one night from an SPO [fraternity] party that I fell asleep on our space heater situated between the front door and my room. It was winter and in use. There were vents on the top much like those on air vents in current homes, and when I woke up the next morning in my bed, I looked like I had been barbecued. My dear mother had quietly moved me off what could have eventually produced 3rd degree burns.
You can buy WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE here.

Watch for my FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY starting JULY 25/SCROLL DOWN

Saturday, July 09, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini


It was, in fact, Des Moines, Iowa where I really learned to drink, working for a large publishing conglomerate. When first being interviewed for the job, having just been introduced to the martini and after my second one, they made me an offer. In my condition, it was necessary to excuse myself and go to the bathroom before answering. I had to sit on the “john,” without purpose, except to use my pen and a piece of toilet paper to figure whether they were offering me more money than I was making at the time. They were, just barely.
 You can buy WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE here.

Watch for my FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY starting JULY 25/SCROLL DOWN


Friday, July 08, 2016

EXCERPTS from my new book, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini



This is the first excerpt I've posted from my new book, "WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini." I'll have random posts from the book in the future so keep an eye on The Dunning Letter.

The very first paragraph:
It all came to an abrupt halt one dreary Sunday morning almost 35 years ago. It was raining and I was looking out the window of our twelfth floor high-rise in College Park, Maryland, trying to settle my stomach after another night of non-stop drinking and smoking. This had been going on for over twenty years and I had gotten very good at it. Yes, booze and cigarettes had become my comfort zone. Nevertheless, I had just decided to give up both of these nasty habits…cold turkey.
You can buy WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE here.

Watch for my FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY starting JULY 25/SCROLL DOWN


Monday, June 27, 2016

Booze, fun and sobriety




WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini has just been published and is available at Amazon.com. You can enjoy it in both Kindle and the paperback edition.

During the period covered in my new memoir of some crazy drinking days, my expectations were that I would not live past the age of fifty-five based on the amount of booze I drank and the number of cigarettes I smoked. When I shared this with friends and relatives, and they saw me in action, they agreed. Somehow I made it to eighty-four and decided I was meant to chronicle these hilarious years of inebriation. 

If you are looking for a few hours of laughs (incidents like, after boozing all night waking up under a chicken coop covered with overnight droppings) with a vignette here and there of sheer reality, take a look at, WITHOUT THE LAMPSHADE-How I Learned to Love my Brown Martini. Buy it at Amazon.com

Thanks for reading!