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RichEisbrouch

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About RichEisbrouch

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  • Age in Years
    69
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    Male
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    Gay
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    Los Angeles, California
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    writing, research, staying in touch with friends, work and volunteer work, walking our dogs...

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  1. RichEisbrouch

    Chapter 2

    Then the next chapter should make you smile.
  2. RichEisbrouch

    Chapter 2

    The street in front of me was jammed with cars. It might have taken a half-hour to drive to the train, and who knew where we could park or how long that might take. But it was only a minute’s walk. The station, like the houses we’d passed, needed repairs. If I’d been trying to start, I wouldn’t know where. Paint. Windows. Doors. Signs. Benches. Everything looked like it was twenty years old. Inside, was better. Someone who helped paint the place when he was my age was probably only nearing thirty. But that didn’t matter, because you couldn’t really see very much. You heard it all first – the rabble. The large, high-ceilinged room was crowded with kids, parents, grandparents, and probably counselors, all trying to get or give information. There were signs on tables, signs on walls, signs on wobbly dowels, but you could barely see them for the people. There were also banners temporarily rigged above, proclaiming the names of camps, and under the banners, people stood on benches, chairs, or even tables, calling instructions and trying to sort the herds. I wanted to be almost anywhere else. Hell? No, this probably wasn’t anyone’s idea of Hell. It was too damp, for one thing, and my shirt was suddenly sticking to my shoulders. I scanned the banners till I found the one I wanted and kind of half-moved, half let myself be pushed toward it. Below it, stood Bill Linden. He was easy to recognize from Dad’s high school yearbook, though over twenty-five years had passed. Linden had been an athlete, evidently popular because he was all over the pictures, often half dressed. “I’m amazed they let you get away with that,“ I told Dad. “Uniforms were skimpier. You should see your granddad’s book.” “They weren’t skimpy for the girls,” Mom seemed to complain. “They were ‘modest.’ We wore bloomers.” “What’re they?” my sister asked. “You know – really baggy shorts. And ours had connected tops, like jumpsuits, but with short legs and short sleeves. You buttoned them up the front. And they were the worst colors. Sunflower yellow. Aquamarine.. Anything to make us look ugly.” “It didn’t work,” Dad said, grinning. “You were still hot.” “Dad!” Laurie joked. “You’re not supposed to say that!” “Yeah, I know.” He mock pouted. “We’ve all been gelded. And don’t ask what that means. Look it up.” “No. Don’t,” Mom corrected. Linden hadn’t changed much. His hair was better cut, and maybe he’d gained a few pounds. But his hair was still dark, and he looked like an athlete. I couldn’t believe he was the same age as my dad. As instructed, I was wearing a Camp Seneca T-shirt. The woman standing on the floor next to Linden – I later found out she was his wife – spotted my shirt and asked my name. I told her my last one, because I knew that’s what she wanted. It’s what other people were giving. Plus, I could see how her lists were arranged. “I’m a waiter.” “Robert?” “Rob.” She crossed off my name while telling me which train car to look for. Then she waved generally in the right direction. I followed part of the noisy crowd out a side door. Almost past one end of the platform was a double engine, and the train it pulled was so long that to reach the other end, I had to walk down temporary wooden stairs steps into the railroad yard. Each car had huge numbered cards in its windows – one card by every door – and some windows had camp pennants. By the time I found the car I needed and took an empty window seat, I was positive I’d made a mistake. Vermont was looking very good. It’s not that I was afraid of going away. As I said, we’d traveled. And I’ve never had trouble making friends – my parents often commented on how many people I knew. “It’s easy,” I told them. “You just talk to them. Or listen.” “That’s the hard part,” Mom agreed. “There’s sometimes not much being said.” I’d laughed because I thought she was thinking about my best friend. He’s a good guy but gets dumber every year. In the station, I didn’t even dislike the crowds. It was like going to a Yankee game or to the Garden to see the Knicks. Still, I never liked being considered as only part of a crowd, and that’s mostly why I wanted to leave. I hated being stuck places where what I said, or felt, didn’t make any difference. And that had to be the way a camp was run. I thought seriously about getting off the train. I could go to New York and stay with one of my friends for a couple of days. A guy I knew was a year ahead of me and went to Columbia. He shared a small apartment off Riverside and wouldn’t mind my hanging out. Once my parents and Laurie left for Vermont, I could go back to our house. I’d already lost the law firm job – that had been given away. But I had enough gift money to live on and could easily find other work – washing windows, painting houses, mowing lawns. I was sure I could earn enough to match my camp salary. But when I turned up missing, Linden would have to call my parents, and that would start a mess. First, for crossing my dad’s friend, who was clearly doing him a favor. Next, for doing just what my parents had told me not to do. Finally, for just being a kid. And as soon as I saw my parents – which I was certain would be within hours of Linden’s call – there’d be an enormous fight I could in no way win. It sounded lousy. So I stayed in my seat, sweating, staring out the window, and watching people push each other onto the train. I considered both trying to wake up fully and simply going back to sleep. It was barely eight, and I’d been up since five. The train wasn’t scheduled to leave till nine, but Dad liked to be early. After checking around the car, I decided to go to sleep. The few guys there all seemed to know each other and were busy trading what were probably winter stories. The girls, mostly gathered away from the guys, seemed as busy with reunions. And both groups looked just like the kind of kids who’d still need summer camp. I took off my glasses and, having no shirt pocket, stuck them in my gym bag under my seat. Then I leaned against the window and tried for a nap. It didn’t take long to come.
  3. I was visiting Grandma. CM opened the door with her almost newborn baby Giovanna in her arms, wrapped in a blanket. CM stood for Contessa Marlene, a name she said no one ever called her, even back in the Dominican Republic. “Your grandma’s visiting with Sam-the-man right now, and he just arrived, so perhaps we’d better leave them alone.” She spoke a strange variety of English, fluent and lilting and a mix of formal and not. Sam-the-man was an old Jewish tailor, right out of a stereotyped movie, always wearing a black suit, white shirt, narrow black tie, and well-shined black dress shoes. They all looked like they came from a shop that no longer existed on the now gentrified Lower East Side. Sam’s black fedora – no feather – usually rested on my grandmother’s bed. My grandfather, who also knew a few things about men’s clothes, having sold them most of his life in his swanky shop on Madison Avenue, would have admired Sam’s suit, but Grandpa mostly wore brown three-piece outfits, with a watch chain connecting to his father’s gold pocket watch, red scarab cuff links, and shiny brown Oxfords. Sam was also probably fifteen years younger than Grandma, which still left him room to be eighty. Grandpa would have been almost a hundred, had he lived past Sam’s age. And since Sam was with Grandma, we went into CM’s room. Tripper, her boyfriend or husband, though I think she had one of those or an ex back in the Dominican Republic, was out on the setback, dropping dishes into a dumpster in the alley eight stories below. I don’t know where he got the dishes, but they seemed to arrive in bulk, in plastic milk crates, then CM would pick out the collectable ones to sell online, and Tripper would trash the rest. He had good aim, the plates almost always landed where he intended, and when they missed, he’d clean up the fragments with a broom and a Mahoney he borrowed from Charlie the doorman. Charlie was probably as old as Grandma and was the doorman only because he always had been the doorman. He still wore his dark blue bandleader’s uniform with gold epaulets and polished brass buttons in all but the warmest weather. Back in the apartment, we stood in CM’s bedroom, which had been my great aunt’s for forty years, and looked out the open double-hung windows at Tripper. There were no curtains. The apartment had been stripped almost bare of anything sellable, but Grandma didn’t seem to mind. CM’s room held a single bed without a head- or footboard, a borrowed bassinet, a salvaged, overstuffed reading chair with a matching ottoman, and an old TV, not even a flat screen. It got its signal mainly through the rabbit ears antenna balanced on top. As we watched, Tripper finished at the setback’s edge, crossed the maybe ten feet of black gravel, jumped so he could grab a rung of the old iron ladder bolted to the brick wall, chinned up, and climbed through the window into the bedroom. “Hello, young fellow,” he said, though I was probably at least his age, which could have been anywhere between thirty and forty. He also wore a fedora – with a small, bright feather in its as colorful band – over a brown guayabera, open over a tan wife-beater, darker tan pleated dress pants, and a belt that matched the brown in his brown-and-white shoes. The first thing he did was grab another stack of plates from a milk crate balanced on the radiator and ask CM, “Trash?” “Si,” she said, and he swung back out the window. I wanted to follow. I used to dangerously play on the setback when I was a kid, horrifying my grandmother and great aunt, if amusing my grandfather, who’d been the one to encourage me. “He’ll get himself killed, and what will we tell his parents?” Grandma used to ask. “They’ll never speak to us again.” “And we’ll be evicted!” my great aunt would nearly shriek. She was always worried about being evicted from the apartment, which was rent controlled and easily worth ten times what they paid. “He’ll be fine,” Grandpa said. “It’ll put hair on his chest.” “He’s nine years old.” “And when I was his age – even less – probably six – I was swimming in the East River.” I was wise enough never to go near the edge of the roof. In fact, I mostly wanted to look in people’s windows – I was always watching them on the street side of the building. And even though I was shorter then, I could still jump for the bottom rung of the ladder and pull myself up – which I discovered I couldn’t do the last time I’d tried. Tripper had been out somewhere, CM hadn’t had her baby yet, but the wire detached from her alternate antenna on the roof, four stories above, and she’d asked me to “Please fetch it.” ”Sure,” I said. in my work suit, tie, and shiny shoes, and I scrambled out the window, climbed down the short ladder, jumped to the roof, grabbed the blowing cable and brought it close enough so that even the pregnant CM could comfortably lean out and grab it. Then leaped to grasp the bottom rung of the ladder, something I hadn’t done for years. I could reach it, but was just heavier enough and out of shape that I couldn’t chin. While standing on the setback, looking up and considering the situation, I noticed again the tall, long-ago bricked in windows in the several stories above my grandmother’s apartment. The fill-ins had been done so many years back that they now matched the dark brown of the others. I was always sure there was a grand, long-unused ballroom up there, but there’d never been a way to prove it. “You can’t just go running wild in the hallways, knocking on doors,” my great aunt had advised when I’d suggested that. But that’s pretty much what I had to do that day. CM was no longer at the window, calling her softly didn’t help, and I didn’t want to alarm my grandmother, who often sat at the next window – “Getting some sun,” as she used to say. So I tapped on the kitchen window of the apartment just below hers, jarring the woman who was on the phone, but getting her attention, and she quickly sent her young son out to open the locked stairwell door. Then I walked one floor up to my grandmother’s. Soon after Tripper went back out the window, CM told me, “ I think enough time has passed so you may visit your grandma. She and Sam-the-man have had a long and pleasant discussion.” And she led me through the empty-and-curtainless-but-still-wall-to-wall-carpeted living room to the door of my grandmother’s bedroom, where she gently knocked and asked, “May we be permitted to come in? Your oldest grandchild is here to visit.” She didn’t wait for an answer, it seemed more of an announcement, and I followed her and the baby in. Sam was indeed sitting on the double bed, which was covered only by a crisp white sheet, and he was wearing his black suit and perched maybe a foot from his black fedora. Grandma was perched on a straight chair not far from the single open window, though this one – like the two that faced the street – had old, wrought iron, child protector bars on it. The straight chair was part of the wooden dinette set and had been painted light institutional green, probably by my great aunt many years earlier, though the table was still natural and varnished clear yellow. My great aunt used to like “Freshening up and redecorating,” though that largely involved small cans of paint – “What I can comfortably carry,” – and shifting existing furniture around, rather than buying new pieces. And now, there was little left to shift. “I’ve been telling your grandma about the weather,” Sam began. Grandma smiled and nodded, either at me or at Sam, and I handed her the flowers I’d brought, a small bunch I picked up, walking from the subway. I almost always purposely got off a stop further from my grandmother’s when visiting, just so I could pass the florist’s. “Going to visit your grandmother?” the old woman owner often asked/told me. “What a nice young man you turned out to be.” I’d been going to her shop since easily high school, but I guess back then she’d had some doubt I’d grow up “nice.” Grandma smelled the flowers then absently handed them to CM to put in a vase. There still were still a few, though no longer crystal, just made of cheap glass. CM took the flowers, despite holding the still-sleeping Giovanna, and left the room as I kissed Grandma’s cheek. She smiled again, and I fished over a nearby black plastic milk crate with my foot – it slid easily on the polished, hard wood floor – turned it on its side and sat. That put my head about even with Grandma’s “She’s well,” Sam continued, and Grandma nodded and smiled. Most of her vocabulary had been stripped away by a series of strokes, but she still looked pretty much the same. Her now-thin-but-still-dark-brown hair – we used to wonder if it was dyed when my great aunt was still alive – hers was subtle, dark brown-red – was pulled back, she wore a single fake pearl screw-post earring on each ear, with her dark blue, sleeveless, fitted visiting dress and stockings and black sensible shoes with a slight stacked heel. Her gold wedding band was her only other jewelry, and it was now made to fit with a piece of adhesive tape wrapped around the back. I never had much to say to Grandma anymore because I wasn’t sure how much she understood. But I quickly told her that everyone in the family sent their love, going through their names one-by-one while she nodded separately at each. And perhaps she could still get an image of each of us at some point in our lives in what was left of her mind. But even when she could still speak, she’d run a litany of names from my grandfather’s through my dad’s until she stopped at mine. With my brothers, the list ran longer. CM and Tripper had been trying to feed some vocabulary back into Grandma’s memory, but they only succeed with parrot-like phrases from the old black-and-white gangster movies Tripper liked to watch on the TV in CM’s room – he’d rescued and rigged a DVD player, which sat at the bottom of the steel, rolling TV stand. So I wasn’t at all surprised when I asked Grandma how she was, and she replied in pure, nasal, Damon Runyon, rather than her formerly elegant English, “What’s it to ya, babe?”
  4. RichEisbrouch

    Chapter 21

    Thanks. That was my reason for coming back to revise the book: I liked the characters and wanted to let them tell their story.
  5. RichEisbrouch

    Chapter 14

    In the original Tall Man Down, Don was a minor character and considerably younger, almost new on the small police force. He was there only to give some credibility to the central character -- the narrator -- who, in that book, had no police background. Years after I discarded the original book, I went back to Waldron as a setting for a different book, The Pendleton Omens, and needed a name for a police detective. But Don had to be older in that book, so when I got back to rewriting Tall Man Down, his character had to track in age. As with Camp Lore, the physical college I write about in Tall Man Down is based on a place that no longer exists in that form and was never near the town I use as a physical model for Waldron -- which also no longer exists in that form. The pleasures of imagination and memory. GWM is also set in Waldron.
  6. RichEisbrouch

    Chapter 9

    Again, thanks. I'd be interested to hear what you think about it at the end. As with almost everything I write, I often go back and improve. As mention in the introduction, this book and my other book, Quabbin, are very different revisions of an earlier novel, my first attempt at writing a traditional mystery. I gave up after that. It turns out I don't like killing people.
  7. RichEisbrouch

    Chapter 4

    Absolutely right on faculty politics. Richard Russo writes particularly well about them in a novel I think called The Straight Man -- which has nothing to do with sex. There's a moment towards the end of the book where the faculty finishes a meeting, and everyone rushes to get out of the conference room. But they crowd the door, which opens in, and can't jointly agree to take a step back, so they can open the door and all leave.
  8. RichEisbrouch

    Chapter 1

    The physical camp -- and indirectly the train station -- are purposely based on places that haven't existed in years. But the story is set in the present, and the people are fiction. Rob's writing this as a college student, but the summer he's writing about is between his high school graduation and the start of his freshman college year -- a kind of limbo when his parents aren't quite ready to let him be as independent as he'd like. And, yeah, he has fun. They all do. Thanks for reading.
  9. RichEisbrouch

    Chapter 1

    Yep. More will be explained. Thanks for picking up again so quickly. I've also been -- and will be -- dribbling several short pieces, fiction and non-fiction, on the next few Sundays into my Circumstances and Collections books. Depends on how much of my writing you can take
  10. RichEisbrouch

    Camp Lore

    Nine guys at a summer camp. Eight waiters: Rob, Nate, Brian, Greg, Steve, Dan, Paul, Jim. And a counselor: Andy. The waiters have a lot of fun in their generous spare time -- the usual camp activities, plus shooting some hoops, playing some cards, and generally messing around. And at least one of them's a joker. The counselor has other plans, aiming for a different kind of fun. But fun. The story will serialize on Fridays and Tuesdays, but it may slow to once a week, if I get behind. Short chapters. Easy reading. Should last into fall. As usual, comments are welcome. Enjoy.
  11. Our dog, a mostly-Border Collie, is now five-years-old. For the last year, her main toy has been an oversized stuffed jack, and her main trick has been teaching me to say, over and over, “Get the jack! Get the jack! Get the jack!” Recently, the jack finally wore out and was replaced with a stuffed plush mallard. Now, of course, I’ve been trained to say, “Get the duck! Get the duck! Get the duck!” Still, last week, the dog came in from the backyard with a real dead bird in her mouth. Proving a direct link between toys and violence. – I just spoke, for the first time, with the second wife of my grandfather’s youngest brother, a woman in her eighties who I didn’t know was still alive. If my grandfather hadn’t died, he’d be 115, and his brother 101. Among the things I asked this woman – my great-aunt by second marriage – was whether she knew where the Eisbrouch family had come from. I already knew about the other three-quarters of my grandparents, but not the ones who’d given me this somewhat tricky last name. Almost no one can pronounce it properly, and it’s impossible to use on the phone. Because when I say “Eisbrouch” – pronounced ice-brook – the reservation clerks or whoever write down I. Then I say E, and soon we have I - E - I. And they haven’t even started to mangle “brouch.” That gets Ks and Us and Gs. In any case, when I asked my great-aunt where my family had come from, she simply said, “Germany.” “Are you sure?” I insisted. “I always thought that. But I have a number of German friends who say Eisbrouch isn’t a German name.” “It certainly is,” said my great-aunt. “But, of course, your family changed it from ‘Eisenbruke.’” “Why?” I asked. “Because it was too hard to spell.” – I design scenery for a small college theater department, and I have to buy a lot of things in thrift stores. I don’t really like shopping in these places, because I always feel guilty – feel like I’m taking things away from people who really need them. Still, I’ve just been doing a play that’s set in a beat-up trailer and demands those kinds of props. So a month ago, I bought five or six hundred dollars of furniture and smaller stuff – appliances and knickknacks – intending to donate them all back when the show was over. Except today, when I tried to be a nice guy and return all these things plus others, the store refused to accept my donation. Insisting they don’t sell, “That kind of crap.” – Today, one of my SAT students, a junior at a very good, local private school, learned that a duck is a bird. And that ducks can fly. And that gooses – which the rest of us call geese – can also fly. She thought ducks were rented for the local town pond because they looked pretty and so people could feed them. – An excerpt from a student essay answering the question, “How do you measure a person’s worth?” Today in our history, the U.S. has George W Bush as president. Many people consider him to be a worthless, bad president, mostly because he has horrid grammar, makes a few mistakes, and comes off as an idiot. In reality though, he is a father, a husband, a human being. He should be judged on that, not on his low level of intelligence and his semi-unsuccessful presidency. -- Now let me see if I’ve got this right: Foley claims that as a teenager, he was abused by a clergyman, though not necessarily a priest, though Foley is Catholic. But that’s not why he’s gay or interested in teenaged boys. And he doesn’t really want to have sex with teenaged boys – he just wants to talk with them about sex. But he only does this when he’s drunk, but he never drinks at work, though he has sent instant messages to teenaged boys about sex during a vote on the House floor. And Mr. Bush is disgusted. – I have three new SAT students, two guys and a girl. Not stupid, in fact, all have scores in the low 500s per test and want to raise them to 600. The SAT book has an introductory quote from Aristotle Onassis, and I asked them separately if they know who he is. All say, “Yes,” but think he’s an old Greek philosopher. And the guys aren’t certain he’s Greek. I correct, “No, at one time he was probably the richest man in the world. That’s why he merits the quote.” To further connect to Onassis, I ask if they know who John Kennedy was. I’m expecting an easy answer. I get an uneasy one. They all know he was a president, but they don’t know much more. I ask what they most remember about him, expecting, “He got shot.” I get nothing. “Nothing?” I ask. Nothing. I explain that he got shot. I explain that at one point maybe every guy in the United States, if not the world, wanted to be John Kennedy. That he was that cool. I ask if they know who Jackie Kennedy was. The girl says, “His sister?” The guys just stare. I explain that at one point maybe every woman in the United States, if not the world, wanted to be Jackie Kennedy, and every man, possibly anywhere, wanted to marry her. These are high school students, so I can’t say, “Sleep with her.” Of course, they don’t know what happened to Mrs. Kennedy after the President got shot. Though they do understand the concepts of trophy wives and pre-nuptial agreements. This is LA. By the way, none of them wear watches. They all tell time by their phones. – My former high school, Valley Stream South, recently adopted a new motto: Scholarship Ongoing Unity Tradition Heritage Obviously, it’s a kind of acrostic. But one of the older graduates failed to notice this and pointed out, not without merit, that “ongoing” isn’t the same part of speech as the other four words. The suggested replacement: “continuity.” And while the words were being rethought, it was suggested that the proper sequence should be: Scholarship Continuity Tradition Unity Heritage. So it turns out I went to Sctuh High. No wonder I didn’t get into Harvard. – Wednesday, shortly before a tech rehearsal, I came into the shop and found part of my crew picnicking on my desk, right on top of the computer. “Please don’t do that,” I reminded them. “You don’t want to get food in a keyboard.” Thursday, right at call time, I came into the shop to find the same part of my crew just starting a picnic – on the table saw. One girl was perched, like Betty Grable, next to the blade, ankles dangling, loosely holding a Dr. Pepper martini. “Out,” I insisted. “There is such a thing as shop safety, and I seem to vaguely remember teaching you something about it.” Fortunately, it’s always warm in Pasadena, so they could eat on the shop steps. Friday, when part of the same crew was trying to give one of the guys a wedgie using a the motorized chain hoist, I asked, “Is there a list of 4,000 Things You Can Do To Irritate Rich?” “Yes,” grinned Betty Grable. “And we’re only up to 55.”
  12. RichEisbrouch

    Chapter 73

    As long as you came out of it OK -- as it looks like you have. And thanks for reading along.
  13. RichEisbrouch

    Chapter 72

    Thanks. Cute. I'll check the site.
  14. I like the one about Noah's wife. Thanks. The choir practice note reminds me of a line in a probably 1930's Marx Brothers movie. Groucho says something like, "Our next selection will be 'Somewhere My Love Lies Sleeping' with the Men's Chorus."
  15. It blew the new wind in the field of art. On the precipes of true adulthood 10,000 years into the future today's humans and several generations of their descendants will have passed They fell him down to a normal person. It is hard to evaluate people who do not die. Bare in mind. Overcome societal constraints with an open heart. This will drawl in more customers and drawl the same success it has had thus far. As worldwide statistics has shone, these issues need ventilation so that the paucity of this recommendation can pass muster. Drinking under the influence of alcohol. No one are born a hero. Leaders have authority to solve deathlock. To know every technical detail of photography does not make you a photograph. There are threatens and dangers coming in any possible shapes from a higher dimension and from a far-away galaxies. A more indept scrutiny Tenacity is in the timing! When I was 5, I went to candygarden. First year students enrolling in college courses for the first time experience a spectrum of emotions ranging from nervousness to excitement as they look through the course list trying to decide and in this initial picking of courses there is often an advisor there to aid the student and guide them to the courses they will need to complete in order to fufill the requirements for their major if they have even decided on one. Life has a dynamic move in other words things do change and get more mysterious and when things change your learning about the basics will not be enough to get life going so you will get deeper and your previous writing will be uncomprehansible.
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