The Man, The Myth, The Legend – Ya Gotta Be Wacky

I knew it was REALLY summer when I was a kid when my dad would arrange our annual trip to Wildwood.  Cozy Morley’s Club Avalon was a dingy looking building on it’s best day, but our faces would light up when we pulled into the parking lot of the Wildwood icon for a night of laughter.

Cozy_Morley

To start with, we always felt grown up.  There were never very many kids there, as the club played like the lounge in a cheap motel.  There were drinks – small glasses, filled with ice cubes; and the only food to be had was your choice of potato chips or pretzels, sold in cellophane bags.  My dad would order our sodas, snag a couple of bags of chips and pretzels, and, because we had gotten there as soon as the doors opened, we would watch the throngs of people cram into the club.  Rows of tables filled with South Philly – neighbors or people my dad knew from work would inevitably be among the crowd, along with parents and grandparents of people we went to school with.  The room was divided almost by neighborhood – tables of Italians; rows of Irish; groups of Polish – it was just like a block party at home.

The show was the same.  Every year, Cozy would tell the same jokes, people would laugh, we’d eat our chips and drink our drinks, waiting for the songs we all knew and sang along with him.  Even as a kid, I felt like I knew the nuns he joked about – the ones who were 6’8″ tall, until you grew up and realized they barely broke the 5′ mark.  We would laugh when he’d point us out in the crowd and tell us that we dressed the way kids of his generation had to.  And even though we weren’t dirt poor, I couldn’t help but connect when he talked about how his family was from such humble, South Philly beginnings.  His tag line would become our tag line for the rest of the summer.  “Ya gotta be wacky!”

I can probably tell most of the jokes.  How his family was too poor for an Easter outfit, so they’d buy him a hat and let him wave out the window.  Or the one about how tough Catholic school was because every classroom had a guy hanging on a cross in it.  I can sing the songs.  On the Way to Cape May – my dad would start singing it on our way down the shore, and sing it all the way home again.  I can see ladies’ cheeks getting pink when they would get up during his no intermission show to use the ladies room and have Cozy call out to her not to go, promising better jokes or drinks.

cozymorley3677137

He was a South Philly legend, an icon of the Jersey Shore, a generous humanitarian, and a part of my childhood I’ll never forget.  At 87 years old, he took his final bow in this life to share his jokes with those in the next.  I know there’s laughing and singing in heaven today, but I can’t help but think this world will be a little bit sadder.

Rest in peace, Cozy Morley.  Thanks for the laughter, the memories, and for giving me another piece of the best childhood a kid could have.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vkVZh61PVI

Hurricane Sandi – The Things I Learned (Day 1, 30 Days of Thanks)

There are so many things I could say about the devastation this storm wrought on the east coast of the United States.  The pictures are out there if you want to browse the ‘net.  I gotta say, when I saw the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, amusements in the ocean, stores ripped to shreds, the carousel where not only my Brighid had her first ride, but my sister Megan did as well, washed away in the storm – there were tears.  I keep in my prayers the people who have to battle back from the tragedy.

But I learned a few things at my house, too.  We had minimal storm damage – just a loss of some siding.  We maintained power the whole time.  We had plenty of food, cases of water, and hot showers.  I know these things are a cherished commodity in some communities right now, and I’m grateful we had them.  But in all my preparedness, surrounded by the creature comforts (yeah, I bought big dog bones, too, for them to ride out the storm in comfort), this is what I found out, and I am SO thankful!

My kids CAN get along!  There were board games played, snacks eaten, videos watched – TOGETHER!  No one smacked anyone, no one cried, no one yelled at anyone else.  I think that’s damn good for being cooped up for four days.

I could not survive anything without my husband.  We went out a couple of times in the days leading up to the storm to pick up supplies, and we held hands, talked, and enjoyed each other’s company.  We do this every day, but to do it in the face of who knows what while working under the stress of putting enough food and supplies in for who knows how long, well, it just shows me that after 23 years together, married life really does keep getting better.

And the biggest lesson?  No matter how many packages of Oreo cookies I buy, it’s not enough.  Oreos, apparently, have some sort of evaporation properties.  In four days, four packages of Oreo cookies disappeared from this house.  Every flavor – Halloweens, peanut butters, plain old, heads and tails – it doesn’t matter, they all have the same evaporation issue.  Not one cookie crumb survived the storm, and not one child – or husband – in this house admitted to eating more than two cookies.

I think Sandi was powerful in ways the weatherman couldn’t imagine.

Lions and Tigers and Chaz Bono on Dancing With the Stars – Oh My!

Seriously?  There is nothing else people could get upset about?  Are there no people left in the devastation of Hurricane Irene?  Did we achieve World Peace?  Is our budget balanced and our economy fixed?

No?

Then what the hell, people?  How come your panties are in a bunch over Chaz Bono on Dancing With the Stars?

Alright – yeah, I can see there are some things that are pissing you off.  Here – I’ll list mine:

1 – When did the show become Dancing With People Who’s Parents Were Stars at Some Point in the 70s? Is Chaz Bono “a star”?  Did I miss something?

2 – Dude is fatter than me!  How is he going to be able to keep up with the professional partner they pair him with?  Is this going to be the first reality show heart attack?

3 – What’s up with the facial hair?  He should be clean shaven for the show – it will make him look more polished and professional.

4 – Please – no more wife beater t-shirts.  I don’t care how adorbs you think you look, Mr. Bono, but it’s not a good look for anyone.  I’m talking to you, Jersey Shore.

Honestly, people, open your narrow minds and let the dude dance in peace.  He’s lived much of his life in a fish bowl, and he’s finally owning it.  If people want to talk, give them something to talk about.  I give him a lot of credit for putting himself out there.  And whatever happened to that old but useful saying about casting the first stone?  Did God step aside and make your bigoted arse judge?

Have fun, Chaz!  I hope you hang in there long past the pretty boys and the people who really think they are celebrities!

You’ll all be eating hoagies i…

You’ll all be eating hoagies in a month. It’s a Jersey Thing.

This is a line from the SouthPark episode that parodies the current surge in popularity of all things Jersey.

Or is it a surge?

We’ve always had the Boss (Bruce Springsteen, in case you aren’t from Jersey).  And Bon Jovi is a Jersey boy.  And tomatoes.  Even Campbell’s soup knows Jersey tomatoes are the best tomatoes (although they actually don’t still grow tomatoes here in Jersey, but they did cultivate the original tomatoes for the famous tomato soup here).

Yes, we have the Jersey Shore, but it’s not filled with Guidos with gelled hair and Guidettes with a poof.  You won’t find them in Ocean City.  Ever.

Jersey was first in a lot of things –

First organized baseball game (Hoboken 1846)

First phonograph (invented by Thomas Edison in Menlo Park 1877)

First National Historic Park (Morristown 1933)

First town lighted by electricy (Roselle 1883)

And we’ve had Jersey boys as presidents – Woodrow Wilson and Grover Cleveland (okay, so they weren’t your “big time” presidents like Lincoln, Jefferson, or Kennedy, but hey, we had presidents!)

Jersey has produced quite a few famous people –

Entertainers:

Abbott and Costello, Danny DeVito, Zach Braff, Michael Douglas, John Forsythe, Alan Alda, Michael Landon, Ernie Kovacs, Jack Nicholson, Jon Stewart, The Jonas Brothers, Meryl Street, John Travolta

Authors:

Judy Blume, Peter Benchley, Mary Higgins Clark, James Fenimore Cooper, Stephen Crane, Norman Mailer

Athletes:

Yogi Berra, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Derek Jeter, Vince Lombardi (I put this in for my friend Kay!!), Carl Lewis, Shaquille O’Neal

And other notables such as Buzz Aldrin, Aaron Burr, Admiral William “Bill” Halsey, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Charles Lindbergh, Annie Oakley, Carl Sagan, Norman Schwarzkopf, Dave Thomas, and Martha Stewart

Even Mr. Magoo and Felix the Cat

Maybe that’s where we get the “Jersey Driver!” stereotype?

So hold your head up high, New Jersey.  We’re not just famous for our housewives, Snooki, the Jersey Devil and our Mob ties.

We’ve always had a lot to offer and we’ve got a lot to be proud of – and it’s not all covered in spray tan!