It hurts to think

That I’ve been deemed

Not worthy of the free

Weekly shopper’s guide

Provided by a local newspaper

Relationships never lasted

Perhaps one too many

Telemarketer turn downs

At dinnertime when agents called?

Agents trained in telemarketer school

To know–no meant yes, stop meant go

Blacklisted–and this stash

Of charcoal chimney

Starter paper won’t last forever






columnist 2

As faithful “Around the Town” readers know, this is Monday, “Mailbox Day.” My favorite day of the week, since becoming a feature columnist for The Cleveland Daily Times. This letter selected, not because someone agreed with me, but quite the opposite.

For the record, I wasn’t happy about the Brown’s 23-7 loss to the Texans yesterday.  A reader took exception to last week’s column.  Everybody in this town has an opinion about Cleveland sports teams.  This letter was written by Mr. Tony Farkas from Shaker Heights. Expletives were deleted.

Mr. Charles “Skip” Dumas
Around the Town
Cleveland Daily Times
Cleveland, OH 44114

Dear “Skippy” Dum***s,

I’ve never written to a newspaper before. You stupid rat t**d! I’m so ********* mad, I could spit!  You can use my name–I don’t ******care! Because you probably won’t ******publish this anyway!

Your column this week belongs in the dumpster.  It smells bad, like ******Lake Erie.  I ought to come up there right now and give you an atomic wedgie–just like I did in seventh grade.  That’s right, you should know who this is.  Lucky for you, that day, the principal came along.

We’re not in junior high anymore. I’m a working stiff, trying to make a living. I’m my own boss–run an auto body shop.  My job is probably much different from yours.  I’ve never been a big shot with an office job.

But, that wasn’t what got me so ****** cranked up. How could you say, “The Browns stink and don’t deserve to be in the playoffs.” They’re no worse than a lot of other teams in the league.  Don’t they at least deserve wild-card status?

It’s mostly because of “Johnny Football” Manziel–the Browns new ‘Showboating’ quarterback. Manziel is a distraction–gets too much attention for a backup quarterback.  The latest–he’s carrying a torch, because Tiger Woods stiffed him on an autograph when he was ten.  Maybe he’s not worth the big bucks paid to sign him?

Who appointed you ******Judge Judy? You don’t know ****about running a team. And “Showboating?” You’ve got a short memory–if you don’t remember “Broadway” Joe Namath–the original “Showboater.”  He did a ****** commercial for *********panty hose for Heaven’s sake.

And furthermore, “Skippy,” you’re a distraction!  Our sports teams make this town a great place to live. They deserve loyalty and support–not half-baked, cockamamie bull-**** like this.  Give Manziel a chance!


Sincerely yours,

Tony “Big Tony” Farkas
DBA: The Auto Body Experience

Mr. “Big Tony” Farkas, I trust you’ll understand, when I say, no hard feelings.  Thanks for caring enough to read my column. And for expressing your opinion.  We’re not as far apart as you might think.

Sometimes I stick my neck out and take the unpopular side of issues.  Then, I’m the guy sweeping up after the circus elephants.  It’s a hard job, but somebody’s got to do it.

Next time you’re downtown, stop at the Daily Times building. Give me a ring, we’ll get together for coffee, and reminisce about old times.  And, yes–we validate parking.



Harry dedicated his life to finding the worst in everything.  Negativity radiated outward, like water ripples on a breezy day.  “Another beer, Barkeep,” He said.  “This time–not so much foam.  I’m not paying for air bubbles.”  Every day, he commuted with, “the same idiots,” in their nondescript cars, with, “little engines that couldn’t.”

The main types of people in Harry’s world:  “People that didn’t want to work; people who worked too hard getting out of work; people who screwed-up everything at work; people who didn’t appreciate what they had; and people who had what they deserved.”  That left little room for pretenders to the throne.  He never felt threatened by, disingenuous sycophants that feigned loyalty.

An aura of gloom and tension surrounded Harry obediently.   Solemnity, was misread, as respect for authority.  He couldn’t understand happy people.  Wasn’t having a job enough happiness? Weren’t disgruntled employees hiding other things?  Just the same, Harry kept his expectations low.

Helpful suggestions, weren’t welcomed.  Harry couldn’t deal with change.  Surprise parties, Secret Santas, office raffles, sent him into fits of rage.  These sudden emotional storms were frightening.  Left alone, frozen with fear, the perpetrators–never made the same mistakes again.  While the rest of the cubicle rats scurried away and ducked for cover.

Fists clenched tightly against his chest–Harry shook with anger. Some claimed his face turned green.  “He looked like an insane squirrel–I swear to God,” Said, Sid from accounting.  As, he gave a buck-toothed squirrel imitation out of earshot.  Sid was a master of exaggeration.  His accounting department compatriots responded with restrained laughter.

“Harry, why so glum?  You should be more chipper,” Said the man at the newsstand.

“Your papers should be cheaper,” Harry retorted.  “Stick to selling papers.  Aren’t these headlines the same as yesterdays?”

Harry’s barber Phil, finished, and patiently waited for the inevitable.  “You call this a haircut?  You should be paying me.”

Being hard to get along with kept people on their toes.  Otherwise, they’d get lazy.  Most people lied, about how many hours, they actually worked, in an eight-hour day.  A solid six hours was about average.  Dishonesty was worse than laziness.        

These “Harryisms” were formulated over many years.  People changed, policies changed–Harry didn’t.  Whether, Harry’s aversion to happiness, was neurosis or sociopathic weirdness.  No one knew.

Harry believed only in making money.  It was a simple corollary–when people were happy, they got lazy–he lost money.   When people were unhappy, they worked harder–he made more money. That kept him happy.  Harry never shared secrets.


I recently passed the sixty-four year milestone.  I’ll continue to be dragged, “kicking and screaming,” into the digital age.  The only thing that never changes, is that, there will always be change.  The latest, my newspaper is going away.  Cum olim, nova–out with the old, in with the new.  I’ll miss the tactile sensation of holding the newspaper, drinking my morning cup of coffee.  No more sharing favorite newspaper sections with the family.

My raised newspaper was a shield from offensive people in the morning.  Newspapers had other uses as well.    Window cleaner–perhaps I can use my worn out old underwear as a substitute?  …Protection from sudden rainstorms.  …Source of letters for threatening extortion notes.  I’m not a criminal–this was taken from TV crime drama shows.  Most of my generation wouldn’t understand extortion notes written in texting shorthand.  I’m resourceful, and will find a suitable charcoal chimney starter.  …Perhaps from junk mail, campaign, and advertising flyers.  I don’t have a bird, so I don’t need cage liner.  I seldom fish, so I don’t need fish wrap.  I can find another cheap biodegradable garden mulch.

Family patriarchs, Ward Cleaver and Archie Bunker, will continue reading newspapers in favorite chairs and breakfast tables on TV Land.  Look at how long “I Love Lucy” has been on TV.  So, I’ll snuggle up with my laptop in the morning to catch up on the latest gossip.  Sorry, you can’t read my sports section.  Get your own eight hundred-dollar laptop!  Somehow, it won’t seem the same.  Life will go on, just not as we know it.  I wonder what’s going away next?