Phish Adventure & the Days That Followed Part 2

Part 2

Before me and Jason split up at the Phish show I told him I need to bring Tara’s car in to his shop for a service. He told me Monday or Tuesday morning would be good, I said I would bring it on Monday at 9:00 am but that didn’t happen, I don’t remember why but I called him and said I would be coming in on Tuesday instead. 

I woke up on Tuesday 2 July 2019 prepared and ate my breakfast then headed to Lodi to Jason’s shop with Tara’s car. I got there right around 9:00 am and pulled the car right onto the lift (with Jasons guidance). Jason raised the car and did the oil change and tire rotation while I just walked around the shop and talked with him and John just like hundreds of times before. When the service was finished Jason lowered the car and pulled it out of the shop and parked it in the driveway and we went into the office, Jason printed up a bill for the service and we talked for a little bit about the typical shit we talked about every day specifically the concert from the weekend. A few minutes later a customer pulled in for a wheel alignment. Jason and I  walked outside to the car and before he got in the car to pull it into the shop I said Tara will be back later today and I’ll stop back in tomorrow to take care of the bill. He said whatever dude no rush, we shook hands, I said see you tomorrow. Jason got in the car and pulled onto the lift, I got into Tara’s car and split.

When I left the shop I drove home to drop off Tara’s car at my house and get my car and head to the gym to lift. While I was working out my phone rang (Eye of the Tiger ring tone), I glanced at it and it was Tony, I couldn’t answer but because Tony rarely calls me I called back right away. I figured he was in the area and wanted to stop over. Tony answered the phone and said Abe called him and said Jason had an accident at the shop and got hurt. I stated I just left the shop and everything was okay but Tony seemed really concerned so I decided to go right back to the shop. 

As I was driving back to the shop I figured maybe he hurt his hand trying to loosen a bolt or maybe something fell onto his foot or something stupid along those lines. As I crossed over Harrison Ave and the shop came into my sight horror set in as the entire corner was taped off with yellow police tape, there were a couple Lodi police cars and the Bergen County investigation truck all parked along the road. I quickly parked my car in front of the county truck and jumped out. One of the Lodi police officers was a friend so I called him over and asked what happened. He wouldn’t tell me much except that a car came off the lift and pinned Jason and it wasn’t good. He also told me that they took Jason to Hackensack University Medical Center. I jumped into my car and quickly started to drive to the hospital. As I was driving down Westervelt I decided to call Kevin (Jason’s brother). Kevin answered the phone with 2 words “he’s gone”. I had to pull over at this point. My phone call back to Tony was a difficult call to make. I didn’t want to say the words. 

I still can’t comprehend that about 30 minutes after I left the shop Jason left us. I’m so grateful for the friendship I had with Jason, and that I was with him for a while on that day. Jason was one of the best people there ever was. 

We had a great time at the Phish show and he owes me a Slipknot concert so Im sure he’ll be there with me. 

Like many others I spoke to Jason every day and stopped in the shop at least 1 time a week.  There’s a huge hole that can never be filled.IMG_8997-2

Phish Adventure & the Days that Followed

 On Saturday 29 June 2019 I drove to Camden New Jersey to meet with Jason and Mike for my first Phish concert. I got there very early and if you know me you know I do everything early. I drove around a little to try and find parking for less than $40; bad idea, I finally parked and paid $30 about six blocks from the venue. If you’re familiar with Camden you know I should’ve just paid the $40 across the street from the amphitheater. Although it was extremely early I figured why don’t I just walk to the river and chill while I wait for Jason and Mike to come over on the ferry from Philly. 

About two blocks into my walk it started to rain a little, knowing the previous nights storm I figured it was a good idea to go to the overhang at the building I was walking past and see how the rain would turn out. Within a few minutes of me taking cover the sky opened up in the wind kicked in and I was trapped at the front door of the Camden charter high school. The rain and wind was so intense I could barely see the building across the street maybe 50 yards from where I was standing. I called Jason from my shelter to see if him and Mike were on the ferry yet, luckily they were not; they were planning on coming over a little bit later. 

After about 10 minutes or so there was a break in the storm, I figured this was my best chance to get back to my car so I made a break for it. When I got back to my car it was completely surrounded by water so I had to get into my car without getting my feet completely soaked since I only had the sneakers and socks I was wearing, luckily I managed to pull it off. When I finally got back into my car I figure it’s probably a good idea to move it to a different section of the parking lot where maybe its a little bit higher and dry, and not currently flooded.

My logic was if it wasn’t flooded at this point it most likely wouldn’t flood if the rain started up again. So I moved my car to a different location and just hung out for about a half hour until the rain finally stopped for good. 

It was at this point where I decided I would walk back to the venue and find a bite to eat before meeting up with Jason and Mike at the ferry. As I got closer to the venue there was a food cart with a dude selling hot dogs which I don’t eat, but he also had pretzels so I grabbed a pretzel and for three dollars I got the biggest pretzel I ever saw my life and it was pretty damn good. As I was eating my pretzel I walked down towards the water to check out the battleship New Jersey which is docked next to the concert venue in Camden.  I also just looked across the river into Philly where the submarine USS Bacuna is berthed at Penn’s Landing right next to a Ship from WW1 and is part of the Independence Seaport Museum. A few years back we filmed a short on the sub so this brought back some pretty cool memories for me. 

A short while later the ferry was docking so I walked over to meet with Jason and Mike. When we finally got inside Jason and Mike wanted to stop at the beer stand. While we were waiting they bumped into a friend who said she had a great spot on the lawn with other friends so we all headed in.

Shortly after the concert started I could no longer stand in the middle of that crowd so I let Jay know I was running to the bathroom to take a leak and I would not be coming back to the spot. (I don’t fair to well in the middle of crowds like that). He said he would take the walk and hang out with me and just head back to the group later. We finally settled into a spot at the top of the lawn area that was open and had a great view of the stage (this was much more enjoyable for me). 

After the first set I decided to go for a walk and told Jay I would be leaving early and not staying for the entire second set so at that point we separated, Jason went back down by Mike and their group of friends and I just walked around a little bit and eventually split. 

In between Phish sets down by the river there was a fireworks show which was really cool. I tried to get some photos but didn’t have a clear view so the pics sucked.

My first Phish show was very enjoyable, I had a great time and me and Jason made a deal that since I’m not a big Phish fan but went to the show with him that he (not being a Slipknot fan) would come to see Slipknot with me. By the way I can now call myself a Phish fan. 

To be continued………….

 

From the show we went to

Day by Day

Life is simple, do a little better today than you did yesterday, and be a little better tomorrow then you are today and so on. Be the best, most authentic version of who you are. So many complicate this and worse yet spend far too much time worrying about others. You are (or at least should be) in competition with no-one but yourself. Don’t waste energy on other peoples success or failure in comparison to your own. Congratulate others on their success and reach out a helping hand of consolation on the failure.

Plain and simple.

Be a good person.

That is all 🙂

But What Do I Know

Just a couple things on my mind.

  1. When training in Brazilian jiu jitsu (most any martial art I guess) during the drilling part of the class let your partner perform the move you are learning. If you apply immediate resistance neither you nor you partner will learn anything. You are in the process of learning a new move and if you don’t fully know how to perform the move yet how can you possibly do this with resistance? You can’t.. Be a good partner and everyone involved learns, and you instructor will be much happier.
  2. You get what you give. This applies to everything from training to every day life. Every wonder why you have so many issues with people? You want this to change? Start with yourself. Generally speaking people are good, however there are some real jackasses out there..
  3. Everyone should learn jiu jitsu, ESPECIALLY WOMEN..
  4. New beginnings; I start Judo on Monday… (story to follow)

You get what you put in and people get what they deserve…

Bio-Logic 2

So when I received the Ancestry DNA test results in addition to biological nationality they also showed a large number of biological relatives; there were 2 at the top of the list of interest to me. Both were from opposite side of the parental DNA and indicated possibly 2 sisters, a short while later a third hit popped up also indicated close family. Since I had the adoption info I immediately knew who 2 of the matches were, the third I wasn’t quite sure; I am know. 

So it turns out I have 3 biological sisters and 2 biological brothers oh yeah and theres also twins I’m not sure of anything about them, (5 sibling on bio-father side, 2 on bio-mother side).  I started talking with my sister and aunt on my biological mothers side and we hit it off from the start. Tara took a ride with me out to Long Island to meet them for dinner one Sunday, I wasn’t sure what to expect and while I wasn’t nervous there was a weird feeling about it. Within seconds of walking through Michelle’s front door I felt 100% comfortable, like I’ve know her my entire life, there was never a second of awkwardness, it felt like home.

When we left that night to drive home I started to feel a little resentment, kinda like I was robbed of 47 years of having a relationship with Michelle. Tara who always has the right perspective talked me down, she said now that we have finally found each other I should embrace this and I should look to the future of our relationship and she’s 100% right. Since that initial meeting we talk often and Im looking forward to good times to come. 

Also since the initial meeting I have had contact with the 3rd close family DNA hit on Ancestry. This contact would be a bio-logical sister on my bio-farther side, and we have been talking a bit lately. She has another sister and had a brother (who passed a few years back) with my bio-father. He also has twins from a different marriage who I know nothing about. 

A lot of info has come in a short time and it can be a bit overwhelming but, I’m really happy to be finding all this info and talking with bio-logical siblings I never knew of. Being adopted has always left me with lots of questions, I now have some answers. 

Most likely To Be Continued……..

Here’s a picture of a strawberry for no particular reason 🙂

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Jiu jitsu in St Barthélemy 2

I’m going to jump back a little here to try to get a little more detail of this amazing trip. Christian (the creator of BJJ Globetrotters) and Katla picked up a group of us from the ferry, from there we drove to the hostel where we all stayed for the camp. The facility was built by the local government to host athletes visiting the island and is quite impressive. The way the facility is set up there are a number of “cabins” with dorm rooms and bathrooms in each. I stayed in cabin 1 dorm 1 which was a small room with 2 bunk beds and 2 closets for 4 of us to share. I’m not sure how the other dorms were set up (there were different options available) and we had to share a common bathroom which had 2 sinks 1 toilet and 2 showers in a common stall. Now anyone who knows me or has read my blog from the beginning knows as recent as 3 or 4 years ago there was no way I could’ve survived this setup, boy have I come a long way. There was also a common kitchen and an area with tables where we spent time eating, playing games, and just hanging out and also common bathrooms.

The gym where we trained we at was next door to the hostel. This was a big steel building divided in half. One half of the building is operated by the local BJJ and Judo club, the other half is a tae kwon do academy. During the camp the local club still held some of their regular classes. I was able to be involved with assisting during one of the kids classes which was a lot of fun; 2 of the camp instructors and myself played some jiu jitsu games and rolled with the kids. It was pretty impressive to see how well they behave and how receptive they were to 3 instructors who were not only strangers to them but also speak a different language (they speak French). 

Each day of the camp there were 3 or 4 classes and 1 open mat. The classes covered a lot of different areas of jiu jitsu in both gi and no-gi format. The initial open mat of the week was an outdoor open roll on the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean, this experience is hard to describe with words so I’ll just attach a couple of pics.

Much like every other camp I’ve attended I met some pretty amazing people, people with a common interest and a common goal; jiu jitsu. Ego free, no politics jiu jitsu. An environment where everyone has the common goal of learning jiu jitsu and having fun in the process. Through the BJJ Globetrotters I’ve made some really great friends; people who I look forward to seeing when the next event comes along.  

To be Continued…….

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Jiu Jitsu in St Barthélemy – 1

Question – What’s better than a vacation in the French West Indies? 

Answer – A jiu jitsu vacation in the French West Indies. 

So this was the 6th BJJ camp I’ve been to and although I love them all for different reasons this one I believe to be my favorite to date. More on the reason for this thought later. 

The trip started with a flight to St. Maarten. After getting through customs I jumped into a cab to Philipsburg so I could catch a ferry to St. Barthélemy. When I got there I had a couple of hours to walk around town and grab some lunch. The biggest thing I noticed in Philipsburg is that they have yet to recover from hurricane Irma. The city seemed pretty run down and although there is rebuilding in progress it seems some areas are forgotten and it’s going to take quite some time. I did sit in a small bar/restaurant for lunch (I don’t remember the name but the wifi code is buybeer). The place is what I pictured as a stereotypical Caribbean bar and while I don’t drink I was hungry and the place looked really cool so I felt compelled to get lunch there. My lunch; an awesome vegetable wrap and fries.

Did I mention I ate like shit for the past 9 days? 

*Side note – left Saddle Brook 10 Feb 174.8 pounds, this morning 19 Feb 171.6.. Scratches head…..

Ok, the ferry from St Maarten to St. Barthélemy, where do I start? Do not, and I mean do not under any circumstances sit outside in the last row on the left side of the boat unless you dig the smell of diesel fuel and like being soaked with salt water, by the time we docked it looked like I swam there however, I was in St. Barthélemy and about to begin a week of surfing, jiu jitsu, and all around fun with a group of awesome people.

Now I need to address what’s makes this camp so special,  besides the prefect weather and island life of course. Most of the camps I’ve attended have anywhere from 100 to 200 participants so training partners of all size and skill levels are readily available however, it’s hard to meet everyone and people tend to group off. This camp has about 35 to 40 people in attendance so it was easy to meet everyone and actually get to know them. We ate dinner together ever night, went to the beaches together, trained together and just had a great time hanging out and playing games, one night after dinner I witnessed one of the most intense games of pick up sticks ever played. 

Cliff Hanger…..

To be continued……..

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Bio-Logic

A while back I started writing my story. It started off with the fact that I was adopted from birth and although I grew up in a 100% Italian family I did not know my biological back ground. Before I could finish the story Tara told me she had a gift for me and would be giving it to me later that night. What was the gift you may be asking; an Ancestry DNA kit. At first I wasn’t sure if I would even use it and I let it sit there for a while before I made the decision to spit in the vile.

Now just to take you back a little bit, my family somehow had a connection with the family of the woman who gave birth to me. Also my mother had all the papers from the adoption and gave them to me before she died so I had all the information on the adoption. A while before Tara bought me the DNA kit I did a quick google search and within 5 minutes I knew quite a bit about my biological mother and her immediate family. 

Just to makes this clear I had the best mom I could have ever asked for and wouldn’t have changed that for anything. My father died when I was very young and after that we struggled a bit. My mom worked extremely hard to make sure me and my sister had everything we needed, she sacrificed her time and happiness for us. Im sure she would’ve loved to go out with friends and possibly meet someone but she didn’t because we became her top priority. For this I am extremely grateful but also feeling a little guilt because she deserved to be happy and Im not really sure she was. 

Getting back to the DNA test I really don’t care much about the nationality part of the test. I was born Bayshore NY, grew up in Lodi NJ, and I carry an American passport; I am 100% American plain and simple. I did’t think I would care about biological family, turns out I was wrong about that. 

 

To be continued…….

I’m Back

Re-posting one of my past blog entries yesterday made me realize how long it’s been since I wrote anything new. As the new year came in I made a list of things I would like to accomplish in the coming year. This list includes starting a sauerkraut business, being consistent with making soap to grow that biz, release a weekly podcast and several other things I already do but incredibly inconsistently. I just added post a new blog weekly to my list.

This coming Sunday I will be heading to Saint Barthelemy for my 6th BJJ Globetrotters camp (4th time as an instructor). I will be teaching 2 classes at the camp, the 1/2 guard sweeps class I also taught in Iceland last July, and a new class I recently developed on the lasso guard. I’m really looking forward to this camp because it takes me away from the New Jersey winter for a few days even though this has been a mild winter. As much as I’m looking forward to going to the camp I still get an incredible amount of anxiety every time I attend BJJ camps. I think the fact that I’m usually one of the oldest if not the oldest martial artists at the camps contributes to my anxiety, also flying makes me very uncomfortable especially flying over water, however this usually passes quickly one I arrive at the camp.

My BJJ journey has been a long amazing trip and is finally at the junction where I feel like I’m passing knowledge to those who I reach through teaching and training. Although I’m not very old (52), when you spend a lifetime physically beating on your body 52 can sometimes feel like 100. Myself and most of the martial artist I know and train with do a variety of things to keep ourselves in good shape to continue training, teaching, and to keep our bodies strong and healthy. The catch 22 is the things that keep us in that condition can also be the very same thing that break us down. At this point in my life my main goal as a martial artist (BJJ specifically) is to be the best instructor I can possibly be and share my knowledge with as many people as I can. As much as I love to roll (spar) I need to be smart about it and limit myself so I can stay healthy and teach and train for many more years.

One more subject to cover here.
As most my friends and family know I was adopted from birth. Although I consider myself 100% American and I grew up in an Italian family (Sicily and Bari) I never knew my actual biological background. I do now…
Stay tuned………….

 

Thoughts V1.0

1. I’ve been training in the martial arts for a lot of years and will continue to do so for as long as I can physically do so. I’ve had my share of injuries over the years which have slowed my training and given me barriers to climb and I have always managed to get over them. I have to admit it’s frustrating as fuck sometimes and I’ve had to change the way I do a lot of things but, I still feel pretty damn good overall.

2. Vegans be vegans, meat eaters be meat eaters, and whatever the fuck else you would like to categorize yourself as do whatever the fuck you want. Can we at least agree on one thing, the animals in factory farms should no be abused. It’s bad enough they’re bred for slaughter, at the very least they should be respected during their short lives. I don’t understand the constant back and forth argument about what we’re “meant” to eat. It’s all bullshit. There’s science to back every opinion because whoever pays for the science gets the scientific result they want. I do realize there are radical vegans who take things to far, there’s a fine line between passion and aggression.

3. Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, Constitution, Socialist, conservative, liberal, left,right, center, blah, blah, blah.
How about do whats best for the people and stop deciding everything by party lines. Common sense, and right or wrong no longer matter. At the federal, state and local levels politics have come down to just opposing each other without regard for the people they are supposed to be representing and looking out for. What makes this situation far worse is the “we the people” (hahahahahaha) let them divide us, so while they continue to bend us over we’re to busy fighting each other to realize it.

and lastly. I find it funny how many from my generation seem to have forgotten all we did growing up. Constant complaints about the current generation, millennial this and millennials that, well let me tell you this; every generation has its good and it’s bad, and by the way, if the millennials are fucked up please remember which generation is raising them. Oh yeah, I forgot; “not my kid”.

Lastly 2. Hey christians, you can’t pick and chose which parts of Jesus’ teachings you like.

 

If you find anything offensive start by looking at yourself. Typically if something offends you it most likely means it hit home…

Please don’t call me professor.

Have a great day 🙂

Peace