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Episode 87:
Joe Sabatino
Notes: Released Feb 16, 2015
Joe Sabatino hangs at TIFAH to talk Wolf Wizard and how he transitioned from being a professional athlete to a successful career in acting as well as developing Necessary Roughness with his sister for the USA network!

Chapter One – The Hard Way – Rewrite

Thu Feb 19, 2015

CHAPTER ONE

Chicago is a motherfucker.

Maybe that’s a bad word where you come from but in Chicago it’s a term of endearment.

“What’s up, motherfucker! Great to see ya’. How you been?”

“Tell that crazy motherfucker Jimmy I love him.”

“You’re one bad motherfucker, motherfucker.”

You get the idea.

The use of that word is all you need to know about Chicago. Even our compliments are barbed with an edge to keep you humble and on your toes.

And then there’s church. You go to church to be accountable to something other than your own savagery. If the Catholic Church hadn’t caught hold in Chicago we would’ve killed each other off around 1890. Everybody waddles into their respected houses of worship on Sunday to erase the drunken rage filled atrocities that occurred the previous of Monday through Saturday. You sit there praying, trying to convince God and yourself that next week shall be different.

Everything you need to know about a person from Chicago can be answered with these two questions and you can bet your ass somebody will ask them while you’re here.

1) What are you? Yes. This is a real question asked all the time. Chicago still operates on an immigrant mentality where you nationality is your business card.

2) What neighborhood did you grow up in? This is key. It let’s people know how much suffering you’ve had to endure. If you came up in a poor neighborhood full of thieves and thugs, you get respect. Rich neighborhood with no problems, no struggle, no suffering? You’re suspect and might get labeled a “Jagoff.”

Jagoff is a shiny Chicago gem.

Whatever happens, you do not want to be known as a jagoff. Once labeled a jagoff, it’s very hard to shake. It’s like getting a nickname. Once you get it, that’s it. I grew up with guys with nicknames like Blockhead, Balt, Swamy, Shitbagger and Bobby Bag of Dicks (Dicks for short or BBD in classier company.) You don’t think Bobby wanted to change his nickname? Of course he did but once you get it, that’s it. The same is true when labeled a Jagoff. You’d have to open a hundred homeless shelters and cure Aids and then maybe, maybe, people would stop calling you a jagoff but even then you run the risk of somebody saying, “Can you believe that Jagoff just cured AIDS?”

Humble.

Keep you on your toes.

This is the beautifully rough and raw Chicago I was born into on April 14th, 1974 at St Ann’s Hospital on Division Avenue. My Dad was 17 and Mom was 18. My father’s nickname Big Mickey. He was 5’11” with a long black ponytail that hung past his strong shoulders almost down to his waist. He rocked a biker vibe in a neighborhood with no bikers, always wearing turquois jewelry and denim head to toe, smeared with grease and dirt from whatever mechanical or factory work he could scrape together. His father was off the boat from Puerto Rico, his mother off the boat from Ireland but he inherited almost all the Puerto Rican genes. He immediately dropped out of high school to take care of his new and unplanned family that consisted of a baby boy and a volatile freckle faced Irish girl from Oak Park. They tried their best to make it work but they were young with no positive examples to lean on when times got rough and rough it got. So rough that Mom split right before I turned two leaving my father to raise me in a neighborhood called Humboldt Park. We lived at 906 N. Trumball down the block from Chicago Avenue with his mother (my Grandma) and two sisters, Ninette and Nancy in a house illegally converted into a two flat. We shared that house with a black family who lived upstairs.

There were three scruffy kids in the black family. Tyrone was sixteen with the muscular frame of a grown man but the face of a child. Dude was eleven and constantly covered in dirt and mischief. Bebe was nine with a thin layer of black flesh stretched taut over her boney frame.

Chicago is a very segregated town and the black family took a real risk living in Humboldt Park. Humboldt Park was and still is a Puerto Rican strong hold. You have to drive under a giant steel Puerto Rican flag to enter or leave. Everybody has their own neighborhood with it’s own rules. Pretend they don’t exist and it’s not up to you what the consequences will be.

I was Puerto Rican but not Puerto Rican, Irish but not Irish, white but not white. I lived in a racial purgatory. Bebe was my best friend. We hung out all day every day. Because of that, I thought I was black until I was seven. Bebe, Dude and Tyrone were the only kids in the neighborhood I could understand when they talked. I picked up every inflections and tone of their dialogue and every nuance of their mannerisms. If you were talking to me on the phone when I was five you would’ve sworn you were talking to poor black kid from Lawndale. When you asked me to do something, I’d roll my head around like it was on a greased rail and sass back “Ain’t!” Maybe I was more like Jacky from 227.

But inside our house, nobody cared whether you were black, white or Puerto Rican because there were bigger problems to worry about like how to eat, how to avoid eviction and how to find work. Some problems were obvious. Others showed up without warning or notice.

One summer morning I was sitting on the front porch when Bebe sat down next to me, her thick hair pulled into a side ponytail held together by a black rubber band with two small white marbles on it.

“You wanna juice,” she asked?

“Nah, I ain’t thirsty,” I replied.

“I ain’t asking you if you want a juice. I’m asking you if you want to juice.”

“I dunno what you’re talking about.”

“Lemme show you,” she said and walked inside.

I followed Bebe upstairs to the crawl space next to her apartment. We walked in to see Dude and Tyrone already there waiting. The walls were dark orange with no windows. The heavy damp air smelled wet cardboard. The roof was slanted making you feel like the ceiling was always about to cave in.

As Bebe walked to the middle of the room, Tyrone shut the door. Bebe pulled down her dirty white denim shorts and got on all fours. Tyrone walked over, got behind her, unzipped his jeans, knelt down behind her and thrust his hips forward. Bebe let out a moaning noise. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what they were doing. After a few minutes, Tyrone stood and zipped his pants up then leaned against the door so nobody could come in or out. Dude dropped his pants, squatted behind his sister and followed his brother’s lead. Tyrone glanced over and nodded at me, an odd affirmation we were all in this together. That’s when I realized I was next. Dude turned his head and when our eyes met, we both started nervously giggling. Tyrone shushed us to be quiet or somebody might come in and bust us. Dude pulled his pants up and scampered behind his big brother, still trying not to laugh.

“Your turn, Little Mickey.” Tyrone said.

Everything about this felt wrong. It also felt like there was no way of getting out of it. I walked behind Bebe, unzipped my shorts, pulled down my white and red Shazam Underoos and knelt behind her like I’d just watched Dude and Tyrone do. I pumped my hips back and forth until I felt the appropriate amount of time passed then stopped. Bebe looked over her shoulder and offered an innocent gentle smile. I gave her one back. We held each other’s gaze for a moment, both helpless, both kids in the middle of something with no idea how to get out. It arrived. It happened. I participated. I cannot undo. I cannot unsee.

I pulled up my shorts while she did the same. Tyrone and Dude headed out leaving Bebe and I walking down the stairs in silence until she confided her aunt bought her a pack of Hubba Bubba gum and she had two pieces left. Did I want one?

Juicing became a big part of our life. We juiced when we were bored, excited, sad or whenever we thought of it. Sometimes it’d be all four of us; sometimes it’d be just Bebe and me. The first time it was just she and I, Bebe explained how I’d been doing it wrong, that I had to actually be inside her for it to work. She didn’t want to say anything before and embarrass me in front of her brothers.

I thought this was normal behavior. I thought this is what every kid does. Every kid had secrets.

I was six.

217644_175292542520696_2182055_n

Things weren’t any calmer down in our apartment. Ninette, my Dad’s older sister, had long thin black hair, olive skin and the gaunt sunken cheekbones of a junkie. Nancy, my father’s youngest sister, was on the straight and narrow. Nancy carried a few extra pounds along with a fierce determination to get out of the neighborhood. She was studying to be a nurse and no matter what insanity went on in the house, she made it to school and always did her homework. She was rarely around, trying to stay away from the madness and because of that, I have almost no memories of her from this time.

My father’s mother, who I called Grandma, was off the boat Irish who wobbled around all day and night in polyester slacks and stretchy tops guzzling Schlitz malt liquor like a Longshoreman on disability. She was always insanely drunk operating in one of two modes: crooning or complaining. If she wasn’t singing an obscure big band tune she was complaining about the world and what people needed to do to make it a better place. I always wondered how she knew about the world because I never saw her leave the house. Not once. The only thing she watched on TV was The Lawrence Welk Show. While on, she’d gracefully sway around the living room, eyes closed, dancing with an imaginary prince, lost in the music and the fantasy. If that’s where she went when she was drunk, no wonder she never took a sober breath.

My Grandfather barely spoke English and my Grandma didn’t speak Puerto Rican yet they had three kids together. That is what happens when the drinking power of the Irish meets the power of the Puerto Rican penis. Those two powers came together to make three children and a divorce. Magic.

Nintette was the oldest child and loved heroin and men who beat her. One Saturday, late in the afternoon, we were hanging in the living room; me, Dad, Ninette and her monthly piece of garbage, a pudgy Hispanic guy whose greatest accomplishment was his goatee which he stroked with great respect and passion.

While he was fondling his goatee, Ninette made a comment that it looked like he was jerking off a dick on his face. Even at six I thought this was funny. The guy did not.

“Shut the fuck up, bitch,” he yelled.

“Don’t talk to my sister like that,” my father shouted back.

“Fuck you, you’re not my father,” Ninette hissed at my Dad, “and fuck you too,” she screamed at her boyfriend.

In a flash, without a warning, her boyfriend slapped her.

My father leapt off the sofa and got in his face.

“Don’t you ever put hands on my sister!”

Ninette’s boyfriend offer up a smile. A smile I would see a few more times through out my life. It is the evil smile a coward always offers before trying to hurt you.

“What’s the matter faggot? Afraid a getting your ass beat in front of your kid,” he cackled.

“Let’s take it outside,” my father said as he charged out the front door.

Ninette tried to hold the gangbanger back.

“Get off me, bitch. I’ma beat his ass then I’ma beat yours then you gonna suck my dick.”

He shucked her off and bolted out after my father.

Ninette ran after him, slamming the door behind her.

I stood frozen in place, staring at the door. Five minutes later my father walked back inside. He was alone, his hands covered in blood with long strands of black hair wedged under bloody fingernails.

He plopped down on the sofa; eyes darting from the floor to the door then back down at the floor again. He finally looked up at me.

“You ever see a man hit a woman, you better do something about it or you’re just as bad as the guy hitting the woman. Understand?”

“Okay… What if that guy comes back?”

“If he comes back I’ll kill him.” My Dad heaved himself off the sofa and went to the bathroom to wash the blood from his hands.

I was scared. I didn’t want my Dad to have to kill somebody but murder was just put on the table. Don’t get me wrong; my father wasn’t a bully or a guy presenting a cold-blooded hard ass to the world. He just knew how to stand up when he had to. One time a burglar kicked in our basement window in the middle of the night trying to rob the place. My father grabbed the only thing within arms reach – a yellow wiffle ball bat and ran downstairs after the guy. The burglar had a .38 and dropped it, scarred of the lunatic with balls enough to charge after an armed home invader with a wiffle ball bat. My Dad did what he had to do – right or wrong.

I wondered if I’d ever have to kill somebody? What if the guy that hit Ninette came back and I was there. Would I have to help my Dad kill him? The concept of murder was one of the many myths of manhood that almost killed me. The idea that somebody might have to die and I might be the person making the call. And if I can make that call and I’m a nobody kid that means somebody can make that call against me.

I couldn’t tell my dad how scared I was. Scared for him. Scared for me. Scared for Ninette. Even scared for the gangbanger. I didn’t want to see anybody die. I wanted to tell him but I didn’t know how and there was nobody around to teach me. I didn’t know what when I was a kid but after years of hard living I found out why.

In Chicago (and maybe where you live too) you quickly learn there is a price to pay for people knowing how you feel. Feeling too happy and you hear something like “What are you so happy about?” On the flip side, if you’re feeling sad you’ll hear something like, “What are you sad about? Keep it up and I’ll give you something to really to be sad about.” So you learn two things 1) Keep your feelings to yourself 2) Feelings are a serious liability.

It’s not that my family didn’t care how I felt; there was just no more room for feelings. Life was hard enough. Feelings are nothing more than an unwelcomed burden stacked on an already fragile barely tolerable existence. There’s no room for anything else, especially feelings that run the risk of shining an even harsher light on a situation where everything is fucked unless you pretend otherwise. So you realize you can never say you’re afraid, never say you’re happy, sad or fill in the blank.

So when people ask how you’re doing, you learn the only correct answer…

I’m fine.

Copyright 2015

***********************************

So this is the second pass. I would consider this a first draft. I wanted to show you how I went from the bones of a story (the previous post) and tried to dig out the moments I liked and expand on them. I also wanted to tee up Chicago a little more thus the new opening. I am going to try and get up a rough draft of Chapter 2 before I go on vacation. Looking forward to your comments.

Mick


6 Comments




The Hard Way – Chapter One

Fri Feb 13, 2015

PREFACE

I burdened myself with way too many questions as I approached writing this. Should I write it as a book I’d want to read or one that you’d want to read? The business people in my life demanded I know my audience before I typed a word. I wondered if I should write everything as it happened and how I felt about at that exact moment or do I write about it from the other side of everything?

I couldn’t write a word. I thought myself into paralysis.

I am a quote junkie and found one that broke through the clutter of my worried mind.

“All you have to do is write one true sentence.
Write the truest sentence you know.”

- Ernest Hemingway

So that’s my game plan. I will let the editors edit and I will do the writing. I will start with one honest sentence and hope another is right behind it. A warning though… sometimes the truth is not pretty. The beginning of this book is rough. My intention is not to shock you but to be honest. Like my dear friend and fellow writer Rafael Alvarez taught me… “go to the river bunk and everything else will take care of itself.”

So walk with me to the river where I promise beauty, love and kindness await.

 

My name is Mick and this is my story.

2015

 

CHAPTER ONE

My parents were teenagers when I was born. Dad was 17 and Mom was 18. My Dad, who was called Big Mickey, immediately dropped out of high school to take care of his new and unplanned family that consisted of a baby boy and a volatile freckle faced Irish girl from Oak Park. They tried their best but it wasn’t meant to be. Mom split just before I turned two leaving my father to raise me in a neighborhood in Chicago called Humboldt Park. He was 5’11” with a long black ponytail that hung down almost to his waist. He rocked a biker vibe in a neighborhood with no bikers, always wearing turquois jewelry and denim head to toe, smeared with grease and dirt from whatever mechanic or factory work he could scrape together. We lived with his mother (my Grandma) and two sisters, Ninette and Nancy in a house illegally converted into a two flat. We shared the house with a black family who lived upstairs.

There were three kids in the black family. Tyrone was sixteen, the muscular frame of a grown man with the face of a child. Dude was eleven, constantly covered in dirt and mischief and Bebe was nine with a thin layer of black flesh stretched taut over a boney frame.

Bebe was my best friend and because I hung out with her and Dude every day, I thought I was black until I was seven. There were a few other kids on the block but they only hung out with other Puerto Rican kids. Even though my father had most of the Puerto Rican genes, I inherited the Irish looks from my mother. Thank God I inherited the Puerto Rican temperament. The Puerto Rican kids didn’t want to hang out with me but that was okay, I thought I was black and so did Dude and Bebe. In Humboldt Park, Blacks and Puerto Ricans didn’t get along or hang out together. Puerto Ricans wanted Humboldt Park to be all theirs. Humboldt Park was and still is a Puerto Rican stronghold in Chicago. You actually have to drive under a giant steel Puerto Rican Flag to enter or leave the neighborhood. It wasn’t always Puerto Rican. It was originally Polish but when the Puerto Ricans starting moving in, the Polish realized their perogis tasted just as good up north so they moved out and bought every two flat they could find by Milwaukee and Lawrence Avenues.

Chicago is very segregated. Everybody has their own neighborhood with it’s own rules. Pretend they don’t exist and it’s not up to you what the consequences are going to be. But I was Puerto Rican but not Puerto Rican, black but not black, white but not white. I lived in a racial purgatory.

But in our house, nobody cared whether you were black, white or Puerto Rican. There were bigger problems to worry about with more daunting problems arriving daily. The problems had problems that had issues. And most of the time, you never saw the problems coming.

One summer morning I was sitting on the front porch when Bebe sat down next to me, her thick hair pulled into a side ponytail held together by a black rubber band with two small white marbles on it.

“You wanna juice,” she asked?

“Nah, I ain’t thirsty,” I replied.

“I ain’t asking you if you want a juice. I’m asking you if you want to juice.”

“I dunno what you’re talking about,” I sassed back.

“Come with me and I’ll show you,” she said and walked inside.

I followed Bebe upstairs to the crawl space next to her apartment. We walked in to see Dude and Tyrone already there waiting. The walls were dark orange with no windows. What little air was in the room always smelled like wet cardboard. The roof was slanted always making it feel like the ceiling was about to cave in.

Bebe walked to the middle of the room and Tyrone shut the door. Bebe pulled down her dirty white denim shorts and got on all fours. Tyrone walked up behind her, unzipped his jeans, knelt down behind her then thrust his hips forward. Bebe let out a moaning noise. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what they were doing. After a minute or two, Tyrone stood up and zipped his pants up then leaned against the door so nobody could come in or out. Dude dropped his pants and squatted behind his sister following his brother’s lead. Tyrone glanced over and nodded at me, an odd affirmation we were all in this together. That’s when I realized I was next. Dude turned his head and when our eyes met, we both started nervously giggling. Tyrone shushed us to be quiet or somebody’d come in and bust us. Dude pulled his pants up and scampered behind his big brother, still trying not to laugh.

“Your turn, Little Mickey.” Tyrone said.

Everything about this felt wrong but it also felt like there was no way of getting out of it. I walked behind Bebe, unzipped my shorts, pulled down my white and red Shazam Underoos and knelt behind her like I’d just seen Dude and Tyrone do. I pumped my hips back and forth until I felt the appropriate amount of time passed then stopped. Bebe looked over her shoulder and offered an innocent gentle smile. I gave her one back. We held each other’s gaze for a moment, both helpless, both just kids in the middle of something we had no idea how to get out. It arrived. It happened. I participated. I cannot undo. I cannot unsee.

I pulled up my shorts and she did the same. Tyrone and Dude headed out leaving Bebe and I walking down the stairs in silence until she confided her aunt bought her a pack of Hubba Bubba gum and she had two pieces left. Did I want one?

Juicing became a big part of our life. We juiced when we were bored, excited, sad or whenever we thought of it. Sometimes it’d be all four of us; sometimes it’d be just Bebe and me. The first time it was just she and I, Bebe explained how I’d been doing it wrong, that I had to actually be inside her for it to work. She didn’t want to say anything before and embarrass me in front of her brothers.

I thought this was normal behavior. I thought this is what every kid does. I thought every kid had secrets.

I was six.

217644_175292542520696_2182055_n

1981 – me at the height of my blackness.

Things weren’t any calmer down in our apartment with the rogue cast of characters wandering around. Ninette, my Dad’s older sister, had long thin black hair, olive skin and the gaunt sunken cheekbones of a junkie. Nancy, my father’s youngest sister, was on the straight and narrow. Nancy carried a few extra pounds along with the fierce determination to get out of the neighborhood. She was studying to be a nurse and no matter what insanity went on inside the house, she went to school and did her homework. Ninette was just as enthusiastic about heroin.

My father’s mother, who I called Grandma, was an off the boat Irish woman who waddled around all day in polyester slacks and stretchy tops guzzling Schlitz malt liquor like a Longshoreman on disability. She was always insanely drunk operating in one of two modes: crooning or complaining. If she wasn’t singing an obscure big band tune she was complaining about the world and what needed for people to finally get their act together. I always wondered how she knew about the world because I never saw her leave the house. Not once. The only thing she watched on TV was The Lawrence Welk Show. While it was on, she’d gracefully prance around the living room, eyes closed, dancing with an imaginary prince, lost in the music and the fantasy. If that’s where she went when she was drunk, no wonder she never drew a sober breathe.

My Grandfather barely spoke English and my Grandma didn’t speak Puerto Rican ye they had three kids together. That is what happens when the power of alcohol meets the power of a Puerto Rican penis.

We were always on tilt. There was never any money. Jobs came and went like the weather and violence was just a wrong word or sideways glance away.

Nintette had a hankering for heroin and men who beat her. One Saturday, late in the afternoon, we were all hanging out in the living room; me, Dad, Ninette and her monthly piece of garbage, a pudgy Hispanic guy whose greatest accomplishment was his goatee, which he stroked with great respect and passion.

While he was stroking his goatee, Ninette made a comment that it looked like he was jerking off a dick on his face. Even at six I thought this was funny. The guy did not.

“Shut the fuck up, bitch,” he yelled.

“Don’t talk to my sister like that,” my father shouted back.

“Fuck you,” Ninette hissed at my Dad, “and fuck you too,” she screamed at her boyfriend.

In a flash, without a warning, he slapped her.

My father leapt off the sofa and got in his face.

“Don’t ever put hands on my sister!”

I watched Ninette’s boyfriend offer up a smile. A smile I would see a few times through out my life. It is the evil smile a coward always offers before trying to hurt you.

“What’s the matter faggot? Afraid a getting your ass beat in front of your kid,” he cackled.

“Let’s take it outside,” my father said as he charged out the front door.

Ninette tried to hold the gangbanger back.

“Get off me, bitch. I’ma beat his ass then I’ma beat yours then you gonna suck my dick.”

He shucked her off and bolted out after my father.

Ninette ran after him, slamming the door behind her.

I stood frozen in place, staring at the door. Five minutes later my father walked back inside alone. His hands were covered in blood, long strands of black hair wedged under bloody fingernails.

My father sat down on the sofa, his eyes darting from the floor to the door then back down at the floor again. He finally looked up at me.

“You ever see a man hitting a woman, you better do something about it or you’re just as bad as the guy hitting the woman. Understand?”

“Okay. What if that guy comes back?”

“If he comes back I’ll kill him.” My Dad heaved himself off the sofa and went to the bathroom to wash the blood from his hands.

I was scared. I didn’t want my Dad to have to kill somebody but murder was an option he just put on the table. Don’t get me wrong; my father wasn’t a bully or some guy presenting a hard ass to the world. He was just a good who stood up when he had to. One time somebody kicked in the basement window in the middle of the night trying to rob the place. My father grabbed the yellow wiffle ball bat and ran downstairs after the guy. The guy had a .38 and dropped it, scarred of the lunatic with the balls to come after an armed home invader with a wiffle ball bat. He did what he had to do – right or wrong.

I wondered if I would ever have to kill somebody? What if the guy that hit Ninette came back and I was there. Would I have to help kill him? The concept of murder was one of the many myths of manhood that almost killed me. The idea that somebody might have to die and I might be the person to make that call.

Did I have it in me? Why? Why not?

I couldn’t tell my dad how scared I was. Scared for him. Scared for me. Scared for Ninette. Even scared for the gangbanger. I didn’t want to see anybody die. I wanted to tell him but I didn’t know how to express my feelings and there was nobody around to teach me. I later discovered why.

In Chicago (maybe where you live too) you quickly learn there is a price to pay people knowing how you’re feeling. Feeling too happy and you hear something like “What are you so happy about?” On the flip side, if you’re feeling sad you’ll hear something like, “What do you got to be so sad about? Keep it up and I’ll give you something to really to be sad about.” So you learn to keep your feelings to yourself because feelings are a serious liability.

It’s not that my family didn’t care how I felt; they just didn’t know what to do with the information. As a matter of fact, there was no more room for it. Anything else was too much to bear, one more unwelcomed added burden, one more thing stacked on an already fragile barely tolerable existence that was nothing more than a fight day in and day out for the bare essentials like food, clothes and avoiding eviction. There is no room for anything else, especially feelings that run the risk of shining an even harsher light on a situation where everything is fucked unless you pretend otherwise. My father was the only one who worked. He was the only that paid the bills. He worked shit jobs for shit wages. The last thing he needed was my problems too. I wanted to tell him about what was going on with Bebe but knew it would be too much. You know how I know? One time Bebe’s Dad walked in on us; me, Dude and Bebe juicing. He ripped off his belt and whupped the three of us. Then he never mentioned it again. He had his own problems. It was up to us to deal with ours.

So you realize you cannot say you are afraid, cannot say you’re happy, sad or fill in the blank.

So when people ask how you’re doing, you learn the only correct answer is…

I’m fine.

 

***********************************************************************

So there you have it. The beginning of my memoir. It is near first draft stage. There is still much to be done. Please feel free to comment below. If you like what you are reading, please share it in your social media circles or with friends and family to help get the word out.

Thanks for coming along on this ride!

Mick

PS – Copyright 2015

 

 

 

 

 


10 Comments




Come along for the ride…

Mon Feb 09, 2015

Just wanted to give everybody a heads up on what’s happening with my book! I was going to put the first 50 pages up on this site Friday 2/13/15 but there is a slight change in plan.

Instead of putting up the first 50 pages, I will only be putting up the first chapter.

It makes better sense to do it this way. The whole point of putting pages up this early in the writing is to share my creative process as well as include the people who are really into the story and want to come along for the whole ride instead of just buying it in the store (or downloading it if I self-publish which is another blog post altogether.)

So here is the new game plan. For the next 5 weeks, starting this Friday, I will post one new chapter a week.

Please remember that all these pages are a FIRST DRAFT!

Ideally by the 6th week, I will then post all 5 chapters which will have gone through the rewrite process so you can see the changes.

When the pages go up, please comment! I want to know what you think, how it makes you feel, what you liked and what you don’t.

Mick 2/9/15


5 Comments




Goals Versus Actions

Sun Jan 25, 2015

Just wanted to check in with everybody and share my 2015 goals. Sorry they’re late. I was working on that pilot and everything got pushed a few weeks.

 

To be honest, I don’t even like saying the word goal. That might seem like sacrilege if you listen to my podcast because it sounds like that’s all I talk about but if you listen close – it’s not. What I talk about is hustling (taking action.)

 

My old instinct is to jot down my goals for 2015, which is what I did, but they are just an entry point to a much larger plan of action. What I really do is list the actions I will take in 2015 but let me show you how I get there.

 

First, I list the goals:

 

Write my memoir.

 

Write a feature film.

 

Write and perform a new forty five minutes of stand up.

 

Sell my memoir.

 

Sell the feature film.

 

Lose 25 pounds.

 

Now, I could blindly leave my list of goals at that which is what I used to do many years ago. Then I would wake up everyday and cross my fingers they somehow come true. I might even take some actions (which I thought of as secondary to the passion I had for the goals) but as soon as life got busy, I put the goals on the back burner to focus on whatever life was throwing at me.

 

So how do I increase my odds of achieving my goals?

 

I flip everything and instead of committing my time to the goal, I commit my time to an action. That means there is no trying or wanting or wishing. If I am doing it then I am doing it.

 

This works for a couple of reasons.

 

1) Taking the action will always bring me closer to the goal.

 

2) By taking and completing the action, I get to taste a minor victory. I need that. I need a little taste of success because if I experience no joy unless I get to the finish line, I’ll wind up quitting. How do I know? Because I’m 40 and stopped lying to myself about what works and what doesn’t.

 

So I commit to the action, knowing that is the only way to increase my odds of success. It increases them to almost near certainty.

 

Let me use dieting as an easy example. I’ve tried diets my whole life. They do not work. Ever. They are a temporary fix to a life long living problem.

 

If I go on a diet and work out like a lunatic until I lose 25 pounds, that’s great. I’ve done that repeatedly over the last 20 years. I always wind up putting the weight back on. Why? Didn’t I reach my goal? I did. But because my goal was the goal and not the action, my weight went back up and I’m back at square one.

 

Now let me flip it.

 

What if I committed to a healthy way of living? And my actions were:

 

– Don’t eat like a fucking lunatic. Get out and move my fat ass for 30 minutes.

 

Or more specifically –

 

No sodas. No unnecessary bread, pasta or pizza. Cut the sugars out and start walking for 30 minutes 3 days a week.

 

Week 2 walk a little, job a little.

 

Week 3 jog for 30 minutes until I get to a place where I am aware and in control of what I’m shoveling into my cake hole and am doing cardio for 30 minutes a day for at least 3 days a week. Once I have 3 days down, kick it up to 4 and bring in an actual workout, using weights and resistance training.

 

What can I expect in the beginning? Full on fucking rebellion from every part of my body including my brain. I will want to quit. To push it off tomorrow. To eat late night sugary snacks. Even if I do, stick to the action. I have to allow myself to make mistakes. I will be uncomfortable. I will be sore. But after two weeks, I will feel great.

 

I have to get okay with being uncomfortable.

 

Now let me rewrite my goals for 2015 and change everything into actions. (I am writing and talking to myself below.)

 

– Write ten pages of my memoir every day Monday through Friday until the first draft of the manuscript is due.

 

Email the draft out to 3 people you know and trust for stringent notes. While you are waiting on the notes…

 

Outline the movie as well as fold in the notes for the memoir.

 

Write the feature film every day, Monday through Friday, ten pages a day. Once a rough draft emerges, rewrite that until you feel like you can send it out to trusted peers for notes. Understand this screenplay has an amazing chance of being horrible. You have only written a few. The medium has always confused and intimidated you. Allow moments for the fear. Allow the moments of self-doubt. Then get back to work.

 

– While waiting for notes on the screenplay, send the memoir to your agent to get feedback and strategy for bringing it to publishers.

 

– Reread the memoir and pull out a bullet point list of potential material for the new 45 minutes of stand up.

 

– During the month of April and May, perform the new material at open mics or showcase shows no less than twice a week.

 

– get the notes on the screenplay from trusted peers and fold them into the new draft. Send that in to agent and see if it there is a chance of sending it out for sale. If not, enjoy the experience of completing a task that intimidated you.

 

Starting 1/27 – no desserts. No sugary breakfasts. No sodas. No gratuitous bread. Monday, Wed and Friday – Jog 2 miles in the morning. Walk 30 minutes at night.

 

Starting February 3rd – hit 4 days a week at Barry’s Boot Camp.

 

Starting March 3rd – complete a whole month academy at Barry’s.

 

Notice I threw out the actual weight loss number. It would be nice to hit it, but I would rather get to a place where achieving my goals every day is more important than some over all goal.

 

If I do these things every day then my actions become habits then that becomes my character and at the end of the day, I would rather be a man of character than a man of goals. I have a long way to go before that’s the case but I’m ready to put in the work to get there – one day at a time.

 

Happy New Year,

 

Mick

 

 


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Some #TMBS fan fiction from Scotland!

Thu Dec 25, 2014

So I got an email from a loyal listener in Scotland who wrote a little story that I want to share with everybody. I have cut and copied it directly from his email. I hope you find it as entertaining and funny as I did. Merry Christmas! Here is his piece….

The intense squeeling sound of the alarm clock smashes my ears at an unsociable hour on a brutally cold morning in Lochgoilhead.  Lochgoilhead, population 500 on the West coast of Scotland.

 

I throw the covers off of me and jump out of the bed, I get acclimated to my frost laden surroundings and wonder will this shit ever end, I dream about one day, one day, being in the sun, letting it soak my bones.  For now though I need to get to work. I head through to the kitchen and think about getting some breakfast.  I peek outside my house, a blanket of vertical rain pours down blocking my view, my view of what? Breakfast is done and I step out the front door, I step out and just as my foot touches the outside world the rain stops, as if someone flipped the switch, the morning sun jostles for a position amongst the clouds, they seem to move without holding a grudge.  The scotch mist sits low and the mountains that surround the valley reflect onto the mirror like loch.  I hear the sound of bagpipes, Hamish in the next glen must be at it early this morning.  I listen before taking another step and make out a bagpipe rendition of Ice Cube’s Today Was A Good Day. I can’t do anything else but laugh to myself and head to my truck.

 

I’m driving out a small 6 mile, single track road to get to civilization and come upon a damsel in distress.  Flat tyre, no phone signal, she’s lucky that I’m passing, not only have I been told that I’m dashingly handsome but I can change a tyre like a mother fucker.

 

I get the tyre changed and she notices that I’m wearing a Mick Betancourt Show T-shirt, she gives me a wink but I need to tell her to calm down, I’m married.  It all turns out well and she buttons her shirt back up before she takes it too far to not to be taken seriously, she needs some work done, she recognizes me and asks if I’m that guy, I say what guy, she says the carpenter to ……… I cut her off and say, the carpenter to the rich and famous? Yes that’s me.  She goes weak at the knees and can’t believe she’s been struck with the T-shirt and now the carpenter title, I steady her and we talk about the work.  I have to follow her to her father’s house.

 

I walk in the door, she called ahead and mentioned the T-shirt I was wearing.  Turns out he was a famous Hollywood writer and had been exiled to Scotland after one too many bad stories.  He hears the name of Mick Betancourt and it brings back memories of his life in tinsel town, he realizes where he is and it puts his in a deep deep depression.  He obviously knows my prowess and is on edge, lets his ego take over and comes across as a tough guy.  He offers his hand for a handshake and I respond, he squeezes just too tight.  What she didn’t mention that I was the carpenter to the rich and famous, I have strong hands, it comes with the territory, his loss, I squeeze back just a bit stronger and from then on he knew not to fuck around anymore.  We sit down, he goes through the work he is looking to be done, we agree a price, all is set.  He asks about the T-shirt, I tell him all he needs to do is to leave a 5 star review then Mick will send one out, he asks if that all there is to it, I say yes but you really should listen to the show too, he says hes too busy to be listening to some radio show, I tell him it’s a podcast and not radio show, he apologises for his snappy attitude, obviously the blood rushed to his head and he forgot about the handshake just 10 minutes ago, I forgive and leave the house.

 

I head to one job I have going, it is fitting out a house with crazy ridiculous finish carpentry for a Prince of the Austrian Royal Family.  Prince Ralphe Schmidtstein.  He asks why I’m late and I fill him in.  He understands and comments on the T-shirt, he likes it and says that I must be a very strong and noble man, we high five and I get on with the work.  He makes me lunch and tells me about his father, General. Schmidtstein.  His father has spent his life finding all the families artwork that Hitler stole during the war.  He has one or two pieces to reclaim and he will be at rest, he can then work on his  one and only passion, a passion that has been pushed to the side because he wasn’t letting that bastard Hitler get one over on him.

 

While I craft my beautiful work I meet the father, an old tough son of a bitch, he has a gallery in Vienna where he keeps the families artwork.  He needs some work done and asks if I can go, right now, this minute.  Not one to turn down a paycheck I say cool lets do it, he lets his son know and we head to the private jet.  I load on my tools and we jump in.

 

We are somewhere over Northern Italy when this old tough son of a bitch turns to me and asks if I’d do him a favour.  I say with all due respect that it depends what it is and I let him know that I’m not a guy that one wants to fuck around with.  He understood and told me that he got word this morning that his team on the ground claimed back the penultimate piece of artwork, the team on the ground, albeit strong, tough, navy seal like in their approach to every task handed to them, they just have something missing and asks if I would help him get the last piece of the artwork, the very last piece and he can work on his real passion. Me and the old tough son of a bitch Gen. Schmidstein on the rampage for the very last piece and the family artwork will be reclaimed for future generations to see.  Before I do any carpentry work we get suited up for the raid, I check the abseil kit is good to go and we set off.

 

We are told that the piece is being kept in a small bakery, not just any bakery but the famous Binder family bakery.  This makes things worse because Schmidstein was in bakery school with young Herr Binder, Schmidstein was a far better baker but Binder had the personality, his cakes were shit but he got by with his charm.  Just before their final exam Schmidstein had to leave to square up Hitler and get the families artwork back, this saddened the General but the bakery would have to wait.  While Schmidstein was conquering Europe, Herr Binder finished school and set up his very own bakery, the only bakery in the town, he became an overnight success.  Schmidtein was annoyed because the local villagers didn’t know a good cake, they had settled for less.  That didn’t matter, Binder was king of the bakers and Schmidstein was trapsing all over Europe looking for his art.

 

We were on the roof of the bakery in the middle of the night, I remove the glass dome and dropped down my ropes.  I clipped on and the General lowered me down, I’m half way down and I feel the rope tugging, the general drops me, I’m inches from the floor and he gets a hold, I jolt to a stop, my face 2 inches from the hard concrete floor.  I unclip, look around for the piece, I see a safe and know that it must be in there.  From my kit I pull out my stethoscope and crack the safe, spin around the wheel handle and open the heavy door.  There it is, the last piece of their families art collection.  I take it out the frame, roll it up and put it in my bag.  I take off my TMBS T-shirt, put it in the frame for Herr Binder and head back to the ropes.  I clip myself on and climb up, when I get to the top the General notices that I have a bare, solid concrete like Scottish chest, I tell him that I left a memento for this bastard.  He turns and tears up, I ask if he is ok and he tells me that leaving the T-shirt was the single most brave act he has ever saw anyone do.  We did it, the last piece, we made history that night.

 

The next day I am at the gallery finishing up some beautiful work and I ask the General what his plans are just now.  He tells me that he will open his own bakery, a bakery with a café for his village, he goes into the menu and the seating plan and the colour scheme, on and on and on.

He tells me that he has a website already set up and for the past 30 years he has been thinking of a name and he has stuck on this one name, he doesn’t know where to get it.  I go to my bag and pull out an envelope, I hand it to him, I took it from the safe for him when we took back the painting.  It’s $1million in cash.  He is very grateful and says that it will go a long way in getting his bakery set up.  I ask what is his speciality and what will be the main thing he’d like to be known for.  He tells me its pancakes.  I ask what’s the website address you’re wanting to buy, he says www.morepancakes.com!

 

Mick Betancourt, he’s got $1million cash and wants more pancakes BOOOOOOSSSHHHHHHH!!!!

**** That was written by Neil McKinlay out of Lochgoilhead, Scotland. Here is a link to his family owned business – www.calebandtaylor.co.uk ****

I hope everybody is having a great Holiday Season! Here is to an amazing 2015!!!!


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