My brother and Bruce Jenner

My brother can sell anything. It means he’s always made a lot of money. It also means he’s always on an airplane. The good part is he usually gets upgraded to first class. The bad part is he’s always on an airplane. Flying around the country was cooler before he had kids. Then, around 15 years ago, he became a dad … times four. He and his wife adopted four children from Russia. All Bill wanted to do was spend time with those little ones. He still had to travel, but he started doing crazy things like popping to the… Continue Reading

What’s that, Francis? You love me?

I get to introduce Francis Curry this morning, and I’ve been waiting a long time for this opportunity. Ever since a little incident which I’ll tell you about in a minute. The occasion today will be the annual Legislative Information Breakfast at Luzerne County Community College. We get underway at 8 a.m., so some of you early risers may read this before I actually say it from the podium. If you are attending the breakfast, please keep it under your hat. I am serving as master of ceremonies. Why? Because it’s hard to get anyone to do it, I suspect.… Continue Reading

Not another beer blog

I had a case of Summer Love two years ago. Don’t get excited. It’s a beer. A darned good beer by Victory Brewing Company. But I hated it. It was not the beer’s fault though. It was mine. I had not developed a taste for IPAs. Yet. IPA stands for India Pale Ale. It’s a “hoppy” type of beer which means, as far as I am concerned, bitter. But folks who like IPAs really like them. They tend to describe them with words like refreshing or clean or crisp. And guess what? They’re right. My son, who loves IPAs, encouraged… Continue Reading

There’s nothing like a beer

“He was a wise man who invented beer.” – Plato, philosopher, circa 400 B.C. “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” – Benjamin Franklin, statesman, circa 1780 “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.” – Abraham Lincoln, president, circa 1858 “Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world.” – Kaiser Wilhelm, emperor, circa 1935 “I’m not drunk, I only had bee threers.”… Continue Reading

Jumpin’ Jon’s final message

Ernie G’s was jammed. I cannot recall if the guys playing were my friends Tony Alu and Joe Leone, who call themselves The Tompkins Street Duo, or my friends Tony Alu and Dave Grundmond, who call themselves The Duke and the Dauphin, but I do recall the crowd. You could hardly move in the little tavern with the great food on Main Street in Avoca. Mary Kay and I squeezed ourselves in far enough to be standing near a table where Jon McHale and his lovely wife Cathie were enjoying the bar’s legendary pizza. As usual, we had a nice… Continue Reading

Tompkins Street in Kingston tonight

Tompkins Street Duo. There, that was easy. When Tony Alu and Joe Leone decided the best way to spend their retirement years was to dust off their guitars and see what was left of their voices, coming up with a name for their collaboration was a no-brainer. They met on Tompkins Street in Pittston when they were four years old and have been best friends since. On Tompkins Street, where they lived just a couple of doors apart, they went from cowboy suits to St. Rocco’s school uniforms, and from baseball bats to musical instruments. I don’t go back quite… Continue Reading

National Beer Day deserves better

Tuesday was National Beer Day and I have a problem with that. Why wasn’t I informed? Or I should say, informed in advance. I learned about it midway through the morning via a text from my wife who heard about it on Good Morning America. That was a bit late for making suitable plans. The best I could do was grab a few with a buddy after work at the Tomato Bar in downtown Pittston. I started with a pint of Smithwick’s (pronounced Smit-ix) Irish Ale, then a Goose Island IPA and finally a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale in… Continue Reading

Remembering a holy little boy, and missing him

Last night I had my first beer in 40 days. Thank you very much, Father Elston. I have “fasted” (technically, abstained) from beer and all alcoholic drinks during Lent for more than 30 years but always carried it through until Easter Sunday. Biagio Dente, certified executive chef and a member of the Chef’s Hall of Fame, told me several years ago that such fasts conclude on Holy Thursday. I chose to believe him but always felt uneasy about it. Then Father Joseph Elston sought me out at this year’s Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Banquet for the sole purpose of… Continue Reading

30 years ago today

It sounded like an April Fools joke, but it was true. On April 1, 1985, 8th seeded Villanova beat number one Georgetown for the NCAA basketball championship. It was, and is the greatest championship game upset in the tournament’s history. I was living in Forty Fort at the time, eight years into my first marriage. My daughter was just about two years old and my son was just about two years away from being born. I was managing editor of the Sunday Dispatch and an adjunct professor of journalism at Wilkes College, now University. When upstart Villanova, who barely made… Continue Reading