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Sunday, February 01, 2004
Bad links deleted, two new film links added and, for news on my whereabouts lately, see "Art For Pete's Sake" link under PETE MEDIA.

And now, our feature presentation...


The true-life tales of Pete's misadventures...


The gambling bug bit my friend, The Artist Known As Jake Martinez, after he won $160 his first afternoon playing blackjack at the Fort McDowell Indian Casino.

Not believing in "beginner's luck", he then decided he was going to return the next day and double his winnings. The day after, he planned to double that and, as The Artist Known As Jake Martinez said so matter-of-factly, "Then I'm heading to Vegas!"

I tried explaining the difference between playing Little League versus Major League baseball but, not being one to follow America's favorite past time, I don't think he caught my allegorical advice.

He thought he'd strike it rich because he had it all worked out.

"It's like the line in that Willie Nelson song," he explained, "'You gotta know when to hold them and know when to roll them...'"

"First of all," I replied, "It's Kenny Rogers, and the line goes 'You gotta know when to hold them and know when to fold them' and, in case you were wondering, the song is called 'The Gambler' not 'That Card Playing Guy'."

Late that night, we were on our way home from Denny's restaurant - which is a gamble in and of itself - when The Artist Known As Jake Martinez decided he needed to stop at the Circle-K convenience store to get some cigarettes.

As he got out of the car, he asked, "Do you have an extra dollar you can loan me?"

"What for?" I asked, although I already suspected the answer.

A long pause was followed by him saying, "I want to buy a soda."

"Great idea," I said, giving him a buck, "I think I'll come in and buy a soda too."

So we both went in. I got a soda. He didn't. Instead, he went straight to the register, got his cigarettes and a $1 lottery ticket. On the way out the door, he noticed the ATM in the store and withdrew $100.

His gambling habit was now officially out of control.

As we pulled out of the parking lot - by this time it was three in the morning - The Artist Known As Jake Martinez suggested, "Let's go buy a deck of cards so I can practice blackjack."

"Where are we going to find a deck of cards at 3AM?"

"Walgreen's is open 24 hours!"

Late the next morning, The Artist Known As Jake Martinez drove off to the casino. Less than 90 minutes later, the phone rang.

It was Jake.

"Dude, do I have any more cash at home?"

In less than an hour and a half, he had gambled away some $260.

I guess he wasn't quite the "Card Playing Guy" he thought he was.

He's since decided to keep his day job. Odds are, he'll keep it for a while. But I'm not placing any bets.


Since moving across town, I hadn't visited my regular barber.

I finally got a chance to go back to John the Barber, after several months of being shorn by bad hair butchers.

John the Barber has been in the same location for close to thirty years. When the now 70-something first opened shop, it cost only $3.50 for a cut.

He still charges $3.50 a head.

Obviously, his is a volume business.

He works alone - one chair, some waiting. But the usual assortment of up to a half dozen customers at any given moment don't mind the wait, surrounded as they are by walls lovingly stained yellow by time and a wide assortment of magazines stacked high with some dating back decades. They know John is methodically slow paced but that the final result is well worth the wait.

And, anyway, what the hell do you want for $3.50? You get the haircut. In fact, you get them all cut if that's what you request. As a free bonus, first you get a scalp massage with one of those bulky old-fashioned handheld massagers and, afterwards, a splash of witch hazel.

So, now that I’ve properly set the scene, evoked a mood if you will, and all that literary crap us writerly-types have a bad habit of foisting upon the unsuspecting reader, let’s get to that climatic “jarring conclusion.”

So I arrived, my follicles all a’ quiver with anticipation, when I noticed the sign outside now read “Jerry’s Barber Shop”.

That’s never a good sign.

I entered to find the walls had been freshly painted white; all the magazines were gone and had been replaced with the latest issues of ‘Sports Illustrated’ and ‘Maxim’.

John was nowhere to be seen, but both Rashid and Tony were at the ready to cut my hair.

“Where’s John?” I asked.

Tony replied, “He’s dead.”

Needless to say, it was a bittersweet haircut.

Just the cut - no massage, no witch hazel.

Two chairs, no waiting.

Only eight bucks.


Fast food chain Jack in the Box is really pushing the chicken breast strips these days. Both the menu and store windows are plastered with four-color posters announcing:

“Chicken Breast Strips - Real. Bigger.”

I don’t know how successful this has been in selling chicken, but it would make one heck of a slogan for t-shirts worn by women with naturally bodacious Ta-Tas.

I’m just saying.


The last time I was at Denny’s restaurant with a friend, he ordered the “mini burgers”, which is a tastefully arranged plateful of small, square hamburgers.

A ‘White Castle’ by any other name, as those from the Midwestern U.S. - and the Chicago land area, specifically - will know.

When my friend got his food and tasted the first faux Castle, I asked how it tasted.

“It’s good,” he answered.

“I’ll assume you’ve never been to Chicago,” I replied.

He hadn’t.

See, I’m originally from Chicago. While I admittedly moved to Arizona while still quite young, I have gone back to visit relatives from time to time.

Whenever visiting Chicago, there are three favorites one always tries to consume:

3) Italian beef sandwiches

2) pizza

1) White Castles

Not knowing the culinary joy that is a White Castle, my friend was satisfied with this cheap “mini burger” imitation.

“Listen,” I told him, “I’ve seen the White Castle; I’ve eaten the White Castle; and that, my friend, is no White Castle!”

Needless to say, the rest of the meal turned rather partisan. The “White Castler” on one side, the “Mini Burgermeister” on the other - and nobody crossed party lines. Not even for the salt shaker.

posted by Pete 5:38 AM
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