Hey Everyone…tnx for stopping by again….This episode is brought to you by www.comedyvillage.com……PJ Landers @mrpjcomic and Yasmin Siddiqui @mentaldetour talk about things….come take a listen and share…tnx
FILED UNDER :NFA PODCAST
Hey Everyone…tnx for stopping by again….This episode is brought to you by www.comedyvillage.com……PJ Landers @mrpjcomic and Yasmin Siddiqui @mentaldetour talk about things….come take a listen and share…tnx
Hey Guys…..Thanks for coming back….Keep listening it can only get better….
Hey Everyone….Thanks for coming back…..I’m doing a Live Talk Show every Tuesday night called Deliberately Incorrect…its a shorter version of NFA….Keep downloading and sharing….competition is fierce….I thank the 8,000 plus of you who helped me reach this mark….. If you’re in NYC come visit me at Comedyvillage.com…
Hey Everybody….I’mmmmm Baaacccck….after a long Hiatus I’m back up and running….hope you enjoy the new shows…. following me on twitter @pjcomic also check me out on facebook.com/pjcomic
A Whale of a Story
“This story happened to me in January 1997 on the way to pick up my father for the last time”
I get off the plane, get rent a car and get on the road. I don’t need a map this time. I know how to get around the California highways. I’m going straight to the funeral home. It’s a beautiful day out; just a little breeze, and sunny as can be – not that heavy air that comes to mind when you think of LA. There’s barely any traffic and I’m at the place in 25 minutes.
I’m sitting in the lobby thinking, “How are they going to give me the ashes? Was I supposed to bring something? Will they give me an urn? He was like 6’1 probably gonna be a big urn.” A guy comes out, a small unassuming man with black rimmed glasses, he has soothing brown understanding eyes. “May I help you?” “Yes, I’m here to pick up my father…well his ashes… I’m here to pick up his ashes?” “Of course, what’s the name?” I’m thinking how many cremations do they have today? “Zito, Louis”….”Yes, come this way”. He leads me to an inner office, “I’m sorry for your loss” he says. “Thank you, I didn’t really know my father that long”. Another chance for me to tell this story; every time I tell someone it becomes more like a dream sequence.
Did I actually meet my father for the first time 6 months ago? Or do I have a tumor pressing down on my brain, or am I insane? The guy seems very touched by what I’ve just told him. The whole time we’ve been sitting there, I had noticed a really cool square gold box behind him on a smaller desk. The box had a cross on it. I say “I wasn’t sure what to bring I’ve never held some ones ashes before”. He turns around, picks up the box and says “These are the remains of Louis Patrick Zito”. As he goes to hand it to me, I’m getting a little dizzy and I’m sitting, maybe its the booze, pills or herb I took to get through this.
I go to grab it and it was heavier than it looked. I’m like half bent over (not standing). I almost dropped it. If the guy hadn’t been still holding on, it would have crashed onto the desk. He doesn’t say a word – we’re just both holding it looking at one another. I get a good grasp onto it, “I got him”. I’m now standing straight up with this 20lbish gold box filled with my father. I ask the guy what I should carry him in. He pulls out a shopping bag, not one of those cheap plastic ones, but an old-fashioned heavy paper bag with a heavy handle. The man carefully puts him into the bag. “That will hold him”. As I leave, I thank him for making this so easy for me.
I get back in the car; I’m looking at my father in a shopping bag. This is what his life has come to. I’m sitting with a guy in a bag I met six months ago. I think I’m having a heart attack. I’m sweating and dizzy. I start to talk to the ashes as if he were there. I know it sounds crazy and as I was doing it I knew it was a little off. I said “Well Lou, looks like I’m following you”. I hear my fathers voice say “Relax, relax”. I took a deep breath and held it for a good 50 seconds. When I exhaled I felt that I would live. I said to my father, “Lets go for a little ride” I pulled away from the funeral home and headed out towards the right. I didn’t care where I was going. I was just happy driving around on a beautiful California day with my dead father’s ashes in a bag. I had been driving for two hours towards the sun. I don’t know how I did it, but I reached the Pacific Ocean……..
Whale Story Part 2: Nice day for the beach
I pull down this street and suddenly I’m in the beach world. I’m in Venice…women in the hottest bikinis, men in the tightest Speedos and kids running around. I pull into a space right on the beach, I say to my father, “Pop, I’ll be back in a little bit. I’m going go down to the beach and check it out”. I’m about ten feet from the car when it hits me that I should go and get my father. ”On second thought Lou, you better come with me”, That would be all I need – for someone to break into the car thinking they got some gold box worth thousands instead of a cheap copper mini tomb.
I’m now walking on the Venice pier and everything is right – the sun, the breeze, the cloudless sky, the sounds of the California beach, just like the sounds of anywhere else. The same smells as back in Coney Island, Brooklyn where Lou grew up, or in the Rockaway Beaches of Queens where I swam as a kid. I’ve always feared the ocean but loved the beach for its peacefulness amongst the violence and chaos of the water constantly melding into the shore.
I’m sitting there and it dawns on me. “Pop, this is where you belong”. Lou hadn’t lived in NY for over 30 years and had only been back one time since. ”Pop, I want to tell you that this journey has been incredible for me. I’m feeling a little sorry for myself and I don’t want to give you up. I waited 29 years to find you and then you’re gone in 6 months. This has been your home for a long time and I’m going to let you rest here”.
I pull the box out of the shopping bag. I’m looking at how to open this thing. I turn it over and there are four Philips screws. I take the car key to loosen the screws and it works; I’m able to loosen the rest of the way with my hand. The ashes are in a little plastic bag, I squeeze the bag to look at the contents more carefully. I see what I think is some bone, his body appears like sand with some pebbles in it. This is what it has come down to – I have my father in my hands, I’m not religious but I try to be spiritual in that moment. “Well Pop, I’m not sure how we got on this path and who we have to thank, but I would like to take this moment to say I’m so grateful and feel blessed to have had this experience. I feel I’ve grown as a man, as a father and as a human being”.
I look over the railing and check which way the wind is blowing. The part of the pier I’m on is above the water and the little breeze there is seems almost non-directional. I see it’s clear underneath and I’m about to rip open the bag. I looked up towards the beach and about 400 yards away I saw a bunch of lifeguards and a camera crew. I said to my father “Wow, they’re filming Baywatch right there. We can do this later; let’s go check it out”.
I don’t know why I’ve always wanted to be an actor. My Mother put me on stage at Town Hall in NYC at five years old singing “Yankee doodle dandy”. It’s amazing to me that my father and I share this craft and we have never met. I think he would appreciate us going to check out the shoot.
I start walking and I realize I’m more like a thousand yards away, at least a half of a mile. I’m about a hundred feet away and I realize that the filming crew was not from Baywatch but a TV news crew. They were there filming a 1500 pound Baby Grey Whale that had gotten away from its mother. The story had been on the LA news for the past two days. Some animal rescue guy finally forced the whale towards the beach.
Now the whale is 30 feet in front of me in 10 feet of water and there’s some guy yelling “Help, we need help, help, help us!” I’ve always been the type of person that jumps in to help. I don’t know where I get it from? Being trained as a soldier in the US Army only amplifies this. I’m dressed in jeans, black shirt and blazer. I’m wearing boots and I’m carrying the shopping bag.
I hesitate a moment, not out of fear but to assess where I can help. I realize I’m going to have to jump into the water. I’m standing next to some woman and I ask her if she’s going to stay here. I ask her to hold my jacket and this shopping bag, as I hand it to her she says “wow, what’s in this bag its heavy?” I said those are my father’s ashes. I’m out here from NYC and was just about to release them”. She says “I’m a writer with the LA Times – can I talk to you when you’re done?” As I’m running towards the ocean and the whale, I turn back and I yell “Sure!”
Whale Saved Me
My adrenaline is pumping, I’m thinking as I’m running “holy shit what the fuck are you doing?” I’m running into the water fully clothed, jumping over little waves like I’m actually on Baywatch. I get 10 feet away and the water is up to my waist. If the baby whale goes out to sea it will die because it can’t feed itself.
I’m in the water with a prehistoric mammal. I’m holding on near the massive tail. The whale wasn’t thrashing around, just kind of floating as we’re trying to prevent the ocean from pulling it back out. We’ve pushed the whale into about 3 feet of water. I’m at the front now. The whale is on its left side. I’m looking at its huge mouth, its eye seemed to be looking right at me. Not threatening. Almost intrigued, as if it were a child’s playful eye following me. The stout was blowing little bits of air when the water came in. I’m gently rubbing its nose area, there’s all this craziness happening around me, people are running around there’s camera’s and hundreds of people on the beach and I’m talking to whale “its o.k., its almost over” We looked right at each other for a couple of long seconds. The whale and I were definitely communicating.
At the back of the whale there’s a bunch of guys screaming…I have no idea what’s going on but I yell in a loud/crazy/get your shit together way “EVERYBODY BE QUIET, BE QUIET, WHO SHOULD BE IN CHARGE?” Some surfer dude in a wet suit says very confidently “I should!”. I say “OK, TELL US WHAT TO DO”. He tells us we need to lift the whale onto a waiting flat bed truck. The truck can only back up to about five feet from the water, which leaves us at least ten to fifteen feet away from the truck. Someone suggested we roll the whale across the poles from the other folded stretcher. About fifteen of us are now lifting and pushing across the poles, moving the whale using the centuries old trick of moving stone.
It seems to be working, thirty minutes later we’re at the foot of the flat bed and it’s back is as high up as it can go. I’m at the back with another guy holding and pushing the whale’s tail. We get the whale a quarter of the way on the truck when the guy lowers the gate and we all start giving a last heave-ho. With that one final push of everything we had, we got the whale safely on the truck. The crowd of a several hundred people erupted with cheers and applause. I was hugging the guy next to me and high-fiving some young surfer dude and bunch of cops that had jumped in. I totally forgot about my father. I was standing around for about 10 minutes as people were just saying hello and “great job”.
I finally see the woman reporter with my father and my jacket. She asks me my name and how I’m feeling and I say, “It’s a beautiful thing…kind of wild and exciting. Where am I going to do that in Manhattan?”
I’m soaking wet and tired, my body and mind have gone through one hell of a day. I’m walking down this road away from the scene and it’s getting quieter the further I walk. I see some chick walking towards me. She asks me “What’s going on over there?” I said, “Did you hear about that baby whale?” She replies, “Yes, did they get it”? I smiled and said “Yeah, they did.” She looked at me up and down as I was still soaking wet “Did you help save the whale”?
When she said those words, the last seven months of my life flashed before me. I could see everything as clear as day. My son crying that night, my decision to find my father after 29 years, then actually Finding my Father!!, the building of our great six month relationship, the chance to say goodbye to him and to comfort him near the end of his life, the honor and privilege and duty of a Son to his father to gather his remains for his last journey home.
I say to her “Yeah, I helped save a whale. I’m here from NYC to toss my father’s ashes into the sea… she said “Did you do it?” I opened the bag “No, I think I’m going to hold on to him for a while”. “That’s cool” she says. I ask “What’s your name?” She tells me “Melissa”. I said “Wow, funny; that’s my wife’s name”. As I’m walking away I realize the Melissa I just spoke to was Melissa Ethridge………cont’d
I get into my car and drive back to my Father’s apartment. My Father’s girlfriend Gloria has bad dementia and has moved in with her son. I get the keys from one of his neighbors. The neighbor turns out to be one of Lou’s best friends. The same guy in the wheel chair I met the first time I met my father. We look at each other with that knowingly look of our last encounter. He says “your father and I were buddies, we were writing partners, we used to submit scripts to the studios all the time, he told me you’re an actor” I say grinning “he told you I was an actor”, “yeah said it made him feel good”….
I take the keys and go into the apartment. Its eerily quite, the sun is shining through the living room onto the couch I slept on months before. I’m looking at the phone that we called my mother on to tell her that we had met. I walked into his bedroom. I lay on his side of the bed. Just thinking of him sleeping here, What did he see from here, what dreams of acting and stardom and life did he have here..
I start looking around the house. I’m in his closet looking at his suits and clothes. His shoes on the floor. I smell his scent although its only vaguely familiar. I see the ties he wore. I move over to his dresser. His jewelry box is not filled with much in way of value, a gold ring with a jade center, giving to him by the Asian women he was living with near the time of my birth.
A couple of outdated cuff links and a cool tie clip and an old Timex watch. There was a box in a drawer, I opened it up and it had a gun in it. A 32 colt revolver with a clip. Silver gun with ivory handle. Maybe my father was the tough guy he appeared to be or he had used it at a gun range.
I go into the kitchen to get something to drink. There’s nothing much in the refrigerator, the counter top is filled with 20 or so prescription pills, there’s one of those daily pill reminders, you fill the week up so you don’t forget, Sunday Monday and Tuesday are gone, Wednesday through Saturday remain, that’s the day he went into the hospital. I’m looking at all these pills, 30 something a day just to get going.
Gloria’s son is going to try and sell the couch and the table and the bedroom set. Lou didn’t have anything to leave Gloria. He didn’t have any life insurance or savings. He had gotten a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar settlement for getting hurt on a movie set working as a carpenter. Lou and Gloria had lived off the money for the past three years. The son had told me to take what I want because on Monday the management is going come in and clean up. He says you can throw out what you don’t want in the garbage bin downstairs.
I go into the other bedroom which Lou used as his office and storage area. There was an IBM type writer on the desk where he created scripts. He had a 35mm camera equipment and a Hi 8 movie camera. A little area where he painted, they’re was an out of tuned guitar with five strings and a couple of fishing pols. An album of pictures of his life from childhood to the present day. All of these things he used as his muse.
The creative man looking to exalt his joy unto the world through whatever way it comes not stopping it but embracing it. I’m looking around thinking how similar we are. I have and are all of these things…I play a little guitar, I draw and doodle, I’m a photographer and writer, Documentary film maker. I’ve never met him or heard any real stories about Lou and still we’re connected. The things he did are the things I do.
The photo albums are filled with a lifetime of memories….from his days at grade school to a boy playing baseball on the streets of Brooklyn to his early days as a solider in the Navy during World War Two.
There were images of his parents Patric and Elise, his brother Anthony. My Grandparents and Uncle I never met. They were full blooded Italians. My Grandparents were born in Petina Salerno, Italy and immigrated here in the early part of nineteen hundred. There was a picture of my Grandfather in his US Army uniform during World War One.
A handsome, strong looking man. Classic Italian features filled with honor and pride. Not more than 5’8 the picture looked as if he was ten feet tall.
My grandmother was a little bit of thing herself, barely 4’10, my grandfather towered over her in the picture on their wedding day.
My Uncle Anthony had died in 1966 from a heart attack. He was a good looking man with olive skin and wavy brown hair.
I’m staring into their eyes thinking what I would say to them. Looking at bodies and eyes I’ve never seen before. I’m looking at the photos like Quincy, MD, the shape of their eyes, their noses, their ears, the size of their hands, the smile on their faces….what type of people were they. They’re alive in me. I’m alive with their blood, their DNA has now be passed onto my Son.
I’m taking another load of papers and clothes to the garbage. As I throw the last cart full of stuff in, I look into the dumpster. I’m thinking that’s the end of my Father’s physical and material life. My Fathers material things were all laid out in front of me waiting to be taken away.
As I’m driving back to the airport it All hits me, I’ve acted like none of this has affected me but in fact it’s brought me to the side of a LA freeway,crying uncontrollably. I feel lost. Weak. Alone.
I look at a picture of my son, I start to smile and gather myself together. No time to be sitting on the road feeling sorry for myself, I’ve got a plane to catch, got to get back to my boy.
Its been a crazy trip, last 7 months are a fog but clear as day. I’m glad I made this trip. When my son is older I’ll explain how important it was for me to meet my Father and he helped that happen. As I go through airport security the guard asks me “whats in the gold box?” I said “I’ve got a whale of story for you?”
Happy 4th of July everyone…..hope you had or are having a great 4th…..enjoy the latest madness….Mid July I will be putting up 2 per week…thanks for the support…check me out on facebook.com/pjcomic and twitter.com/_pjlanders tell your friends to leave an itunes review or email me a review and your thoughts and questions…. firstname.lastname@example.org
Hey guys…thanks for hanging in…. another cast in the pod… come listen..
Hey Ho everyone….midweek podcast talking about presidential race….Iran….massacre in Afghanistan…and stuff on the home front…keep coming by and spreading the word… tnx
Hey Guys, Thanks for stopping by. I’m going to put out 3 shows a week starting next week. If you’re on itunes, leave a comment good or bad….
Hey Everyone…Thanks for coming back or welcome you first timers…This week we talk about our friend comic Todd Lynn who recently passed away…we also chat about life and other schtuff….
Hey Everyone, thanks for coming back in 2012…back to the normal craziness…. tell a friend or two about the podcast whether you like it or not…also give an itunes review whether you like it or not…
Hey Everyone…December 7, 1941…a day that will live in infamy…really?…most people forgot already..we talk about that and a whole bunch of other crap… www.comedyvillage.com www.mrpjlanders.com……
Hey Everyone….post thanksgiving podcast….hope you made it out…..This NFA we discuss the death of Patrice O’neal standup comic who died tuesday…. if you’re in nyc come down to www.comedyvillage.com go to www.mrpjlanders.com for more NFA info…. don’t forget to leave a comment on itunes…tnx
Hey everyone…thanks for stopping by….OWS is on everyones mind….we discuss it again and where the movement is going…check out mrpjlanders.com and youtube.com/pjlanders
Hey Everyone…thanks for coming back…lots of new issues to chat about…email me at email@example.com with questions/ideas for the podcast… check out mrpjlanders.com for more info and youtube.com/pjlanders
Hey Everyone….well occupy wall street is still going…lots of things to discuss about the movement and the results of marches….
go to mrpjlanders.com and if you’re in NYC come to comedyvillage.com for laff ur butt off comedy….
This episode we discuss the Occupy Wall Street Movement….www.mrpjlanders.com, www.comedyvillage.com, if you have no idea whats happening down there then you should go down and find out for yourself what’s what…..Actor Mark Ruffalo talks to us about the Movement and how he sees it affecting us as a society…
Hey Everyone…thanks for listening…we’ve been away taking care of business….this week we’re down at the Occupy Wall Street marches/protests/movement…talking to people trying to figure what’s it all about….get telling people about the NFA we need you to leave a comment as well…good or bad…whatever…tnx check out www.comedyvillage.com if you’re in NYC…also go to www.mrpjlanders.com
Earthquuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuakkkkke……NYC just had a 5.9 quake….crazy times ahead…thanks for downloading the NFA please visit www.mrpjlanders.com or www.comedyvillage.com or www.youtube.com/pjlanders…
Holy Shit it b hot….whole country is burning up with heat…idiots in washington still can’t get the debt thing settled….thanks for stopping by… www.mrpjlanders.com www.comedyvillage.com
Summer is going along smoothly….check out mrpjlanders.com comedyvillage.com tell a friend or two about the NFA NOT FUCKING AROUND podcast….
we’re having fun in the sun…tnx for stopping by….
4 of July Weekend…
Happy Saturday everyone…gay rights bill has passed…nyc is going nuts….
This is the Father’s Day Podcast….I’m telling a story about the first time I met my father…I didn’t realize it was going to make me emotional. Keep checking mrpjlanders.com for updates..
Hey Everyone…things are certainly moving along…keep coming by…things can only get better..
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Hey Everyone…this is live from Queens NY…I’m visiting my grandparents grave…I know a lil crazy..no crazier than the other ones…have fun sit back…mrpjlanders.com comedyvillage.com
Time is just flying by….thanks for stopping by…June day in brooklyn..sun shining..birds tweeting..congressman showing their penis…