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Blood brothers

I’ve been taking the train to and from work most days now. It’s a bit arduous navigating the ups and downs of the platforms — and the crowds — but I am happy for the speed and convenience of NJ Transit and the subway.

I usually leave from the South Orange station because it has an elevator and a raised platform. So does this other guy whose right ankle is still in a fiberglass cast and who moves around with the help of a little scooter on which he rests his knee.

The other day the elevator was broken, so I lent this guy my crutches to get up the stairs. Turns out he also has a trimalleolar fracture (which he received on the ice outside his house); also went to St. Barnabas’ emergency room; also got screwed back together by Dr. Cheema; and also woke up in the OR to loud rock music. I feel so redundant!

No strings on me

My cast came off a week ago, and now I’m gimping around the house and scaring the kids with the nine-inch scar on my ankle. Sometimes I even go without crutches for short stretches; Nancy says I look like a big toddler seeking the next solid surface to grasp.

My buddy John Stees sent me a groovy get-well present — a little solid-body guitar I’d entrusted to his care back when I left San Diego 20 years ago this month. He also sent ahead an e-mail explaining its pedigree to my kids:

“[T]his was your father’s old guitar that he gave to me when he moved to San
Francisco in 1988, (sic) armed with Beatle boots and McCartney old hollow body.

“It was used in The Three Johns of San Marcos storage-unit fame, making its way
to San Francisco, [where it] had a brief stint in Husky, a duo renowned in the living-room-talent-show circuit.

“Then in pursuit of true love, said Guitar went to Athens, GA, the OZ of independent music. Though not played there, the exposure to ceative energy furthers the magic of this potential Excalibur.

“Now that you are old enough to unleash its destiny, I return it to it’s family.

“I wish you fun and fulfilment.

“John Stees”

Calling Doctor Love

Mystery solved! I now know the identity of one of the most intriguing people on my morning train: the woman I often overhear on her cell phone, battling bureaucracy in the service of sick children. (As I observed in an earlier entry, she’s one person I can’t begrudge the energetic use of a cell phone during our commute.)

The latest edition of Maplewood’s own Matters Magazine identifies this woman and her mission: Dr. Jane Aronson, the founder of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation, which is dedicated to helping improve the lot of children orphaned by AIDS and other scourges. MSNBC called her a “force of nature,” which sounds a lot like my own impression of the good doctor. (It’s funny how some people just give off that sort of aura, even to the casual observer.)

I’m looking forward to losing this cast and getting my train on so I can check in on Dr. Aronson and the rest of my train faves.


Recuperation after my recent fall is slow and steady — and considering my own limited patience and the inconvenience to la familia, it’s proving something of an ordeal.

I’m the proud permanent owner of six screws* and something call an “L-bracket”; Dr. Cheema (the orthopedist) tells me that my leg was so messed up, the ER doctor turned the initial relocation of the joint over to the specialists. And Nancy reports that it took three doctors to shift it back into place. (The doctor sent her down the hall so she wouldn’t hear my loud protests, of which I thankfully have no recollection.)

By contrast, I actually recall the OR the next morning, since the anesthesiologist relied primarily on an epidural and fairly light sedation. That meant I woke up for the last stages of the surgery, which featured a soundtrack by Meatloaf and some noisy banter by the surgical team: more reminiscent of a garage than my notion of an operating room.

I’ve graduated from the walker to a pair of crutches, which Nancy tells me takes about 40 years off my age. It’s a much more convenient way of getting around, but kind of precarious; trying to get out the door this morning, I nearly slipped on the wet deck and quickly gave up on any travel plans.

Get me out of here!

*Addendum: After going to the hospital for X-rays, I learned I actually have nine screws in there.

Get down on the good foot

This is what I tried to post from my Blackberry Jan. 2 … Sadly, the word-verification feature thwarted me, but trying it was a nice distraction:

“My first blog entry of 2007 is also my first composed on the Blackberry. And I hope it’s the very last written in a hospital bed, which is where I ended up yesterday afternoon after a misstep on our basement staircase.

“My ankle turned one way; my foot, another; and now the former is full of pins keeping the latter pointed in the right direction.

“I’ve got another night at St. Barnabas, then six to eight weeks negotiating the twisty routes at home and work.”

… Now it’s Thursday, and I was brought home in another ambulance. Nancy bought me a shiny new Lazy Boy, and I’ve got the big bottle of Percocet. Cheers!

We’re a happy family!

Our posse does a lot of winter holidays, and that means a mighty annual haul of gifts chez Rothenberg. We’ve all been enjoying the new Wii that I camped out in front of Toys R Us to procure; this parody spot does a nifty job of metaphorizing the gizmo’s appeal.

Meanwhile, my personal pile includes a Ramones book and T-shirt as well as a ukulele — which means I’ve been playing a lot of NY punk classics on the uke. I was feeling pretty good about my prowess until I checked out this guy’s mad ukulele skillz … Perhaps I can still be the Johnny Ramone of ukulele, since Mr. Shimabukuro seems to have the George Harrison spot nailed.

Should Don Diego be forgot …

While Googling the date of the late James Brown’s mid-’80s appearance at the Del Mar Fair, I happened across this wonderful archive of San Diego concerts from the ’30s through the ’90s.

The list isn’t exhaustive by any means — and most of my favorite rock-‘n’-roll experiences happened in venues far smaller than the ones included here — but I have found some lovely nuggets, including a great Bruce Springsteen concert (Sept. 1, 1981); The Clash and the English Beat (June 12, 1982); and REM at the aforementioned Del Mar Fairgrounds (June 20, 1984).

I haven’t been able to locate that James Brown gig, however.