Saturday, March 25, 2023

Thoughts on Mulgrew Whilst at Casino in Schenectady

I am at the Rivers Casino in Schenectady with some friends this weekend. Just finished watching FAU (I won some money!) go to the final four and went to my room due to having a thought about Mike Mulgrew on the gaming floor. 

Mulgrew must be a horrible poker player. 

Just to be clear I am not a poker player. So if I get some things wrong I apologize. But part of the skillset in poker is bluffing. To let the other players think you got something when you got nothing. Mulgrew fails every time.

Let's just say for argument's sake Mulgrewcare was inevitable. Adams is has a a pair. Mulgrew has straight. Mulgrew's job in the Mulgrewcare dance making Adams sweat. Instead what does Mulgrew do? He folds like a cheap suit bought off the discount rack at Robert Hall's.

Why in one of the most important negotiations of not only Mulgrew's tenure as UFT Commandant does he not only fail, at the very least, to give the perception of negotiating from strength, but to basically lead the charge? 

He could have bluffed his way and told Adams that retirees would not go for Mulgrewcare. That retirees would fight like hell and he would be there to support the retirees. He should have gotten the best deal possible! We were holding the cards. Look what just happened in Los Angeles!!

Can you imagine being a car salesman and seeing Mulgrew come in. It would go something like this:

Car Salesman: Hi, may I help you?

Mulgrew: Yes, I'm interested in a  new Corolla. 

Car Salesman: (sizing up his mark) I got one left on the lot. 

Mulgrew: How much?

Car Salesman: $100k. But it is a 2006 Corolla with 210k miles on it. Do we have a deal?

Mulgrew: Where do I sign? 

That's our union president. 

Now back to casino and the sports book. 

Friday, March 24, 2023

Take It Easy

 On July 13 of lat year I had the privilege to see Jackson Browne live for the first time ever. 

The venue was the Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater in Bridgeport CT. The venue was a former minor ballpark that had hosted the Atlantic League's Bridgeport Bluefish.

As I expected, the crowd was 50+. As compared to when I saw John Lodge last month, there were those in the audience younger than me. 

I was hoping Browne would perform "Lawyers in Love," but sadly he didn't. I was also hoping that Leland Sklar was still playing bass with him, but he was nowhere to be found 

Browne opened up with "Somebody's Baby" (click here for my video), a song he wrote for the movie, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

Early in the show he did the title track from his latest album, "Downhill From Everywhere" (Click here for my video) which I really enjoyed.

But of course he did the biggies. Running on Empty, Doctor My Eyes, Cocaine, You Love the Thunder, Take it Easy, and of course The Load Out/Stay.  

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Dear Mike Mulgrew: Will I Die, Become Physically Disabled, or Go Insane?

 Dear el Presidenté Mulgrew:

Since you have unilaterally decided that those retirees 65 and over will be forced to into Mulgrewcare for their golden years, I have several questions and concerns that I would like you to answer. I turn 59 in April and soon to retire. I will be eligible for your plan in six short years. 

I have type 2 Diabetes. Fortunately for me my A1c is pretty darn good. What keeps it good is a sensor that I wear on my arm. This, and the app on my phone, monitors my blood sugar. It is expensive. Currently, thanks to Emblem I pay nothing for a 3 month supply. I can pay $35 for a three month supply but I like freebies. This is a much better way to check blood sugar than pricking my fingers. There are those that are not so fortunate. My endocrinologist (Castle Connolly ranked her among the top in Westchester County) shared with me how fortunate I am. She told me that many health plans won't cover this sensor unless one is taking at least three shots of Insulin a day. As of now, no insulin for me. Will I still be covered for this under your plan? Will my doctor be on your plan? Diabetes is a progressive disease. Will I die? 

One of the medications I take is a name brand. Not only has it helped me manage my diabetes I have lost a lot of weight (It's not Ozempic!). I pay $35 for a three month script. Will this medication still be covered?

In 2019 I had my right shoulder replaced. I did not need to go through a gatekeeper. I just went to the doctor, he said my shoulder is fucked, and I need to replace it. I scheduled the surgery and that was that. Another person I know, not with the DOE, had their shoulder replacement turned down. Why? The reason their insurance gave was, "PT has not been tried." Some hack on a phone made that decision? You can't fix bone on bone. Will this be something Mulgrewcare will do? Plus, as my surgeon told me I was somewhat on the young side for a shoulder replacement. Shoulders last 10-15 years. Will I be able to get a another shoulder? Will my shoulder surgeon be part of Mulgrewcare? Will NYU Langone be part of Mulgrewcare? 

I had a inch and a half tear of the meniscus of my right knee in 2009. The surgeon told me that down the road I will need a knee replacement. My left hip has been acting up of late. I can foresee a new hip in my future. Will Mulgrewcare be there for my knee and hip? Will I become physically disabled?

As we know Emblem has horrible mental health care. Luckily, I have a good therapist. I have anxiety issues and ADHD. Hopefully, Mulgrewcare will do better than Emblem. I doubt it. Imagine retiring from the DOE and needing and looking for mental health care and Mulgrewcare doesn't deliver. What to do with all those teachers suffering with personality disorders, PTSD, etc...? Will I go insane? 

But I will put it to you succinctly and directly mi presidenté. Which doctors, hospitals, providers, medications, etc... are on Mulgrewcare? What is the hold up in sharing? We should be told post haste.

We all want to know. Not sometime soon, but now.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Mesh and Lace-Modern English

 I might have found a calling for when I retire. I am going to review rock shows as a living. At least I'll finally have some fun working. 

This review is a long time coming. 

This past September I trekked up to Daryl's House Club (Daryl Hall is the owner) in Pawling NY to check out Modern English. For those who don't remember, Modern English was part of the 2nd British Invasion in the early 80's with their hit, "I Melt With You" which got considerable airtime on MTV. And lest I forget, the montage scene from one of my all time favorite movies, "Valley Girl" (Yes, it is a guilty pleasure of mine). 

The tour was basically celebrating the 40th anniversary of the album, "After the Snow," which Melt is on. 

Yes, the average age of the crowd was 50 plus. The band is 60 plus, but it seemed like 1982 all over again. Fortunately, I was able to check out the setlist at and immersed myself into what they would be performing that night. 

What really got me wanting to see them is the incredible job the band did during the pandemic with a updated version of Melt

But seeing them in a club was a perfect setting. In fact I am starting to prefer small venues and clubs instead of arenas for shows now. 

ME put on a great show. Robbie Grey is a great frontman and his passion in his music and singing really made the crowd much more joyous. ME's guitarist, Gary McDowell, well how do I explain? Look at the photos. He changed quite a bit. But the love on his face of playing the guitar was something have only seen with Alex Lifeson. 

Daryl's House is a great venue. Small and cozy and a place to have dinner and drinks. 

Next up for me is Daryl Hall in Port Chester in June and Rod Stewart with Cheap Trick for me in Bethel Woods.

Here's a bit of Melt filmed with Robbie Grey telling everyone to "put the fucking phones away!"

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Open Apology to Dan Alicea

 I owe Daniel Alicea a HUGE apology. 

There is a teacher in trouble. This teacher supposedly is being railroaded by the administration at this teacher's school. Every day is a supposed struggle for this teacher. I turned to Daniel hoping to get this
teacher on his radio show

I thought to my struggles and how I went on Howard 101 and my four month stint of Tuesday mornings on WFAS. I believed then and still believe that it helped me. I figured it would help this teacher. 

At the time I felt Dan was moving away from the issues that the everyday rank and file are concerned with and moving the show in a different direction. I compared him to how Howard Stern went from putting the focus on Eric the Actor, High Pitched Erik, and having Sarah Silverman smell Richard Christy's to what Howard is now. A hack who needs to genuflect for three hours over an overrated, no talented Bruce Springsteen. Give me Eric the Actor any day. 

For this accusation Dan, I apologize profusely. Dan, you are a class act. I have had nothing but positive interactions with you. What I said was unfair. Keep doing what you are doing the way you are doing it. 

This teacher conned me. This teacher threatened me. This teacher pulled the wool over my eyes. And this teacher would have done the same to all of Dan's listeners. Dan, I believe somehow, someway, you had the foresight to  have known this. Thank you Dan. 

Dan, you are at the forefront of all that is good about unionism. Thank you for your hard work and your sacrifice. It is much appreciated. 

Friday, March 3, 2023

John Lodge of the Moody Blues

Since the pandemic ended I have been on a big live music kick. The spring of 2020 I was planning on seeing Primus, The Pretenders, Hall and Oates, and Sammy Hagar and the Circle that summer. Well, you all know what happened. Nothing. 

Since there is no more Rush, and the only Rush I can see are tribute bands, I want to see has much from "my day" as possible. Time is not on my side. All the acts I'd like to see are getting up there in age, one foot in the grave, or dead.

So February left with an interesting choice. Denny Laine was performing at City Winery in both Manhattan and Montgomery NY. John Lodge, the bassist from the Moody Blues was performing in Fairfield CT. 

I had seen Denny Laine in 2019 at Daryl Hall's club in Pawing NY with his band. He performed the first Moody Blues album and Band on the Run album in t's entirety along with other songs he did with Wings. Excellent show. It told the stories behind each song. But this year he it was just him and a guitar. 

But I had always enjoyed the Moody Blues and wished I had seen them. So the choice was made to see John Lodge. I am glad I did. 

The show was up at the Fairfield Theater Company in Fairfield CT. The setting was very intimate and scored 2nd row, dead center seats at the box office the night of the show. What's more, Lodge performed the Moodies album, "Days of Future Passed", in it's entirety. Jon Davidson from Yes who also happens to be Lodge's son in law came out to sing songs from that album as well as the encore, "Ride My See-Saw."

Lodge paid tribute to deceased band members drummer Graeme Edge, who was in a video reciting poems from Days, and flautist Ray Thomas with the story of "Legend of a Mind." I just wanted to hear "Gemini Dream" from "Long Distance Voyager" (In fact that was my first Moodies album I bought my senior year in high school) and "Your Wildest Dreams" (Yeah, it's my guilty pleasure, that and the movie Valley Girl!). That is more of a Justin Hayward song. 

But it was a great show. Lodge truly appreciated his audience. At almost 59 I think I was amongst the youngest in the audience. Lot's of people with canes, and, walkers. 

Here's "I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band) CLICK HERE from the show.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

NYPD Perk That Should Be Taken Away for Healthcare Savings

With all the healthcare savings we are being threatened with and/or forced upon us, I have heard nary a peep from anyone about a great deal the cops have. Yes, he doesn't have to do with healthcare, it is
something that they have collectively bargained. But while the rest of us (including the cops) are being told none to little raises until this healthcare "issue" is fixed. This one provision agreed to with the NYC seems off the table.

If you are a cop and slip in your bathtub and get injured, or have your appendix removed and have to recover, or have liposuction, or take a dump and get hemorrhoids or any injury on your own time. If any of that happens and you are out that cop will get PAID IN FULL for the time it takes that cop to recover. Yes, you read that right.

The Crack Team knows of one cop who benefits from this fantastic deal.

This cop (XXXXX XXXXX) injured his knee back in the EIGHTIES! While in college he was playing football, no, ice hockey, no, football, no ice hockey, no football, probably just was drunk and slipped and fell. But I digress. Any way this cop has been having knee issues (I guess sitting at a desk for the last ten years tends to make a knee flair up) off and on since the eighties and will soon be having the knee fixed. Said cop will be recovering from 3-4 months. Getting FULL PAY for that time. 

This same cop several years back was trying to clean out his ears or locate a brain and punctured his ear drum. This also caused some equilibrium issues. Missed a lot of time. And guess what? This cop (XXXXX XXXXX) got PAID IN FULL for the weeks and weeks of work sitting behind a desk that he missed. 

Of course(XXXXX XXXXX) or any other cop will need verification and continue to be monitored by an NYPD physician. But boy, what a deal!

Hey, I have no problem with cops that get injured on the job to take all the time they need to recover. But this perk, get injured off the job and get PAID IN FULL, is just too much.

I tore the labrum in my shoulder in 1987. I had total shoulder replacement in December 2019. I missed about a month of school. I had to use my CAR days (And praise be the Lord I had enough) as well as time the surgery around Christmas break.

What about the teacher that is in a horrific car accident and doesn't have enough days in their CAR? Or the same with a teacher that has a heart attack? Why can't we have this perk? Why must we always give back or not get?

Why can't UFT members have this perk? Or better yet, why won't Mayor Adams rail against this perk and demand that it be given back? 

I know why. We have Mikey Mulgrew. The cops have Patrick Lynch. 

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Look, What GHI is Doing to my Hand

I just can't wait to get on Medicare (Dis)advantage with the issues I've been having with Emblem GHI the last month or so. BTW, that was sarcasm.

About a year ago I was waking up, as well as recurring throughout the day, with pins and needles in my left (dominant) hand and fingers. I assumed it was because of a pinched nerve in my neck and went to a chiropractor (Didn't need a referral and I recall when chiropractors weren't covered). I went for about a month and stopped due to it was getting better and I didn't have time anymore. 

But around late October, early November,  the symptoms came back. Worse. There was pain with the pins and needles. It would wake me up in the middle of the night. The numbness would take an hour to go away. So this time I went to a spine surgeon that I know of, Dr Jonathan Oren (The ABSOLUTE best! If you have spine issues, he can work miracles. Mention me to him and get a free glass of wine compliments of Lenox Hill Hospital) (He deals with. REAL spine issues, not fantastical spine issues. And, his office isn't in a storefront or a strip mall). Again, no referral was necessary. Good.

I was examined and x-rayed. Dr Oren not being some gonoff doctor saw nothing abnormal in my spine and suggested I see a hand specialist and also to have an EMG. Since I already have a hand surgeon due to an arthritis issue my left thumb that part was taken care of. I also made an appointment for the EMG.

So far so good. Notice I am in control of my healthcare. 

I went to the hand doctor. He gave me a diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel and Cubital Tunnel Syndromes. I was also directed to start PT at once. Better, I knew the place where I wanted to go! The same PT where I went when I had my shoulder replaced three years ago. 

I called and was told that they don't take GHI for hand therapy. Say what? Yep, that was true. In fact when I looked closer at the script, the doctor wrote I was referred for "occupational therapy." I found out a few days later that anything from the elbow to the hand is considered occupational, not physical, therapy. 

Reluctantly I reached out to several other PT centers and heard the same. None took GHI for occupational therapy.

But I got a surprise with my last phone call. 

It was not that PT centers did not wish to take GHI. They couldn't. Why? Because GHI does not cover occupational therapy. Yeah. It doesn't. I found out after speaking with the hand therapists where I am going now that GHI is the only plan they know of which doesn't cover occupational therapy. 

How am I rehabbing the hand? I was told by a hand therapist where I am now to have the doctor  re-write the script to "physical therapy." Instead of a hand (occupational) therapist working on me it will be a physical therapist. The PT I have now is fantastic and he gets his instructions for the hand people. How does this make sense?

I understand how complicated the hand is. I nearly sliced my thumb off cutting open a roll at Grand Union in 1984. I severed the tendon and nerve in my thumb and hand therapy helped quite a bit. It is proven science. But who knows how the powers that be think at GHI. I mean, who do we even bring this up or complain to?

Overall I have been happy with GHI. This story is like a gnat flying in front of my face at a picnic. But with Mulgrewcare it won't be a little gnat fucking around with our healthcare. It'll be a flying Mulgrewsosaurus right in front of us with it's hairy and pimply ass right in our faces.

I'm grateful that at no point have I had to get clearance to see a specialist, receive a test, or go to PT (though with PT one needs to re-certify after 16 visits). I am grateful that I spoke with someone who told me how to get around the system. 

But to deny occupational therapy for whatever reason is mind boggling! What happens is someone else didn't have the resourcefulness, guile, or perseverance I have? That person just might wind up with an atrophied, useless hand. This is one of the inherent dangers of Mulgrewcare. How many will be told "no" and just accept that? 

Seven months after total shoulder replacement I was swinging a golf club again. Eight months after I was playing a round of golf. Will I, or anyone else, be able to have access to world class physical therapy on Mulgrewcare? Or even the surgeon who operated on me?

If I have to have surgery on my hand, I'll be damned if I won't be out of a golf course no more than six weeks after surgery. Again, I'll have top notch PT and a surgeon.

Fix the healthcare. Give us occupational therapy. Give us what we want. Don't fix what is broken. 

Monday, February 20, 2023

DC 37 Settled. What's Next for UFT Members?

 It seems that DC 37 has set the bargain for us all. Thank you DC 37! But is it all for naught?

As per James Eterno's blog and The City DC 37 agreed raises of:

May 26, 2021: 3.00% 

May 26, 2022: 3.00% 

May 26, 2023: 3.00% 

May 26, 2024: 3.00% 

May 26, 2025: 3.25% 

May 26, 2026: 0%

As well as a $3,000 dollar signing bonus. Nice pattern. Are DC 37 members getting retro, and if so, will it be in one lump sum or spread out over 20 years? 

Several things have crossed my mind. Yes, inflation is high, but it is on its way down. So for now, at least for me, I have a wait and see. Of course we have Mike Mulgrew has our leader so he might think us getting less would be a great deal. 

As for the bonus, hey I am all for a bonus. But not for $3k. I want at least double. But Mulgrew is our leader. We're screwed. 

But the devil is in the details. We still don't know about healthcare. That is the most important part. I'm still of the mind that we have it pretty good as far as healthcare in comparison to our counterparts in the rest of the state. But I saw also saw this on James' blog and it is somewhat disconcerting. 

The unions owe the city $1 billion? Other than voting Mulgrew out what can be done? I have said it before put the burden on new and newer teachers. Also, combine all the welfare plans into one. Yes, the number of patronage jobs will be affected but I'm sure there are savings to be found. Heck, even Arthur put this idea about combining the Welfare Funds together...

I don't believe a consolidated Welfare Fund would be any less efficient than the one we already have. It would surely be a hell of an improvement over screwing our retirees.

But, we have Mike Mulgrew leading us. From behind. 

My predictions for the new contract?

We'll get 2 percent raise per year for the first four years, and then 2.1 percent for the fifth year. 

Instead of a $3k bonus like DC 37 received we will get a coupons worth $19.99 in savings to Applebee's that will only be valid on Mondays and Tuesdays.

We'll get retro but the payouts will be stretched through 2031. The rules will be the same but if you turn 65 before the retro is fully paid you are out of luck. 

Teachers will no longer receive letters to file. Instead teachers will be summarily executed. However, the families of the executed teachers shall receive full benefits. The union will say, "Hey, at least your next of kin will be getting paid."

DC 37 has no settled. The proverbial ball is now in Mulgrew's court to totally fuck it up.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Next UFT Solidarity Meeting

For those unaware there is an upcoming UFT Solidarity meeting this Thursday night, January 6, 2023 7 PM EST. The meeting is through Zoom. Here is the link.