If you’ve enjoyed these early episodes of the lengthy and epic Parade Day tale, you can now purchase the book for a mere bags of nickels over at Amazon, for download onto your Kindle device or app. If that’s not your bag, the physical book is coming soon!

Kindle version is available here:



And now, more of the Okay-For-Children, but Not-Safe-For-Teetotalers:



Big Rob had disappeared with the half crocked college lass he was slapping the charm on, and Zeenat got swept into the throng dancing in front of the stage, where Kartoom was currently beating a bloody path through “Yummy Yummy Yummy (I’ve Got Love in My Tummy).”  Doddy and Cherish were attempting to hoist Ashley over the heads of those jammed together blocking the bar, while Sarah and myself were still trying to shove JD through to the booze.  It was a slow moving, messy process, and I was going half out of my mind with thirst.


       greenbeer People continued to stream in by the dozens, and soon lifting your bottle to your mouth would likely cause you to elbow someone in the face, back, or abdomen, were they very tall.  Despite smoking being temporarily banned in Scranton bars through the efforts of a bunch of douche high schoolers, a cloud of it still hung in the room and fogged the already dim, murky atmosphere.  Green fuzzy hats were tossed randomly in the air, and the Quiet Man Society attempted to sing “The Wild Colonial Boy” over Kartoom’s spirited dismantling of Toto’s “Africa.”  They too were marching later (The Quiet Man Society, not Toto) and had apparently decided to tie one on before the long trek of the parade route.


        Over the bar I spotted Ashley crowd surfing, Doddy and Cherish having lost their grip on her, and they all looked mighty parched.  I managed to fight my way forward and ordered a sextet of beers when the bartender came to me, and I promptly gathered the bottles up. 


        This ordeal being what it was, it was twenty after nine when I reached Sarah, leaning against a pole, exhausted.  JD was still fighting the good fight, but really wasn’t making any headway.  I had managed to get two of the seven beers back with me, the others stolen, dropped, flung, traded for beads, or dumped on the way.  We clinked them quickly and drank before anyone from our group spotted us.  That first beer of the day is always the best, isn’t it?  Even if it is 9:20 in the morning and everyone you’re with has a three hour head start. 


        My phone rang, but I didn’t hear it.  We were searching frantically for our group, which had spread throughout the joint.  I would randomly spot one of our group’s t-shirts, or see Ashley bob up in the crowd, as she continued getting tossed around like a buoy, but besides the girlfriend the only person I still had in view consistently was JD, still three feet from the bar, shouting violently for booze like he was on the floor of the stock market.


        I checked my phone for the time and saw the missed call.  Angie.  I felt bad, but knew even if I had answered I wouldn’t have been able to hear her.  I just hoped she’d find us, but didn’t know how the hell that would happen.  It was around now that I figured our time to leave was at hand.  This Tink’s was turning out to be colossal bullshit on all counts.  I shouted this into Sarah’s ear, but she only looked at me doubtfully, and gestured around, as though asking, with this one brief gesture:


“How do you figure we are going to get our friends together and get out of here?  Do you see them anywhere?  I sure don’t.  Ashley is still rising and falling like the tide, and I haven’t seen Zeenat since we came in.  JD’s thirsty and Big Rob might be dead!  How are we going to get back together and leave?  You’re an idiot.” barsurfing


       All in that gesture, swear to God.


        I waved away her lengthy concerns and gestured wildly until I got JD’s attention.  With that classic non-verbal shorthand, I pointed at the girlfriend, then to myself, and thumbed at the door.  He nodded, pointed to the bar (clearly indicated he was going to try and get a drink first), and then made a helicopter motion over his head.  This plainly stated that he would spread the word to our group that it was go time when he saw them.  I gave him a thumbs up, he returned it, and that was that.


       The girlfriend again gave me a look, which stated in general terms:


 “Oh yeah?  You think that’ll work?  That’s ridiculous.  He won’t find everyone and we’ll be stuck on the sidewalk in front of this goddamn nightmare all day!  I think we should just pull the fire alarm.” 


I motioned to Sarah to take it easy, and she motioned back something along the lines of what very vulgar thing I should do to myself in the meantime.


       Sarah and I went outside and figured we’d wait for the group there.  I killed time asking everyone in line if they were or knew Tom Pagano, and Sarah tried to get drinks passed to her from inside the bar.  Neither of us was successful.


Finally!  Tink’s just might be receding in the rearview mirror!  Will all of our motley party regroup on the sidewalk?  Will Angie ever join up with the merry band of revelers and get a little toasted?  What are the odds of Tom Pagano turning up this fine Parade Day?  Only a breathalyzer can ignite the next account of Scranton and Parade Day, likely entitled, Forget Thy Father and Refuse Thy Smirnoff!

And now, the continuation of the dizzy spell preceding the massive coronary: 


        “Where’s my fucking shirt?” Amanda roared over the phone.  I was still in line at Tink’s, which was so packed that arms and legs seemed to protrude from the windows and cracks in the masonry.  The amazing crush of humanity inside was mirrored on the sidewalk in front of the building, where the string of the shamrocked stretched down and around the corner onto Adams.  Funny enough, Amanda was on Adams herself, at the Bog, only a few hundred feet away, and yelling into my ear.the bog

        “It’s here!” I told her.  She was clearly blasted out of her skull, which seemed almost impossible this early in the morning, but nonetheless the proof was in her voice, and general demeanor.

        “Hey!” she shouted.


        “Where’s my fucking shirt?”

        “Who are you with?” I asked.  We were approaching the doorway now, beyond which there didn’t appear to be any spot unoccupied by a human, a table, a pole, or a staircase.  It was a mass of elements, impenetrable to the eye, and I wondered how we were ever going to get to the bar, and why we were even trying.

        “Spike!” Amanda roared in reply, and a loud ‘Whoooooo!’ went up from her end of the call, presumably from Spike, whoever that was.

        “We’ll be going to the HoJo soon, just meet us there,” I told her.  Our group was now passing IDs to the biceps working the door, and I needed to get off the phone to do the same.

        “Okay,” Amanda said, sounding uninterested, or distracted, then roared again, “Hey!  Where’s my fucking shirt?” She laughed and hung up before I could say anything more.

        I spotted a poster near the door for Tink’s Parade Day festivities.  There were a number of bands playing throughout the day, some doing two sets spread apart, but we’d hit the only time slot for the band currently murdering “Comfortably Numb” inside.  The disjointed and jangly notes were beating us into submission through the open door, but the crowd just ahead of us in the dark of the room seemed to be enjoying themselves.  I wasn’t too excited at the prospect of this noise filling my every tangible thought once the cover was paid, but there was no turning back now.  The band, of course, was Kartoom.

       “Figures,” I muttered.

kartoom        “Why is this band familiar?” Sarah yelled at me, by way of conversing in the cacophony.  I did my best to shout the explanation at her.  Kartoom was a cover band who played primarily in a bowling alley in the aforementioned hellhole that is Wilkes Barre.  Some folks I knew from my miserable job as a medical claims processor arranged their lives around the exploits of this group, and followed them all over.  I found this a ridiculous way to spend one’s spare time, and told them this, as well as informing the girlfriend, which then meant that I was utilizing my spare time poorly, as I spent it talking about this bowling alley cover band from Wilkes Barre.  And now, here they were.

        We were packed in chest to spine to elbow to groin and slowly tried to fight our way toward the booze.  Even in this canned ham atmosphere, the spirit of Parade Day cheer wasn’t dampened.  Our group still hooted and hollered and did their best to nod along to the teeth rattling rendition of “Disco Duck” being puked all over the crowd.  We moved forward slowly but cheerfully, all except Big Rob, who was trying to make time with some college chick who had gotten stuck in our midst.  She was amenable to Rob’s shouted compliments, and so his beer soaked clothes didn’t dampen his spirits.

        I sent Angie a text message that said “Tinks. Crowded.  Call wjhen ykou gert hherrmemsk” as my arm got slapped around quite a bit in the crowd and I hit send before I could correct the typos. 

        I thought to try and find my work friends, as I knew they must be there somewhere, but as yet I could barely see my girlfriend in front of my face, so crushed up against her hair and green shamrocky crown as I was.  We inched forward en masse, like a football offensive formation of the 1920s, with 4Life leading the way and the rest of us arranged as a wedge, shoving forward.


If Tink’s is this crowded, what must the Bog be like? That place is the size of my girlfriend’s studio apartment’s bathroom!  Who exactly is this yukster named Spike?  And how does a band manage to screw up the melodic masterwork that is “Disco Duck”?  It’s BYOB at the next account of Scranton and Parade Day, likely entitled All the World’s a Distillery!

And now, two parts vodka, a shot of Jameson’s, a splash of tonic water, and a crushed Oreo equals: 


        “This reminds me of San Diego.”  Ashley said, looking down at her shirt.  We were walking down the ever-thickening sidewalk toward the parade route on Washington, still not blocked off, as it was only 8:30.  We all had the same t-shirts on, except for the recent additions to our posse – JD and Big Rob, who were mostly wearing their last drinks on their shirts.  Big Rob was wearing someone else’s.  I looked down at my shirt, as did most of us now.

        “The shirt?” I asked Ashley.  “It reminds you of San Diego?”

        “Yeah,” she answered, and oddly enough, her sister Cherish nodded in agreement.

        “San Diego?” Sarah asked. “Like ‘Go fuck yourself, San Diego!‘ San Diego?”

        “The font,” Ashley told her. 

        “San Diego has its own font?” I asked.  I had never been to San Diego, a streak which continues to this day.

carmen-sandiego-boozin        “No, the show.  Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” she explained.  “Doesn’t it?”

        “That was kinda after my time,” I told her, and all the kids laughed at my broken down old self.  It reminded me of the time in the schoolhouse when I spilled my ink well. 

        “She wasn’t actually from San Diego, was she?” Sarah asked.  “Carmen Sandiego, I mean.”

        “I don’t know.”  Cherish and Ashley looked back at their shirts, as though the evidence of Carmen Sandiego’s origin might be on there somewhere. 

        “She’s dead now, that woman from the show,” I chimed in, impressed with myself for even knowing such a thing.

        “Really?  Linda Ellerbee?” Sarah asked.

        “What?  No, not Linda Ellerbee.  She wasn’t on that show.”

        “Yeah, she was,” Sarah insisted.

        “That was Nick News,” Doddy told her.

        “She was on Carmen Sandiego, too.”

        “I meant the chief,” I said, trying to steer it back to the point.  “Lynne Thigpen.  Shes dead.”

Thigpen Ellerbee        “So is Linda Ellerbee.  Dead.”  Sarah nodded, but I could tell she was questioning this statement as soon as she said it. 

        “No she’s not,” I felt fairly confident in saying.

        “This looks just like that font,” Ashley added.

        Big Rob was ringing out his sweater, and Zeenat had hung back away from the Dead or Alive conversation, text messaging her boyfriend Gene, who was supposed to meet up with us later.  It occurred to me that I’d now have to update my sister as to where we were, or else she would end up in the vortex that was Brixx’s.  As I didn’t know where we were going yet I sent her a text message that only said “Not at Brixx’s.  Stay tuned.” 

        We got to Linden Street, the heart of the parade route, where the grandstand had been in years past.  It was on Washington now, maybe to disassociate it from the multitude of bars populating Linden.  There were lines at Farley’s on the corner with Adams Street, and at Tink’s, squatting in the middle of the block like some sort of row house nightclub.  Neither looked terribly appealing, but we thought maybe Tink’s would be novel, as it was rumored this was the last year that the messy, three story vomitorium would be open.

        The mammoth Electric City sign sat on the same side of the street as Tink’s, on top of a different building in the row, and had only recently been relit after years and years of sitting dead.  Later on, the sign would serve as a beacon for some of the more inebriated members of our party to meet up, as you can see its orange and yellow lights pretty much anywhere in town, but right now, it was just a green metal outline against the clear blue sky. 

        In the gutter, in front of this building, lay a St. Patty’s bedecked sot, face up, eyes barely open and fixed.  He looked dead, but people kept walking by without a second look.  I thought it was worth a shot, so I went over to the guy as the group went to the line at Tink’s.

        “Hey,” I called down to him, as though shouting down a well.  I figured this might have a chance of reaching him at his no doubt cavernous depth.

        The man’s eyes took a second adjusting, and he raised a hand to shield himself from the sun.  “Hrrrmmm?” he asked, sort of.

Faceles        “Are you Tom Pagano?” I asked.

        “Wha?”  He coughed and his head lolled back and forth a second, as though his neck was broken. 

        “Are you Tom Pagano?” I repeated, losing hope.

        “No!  No I’m not, for the love of God.”

        “Do you know who he is?” I asked.  “Where can I find him?”

        “I don’t know him!  Stop asking!  Leave me alone!  I’m nobody, nobody!”

        It was weird all right. “Fair enough,” I told him, and joined everyone else in line.

It’s 8:30 already?  Time is just galloping swiftly into oblivion over here!  What does San Diego’s font look like?  Where is Tom Pagano?  And really, how can you confuse Lynne Thigpen and Linda Ellerbee?!  Questions will continue to rise and disappear like Whigs in the next account of Scranton and Parade Day, likely entitled To Sleep Perchance to Drink!

And now, the furtherance of the Milwaukee’s Best Ice sponsored epoch: 


        Mere seconds had passed since the Pagano objective revealed itself when my phone started a-buzzing.  I had two text messages, one from JDMiller4Life, and the other from my sister Angie.  JD was telling us to get over to Brixx stat, as there was some manner of happy hour situation and we needed to be on it.  Angie wanted to meet up and get her shirt, as Sarah carried the extras with her in a sack.  I typed in response “On the way” and “Brixx,” respectively, and we set off.

brixx        Brixx isn’t a normal starting line for the great marathon that is Parade Day, but it’s not half as lame as some places.  During the course of the day we’d hear stories about people who opened up their days at bars (acceptable), bar/restaurants (less acceptable), restaurants (barely acceptable), and Dunkin Donuts (unacceptable – as the phrase America Runs on Dunkin’ may be the reason for all the fat ass kids torpidly wandering the streets and sitting in front of television sets, watching commercials for artery-clogging garbage like Dunkin’ Donuts).  We, however, had technically started in the kitchen, before breakfast, and that was the most acceptable of all.  It was beyond acceptable.  It was exemplary.  The way they started at the HoJo may be the only thing better, and that was starting on the previous day and not stopping for rest, sleep, food, or general complaints from the authorities until the parade was well over and it was time for Sunday brunch. 

        JD and his roommate Big Rob were rocking the house in a very cramped way when we arrived at Brixx and spotted them through the front window.  They were pressed up against the glass like a pair of socks in the washer, faces smushed against the pane, beers in hand a foot away from their mouths.  Behind them was seemingly the entire order of Hiberians in the middle of a heated jigging competition with the Knights of Pythias, all marching later, all crowded into the same room.  The line to get in was four across and four dozen deep, so we stood and waited and watched as our friends inside uncomfortably attempted to get beers to mouths, but with limited success.

        I met Sarah through JD at a party at Marywood, where they both were juniors (or sophomores, or freshmen, I have no idea).  I had been out of school a few years, contemplating going back or taking that job working with a drill, a shovel, and a dream in a quarry just north of Halifax, which would’ve been a bastard of a commute. JD and I used to act in plays together – terrible, hackneyed plays with puns in the titles and no asses in the seats.

sign        It was Fat Tuesday, and from time to time I’d find myself at JD’s apartment, playing the beer pong and drinking the absinthe.  This was before one of his roommates convinced himself he was a samurai and one of the whores Sarah lived with would begin a new plague with her rancid vagina that is still killing livestock in the Pacific Northwest.  Sarah lived in an apartment down the way, and happened to be at this party.  I’d like to say that I instantly knew she was the pants face for me, but it’s not true.  The next day I could remember talking to a girl for a while, and that she was pretty cute, but particulars escaped me as I’d gotten blackout drunk, vomited on my car, and woke up face down half naked on the bathroom floor.  So while my appeal to her is obvious, it was only after extended phone conversations about her French horn playing and my never having visited Buffalo that we got together.  Kismet, ladies and gentlemen.

        Despite no one exiting the bar, more bodies were ushered in until we finally made it through the doors ourselves, where we stopped dead at a massive wall of humanity.  People kept moving and darting around, snaking in lines through the crowd, but no space ever opened up.  We stood on the edge and peered in, as though gaping at a giant, lethal machine that was likely to take a leg or worse if we got too close to it. 

        JD and Big Rob were in there getting tossed around, and from time to time I’d spot 4Life’s Red Sox hat bob up in the crowd.  Waitresses with trays of drinks would float by, somehow managing to stay upright and clothed, and I was impressed by their lack of mishaps until Big Rob finally reached our group, said hi, and was blasted in the chest by a falling beer.  The waitress sort of apologized, and promptly disappeared into the crowd.  It was then we decided to leave.

Holy Freeholy!  Bar Numero Uno was a nightmare!  How do we progress from here?  What does San Diego have to do with the future episodes of this wicked pisser tale?  Confusing indeed and so it will continue in the next account of Scranton and Parade Day, likely entitled Smell Your Way to HoJo’s!

And now, the ill-conceived and ill-executed one-joke opus continues: 


     Sarah’s friends were a fun bunch from all over, having converged on Scranton for the big day.  The girlfriend invited them without really considering that she didn’t live in the apartment anymore, but that wasn’t a problem.  We had visitors on Parade Day before, as I suspect did many households in and around the area.  It’s that sort of day, when family and friends get together and drink without compulsion or embarrassment.  It’s a lot like Thanksgiving, I suppose, just without the football, giblets, and forced family bonding. 


eastern_us0        I can never keep straight where Sarah’s friends come from exactly.  They are spread out all over New York State, in addition to a friend she brought from her current zip code, 60610, Chicago, where the girlfriend was going to school to become a doctor of psychology and earn big “fuck you” money.  I had recently completed my Master’s in Creative Writing, which was yet to score me much of anything besides sideward glances, derision, and debt.  We managed to maintain this long distance relationship through trust, understanding, and an In-Calling plan from Verizon that couldn’t be beat.


        To make a long recounting of the first few minutes of the day somewhat shorter, everyone got ready.  The t-shirts we slaved over the night before were all green and white and “Whoo hoo!” and “Erin go bragh” (which I’ve always suspected just means that Erin is wearing undergarments) and “Begorrah” this and “Slainte” that and so on.  For an only somewhat Irish group, not including me or my girlfriend for the purposes of this recounting, we looked like a bunch of Patty O’Malleys off the boat.


achieva        It was one big estrogen fest as we descended onto town.  My apartment was in North Scranton, adjacent to The Plot section of town (which floods when anyone sneezes too hard), and immediately before Dickson City (where the chain stores and restaurants now outnumber the residents 2 to 1).  Downtown proper was about seven minutes away by car, a half hour on foot, forty-five minutes by pack bearing donkey, and a dozen or so odd hours by hopscotch.  The girls loaded into my car, a kick ass old man Oldsmobile Achieva, which smelled vaguely of garbage and death when the temperature got over freezing, and we set off, passing a flask of Nikolai vodka around like we were trying to survive a trip to Siberia.


        Seven minutes later we parked the car at the Mall at Steamtown (where later someone would throw up), and started making our way through the already bustling streets toward the hotel.  It was around 8ish, and the parade was still a few hours off, but you wouldn’t know it from the activity on the sidewalks, in the gutters, and around the blow horn vendors.  Clusters of four leaf clovers and shillelaghs slammed into each other in the mild crowds camping out on the curbs, and brown paper bags seemed to be at the end of every arm.  Like any sensible city, Scranton has an open container law, but this is circumvented, illogically, by carrying your booze in a bag, with an open end still visible at the top.  Sense?  It makes no sense.


stormy-atm        I had to pop off at the ATM, as we’d be heading to bars eventually and I don’t tend to carry cash, and found one before long that didn’t have a surcharge.  Sarah and Doddy and Cherish and Ashley and Zeenat (the aforementioned girls) waited with a slight collective buzz on as I got to the machine and found a card already hanging out of the slot like a plastic tongue.  I took it out and looked it over.


        “Tom Pagano?” I asked the card, reading the name on it, and the card seemed to nod in response.  Could this character already be so hammered that he left his ATM card in the machine by mistake?  No, no, it was too early for that, surely. It occurred to me that this could be my goal for the day, in lieu of not drinking.  Finding Tom Pagano.


        “Why don’t you just throw the card away?” the girlfriend asked me.


        “Maybe he needs money!” I responded.


        “But he just came from the ATM.”  This seemed logical, but I had a feeling I’d find this Pagano somehow, on Parade Day, in the crowd of three million that packed the bars and street corners.


        Okay, three million is part of the fictional end of the story.


Jiminy Christmas!  Is it possible even less happens in this story than originally thought?  Who is this Tom Pagano anyway?  Can you get “fuck you” money just from working a regular job without an additional means of income?  What if you invest “fuck you” money?  Do they become “fuck you” stocks and bonds?  And just how long does it take for one to hopscotch across a city? These questions and a multitude of others will be ignored in the next thrillingly intoxicated episode in the account of Scranton and Parade Day, likely entitled She Drank Not Wisely But Too Well!

And now, the continuation of the drunkest story ever told: 



        I was working on clearing the old head of cobwebs after only five hours of sleep (it having been a somewhat late night of sweatshop-style Parade Day t-shirt manufacturing) while the sound of beers being cracked open reverberated from downstairs, when the phone rang.  I checked the clock again – found only minutes had elapsed – and couldn’t imagine who would call before that lazy ass sun got over the horizon.


        “Erm,” I said by way of answering, “hello?”

        “Hey.”  It was my cousin, the Batman, unmistakably.  The sound of that one syllable summed up his whole character.  It was brusque, somewhat bitter (perhaps at the hour), and yet with slight cheer in it, as though hopeful that good times may be on the way.  That was the Batman all right – looking for fun, but a little bent out of shape at the general process of living. 


        “How’s it going, Bats?” I asked.  “Bit early, isn’t it?”




quarters-drinking-game1        “What? Are you kidding?” he responded.  “We haven’t gone to bed.  I’m at the HoJo since last night, and Keith is getting his second wind for the fourth time since midnight.  We’re playing quarters soon.  What were you doing, sleeping?  That’s weak!”


        “No, no, Sarah just woke me up.”

        “Well you better get your shit together, Chester, and get down here.  There’s still some hummus, but it’s been sitting out for ten hours now, so I wouldn’t recommend eating it if you get here after, say, eleven.  But that’s not gonna happen, right?”  Batman’s question sounded threatening, as though if I didn’t get everyone in the car a.s.a.p. he might reach through the phone and slap my brains out, but I knew to be just a question nonetheless.


        “I’ve got all these girls here who need to get ready,” I told him.  “We might not even get down there before the parade starts.”


        “You are a huge gaylord if you don’t.”  The loud ruckus accompanying quarters being slammed off a table erupted on his end, and I could barely hear him tell me to hurry the hell up before the phone clicked and he was gone. 


choculadrinking        I wasn’t about to go downstairs yet, as I had no idea how many people I might find, and wasn’t really prepared for the kegs and eggs.  In truth, we didn’t have any eggs, so it would have been more like kegs and Count Chocula, but still, I wasn’t interested. 


        Most years, drinking would begin the night before the parade, as a pre-game, tailgating overture to the big show that was the parade itself, despite the unlikelihood any of us would actually see it winding through the streets.  The hotel wasn’t on the route, and once you start drinking going to watch the floats drive past at three miles an hour isn’t terribly exciting.  You might catch a glimpse of it on the way to a bar or to grab a pretzel from a green festooned vendor, but that was about it.  


This year we chose not to drink before Saturday, as I personally had been forced to miss a number of Parade Days over the years by going way overboard on the eve, turning the prologue into the story itself, and killing my day, which I would instead spend vomiting and feeling generally miserable. 

        I’d debated not drinking on Parade Day itself this year either, curious whether it would hold any appeal this way.  Do adults care about parades?  It’s a lot like Halloween in that respect – once you reach your teens, the fun is more or less gone.  You can’t go to your neighbors to pester them for treats, and the only real fun left is going to parties or bars or clubs, all of which involve girls dressed like whores, and of course booze, at least to be any fun.  Parade Day, just like Halloween, New Year’s, the Fourth of July, and Thursday, becomes just another drinking holiday as you get older.  It just goes to further emphasize the reality of being an adult – it can really suck sometimes. 


      Needless to say, I abandoned this idea of teetotalism almost as soon I conceived it. 


It’s really tearing along now, isn’t it?  Less than ten minutes have elapsed on Parade Day thus far, and there is no plot in sight!  Can you possibly stick with it for the presumed Episode Three to follow?  Has interest flagged to the point that the next part will need to be fraught with dick jokes?  Find out in the onrushing perilous installment of this woefully regarded account of Scranton and Parade Day, likely entitled Get Thee to a Brewery!