Ode To The Son Of A Bricklayer

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You, like everyone else, entered this world naked and exposed. You had nothing more than basic instincts, your very essence still tethered to your mother.

From that moment, however, upon that very solid foundation, a life was built. It blossomed into a life beyond compare, beyond the dreams of your parents, perhaps even beyond what you could imagine once you were able to imagine.

And it was all because you were the son of a bricklayer.

A man erecting the foundation for a new building recently said, “There aren’t many Continue Reading “Ode To The Son Of A Bricklayer”

Did You Know About This Sizzling Greater Western New York Hidden Gem?

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How many times have you heard the phrase “Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle?” or some similar variation? It’s almost a universal axiom in marketing and sales. But did you know its connection to the Greater Western New York Region (and Rochester in particular)?

I actually came upon this hidden gem quite by accident. I often binge read old books on favorite subject areas. My theory behind this is simple: “What’s old is new again.” Of course, this idea isn’t new.

In 1858, George Eliot wrote in Scenes of Clerical Life, “History, we know, is apt to repeat itself, and to foist very old incidents upon us with only a slight change in costume.”

With that in mind, I used to binge on old movies. That same principle held there, too.

If you’re familiar with the reason I wrote The Macaroni Kid, (performed by the Monsignor Schnacky Players in 2009), you’ll recognize how this idea can be used in real life.

At the time, I wanted to test the hypothesis that good humor is eternal. So I wrote a Continue Reading “Did You Know About This Sizzling Greater Western New York Hidden Gem?”

Here’s Why You Always Ask The Obvious Question

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Photo by Troy Sherk from FreeImagesHow many times does this happen to you?

Someone asks you for help in dealing with another person. It could be a negotiation, it could be to convince them, it might even be to ask them for a favor. You judiciously listen to their plight, absorbing where each party stands and what exactly the person seeking your help wants.

In your mind, you construct a verbal argument carefully built to nudge the other party towards the position sought by your friend. You start by suggesting your associate ask the Continue Reading “Here’s Why You Always Ask The Obvious Question”

Confessions of a Hamburger Historian

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Have you ever eaten something so delicious you just can’t wait to get your hands on the recipe? You know how the next question is always, “I wonder who was the first person to make this delicious dish?”

Well, if you haven’t guessed by now, I show hungry hamburger enthusiasts the answer to who sold the first hamburger in my book Hamburger Dreams. Indeed, for the past three years, every May (National Beef Month) and, in particular, every May 28th (National Hamburger Day), I’m invited to appear in media across the country to explain how I used classic crime solving techniques to crack the case of America’s greatest culinary mystery.

Do you want to know what I’m asked most often?Continue Reading “Confessions of a Hamburger Historian”

Don’t Let Them Divide and Conquer Us

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Mattes, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia CommonsA while back I ran across a reporter’s query. It seemed this journalist wanted to know if the “right-wing” is decentralizing the Internet. That struck me as an odd thing to ask given most feel it is the “left-wing” that kicked the “right-wing” out of the clubhouse.

But, hey, if you want to sow division, this is the way to do it.

In 1894, five years before he became governor of New York State, Theodore Roosevelt wrote ever so eloquently of the need to come together as one nation and avoided the divide and conquer strategy that serves America’s enemies well:Continue Reading “Don’t Let Them Divide and Conquer Us”

‘There Must Be A Pony In Here Somewhere!’

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If you’re old enough to remember simpler times, you’ll recall this title as the punch-line to one of President Reagan’s favorite jokes. The gag revealed not only Reagan’s engaging sense of humor, but also a lot about his political philosophy and his outlook on life.

The essence of the story goes something like this. It’s Christmas morning and two young brothers hurriedly amble towards the Christmas tree to discover their gifts. On one side lay piles of wonderful toys for one of the boys. He looked at it and sorrowfully said, “They’ll all be broken in a day or two.” The other boy’s gift, on the other side of the tree, was nothing but a pile of manure. He quickly grabbed a shovel and began to dig, joyfully telling his dour sibling, “There’s must be a pony in here somewhere!”

It’s the age-old tale of the wonders of optimism contrasted with the annoyance of Continue Reading “‘There Must Be A Pony In Here Somewhere!’”

The Great American Maxim: Stand Alone And Win

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The Conqueror“The game was created to demonstrate the futility of individual effort. Let the game do its work… If a champion defeats the meaning for which the game was designed, then he must lose.”

So says Mr. Bartholomew in 1975’s classic film Rollerball. It’s an American tale. An epic retelling of the classic mantra that fills the heart of every red-blooded citizen from the very founding of our country.

Don’t believe me? Just look at some of the most popular books, films, or any other place where a character must confront personal and public obstacles in heroic fashion. The most compelling of those stories are built around a single individual.

No, it doesn’t take a village to succeed, it takes self-discipline, self-reliance, and, ultimately, Continue Reading “The Great American Maxim: Stand Alone And Win”

It’s Easier For Greater Western New York To Become Its Own State Than For Washington DC To Achieve Statehood

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Greater Western New YorkThere’s a verse in the Bible about it being easier “for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24 for those keeping score.) The latest escapades out of the House of Representatives got me thinking about this.

There’s also something about power that brings out the sorrowful worst in people, at once exposing their ego as well as their ignorance. Once again, the House provider fodder for this feeling.

Last Thursday, while you were reading the third part on The Story of Abraham Parrish, the House decided it was time for Washington DC to become a state.

No. Seriously. They actually did this.

It won’t go far in the Senate, or so promises Chuck Schumer. We’ll see. Like I said, power Continue Reading “It’s Easier For Greater Western New York To Become Its Own State Than For Washington DC To Achieve Statehood”

The Story of Abraham Parrish, Mendon’s First Tavern Keeper (Part III)

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1838 - Rochester in 1812 (showing first 'hotel') - Sketches of Rochester

Rochester in 1812 (showing first ‘hotel’). Source: Sketches of Rochester, 1838

Abraham Parrish had front row seats to watch his older brother Jasper become a success. And what a role model Jasper was. As a boy, Jasper had been captured by Indians in the immediate aftermath of the Wyoming Massacre in 1778, sold as a slave among various tribes, beaten mercilessly, nearly killed for a guinea when the British put a bounty on Yankee scalps, until he was finally bought by a Mohawk named “Captain Hill” for $20.29

Captain Hill so admired Jasper and Jasper so admired Captain Hill, that in 1780, the Captain formally adopted Jasper in a traditional Iroquois ceremony. In turn, Jasper came to Continue Reading “The Story of Abraham Parrish, Mendon’s First Tavern Keeper (Part III)”

The Story of Abraham Parrish, Mendon’s First Tavern Keeper (Part II)

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Source: Ontario County Times, April 16, 1897

When last we left the family of Zebulon Parish, they had packed up their bags and the young’uns, including the toddler Abraham, and ventured out into the frontier wilderness of Connecticut. The family landed right smack dab in the middle of a hornet’s nest. More on that in a moment.

Abraham Parrish was born on March 30, 1772. There’s a couple of things you should know about Abraham: one which you’re already asking; and one which you probably don’t know enough to ask.

First, as you might have noticed, Abraham’s last name contains two r’s (“Parrish”) while his father (and his three oldest brothers Jacob, Nathan, and Isaac), kept the original spelling with one r (“Parish”).15 It’s not clear why.

Here’s the thing you likely don’t know: Abraham was Continue Reading “The Story of Abraham Parrish, Mendon’s First Tavern Keeper (Part II)”