Naked in the Bathroom

He was naked. In the handicap stall. In the men’s room. Sitting on the toilet. At Bally’s in Atlantic City. You could see in the stall because the door was not flush. He was Asian. Naked.

The great dice controller Jerry “Stickman” and I were on our Odyssey in Atlantic City. The Odyssey is a single day where we pool our money, and go to all the casinos on the Boardwalk (now just five of them as opposed to the 12 in AC’s glory days), where we play one hand of Pai Gow Poker, two hands of blackjack, two hands of mini-baccarat, $40 in a $5 slot machine (one credit per decision) and we each take the dice two times at the casinos whose tables fit our criteria — we have to get our spots and we want 12-foot, standard-bounce tables. If we can’t get that we skip playing craps.

Naturally, except for craps, we are not playing with an edge at any of these games. We don’t wait for high counts in blackjack or find tables where we can get the edge banking at Pai Gow Poker and there is no way to beat mini-baccarat. We don’t bet much at these games, just $25 on each decision. Obviously, there is no edge to be had at $5 slot machines. So in games where no edge is to be had, our tactic is to play very, very few decisions and pray.

At craps we go with our normal bets, obviously far bigger than the bets we make at the other games. This trip we ended at Tropicana where we had a great meal at Carmines. This Odyssey also allows me to scout out the various casinos to see what’s what.

Did we win? Yes. Just barely at the games where we had no edge thanks to a hit on the last slot machine we played. That’s short-term luck. And the power of prayer.

In craps we both had consistently good rolls so skill won out on our Odyssey.

In fact our almost-week in Atlantic City saw me shooting damn well, consistently hitting repeating numbers (which is a wonderful thing). We basically played at 6 am and 9 am with a break in between for breakfast. We did not play evenings or afternoons (except once each when a table was open).

And what of the awesome Stickman, the great, amazingly great, the dice controller with the perfect throw? He wasn’t as consistent as I. Poor lad. All he did was explode several times for monster rolls tickling the 50 mark! It was a dream trip, that’s for sure. Up from the first session and building each session from there. (Let me caution you: It doesn’t always go that way.) Great games; great conversations; great meals. A player’s dream trip.

And then there was this naked guy in the bathroom at Bally’s.

The moment we entered Bally’s from the Boardwalk, there on the stairs leading to the casino were three drug (heroin) addicts, two guys and a girl. I knew them (generically) from my life in New York City. Droopy eyes; sneers from the guy who was most awake; with the girl — totally zonked leaning on his belly — with the second guy blinking to stay awake.

Jerry “Stickman” recognized them too — Memphis had been good schooling for him in this world peopled with the zoned-out dregs of society.

In the casino, which was somewhat crowded, there they were, leaning against the walls, maybe every hundred to two hundred feet apart, the “salesmen.” The druggie would go to a salesman, tell him (they were all men) what he wanted, and then pay the salesman who would use his phone to call the “distributor” who was somewhere else in the building or outside the building.

The salesmen were throughout the casino. In the lobby too and in the portico where you crossed over into Caesars – brazenly standing right there – yet we saw none of these guys in Caesars.

It was then we headed for the restroom; going through the lobby which was empty except for a salesman waiting for orders. In the bathroom was a maintenance man trying to fix a stall door.

Inside the bathroom, we talked:

“Trump Plaza has moved here,” said Stickman.

“Yeah,” I said. “The outer world is closing in on the Boardwalk casinos.”

“Will the casinos last?”

“I really don’t know,” I said. “Resorts looked pretty crowded.”

“Bally’s is becoming the dumping ground from the Trump Dump.”

“Except Bally’s casino is bright and inviting; although some of the wrong people have accepted the invitation,” I said.

Trump Plaza had become known as the Trump Dump and it was always inhabited by the druggies. Its closing was cheered by many casino players who would no longer play in a casino where so many hazy creatures slithered along.

Then I saw the naked guy in the bathroom. He was in the handicap stall; just sitting there. He was Asian and he stared down and then lifted his head and stared straight ahead, then down, then straight ahead — over and over.

I didn’t know if Stickman had seen him. He was at the urinal and I tapped him on the shoulder.

I whispered, “There’s a naked guy in there.”

He whispered back, “Yes. Let me finish peeing.”

“Sorry,” I said and headed out of the bathroom. I passed by the maintenance man who was feverishly trying to fix the stall door.

“That was weird,” said Stickman as he left the bathroom.

“What do you think that was? He loses not only his shirt but also the rest of his clothes?”

“I don’t know. This place is really bringing in the wrong crowd,” said Stickman.

“If this were Vegas they might be able to throw out the drug crowd. I don’t know if they can do that in Atlantic City.”

Stickman nodded. I shook my head.

My God, a naked guy in the bathroom of a casino that had so many of the wrong types seemingly thriving.

That might be more of a herald of Atlantic City’s demise as anything else.

[Read Frank Scoblete’s books I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack, I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps and Confessions of a Wayward Catholic! All available from Amazon.com, on Kindle and electronic media, at Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.]

 

Birds of a Feather

When I first took up birding in late September of 2016, I figured two things; that the majority of birders would be nuts or so severely neurotic that they could pass for nuts, and second, that the entire group would be composed of progressive leftists and Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders Democrats.

I got those ideas over the years by knowing nothing about birding or birders, and my first talk with a birder on one of my first South Shore Audubon Society birding walks incorrectly confirmed the progressive nature of the birding population.

I opened my conversation with this woman by relating that my recent trip to Cuba disgusted me by the filth, poverty, and unemployment of the country. Even the ships in the harbor were rusty! [Read http://frankscoblete.com/cuba-triumph-revolution/, October 15, 2017)

She listened to me and then said she and her husband were really impressed by the country and the people on their trip to Cuba. That had to be impossible because every other building was a decaying dump and little had been done to fix the crumbling once-great architecture of Havana. I didn’t argue with her because she was fierce in her belief in Castro’s revolution; a true progressive, she probably cut her teeth on the 1960’s love for the Communist movement.

She didn’t have anything negative to say about the revolution’s golden boy, Che Guevara, the official executioner of the regime. He probably lovingly watched the executions of thousands of people — that is, those he wanted executed. I am guessing good old Che was a hero to her as he is to the government of Cuba.

But I was wrong. The birders in our South Shore Audubon Society aren’t anything like a coherent group. Yes, most are of the left but there are plenty of Trump supporters. In New York City and its environs, the leftist Democrats rule by something like two or three to one over Republicans and conservatives. So I found the many rightists in the society surprising.

Now, many of my own opinions are leftist but I do not share the wide-eyed love of communism — a failed, violent philosophy that destroys societies. [Read the Black Book of Communism.] But I do have affection for some of the Trumpian ideas and I respect plenty of the basic conservative principles. I do not, of course, buy into the right-wing evangelism and anti-science nature of the ultra-right.

Aside from the love (or like) of birds, the members of our society are philosophically diverse but they all basically agree on several issues: protection of the environment, protection of our national parks and protection of the habitat of our feathered friends and other animals. Habitat is a key ingredient in the protection of birds.

The rightists and the leftists agree on these principles and that brings everyone together. They are birds of a feather.

[[Read Frank Scoblete’s Confessions of a Wayward Catholic and The Virgin Kiss. Both available from Amazon.com, on Kindle and other electronic media, at Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.]

Waa! Waa! (I Prefer Birds)

 

I was going to write an article about how some people have lost all dignity during the Trump win over Hillary Clinton. But then it hit me when I read a Facebook post by someone who fancies himself a tough guy. He was whining that he will never again speak to anyone who voted for Trump – this included his actual family members. Well, since I didn’t vote for Trump (I didn’t vote for Hillary either) you’d think the guy would want to talk to me.

But no, he gets angry when Facebook friends question some of his silly posts. His masculinity is all show and tell, sadly lacking substance. I’ve questioned my own wife’s posts. I’ve questioned (after careful thinking brought on by my wife saying, “I really think you should rethink what you are writing”) my own posts on Facebook.

It is so embarrassing too seeing people whine and moan.

Think of those riots with the “he is not my President”; recounts that wound up giving Trump more votes; the colleges (bastions of learning!) offering safe spaces, puppies and Playdough for students who are upset that Trump won; then the attempt to get electors to desert Trump (four deserted Hillary and two deserted Trump); now the attempt to get him impeached even before he becomes President and on it goes. Criticism is one thing; whining is another entirely.

In my day as an athlete (in a time and a universe far, far away) if you lost you lost. Hopefully you lost by giving it your best. Publically you took defeat like a man. Hell, the girl athletes took defeat it like a man. It was considered bad form to whine and moan. You congratulated the winner and planned how you could get better and hopefully next time beat those who had beaten you .

When Trump starts making policy; fine, you don’t like it, then open your mouth. I will. If you like it; then open your mouth. I will.

Now, birds are an entirely different story. They can fly. They can fly until they stop flying – usually dead from disease, gun shot, or an attack by another bird or a cat (cats kill over one billion –yes that’s over 1,000,000,000 birds a year). I’ve never heard a bird whine and ask for a recount. In that they are far better than some people.

[Frank Scoblete’s latest book is Confessions of a Wayward Catholic which is available at Amazon.com, Kindle and at bookstores.]

Is America the Land of the Haters?

I know that many of my Facebook friends are quite liberal, some quite leftist, some so far left they are almost right. Others of my friends are conservative, some quite far to the right, some so far right they think of the members of the flat Earth society with love.

Here is my set up for my serious question:

There is a constant litany cautioning about the evils of the “other side” by all of my political friends over the political continuum. If you were to take all the words I have been reading lately from my friends, then add them to all the words of the famous political “talking heads” on television and all the political “writing pens” of all the people in various newspapers and magazines in our country and then shot all those words into space to some alien civilization (the “aliens” are advanced, they can understand English – they don’t have to press “2” for Spanish), those aliens would think, “What is going on in the United States on planet Earth?”

They would continue: “Everyone of any worth in the United States must be evil; the President, the arch-henchwoman Hillary, Dick Cheney, George Bush, people who want to own guns, people who don’t want to own guns, people who don’t want the people who own guns to own guns, the Tea party, the Occupy Protestors, bloated Al Gore, bloated Rush Limbaugh, rapidly losing weight Frank Scoblete whose books can be bought on Amazon and in bookstores. Yes, all the corporate heads are evil; so are bankers, so are small businessmen who must pay their fair share or are these people just little corporate heads in disguise? Donald Trump, George Soros, Sean Hannity, Justin Bieber, Beyonce?”

The aliens might add, “America is a land of racists who don’t like blacks, whites, Asians and ‘none of the above.’ They are haters.”

I am so confused.

Many think of Obama as a far, far leftist – quite close to a communist, a deliberate destroyer of the American dream and the Constitution. Others consider Obama to be a middle-of-the-road Democrat and rail against Bush and his evil company? Some think the right is lunatic; they are “Nutzis.” Hillary’s people think Sanders is a “doofus.”

Those aliens reading all this stuff — and certainly Mark Zuckerberg must have those aliens hooked on interplanetary Facebook (called Tentacle Book) — have to be confused. It seems everyone who claims to love America is pissed off about living in America or about others living in America. Americans are pissed off at politicians, newscasters, writers, talkers, other writers, fast food servers. It seems the United States is the melting pot of discontent. That seems to be the thing most of us have in common.

If so — a serious question now — is our country the most villainous in the world? If not, where do we rate? Is our land filled with devils looking to destroy us for their own good, for their own gains?

So what is the most villainous nation on Earth? If there are better nations than America how come Americans stay here? If it is filled with devils why do we keep letting them burn us?

Please anyone, anyone, please answer this question. Here’s another? Are there any countries so much less villainous than America?

[Read my new book Confessions of a Wayward Catholic.]