Thursday, June 18, 2015

Felice Giorno del Padre: An Italian Father's Day Tribute

by Rose A. Valenta

I'd like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to one of the great men in my life, my Italian grandfather, Alfonso. This was the guy, who let me watch him make homemade wine in the basement and put me wise to the double-standard.

I'd like to make this a heart warming and sensitive human interest story. One that would bring a nostalgic tear to anyone's eye, but let's get real here. Hearts and flowers are for incurable romantics; me, Norman Rockwell, and Virginia Hill all have a lot in common - realism.

I only remember one grandfather, as the other one died before I was born, so Grandpop Alfonso and me had a private joke: As he was sternly meting out discipline to his kids, he was also enjoying the power of being in a position of authority. I caught on to this, as I was the second oldest grandchild, a girl; and for some reason he never yelled at me, but would wink in my direction when he reamed someone else.

As an Italian, he was more than a little strict with his daughters about such things as cussing and smoking in public. He forbade them to smoke at all, saying that it didn't reflect well on their individual character. One of my aunts, who could have given Al Capone a run for his money, was once evicted from the house for an entire summer for saying "wop" (his English wasn't good enough to translate some of her other words), while smoking a cigarette. I think she was also hooked on old Bette Davis movies at the time, because she tended to pace around in her apartment surrounded by smoke rings.

She is 90 years old now. She quit smoking when she was 78 for health reasons.






It was a normal annual routine for my family to chip-in and rent a house to take my grandparents to Seaside Heights, NJ, for an entire month. Then, aunts and uncles would alternate vacation days, so the house could accommodate everyone else for a few days at a time. I was permitted to stay the entire month.

One night I was up on the boardwalk and there was this game being played for packs of cigarettes. I didn't smoke at the time, but the game looked like fun, so I played and won about 10 packs of my grandfather's brand of tobacco.

Needless to say, I became his best friend for the rest of his life. He even shared an ounce of his homemade wine with me to celebrate this friendship. I was only 12.

Every time I went up on the boards, he'd slip me a few dimes and say "Don'ta tella you mom." I always came back with lots of cigarettes. The game hawker even knew me by my first name.

You have to understand that all the women in the family locked themselves in the bathroom to smoke, so he wouldn't catch them. As a kid, I couldn't quite figure out what the consequences would be if they ever got caught.

So, there I was, all my friends were still playing with Betsy-Wetsy dolls, and I was the delivery girl, you know, just like Virginia Hill, delivering Lucky Strikes to my grandfather in the kitchen and Chesterfields and Camels up in the bathroom (solitary confinement) to my mom and aunts. My grandmother was probably watching The Untouchables in the living room because she didn't smoke. Plus, she had this secret crush on Frank Nitti. If it was an episode of The Jersey Shore, she would have been drooling over Paulie D. Little House on the Prairie it wasn't, ya know?

Sometimes when you walked into the bathroom, it looked and smelled much like the back room of an illegal gambling establishment in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. The language wasn't much better either. They all thought they were bad and were laughing and entertaining themselves, thinking they were pulling something over on their old man. However, he did have to "go" once in a while and use the room. So, I think he knew.

Once my cousin Vinnie came down for a few days. He had to "go" and was forced to switch to plan B, the old outhouse. So, he located and loaded up all their cigarettes with those little wooden cigarette loads that blow up when burning tobacco touches them. I think four of my aunts were in the bathroom at the same time, and all of a sudden it sounded like the 4th of July in there with screaming and running mixed into the fireworks.

Downstairs, I heard Grandpop mutter under his breath "Dumba asino ragazze."

Grandpop Alfonso, things have not changed much, so wherever you are, Happy Father's Day!


© Lou Monte via Youtube

©2010-2015, Valenta, All rights reserved.
To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

That Awkward Moment When You Realize You're Getting Punked

Uncle Harry invited himself over for breakfast this morning. I was making corn fritters with maple syrup and the aroma traveled across our water-logged backyard into his bathroom, while he was getting a load off his mind.

He is not supposed to eat corn. The doctor told him that he has diverticulitis. He can’t digest American politics either, but Harry never listens to anyone.

This morning, he walks into my kitchen after making divots in my soggy yard with his flip-flops, and he has a mischievous grin on his face.

“Got any left?” He asked.

“You know that you are not supposed to eat them.” I responded.

“Everything in moderation.” He grinned.

He had The Washington Times folded under one arm.

“That’s why you have diverticulitis.” I said. “You’re obsessed with politics and whack jobs.”

“I like to hit the newspaper with a bingo highlighter.” He said. “The ones with the orange dots should have gone to school to learn how to train killer whales, instead of majoring in political science.”

“Look, I know its gearing up for another flood watch, but can’t you call Dick and play cards or something, instead of reading the Times? You guys like Uno.”

“I think you might be interested in what Carly Farina said about Hillary this morning.” He said.

“Very funny. It’s Fiorina, not Farina, I said.”

“I think we might get another female candidate,” he said.

“Who is it this time, Michelle?”

“No, her name is Caitlyn Jenner.”

“You’re putting me on.”

“No, lookey here:”

Read News Article

“Nice.” I said. They should have used the black outfit on the cover. The Kardashians have screwed up his mind.”

“Did you notice that ever since the State Department conveniently lost Hillary’s signed 109 Form, the Democrats are advocating less transparency,” he exclaimed. “And look at the Treasurer’s report on my laptop.”

“Harry, enough already! Do something transparent and let the cat out, before he pees on your other flip-flop.”

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monday Monologue

by Rose A. Valenta

This past week witnessed more dumb questions that the media asked Republican presidential candidates, Hillary still wrapped up in her cocoon and more corruption exposed.

It reminds me of a Yogi Berra quote “I wish I had an answer to that because I'm tired of answering that question.”

The skinny as follows:

The AP put out this headline: "After Death Sentence, What's Next for Boston Marathon Bomber?" The inmates from the federal penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana, sent them a "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" quiz.

A Fox News host asked Jeb Bush if he would have invaded Iraq, ignoring the obviously more important question “If you were Prescott Bush, would you have stolen Geronimo’s skull and bones and enabled John Kerry to be appointed Secretary of State?”

News reporters have learned how to spell “Stephanopoulos,” since George confessed that he donated $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

Mitt Romney lasted two rounds against five-time heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield at a charity bout in Salt Lake City. Hillary chickened out.

The Australian Minister of Agriculture is now known as "Corilla De Ville" after threatening Johnny Depp's Yorkies.

New York City bookies are taking bets on who David Letterman's last show guests will be. The long shot is his ex-wife, Merrill Markoe, with Boo Boo and Pistol Depp.

The fast-track trade bill failed early Senate test. Josh Ernest usually follows protocol, but after consulting with Luther, Obama’s anger translator, he used the term "snafu" to describe the situation to reporters at the press conference.

An Oklahoma man pleads guilty in deadly 'atomic wedgie' case. Says he hired Mafiosi for the jaboney apocalypse, but they all crapped out.

Penn Jillette: What shocked me about the Republican campaign videos is "It looks like Yogi Berra wrote most of the dialog."

Federal judge agrees to reopen Hillary Clinton email lawsuit. The emails are suing the Bronco driver, who stole the hard drive.

Adam Levine Gets Sugar-Bombed After Talk Show. Says he's lucky he never had a hit song called "Anthrax."

Pope Francis was named Honorary Globetrotter. Says now he'll star in a Dude Perfect video "Shot off the obelisk."

The 80-year-old Brewers broadcaster, Bob Uecker, was locked inside the radio booth mid-game. The good news is he didn't miss anything.

"The Price is Right" gave a treadmill to a lady in a wheel chair, who had no legs. It’s much like surprising Eminem with a visit from his Mom on Mother’s Day.

Bill Clinton says if Hillary wins, he'll move back to White House –“if asked.” Otherwise, he has something going in Chippewa.

© 2010-2015, Valenta, All rights reserved.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here



Monday, May 4, 2015

Monday Monologue

By Rose A. Valenta

This past week saw the riots in Baltimore, more presidential candidates entering the arena and more corruption exposed.

It all reminds me of a Mark Twain quote "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt."

The skinny as follows:

Donald Trump opened up about the Baltimore riots. It was so ineffective, a rap tune is being created in his honor that he can dance to on a perch.


It is going to take a long time to figure out how to train police. It wasn't too many years ago that Irish cops picked on Italians. Anyone with a big nose, who smelled like garlic, was fair game. Jimmy "Schnozzola" Durante once told Hedda Hopper that he and Bob Hope got pulled over more often than Harry Belafonte. Hope was of English descent and ate a lot of Spotted Dick Pudding.

Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island is going to run against Hillary in the primaries. He has changed his political party so often, his name is now an official Dogberryism for skin irritation among both Democrats and Republicans.

Hillary Clinton told reporters that if she loses the election, she will move on... to compete against Sarah Silverman on Comedy Central.

American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby. The horse got his name after his owner mistakenly thought "Pharoah" meant "Great Horse!" in Egyptian Arabic.

The Pope says it's "scandalous" that women earn less than men for doing the same job. "Tips for Jesus" asked if they could quote him on their Instagram account.

The spare heir was born in London. It's a girl! Yogi Berra always said "Women are the best pinch hitters when they are allowed in the game."

A female comedian found a two-way mirror in a Chicago bar bathroom. It is also known as a rearview mirror, depending on which side you're on.

Former Mayor Martin O'Malley says he will announce his presidential bid in Baltimore. Geraldo asked him if he has fire and theft insurance on his vehicle.

Experts question Clinton Foundation’s true charitable spending. While they approve of feeding the hungry, they feel that spending $8 million for staples that you use on paper is being dishonest.

Carly Fiorina is running for president as the anti-Hillary Clinton. Carly says Hillary uses "Let's come together" so often in her political rhetoric, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have asked her to make a Kegel exercise video, to show how that is done.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is also going to go after Hillary. He equates her billionaire-backed campaign to "white-nose syndrome," which killed most of the cave-wintering bats in Vermont in 2009.

Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, is running for president. And everyone thought waterboarding was bad.

Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn split up. The announcement came immediately after she went for the five iron.

© 2010-2015, Valenta, All rights reserved.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here



Monday, April 27, 2015

Monday Monologue

by Rose A. Valenta

Exciting events and headlines for this past week include the White House Correspondents' Dinner, more Hillary bashing and reports about the 1%.

I know, meh!

Just the headlines remind me of a Tony Soprano quote "Let me tell ya something. Nowadays, everybody's gotta go to shrinks, and counselors, and go on "Sally Jessy Raphael" and talk about their problems. What happened to Gary Cooper? The strong, silent type. That was an American. He wasn't in touch with his feelings. He just did what he had to do. See, what they didn't know was once they got Gary Cooper in touch with his feelings that they wouldn't be able to shut him up! And then it's dysfunction this, and dysfunction that, and dysfunction vaffancul!"

The skinny as follows:

The Clinton Foundation says it accurately reported the total donations on its tax forms; but needs to amend some returns because all those government grants got mixed in with other donations. Luther, Obama’s anger translator, is pissed.

Obama, while preparing for the White House Correspondents' Dinner, sent a quick email to Josh Ernest asking if the Clintons would be there. Josh said “Bucket.”

Obama upstaged the SNL comic at the Nerd Prom. Lorne Michaels even approached him afterwards, with a bucket idea: a new show called "Hissy Fit."

Cecily Strong told journalists at the Nerd Prom not to criticize Hillary's wardrobe; it is, considering all the derailments, the Emperor's new clothes.

Hillary Clinton was a no-show at the annual South Carolina Democratic convention. The head of the five families was not surprised, he was still waiting for his cut.

A Bugatti and Ferrari had a multi-million dollar fender bender at a posh Paris hotel. Who are these people? Inquiring KIAs want to know.

Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 89th birthday by beating her Royal Protection Officers at Mixed Nuts and the "Older Than Dirt Quiz."

Adam Sandler is now known in Apache as "Him Not Mel Brooks," after half the extras walked off the set of "The Ridiculous Six." What, they were blindfolded when they signed up, no script preview?

Robert Downey Jr. walked out of an interview with a British journalist. Adam Sandler just stood up and pissed while smoking a peace pipe.

The Ambulance Chaser Association, comprised of 47 lawyers, sent a letter to Judge Napolitano asking “if Hillary loses the election, can she seek punitive damages from the right-wing media?"

A Police academy seeks guidance from the DOJ in the form of a Directive for the proper procedure to pull over drones.

People Who Like Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Have More Sex, Says a New Survey. Well, yeah!

New pictures of Kim Jong Un using a cane raise more questions. Un is 5’ 1” tall. Dennis Rodman, who is 6’ 7”, swears he did not use him in a “continuous pick & roll” basketball play.

Marco Rubio Jumps to the Head of the GOP Pack. The cheese stands alone.

Former CIA Director, David Petraeus, was sentenced this week for leaking military secrets to his woman. In the Clinton camp, the Energizer swears she never had access to Hillary's email server. Her joy stick, maybe.

Bruce Jenner told Diane Sawyer "I am a woman." The general consensus on Facebook is the Kardashians have screwed up his mind.

© 2010-2015, Valenta, All rights reserved.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here



Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday Monologue

by Rose A. Valenta

All you need to do for a good laugh sometimes, is pick up a newspaper or Google the news. Last week was exciting, especially now that presidential candidates are coming out of the woodwork. Headlines include the following:

Hillary failed to discuss her policies with the small businesses in Iowa. Nancy Pelosi said "Vote for her to see what is in them."

Stephen Hawking sings “Galaxy Song” from Monty Python in his new music video. He says Hillary should watch "America Rising."

Hillary kicks off 2016 campaign with "guiding principles." No more hiding classified data repositories in Harlem heads the list.

After a terrible campaign launch, Hillary Clinton in her gyrocopter makes a desperate attempt to get into the White House.

Hillary's van is owned by the Secret Service and supported by US taxpayers. It was the only one on the fleet with bed and bar. Bill had the other one.

Donald Sterling's ex-mistress must pay his wife back for the $2.6 million in gifts he gave her. She gets to keep the $12 moth eaten thong. Say, can Shelly Sterling run for POTUS on the gender ticket?

Hillary dined unrecognized at a Chipotle. The Pope said it's her greatest achievement and is rooting for her to go out for pizza next time.

A Secret Service officer was arrested in DC on a burglary charge. Bill reported one of his hookers went missing.

Things have gotten so corrupt at the DOJ, neighbors near Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, OH, heard Eliot Ness rolling a 10-pin.

Reddit reports the most difficult English word to say is "Worcestershire" (sauce). The Amish make it easy, they just say "Whatsthatthere sauce."

A Brooklyn woman used Facebook to serve divorce papers. Says she "poked" him a few times, but he was too busy playing Candy Crush.

North Korea is recruiting women to join a "pleasure squad" for Kim Jong Un. In the West, it's known as "F Troop."

Google reports that a billion simultaneous users have crashed Google Earth looking for Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, in the Scottish Highlands.

Scientists announce a newly discovered frog that looks like Kermit. The producers of "Who Do You Think You Are?" have signed Kermit for a 2015 episode.

Construction workers in the Guandong province of China, found 48 fossilized dinosaur eggs. Japanese scientists say it proves Godzilla was a womanizer.

© 2010-2015, Valenta, All rights reserved.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Who Moved My Mascarpone?


by Rose A. Valenta



Yesterday, I took old Mrs. Russo shopping at the Italian Market in South Philadelphia. She was buying seafood. I had my goal list all ready:

• Olive oil, prosciutto, capicola and imported pasta from Claudio’s
• Olive salad and cheese from DiBruno’s
• Lamb, pork roasts and ground beef from Esposito’s
• Locatelli and fresh produce from Giordano’s
• Spices and coffee from the Spice Corner
• Some pastry from Isgro’s

I was looking forward to a refreshing walk, while enjoying the sights and smells of the South Philly marketplace and do some shopping.

I was asked to pick Teresa up at her sister’s house.

Teresa Russo has been a friend of our family for years. She went to school with one of my aunts. She was born and raised in South Philadelphia. Her temperament is a bit surly, but expected, as she grew up in a tough neighborhood. She doesn’t get around much by herself anymore, so taking her shopping was my idea and good deed for the day.

I decided to take her to Pat’s Steaks for lunch.

When I picked her up, I noticed that the jacket she was wearing was wrinkled and out of shape.

“What’s up with the jacket?” I asked, as she got into the car.

“Flak jacket underneath.” She answered. “I got it from Louie ‘The Nose.”

“Come on, Teresa, you’re 80 years old. Who’s going to mess with you?”

“Hey, they let that Gambino guy off. You know, John ‘junior’ Gatti. Now, they call him ‘Teflon John.’ He don’t have friends in South Philadelphia. Two guys came down from New York last week and started something near the Sports Complex. I smell trouble, like we got the malocchio or something. Maybe we shouldn’t go today.”

“Teresa, people don’t believe in the ‘evil eye’ anymore. You shouldn’t be so superstitious. Of course we should go shopping. Those guys all hang out in a different neighborhood.”

“Yeah? What are we gonna do if they decide they want to eat something at Mama Mia’s and start a fight?”

“Teresa, they don’t mess with old ladies. Besides, we're going to eat at Pat's.”

“Speak for yourself, I’m not old.” She said.

When we got to the Italian Market and parked the car at the three dollar lot on Washington Avenue, we were approached by some guy, who said he was from HealthCare.gov and was taking a poll. Teresa broke his pencil and told him to get lost.

“OK,” I said. “I take back what I said. They don’t mess with NICE old ladies.”

“Statazete! (Shutup)” she snapped. “We should have stayed home. That guy was a pickpocket. Check your wallet.”

“I have it” I said. “Nothing is missing. Will you just relax and enjoy yourself? Put on your happy face, that should confuse everybody.”

Everything went smoothly until Teresa spotted a black limousine driving up 9th Street. She dove under a vendor table and about 50 live blue crabs and two dozen oranges went scurrying and rolling in all directions. Crustaceans were everywhere. I saw one of them booking down Montrose Street. You could hear the screams for blocks.

“What, are you on somebody’s hit list, or just crazy - are you alright?”

“Yes, I’m sorry.” She said.

“Yes, what? Yes, you’re crazy or yes, you’re OK?”

“Alright already - both!”

The guy, who rented the vendor table, was furious, cussing in Italian, and running around with tongs trying to gather up the runaway crustaceans before they pinched someone.

“Che cazzo...?” he shouted, “C'รจ un casino della Madonna qui.” (Meaning “What the hell…?” and his vocabulary went down-hill after that.)

After we paid him for the crabs that were still missing in action, I swore to myself that I would never do another good deed like this again. What started out as a fun shopping trip had turned into a total nightmare.

We never got to Isgro’s.

On the way home, Teresa apologized for her behavior all day. She told me she is into Ronny ‘The Rat’ for $100 to pay for the exterminator.

Apparently, while she was Spring cleaning two weeks ago, she found mice running around in her basement. Ronny had threatened her. She was supposed to pay him $125 by yesterday, or he would import a hundred mice and set them loose in her house. So, for the rest of the week, until she pays him on Friday, Teresa is spending nights with her sister.

“Ronny is a spostata (jerk).” She said.

“Teresa, the next time you need money, call me. I will lend it to you, no mice and no interest, capiche?”

I went home, poured myself a Chianti, and listened to a little Lou Monte.