Crankin’ from Long Island to Arizona

The Crank

I now call Arizona my home, and have for six years.  But, recently, I started to consider to just what I miss and don’t miss about Lawn Guylin’.  To start with, FOOD plays a big part of what I miss. Hell, food plays a big part of what I AM. And I have news for the people of Arizona: just because an establishment has the name ‘New York’ some-fucking-where in the title, does not mean the pizza will taste as such—unless you have the wrong kinda shrooms on that bad boy.

Not until you have ventured into some local “Marios Pizza” will you understand. I also miss what we called pork stores, places where you could go to purchase home-cooked-almost-as-well-as-Momma’s Italian style meat and pastas. A place you could get sausage, or as we called it phonetically, sawzeetch, ravioli, Bracioli (brazshoal). I can smell ‘em now, sawzeetch & peppers, an Italian man’s Viagra. Oh, and real imported Auricchio, a provolone cheese that smells like dirty socks (very hard to come by in AZ—the cheese, not the dirty socks). Farm stands all selling their own home-grown veggies. Making sauce out of those tomatoes deemed too ripe when the season ends (lovingly called ‘Mahoo’). Not to be confused with Mahoo Ahmadinejad, who most days I would like to hurl tomatoes at.

I also miss going to a hot dog vendor and getting real “dirty water dogs”. They would be Sabrett brand hot dogs cooked in the same water all day—with the water eventually getting its aforementioned look. The taste cannot be beat. As with most really good food, you don’t look, you just eat. I miss real pretzels too: hot, soft, big, fresh, and salty as hell. Not the out of a box & into a ‘wave variety. We’re talking bowtie-the-dough and bake it fresh. Real deli, I miss real deli. A different lunch every day, all home style, all great, not having the same meal twice in a month, Deli.  Yep, I miss that shit.

Road construction: Overnight and weekends only! with finish dates religiously adhered to or construction companies faced massive fines for each late day. That seems to be the opposite approach in Arizona.  Are they offered more pay because they’re holding up traffic?

“Ah, look we’ll double the money if you finish this road someday.”

And it beats me why anyone would rather work during the day in 120° heat instead of cool nights. I guess you have to be born here to understand that one. There are a whole host of things like that. When I ask a given question, I get this look—you know, like a dog gives you when it just isn’t gittin’ what you’re a sayin’. Yeah, that look.

I miss the fact that as an Italian-American, I was part of the majority. Here, I am the smallest of minorities. Vee-necked tee shirted guidos, all getting out of matching 90’s Iroc-Z’s, talking with their hands but not necessarily with a need for sign language. Big haired guidettes, sitting in the car, talking to their friends on the cell in a language not heard anywhere else on ‘oit’. The term ‘hayadooin’ being THE mandatory greeting, but definitely not a question, ever.

Driving on L.I. is something everyone from Arizona should be mandated to do prior to receiving a license. This will weed out the people not serious. On NY roads you will find women texting, grooming, drinking coffee, and driving 70 mph better than most Nascar drivers could. They take the term ‘multi tasking’ to a whole ‘nudda level. A line of cars some 40 miles long, on the very misnomered Long Island Expressway, all going to the same place, at the same high rate of speed, all a bumper’s length away from the car in front of them. No one makes a stupid move, no one. They would not last long there. Not one “single vehicle roll-over” to be seen. No one just “loses control” of their car, Evah!

The Hamptons: This is a term most of G’ilanders use derogatorily. Dissing Hamptonites was a favored pastime. The Hamptons are the east’s equivalent to Scottsdale, or Snottsdalians, only WITH brains. I never thought I would ever meet a more plastic, false, self-absorbed group of people in my life.  Sorry, but the Hamptons were dethroned by Scottsdale. As far as snobs go, Hamptonites are the Dalai Lamas to the Scottsdale’s Paris Hiltons.

That about takes care of what I miss. Let me now tell you what I DON’T miss about life on the east coast:

Winter: Snow. Ice. Grey skies for months. Cold rain. Rain so humid and cold your joints seize up at the sight of a dark cloud. It’s the only place on Earth where one can freeze and sweat simultaneously.

Fall: Falling leaves, raking leaves, carting leaves away, anything leaf related, frankly. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I even had to blow leafs.  I feel so dirty.

Lawns: Cutting, feeding, watering, edging, and raking…to summarize, fuck lawns. I like the southwest’s yards full of brightly colored gravel.  When you actually do see a weed, you’re like somehow proud of it…anything that grows green in the desert deserves our praise. 

Having to travel through New York City: Sadly, no matter where on Earth you wanted to go, it was through New York City. Millions of cars, idling, waiting for their turn to “Escape from New York” through one of three ways out. Two tunnels two lanes each under two bodies of water, complete with eight miles of the lovely and talented Manhattan Island between them.  For all of your trouble, you ended up in Joisey. Or, one bridge to Staten Island, the longest single span bridge in the U.S (Verrazano) then on to south Joisey. Or, and my favorite hateful drive, the Cross Bronx Expressway (Satan’s Driveway), 3 lanes and 8 mph all the way to the George Washington Bridge, 3 lanes, 2 miles, 1 hour, $8.00 toll, and finally onto Joisey and freedom.  The only good news about this road is the mufflers and other car parts tended to collect in the pot holes making them slightly less deep and harrowing. Just think of how bad it really is when true freedom means New Jersey.

Paying Property taxes: They are ten times what they are in Arizona. Cops? Yeah, we got lots of them, thousands. As you see one diminish in your rear-view mirror, you see one getting larger as you approach him. You pay dearly for them. Truly the Beverly Hills Cops.

Pinheaded progressive liberals: A lot of whom seem to reside in the northeast. In AZ, I am a pinheaded progressive liberal comparatively. I do not tote a gun, nor do I like the smell of horse shit.  Nor do I have a tea party flag on my property, nor am I a “Premium Member” at

In my previous life, I spent almost 30 years working for a Long Island supermarket chain. I have driven the L.I.E. enough to do it blindfolded (and did once on a bet). I have worked in every little town in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. I have worked at the Grand Opening of stores I had to oversee the closure of years later. I have had tug-of-wars with rats over a loaf of bread, and opened stores for which I felt much pride. My mind often goes back to those days and the colorful people I met there. That all being said, I could easily go the rest of my natural born days without ever again seeing the towns of Moriches, Mastic, Ronkonkoma, Bay Shore or Patchogue. And, yes, I even know how to pronounce those names (despite never running into a native American there). The town of Shirley, however, will have a spot in my heart for eternity. That marked the last store I ever worked in (after I got a buyout option of my union contract).  Anyway, as I was leaving the building on that last day, the store manager got on the P.A system and said the following as I walked out the door:

“Attention customers, Elvis has left the building.”

A very misty Crank

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