June 30, 2006 at 12:04 am (Uncategorized)

I remember the room spinning so wildly, I genuinely believed I might be tossed right off the planet. I remember vomiting with such velocity, I felt internal organs shifting within my frame. I simultaneously wished for death and prayed it would not kill me. It was my first killer bout with projectile vomiting and it was earned through alternating between foamy keg beer and Jack Daniels.
resume_puking.jpgAn older and wiser man might have learned temperance from the experience. I was a teenager and thus, did not. I was eating weird things from a lower cupboard an hour after the chunk blowing ride was over. I was back in the woods behind the armory two nights later trying out this new beer called Stroh’s everyone was talking about.
My friends, I have grown since then. By and large, few things will make me part ways with the contents of my stomach. But I know those who will hurl if they have one drink more than their usual limit. I know people who blow chow through their nose if they ride the Zipper at the carnival. I’ve had girlfriends who puked every time they had the flu and who bawled every time they puked. My brother (poor bastard), would gag and then ralph if he saw someone ELSE throwing up.
I think most of us will agree that few bodily experiences rival the dry heaves in terms of utter, soul shaking agony. The muscles of the throat expand and contract. The jaw yawns wider and wider, awaiting the chunky cargo. The stomach heaves achingly and almost angrily because there is nothing there to expel. And to express its rage, the entire digestive system repeats this process for eternity while you sit with your head in the toilet, teary eyed, clutching the cool toilet bowl as though hoping to fall into it and be done with this mess.
Nasty business, the act of regurgitation. The body, always alert to defend you, tries to rid itself of real or perceived toxins by gushing various matter through the mouth and nose. Meanwhile, your friends stand around in a weaving circle, pointing fingers and scrambling for their cellphone cameras. They will give you crap about it for days to come and you will be called Ralph everywhere you go.
dsc04108.JPG Ah, vomit. By the time you’re ten years old, you have learned at least a half dozen euphamisms for the experience. And you don’t forget them, either. Thinking earnestly about puke the other night, I absently asked some of my colleagues for such terminology. For the next ten minutes, they screamed out terms like sickened bidders at a strange auction:
“Praying to the porceline god!”
“Making a long distance call on the big, white phone!”
And so on. And so forth, until I had to bring buckets to the newsroom so a few people could disgorge. And while, I could go on and on about this subject, I’m out of euphamisms and puke stories. I welcome your’s.


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June 29, 2006 at 2:21 am (Uncategorized)


Back in the 90’s, when I was known to drink a little, I often ended up crooning Kurt Cobain tunes at the end of the night. I was agonized. I was unintelligible. I sounded just like him.

I was never one of those who felt Cobain had all the answers to the world or that he magically placed words in ways that eluded other songwriters. But there WAS something about the anguish and introspection, wasn’t there? At the risk of sounding like a washed out groupie, I’ll suggest that there was a certain hard authenticity to Kurt Cobain that is lacking in many others.

With that being said, there is this inescapable fact: Kurt Cobain is dead. On April 8, 1994, the grungy one was found dead in a spare room above the garage at his Lake Washington home. Although the electrician who found the body reported seeing no obvious trauma, he did spot a shotgun and a suicide note next to Cobain’s body. The death was later ruled the result of a gunshot wound to the head. Self-inflicted, that is. The suicide note was said to have quoted the great, and still living Neil Young (“It’s better to burn out then to fade away”) and to have made references to an imaginary, childhood friend.

End of story. Cobain was dead. Courtney Love was launched on the world. You may pause here to recoil, if you’d like.

kurt-cobain-dead320.jpgIt didn’t take long for the conspiracy theories to surface. Most orbited around the idea that there were discrepancies in police reports regarding the fatal shotgun blast. Others pointed out toxicology that showed a level of heroin in Cobain’s body that would have rendered him incapable of pulling a trigger, (although he could probably could have still sung with the same level of coherence.)

And now, a dozen years since Cobain went to the great syringe in the sky, theories still abound and party fights still erupt over the controversy. One suggestion is that Love herself paid to have him killed. The theory is given credence, some say, by Love’s rocketing fame upon Cobain’s death. And so on, and so forth goes the debate.

Me, I dunno. My gut feeling is that Cobain got smacked up, stuffed his toe into the trigger guard and that was that. Of course, I’m one of those freaks who believes that Elvis and Jim Morrison are dead, too. Although I’m always open to fresh ideas. And I won’t nauseate you people with an attempt at pathos by quoting a Nirvana tune to end this pontification. But if you come over some night, I’ll sing it to you.

For more info, go to the new blog at http://www.marklaflamme.com/blog

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Sweatin’ with the oldies

June 28, 2006 at 12:30 am (Uncategorized)

blanks.jpgI have a brother who once had a fling with Tai Bo. He used to wait until his wife had gone to work, slip her tapes into the machine and then go to town. He’d kick and spin and do whatever cartwheels you’re supposed to do to get the maximum workout. He confessed this to me one night only because he had been drinking steadily since noon. My brother was a bartender then. And a closet Tai Bo enthusiast. And in a weird way, he was cheating on his wife with that really spunky dude who led the Tai Bo workouts. Christ, what a family tree I have.

I mention it only because I have completely lost track of the latest workout trends. I used to work with free weights and a heavy bag in my basement, but then my rotator cuff blew out. Yeah, that’s what caused the rotator cuff to blow out. Working out and stuff. Yeah.

So now, I just sit on the couch a lot. I sit and watch the commercials for the various exercise contraptions that are absolutely inundating the market. There’s one that vows you can get a complete workout in just four minutes a day. It’s called the ROM and it looks like something medieval. Six Second Abs was big for about six days and I actually know a somewhat macho guy who bought one. Sucker ended up on eBay in no time. The contraption, not the macho dude.

My wife has this big, blue ball that she occasionally flops around on, and I never saw the logic in that, either. She explained to me once that it’s called pilates and I said: “Pie-Lates?” She sounded it out more carefully and I said: “Pie-Lates?” At which point, she took her big, blue ball, went into the other room and shut the door.

Exercise crazes have always been a part of the American dream to get bigger, look hotter, live longer. Gym memberships are paid for and then expire. Countless Bo-Flex machines sit in countless basements. You watch Rocky V or “G.I. Jane” and get re-inspired, but the inspiration is as short as Demi’s hair. And so more equipment is lugged to garages and new equipment is pitched on the tube.

I guess I’m feeling reflective about it because I stubbed my toe earlier on a dumbbell downstairs. My only real question here is: you guys ever watch those early morning or late night workout shows just because they’re kind of hot?

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Men are pigs

June 27, 2006 at 12:35 am (Uncategorized)

Okay. We’ve done the “bad break ups” blog. We’ve done more than a few “people suck” blogs. I really don’t have a good segue for this one. How about: is this guy a total prick? Or what? Allegedly.

scoundrel.jpgJune 25, 2006 — A Brooklyn anesthesiologist callously ditched his wife and three kids, leaving them homeless after he secretly sold their house and fled the country with all their money, the wife alleges. Dr. Raihan Chowdhury was deemed a fugitive Wednesday for ignoring repeated court orders to provide for his hapless family.

His wife, Sharmin Sultana, who gave up her career as a gynecologist to become a full-time mom, is now broke and staying at a women’s shelter with the couple’s two daughters and toddler son. All while her husband lives in luxury in his native Bangladesh, possibly having remarried without getting a divorce here, according to her divorce documents and her lawyer’s statements in Brooklyn Family Court.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Sultana. “My husband is very cunning, very clever.”

Chowdhury, 45, a doctor formerly at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn who ran outpatient clinics, left the family after selling their $975,000 South Midwood home on the sly. The heartbreaking betrayal began when he took his family on a vacation to Hong Kong on Jan. 9, even bringing the kids to Disneyland there and buying them Mickey Mouse mementos.

But the trip was a ruse. Back in New York, an associate was sneaking into the home and removing all the furniture, along with Sultana’s Bangladeshi medical diploma and her jewelry, his wife claims. The husband had also quietly quit his $280,000-a-year job at the hospital and sent overseas hundreds of thousands of dollars he earned from his practice, she claims.

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I feel pretty

June 26, 2006 at 4:01 pm (Uncategorized)

At a certain corner in downtown Lewiston these days is a very ugly cross dresser. I don’t say this to be mean. This person is probably a lovely, lovely man. Throw hip high boots, earrings and makeup on him, and he’s hideous. Even Treehugger would have to drink his way through the entire Jack Daniels plant to even wink at the dude.

pretty-boy.jpegI’m a live and let live kind of guy. I generally don’t care what a person wears, who or what they sleep, or what weird thing they do with kitchen implements bought on the Home Shopping Networking. The cross dressing phenomenon fascinates only because of the fact that some men look better dressed as women.

In that movie “To Wong Foo,” for instance, Patrick Swayze was a stunning little hottie in high heels and a skirt. Wesley Snipes, on the other hand, could not have turned on an 85-year-old wino on Viagra.

Me, I once allowed a girlfriend to dress me up in woman’s clothes for reasons I will not go into here (unless asked). I was absolutely atrocious to look at. For one thing, I have legs that don’t even compare to those of a chicken. They’re more like sparrow legs. And my nose. Have you seen that thing? The only woman alive who has a larger nose than me is Paula Jones. And, okay. Maybe Blossom. But we’re one in the same remember?

My point? Don’t have one. Just that there’s an unsightly cross dresser strolling around town and I find myself gawking at him/her. Every day. And at night, if I get a chance. This is clearly out of clinical curiosity, right?

Okay, I’ll start paying each of you psychiatric fees.

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You name it

June 26, 2006 at 12:34 am (Uncategorized)

There are a couple reasons why I'm re-running this old piece. One is that I'm a lazy bastard and I might want to do something involving big, fat nothing this weekend. The other is that they're announcing the new name of the Colisee on Monday and… well, I know you're all pulling for me. Fingers crossed!

Ooh, baby. If I can come up with a couple million bucks, you people will be watching hockey this year at the LaFlamme Colisee. I mean, I can’t sing or dance, so I’ll never have my name up in lights. Buying into the name of the arena is the best I can hope for.
Imagine it. My moniker would be huge above the door as you walk into the rink on Birch Street. The name would be in newspaper advertisements and on $10 souvenirs you buy for the kids.
“LaFlamme” would even be part of the cheesy little song they use in Maineiacs commercials. You know, that song you really hate. I think it says something really profound like: “We’re the Maineiacs, Maineiacs on ice!”
As if so many people were confused about how hockey is played that it had to be explained in a horrible jingle. But the point is, the writers of that horrible jingle will now have to incorporate my name into it. Good luck with finding something that rhymes with LaFlamme.
Oh, quit your fretting, Vanna. I couldn’t come up with enough money to buy a single vowel on the Colisee sign and you know it. City Administrator Jim Bennett will probably breathe easier knowing I don’t have a huge trust fund to draw from.
I always wonder what kind of nightmares Bennett must have. He’s done such an impressive job of improving the city, he has to worry about some freak coming along and screwing it all up. And selling the naming rights to the Colisee leaves him vulnerable.
The city image is at stake here. I’m sure Bennett envisions a large and illustrious corporation shelling out loot to slap their name on the arena. But what if it doesn’t happen that way? What if a particularly business-savvy drug dealer makes the deal.
It’s hard to say whether the “Cheap Rock Colisee” would be full night after night. The “Sizzlin’ Smack Center” might not draw a family audience, either.
What if the operator of a brothel decides to advertise by buying into the Colisee name? How would the “Cat House Colisee” look in big letters?
It probably won’t happen. I’m sure the company that comes up with the dough to marry their business name to the Maineiacs franchise will be completely legitimate. Still, things could get weird. I mean, what kind of logo would be used if the rink becomes the “Midnight Boutique Colisee?” I like Lewy, the Maineiacs mascot. I don’t wanna see that rugged frame clad in a teddy or a bustier.
The Blow Brothers, who provide perfectly fine public toilets, could buy into our local hockey Mecca. The cash would be nice, but who wants a gigantic urinal welcoming visitors? Other hockey teams would make fun of the local boys. That horrid jingle would get even uglier.
And what if a local bar owner wanted to scrounge up business by advertising with the hockey team? The “Acme Club Colisee” sounds a little generic and “Del’s Bar and Grille Colisee” doesn’t roll off the tongue. The “Cage Colisee” has a nice ring to it, though, and the “Ritz Club Center” sounds sort of regal. Please list those as possibilities.
Corporate involvement in the world of stadiums and arenas is here to stay. Names with glorious histories become mere Yellow Page listings. Boston Garden becomes the Fleet Center. The Montreal Forum is now the Molson Center. Comiskey Park has been transformed into the yawn-inspiring U.S. Cellular Field. Can you hear me now?
The problem that arises with corporate monikers is that they inspire clever nicknames. Gillette Stadium is commonly known as “The Razor.” Bank One Bell is fondly called “The Bob.” How will people refer to the Colisee if Tambrands buys into the name?
But, clearly I’m raving. I’m sure Bennett has thought this thing through and all will be well. We’ll have a spiffy new name for the hockey rink and the city will be rolling in dough. I just wish I could find a way to get my name up in lights. Maybe I’ll go out and buy one of those cheesy Lite Brite things. You remember Lite Brite, don’t you? And that lame song from the commercials?
“What a sight, making things with Lite Brite …”
Moronic! But still not as bad as the Maineiacs jingle.

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June 24, 2006 at 4:47 pm (Uncategorized)

She did it herself. Her husband did it. Possibly, it was their young son and the parents covered up. Few cases are more compelling than this one. If the kid did it, are the parents forgiveable for covering up? Should this case cast more light on the weird world of child pageants? Did the Boulder police totally suck in their investigation? I invite your thoughts.



Jun 24, 2006 (AP)— Patsy Ramsey, who was thrust into the national spotlight by the unsolved 1996 slaying of her daughter, 6-year-old beauty pageant contestant JonBenet, died Saturday following a long battle with ovarian cancer, her lawyer said. She was 49.

Ramsey was diagnosed with the disease in 1993 and suffered a recurrence several years ago, attorney L. Lin Wood said. She died at her father's home in Roswell, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, with her husband, John, at her bedside.

"It is not unexpected but it is a sad day," Wood told The Associated Press.

JonBenet was found beaten and strangled in the basement of the family's home in Boulder, Colo., on Dec. 26, 1996.

Patsy Ramsey said she found a ransom note on the back staircase demanding $118,000 for the safe return of JonBenet. John Ramsey said he found his daughter's body in a basement room eight hours later.

Boulder police said early on that Patsy and John Ramsey were under an "umbrella of suspicion" in JonBenet's death. The Ramseys said an intruder killed their daughter. A grand jury investigation in Boulder ended with no indictments, and no arrests have been made in the case.

In 2003, U.S. District Judge Julie Carnes in Atlanta concluded that the evidence she reviewed suggested an intruder killed JonBenet. That opinion came with the judge's decision to dismiss a libel and slander lawsuit against the Ramseys by a freelance journalist, who the Ramseys had named as a suspect in their daughter's murder. The Boulder district attorney at the time said she agreed with Carnes' declaration.

"Hopefully her legacy will not be tied to the false accusation related to the brutal murder of her daughter," Wood said of Patsy Ramsey Saturday.

Patsy Ramsey was born in Parkersburg, W.Va., on Dec. 29, 1956. She was crowned Miss West Virginia in 1977.

"Those who were fortunate enough to really know Patsy didn't just like her, or admire her, but truly loved her," longtime friend Linda McLean of Parkersburg, W.Va., said in a statement Saturday. "She was probably the most beloved person I've met.

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B all you can B

June 24, 2006 at 12:03 am (Uncategorized)

Yo, what up dawg? By now you beyotches know all about the new b section in the Sun Journal. I mean, word, brother. It's supposed be the phattest thing to come along since Delta Burke. Sheeeyit. Gonna have skateboardin', night lifin' and all sorts of cutting ass shiznit. Dude, that's what I'm sayin' and that's what it is.

banner_bday_b.gifHere's what I know. I know I talk street about as well as an elderly Mormon woman. And I know the Sun Journal is going absolutely crazy putting this new section together, in a valiant effort to entice the coveted 18-34 year old crowd to the readership.

I also know this. I've been asked to contribute to b in a variety of ways. And I'm complying because, let's face it. The Sun Journal still signs the checks that allow me to buy all these power boats and stuff. But I'll also be invited to move my blog over to the new redesigned web section when it is sent up, with all the drama and fanfare of a Space Shuttle launch.

I've gotta be honest with you. I'm not sure I want to move this blog one inch from the space it's in now. I won't suggest that the Sun Journal treated us unfairly back in those dim, dark days when they launched cyber missles at us and blew us apart. But WordPress has been pretty damn faithful since the move, in spite of the occasional "slow down cowboy" warnings and that ugly incident where Weasel and Maintearr were labeled as spam.

More loyal still are you bloggers specifically. Even the meanest and vilest of you (Bulldog), keeps coming back with something meaningful to say. You overlook my transgressions on an almost daily basis. You pop in even when the topic dujour is an absolute yawner. And I appreciate that more than I appreciate this Almighty b section or the floundering but admirable work of the WordPress people.

So, I put the question out to you and you will have the final say. As the Clash asked back when they were just starting to peter out, should I stay or should I go now? Stay where we are and go about our lives? Or move over to the SJ sanctioned website and see how we get treated?

It's in your hands now. Your will be done. Looooove yoooooou…

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Throwing the bull

June 22, 2006 at 12:03 am (Uncategorized)



Here again, I'm pulling a blog cheat by posting one of my weekly columns. I feel strangely dirty doing. But in doing so, it leads to a number of questions worthy of discussion. For instance, is LaFlamme becoming a true lazy bastard devoid of original thought? Is there some copyright law that prohibits me from using my newspaper columns in a personal blog? No, really. Is there? I'd really like to know. Mostly I'd like to know if I own any rights to my own columns or if they are 100 percent the property of the newspaper? Media lawyers, please look me up.

But mostly, I think the following babble illuminates a point we are all aware knife.gifof. Size does matter, but attitude is the bigger factor when it comes to fear. It's true in bars and it's true in nature. You don't want to tangle with the biggest dude in the jungle. But you don't want to encounter the tiny sociopath with the knife in his boot, either.

A million years before you and I came along, our ancestors ran from all kinds of things. These people were covered in hair and they carried sharp sticks, but they ran screaming like schoolgirls all the time. A saber-toothed this, a snub-nosed that. It didn't matter. If the beast was bigger than a cave mouse, our primitive kin ran from it like sissies, tossing their spears aside as they fled.

Not that you can blame them. When I stood nose to nose with a rampaging bull in downtown Lewiston a week ago, I felt those primitive urges to run away with arms flailing. And when I say nose to nose, I mean I was standing roughly 12 feet away from the beast while braver souls tried to corral the thing with ropes and sections of fence.

But that's not important. What's important is that the bull that thundered into Lewiston sent completely macho men scrambling into the backs of pickup trucks, up trees and over fences. And rightfully so. That was one ton of human-stomping fury, and nobody wanted a piece of that. This is Lewiston, people. If we wanted to be Pamplona, we'd move our city to Spain.

What I find curious is that the bull opted to head down Webster Street and onto Orange when he hauled his massive bulk over a rodeo fence. We're talking Webster Street, people. We're talking neatly trimmed grass, freshly painted houses and colorful lawn ornaments. He may have looked like a mean machine of horns, hooves and flaring nostrils, but that bull was no fool. And while I'm not saying the beast was a little 'fraidy cat, I'm thinking he might have been.

Had the bull hung a left on Bartlett Street instead of steering toward neighborhoods where butterflies flutter and wind chimes chime, things could have turned out differently. On Webster Street, people aren't accustomed to stomping and grunting. On Bartlett Street, they are.

I can see the bull tromping to Bartlett and Walnut, thinking he's all big and bad and fearsome. I can see him turning those black eyes toward someone on the corner and expecting appropriate fear. But it wouldn't have been forthcoming. At Bartlett and Walnut, attitude is as thick as smog and 2,000 pounds of meat is just another meal waiting to be eaten.

Some young hooligan, with ball cap turned backward, would have stepped right up and challenged the bull. They would have stood nose to nose, nostrils flaring. The bull would have been scratching a hoof on the street, preparing for a mauling. The young man would have his arms outstretched in that way that says: "I'm right here, bitch. You want some of this? This is my house! My house!"

The bull could have encountered a prostitute had he chosen a different route. In downtown Lewiston, prostitutes are so bold they've been known to strut their stuff to off-duty policemen in cars. The prostitutes will pounce on anything that lingers too long at a stop sign. Do you believe they would be intimidated by 2,000 pounds of bovine? A sale is a sale, people. And how does a bull respond to a line like: "Hey, big fella. You looking to party tonight?"

The beast could have stumbled upon a hard drinker reeling from one of the downtown bars. The old-timers in particular remember the bull mascot from the Schlitz Malt Liquor days. Run across one of those guys at last call, and it's bad news for the bull. The animal would have been chased down, tackled and beaten upon by the beer-breathing reveler insisting on his free case of brew.

The bull could have been mugged for his leather. He could have been sold a few crack rocks and then beaten when he failed to deliver the coin. He could have been exposed to ear-rupturing rap music, subjected to somebody else's religion, been pressed for ID by police in the park, been given a parking ticket or approached by an annoying editor insisting to know his age and home address.

bullfr4.jpgThe bull would have never survived a night in downtown Lewiston. And so he took an alternate route and ended up in a quiet section, where girlie men like me reacted with the panic he is accustomed to. Which leads me to believe that beasts are smarter than men. They just pretend they're not so we'll leave them the hell alone.

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I’m listening

June 21, 2006 at 11:58 pm (Uncategorized)

Dear bloggers,

I've always enjoyed your witty self-help banter, but I never thought I'd be writing with a problem of my own. Lately, I've found myself troubled by something that appears to be a revelation, but I have no idea what exactly has been revealed. Specifically, I have become a devoted fan of the show "Frasier."

frasier_season_one_dvd.jpgThis concerns me because heretofore, my favorite shows have been predictable. The Simpsons. The Family Guy. Cheers, MASH and Wings. Beautifully sophomoric comedies, all of them. Frasier, on the other hand, is an intelligent show involving the dynamics of an examined life as a succesful but profoundly human man enters middle age and inventories what he has and what he has done without. It is a highly literate program about the vague line between ambition and true happiness.

My question for your consideration is this: does my new appreciation for Frasier mean that I am growing up? Or could it be simply that I am gay?

Many thanks: Learning in Lewiston

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