WHEN YOU

 

NEED A

 

 FRIEND

 

 

 Writer's Note:  I first crossed paths with  Kenny Kramer in the early 70's on a volleyball court in the Coconut Grove Apartment complex where we both lived.  He was tall and thin with the biggest afro I had ever seen on a white man.  There was an onshore breeze from Biscayne Bay, and I half expected the wind to lift him up  and float him away through the palm trees like a hippy Mary Poppins. Coconut Grove in those days was the Haight Asbury of the east coast. we enjoyed all it had to offer to the fullest hedonistic maximum.   Eventually  the Grove Hill Gang, as we called ourselves,  split up and we all went our separate ways.   Kenny and I stayed in touch, and the friendship renewed when I lived in Manhattan for a time in the mid-80's.  Years later another friend, a comedy writer who lived next door to Kenny in Manhattan, wrote a pilot for a network sit-com and based a character on Kenny.  The writer was Larry David, the sitcom Seinfeld, and the character was named Kramer.  When Kenny started Kramer's Reality Tour, he invited me to New York to help launch his new enterprise.  My job was that of consultant.  I would tell him what he should do and explain why.  Kenny would listen carefully, ask questions if anything wasn't clear, and then do the exact opposite of what I had recommended.  It worked beautifully.  Kramer's Reality Tour was and is a big success. 

 

CHECK IT OUT 

 

 www.kennykramer.com

 

   AUTHOR'S NOTE As I am sure is obvious to the reader by now, Kenny and I share  an irreverent, unconventional, at times cynical, sense of humour.  Nothing is exempt, nothing verboten, nothing censored... even incurable disease.

An Instant Message Conversation with the Original Kramer  

Thoughts on celebrity and disease

 

Kramer Hey Tom. What'appening?
Tom: Hi Kenny. It's been a rather depressing day, a really shitty day as a matter of fact.
Kramer: Yeah?
Tom: I've just been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.
Kramer: Uh?
Tom: And I thought I had a rotator cuff injury. It's progressive, degenerative, and there's no cure.
Kramer: You got nothing to worry about!
Tom: Not until I start drooling and flapping around. What do you mean, nothing to worry about?

Kramer: Well, Michael J. Fox has it too.  Haven't you seen the coverage?  It's been all over the news and TV.

Tom:  What's that got to do with me for Christ's sake?

Kramer:  Well, he's a big celebrity.  

 Tom: Bigger even than you? 

Kramer: I'll ignore that. 

Tom: So?  What's celebrity got to do with it? 

Kramer:  So they'll find a cure!
Tom: Kenny, Pope John Paul has Parkinson's. He's a lot bigger celebrity than Michael J. Fox, and he's got a lot better connections.
(Long Pause)
Kramer: What do I know!  I'm Jewish.

(Another Pause)
Kramer So, what do you think about the Yankee's trading Dave Wells?

Tom:  Kenny, I gotta sign off now.  I'm gonna go take a drug overdose, or maybe slit my wrists.

Kramer:  Okay man. Catch you later.

 

TO BE SERIOUS FOR A BRIEF MOMENT ABOUT PARKINSON'S. 

   People sometimes ask what it is like to have Parkinson's.   Here is the best answer I've come across....   "The body starts to tremble uncontrollably, limbs stiffen up like boards, movements are painfully slow and jerky, speech is slurred, maintaining balance is impossible and even the simplest task becomes a living hell. This is Parkinson's Disease. Currently, there's no evidence to say why it occurs and who will be its next victim. And there's no cure. The only hope is rehabilitation and research for a cure.

 

TOM'S PARKINSON'S DIARY.... (Editorial Note) This diary is not for the faint of heart or anyone easily offended.  Go read  something else, one of my short stories.  At the moment, I am hanging on by my fingernails, and I am in a lousy mood.)

 

I had  not  planned to do this. to keep a diary about struggling to live with  this  disease.    Plenty  of  other victims or family members and /or carers have already done that.   Most of them are poorly written by amateurs, soppy emotional self--serving diatribes about their 'courageous battle’.  The same term is often used in the obits. 'So and so died after a courageous battle with parkinsonism.'

 

Stop right there.  Battle?  What battle?  That is bullshit. There is no battle.  Parkinson's whips your ass, kicks you when you are down, and gives you a thorough thrashing just short of killing you.  I know about battles.  I used to throw rednecks out of the oldest and one of the toughest bars in Florida.  No battle, just a good old southern style stomping.

All the aces in the deck are in the cards held by the devil.

Things friends have said to me....

"Oh Tom,  I'll pray for you".  'Gee thanks' I thought.  What the hell good is that going to do.  She probably voted for George Bush '   I'm agnostic,  Be sure and burn some incense.  I'm an old hippy and Buddhism is the closest I get to believing in an afterlife.  I want to come back as grasshopper in a kung fu movie.

***

" Tom, you look great. I would not have  known you had the disease."  

"Sorry to disappoint you." I replied.  " Stick around long enough and I promise to

 drool on you when I reach that stage."

***

"Tom, you know Parkinson's won't kill you." said a friend who is a gp.

"No" I replied, " It just makes me wish  I was dead."

(sorry gotta stop there.  I am going into hospital for back surgery and will continue

 when I am able .)


I MASTHEAD PHOTO NOTES he blue cat scan is my brain. The white area surrounded by red shows where I am loosing dopamine producing nerve cells.  That's not good.  Sometimes I feel like one of those other bunnies in the Eveready battery commercial.  I have no way of knowing how far or how long I can keep going.  The other photo is of the brain collection at Cornell University.  In the early 1900's a professor there did a study on brain size correlation to intelligence.  It was really intended to prove a racist theory that white people

were smarter than other races because their brains were bigger.  After years of measuring brains, the professor conceded his theory was false.  Incidentally, the biggest brain in the collection was that of a mass murderer.