Read some shit I wrote for Sundance Channel, pleaseHotcakes Coming Through
A Semantic Geniology of Ned Lebenheimer Ned Lebenheimer was a notoriously cheap man, the kind who had intentionally lost weight as a child to appear malnourished, so he could solicit change in the lunchroom with garnered sympathy. As a teenager, Ned would feast upon ketchup packets and saltine crackers from restaurants as his friends enjoyed cheeseburgers and shakes. Ned's parents paid for him to attend a top university, all the while he created a mythology of the six jobs he worked to pay off his massive debts. Ned found out early on, that appearing weak, vulnerable and poor was the easiest way to pinch pennies without the damning judgment of those who prescribe to the natural cost of things. Ned's family, particularly his father's influence, was no doubt the roots of what people delicately referred to as his frugality, and in more severe, black and white terms, total cheap-o douchbag. David Lebenheimer grew up in South Brooklyn during the second World War; his first memory was being scolded by his mother for throwing out a cupcake wrapper that she felt had enough remnants "to feed an entire kibbutz." David grew up with the nickname D, which ironically didn't reference his name, but instead his fiscal perception that he was John D. Rockefeller; the nickname stuck on a particularly warm August afternoon when David was accused of leaving the refrigerator open too long while getting his mother a glass of cold water. At temple, David was often reprimanded for squirming and visibly showing the boredom that everyone else only felt; he found religion to be confusing on a fundamental level but settled on Judaism because he was too uncomfortable with the idea of a collection plate to explore Christianity. David was heavily influenced by his father, who was lovingly referred to by his mother as, that lazy asshole who never says thank you. Levy Lebenheimer came to Brooklyn from Germany in 1923, when it was decided that he wished to convert to Judaism just to cause a stir. A shoe salesmen by trade, Levy made a small fortune when he patented a shoe that could be worn on either foot, unfortunately the shoes caused tennis elbow and a decreased sex drive and were soon taken off the market. Levy never quite recovered from the heartache of losing his fortune and decided that unless something served seven functions he didn't want anything to do with it. This revelation led to serious tension in his marriage, as his wife arrived home to find much of her clothing hanging as window dressings and her good china being used as their cat's "repository". Although Levy's marriage made he and his wife miserable, they felt a need to stick it out so their kids would get a daily reminder of the harsh, nagging nature of life. Levy learned this lesson from his mother soon after his father died when she refused to remarry because she felt she looked great in black. Gretchen Lebenheimer was a strong woman, both proverbially and literally, as she made her first dollar replacing a stamping machine when it called out sick. The constant anxiety of losing work manifested itself in her pecuniary habits, as she was notorious for keeping a tight leash on what she considered frivolous spending. Her husband, a cobbler by trade but an out of work burlesque dancer by profession, had an unhealthy obsession with half-eaten meals by Hapsburgs, a costly interest that created a tenuous relationship with his wife, who one evening, when he was staying up late admiring a particularly pristine head-on mackerel with sauteed spinach left by the notoriously wasteful son of the queen's sister's bridge partner, she put her stamping skills to work, beating him incessantly with the mackerel despite his protested yells to preserve the integrity of the plate. Her husband soon died of what was determined shock but everyone knew to be syphilis and Gretchen, despite her unrequited love for her husband, decided an economy funeral would be appropriate, dismissing the need for the luxuries of death that she could never enjoy in life.
Merry Christmas, from the Callahans Merry Christmas 2008 from the Callahan's (and to Arthur and Estelle, Happy Chanukah, shalom!). And what an interesting year 2008 has been. To start from the genealogical top, yours truly has had another exciting year filled with word jumbles, Day's of Our Lives (what a year for Chloe!) and a brief addiction to vicodin following a bunion surgery, needless to say my bunions haven't been the root of my pain! Tom Sr. has had an exciting year as well, as we all know, since his retirement 19 years ago, Tom has been volunteering at the local women's shelter, keeping himself busy with acts of merriment and good will. This was his last year volunteering, as his back has been acting up and he has been banned for inciting a relationship with a local homeless women; Elena, his homeless home wrecker, died from an advanced case of syphilis, which caused much holiday tension in this household but nicely settled any conflict before it had a chance to start. There are exciting changes to our eldest daughter Mary's family to report of; first and foremost, she finally left that awful Daniel, the hack of a proctologist with the wandering eye. We thank all of you for putting up with the sham of a marriage in the first place and welcoming him into our family, despite the empty feeling it left in all of our souls, it's the Callahan way to be welcoming after all. Mary is enjoying single life and still bartending at the Rusty Screw where she is in a new committed relationship with a local patron named Viper. Our granddaughter Emma is now the proud mother of, and has made us the proudest great-grandparents of a beautiful 3 pound, 2 ounce baby boy, welcome to the family Apple Callahan! We still haven't gotten to meet him, but you can tell he's a Callahan when he presses his little crack-addicted hand against the side of the incubator and shakes violently; sorry for the nostalgia, but it reminds me so much of Tom Sr. when the nurse runs in to administer CPR with her forefinger, seeing Apple wheeze and cough before returning to sleep as if nothing happened without thanking anyone or acknowledging their efforts. Emma has finished school at 17, albeit without a degree, and has proudly entered the workforce, taking a cue from Mama and putting all of those hours of ballet lessons we paid for to work, dancing nightly for a local troupe called “Bada Bing's.“ Emma's brother, and our oldest grandson Tom Jr has some big news as well! After much whispering and late-night phone calls speculation, he has confirmed all of our suspicions and is now dating his music teacher Mr. Berger, we love you for who you are Tommy. Although Tom Sr refuses to speak to him (he is referred to, lovingly of course, as That Sinful Faggot of a grandson), we hear he is doing well, slaving away at school, working in the Home Section of Bed Bath and Beyond (can you suggest an accent runner for us Tommy?) and tutoring boys on the Volleyball team in his spare time. Johnny, our youngest, has had a successful return to the real world after his diagnosis with Bi-Polar disorder and Mania and is writing his first novel about his childhood, “The Root of My Suffering.“ He tells us that we play a big role in the book, I know we're all excited to see how it turns out! Johnny is still single and refuses to raise a family, as he always says “I refuse to bring another life into this miserable world of suffering and vacuity.“ So dramatic and creative that Johnny! Amidst all the happiness of this holiday season there is a bit of bad news to report on, Fluffy, everyone's favorite Shitzu-Schnouzer mix, has been diagnosed with worms and is hooked up to a ventilator and dialysis for 6 hours per day, we cherish each and every hour with her but fear that she won't live to see her 12th (84 in dog years, what a full life!) birthday. Well it's amazing that 2008 is almost done with, what an exciting, eventful year for the Callahan's! Merry Christmas and Happy New Years, and may 2009 bring as much joy, excitement and prosperity to our family and yours.