Tuesday, August 7, 2012

By Steve Ludwig

Well, OK, maybe the picture above doesn't invoke genuine fear, but here we are, the HE-MEN, from a 2007 trip to Milwaukee. Yeah, that's right, we toured the Miller Brewery, just like real he-men should! You got somethin' to say about that? We hope not, 'cause we can't run away from you real fast anymore...
The picture of us up there was taken by another of us he-men: Ang Stampoulos. Here he is:

All that picture-taking tires a guy out!

So who are the he-men? I know you didn't ask, but here goes anyway...
We're made up of a group of manly male teachers (some retired) who have had some sort of affiliation with Franklin Elementary School in North Bergen, NJ. As long as you taught there at one time, subbed there at some time, worked there in another capacity at one time, or are a direct descendant of Benjamin Franklin, you might be considered for entry into our select group of numbskulls. 
Who has the final word on who's in and who's out? Our renowned president, the Honorable Anthony DeMarco makes that decision. Here he is, deciding:

Why exclusively Franklin School?
"Because I said so," said President DeMarco.

Each year during our Easter break from school, we thoughtful, caring he-men give our wives a break, and we go on a trip. The trip is to a different baseball stadium, and we kindly allow our wives their freedom for three to four days. 
We've been to ballgames in Tampa Bay, Arizona, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, Milwaukee, and others. We just celebrated our tenth anniversary of he-man trips. 
A few years ago, we went to Boston and the home of the hated Red Sox; I kept a little journal, written in the third-person, of our goings-on. 
May I share with you what it's like to be on a trip with some REAL he-men? 
OK, let's go back in time, as the he-men invade Beantown...

Of the 32, 379 fans at the May 3 Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park, only nine were true "he-men." He-Man President Tony DeMarco led eight fellow teachers on a trip to Beantown on May 2, 3, and 4.
Making the trip alongside President DeMarco were recently-retired Al "Dean and Director" Bayley; Jeff "Official Photographer and Foreign Language Specialist" Cabrera; Joe "Resident Social Director" Fontana; Lloyd "Resident Rock Star and Ukulele Master" Gold; Steve "Fifth Beatle and Regular Guy" Ludwig; Chris "Pride of the Yankees" Paglione; Tony "Resident Wizard and Scientist" Roes; and Ang "Mr. Fix-It and Driver" Stampoulos.
Taking advantage of the 1:00 dismissal on Friday, May 2, the he-men made an early start of the festivities as they were driven by limo from Franklin School to the Newark Port Authority.
See what big shots we are?

Tony Roes, former mentor to Lloyd Gold, was given the unenviable task of keeping Lloyd in line throughout the weekend; he failed miserably.
As the ride to Newark proved, Roes was, indeed, in for a long weekend.
Arriving on time to catch their Amtrak train, the group was temporarily detained as the usually nimble and sure-footed DeMarco fell out of the limo, releasing the limo driver's tip into swirling winds of the clear Newark sky.
The five-hour train ride up to Boston must have seemed even longer to the many confused passengers passing through the he-men's car on their way to the bar / food car.

There was also some excessive baggage:

Weekend activities included rooting on the Devils vs. the Bruins in the Cheers "Bull and Finch" Bar, much to the dismay (and anger) of the baby Boston fans.

The weekend, naturally, also included a visit to Fenway Park. The Red Sox weren't playing the Yankees (the Twins were in town), but that didn't stop more than a few of the he-men from wearing their pinstripes proudly in enemy territory. President DeMarco showed no fear as, in his Yankee garb, he got fresh with the backside of the dopey stilted Red Sox guy.

Once inside Fenway, irony reared its ugly head as "Mr. Fix-It" Stampoulos sat down and promptly broke his Fenway Park chair. A Mr. Fix-It Boston worker who actually knew how to fix things had to repair Ang's damage to the historic landmark:

Chris Paglione, as he paraded throughout Fenway dressed in all things Yankee, addressed the jeering crowd with, "Get over the Babe Ruth thing already!!"

A visit to Quincy Market on Saturday night saw many bachelorette parties roaming the grounds. Luckily for the brides-to-be, Lloyd brought his ukulele along. He serenaded them to the strains of, appropriately, Madonna's "Like A Virgin."

After a day of rooting against the Red Sox, the phrase "to the strains of" was quite accurate in describing Lloyd's voice. This picture of Lloyd is able to be shared with you because, thankfully, Jeff Cabrera did not leave his camera in the pocket of the jacket that he left (and never found) in the subway car on the ride back to the hotel later that night.
 Back outside the hotel at 2 AM, Steve Ludwig stood, devouring a box of Entenmann's Donuts and washing them down with ginger ale and milk. He was soon joined by Gold, Cabrera, and DeMarco, as the four of them stuffed their mouths and solved all of the world's problems (or at least how to get to the USS Constitution the next day).

Sunday morning at breakfast found Al Bayley and Ang Stampoulos wondering why they got stuck sharing a room with Ludwig; secretly, Lud wondered the same about them:

Gratefully for the rest of the he-men, the two voices-of-reason, Joe Fontana and Tony Roes, plotted the day's trip to Old Ironsides. They first asked Stampoulos directions to the historic battleship; then walked in the opposite direction. Brilliant! Ignoring Ang's suggestions, the he-men walked the Freedom Trail:

We certainly felt we were in our element:

This walk on the Freedom Trail certainly proved prosperous: the group found thirty-two cents on the streets and sidewalks of Boston. This money promptly went towards the next year's trip to Atlanta.
At least Boston showed the president of the he-men the respect he deserves. The street sign says it all:

Before long, the sea-faring he-men found themselves at the USS Constitution--"Old Ironsides"...

...and proceeded to make themselves at home, matey...

Having shown the sailors on-board the Constitution how it's done, the he-men made  one more visit to Fenway, where the Red Sox lost to the Twins, much to the delight of the he-men.

The ride home to Newark was a bit more subdued than the ride was going up a few days earlier. 
The nine weary travelers stepped off the Amtrak train in Newark (much to the delight of the other passengers) at 10:30 Sunday night. In a few short hours they would be back at work, teaching and spreading knowledge to the youth of America. They would also share their stories of their trip with any of their colleagues they could force to listen.

And so ended another trip-- a trip on which these wonderful gifts to mankind, the He-Men, spread goodness, sunshine, and lessons-to-be-learned to the fortunate city of Boston.
Next year it would be another city...

It's simply what they do.

BUT WAIT! The He-Menia is not over! Check out our first YouTube video below. It's a trailer of the upcoming HE-MAN CHRONICLES. C'mon, you can spare fifty-five more seconds, can't ya??


And well, hey, I also have two brothers, and they each have a blog of their own.

Check out my brother Tom's blog is at: www.secondgrademinds.wordpress.com.  In this latest entry of Second Grade Minds, he and his buddy (since second grade) discuss the recent Cheney vs. Palin rift. It's great reading.

Steve Ludwig


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