Cooper’s Bass

My son Cooper has Down syndrome. He’s now six years old, and it’s still hard for me to say that, at least some of the time. He’s a sweet boy, at least most of the time, but he does have a strong will and a tendency to want to do things his way. I think that’ll actually serve him well in life, but it can be pretty tough when you’re trying to get him ready for school. The kid knows what he wants and you better not try to give him strawberries when he’s in the mood for grapes.

We have a boat, and we really like to get out on the lake as a family (well, I really like it, more so than the rest of the family). My older son Max has taken to fishing with me and we’ve had some awesome days out on the water just the two of us. Unfortunately, Cooper gets scared on the boat.

But I think that’s changing!

This past weekend we went out as a family. It was my birthday (I’m now 46) and when the fam asked me what I wanted to do, there was only one thing that came to mind: go out on the boat. I got up fairly early and hit the lake by myself. I made my first cast at 7:48 a.m. I love mornings on the lake. It’s quiet. No jet-skis and no wakeboard boats. The water is usually calm and the air is still cool. I worked an elbow-shaped area with a deep dropoff and some grass and pads on the shallows. At about 8:30 the bass started to wake up. I watched them pushing minnows over the grass flats and feeding in big splashes. I caught a few fish and enjoyed my coffee.

At around 10 a.m. my wife called, saying they were over at the neighborhood lake lot, where the launch ramp is, and ready to be picked up. I made my way over and Max and Cooper were super excited to go out on the boat. Especially Cooper, which was a first. He didn’t fight putting on the life jacket. He didn’t yell or try to run when I reached up for him from the boat as he stood on the dock. He did the complete opposite. He kind of leapt into my arms. He sat down where I asked him to. I wouldn’t say he was an angel (he did reach for a lure and almost get impaled), but this is a complete 180 from how he used to act on the boat. He was pretty chill. No tears and no screams. But we still had the speed test.

In the past, Cooper would yell and cower into my wife when I ran the boat at anything more than idle speed. He’d hold his ears and sometimes cry. Not this time. He was a little scared at first, but then he started having fun. We made our way over to a little beach so the kids could play in the water. After a couple of hours at the beach, I shoved off and we used the trolling motor to move up the shoreline. Me and Max fished. I caught two more and Cooper held the bass for the camera. No fear. Just smiles.

Max hadn’t caught a fish (one jumped off) but he finally got his as we were headed back toward home. It was a wonderful day. Cooper is progressing in so many ways and I think there are many more fishing adventures to come.

Quote by Hunter S. Thompson

this made me get off my ass….

“But a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.”

From Hunter S. Thompson’s letter to a friend on the meaning of life. Amazingly written when our favorite literary anti-hero was a mere 22 years old.

Hemingway Project, part 1

The Florida Keys is sponsoring a Flash Fiction writing contest. The winner gets to spend 10 days writing in Ernest Hemingway’s study in Key West. I want to win. However, each writer can only submit one story, and it must be less than 500 words.

Not easy…

Here’s my first attempt.

the walk


“The Walk,” by Charlie Levine

The trail of blood started in the dirt, extended across the asphalt highway and slung back into the dirt. It was not a solid brushstroke, more like dribbles strung together. A crimson connect-the-dots. The puzzle extended to the toes of my worn leather boots. I hoped the caked dust may keep the blood from staining them, not that it would matter. I’m not afraid to wear blood on my sleeves, let alone my boots.

I followed the trail back into the woods, grateful no cars had seen me on the road. How awkward that’d have been, working so hard to go unnoticed can surely get you killed.

I was at home in the woods, among the leave-covered pathways and skimped down birch trees. I’d dressed for the November weather. A good thing as this chase may last till morning. The sun had already started its descent.

The bloodline stopped. I was close. Or I’d lost it.

I slid the ammunition into place with the bolt-action and brought the butt to my shoulder. Stepping quietly. I spun in a slow circle to see all sides.

No need to shoot.

She was dead, lying there with her tongue extended and slumped to the side. Three hours she ran. Three hours I followed.

I placed my hand on her still-warm neck and apologized for my wayward shot. It was not a clean kill, but the meat will fill us for months and the hides will be used for warmth.

Super Q for the Super Bowl?

How about some Q?

How about some Q?

It’s Super Bowl time. A bittersweet day for me each and every year.  Bitter because it marks the end of the season. But this year’s sweeter than ever because my beloved Denver Broncos have somehow clawed their way to the big dance.

If we win, and I’m praying our defense can slow down Cam Newton enough to let Peyton play (and throw it well, perhaps?), I will surely smile until next August. If we lose, I won’t watch Sports Center or the NFL network for months. The pain from our last Super Bowl performance was too great to see the media recap every moment several million times. That’s like being re-stabbed over and over after you actually lived through a stabbing.

As Americans, the Super Bowl marks the final foray for feasting like carnivorous savages on a Sunday afternoon. I usually bust out my Hobo Smoker and slow-cook some ribs or beer-can chicken. This year, NO! My wife, who loves to host a party, wanted to invite all of our friends, family and coworkers over to celebrate Denver’s appearance in the Super Bowl.


I want to watch the game with little to no disturbance.

“I’d rather watch the game in a dark room — by myself — than try to keep a smile on my face if some dipshit wants to make small talk while we go for it on fourth down.”

This is a big game and a big game deserves my full attention. I will be ordering take out: chicken wings, a pizza and there will be a bag of chips. Come over if you dare…

Flying Fish

The flying fish is one of my all-time favorite animals. Every time I see a high-flyer skip across the surface of the ocean, it puts a smile on my face. The above footage captured by the BBC is some of the most incredible flying fish footage I’ve ever seen. These animals, and the mahi and frigates chasing them down, are so difficult to grasp in a sharp photo or crisp video because of their speed and quick moves. I have no idea how many hours it took to get this two and a half minutes of video, but I’m guessing it was several days worth. Utterly amazing. Sometimes I feel like that flying fish, getting it from above and below.

Thank you BBC. I heart you.

Daddy’s Potty Time


Image courtesy of

I grew up in a three-bedroom house with one bathroom and four occupants. If you do the math, you can see that this will inevitably  cause conflict. It didn’t help that my father was known to take 45-minute shits, especially on Sunday mornings.

For years it drove me and my sister crazy. Who takes a shit for 45 minutes? I could hardly sit still for thirty minutes. As we grew older and our morning routines grew in length and involvement, the conflict became more and more heated.

But now that I have children, I get it. A small house with only one bathroom provides little room to hide. Solitude is a valuable thing when you work 50 to 60 hours a week running a business. All week the man was constantly bombarded by someone wanting something. On Sunday mornings, he just wanted some quiet time. Down time. Recharge with the Life and Arts section of the Times.

But then again, when I was about twelve I found a stack of six Penthouse magazines under a banged up white towel in the linen closet and my time in the bathroom increased dramatically as well. The apple never falls too far.

Cranky Charlie BBQ

crank1A new era in Kosher barbecue has begun. I welcome you to taste the devine swine made by Charlie Levine (which most Goyim still pronounce as La-Vine like a grape vine, making my rhyme sound just fine).

After many years of threatening to compete in an official barbecue contest, I have done it. On Saturday, January 9th, me and my buds set up the hobo barrel smoker, our EZ-Up tent, a folding table and a range of Q accoutrements to see if our ribs would stand up to the other amateur cookers assembled in the parking lot of Ten10 Brewing in Orlando, Florida.

I was nervous, excited and a bit out of my element. I had six slabs of St. Louis ribs trimmed and rubbed down with my signature sweet rub in the cooler. A 64-ounce growler filled with Ten10’s milk stout. My barrel smoker was bellowing sweet smoke and I had a Weber kettle grill as a backup, which I’d also use to cook my sauce on. And I looked legit thanks to fresh custom t-shirts that were a surprise gift by the Wife.

The main objective… cook some good product, drink beer and have fun.


The ribs hit the smoker at 8:53 a.m. We were off to a good start. One neighbor didn’t even arrive till 9:15 so that made me feel a bit more confident. The thermometer on my hobo barrel smoker was hovering a bit low an hour into the cook at about 215° and that had me wanting to lift open the lid, but I resisted. Every time you open the smoker, you add about 15 minutes to your cook time. We kept the ribs on the smoker until 11 a.m. when we decided to put a second layer of rub on the meat and wrap them tightly in foil before placing them back on the smoker. I also added more charcoal to the smoker at this point.

With the help of my buddy Steve, we had those slabs wrapped as tight as a sausage casing and the temp in the smoker climbed upwards thanks to some fresh new charcoal. I forgot to mention, we were using apple wood chunks to give it a fresh sweet smoke flavor. We noticed some teams putting brown sugar, honey and butter on their ribs when they wrapped them. Should we have done that? Too late now.

The crowds began to grow when the band consisting of a couple of skinny, preppy, bangs-in-their-face college kids began to bust out a few slick grooves that even had me bouncing. We had smoked kielbasa and my homemade horseradish honey mustard to give out as samples to the public. What a bunch of savages! Free food brings out the animal in people. The old birds were bumping elbows to get at my sausage. I sent the boys over to Fresh Market three times to buy more meat.

“Everyone loves my sausage,” I said (over and over), making sure to point people in the direction of the People’s Choice Award entries.

Our turn-in time was 3:25 p.m. and my nerves wiped away my beer buzz at about 2:45. It was like I had just gotten pulled over… I was instantly sober and a bit of a bossy bitch as I laid out our plan. I will take out the ribs and put them here, you place the sauce there, I’ll cut the ribs, you sauce, I set up the turn-in box.

I still don’t think I picked our best ribs. People were lined up in front of my table and literally trying to grab the ribs as I sliced them. My dad was great, he was the rib bouncer and told one kid to “Back off man, that’s for our turn-in box!” I did not taste each individual rack of ribs and the tenderness varied. I don’t know why but some were not biting off the bone easily. I mostly went by the look and feel of the ribs when choosing our final six. That may have been our downfall because the taste was dead on. Sweet and just a bit tangy thanks to brown pepper, cumin and the use of the milk stout in the sauce.

We finished somewhere in the middle of the pack. I’m still questioning what I should’ve done differently but when we go out there again, I will be rubbed and ready.


And, I will definitely be showing off my meat side!