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From dismal drunk to Daddy Rocker

Many of us are suckers for a success story, and we can find one in a flash with Tom Moran.

This Brooklyn boy went from suicidal drunk to Daddy Rocker who just released his second album “Ain’t Gonna Give Up.”

Tom in front of Coney Island's Wonder Wheel/Daddy Rocker photo
Tom in front of Coney Island's Wonder Wheel/Daddy Rocker photo

Success didn’t come easy. The 44-year-old first had to ride the express train to hell and hit a bottom so low he needed to be scraped off it. And he’s not ashamed to admit some of the tough stuff he’s been through.

“I am so proud of my life and my past, ” he said. “I can now help others through my music and by being an example to them.”

Although booze badgered him, bludgeoned him and eventually ruled his life, Moran didn’t even dig the taste of his first drink.

That drink came as a teen and he slowly slid into a life of beer and pining after girls who didn’t pine back. It got worse right after high school.

“That’s when I really got hooked on the juice,” he said.

Other than smashing a beer bottle outside his frequent hole-in-the-wall hangout called the Truck Stop, Moran didn’t get into much trouble drinking – at least on the outside.

Inside, he was dying.

Still in his early 20s, the Canarsie chap moved to upstate New York to live with his sister. But his “good buddy Weiser” came with him.

“I was lost for some time upstate and in my mind,” he said. Thoughts of suicide constantly trampled through his head. “My life was really nowhere. I really did not want to go on anymore with my useless life.”

Waking up was turmoil, pulling himself out of bed a major chore.

“Getting up the next morning was hard to do. After a night out, I remember getting up the next day and wishing I would die and the hangover had my head spinning.”

Moran finally sought help when his sister decided to quit her own drinking.

“I went where she went and got some help,” he said. “That was the best decision I ever made: getting help for my drinking.”

Falteringly at first, Moran finally embraced a life without alcohol – even when that life continued to fall apart.

Married and living in Gerritsen Beach, Moran was working as a teacher, which he still does, with 90 percent of his cash going to fixing up the couple’s refinanced house.

He decided to use the meager 10 percent to record his first album, “Starting Over.”

That may not be the main reason behind the divorce that followed – “She did complain a lot!” – but the result still left him as a single parent raising his son Jonathan.

Tom with son John/Daddy Rocker photo
Tom with son John/Daddy Rocker photo

Move over Budweiser, as his son, now 10, took over as the most important thing in his life.

“When he first called me dad, I lit up,” Daddy Rocker said. “When your kid calls you dad for the first time, it’s amazing and wonderful.”

Working with former drug and alcohol addicts in recovery programs, teaching physical education to special needs children and, of course, spreading his message through his music are near the top of his list, too.

Moran’s first album sold 12,000 copies – not bad for “an unusual bad boy turned good,” as he jokes.

His second album has just hit the market, and I’ve already picked out my three favorite tracks:

1. Kisses & Hugs – An oozy, bluesy tune that soothes, grooves and mentions Santa Claus a la Leonard Cohen.

2. No Big Deal – Rocking number that devotes a whole stanza to the joy of Jonathan, especially watching the Yankees-loving boy play baseball.

3. This Poor Boy – Sweet, soulful song asking for help being put back together.

Even with through the turmoil of depression, alcohol addiction, divorce and working as a teacher in NYC public schools, Moran’s music is uplifting and filled with hope.

It is also infused with a simple innocence that makes you smile, not to mention tap the steering wheel while driving.

Even though Moran no longer longs for death, he easily answered the question I asked about what he would want on his headstone as his final words:

To my son Jonathan: I love you.
Go Out and Enjoy Your Life
Love, Daddy
P.S. Daddy will always be with you.

Full disclosure: I’ve known Tom for about 10 years and he’s one of those sweet, supportive friends that can’t make you mad even if they try. (Tom – that doesn’t mean you should try.)

Check out his album, video and more on his website DaddyRocker.com

Tom gives special thanks to his publicist, DeAlan Wilson.

I’ll be playing some Daddy Rocker songs on my weekly webcast Friday at 4 p.m. (7 p.m. EST) at Party934.com.

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My favorite promo shot - love the vest!/Daddy Rocker photo
My favorite promo shot - love the vest!/Daddy Rocker photo

Do you know someone who is a success story?

Maybe you are success story yourself?

Who inspires you?

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Odd Pueblo: Snappy or crappy?

This fun Odd Pueblo feature asks the audience to rate a trend, topic or sighting of something around town: is it snappy or crappy? The last snappy or crappy, the cutest kid with a Mohawk, was voted one of the snappiest yet.

The jury is mixed on the latest snappy or crappy: multicolored architecture.

It could easily go either way, depending on how it’s executed.

Multi-colored stone wall/Ryn Gargulinski
Multi-colored stone wall/Ryn Gargulinski

The first example is snappy.

This midtown stone border is sweetly kitschy and hopefully was painted using masonry primer or the paint will flake off and make it incredibly crappy. It’s an older home that deserves some funky touches.

The second example is crappy.

Multi-colored squares/Ryn Gargulinski
Multi-colored squares/Ryn Gargulinski

This newer building, on North Alvernon Way just north of Fort Lowell Road, should have at least left out the purple. The effect is a multicolored mismatching mishmash.

It’s a prime example of art trying too hard to be cool when it really isn’t, not unlike those paintings of a single dot in the middle of the canvas at which you are supposed to oooh and aaah even though all you are looking at is a dot.

What do you think?
Please respond:
a. I agree the stone wall is snappy and the newer building looks like a pile of poop.
b. I think the stone wall is crappy and the newer building is gorgeously sleek and attractive.
c. All multicolored architecture is crappy. The whole world should be one big beige blob.
d. I don’t care because I’m stuck in a red brick house and all other architecture makes me angry.

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Guns in bars OKed by AZ governor

While minors and drunks may not be allowed to enter a bar, folks toting concealed handguns will soon have the green light to patronize the place.

Street shot up by angry drunk?/Ryn Gargulinski
Street shot up by angry drunk?/Ryn Gargulinski

Ariz. governor signs bill allowing guns in bars, Associated Press report

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizonans with concealed weapons permits will be allowed to take a handgun into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol under a bill signed Monday by Gov. Jan Brewer.

The measure, backed by the National Rifle Association, will require bar and restaurant owners who want to ban weapons on the premises to post a no-guns sign next to their liquor license. It becomes effective Sept. 30.

Drinking while carrying a weapon would be illegal.

Overall, this could be a very good thing.

Since drinking while carrying a weapon would be illegal, we know anyone who did end up getting drunk while carrying their gun would do the right thing and go put it away, right?

Better service might arise because of it, with fewer customers being ignored when they need their water glasses refilled for fear they may haul off and shoot the wait staff.

And you don’t know how many times I was about to sit down to my five-course meal in a restaurant that serves liquor only to have to defend my breadsticks against a hungry, adjacent customer. Now I can use my concealed weapon instead of my butter knife to keep them at bay.

Bartenders and kitchen help, too, can benefit with an extra layer of protection for the top-shelf liquors, pricey caviar stocked in the back and the stockpiles of little umbrellas that go in the drinks.

A positive scenario may even result even if folks do get drunk, stupid and “forget” to put their guns away. An angry gaggle of gun-toting drunks may be able to quiet each other down without our intervention whatsoever – provided their aim is not too far gone.

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What do you think?

Do folks need to carry their guns into bars and restaurants?

When’s the last time you felt threatened while eating out or getting drunk in a bar? Would a gun have helped you?

Have you ever had to defend your drink’s little umbrella or your breadsticks?

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Why we should care about Bastille Day, July 14

Tucson is nestled near Mexico, infused with the Spanish language and in the middle of the fabled Wild West. Some may wonder why we should give a hoot about Bastille Day.

Vive la France/Illustration Ryn Gargulinski
Vive la France/Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Bastille Day, which is France’s July 14, 1789, version of our July 4, 1776, marks the day folks stormed the Bastille prison and kicked off the French Revolution.

Those who think prisons are useless, too costly or overcrowded may one day want to emulate such an event, already a reason to care about Bastille Day.

In addition to giving us a blueprint for setting a bunch of prisoners free, France’s momentous occasion should be honored because the country gave us a lot of cool things.

Wine and cheese: Gallery openings would not be possible without this French-inspired combination. Nor would we be able to enjoy soufflés, omelets, chicken cordon bleu or pate de foie gras. (Please excuse the lack of accent marks I couldn’t get that character map thing to work.)

Art and literature: Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Paul Gaugin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec rule the art end while Charles Baudelaire and Guy de Maupassant pick up the poetry and stories. One of the best stories I’ve ever read was Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace.”

Words and phrases: We are constantly using terms borrowed from the French, both in crossword puzzles and in everyday life. Soup du jour. Bon appetit. Menage a trios. L’aissez-moi tranquille vous etes un couchon.

Besides, some of us may still rue the fateful day we chose to study French over Spanish for 602 years, and Bastille Day gives us one excuse to actually use our language skills for things other than eavesdropping on the occasional tourist from Montreal.

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Do you care about Bastille Day?

Do you still find it useless, even after reading this compelling argument?

What is your favorite thing borrowed from France or your favorite French author, artist or cuisine?

What is your least favorite thing about France?

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Artist’s Sketchbook: How to make art out of junk

Creating an artistic masterpiece can be as easy as playing with a hunk of junk. Since I get so much joy out of my own recycled creations, I am passing my secrets along to you.

How to Make Art out of Junk

Busted PVC pipe/Photo and art Ryn Gargulinski
Busted PVC pipe/Photo and art Ryn Gargulinski

Obtain junk. Visit your local salvage yard, such as Gerson’s Used Building Materials, or scout for random debris in washes, alleys, riverbeds and on the side of Ajo Way.

Scrape and hose.
Get a paint scraper, sand paper, metal files, scouring pads or whatever else you want to use to scrape off rust, dust and caked-on mystery substances. Hose down for good measure.

Allow to percolate. Throw the debris in random areas around your yard, making the place a virtual minefield for your pets, guests and your own bare feet. This allows the junk to dry in the blazing sun and, if it’s metal, soak up enough heat to leave searing burns if you dare touch it at high noon.

Leave the junk there for days, weeks or months until you are so sick of tripping over and looking at it that you either transform it into something or throw it in the ever-growing slush pile. Caution: pack rats love the slush pile.

Slush pile/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Slush pile/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Coddle and paint. Coddling is a highly technical artist term that refers to kicking, denting, snipping, wiring, welding and otherwise getting the item into some type of shape that works to the piece you envisioned during the percolation stage. You know what painting is.

Mark at some ridiculous price.
The final step in your piece’s transformation is to mark it way up. Folks are not going to pay $5 for a lump of twisted metal. If you mark that same lump to $500, however, they will realize it is art and willingly shell out the cash to own such a masterpiece.

While I generally keep my prices reasonable, I will mark up items for this example. Busted PVC pipe: $379.50; Snazzy Totem Pole: $999.99; Dark Theater Shrine: $8,056. I’ll also let the slush pile go for $1.2 million.

BEFORE: Junky wine rack/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
BEFORE: Junky wine rack/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
AFTER: Snazzy totem pole/Photo and artwork Ryn Gargulinski
AFTER: Snazzy Totem Pole/Photo and artwork Ryn Gargulinski
BEFORE: Decaying fire place grate/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
BEFORE: Decaying fireplace grate/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
AFTER: Dark theater shrine/Photo and artwork Ryn Gargulinski
AFTER: Dark Theater Shrine/Photo and artwork Ryn Gargulinski

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Dark theater shrine/Photo and artwork Ryn Gargulinski
Dark theater shrine/Photo and artwork Ryn Gargulinski

Have you ever transformed junk into art?

Have you ever transformed art into junk?

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