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Articles by: Fuzzy Fusaro

  • Life & People

    Texting Shortcuts and Etiquette

    In the era of cell phones it’s ironic how typing messages has become

    the norm. Texting: It's back to the future.


    Remember pagers?  In those days before cell phones we were limited to receiving call back numbers.  If you were away from your telephone and someone wanted to contact you they’d page you.  They would call the telephone number assigned to your pager from their landline, enter their phone number using the phone’s keypad and then wait by their phone for you to call them back. And you couldn’t call them back until you got to a landline yourself.  In order to free ourselves up, we created numerical codes so we could communicate immediately without having to wait for a call back.  Are you old enough to remember some of them?  Here are a few to help jar your memory.


    121 I need to talk to you


    123 I miss you


    143 I love you

    220 Why haven't you called?

    221 Where are you?

    30 This is getting old


    45 Good night


    406 Hugs and Kisses

    477 Best friends forever

    5012124 Sorry


    56 Sweet dreams

    601 Happy Birthday/Anniversary


    603 Hope you're feeling better

    607 I miss you

    609 I'm mad at you

    611 I'm sorry

    612 I'm thinking about you

    6000_6 Good Luck

    911 I Need To Talk To You Now!

    There was even a few that created an optical illusion when you held your pager upside-down:  these numerical combinations appeared to spell the words out literally.


    07734 Hello*

    1134_2_09 Go to hell*

    17_31707_1 I love you*

    14 Hi*

    It’s amazing how creative us humans are when it comes to communicating with one another.  But once we got a hold of cell phones and the freedom to contact each other without restrictions, the idea of going back to coded type seemed as antiquated as Morse code.  Boy, were we in for a surprise.  Today we communicate more via text messaging than we do by voice.  What seemed at first an absurd novelty is now the norm.  Limited to a standard telephone ten-button keypad, spelling things out was (and still can be) tedious.  So once again we got creative, and overcame this limitation by using abbreviations and acronyms.  Some were borrowed and others newly created. 


    Texting, and this new shorthand that resembles vanity license plate lingo, is rapidly becoming our most popular form of communicating.  Even though manufacturers of newer smart-phones have added miniature replicas of a full keyboards to accommodate us in typing things out, we still use our abbreviated form of writing. The problem is some of us are latecomers to texting and find ourselves stumped whenever we receive a text message that contains an acronym or abbreviation we aren’t familiar with.  If you feel you missed the boat and will never catch up, don’t be too hard on yourself.  There are many of us getting up to speed. 


    Take me for instance, my attitude toward texting was defiant.  I came close to being a modern day version of the guy from the early 1900's screaming out, "Get a horse!" to those driving an automobile.  Whenever I caught a friend texting I’d give him a hard time, “Oh my God, I can’t believe you’re bitch-thumbing.”  I would even self-righteously preach that texting was a cowards way to communicate, because you didn’t have to speak with the other person directly.  The good news is resisting the inevitable takes way more energy than I have to expend.  Soon I caved in, and boy am I grateful ‘cause I’m loving it!  I can't believe today I'm ‘bitch-thumbing’ with some of my father's wiseguy buddies.  Especially since not too long ago I considered texting something thirteen-year-old girls did, right up there with playing with Barbie dolls.  Like Paul on the road to Damascus, I have seen the light.


    Thank God I came to my senses because today texting is not limited to chatting with friends, it’s become an acceptable means of communicating in the professional world as well.  Now that I've come over to the winning side and texting with business partners, I began to wonder; "What is the proper etiquette?" If you have been wondering general rule is, it seems to be this: with family and friends anything goes, but in business, spell it out, and spell it correctly.  I learned this from writer, A.J. Benza, who always spells things out in his business texts.  It makes perfect sense.  Why take the chance of having someone, I am in a professional relationship with, make an incorrect snap judgment about me because I used an acronym or abbreviation that they might misinterpret?  So, I came up with a rhyme to keep me out of trouble: “When in doubt, spell it out.”


    And in order for me to stay on top of things I have found two websites extremely helpful. 

    Click here for all the most popular texting acronyms and abbreviations;

    If you are brave, click here for all the ninety-nine texting acronyms every parent should know.




    In other words, "Have fun, stay in touch, and when in doubt, spell it out.  Ciao, for now."

  • Art & Culture

    How To Enjoy Art Like a Pro

    Have you ever been tempted to walk into an art gallery or museum but that was as far as you got?  If you were afraid to step inside because you didn’t want to feel stupid if you didn’t understand the artwork, you are not alone.  Most people are intimidated by art, including me.  Thanks to fellow artist and teacher, George A. Rada, I can walk into any art gallery or museum and enjoy whatever art is on display, and so can you.


    George and I met at an artists’ get-together held by art dealer Molly Barnes at the Roger Smith Hotel in New York City sixteen years ago.  George and I became quick friends.  Over the next few years we visited each other’s studios and enjoyed encouraging one another.  At that time, George was a much more established artist than I, and a teacher at the prestigious Art Students League, so I would listen closely to what he had to say.


    One evening he shared how his new student’s were often intimidated by art.  He explained that the reasons most people are intimidated is because they think they must understand art intellectually before they can appreciate it.  Or they think they need to learn a lot more about art before ever setting foot in a gallery or museum.  And trying to learn more about art can be intimidating in itself.   Even art reviews tend to be more pretentious then inviting.  So what’s the solution?  George put it simply, "The idea that you must be sophisticated or knowledgeable to appreciate fine art is erroneous."


    The way to enjoy art like a pro is simple: you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy art.  Matter of fact, the less you know the better your experience.  This all may seem like B.S. since it’s contrary to what you may believe, but it should come as a relief.  The only thing necessary for you to do to enjoy art is to bring yourself to an art exhibit, and let the artwork do the rest.  Forget what you’ve read, forget all your preconceived ideas, and just allow yourself to respond to the art on display.  Trust me, it works.

    What will happen?  You'll enjoy your own interpretation.  Maybe the artwork will  awaken a long forgotten memory.  Or  a strong emotional feeling will wash over you.  A movie may begin to play in your head starring the characters portrayed in a scene painted by an artist.  There could be a strong attraction to shapes and colors that you can’t quite explain and find fascinating.  You might even become inspired to try something new when you leave, or have the overwhelming compulsion to call up a friend to share what an incredible time you had.  The great fact is, when we allow ourselves to experience art without the burden of anyone else’s opinion, including our own, we feel like we've been a good friend to ourselves.


    Hopefully this gives you the confidence to step boldly into an art exhibit any time you have the desire to do so.  You can think of it like going to the theatre, only instead of having actors on stage working to entertain you, you can allow the art to awaken a surprising response. 


    What about George?  Sadly George passed away unexpectedly in 2002, but every time I enjoy myself at an exhibit I think of George with a smile and say to myself, “Thanks, George.”

    Fuzzy Fusaro, aka Darrell Fusaro, is an author and keynote speaker who's documentary, THE BASEMENT will be screening in Los Angeles and New York City this fall during HITWEEK.  As an artist he has exhibited with Andy Warhol and has been featured in American Artist Magazine.  For more information visit www.TheBasementTheMovie.com

  • Life & People

    How to Gain Admiration & Respect Immediately

    Recently I was in a convenience store picking up some gum.  While wandering down an aisle, I was blown away when I saw they had a DVD of the 1970 movie “C.C. & Company” for sale!  It was only $1.99!  $1.99! It was basically the same price as the gum.

    So I grabbed it and went straight to the register.

    Most guys my age credit Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky” as the movie that inspired them when they were in their early teens.  But before “Rocky,” it was the movie “C.C. & Company” starring Joe Namath that started me on my quest to become the coolest kid in New Jersey.

    Joe Namath was the superstar quarterback of the Super Bowl champion

    New York Jets at the time.  He was the ultimate celebrity playboy

    athlete and when I saw him in the opening scene of the film, I found

    my inspiration.  For years the opening scene of that film influenced

    my life, for better or worse.


    The film opens with Namath walking into a supermarket.  He strolls

    down an aisle, stops and loads his cart with several cans of

    vegetables. Then as he continues up and down the aisles, it becomes

    obvious he is only pretending to shop.  He does this so he can go

    unnoticed while he assembles a sandwich for himself, which he eats

    during the scene.  When he finishes his sandwich, the only thing he

    buys is pack of gum (hmm… maybe that’s why I still find myself always

    buying gum). Anyway, he then exits the store, hops on his black and

    white zebra-striped chopper and drives off onto the open road.  At the

    time, this was the coolest thing I ever saw.


    My Source of Inspiration


    I thought, “That’s the way to rip off a sandwich.”   At least that’s

    what I thought on the surface.  The underlying belief was, “If I was

    like Joe Namath, I’d be cool and everyone would love me!”   I hopped

    on my bike and raced to the Styertown Shopping Center.  I pulled up in

    front of the Grand Union grocery store, laid my bike down on the

    sidewalk, walked in, grabbed a cart and got started.   I was going to

    be just like Joe Namath.  Only difference, I was caught in the act.

    When my father asked, “What the fu*k were you thinking?!”,  I was too

    embarrassed to tell him the truth, so I answered with my famous last

    words: “I don’t know.”


    But for some reason, this didn’t stop me.  My Namath debacle was only

    the beginning of endless desperate attempts at emulating people I saw

    on TV.   Here’s a short list: there was the matching headband and

    sleeveless t-shirt combo I saw the lead singer of the band “Loverboy”

    wear in their music videos.  I started smoking cigarettes, hoping that

    would deliver me into the cool lifestyle promised in the ad.  I even went

    so far as to smoke More Slims believing they’d make me Telly

    Savalas - “Kojak” cool.  All they did was make me nauseous.  

    Then there was the time I tore out an underwear ad depicting a handsome model sporting a feathered style and brought it to my barber.  I was convinced having that haircut would change

    everything. When the barber was done and spun me around in the chair,

    for the big reveal in the mirror, what a bummer.   

    I just looked like

    me, only with a feathered haircut.  Oh, and the film, “Rocky?”

    Thanks to Stallone, I was downing raw eggs and protein powder

    convinced that bigger biceps would magically bring admiration.  I

    still can’t remember what movie inspired to play up my New Jersey

    accent, in hopes I would be mistaken for a tough guy from New York,

    but I did that, too.


    If my humiliation can help others, then revealing this picture is worth it.


    If my humiliation can help others, then revealing this picture is worth it.

    All this effort failed and I still felt inadequate.  So, I redoubled

    my efforts.  I could not see that by trying to be like someone else,

    I’d never measure up.  The only results I got were bad, leading me

    straight to the Pearl Harbor brig.  Alone and reeking of self-pity I

    cried out, “Why do I have to be me?”  I was convinced I failed at my

    attempts to be more like those respected, ruggedly cool and

    sophisticated heroes I tried to emulate.


    Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I was confronted by

    United States Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant Mike Urton.  He

    asked me a simple question.


    “You know what you are, Fusaro?”


    I couldn’t answer, I had no idea, and I said nothing.


    “A phony FU*K!”


    With these three little words he knocked the wind out of my sails.

    Although in a way that may seem rude and hurtful to some,  Master Gunnery Sgt. Urton

    brought me relief.  What he said was true.  He knew it, and I knew it.

      I wasn’t fooling anyone, and as embarrassing  as that was to come to

    terms with, I felt at peace accepting that fact.  Finally, I no longer

    had to pretend to be anyone else.  

    As inadequate as  I thought I was,

    it felt so much better than constantly trying to be someone I wasn’t.

    At last I could just be me, Darrell Fusaro, the one person I could be



    Now it’s clear why I admired Joe Namath.  It was the same thing the

    reviewers of the film criticized him for, saying “Namath was no actor!

    He just waltzes through the film as himself.”  Ironically, that is

    what made him so special.  He was just being himself as God intended.

    Man, I wish I realized that sooner.


    So when all else fails, be yourself.  You’re perfect for the part!


    Around the time I met Master Gunnery Sgt. Urton, a friend of mine gave me a copy of, "The Man in the Glass."  I have a copy of it in my wallet to keep me from veering off course.  It sums it up perfectly.


    The Man in the Glass


    When you get what you want in your struggle for self,

    And the world makes you king for a day,

    Just go to the mirror and look at yourself

    And see what that man has to say.


    For it isn’t your father or mother or wife

    Whose judgment upon you must pass;

    The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life

    Is the one staring back in the glass.


    Some people may think you a straight-shooting chum

    And call you a wonderful guy,

    But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum

    If you can’t look him straight in the eye.


    He’s the fellow to please, never mind all the rest

    For he’s with you clear up to the end,

    And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test

    If the man in the glass is your friend.


    You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years

    And get pats on the back as you pass,

    But your final reward will be heartache and tears

    If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

    - Author Unknown

    The original copy my good friend, Mike Dugan, gave me in 1986.

  • Op-Eds

    The Worst Thing That Could Happen Is Usually The Best

    Lori, my wife the professional photographer, had mistakenly booked a photo session that overlapped with her commitment to lead a business meeting.  What happened was, she got a fill for the meeting on the wrong day.  Now stuck having to lead the meeting, she couldn’t believe she made such a stupid mistake.


    The photo session she booked was for her to photograph a two-year-old’s birthday party.  When covering a child’s birthday, the photographer must be on time to capture the scheduled itinerary of events.  So the stress was severe.  How could Lori possibly make it on time?  Her business meeting was further away from the party’s location than our home.  In addition, the meeting was scheduled to end within minutes of the party's start.  So, Lori asked if I could help out by acting as her assistant and showing up to the party on time with her second camera.  This way if she was running late, I could reassure the client of Lori’s arrival and, having assisted her in the past, cover the event until she arrived. 


    So that being the plan, the day of the event Lori headed off to her meeting.  I printed up my map on Mapquest.  The location was just eighteen miles away from our home but just to be safe I gave myself an hour to get there.  It was Sunday, the skies were blue, the sun shining, the roads were clear and I zipped onto the freeway.  I turned up the radio and I was on my way to save the day for Lori!  The freeway was clear as I had predicted.  Traveling along at 65mph plus, I was already enjoying the Starbuck’s I imagined I’d have more than enough time to treat myself to.

      Within just ten minutes travel time, I was already past the halfway mark!


    Then after a curve in the freeway I hit a wall of traffic.  No big deal, I reassured myself that I had more than enough time, I’m more than half way there, and I am sure it’ll open up soon.  Ten minutes later and less than a mile traveled, I kept my cool by reminding myself that, nothing happens by mistake, divine order prevails, and I’ll get there right when I am supposed to.  I can do without a Starbuck’s.


    Another ten minutes, still inching along and unable to see any clearing ahead, I decided to keep busy by listening to messages and returning calls.  This kept me occupied for another ten minutes but only one more mile.  Realizing that the party was starting in just ten minutes and with seven more miles to go in this traffic, I could not deny it any longer; there was no way I would be there on time.  My concern began to grow into worry, so I reassured myself by repeating my affirmations from the preceding paragraph.  Then it hit me! What about Lori?!  I hope she is not behind me in this nightmare.  If she is, then she will be counting on my already being at the party, which I am not!


    I was apprehensive to call her, afraid she would be stuck in traffic too and extremely upset with herself.  If that was the case then I knew once she heard that I wasn’t going to be on time either… well, I’ll be nice and say, it wasn’t going to be good for me.  I held on to the desperate belief that the traffic would miraculously part.  Of course it didn’t.  So, I bit the bullet and called Lori.  While the phone was ringing I was rehearsing how I was going to explain that I left with over an hour ahead of the call time and that there was no accounting for this traffic.  She answered, “Hello?”


    With great trepidation, “Lori?”


    “How close are you?”


    I spit it out quickly, like tearing off a Band-aid, “I’m stopped dead in traffic, still downtown…, I think they closed off the highway.”


    “That’s OK, I’m here already.”


    “What?  Really?  You are?  Oh that’s good, I thought you were stuck in this traffic behind me.”


    “No, because I had to go to my meeting I was forced to take a different route. Can you believe that?”


    “That’s great, because if you didn’t have to go to that meeting and left from home you would have been stuck in this traffic and late, like me.”


    “I know; we have to remember this the next time there is something that seems to be getting in the way.”


    “That’s right.  Isn’t it amazing?  Nothing happens by mistake.”


    Something to remember for sure, cause whenever there seems to be an unavoidable obstacle it is usually there for our own good.  Some consider it as, God, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.  Makes sense, since being forced to go a direction you feel to be upsetting to your plans instead turns out to be a blessing.  The best thing learned from these repeated divine detours is that enventually they help us let go of fighting obstacles by whining, “Why is this happening to me?”, and instead enthusiastically exclaim, “Why is this happening for me?!”


    You may be thinking, yeah, well, that was a great lesson, Fusaro, but you were stuck in traffic and for no good reason at all.  Well here’s the rest of the story.  The traffic did eventually open up, and even though Lori was at the party and it was no longer necessary for me to show up, I decided to do so anyway.  I was so enthusiastic about how it all worked out so far, why stop now?  When I finally made it to the party, Lori’s big bright smile lit up as soon as she saw me walking in and then the birthday girl’s parents offered me what turned out to be the best coconut cupcake I ever ate.  Obviously, nothing, absolutely nothing, happens by mistake.

    As you can see it all worked out perfectly.