Sunday, September 25, 2016

THE LAST GO-GO BOY by Peter Nolan Smith

Americans tend to judge the nation’s fiscal well-being by the rise and fall of the Dow Jones Index, even though Wall Street’s accumulation of wealth has destroyed the spending power of the middle-class. The January bonuses for the hedge fund managers will not save a single consumer buried under debt, after which the corporations will trim benefits and wages to the bone to maximize profit.

Few employees protested the low pay in fear of losing their jobs with good reason.

The nation's economy is in the shitter and I asked myself what jobs are available for a 64 year-old man.

Very few was the answer.

Years before I had been lucky that Manny reserved a place for me on West 47th Street, but this year has been the exception. Times were that tough in the Diamond District.

Early in December I flogged a gay writer's family heirlooms to a gold dealer in another exchange.

Later that evening at his East Village apartment I paid Bruce $4000 minus my commission.

"Now I can pay my health insurance," the heavyweight writer sighed with gratitude and invited me an Asian fusion restaurant on Avenue B. Every seat was crammed with young people enjoying the approach of the holidays.

“I never see anyone my age on the subway.” These go-getters were my competition for a subway seat in the morning. Thankfully none of them were ruthless enough to throw me under the train.

“Most men our age are retired.” Bruce's finger darted over the menu. His thinning hair was bleached blonde, so he resembled an aging beach bum. The waiter paid attention to his every word like he was a seeing-eye dog. Bruce was generous with young men.

"Or dead."

“You're not dying anytime soon."

"I'm too healthy for that." My health care plan was never get sick.

"Do you have a retirement plan?” Bruce was a world-known novelist. Critics had recognized his genius. Sales for his last book totaled a little over 2000, but he owned his apartment and in another year he would be old enough to receive Social Security.

“When I hit 70, I'm flying to Norway." I ordered oysters with seaweed noodles, plus a glass of wine. The thin waiter had to be 35 years younger than me. He wouldn't think of a 60 year-old man as middle-aged, but neo-senior.

"Norway?"

"Yes, I'm going to rob a bank with a gun, then they'll sentence me to 20 to life for armed robbery. I've seen photos of Norway's prison for violent offenders. The rooms have computers and are furnished by IKEA.

“Ten years from now the Norwegian prison officials will have instituted euthanasia for the elderly, so robbing a bank in Oslo is not really an option."

"You have any other suggestions?" Supporting my family in Thailand had wiped out my savings.

"Ever think about taking steel pole lessons from your stripper friends?"

"What for?"

"If you lost ten pounds, you could work as a go-go boy at a queer retirement home.” Bruce’s biting wit was best suited to attack rather than self-deprecation.

“Honey, those old wrinklies aren’t so particular about the weight. They like the young flesh.”

“A scary thought.” Just yesterday my Thai wife reminded me over the phone that I wasn’t 17 anymore. Mam was 28 and my son was four years-old. I couldn’t quit working until I was 78.

"Those old fags want someone young.” Bruce had written a book on the rough trade in Times Square. His tricks had called him Papi. None of them had been under 20 and he never sunk under 250 pounds.

“Those old queens in the nursing homes haven't seen anyone young as you in decades. You could charge the homes $100 a visit, which has to be more beneficial for the old geezers than any other medicine. And you could do lap dances.”

“Thanks for the idea, but I'd rather rob a cradle than a grave."

"Times change and people like you and me have to change with them, plus graves are richer pickings than a cradle. Hell, you could franchise the go-go scheme in Florida. How many retirement homes you think are in the Sunshine State? Thousands? There has to be a demand for middle-aged men from the elderly queers.”

“Supply and demand.”

“And who knows? You might be able to sex them up for a little more money on the side.” Bruce caressed the waiter’s behind. He was a regular here and the waiter smiled with the anticipation of good tip. Bruce liked to pay for sex even if it was merely a grope.

“No way. I barely wanted to have sex with myself let alone with someone else.”

“Why, because you think you're too good to have sex with someone older than you like me.” He frowned at this unintended insult. “What about the woman you had sex with in Palm Beach?"

"Helen?" The Palm Beach heiress had been unnaturally blonde and fashionably thin. We had been introduced by my longtime mistress at the Breakers four summers ago.

"That's the one. You said she was over 70.”

“Closing on 75.” Helen published several magazines extolling the good life on the Gold Coast. She had invited me to her house on Lake Worth. The fragrance of her garden had overwhelmed by the reefer she smoked in a diamond encrusted hand.
We spoke about sex. Helen knew the world; past, present, and future.

"She didn't seem old." The elegant septuagenarian spent part of the year at a Swiss clinic rejuvenating her aged body in Botox like it was fondue cheese.

"She had your number." Bruce was fascinated by my sordid encounter.

“How?"

"As I remember it, she said that she hadn’t had cock in her mouth in ten years. She had begged for it and you gave it to her like you were remaking SUNSET BOULEVARD.”

“It was a mercy mission.” I did look a little like William Holden in the shadows of her bedroom.

With the lights off, the curtains billowing with the evening breeze, and Helen wearing sheer lingerie and satin high heels, I imagined that she was Paris Hilton in the year 2040. On her knees the mirage had performed fellatio like she was entering the Porno Hall of Fame. Thankfully she had never said, “Ready for my scene, Mr. DeMille.”

Maybe the first time, but what about the second time?” Bruce sat back, as the waiter delivered our appetizers; fried calamari for him and raw bluepoints for me. “Gore Vidal said about orgies that once is experimentation, but twice is perversity.”

“The second time was because I was drunk.” Two bottles of wine and a joint had loosened by inhibitions and she had had her way with me. “There was no third time.”

"Only because you saw her with another man at the Chesterfield.”

“She was in the Leopard Lounge.” The other man had been in his late 60s. He had once been an Elvis impersonator. I felt cheap.

“And you heard her use that ‘haven’t tasted cock' line on him, so don’t tell me you can’t go-go boy anymore. We all have a price.”

“I’d rather rob a bank in Norway.” I sucked down an oyster tasting of the Atlantic.

“And end up a stick boy in a Viking prison.” Bruce was enjoying himself. "You don't look like you'd like being a bottom."

"Never." I never would be a bottom, except with my wife Mam. She got off better that way.

“You do what you have to do to survive. Believe me. I know.” He had taught creative writing at a Wyoming dude ranch college two years ago. He was lucky to have escaped the high plains without being charged for perversion.

“I know you do.” Bruce was forever broke same as everyone in America, but maybe Bruce was right and the only one way of finding out was by a repeat performance in Palm Beach.

We clinked glasses.

“To go-go boys.”

“And Florida.” I felt lucky as would anyone with high season only a month away from December.

THE EVERGLADES: RIVER OF GRASS by Marjory Stoneman Douglas

The Everglades: River of Grass by Marjory Stoneman Douglas was published the same year as the formal opening of Everglades National Park. Her writing began as a small article on the Miami River.

"About an inch long," she supposedly said of the piece.

Her book The River of Grass covered the historical and natural aspects of the Everglades and prosed that that the vast wetlands were not a swamp but a broad grassy river following into the Bay of the Ten Thousand Island. Anyone who has sat in a canoe surrounded by the enormity of the Everglades would have to agree.

They go on forever.

No matter man has wrought.

And I love THE EVERGLADES: RIVER OF GRASS by Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

Florida's Ten Thousand Islands

In the winter of 1975 I hitchhiked west from Miami Beach along Alligator Alley. Rides weren't easy for the first thirty miles. Finally a fruit farmer from Naples gave me a ride through the southern tip of the Everglades. Little, but swamp lined the four-lane highway. No snow birds from the Northeast or Canada wanted to live in these mosquito-ridden boondocks. The only signs of civilization were the time-battered gas stations and Indian trading posts promoting alligator wrestling and cold beer. The farmer left me at Everglade City. A sign advertised the Gun and Rod Club. The farmer had mentioned it was worth a visit. I stuck out my thumb. A hot rod took me there.

"Everglade City looks a little beat up."

There was a wide space between houses and buildings.

"We keep gettin' hit by hurricanes. They blow everything' into the Gulf and the Gulf don't give back what it takes." The driver introduced himself as 'Indee'.

"Lands seems high here."

To the south of town mounds rose from the brackish water.

"All old oyster bars. Indians must of ate billions of them. They wuz here before us and my family been here since right after the Seminole War. Number 2 that is." The twenty-two year old driver was the epitome of a backwoods greaser; slick hair, greasy jeans, rawhide muscles under the stained Allman Bros. teeshirt, but he had all his teeth and they gleamed like sun-bleached bones. Mine were more yellow.

"Must almost seem like home."

"Don't know nowhere else. Just this road and that." He pointed to the Everglades. "Fishin', hunting', drinkin', whatever."

Whatever encompassed a lot of territory in the Ten Thousands Islands.

The inhabited swamps were ideal for smuggling.

Planes and boats loaded with cocaine and reefer protected by crackers used to talking to themselves.

"I was thinking of a canoe trip."

"Good, I got one. We'll go into the 'glades."

"I don't have much money." I was heading for San Diego.

"$10/half day. You'll never see anything' like it and you're lucky it's cold, otherwise the skitters would suck your body dry."

"Okay." I had read Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' THE YEARLING.

Two feet off the highway was the setting of her novel about a young boy tragically adopting a deer in Florida.

"I'll see you at 6. Sunrise and the swamps."

The hot rod burned rubber on the dirt and I entered the slightly-musty hunting lodge. It was golden cedar from floor to ceiling. I thought it was out of my price range, but was pleased to hear it was $20. I had to sleep someplace and the motels in Everglade City were still recovering from the last hurricane.

After a lovely fish dinner and some cheap wine I stood on the veranda and stare out of the darkness of the swamp.

No one lived there.

I went to sleep dreaming about my canoe ride and woke at 5:50am, but Indee was a no-show.

I walked to the observatory at the road's end. A deep green covered the world of very little dry land. White herons flew with the dawn. A flock of flamingos ferreted through the low tide mud. Bacon drifted on the light air. Breakfast was ready at the Lodge and bacon and eggs was as good as way to start a morning that would be followed by canoeing in the Everglades.

I turned around and walked across the trim lawn.

Today wasn't a day for the Call or the Wild.

Enemies of the State - The Fanjuls of Florida

The Seminoles called the vast tropical wetlands of Southern Florida Pa-hay-okee. The swamps atop the limestone plateau have been inhabited from 10,000BC, however the recent predation of Man threatened to destroy the Grassy Waters.

Green algae covers the waterways and coastal shores with a thick slime.

The 2013 outbreak was bad.

The 2016 bloom has been worse.

The Everglades have suffered with the expansion of housing into the once impenetrable swamps. The State of Florida receives about $700 million in taxes from real estate transactions and by law a third of this sum was earmarked for the rehabilitation of Everglades, instead the Republican government has diverted the funds to pay off budget shortcomings, as explained by wikipedia in 2008, the State of Florida agreed to buy U.S. Sugar and all of its manufacturing and production facilities for an estimated $1.7 billion. Florida officials indicated they intended to allow U.S. Sugar to process for six more years before dismissing its employees and dismantling the plant. The area, which includes 187,000 acres (760 km2) of land, would then be rehabilitated and water flow from Lake Okeechobee would be restored. In November 2008, the agreement was revised to offer $1.34 billion, allowing sugar mills in Clewiston to remain in production. Critics of the revised plan say that it ensures sugarcane will be grown in the Everglades for at least another decade. Further research is being done to address the continuing production of sugarcane in the Everglades to minimize phosphorus runoff.

Easy to blame the GOP, however the main criminals are the Fanjuls Brothers, whose sugar plantations cover a good percentage of the wetlands, leading to massive runoff of fertilizer during the rainy season. The Cuban-born brothers are big spenders on politics, influencing state and federal legislatures to support their exploitation of the Everglades and their workers.

They have also bought the Press.

The Fanjuls are never mentioned in articles about the green slime.

But what else can you expect for capitalism?

The truth.

Which is that 'we' also are part of the problem with our lawns, cars, and swimming pools and shit.

Despite all our damage the Everglades remain magic.

Nothing better than a canoe trip in them either.

Baby gators, birds, and turtles.

I love them.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Stonehenge in Bangkok

New Englanders are relatively starved of archaeological ruins other than frost-heaved stone walls from vanished farms snaking through the woods or the smooth walls of the Quincy Quarries. Not one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was on our side of the Atlantic nor from Africa or the Far East graced list either thanks to the Eurocentricity of the 19th Century's tomb raiders.

My seven wonders of the world are the Potala in Lhasa, the funereal Ghats of Varanasi, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya, the Chartes Cathedral, the moon-lit combs atop Tikal's pyramids in Guatemala, and Sophie's Bar in Phnom Penh.

Antiquity and size are not prerequisites for my wonders, however Stonehenge certainly qualifies since archaeologists have uncovered a vast network of Neolithic villages on Salisbury Plain in England suggesting that the earthworks were part of a much larger religious complex.

British authorities have roped off the stone circle from the public.

Previously you could drive up to them in the middle of the night to party with drunken lager louts around a fire. Football fans probably attempted a form of cow tipping with the 4000 year-old monoliths, forcing the squares to ban any contact with the great Circle.

Bangkok has its own Stonehenge in the Hopewell Project.

The government spent billions of baht for a commuter rail system.

Not one length of rail was laid on the concrete pillars.

Hundreds of years from now future inhabitants of the world will wonder about the Hopewell Project's purpose.

Same as anyone driving past them today.

Was it a road to nowhere or Thailand's attempt to rival Stonehenge.

I've been to Stonehenge once.

With my friend AJ on a Neolithic tour of the Salisbury Plain.

Avesbury Circle, Stonehenge, and then the Silbury Mound.

Archaeologists have argued over whether the Druids, ETs, the devil, Merlin, or drunks with time on their hands built the massive monuments. As a descendant of Celtic blood I prefer the Druid theory.

On my visit I intended to strip naked in the circles, however both the Avesbury and Stonehenge were swarmed by tourists.

The Silbury Hill rises rises over the treeless plain. No one else was on the mound. AJ and I climbed 130 feet to the top, where my friend explained the hill had been built by thousands of workers over scores of years in different periods dating back over 4000 years.

It was older than Stonehenge, although not as old as than me even on mornings after I've drunk a lot.

The day was sunny.

AJ and I stripped naked.

We vowed not to believe in gods.

Neither of us avoided looking at the other's body, because straight men shouldn't be naked together within arm's length.

We faced the four points of the compass.

AJ had a bigger belly than me.

He glanced below my waist.

I turned to the north without a comment.

I have no problem with betting naked with gay men. They have no interest in my body. My penis is never big in public, which is why Michelangelo's DAVID should also be a Wonder of the World.

Firstly no one talks about the nudity or that the giant statue's penis is as as small as mine after a cold bath.

And there's no chance I'll get naked at the Hopewell ruins, so I'll have to wait another 4000 years until they deserve such an expose. Thankfully by that time I will be dust in the wind and any thoughts about naked men atop the Silbury Hill will be forgotten too.

sic transit gloria.

Autumn Stonehenge

The ancient Druids studied the movements of the Cosmos for millenium before the construction of Stonehenge. The earliest potholes date back to 8000 BC. The designs were laid out to measure the passage of the Sun.

Two days ago the sun shone between the two autumn stones as it had thousands of times marking the equinox..

The new season has begun.

Autumn.

The season of changing colors.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Warfare In America

President George W Bush rightfully understood that the attacks on 9/11 were acts of war, but the hijackers were not soldiers from a foreign land. The nineteen 'terrorists' had been organized by a shadowy cabal affiliated with Osama Bin Ladin's Al-Qaada into four separate cells, each with a different target. After the collapse of the Twin Towers, the destruction of the Pentagon and downing of the United flight into a Pennsylvania field, few Americans asked why were attacked. In fact the effect existed without cause other than the standard 'they hate us'.

If that was the case, why didn't anyone ask why?

Because we eat bacon, which is 'haram' or forbidden by the Koran?

No.

Because our women wear short skirts?

No.

In truth it didn't matter why as long as the USA exacted revenge from an Islamic victim or victims.

No Iraqis or Afghanis on the jets of 9/11 didn't prevent us from going to war with those distant countries

That nineteen of the hijackers were Saudi was no 'casus belli' for the Pentagon, although the American media backed up the war with red, white, and blue dripping from the headlines and this morning Fox News, CNN, the Daily News, the New York Post, and hundreds of news outlets whipped up the sheep into a frenzy about how the protests against the police killing unarmed black men and white men and anyone else led to a mad man's shooting of two NYPD officers.

The Head of the NYPD Union SkullBreakers 109 accused the Mayor of inciting his communist cohorts to acts of retaliation. Ex-police commissioners were fast to protect their blue bloods and the NYPD union leaders vowed to not make arrests during the coming days. In other words they are threatening to go on strike and as much as I support the unions I would cross the picket line to be a cop during the crisis.

Hire some old Black Panthers too.

The tragedy of this shooting is that no one is asking why the gunman could get a gun from a Georgia pawn shop.

Georgia has no check-up of gun purchases.

Secondly why don't cop cars have bullet proof glass?

Because cities are too cheap to protect the boys in blue.

And lastly the Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sean Bell, and Darren Wilson did not kill the two cops. the protestors didn't not shoot Officers Liu and Ramos> A crazy man pulled the trigger.

All I want is power for the people.

White, black, yellow, coffee et al, but as Chairman Mao said, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

And Mao knew what he was saying.