What do you call celebrating Halloween before October 31st?
My younger brother Patrick Charles Smith told me that joke last year.
It works this year just as good.
What do you call celebrating Halloween before October 31st?
My younger brother Patrick Charles Smith told me that joke last year.
It works this year just as good.
In 2007 Pattaya celebrated the old Celtic festival of Samhain with a singularly Thai flavor. Bar girls dressed in skimpy dresses and go-go girls painted fake blood on their faces. Farangs drank more than normal nights. It's a pagan holiday and nothing says pagan better than sex go-go girls, beer, and a devilish hang-over the morning-after.
That Halloween I got no farther than the Buffalo Bar.
I was wearing my Ramones outfit.
Torn jeans, Keds sneakers, a Ramones t-shirt, and Ramones baseball cap.
None of the girls made any comment, since I had worn the same outfit to the bar on innumerable occasions.
I drank five Chang beers. 6.9 % alcohol.
I asked three lesbians to short-time with me.
They laughed at my lewd suggestions
The scary thing about Halloween 2007 was my two-minute motorcycle ride home.
Which on five Chang beers was mighty scary trip.
When I tell thirty year-old stories from the 1980s, the listeners suspect that I’m lying about jumping off the Quincy Quarries cliffs or nearly making love with Darryl Hannah in Jamaica or watching bears eat garbage at a dump in Maine.
Sometimes I wonder if they are right, but my memory is spot on about many things like how a Paris friend and his girlfriend would depart from the Bains-Douches nightclub high on heroin to sleep in the 11th arrondisement cemetery of Pere Lachaise.
Guilhomme was a cold-wave musician with a passion for death. His lead singer Eric was squeamish at the sight of blood and tolerated Guilhomme's morbidity for his keyboard play. Their crow-black band never possessed a name, although a model/friend from LA suggested Les Mortes D'Aube.
"I love The Dead of Dawn," Guilhomme trilled, since he resembled an unburied cadaver. His chubby copine was a Pigalle dancer with orange hair and skin as white as chalk. Sex had nothing to do with their relationship. He was gay and Claudine was asexual. Their first love was drugs.
Neither junkie had money for a room, so every night they scaled the high stone walls of the Pere LaChaise Cemetery to squat in a tomb not far from Jim Morrison's grave. Guilhomme painted his fingernails black to hint that he might have frantically clawed his escape from the depths of the dirt.
"How's living in a grave?" I asked him one night at the Bar Helium in the Marais.
"It's not a grave. It's a tomb."
“As big as a two-bedroom apartment. The only problem is that Mssr. Les Doors' mourners wake us in the morning with their crying. Boohoo, Jim." Claudine hated hippies.
"And he isn't even dead. The cemetery workers tell me that the grave is empty."
"Ouais, Jim Le Grosse Morrison is eating cheeseburgers in Marbella." Claudine didn't like American pop stars either.
"But our tomb is close to the plinth of Jean-François Champollion," Guilhomme spoke the name with reverence.
“Champollion deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphics.” Guilhomme pffffed at my ignorance of the great linguist. “The Khedive of Egypt gave him the obelisks from the Luxor Temple, which now stand in Place de Concorde.”
“A smaller version marks his grave.” Claudine had dropped out of school at age 14, but Guilhomme tutored her in all things living and dead.
"So who was the famous Frog buried in your crypt?" I asked with anger, since I loved the Doors' CRYSTAL SHIP.
They shared a blank expression about the word 'frog' and Guilhomme looked to Claudine to ask, "Who is buried there?" .
"A rich bougie family. A lot of them are buried there, but none since 1919, so they must have been wiped out with the Spanish Flu." Guilhomme put on his leather jacket, as the American barman had shouted out 'last call'. "Neglect tended to their remains and allowed us to live in stone splendor with the bones of the Grand arrondissement."
"Only one thing that scares me,"declared Claudine. "Grave robbers roamed Pete Lachaise to plunder the bodies of the newly dead. Normally they only take the head, since it’s easier to hide in a bag than a corpse."
"Plus heads are 3000 new francs, while bodies are 5000 francs. Heads are easy to transport," Guilhomme said, then stop seeing Claudine's glare.
"We only go there to sleep."
"No, more like the dead. I love my sleep."
As would any junkie.
“The grave robbers are quieter than the devil worshippers on the full moons.”
"Ouais, they hold rites on the full moon, gathering at special graves and dancing to a music from another time. They ask us to join them. Naked. Sweating. Pagan. Ugly. A knife slipping into a dog. I don't like them.” Guilhomme painted a tapestry of horror, tainted by the French people's love for their pets.
“They scare me too.” Claudine's clothing was in tatters. Her breasts slipped in and out of sight. She sometimes worked the streets of Pigalle and Guilhomme liked to think of himself as her pimp.
“Do not worry.” He brandished a long stiletto. A cutlery shop sold them near Notre-Dame. “I will cut them first before they touch you.”
“They are no fools.” Claudine knew the limits of Guilhomme’s protection. "The devil worshippers are many and the ghouls are even more."
"Enough with scary stories. Let's go." Guilhomme spotted his Moroccan dealer on the sidewalk. Ali worked all hours and Guilhomme said, "Come visit us one night and we'll show you the sights."
"Thanks." I had no interest in joining them. The stone walls of Pere Lachaise were fifteen feet high. Any fall from it required a visit to the hospital. "Have a good night."
Guilhomme's sojourn in Pere Lachaise lasted the summer and the crypt offered cool comfort during the hot season. Autumn brought the damp and junkies hate the wet. The two broke up and Guilhomme went back to live with his haute-class parents in Versailles.
They ignored his death mask. Eccentricities were a family trait. He quit drugs and became a businessman, although Guilhomme disappeared over the weekends. Eric, his singer, said, "He still frequents Pere Lachaise to be with the ghouls.
“I hope he grows out of it. It is so perverse.”
My 90s and 00s were spent in Asia, but in 2011 my benefactor invited me to come down from my writing residence in Luxembourg to act as a translator for his trip to City of Lights.
I loved Paris.
We stayed at a four-star hotel on the Rue de Rivoli. Our meals were epicurean adventures. Days were spent in galleries and museums. I called on old friends. Most of them were busy with work. A few met us for dinner. My benefactor ordered vintage wines and picked up the check. I had very little time to myself, but one morning I escaped to wander through the Marais.
The old Jewish quarter had changed in my absence. Old stores were now trendy boutiques and my old hotel particular had become a townhouse. By midday I wanted a drink and headed over to Rue Vielle du Temple, hoping that the Le Petit Fer à Cheval was in business.
I was in luck.
The small bar was a monument to the unchanging character of Paris. The bartender was old enough to have been serving ‘pression‘ thirty years ago and he greeted me with a nod, indicating I was not a stranger.
Neither was the man in the black suit across the bar.
It was Guilhomme.
He hadn’t aged a day in thirty years and I checked for a reflection in the mirror before calling out his name.
He lifted off his sunglasses to grin with green teeth.
“Good to see you.”
We exchanged fingernail stretches of our lives over the last decades. He worked for a bank in bonds. He laughed to hear that I was writer in residence in Luxembourg.
“A boring town.”
“Boring is good at my age.” I had stolen too many people's share of excitement over the years.
“Tu a raison.” Guilhomme wore his years with a studied heaviness.
He ordered an absinthe.
I asked for a demi.
The other patrons of the bar sniffed the air.
Guilhomme’s dirty black suit smelled of the grave.
“Did you go to work today?”
“Are you with the tax man?” Nothing frightened a Frenchman more that an audit.
“No, just that you seem a little dusty.”
“Ah.” He lifted his sleeve to his nose. “You know it wasn’t me that liked the tomb. It was Claudine. She liked sleeping with the dead. She would take off their clothes to fondle their cold bones. I think she even made love to some of them, but I never watched. Sex was not my thing.”
“And what happened to her?” I feared the worst.
“Claudine” He touched a tooth like he was searching for a morsel of yesterday’s meal stuck in a gap.
“She turned out like all women. She married a lesbian transvestite farmer and moved to the Haute Savoy to be a peasant. They had three enfants. I send them Christmas cards.”
“And you?” I didn't question any of the oddities of his last statement. Everything was within the bounds of normal with Guilhomme.
“Moi, I don’t sleep in Pere Lachaise anymore, but I like to lay on the ground before closing to remind me that we will all sleep in the dirt one of these days.”
“But not today.” I toasted the truth of his prediction, but Guilhomme wore too much of the fragrance of death on him to be healthy and I drank down my beer fast. I didn't bother to say 'plus tard' and walked out of the cafe, my heart beating with life.
Later that evening at dinner I entertained my benefactor with a tale of the walking dead. My friends were thrilled by my encounter, but I neglected to mention Claudine’s love of the dead.
Some secrets are better left to the grave.
Especially those about the living.
Before the arrival of Christo Columbo in 1492, the New World was filled with empires, confederations, republics, city-states, and tribal lands. These diverse peoples represented a broad scattering of cultures. The population of the two connected continents has been estimated by modern historians to be approximately twenty-five million people from the Bering Straits to the tip of South America.
Fifty years after the Spanish 'discovered' America 75% of the natives had been killed by disease, war, or slavery.
The Spanish, English, French, and Dutch sought to extermination the original inhabitants of America and almost succeeded in the 19th Century, however the 'Indians' survived the slaughter, which is why many Indians seek to celebrate Oct. 12 as Native American Day rather than Columbus Day. Both Seattle and Minneapolis altered the holiday to honor the survivors of the Great Extermination.
Italian-Americans were insulted by the slight, as they were when the City of Boston planted Leif Erickson's statue at the end of Commonwealth Avenue's promenade rather than the Admiral of the Oceans.
Personally I honor the greatest of his voyage, while recognizing the havoc wrought by the colonists.
I am a Son of the Colonial Wars.
My people conquered New England.
It was a bloody time and sometimes as I drive through the hills south of the White Mountains I can feel the bones of warriors lying in the woods.
Lost forever to the war to win America.
And that is a sin we all live with.
To read more about Boston's decision on Leif Erickson, please go to this URL
Yom Kippur 1972.
Syrian and Egyptian tanks swarmed over Israeli defenses on the Golan Heights and the Suez Canal. The Arab Forces initial successes were reversed by strategic blunders and Israeli air cover, however the losses to the IDF were catastrophic for the small nation. If a country the size of the USA had suffered the same casualties, the deaths would have mounted into the 100s of 1000s. Russian intervention was deterred by a stern warning from President Nixon.
DefCon 3 to DefCon 4.
Cooler heads prevailed and prevented Mutual All-Out Destruction on a global level and Yom Kippur has resumed its position as a day of atonement for the Jewish People with Bobby Vinton leading the way by singing his hit I'M SORRY.
No holiday is without humor.
A small town had two churches, Presbyterian and Methodist, and a Synagogue. All three had a serious problem with squirrels in their buildings. Each in its own fashion had a meeting to deal with the problem.
The Presbyterians decided that it was predestined that squirrels be in the church and that they would just have to live with them.
The Methodists decided they should deal with the squirrels lovingly in the style of Charles Wesley. They humanely trapped them and released them in a park at the edge of town. Within 3 days they were all back in the church.
The Jews simply voted in the squirrels as members. Now they only see them at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Of course my late father hated squirrels. Not so much hated them, but cursed them during his visits to my mother’s grave. The town cemetery was overrun with the tree rodents. They scrambled into the paved roads before cars.
A game for them.
An accident waiting to happen for humans.
My father swerved away from a daredevil squirrel and crashed into a gravestone almost 100 feet from the road.
He drove over the next squirrel brave enough to play ‘chicken’.
And he was a Convert to Catholicism.
No Yom Kippur for him.
For him the only good squirrel was a dead squirrel.
As a young boy growing up outside of Boston, my classmates and I were jealous of the liberal closed-day policy of Beaver Country Day School. The predominantly Jewish school had more snow days per annum than any other institution south of the St. Lawrence River and the shuffle of holydays shortened their school year by weeks. I begged my parents to transfer their second son to Beaver Country Day.
The year was 1964.
“And I’m not sure that they let in gentiles.” My mother dreamed about my becoming a priest. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was a non-believer.
“I sure if you gave them enough money I could get in.” I had pitched Beaver Country day as the best school within the 128 Belt and as the # 1 7th Grade student at Our Lady of the Foothills.
“No way I’m driving you 45 minutes to another school.” My father’s commute headed into downtown Boston. in the opposite direction.
“Please.” My reasons were two to be exact.
They had a short year and Jewish girls were rumored to be easy.
At 12 my body was going through changes and so were those of young girls.
“Not a chance.” My father ended my early attempt to become the shabbos goy
2014 AD or 5774 by Jewish reckoning had eighteen high holidays scheduled throughout the year. High holydays such as Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and Passover were familiar to many gentiles in New York, however the significance of Succot, Sh'mini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, Yom Hashoah, Yom Haatzmaut, Lag B'Omer, Shavuot, Tisha B'Av, and Purim draw blanks from the city's goyim., although I attained that status after long years working for Manny in the Diamond District. I learned why rabbits are tref, girls shaved their heads, and why Jewish brides smiled going down the wedding aisle.
Manny never closed his store, except for Passaich and Yom Kippur.
Manny and his son, Richie Boy, were also bacon Jews i.e. eating bacon isn’t a sin.
So far this year they had ignored Tu B’Shevat, Purim, Shushan Purim, Passover, Second Passover, Lag B’Omer .All the others were workable days for their firm, since the first rule of selling diamonds is ‘nimmt geld’ which is Yiddish for ‘take money’. I no longer worked for them, but dropped by 47th Street to wish Manny a 'Happy Shavuot'.
"Happy for what? Business sucks."
"For Shavuot." Seven weeks had passed since Passover.
"Shavuot isn't a holiday. Today is a Wednesday. I'm open for business." I once calculated that Manny had worked basically seventy-five years since his Bowery diamond store had remained open seven days a week from 1954 to 1989.
"Shavuot honors Yahweh’s giving the Torah to his people.”
"Like I said it's not a real holiday."
"It is for the Hassidim." And Beaver Country Day School
"Who cares what those gonifs think?" Manny would have worked Christmas if he had a chance.
"They believed in the Torah."
"All they care about is making money. Same as anyone else, so we’re open tomorrow. Same as any other day.” His work ethic rejected the holiday madness of Beaver Country Day.
“What about having some cheesecake?” Cheesecake and sweets are Shavuot traditions.
“If you want cheesecake, eat all you want.” Manny was worried about putting his hand in his pocket. These were hard times and his family looked to the 80 year-old for sustenance.
“What if I buy you a piece?”
“Save your money for your kinder in Thailand and stop trying to be such a good Jew. You’re a goy and not a yid."
"I had once been the Shabbos goy."
"Not anymore. You don't even have a job."
"So worry about yourself and not cheesecake." Manny was a tough guy from Brownsville. He would have no weekdays off until the 4th of July. The Diamond District was closed for that week and then Manny was driving to Florida. His girlfriend was waiting in Miami Beach and being with her was no cake walk for Manny.
She was a schitzah and those girls were trouble at any age.
"I'll see you around." I left the exchange.
The best cheesecake in New York was at Junior's. Flatbush Avenue was on my way home and nothing tasted better after a long bike ride than a slice of cheesecake.
Especially for the Shabbos Goy.
Donald Trump has never made his love for beautiful women a secret.
The avid golf cheater even ran beauty pageants.
He once said he would like to date his daughter.
Trump has always leaned toward blondes and once hit on my cousin, who was a Broadway actress. If I had been in the room, I would have whacked the scamming billionaire in the head with a sox filled with pennies and then kicked the ogre while he was down, however this week an audio recording of Billy Bush from 2004 changed my thinking.
The blonde Nazi deserves a bat beating for what he said about Nancy O'Dell, co-host of Access Hollywood.
TRUMP: "I moved on her. Actually, she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her and I failed. I'll admit it. I did try and fuck her. She was married."
BUSH: "That's huge news."
TRUMP: "I moved on her. Very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said 'I'll show you where they have some nice furniture'. I took her... I moved on her like a bitch. I couldn't get there and she was married. And all of a sudden I see her. She's now got the big phoney tits and she's totally changed her look."
BUSH: "Sheesh, your girl's hot as sh**. In the purple."
TRUMP: "Whoa! Yes! Whoa!"
BUSH: "Yes! The Donald has scored. Whoa, my man! It better not be the publicist. No it's her, it's..."
TRUMP: "Yeah that's her in the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful... I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything."
BUSH: "Whatever you want."
TRUMP: "Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."
No trial for Trump.
Just a beating.
But Dick Cheney gets a bullet to the head.
No mercy, because they are mass murderers.