Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Downside of Heaven

A holy man from Bali died from old age. He arrives at the Pearly Gates to be greeted by St. Peter.

"Welcome to Heaven." St. Peter leads the Balinese holy man inside.

"I thought heaven was only for Christians."

"No, no, heaven is for everyone. Over there are the Balinese. To the right the French. Back there the Muslims. Up front the Christians. Over there the Irish." St. Peter points out every segment of heaven, then as they walk through a forest, St. Peter whispers. "And over there are the Fundamentalists."

"Why are you whispering?"

"Because they think they're the only ones up here."

Read Stanley Elkins THE LIVING END

For a related article click on this URL


Freedom of No Choice for Eternity

The model from Paris has converted to Fundamentalism with a vengeance. Her eternal life dogma is based on solid belief. Only two choices allowed to all souls.

Heaven or Hell.

I asked her if there were any alternatives.

Her response "NO. Don't fight it cause there's only one way, and don't worry once you admit this believe me a huge load falls away and you get guidance from above its an amazing thing, your soul and eternity are no light matter, what difference does it make to me that you roast away in hell fire?"

Burning in hellfire.

Damn, better drink all my cold beers in the here and now.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Damn You Satan

The model from Paris shared an apartment on Ile St. Louis. Her husband paid the rent. He was an ex-legionnaire living in the South of France. She assuaged his suspicion about our having an affair by declaring at dinner on Cap d'Antibes that I was gay. In truth we were never lovers. I wasn't her type. She liked skinny painters and singers. Her face and body graced the cover of Vogue. She had her pick, but we were good friends.

"We'll get married when you're 65." She vowed over a bottle of wine at the Brasserie d'Ile.

"And you can push my wheelchair down the steps on Montmatre once I get too decrepit." I sat in the glow of the sun setting between the towers of Notre Dame. My fate seemed assured, although her recent conversion to Christianity has threatened my long-awaited demise.

Just yesterday I wrote a reminder of her promise.

"Pray for me when you push my wheelchair down the stairs. I'm nearing 65 with every breath I take."

Her response "You are nearing eternity and that's no joke buddy."


I think life is funny at least some of the time and wrote back, "I will embrace eternity with a smile on my face."

Atheists don't fear Hell until we get there.


Several years ago my doctor and I were cleaning out the medicine cabinets of his deceased father's office. It was in his parents' old house. where his old man had spent over 40 years caring for thousands of Staten Islanders. We were surprised to find three small boxes of Quaaludes. Their expiration date was 1979.

"You think they're any good?" My doctor asked examining one jar. Six pills were stuffed under a cotton ball. 'Ludes were the Eucharist of Disco. No girl could say no to them or after one or two. They were banned in 1979. To most people they were a myth.

"Only one way to find." I cracked open the jar and jiggled out one pill. It tasted like the last one I took at Studio 54. Like I needed another half. An hour later my doctor asked where I thought I was.

"In the bathroom?" Everything was so nice and fuzzy.

"You're in the living room pissing into the fireplace."

"So I guess they still work."

My doctor and I decided to save the 'ludes for a special occasion. Ten years ago. every time I tell anyone about the 'ludes they tell me a story and beg for one. I have been a strict guardian. After these are gone they will never exist again and I feel like a hunter getting ready to kill the last do-do birds.


My friend Randall Koral has decided to come out to Thailand to film THE LAST QUAALUDES ON EARTH. I asked about a storyline and here was his reply.

"Don't worry about movie-scripting. I have a better idea. Really simple. It'll be a docu-drama-epic-adventure. It's called "Lude: Four Days of Sex and Extinct Pharmaceuticals in Thailand" and it goes like this: You told me you had found the last three ludes on Planet Earth and I thought that sounded like a good reason to meet you in Thailand with my film gear, bringing with me the last rolls of Kodachrome 40 Super 8 film on Planet Earth. We celebrate Fenway's first birthday then we head off into the unknown. My interviews with you, with you speaking on camera about why Quaaludes and life, in general, were so great in the 1970s, will be shot in video. I'll shoot everything else — landscape, girlfriends, Thai friends, nightlife, daylife — in Super 8 with a good 1970s rock soundtrack. As long as we keep it simple it should work."

Getting your motors running.

I'm shooting for Best Short Documentary of 2010.

Holiday In Hell

A Muslim Iman dies and is astounded to be welcomed by St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.

"Sorry about the no 77 virgins. In this heaven we spend our days in the glory of God, who is non-denominational. You'll meet the truly blessed evolving into the truly blissed."

The Iman accepts this heaven in all its goodness, but after a few weeks he goes up to St. Peter and says, "Heaven is great, but all those years on Earth when I was preaching about the horrors of Hell, I was often curious what Hell was actually like."

"Pretty much as you envisioned it."

"IS there anyway I can see it?" The Iman was slightly bored with the communal utopia of Heaven.

"Of course there is." St Peter opens the Pearly Gates and points to a set of endless stairs. "You can visit Hell on a one-time visa. Two weeks. Do anything you want. You earned this holiday by all the goodness you create on earth. Get it out of your system and then return to the bosom of the Creator."

"And I can go now?"

"Anytime you want?" St. Peter walks the Iman to the stairs. He is greeted by doe-eyed houris and escorted to a bar where Jimi Hendrix is playing guitar. Hitler painting the walls and Marilyn Monroe working upstairs in the Satan a Go Go. It's all great fun and passes in the blink of an eye. The Iman says goodbye to everyone and climbs the steps to the Pearly Gates.

"So how was it?" St. Peter asks peering down the stairs.

"Not like I expected it."

"Well, at least you got it out of your system. Back to the eternity of bliss."

Unfortunately his holiday infected the Iman. He can't stop thinking about hell. Heaven is all communing with the great oneness. He goes back to St. Peter and asks if there's a way he could go back to Hell.

"Sure, but if you go you can't come back."

The Iman looks over his shoulder at the fleecy clouds and angles and prayers.

"No problem."

"See you on Judgment Day." St. Peter is all smiles and so is the Iman as he walks down the stairs, although this time the houris greet him with pitchforks. Fire laps his legs. His flesh is torn open.

"St. Peter, this isn't the Hell I knew. Why's it so different now."

St. Peter shouts, "That's the difference between going someplace on vacation and living there."

Teddy Bear Picnic

Dave Van Ronk was a growling folk singer from Greenwich Village. He played the east Coast due to a refusal to fly. His mode of travel was buses, trains, or a car driven by a young girlfriend. His bearish body hid a gentle heart which he revealed any time he performed the classic TEDDY BEARS' PICNIC

The Mayor of Greenwich Village certianly would have enjoyed the audience in the above photo.


If you go down in the woods today
You're sure of a big surprise.
If you go down in the woods today
You'd better go in disguise.

For ev'ry bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.

Ev'ry teddy bear who's been good
Is sure of a treat today.
There's lots of marvelous things to eat
And wonderful games to play.

Beneath the trees where nobody sees
They'll hide and seek as long as they please
That's the way the teddy bears have their picnic.

Picnic time for teddy bears
The little teddy bears are having a lovely time today
Watch them, catch them unawares
And see them picnic on their holiday.

See them gaily gad about
They love to play and shout;
They never have any cares;

At six o'clock their mummies and daddies,
Will take them home to bed,
Because they're tired little teddy bears.

If you go down in the woods today
You'd better not go alone.
It's lovely down in the woods today
But safer to stay at home.

For ev'ry bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.

I couldn't find a Dave Van ronk version of this song, but check out TWLVES GATES TO THE


Clear Skies over Bangkok

Bangkok in monsoon season

21st Century Damnation

My high school scholarship was revoked after my failing religion and getting a D in German during the first semester of my sophomore year. My mother could understand the D in German. The only person in my family capable of speaking a foreign language was my Irish grandmother. Her native tongue was Gaelic. Nana took my brother and me into Boston once a month. Our first stop was St. Anthony's shrine. We lit candles for the dearly departed and then ate hog dogs at WT Grants before viewing a film a the Paramount Theater.

"What will Nana think?" my mother asked while waiting to speak with my religion teacher. Their conversation lasted about two minutes. She hung up the phone and looked at her second son with disbelief. "He said he failed you, because you don't believe in God."

"I got all As in the tests and did all my homework. I don't deserve that F."

"You don't believe in God." She was shocked to the core. The Church had burned heretics for challenging the divinity of Jesus. Atheism was an anathema for Cold War America. "Your teacher said if you recant your apostasy, he will give you a B and your scholarship will be reinstated."

My high school offered a good education. Better than the town school, but it was all-boys. Failing religion seemed like the fastest way to end my Catholic schoolboy career.

"I don't believe in God." I hadn't since my best friend Chaney drowned at the age of 8. A caring God would have helped him to shore. Te Christian god had exterminated non-believers. Genocide was wrong.

"Wait till your father gets home." These words were my mother's threat of last resort. I was scared of my father. Mostly because I wanted his love and had a tendency to fuck up. Not too much, but enough to annoy him. He was an engineer. They liked order. I waited for his arrival on the front steps. It was December. The air was cold. I almost thought about running away, but the low sky was promising snow.

Walking up to the house, he saw my face and groaned, "Now what?"

"I failed religion."

"How did you fail religion?" He was stunned by my admission yet listened to my explanation without anger. He had converted from the Episcopal Church to marry my mother. His faith was born of desire. Shaking his head he lifted me to my feet. "If that is what you believe, then that's up to you, but don't expect any Christmas gifts this year."

I got some anyway. My high school re-evaluated my stance after my uncle, a lawyer, instructed them on the freedom of speech and religion offered under the Constitution. His intervention prevented my attending a coed school. My teacher changed the F to a C. I was told to keep my atheism to myself.

And I have over the years, which is difficult in America, which has IN GOD WE TRUST stamped on coins. Friends and family are deeply religious. I tell them my lack of belief does not subtract from my spirituality. I have visited some of the most holy sites on Earth. I've read countless books on devotion. People have tried to reconvert my. I have remained true to my non-belief and was proud to hear President Obama include non-believers in his inaugural speech.

We are not a few weirdos.

Earlier this summer I was at a pool party. Two parents heard my discourse on organized religion and said that their 10 year-old son was a non-believer.

"Could you talk to him, so he knows he's not alone."

"No problem."

I said a few words, because few 10 year-old want to hear anything for a man in his 50s. I certainly didn't at his age. Of course many of my once=profane friends are finding religion as the years add up. One, an ex-model from South Africa, had been extolling the tenets of a snake-eater cult fin Oklahoma. I announced my non-believer status and she accused me of being spiritually lazy.

Sloppy maybe.

Well maybe lazy too.

Here's her last epistle in response to my discounting the dangers of 666.

Peter Nolan Smith
Seventh-day Adventists believe that the "mark of the beast" (but not the number 666) refers to a future, universal, legally enforced Sunday-worship. “Those who reject God... Read More’s memorial of creatorship — the Bible Sabbath — choosing to worship and honor Sunday in the full knowledge that it is not God’s appointed day of worship, will receive the ‘mark of the beast.’”[34] "The Sunday Sabbath is purely a child of the Papacy. It is the mark of the beast.

Actually some divinists consider the number should be 616

666 in its first century context refers to the Emperor Nero

Ex-Model from Paris.

getting off the straight and narrow with endless theological discussions, who cares, we got our good sense and Gods word, God created all this and I think in view of this is capable of guarding his word intact, no denying things are not going to get better just prepare to meet your creator, its between you and him, detractors are not whats missing and for good reason.... if you don't believe in God and his message all this is POPPYCOCK

Sounds like I'm headed for damnation.

Baby do you want to come along.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Penang Funicular Under Threat

In 1994 I was stranded in Penang, Malaysia. The magainze for which I had been writing a series of stories about SE Asia had folded without buying my return ticket to the States. I had enough money to stay at the Swiss Hotel $3/nigth, eat at the Chinese and Indian restaurants on Chulia Street, and drink beer. In those days making a phone call to Europe was difficult, but I finally reached Sam Royalle, who said he would wire the money. A week went by and then a second. I couldn't get in touch with him. I was down to my last $100 dollars and thinking about shipping out on a tramp steamer when I wire finally arrived at the bank.

I celebrated by taking the Penang Hill Funicular to the summit. The tram ascended from the ropical city to the heavily forested mountaintop> The temperature dropped at every stage and on arrival I was actually cold. A difficult proposition near the equator. The best attraction other than the view was the walk through the treetops on suspended bridges. Nothing like it in Thailand and I made a point of visiting the tram during every visa run to Penang.

But now this venerable funicular is threatened by renovation. Stations and trains to be replaced by new designs, so that the travel time to the top is a mere 10 minutes rather than the luxurious 30 minutes of the original tram.

Outcry from sentimentalist and traditionalists have protested this move as unnecessary, contenting that refurbishing would be more economically and environmentally viable.

Personally I say, "If it ain't broke don't fix it."

But then I'm an old guy and I liked most everything the way it is and that goes for me too, since I was considering a neck tuck. $6000 at a Bangkok Hospital. I intent to save the money for a motorcycle instead. That always makes an old guy look young, unless he wears leather. Then it looks like an old geezer on a bike.

Something very unnatural.

Protests aside, in Asia if something is planned and the money is there, then it's goodbye to the old, so if you're in Penang head over to the Funicular, the best ride this side of the Staten Island Ferry.

Some Old Dogs Never Sleep

Rumors continued to persist about President Obama's citizenship, despite Hawaii having issued a birth certificate in his name. The GOP opposition was so desperate in the 2008 election that they investigated his nationality without any satisfaction since the Hawaii Advertiser published the news of his birth. Verification of this rumor could have been a two-edged sword since John McCain was not born in the USA, but in Panama, although at a US Navy base.

The Canal Zone was once part of the USA.

No more, so John McCain is Panamanian by default.

It's a small world after all.

Across the Border

My friends' sons and daughters suspect that my travels are connected to the CIA or some criminal enterprise. My denials only harden their opinion mostly because they view their parents as strictly 9-5 straights. Recently one contacted me on Facebook and asked if I was in Thailand to transport drugs. Thai police are very strict on traffickers and I have never entertained any business enterprise involved the shipment of drugs within or outside Thailand.

The truth, however back in 1994 I was motorcycling north of Chiang Mai with two Italian friends. We reached the northernmost point of Thailand, Mai Sai, and stayed at the idyllic Mai Sai Guesthouse. Butterflies floated over the tropical flowers and young Burmese children swam in the river. I was content to drink a Singha beer, but they wanted more.


"Si, opium." They chorused this mutual desire.

"Don't say that too loud." Undercover Thai police are specialists at entrapping westerners. I tried to deter their obsession. They were relentless and I said, "I'll see what I can do."

I set out for the road running along the mountain crest demarking the frontier. No police patrolled this road. No passport control either. I spotted an old man. He was from the Yao tribe. I asked him if he knew where to find 'fin' or opium. He nodded with a toothless grin and pointed into Burma. I thumbed behind me and he jumped on the back of the trailbike. We drove several kilometers to a small village. Thatched huts and runny-nosed kids. He spoke with several men and came back with five fingers up.

"$50?" I asked and he smiled once more. The money was the Italians, so I wasn't losing anything if he disappeared further into Burma. he and another man got into a pick-up and drove off. I sat in the village watched by everyone like I was a TV showing an American sit-com without subtitles. After 20 minutes I started getting nervous. I was in Burma without a visa looking for drugs. Potentially big trouble. I heard a truck coming up the hill. I got on the bike and started it in case the truck was filled with police. It was the old man.

He got out of the truck with a garbage bag of pot. Five pounds at least. I shook my head.

"Not ganga. Fin. Opium. Horse. Ma."

None of this filter through our language barrier, but he lifted a finger for me to wait. He went into a hut and returned with a bag of white powder. It looked familiar. It tasted familiar too. Chinese # 4 Heroin. This was the deal. Dope and money money back. I thanked the old man and stuffed the cellophane bag into my boot. Thais are very wary of people's feet. They consider them dirty and my boots were caked with dust. I drove back to Mai Sai through several Thai police checkpoints without any incident. In my room I showed the bag to the Italian.

"This is not opium." They were disappointed until we chased the dragon.

This was the real gear and I explained that opium was tough to find now that the DEA was waging its war on drugs along the border. The growers refined the opium into heroin for easier shipment. The Italians could have cared less. they were in oblivion and by the end of the week they were hooked to the gear. They wanted more, but I wasn't pushing my luck. I gave them directions and headed back to Chiang Mai. I never saw them again.

I explained this my friend's son.

"Right." He preferred to believe his own story and I was guilty as charged by a teenage mind. Better than the real thing, because I like my freedom

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dumb Cop Retraction

Last month I was talking to an ex-NYPD cop about the Amadou Diallo case. I offhandedly said that the officers involved in that fatal shooting were high on drugs and that the only good thing they did that fateful evening was not reload and shoot the downed African again.

"You don't know what the fuck you're talking about. In any shooting the cops are bloodtested and that would have been published in every paper in the world if it was the case."

"I'm not so sure about that." My comment was based on a hunch rather than fact.

"You show me the proof." He was irate enough not to speak with me for the rest of the day. The police protect their own and the ranks have closed behind the Cambridge officer who arrested a Harvard professor for breaking into his own house. The rank and file have also called on President Obama to apologize for calling the incident 'stupid'.

"My sense is you've got two good people in a circumstance in which neither of them were able to resolve it the way the wanted to resolve it," Obama commented to the Press, although Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick called the arrest "every black man's nightmare."

Any with good reason.

10% of all blacks males between 24 and 29 are in prison, albeit more than a few for good reasons.

I used to lock myself out of my East Village apartment on numerous occasions. I would climb onto the roof and down the fire escape, then force open a window. It was a dangerous operation. A slip and I could have fallen 50 feet to the hard concrete, but not once did any of my neighbors called 911.

White guy doing something crazy, but one thing I learned long ago is when the cops ask you a question, it's yes officer and no officer. Obviously they hadn't taught that at Harvard. They certainly did at Boston College, but that never stopped me from being arrested by the police. The last time was in Thailand and believe me I was 'yes officering' fast I could so I didn't have to spend a night in jail.

And it worked, but probably not if I was black.

They have a hard road and no white person will ever know how hard.

S & M CIA/Thai Connection

The Washington Post has published an article claiming that the Thai government was aware of the secret CIA torture compounds at various sites throughout the country. The PM categorically denied the existence of these rendition centers for terrorists at the ASEAN summit in Phuket. His Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban also pronounced that the report was without value and eh was joined by the Foreign Minister in denouncing the Washington Post.

The CIA has made no comment on this subject, but it's fairly common knowledge that most governments had no idea about these rendition programs.

None at all.

See no evil, hear no evil, smell no evil.

After all the CIA destroyed all the tapes of these sessions.

So they can't really exist if it can't be seen on TV.

King Power 1968

King Power had humble beginnings at the old Don Muang Airport. These shacks served as the duty-free, selling durian fragrances and Zippo lighters. $1000 Gucci wallets and $100 eyeshadow were not available on the premises adn the salespeople greeted travelers with a real Thai smile.

Oh, for the good ole days.

Dearth of Farangs

The Wall Street Journal was crowing over the Dow Jones hitting 9000. This ebullient economic news had little effect on Thailand. The Asian Highway was empty coming down from Chai-Nat. Morchit, the main bus terminal, was quiet. The bus to Pattaya had open seats and the motorway through Bangkok offered no traffic jams. Once Thailand was one of the top ten tourist destinations for travelers.

Not anymore and the Tourist Board of Thailand announced that 2009 is shaping up to be the worst year in nearly a half-century. The Land of Smiles is getting a little long in the tooth. Today I walked down Jomtien Beach picking up hundreds on plastic bags so my son Fenway can see the sea as I saw it as a child. My effort was futile for the next high tide would deposit another million bags on the sand. At least it was clean for him.

Dirty beaches is only one part of the story. Scams, robberies, coups, political unrest, and the global malaise are to blame, plus the Thai people are exhausted from the onslaught of foreigners.

"Don't they have homes of their own."

And today Thai visa featured a story about the Penang Thai consulate refusing travelers. Small wonder no one is coming here. The welcome mat has been pulled from underneath their feet.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Some Things Never Change

Insult to Injury

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton broke her arm last month, but more painful had to be the insult coming from North Korea at the meeting of Asian leaders in Thailand. One of the Hermit Regime's diplomats called her, "A funny lady who looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping."

Obviously they are angered by Killary's usurping the same pantsuits as their Illustrious Leader and enlivening them with brilliant colors.

You wear it well.

Popularity Contest

Last month www.magnozeen.com was getting 1000 visits a day. I thought that people appreciate my entries on the good, the bad, and the in-between, however July saw a slip-off in visits. Don to 210 yesterday and I've come to the conclusion that I'm writing shit. So it's time for a change. I'm only going to write about other people without telling their names because I don't want to be sued for slander.

I can't afford to defend myself.

Not with two wives and two kids in Thailand.

Or better still is for any of the visitors to suggest a topic

Any topic at all.

I'll send the winner a tee-shirt.

Not used either.

Help me. I want www.mangozeen.com to be as popular as the Jonas Borthers' mom.

Amnesia of You

"As you get old you forget. As you get older you are forgotten."

The other day a woman sent a query to my Facebook page.

"Are you who I think you are?"

Cheyne had worked at the Milk Bar as a waitress. Cute mulatto singer from London. 21. I remembered her well. I wrote back that I had worked at the Milk Bar as the doorman. Her reply came as a surprise.

"I'm sorry I worked at the Milk Bar too, but I don't think you're the person I was thinking...It was all such a long time ago...Take care."

Not who I thought you were?

Cheyne must have wiped her memory clean of the night the little Brit accompanied back to my apartment on East 10th Street for a little wine. It was 5am. There was no questioning her purpose, however as we got out of the taxi, she said, "I've been here before."

It wasn't a case of deja vu. Cheyne had come home with my previous subleasee, a male nurse from Sweden. Ruben was a body builder. He was also into black chicks. A nice guy who always paid the rent on time. The girl entered the apartment and said, "Same as it was only Ruben kept it a little cleaner. You know I was wondering who lived here, but saw the records and figured it had to be some old hippie."

'Old hippie'.

Those two words castrated my libido. Cheyne and I did nothing but a little blow. That humbling episode was over 23 years ago. Her epistle on Facebook reveals she has forgotten about me 100% and those two words too. They were a curse, because I still listen to Quicksilver Messenger Service and Jefferson Airplane. I might not have long hair, but I am still an old hippie and a punk too.


'Dumb Cops'

Cops have a job. That job is to serve and protect the public. For the most part they sit in their cars cruising the streets. Hours can passed without an incident, although they are fully aware that anything can happen; a robbery, a family dispute, a shooting ad infinitum. The worst thing that can happen is to run into someone who says, "Who don't know who I am." especially when that person is a Harvard professor breaking into his own house.

What should have been a simple show of ID ended with the professor arrest for disorderly conduct. The officer didn't know that this professor was a friend of President Obama and the press would have his name all over the TV and newspapers within a heartbeat, especailly after the president called the Cambridge police 'dumb'.

Perhaps the professor had been angry. People get angry by cops confronting them on their own doorstep. I was drinking in front of my friend's gallery in New York. A police car pulled up to the curb and three cops got out with their hands on their guns. It was the first night in June without rain. The cops asked for IDs and told anyone with a beer in their hand to stand to the side.

"Is this Saudi Arabia?" One wit asked from the sideline.

"No, it's New York City and drinking out on the street is against the law." The driver of the car was adamant about this charge and gave the violators of that city ordnance a ticket. What was worse was his hostile attitude and we were all white. A black boy would have been locked up by the 5-0. Thrown in jail. And there's no doubt about that, so I can understand the professor's rage.

Over 2 million people are in jail in America. The vast majority black.

Cops aren't dumb. They're just upholding the state of things.

So President Obama wasn't wrong ain saying that arresting this professor was dumb.

I would have said it was fucking dumb.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Can't A Brother Get A Break

"I'm not black but there's a lot of times I don't want to be white." Frank Zappa on HELP I'M A ROCK.

White people had a hard time with Michael Jackson's transformation to a white person. Bizarre was most of their takes. "He was so cute as a young boy."

What they don't take into consideration is the treatment most blacks receive in the US of A, the land of the free such as in the case of Henry Louis Gates, a black intellectual who was arrested in Cambridge Mass. for disorderly conduct after breaking into his own house.

Black man white neighborhood.

Arrest quota add one old black man for the stats.

And this is the democracy the USA touts to the rest of the world.

No wonder it's a hard sell.

THe Land of the Free still has a long way to come.

And Damn!

The brother was wearing a pink LaCoste shirt.

F-22 Fighter Jet Stays on the Ground

President Eisenhower warned the US public of the 'military-industrial complex'. The coining of this term seemed better suited to a pinko than the standing GOP president. His caveat went unheeded for decades, as America expanded its global reach to every continent. The Pentagon never saw a weapon they didn't want and Congress always voted the money. Very few programs have been squashed as was the Air Force's missile-eluding F-22 Raptor fighter jets in favor of the smaller and less expensive F-35s preferred by President Obama. Air-to-air losing to air-to-ground.

Senators in key defense states are crying that jobs will be lost at a critical time by the cancellation of the F-22. A down payment on a single f-22 is over $60 million. Not to complete, but to insure the production process is greased with the right amount of federal money.

$60 million is the cost of 120,000 teaching jobs, however that doesn't even come close to what the entire defense budget could buy if it were trimmed by the White House.

$630 billion for 2009.

Or $2000 for every American man woman or child.

I could use the money, except I don't really pay too much taxes so I guess I can say much about how the Pentagon allocates its funds and that is the price of freedom.

The defense bill authorizes $550 billion for defense programs and $130 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and for other anti-terrorist operations.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cobra Swamp Airport Sting

The recent arrest of a British couple at Bangkok's Cobra Snake Airport has reached the ears of the BBC who has issued a warning to travellers about the dangers of being scammed at Thailand's largest airport. The couple had been arrested on charges that they had stolen a wallet from the notorious King Power Duty-Free. Security guards never found the purloined wallet. I have seen CCTV showing the woman suspiciously slipping an object into her pocketbook.

My aunt Gloria was a non-repentant kleptomaniac. She stole everything. Packs of gum. Lipsticks. Gucci scarves. She had money. Gloria stole because she liked to steal,. Her husband was a judge. I never heard of her getting caught. For years my friends used to shoplift film at duty-free shops in the airports. No one ever seemed to be watching, but the eyes-in-the-sky are manned now and these cyber-detectives are hot on the trail of any suspicious behavior.

King Power's technicians must have trained with the UK police or CIA for they have spotted many potential thieves and arrested them as a preemptive strike. I view Duty-Free as a rip[-off and avoid the shops in every airport. Various embassies are advising the same to their nationals about King Power.

Denmark warned its citizens to resist any urge to shop at Cobra Swamp Airport.

Don't look. Don't touch. Don't go.

I suggest the same to all passengers incoming and outgoing.

THE HOLE OF HEAVEN by Peter Nolan Smith

Adam and Eve were banished from Eden for eating apples. This Original Sin condemned future generations to the purgatory of this mortal coil, however from time to time humans have defied this divine decree with repeated attempts to recreate Heaven on Earth. Most of these utopias have been short-lived for nothing irks the true believers of the after-life more than people enjoying the rewards of a good life in this life and in 1965 nothing symbolized life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness more to the teenagers of Boston's South Shore than the Quincy Quarries. They swam in the spring-fed water without any parental supervision. The passage from boys to men came with a leap off the craggy cliffs into the rock-bound pools. The sun never shined so bright as on the rims of Million Gallons and Josephine's, but Brewster's Quarry was the favorite for the thousands of teenagers devoting their youth to the life of a fallen angel. They called it the Hole of Heaven.

These summer swimming holes were not natural to the glacier-carved Blue Hills. New Englanders had carved granite from steep ledges to build the Bunker Hill monument and then hauled gigantic slabs of ancient stone from the ever-deepening pits by the first train in America. The year was 1826. These indestructible blocks provided the indestructible material for courthouses, wharves, and lighthouses, but steel and glass skyscrapers exiled the construction of granite monuments to the history books. Stone was no longer for the living, but the dead, and only undertakers can feed their children from the dead, so in 1963 the stonecutters turned off the water pumps. The quarries were flooded by the springs running deep under the earth. The aquifer held generations of pure water. Its color was emerald green and every April teenagers from South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy, and my hometown flocked to the quarries like Celtics fans to the Boston Garden during the playoffs.

In December of 1963 Arnie Ginsburg declared that the Kingsmen's song was the worst record he had ever spun on his NIGHT TRAIN show. The WMEX DJ was no teenager. Louie went to #1 in the winter of 1964 and every garage band in Boston covered it at least once during their sets. The drummer saying 'fuck' had nothing to do with it. America was leaving the 1950s for good. Boys and girls made out at the Mattapan Oriental Theater during Saturday matinees. Hair crept over ears and shirt collars like uncut lawns. Our parents battled this rebellion with edicts against kissing, drinking beer, rock music, dancing too close, certain friendships, and declaring certain places off-limits, however no destination proved more irresistible than the Quincy Quarries south of Boston.

Parents, priests, teachers, and police were strangers to these teenage oases. The quarries were only accessible by foot. They were a refuge from adult domination and LOUIE LOUIE played on transistor radios, while boys and girls basked in the summer sun. It was more popular than any Beatles song. Jumping off a cliff wasn't the same to I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND. The feuds between towns and gangs were put on hold according to an unspoken truce. Teenagers came to the quarries for fun. Of course the authorities tried their best to shut down this paradise.

Unfortunately the quarries were a magnet for accidental drownings and drunken mishaps. Joyriders drove cars into Million Gallons to imitate James Dean's chicken run in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. One or two ended up bad. Many of the stories about the bottomless pits were urban legends, the most famous was of a kid jumping off Shipwreck’s craggy prow and landing on a submerged car. An antenna pierced his arm. This gruesome tale was retold each summer, as if the accident had occurred recently, although its origins were lost in the haze of myths.

Parents believed the worse and vigorously petitioned the authorities to shut down these threats to the well-being of their children. The Quincy garbage men dumped old telephone poles into the water. Teenagers used them for logrolling contests or wired them together for sunning rafts. The town was accused of ignoring its civic duty and in August 1965 a selectman from the shipyard suggested spilling refuse oil from ships into the quarries. Three tankers were parked overnight, intending to unleash their foul black liquid into the main pool with the dawn. That evening I was observing a meteor shower behind our split-level off Route 28. Bats flapped their wings in the summer night and the wind hushed through the trees. This suburban calm was shattered by a whooshing boom.

My eyes widened as a flaming mushroom cloud roiled over the woods. Seconds later two more fireballs scorched the night sky. I thought the Russians had nuked Boston and crouched under the picnic table in anticipation of the shock wave. Several minutes later my mother came out of the house and ordered me inside. As a 13 year-old boy I obeyed her 99% of the time.

The morning’s newspapers reported vandals had torched the trucks. The police had no suspects, although the teenage grapevine introduced a trio of heroes to the South Shore. Donnie, Lee, and Eddie. I had never been to the quarries. Neither had my next-door neighbor. Chuckie was my best friend. We wanted to see the ruined trucks and told our parents that we were going to the town pool. Three of our friends joined us and we tramped out of our suburban neighborhood into the Blue Hills. The trek took a good hour. We talked about the divers off the Acapulco cliffs. None of us planned on diving off Rooftop, Brewster's most famous leap.

"We'll jump feet first." Chuckie was a good diver. His family had a swimming pool.

Feet-first sounded safe, until we scrabbled through the maze of abandoned stones to the edge of Brewster's Quarry. Rooftop was a slanted slab of granite fifty feet above the water. The sheer drop looked more like a hundred. The older teenagers on the ledge clucked out calls of chicken,

“Are you going or what?”

“Leave them alone.” A good-looking teenager came over to us. He was about 17, which was a golden age for teenagers. We listened to his every word. “The best way to jump is feet-first. You put your feet together and hold out your arms to keep your balance. It looks high, but there aren’t any ledges under Rooftop, so you’ll live no matter what.”

The teenager went back to his friends.

Keep on your sneakers. It’s easier getting out of the quarries with them on.

“Thanks.” Chuckie was a good diver already. His father had built a swimming pool in his backyard. He could do a flip easy. “There are five of us, right?”

We nodded meekly and he pointed to me. “I’ll go first, you’re second, then you, you, and you. We yell out ‘Geronimo’. Are you with me?”

“Yes,” We shouted in unison. Our parents had forbidden the act, our teachers had warned of the danger, and the police would arrest us for trespassing on private property. Their collective disapproval was all the encouragement 13-old boys needed to break their commands. We stripped off our shirts. Sneakers stayed on to prevent our breaking our feet.

Without warning Chuckie threw himself off the cliff. His cry of ‘Geronimo’ died with a splash into the water. His head bobbed to the surface and he shouted my name. I ran until only air was under my feet and plummeted off-balance to smack into the water on my side. I surfaced with a whoop. I was ready to jump off Rooftop again and the gleam on Chuckie’s face confirmed he was with me 100%.

With a shriek our friends appeared high overhead suspended in mid-air before falling in arcing trajectories. One landed on his side, another on his belly, and the third cannonballed into the water. They broke surface and we howled for joy.

We had done it and we did it again and again throughout the following summers, but 1967 America wasn’t the same America as in 1965.

Cities were burning in the US and Asia. San Francisco hippies were dropping acid and longhairs in Cambridge demonstrated against LBJ. Boys from the South Shore were fighting against the commies in Viet-Nam, but the effect from the battles in the Orient had yet to ripple across the surface of the Quincy Quarries. We had our own heroes in the legend about three boys acting as one.

Donnie, Lee, and Eddie.

Their attack on the oil trucks had not been a solitary act. Their names were on every teenager’s lips. How they had stopped a fight at the River Club in Mattapan. How they were the best dancers at the Surf Nantasket. That nobody dressed sharper and no one kissed better. These stories were too good to be true and I suspected they were a myth. I was wrong.

"I saw Donnie, Lee, and Eddie at the Clam Box." My girlfriend had gone to the teen hangout on Wollaston Beach with her sister. Kyla Rolla loved their fried clams.

"I don't believe you." I was a little jealous. Kyla was too pretty to be on a beach without me, especially with Donnie, Lee, and, Eddie around.

"Go see for yourself." She handed me the keys to her sister's Vespa. It was pink. "You can't miss them."

"Sure." The three most popular teenagers on the South Shore should be very obvious and I pulled on a football helmet before getting on the scooter. It was tight. I hadn't played football in two years. I was on my high school track team and saved my physical contact for dates with Kyla.

Wollaston Beach was a 15-minute drive from my house. The sun was hot and lots of families crowded onto the narrow strip of sand. The water shimmered with oil. The town sewage lines dumped untreated effluvia into the bay. No one who swam at the Quarries went in the water at Wollaston. Most teenagers only came to see other teenagers and east fried clams at the Clam Box. They were the best on the South Shore and I almost pulled into the parking lot upon smelling the greasy aroma billowing from the extraction fans. Instead I parked across the street close to a large clump of teenager.

A blonde girl sat on the seawall alone. She was wearing a bikini. I figured her for 15. My age, but I pretended to be 16 and walked up to her.

“Have you seen Donnie, Lee, and Eddie?”

"Yeah, he's over there." She lifted her hand to point. I never saw where. A fist smacked into my head. It didn’t really hurt. I was still wearing the helmet. I wheeled around to face six older teenagers in leather jackets and pointy-toed boots.

“Who invited you to this beach? I’ll tell you. No one. Your type is unwelcome in Wollaston. Now you’re going get what you deserve.” They were ‘Rats’ and hated anyone dressing ‘Mod’ like me. Chinos, a Sta-press shirt, hair over your ears were stupid reasons to fight.

“Take off your helmet.” The biggest Rat had an anchor tattooed on his forearm.

“Why?” Football helmets were good protection with the odds against you 6-1.

“Because I said so.” He was used to people doing what he said. Most bullies are.

“That's not good enough.” A crowd was gathering around us. Everyone loved a fight and even more so a beating.

"Really and what are you going to do about it?" I took off the helmet, holding it by the facemask.

"Kick your ass."

I had been beaten up every day in 7th Grade. These fights taught me that if an aggressor spoke about fighting, he was usually serious, so I clocked the greaser with my helmet and he collapsed onto the sidewalk like a jellyfish. His friends rat-packed me in revenge. Something hit me hard in the head. Stars floated in my eyeballs, as I ducked, bobbed, and weaved through a medley of punches and kicks. One blow caught me in the temple. I stumbled to the ground and a boot to the ribs knocked the wind out of my lungs. This was as bad as any of the beatings I had received in 7th Grade and it could have gotten worse, except someone said, "Stop it."

The deluge of blows ended with me on my knees. Blood was dripping from my nose. My tongue tested my teeth. A molar was loose.

"Are you okay?" The teenage boy lifted me to my feet. It was the same boy who had instructed Chuckie and me how to jump off Rooftop. He wore a jeans and a denim jacket like Levis might have made them special for him.

"I think." My right eye was swollen shut, but I could see two of my attackers lifting the fallen greaser from the pavement. The helmet had opened a gash above his eye. His other friends stuffed their hands into their pockets, as if they had been innocent onlookers. "Thanks for helping me."

"Sure, I didn't like the odds." The tall tanned Italian teen stood with the blonde girl under his arm. His face belonged to a god and his muscled body was that of a high school quarterback. He shrugged with utter cool. “My name is Donny Lianetti.”

“D-d-Donny Lianetti?” I was stunned by the miracle of three people melting into one body.

“Have we met before?” He squinted with suspicion.

“No, no, I thought you were three people. Donnie, Lee, and Eddie.” I lifted a finger with each name.

“That’s funny. Donny, Lee, and Eddie.” He clapped me on the shoulder. “Maybe we’ll see you around.”

"I go to the quarries." I wanted to be his friend.

"Then we'll definitely see you." He strolled away with the blonde. His friends followed Donnie. I got back on the Vespa and drove back to my neighborhood.

"And?" Kyla shook her head after I took off the helmet. The bleeding had stopped, but my eye must have been a good color black. I explained about the fight and how Donnie saved me. His fame rubbed off and my friends wanted to hear the story over and over. Even my father thought maybe that some good had come of the beating.

"Teach you not to go places you shouldn't."

That was a lesson for someone else. I went to the quarries almost every day. Donnie was there a couple of times. He waved from his clutch of friends. I waved back. Chuckie and I dove off Rooftop to get his attention. He yelled out his approval, but never called us over to speak with us. From another teenager this benign neglect might have been an insult, however I was happy with the smallest sliver of his attention, especially as his fame grew with a series of swam dives from the quarries’ most famous cliffs; the Wall, rooftop, and the Peak of Shipwreck. Each successful plunge reinforced his aura of divinity and we figured he would stop at Everest, the highest dive in Brewster's, but then Donnie announced a dive from the rail bridge of Million Gallons.

On the 4th of July.

For our brave men in uniform.

At noon.

Million Gallons was the largest of the quarries. The depth was unknown and the height from the Rail to the water had to be about 120 feet. Tobin Bridge in Boston was the same height. People leapt from that span to kill themselves. A jump from rail could be equally fatal, but if anyone could survive such a dive, it was Donnie Lianetti.

That 4th was a warm day.

Our families were heading to Nantasket Beach. It was the best beach on the South shore with long Atlantic rollers crashing on fine gray sand. Chuckie and I said we were staying home. My father said that we'd be missing a perfect beach day. He was right other than whatever we wanted to do had nothing to do with the beach. Once my family drove away, Chuckie ran over to my house. His parents had been headed for the Cape. They had a cottage on the water. His sisters also wanted to see Donnie Lianetti's dive. So did their boyfriends. None of us were going anywhere other than the Rail. I picked up Kyla at her house. Her sisters were riding the Vespa. Kyla came with Chuckie's sisters. We were in a Valiant. All six of us. Kyla had to sit on my lap. The drive through the Blue Hills wasn't far, but we were surprised by the number of cars parked underneath the Expressway. Almost a hundred. It was 11:30 and we hurried up the path to the Rail.

Today no one was speaking about Vietnam, the Red Sox, or summer vacations. We told stories about our hero. Some stories might have been lies. I proudly retained yellowing bruises to prove mine were true. By the time we mounted the rocks to rim of Million Gallons, the crowd number had to number in the hundreds. Kids came from every town on the South Shore and all the neighborhoods of Boston. Even Roxbury. Mostly boys and young men, but also a lot of girls.

Chuck’s sister, Addy, was with Dennis Halley. He drove a GTO. Several of her girlfriends were hanging by the bridge over the quarry. They had come to see Donnie Lianetti demonstrate that teenagers don’t die young.

I peered over the edge. The uneven wall slanted to the bottom. The water appeared a mile away and I gulped from fear. Kyla grabbed my hand. Standing so close to danger was unnatural.

"Nothing to worry about," I said, hoping there wasn't an earthquake.

"So where's the hero?" A greaser checked his watch. It was a Timex. "I got 11:57."

"He'll be here," Dennis Halley answered with certainty and a minute before noon Donnie appeared on the bridge in cutoff shorts. Kyla’s eyes worshipped him, as if he was a religion, and she clapped her hands together, when he took off his shirt. His skin was tanned golden. Several girls sighed, expecting him to strip all the way.

“You think he’s really going to dive?” Kyla’s fingernails dug into my arm.

His feet remained covered by sneakers and the greaser asked, "Why's he wearing those, if he's going to dive."

"Because it's easier to climb in sneakers." I remembered him saying the same words two years earlier.

“Thank you for coming to honor our boys overseas.” Donny raised his arms to quiet us and spoke with a clear voice. “They're fighting for us our right to swim here and listen to rock and roll and drink beer. Fuck killing the commies."

No one had expected politics. We looked at each other without saying a word.

"If you don’t mind, give me a little quiet."

Soon the only noise was the hum of cars on Route 3.

"You guys ready?”

His words were directed far below to the three figures floating on the water. They were his safety crew. One of them shouted something and Donnie spread his arms like Christ on the cross.

“He isn’t gonna dive, is he?” Chuckie whispered from behind me.

“No way,” the greaser said through an exhale of cigarette smoke. “No one’s that crazy.”

Donnie pushed off from the steel beam, his featherless arms guiding his headfirst plunge. We held our breaths, as his body accelerated to become an incoming ICBM. Halfway down he must have realized the danger in diving and tried to correct for a feet-first entry. This desperate attempt ran out of space and he exploded into the water at an odd angle. A huge plume rose from the impact the crowd groaned with the collective memory of a painful belly flop, although landing on your stomach from a hundred and fifty feet was a matter of life or death, instead of a pink belly.

“See, I told you he was chicken to dive,” the greaser said with a smirk. Nothing was sacred to them.

We ignored his insult. Our eyes were riveted on the surface. Donnie had yet to re-appear. His safety crew frantically swam to their friend’s entry point and dove under the water. When they bobbed up with Donnie, our hero raised his hand in triumph and we cheered him, as if he had landed on the Moon. Chuckie’s sisters suggested that we go back to their house. Hr parents weren’t home. Neither were mine.

Back at their swimming pool, everyone talked about the dive. Donnie had achieved the impossible, however in the following weeks and months no one mentioned his name. Some said he had enlisted in the Marines. Others that he had been arrested by the police for his dive. Whenever I went to the quarries, I asked about him, but no one could say anything for sure.

In fall of 1971 I moved into a collegiate commune in Allston. My fellow hippies and I protested against the war, smoked pot, and listened to the Jefferson Airplane. None of this helped my grades. My major was in Math. The professor tutored me every morning. I was a friend of his daughter. School was 15 minutes away by trolley. It was even closer by hitchhiking. One morning a Cadillac stopped on Commonwealth Avenue.

The brunette behind the wheel was beautiful. Her longhaired passenger huddled against the door in a slouch. They were a strange couple. The radio was playing the kinks’ WATERLOO SUNSET. The passenger sang along with the chorus. He had a good voice.

"Where you going?" the girl asked as if they were heading cross-country.

"To school."

The passenger turned around in his seat and stared at me with familiar eyes.

"I know you." He pushed the hair out of his face.

“You do.” I didn’t recognize him.

“You’re the guy who thought I was three people.”


"Yep." His face was twisted on one side and he was losing his hair.

“What happened?”

“You must have seen my great dive. This is the reward I’ve been living with since then. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not angry. My father sued Quincy and with the settlement I’m set for life. I can walk and Sheila loves me. We have two kids. So don’t say, “Sorry.” I heard enough of them to last a lifetime.”

"It was a great dive."

"Except for the landing." Donnie Lianetti settled into his seat with a pained sigh. “Hey, tell Sheila how handsome I was.”

“He was a God.” It was the truth.

“He still is in his own small way.” She rubbed his head like she worshipped Donnie for same reasons than we had back in 1966.

“Whatever happened to your girlfriend?”

“Kyla?” I was surprised that he remembered her, then again I certainly had not forgotten her


“She got married.” To a friend of mine after we broke up. I couldn’t say why. “She’s living in my hometown.”

“Too bad. You ever go to the quarries?”

“I was there last summer. It hasn’t changed at all.” The water was as clean as ever. The cliffs were unbroken by gravity. A jump off Rooftop thrilled my soul.

“Next time jump off Rooftop for me.”

“Sure,” I answered, as his girlfriend braked opposite the gates before my school.

"It was good seeing you." I got out of the car.

“Thanks, we’ll be seeing you around.” He didn't say where and after that day Donnie Lianetti vanished forever.

I told my friends at the commune about this encounter. They were enthralled by the legend of the quarries. In the spring I took them there. The water was the same. The cliffs were just as high. I dove from Rooftop to show off to a co-ed from BU. I landed funny and tweaked my back. It was only 40 feet. I limped around Boston for the rest of the summer. I didn't go back to the quarries for a long time.

After finishing college, I moved to New York. I thought about the quarries a lot. Donnie too. I traveled the world, living in Paris, Germany, Mexico, and Bali. People said I was a man without a country.

They were wrong. I knew exactly where was my home and on a summer day in 1999 I went to the quarries with my older brother's son and daughter. They were 13 and 15. Each had heard the story about Donnie Lianetti and my last dive many times. This visit they begged me to show them the quarries and I borrowed my father’s car to drive them there. It was a beautiful day and I climbed to Rooftop. This time I jumped feet-first. My back survived the leap and my niece and nephew worshipped me for at least a week.

Back in New York no one believed I would do something so foolish. I was 47. I had been living in the city on and off 22 years. I was still a New Englander and on the morning of July 4, 2000 I deserted my East Village apartment for Boston.

The taxi drive to Penn Station was quick. The national holiday had emptied the streets. The northbound Amtrak train sped along the Connecticut shore and arrived at the route 128 Station on time. My father was waiting by his car. For a man nearing 80 he looked good.

“You want me to drive?” I asked, having heard about his recent accident.

While driving through the town cemetery to visit the grave of my mother and youngest brother, a squirrel had jumped onto the path and my father had swerved into the scenery. The car showed no sign of damage.

“I’m fine. Get in the car.”

“Police said it was a miracle you didn’t hit a gravestone.” I sat in the passenger side and strapped the seat belt over my chest.

“Oh, that.” He started the car and drove out of the station. “I still have good reaction skills for a man my age.”

He proved this statement by swerving around a slow-moving SUV and cursing the driver as a fool.

Luckily the traffic was light. Everyone was already on the Cape. We breezed over the Sagamore Bridge and reached my older brother’s cottage in Cotuit within seventy minutes. As we pulled into the driveway, my brother checked his watch. “Good time, Speed Racer.”

“Only because there are no squirrels.” My father pushed himself out of the car. The weight he gained after my mother’s death was a permanent addition to his tall frame. “Any white wine on ice?”

“Just opened a bottle especially for you.” My brother hugged him and then me. We didn't see each other.

Halfway through his glass of Chardonnay, my father fell asleep on the sofa. My sister-in-law and brother resumed preparations for a pre-fireworks BBQ. “Take the kids to the beach. And drive slowly, the cops love giving tickets for speeding.”

The town beach was less than five minutes away. Finding a parking space took ten. About two hundred families were spread across the narrow strand of sand. My niece and nephew insisted on planting our umbrella in the center of them. They were almost teenagers and this was more about meeting kids their own age than swimming.

Eating too.

My niece and nephew hit the refreshment stand and I strode to hightide mark. The water was cold. I picked my way through the stones deposited by the waves. The sandy bottom was a relief. Most swimmers stayed within twenty feet of shore. The drop-off to deeper water was sharp.

I dove under a small wave. My underwater voyage took me out over my head and I surfaced to see gulls wheeling in the peerless blue sky. Children’s laughter splashed across the water. Adults languished on floats. 90% of them would be lobster red by sunset. It was fun, but not the type of swimming about which I dreamed and I returned to shore.

Back at the blanket, my niece and nephew were munching on potato chips with their friends. One with sunglasses asked, “How old are you, mister?”

“50.” It sounded old to me too, if you added on the ‘mister’.

“50?” He lifted off his shades. “50 is old.”

“My uncle isn’t old. Only last year he jumped off Rooftop at the Quincy Quarries.” My nephew defended my aging with his rendition of Donnie Lianetti’s dive. He lived as a myth and at the end of the story, my nephew’s friend said, “My old man is fifty and he drives a Mercedes.”

“Good for him.” I didn’t have a car or a wife or kids. My only family was the one into which I had been born in 1952 and I loved them. We were Red Sox fans after all.

For dinner Frank barbecued burgers and dogs. I drank wine with my father. We played cribbage and he won most every game. After Wheel of Fortune he went to sleep. Frank led us through the deepening dusk to the baseball field. We sat on the wooden stands, watching fireworks explode over the harbor. The finale had the crowd oohing and aahing like babies after a whiskey toddy.

Several high school friends accepted my brother’s invitation to come back to his house. Our rapid-fire conversation revisited 1960s. We told stories about GTOs, the Surf Nantasket, and the quarries. Everyone wanted to hear about Donnie’s dive. I didn’t include our meeting on Commonwealth Avenue. The story played better with a happy ending. At the end their kids joked that we were dinosaurs. I proved we were only wooly mammoths by playing a CD of British Invasion hits. The teenagers grimaced upon hearing us sing WILD THING. My brother shook his head, when I did an air guitar. Everyone went home slightly before midnight.

“Time for bed.” Frank took the wineglasses out of his wife’s and my hand.

“Party-pooper.” His wife and I were discussing his likeness to George Bush. The father not the son.

“Someone has to mow the lawn in the morning.” He was shorter than the 41st President. I kissed his wife on the cheek and walked down the hallway to the guestroom. My father was lying on his back in the bed nearest the door. His snoring was louder than normal and Frank asked, “You can sleep through that?”

“No problem,” I answered and stuck two wads of wax in my ears.

“See you in the morning.”

The night air was thick with humidity. Mosquitoes formed different attack patterns to suck my blood. Few got through the strong breeze of the fan set on 3. A stupor should have been my next destination, however my father’s rumbling snorts served as a trumpet call to anyone on this side of the dead. The balls of wax were useless. I kicked at his bed and he cleared his throat with a phlegmatic rumble.

“I wasn’t snoring, was I?”

“Like a truck stuck on ice.”

“Sorry.” He rolled over and regained unconsciousness within seconds.

The snores shook the room and I went to sleep on the living room couch. Without a fan the mosquitoes had better luck with their strategies. I wrapped the thin sheet around my body, so that only my nose was unprotected. The mosquitoes showed no mercy.

Slightly before dawn I returned to the guest room. My father’s breathing was even-paced. It took him a couple of minutes to sense I was in the room. He opened his eyes with a series of blinks at the rising sun.

“You sleep good?”

“Like I was on a bed of nails.”

“Probably all the wine you drank.” He squinted at the rising sun.

“Anyone else awake?”

“Just you and me, Pop,” I replied and helped him out of bed.

“Then let’s have breakfast.”

We got dressed and drove to the local restaurant. It was slightly before 7am. I bought the NY Times and Boston Globe. The headlines confirmed no news happens on holiday weekends. An article about the construction on the Central Artery filled four columns and I said, “Says Quincy is using the rubble from the Big Dig for landfill.”

“Yes, the town’s filling the quarries.”

“They can’t do that.” The quarries were reputed to be bottomless.

“If you have as much money as the Big Dig, the impossible is possible. Besides what do you care?” He was no stranger to my concern.

“The quarries are national treasures.” This was a sacrilege to the eternal emerald waters. They were on the national heritage trail. It couldn’t be true.

“The town should have closed those death traps long ago.” My father jabbed a finger at the newspaper. “Sixteen people died in the quarries since 1960.”

“Thousands die on the highways and no one’s closing them.”

“People use the highways.”

“And I swim at the quarries.” Only last year I had leapt off Rooftop to prove I wasn’t old to my nieces and nephews.

“A man your age shouldn’t be doing that.” My father slammed the table. The salt-and-pepper shakers bounced in the air. The other diners turned their heads. They were vacationers with little interest in a heated debate about the Quarries.

“You’re right, but I still can’t believe this.” I raised my hands in surrender.

“Read it again and weep.” My father returned to the Scrabble puzzle, while I scoured the article for the slightest hint of reprieve.

Twenty billions dollars were being spent to save 100,000 commuters 15 minutes. Boston’s congestion could have been more easily solved by giving 25,000 drivers $800,000 to commute by train or stay at home like Lotto winners. Fewer cars. Less traffic. More roads. More traffic. No such luck. My math was illogical to the project planners, or motorists obsessed with a ridiculous need to race to the malls, the fast food chains, and their houses. I read further that the town of Quincy was burying my favorite swimming hole with the excavated dirt from the nation’s largest highway project.

After breakfast my father told Frank he wanted to go home. My brother begged us to stay. We had been best friends most of our life and now our hours together each year could be counted on fingers instead of stars. I asked my father, “What’s the rush?”

“I like sleeping in my own bed. No one’s saying you can’t stay.”

My brother smiled at my father.

“No, if he goes, I won’t worry about his driving off the Sagamore Bridge.”

I kissed my brother and hugged his wife. I’d see them on Labor Day. My father was already in the car. He blew the horn. Almost 80 and he had places to go. The road to Boston was clear. Everyone was making the Fourth a long weekend. My father and I listened to NPR. He rarely dropped below 75. Arriving in our hometown I could tell he was happy. At his age familiar places made him feel good, but I had someplace else to go and said we were out of OJ.

"I’ll buy some at the supermarket.”

“I know where you’re really going. You’ll see that the quarries are gone. About time too.” He waddled into the house. “When you come back, we’ll have fried clams at Wollaston. That will make you feel better.”

I loved him most of the time, but hated hearing him say what I suspected was the truth, but I had to find out for myself and drove his car to the other side of the Blue Hills. At the entrance to the quarries water gushed over a granite block.

QUARRY HILLS GOLF COURSE had been carved in Gothic letters.

Only pumping the pits dry could have created this fake waterfall. A Mack truck groaned uphill on a national holiday. Praying the over-laden truck was heading to another destination, I headed to the old footpath leading into Granite Rail.

A chain link fence bannered with NO TRESPASSING zigzagged through the woods. No sign was keeping me out. I scrambled through the underbrush and slipped through a hole cut in the wire. I climbed through the tumble of Stonehenge-sized granite slabs to Rooftop. Even after reading the Globe I wasn't ready for what I saw or didn't see. Dirt filled the fearsome abyss to the brim. Gone were the ‘lungiefish’, the echoing shouts of naked boys, shooting guns at the cliff faces, and drinking beer underage. Staggered by this wanton destruction I shuffled to Million Gallons. The rusting iron bridge still spanned the terrible emptiness spread its maw below this structure, where one summer day Donnie Lianetti had proved that ‘impossible’ is only a word for people unwilling to defy death.

No one was jumping into the Million Gallons today. A truck was parked by its edge. Rubble cascaded into the sluggish water. My heart fell over the cliff and tears dropped from my eyes. Everything I loved was getting old and going south for the winter. My father, me, and the quarries. I shut my eyes. South was only a foot away. It was a distance too far for me and I opened my eyes.

Next summer imported grass would cover a par-3 fairway leading to a treacherous green. Some caddie would learn to play the carom off the cliff face like Yaz fielding liners off the Green Monster. The caddie would tell his friends about the kid who jumped off Shipwreck and got his arm pierced by a radio antenna.

And the view from Rooftop would be the same as the first day Chuckie and I had stood on the stone ledge looking over into the chasm. Chuckie lived in Weymouth. I’d call him to join us at the Clam Box. We’d order a large box of bellied clams and root beers. We would talk about the quarries and the Surf Nantasket. The Hole of Heaven wasn’t gone. It was below me. Only the water was missing and if a vandal firebombed the pumps, it will return to the beauty of its past to become the present, which will always be the future.

When I got back to my father’s house, he was watering on the lawn. He switched off the hose and asked, “Was I right?”

“I wish you weren’t.”

“Nothing lasts forever.” He coiled the hose and dumped it behind the bushes. “You feel like some fried clams.”

“At the Clam Box?”

“Where else?”

“Can I drive?”

“No.” He wasn’t letting anyone take the keys out of his hands and we drove down to Wollaston following the fading memories of something good gone forever, because those are the only roads on which we will never lose our way.

Gowanus Beach Club

Several weeks before my departure to Thailand Jocko Weyland told me about his project to provide the Gowanus Canal with pools by filling dumpsters with water. The idea was radical in both concept and location. The cost was minimal thanks to contributions to Macro-seas from a construction company with a surplus of dumpsters. Jocko showed me several photos of the pools. They were lined next to a building. One of them low enough to jump into the pool.

"Jocko, can I jump into the pool from the roof?"

"Er, I don't know." Jocko had concern for my possible injury, which was quite touching from the well-known skatebaorder author of THE ANSWER IS NEVER. "I'm not so sure about that, but I suppose it would be alright if you signed a release. When you want to do it?"

"Not until I get back from Thailand." I wasn't threatening my life with a trans-Pacific ticket in my hand. "I don't think anyone else would do it."

"Maybe not." Jocko was a big fan of my quarry diving story THE HOLE OF HEAVEN.

"It's only 15 feet. And there's sand on the bottom. How bad could it be?"

"Er, I don't know." Jocko was non-committal. Skaters are used to falling down hard but not from 15 feet.

"That's the only answer I need for a green light." I was pleased to think that I could jump into the water from a height. Nothing like that in Thailand or the rest of New York, unless it's someone jumping from a balcony in Pattaya or the Brooklyn Bridge. None of those jumpers want to live. Me, I want to live forever.

Go to this URL to read about the Gowanus Pool


Pattaya Manifesto

Not only has England changed, but Pattaya has metamorphosed from a neglected backwater to a premier destination for lager louts around the world. The green coconut farms are replaced by sardine-can houses, traffic jams stop traffic on 2nd Road, and the bars are filled with assholes.

Mostly I hang out with Thais drinking beer.

Sam Royalle also thinks the city has worsened and proposed a manifesto to rectify the situation.

Firstly UK government should stop issuing passports to UK citizens to they can't come here. Other Euro nations should follow suit.

Secondly a world wide ban on travel would be good for the environment. Everyone stays in the country they are in as from today perfect answer to the world's problems. Only travel allowed is on wooden ships.

Most farangs would have to leave. Sam figures we could run a lao khao or rice whiskey factory. Pattaya city council would enforce certain rules.

Paying a bar fine becomes illegal, all bar girls get a minimum government wage of 20k a month as long as they sleep with us. Beer is free. All pussies must be shaved, virgins must be initiated by a farang, all girls over 25 must be 3 holers, complaining is a capital offence, toilet paper and bum sprays are banned instead we each have our own arse licker / cleaner that lives in the bathroom.

I mentioned to him that this seems a little misogynistic.

"I don't know what that word means, but it's banned from my vision of Babylon on Earth."

He looked at me with an evangelical beam in his eyes.

Babylon on Earth.

One man's vision.

So far away.

For related subject, click on this URL

http://www.mangozeen.com/therell-always-be-an-england.htm" target="_blank">Text Display

Rescue from Above

Business in Thailand is a mirror of America only more dire. No tourists. No jobs in hotels, restaurants, or bars. The villages are repopulated by returnees from Bangkok and the resort areas. Many Thais think that Thaksin can right the situation within hours of his return. They obviously have little grasp of the economic disaster constricting trade around the world. Even neither do the media experts such as Reuters who have touted the possible arrival of megaships from Israel to stem the downward slide.

Big ships need big cargoes.

Simple math until discounting that big ships buy at cheap rates especially when owned by Israelis.

Better for the Thais to look to the stars and call down UFOs to take the place of the disappearing farangs. Maybe they'll be suckers for the 'sick buffalo' story too.

Solutions for Two Places at One Time

My friends have quite aware of my two-wives dilemma in Thailand. They sense the strain of having to magically be two places at once. Their faith in my powers of bi-location are strained by the logistics of distance and solutions have been forthcoming from all parties concerned. The most ruthless suggest that I abandon one family. This is not a possibility. There are children involved in the equation. Others have proposed that I tell my wives the truth, except I don't know actually what truth I want to tell them. A majority have said the best answer would be to have both women live with each other to save time and trouble and money.

None of these options offer a safe out, so I'll continue to play the coward's game and be two places at once by being three. Neither in Chainat with wife #1 or NaJomtien with my mia noi.

I'm ready for a quiet night's sleep in Bangkok.

Away from both.

Telling each I'm with the other when I'm actually with neither of them.

I'll be with the old Roue of Soi Nana instead and he never cares where I lay my head.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mia Noi DNA

Thailand is a surprisingly puritan country. Buddhist tenets demand propriety on all levels of life. Most people succeed in keeping the straight and narrow, however many men lose interest in their first wives and take up with mia nois or small wives. When my wife left to go up country, obstentively to care for an ailing brother-in-law (He actually had a serious motorcycle accident while going to help his brother with a sick buffalo), I was left alone in Pattaya, the last Babylon. A month passed without her return. Then two and three. My friends, Thai and farang, said she had left me for another man. I drove up there unannounced to see for myself.

No man in sight and I checked the house, but my wife wasn't coming back to Pattaya. She hated the town. The go-gos, the crime, and the dust. Ban Nok was her home.

"You live here."

"And do what?" I was too old to work a rice paddy. My business of selling counterfeit Ferrari shirts only worked in Pattaya. I bid her good-bye and returned to the tawdry beach town. Within a week I met Mint. She was 22. Skinny and willing to have a boyfriend full-time. I was old enough to be her father and wise enough to realize that everything she was telling me was a lie. I never asked questions and my wife stayed up country. Everyone was happy until Mint got pregnant.

"It's yours."



And we had a child. He looks a little like me with two arms and two legs. I'm willing to support him as my son. I'm easy going that way, but Mint said I want you do DNA test.

"Why?" I didn't care about his genes.

"Because everyone always asking me why he not look like farang. I know he yours. Only you. I have sex only with you." She was crying and explained that her family thought she had betrayed me. "Not true."

I told her that we would do a DNA test, if it would make her feel better.

"I not like to be mia noi, but worst not like someone think your son no good."

I don't like that either, but I have to admit I never heard any Thai girl using this tact to regain your trust. Cleverer than us by half.

Home By Christmas

The Pentagon has announced the capture of an American soldier by the Taliban in Afghanistan. The young man supposedly walked off base with 3 Afghani soldiers, although there were also reports that he had lagged behind a patrol. A video was released by the Taliban on which the soldier admitted, "I'm scared I won't be able to go home."

He added later in the 28 minute interview, "Yo my fellow Americans who have loved ones over here, who know what it's like to miss them, you have the power to make our government bring them home. Please, please bring us home so that we can be back where we belong and not over here, wasting our time and our lives and our precious life that we could be using back in our own country. Please bring us home. It is America and American people who have that power."

The Pentagon was quick to comment that exploiting a soldier in this video was a violation of international law. Somehow that same international law was never applied to enemy combatants during the GW Bush years.

Next we'll be hearing that the USA does not deal with terrorists.

Political flaks know what to say when they don't know what to do.

Talk talk talk.

Two Places at One Time

I have two wives in Thailand. Two kids too. One with each woman. This situation was manageable over the last year, since I was in New York and they were in Thailand. My predicament became more convoluted the day I took a flight to Bangkok. I would have to be two places at once and these two places in Thailand were 300 kilometers apart. The first week was easy. I told wife #1 that I was in New York. For week #2 I left wife #2 to see wife #1. Not the most ideal solution, but one wife #2 accepted for the short run. I thought to myself this commuting between wives might work like it had when I was living in Thailand.

Wishful thinking, for wife #2 objected to my second trip up north with the vehemence of a burning viper.

"Why I waste time wait for you? You go see another woman."

"I don't sleep with her." Wife #1 and I haven't experienced conjugal relationship for over 5 years. No one believes me. Not my friends and certainly not my mia noi.

"You not sleep with her. Why you stay with her?" Nothing like anger to make a beautiful woman get old.

"Because I don't want to hurt her."

"You hurt me." This assault continued throughout two days without stop and I looked back on my stay in Palm Beach last year with fondness, but not because I was staying in a mansion or driving a Benz. The house was empty of food, the car was a gas guzzler, and my finances were shot. Instead this was a period of peace and calm. No one yelling in my ear.

"I meet you I young. Now you make me old." Wife #2 was acting shrewish with good reason. She had been the Belle of Soi 6. Men threw money at the feet of her bed. I asked her to be patient, as I was packing my bag. "Everything will work out."

"Everything work out? How? My young years going fast. Where they go?"

"I wish I could tell you." In truth I forgot where my youth went, I'm more concerned where my middle-agedom has disappeared in these times. Still I refuse to think of myself as old. That is something I'll never call myself. I leave that term up to wife #2. She knows how it cuts the skin. At 25 she is right. Young is going fast, but that isn't a problem for me. I still think of her as young and always will. What else can a man my age do?

Find someone younger?

Too tired for that task.

I walked out the door and said I'll be back.

"Maybe I not here."

"Maybe not, but I doubt it." It was low season and low season in 2009.

No one was going anywhere this year, except me to visit wife #1 and my daughter.

Ban Nok here I come.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thaksin Bio

His Excellency Police Lieutenant Colonel Honorable Professor Sir Dr. Thaksin Shinawatra, M.A.(Eastern Kentuckistan University ), Ph.D.(Sam Houston State University), Blah Blah Blah! is the ex- Prime Minister of Thailand and the leader of the Shocker organization [[1]]. As head of the Neo Shocker alliance [[2]] which controls (among others) Thailand's Super Heroes movement [[3]], he was the richest man in Thailand before transferring ownership of the alliance to his family, maids & drivers.

Nobody knows when he was born, but it is said that he emerged from hell on July 26, 1949. He has various nicknames such as "Maew", "Takky", "Ai Liam", "Toxin", "Chayote", and "Ai Hia".

* Thaksin Shinawatra's Education - trained as a tour guide for Satan at Hell University before appearing on planet Earth
* Thaksin Shinawatra's favorite fruit is chayote or ฟักแม้ว or if you pronounce it in Thai it's read FuckMaew(Maew = Taksin's nickname).
* Thaksin Shinawatra 's favorite food is deep fried chayote-tops in oyster sauce or ยอดฟักแม้วผัดน้ำมันหอย.
* Thaksin Shinawatra most distinguished and recognizable feature is his square face.(หน้าเหลี่ยม)
* Thaksin Shinawatra has the leading role in the most popular Korean drama series Daek Jung Meung [[6]]. The series is now on-air on every channel in Thailand.
* A soap opera "Ta Du Dao, Thao Tid Din", ตาดูดาว เท้าติดดิน , is scheduled to on-air on TV7 channel [[7]], the highest rating TV channel in Thailand. The series was adapted from Thaksin Shinawatra 's autobiography ตาดูดาว เท้าติดดิน [live the simple life, aim high]. Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife approved the scripts and chose the leading actor and actress by themselves. The series production has been finished for years but does not have the confirmed broadcast schedule yet. [[8]]

Thaksin Shinawatra 's Life & Family

The Shinawatra family, formerly known as the Cheng family came to Thailand, from South China. Their ancestors were private tax collectors, known for rackateering/collecting protection money. Amongst their Tax Investigations they visited gambling dens where people played cards and smoked opium. These places paid private tax to the Shinawatra family to avoid "accidents" and donated supplies of opium that his ancestors channelled into the houses of Ace Jack King and Queens. Investigator: Erik Young - United Nations Human Rights Ambassador Member State Assistant

His wife, Potjaman Shinawatra, a.k.a Or-Yai or Nai Ying, has long supported him both on the political front stage and in the Neo Shocker organization back stage. They had 3 children together.
* Panthongtae Shinawatra - Khun Oak, studied in Triam Udom Suksa [[9]], Thammasat University [[10]] and Ramkhamhaeng University [[11]], but nobody knows where he actually graduated from, if anywhere. He is believed to be gay and is still addicted to various drugs.
* Pinthongtha Shinawatra - Khun Ame. She was admitted to Kasetsart University's special program, but was accidentally transfered to study in the regular program which all other student had to pass the nationwide entrance exam to do. Eventually, she graduated from Kasetsart University [[12]], and is now studying in the UK. Perhaps she will be accidentally transfered to another university again.
* Praethongtharn Shinawatra - Oong-Ing, Thaksin Shinawatra 's favorite child. She is studying at Chulalongkorn University [[13]]. She got into this famed university with big help from a fax machine. Ironically, many of the professors at her university signed an open letter asking her father to resign. She was seen cheating on exams, but the worst that happened was she got a C.

Thaksin Shinawatra once said he would like to be the founder and the 1st chairman of TMA-TWAT (Thai Men Afraid of Their Wife Association of Thailand)

[edit] Thaksin Shinawatra's Habitat

The private residence of His Excellency Police Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Thaksin Shinawatra and his family is Baan Jan Song MA (Thai - บ้านจันทร์ส่องหล้า). It is located on Soi Charansanitwongse 69, Bangkok Noi, in the western part of Bangkok.

The property was up for sale in 2002. Both Mr Shinawatra and the real estate agents failed to mention that someone had threatened to blow up the house. It was on the market for 100 million baht at the time.

In early 2007 Thaksin purchased another property with a backyard near Kingston-upon-Thames Surrey UK, complete with BMW (Black Magic Woman). Mr Shinawatra also bought a Mercedes because it makes him feel like he is inside a woman. For some reason everyone in Kingston Surrey, especially the mothers, give him one of those facial looks "oh no it's you Shinawatra" as though they don't like him living near them. The kids glued a Steve Mcqueen poster on his back door and he don't feel safe there anymore and is going to China to live.

How I will donate all my wealth back to Thailand

1. Fax all my offshore bankers and instruct them to wire transfer all funds to The Bank of Thailand

2. Instruct lawyer to instigate a Mareva Injunction and an Anton Piller Order upon all major world banks in case I forgot where I hid some of the money

3. Explain to the Oxford Dictionary that a Thesaurus for the word Shinawatra is 'A poor man who was a successful gangster'

4. Quickly buy a Tuk Tuk so I will have a new income stream and rename myself Kato after Pink Panther Servant so nobody recognises me and I get some customers

5. If Tuk Tuk plan fails have an Afro perm and move to Kingston Jamaica and join the Yardies

6. Invade Singapore and make myself King
Why Mr Shinawatra joined the Thai Police

I only applied for a joke because I like shooting and chasing girls. I was surprised I was accepted because I didn't realise I was corrupt.

This info is tnaks to Uncyclopeida