Saturday, October 31, 2009
The bombing raids on Japan reduces the Pacific nation's industrial base to a near-neanderthal level. America mocked their first import offerings, although I loved the little radio labelled MADE IN JAPAN. No battery. An alligator clip attached to a piece of metal provided enough energy to allow a young boy in Maine the pleasure of listening to the Boston Celtics. Sam Jones and KC Jones were brothers and Bill Russell a greater hero than anyone else in my world. Bill Russell's starting salary was $19,000, whereas their recent star forward Antoine Walker was paid $14 million one season. This amount of money might seem enough to last someone several generation, however Douglas County police arrested the former All-Star at a Reno Casino for writing 10 bad checks for a total of $1 million.
The 33-year-old player had earned $110 million-plus during his career.
His reported worth at present is zero.
All that money is gone.
The price of living large and his difficulties are a common occurrence in the NBA where 80% of the players end up bankrupt after they quit the courts. Few fans sympathize with their idols, but this same rags to riches to rags equation plays out for mega-lottery winners. The money is easy come and easy go.
Mike Tyson broke.
"Serves him right."
Maybe so but ain't something right about this much bad happening to the nouveau-riche.
They just done got robbed and ain't no one saying by who.
Not ESPN or FOX Sports.
And not no one else either, because we love to see the might fall low.
"Serve them right for thinking they were something."
Truth is they were something and the NBA should have made sure they came out of it with something and that's the truth.
My top 5 Halloween songs; THE MONSTER MASH by Bobby "Boris" Pickett, HAUNTED CASTLE by the Kingsmen, THRILLER by Michael Jackson, I PUT A SPELL ON YOU - Screaming Jay Hawkins, PEOPLE ARE STRANGE - the Doors and the winner FIRE by Arthur Brown
To hear FIRE click on this URL
I bring you fire.
1. Did you fart? Cuz you just blew me away.
2. Are yer parents retarded? Cuz ya sure are special.
3. My love fer you is like diarrhea. I just can't hold it in.
4. Do you have a library card? Cuz I'd like to sign you out.
5. Is there a mirror in your pants? Cuz I can see myself in 'em.
6. You might not be the best lookin' girl here, but beauty's only a light switch away.
7. I know I'm not no Fred Flinstone, but I bet I can make yer bed rock.
8. Yer eyes are as blue as window cleaner.
9. If yer gunna regret this in the mornin', we kin sleep 'til afternoon.
AND ... the best for last!
10. Yer face reminds me of a wrench. Every time I think of it, my nuts tighten up.
Send by Tottenham Spurs fan.
Amazinggly no liberals ever get upset about anyone dogging white trash or hillbillies. No one on the right either. White trash is fair game. No one ever defended them. No one ever will.
Louis CK says it best in his monologue White Trash Loser
Check it out.
My family home on the South Shore bordered on a small woods. Every October the trees would turn brilliant red, yellows, and orange. The glorious explosion of color lasted until the next cold snap and a good wind would rip the exhausted leaves from the branches. They fell by the millions on our back yard. My brothers and sisters loved running through the rustling piles, but come the weekend and my father would order my older brother and me to rake the leaves into piles. Once the lawn was visible my father would lit our labor afire. The smoke of those leaves filled the air with the fragrance of burnt autumn offerings.
The next morning the leaves would be replaced my their cousins. Less than before, yet millions still and my brother and I would have to reap the harvest of leaves. Another fire. The Sisyphean ritual was repeated until the trees were bare. I hated raking leaves. The task seemed as senseless as mowing the lawn. Something my father wanted done without question.
Living in the East Village as a young adult excluded my performing either of these chores. No lawns and the the wind disposed of the leaves. Municipal workers were confined to street sweeping duties, so our neighborhood depended on the wind to dispose of the leaves from the few ornamental pear trees on East 10th Street.
Most New Yorkers love this freedom from Nature, but my good friend AP was telling of an Easthampton client who ordered the landscapers to blow errant leaves from the estate's 20 acre lawn. Before the crew finished the billionaire came out of his mansion to request that the workers pick out the finest leaves for a pristine pile of leaves for his children to run through after school.
"That's the way of the rich." AP deals with such people all the time as a architect.
We laughed at their excess. That 1% knows how to spend the 95% of the wealth.
After hearing that story I went to shoot baskets at my local park on deKalb Avenue. No one was on the court, but several park workers were raking leaves. I thought about my father and the East Village and then the rich guy in Easthampton. Leaving the park I commented to one worker about raking the leaves and he said, "Yeah, we're bringing them to another park, so the kids can run through them. They love that."
Same as rich kids in Easthampton.
And me too.
It does make a pretty sound.
For the rich the poor and the in-between.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
An Australian guy is traveling around the Greek Islands. He walks into a
bar and, by chance, is served by an Australian barmaid. As she takes his
order, a Foster's, she notices his accent. Over the course of the evening
they get chatting. At the end of her shift he asks if she wants to come back
to his place.
Although she is attracted to him she says no. He then offers to pay her $200
to sleep with him.
As she is traveling around the world, and is short of funds, she agrees.
The next night the guy turns up again. Again he orders Fosters and after
showing her plenty of attention, asks if she will sleep with him again for
$200. She remembers the night before and is only too happy to agree. This
goes on for 5 nights. On the 6th night the guy comes in again, orders
Fosters but goes and sits in the corner. The barmaid thinks that if she pays
him more attention then, maybe she can shake some more cash out of him. So
she goes over and sits next to him.
She asks him where he's from in Australia ..
' Melbourne ', he tells her.
'So am I. What suburb?' she enquires.
'Glen Iris' he replies.
'That's amazing,' she says excitedly, 'so am I - what street?'
'Cameo Street ' he replies.
'This is unbelievable.........' she says, her voice quavering;
'Number 20', he replies.
She is totally astonished. 'You are NOT going to believe this,' she screams,
'but I'm from number 22! My parents still live there!'
'I know...' he says, 'Your Dad gave me $1,000 to give to you'
HE WHO DRINKS AUSTRALIAN, THINKS AUSTRALIAN
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
October 2009 has proven deadly to coalition soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. The Taliban proved resilient and the populace resistant to appeals for peace from the occupation forces. Hardliners in the Pentagon are pressing President Obama for more troops. The C-in-C has resisted their demands, for the people of America don't have the heart or mind for a long war. Most couldn't located Afghanistan on a map or New York.
So what to do?
16,000 British troops withdrew from Kabul in the winter of 1842.
Only one soldier made it to safety.
Bomb the shit out of them.
The Russians tried that. The USA too.
I hate to say this, but the best policy would be to reinforce the troops there with a plan to get the fuck out in the summer and pay the right people bribes for a safe exit.
Nothing else will work.
Tonight is the opening of the NBA season. The premiere match-up of the Cleveland Cavaliers versus the fabled Boston Celtics. Shaq and Lebron against the Big 3 of Garnett, Pierce, and Allen, combined age 100 plus. The score is tied with 2 minutes left in the 1st half.
real basketball as opposed to the exhibition trash of the past month and none worse than the charity event of the Knicks playing against Israel's #1 team, Maccabi. The result was never in doubt, however the visitor's coach exhibited classic Israeli stubbornness after being ejected by the referee.
He refused to go to the showers.
A rabbi even came down to plead with the refs to let the coach stay.
The NBA security escorted the guest from the court.
Strangest of all was that the coach was protesting an offensive foul called on the
Several Sundays ago I was bicycling through Williamsburg. A group of young Hasidim were playing basketball. I watched for several minutes and one of them asked if i wanted to play. His friend had to go back home. finding a basketball game in Brooklyn isn't as easy as you would think, so i eagerly accepted thinking my ancient skills would shine against the Lubbavitchers. I was wrong. They were good shooters and keen foulers.
I love this game.
Women say good-bye in many ways. Most of them not nice.
I've been lucky. Mo
My girlfriends have exited from my life without a backward glance.
They were happy to be gone and going where they were going. None of them have sought revenge, mostly because they were doing the leaving, however some of my friends have suffered through catastrophic schisms. Wives barring visitation rights to their children. Girlfriends suing for palimony. Gunshots fired through the window. One friend was even stabbed by his lover, the night he signed to lay football for the Detroit Lions.
"You ain't going nowhere."
Seano was lucky to be alive.
Scorn doesn't wear well on women. Most are not as deadly as Seano's girlfiend. Still they will extract their pounds of flesh. One woman took revenge of her cameraman/lover by leaving his rented car in long-term parking while he filmed THE LAST EMPEROR and another called the weather in Tokyo while her beau was away in Antarctica. The damage was in the thousands. One tempestuous soul singer torched her man's houses.
$2.7 million up in flames.
It all hurts, but Sam Royalle got off cheap this weekend, when his tee-lat left for parts unknown, although not before throwing his mobile phone, blackberry, TV, computer, and hair-dryer in the pool
A good soak worth several thousand dollars.
Cheap and certainly less painful than a knife in the back.
"Love is never having to say you're sorry."
That line from LOVE STORY always works well in Thailand, as I know too well.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The British Foreign Office is famed for the reserve of their diplomats, however the BBC uncovered the true feelings of their ambassadors thanks to the Freedom of Information laws. The smiles, the speeches, and promises of friendship are a front for the traditional English bias against anyone not from the right school or blood.
The UK's ambassador to Thailand during the Viet-Nam War expressed his opinion of the Thais in his reports without disguising his disdain.
"They have no literature, no painting and only a very odd kind of music; their sculpture, ceramics and dancing are borrowed from others, and their architecture is monotonous and interior decoration hideous. Nobody can deny that gambling and golf are the chief pleasures of the rich, and that licentiousness is the main pleasure of them all."
Harsh words from a long-nosed farang.
Of course the Thais express their opinion of such comments either with a murderous smile or a bullet to the back of the head.
Either way works, especially if you're telling the truth.
The mama-san of the Chic Bar watched her two best girls leave the front terrace. Nat and Ping said that they were getting some som-tam. All the girls on Soi 6 loved the fiery mango salad. Anyone from Isaan called the popular dish Tam mak hoong. The two short-timers waved down a passing motorcycle with an attached sidecar. The vendor was well-known on Soi 6 and her afternoon passage from Second Road to Beach Road could take as much as an hour. The mama-san shouted for Nat to order enough for the rest of her staff. They deserved a reward for the afternoon's work. 25 farangs short-time. 200 baht a room plus drinks came to about 7000 baht for the bar and at least 15,000 baht for the girls who went upstairs with a farang. Nat and Ping had gone three times each, but Ping's young cousin was the winner with five farangs. The 18 year-old was a gold mine.
Ping sat on a chair. Her body felt like she had been beaten by her father. Her legs were wobbling with exhaustion. Every man had taken their full hour with her. At least they had tipped her well thanks to the passionate moaning with each thrust, but she wasn't sure that she could take much more of this.
She wanted to run to the end of the street and throw herself in the sea. Only the beach was too well-patrolled by the police and the shallow water wasn't deep enough for her purpose. Two fat farangs eyed her from the street. They nudged each other and came over to speak with her.
"You go short-time, little thing?" The man was in his 50s. His belly protruded like he had swallowed a million beers. Something about the way he smiled said that he thought himself handsome.
"No, can not boom boom." Ping weighed less than 41 kilos. Having sex with farangs was not the same as Thai boys who finished in a few minutes. Farangs ate special medicine to have long erections. She hated them for eating that jah. It wasn't fair.
"Why not?" His friend was even bigger. Ten beers before noon. Another five this afternoon. His eyes were the color of boiled ham. he reached into his pocket for his money. His fat hand pulled out a 1000-baht note. "You not like men? Maybe you like lady. I pay to see you and other lady."
"I not lesbian." Ping belonged back home in her village. She was only here to pay for her brother not to go to jail. She sent money to her mother and father. It was never enough. Once she saved her brother, her uncle needed money for his tractor. After that it was the sick buffalo. Then her mother wanted to buy pigs. No one in her family ever asked what Ping wanted from life. Only farangs and they wanted one thing. "Pai ke ki. I not want man now."
"if you don't want a man, then why are you working here?" The fatter of the two laughed out loud. "This is a street for sex. Not eating. Not drinking. Sex. You come here, because men give you money, so you can send your family. Here I give you more money to have sex with me. Even more if you have sex with the two of us."
The man was waving 5000 baht in Ping's face. It could have been a million. She didn't want any man. Not anymore. Por laeo. Enough was enough. She tried to push the big man away. He was too strong and thought her pathetic effort was funny. Ping looked to the toher gilrs to help heer, but they were laughing too. She had been queen of the Chic bar for a only a few weeks and they were looking for her downfall.
None of them more happy than to see someone fall to the bottom.
"Fuck off, fat man." Oom hit the fatter man in the head with a high heel. He went to his knees like a buffalo hit in the head with a nail. His friend tried to stop Oom. He had to be three times her weight, but he never saw Nat come up behind him with her shoe.
She struck him twice in the back, then scratched at his face. The motorsai taxi boys joined the fracas and the two farangs were soon spurting blood, as they ran for safety. Nat picked up the 5000 baht. She took one, handed another to Oom and then gave the other three to Ping.
"Why you not tell him go away?" Nat was heavy-set. Some western men liked big girls. She would do anything too. They liked that also. At her age she had to do anything to get kaks. The customers on Soi 6 liked girls young and Nat was anything but young these days.
"I tell him go. He not go." Ping was sniffling away the tears.
"You not tell him 'fuck off'. Farang understand 'fuck off'. Not understand 'go away." Nat waved for the som-tam lady to bring the salads to the terrace and then said to the other girls. "You get nothing. You not help little sister. I remember this. You all same dog."
Calling a Thai person a dog was very bad, but all the girls at the Chic bar were scared of Nat. She had been in the Monkey House twice for fighting other girls. The older short-timer knew dirty tricks. Both in bed and on the street.
"Listen to pi-Nat," her cousin suggested while forking shredded mango into her mouth. She handed Ping a fork too. "She know farang. She know many thing. Know how to make love. Not hurt. Not make you tired. maybe tonight she tell you."
"Tell you many times, but now eat. Eat too much and then drink whiskey. Forget everything. Good." Nat smiled at Ping like a long-lost sister. "We family now nong-Ping."
"Thank you pi-Nat." Ping wai-ed the bigger woman. She and Oom had saved her from the two farangs. She would not forget this act. They were all family now.
The three girls laughed and pointed to three old farangs walking down the street. "Fuck farangs. Big money. Small money. Fuck farangs."
And for the first time that day Ping was happy.
Monday, October 19, 2009
SENATE HEALTH BILL: 1,502 PAGES, Colorado insurers say health care bill would lead to 'system collapse' and 'Senator: USA could be on path to a 'banana republic' situation...' grace the front pages of DRUDGE REPORT. damn, these fat white males have not had to face 'communism' in years and the GOP have yet to figure out the right attack against the nouveau pinkos.
Health Care 2010 will be universal health care.
Nothing the GOP says or does will change this future.
They are a bankrupt political power.
Capable of only one tactic.
Am I scared of niggers.
I'm more scared of mother-fuckers talking on the phone while they're fucking driving.
Now those motherfukkers are really dangerous.
America doesn't produce much these days. Our cars suck and even Wall Street is a scam. Our only true GNP product is fat people and fuck-ups. None better than the father of the Colorado balloon boy.
Police were alerted to the potential danger of a 6 year-old boy somehow seeking a wizard of oz escape from his flatlands TV existence. His father said the young boy was in the sky. The news media and police believed him. The wreckage landed without the boy. No body. No habeus corpus. The kid was hiding in his room.
Safe and sound to the chagrin of his father.
"The little shit should have flown."
One of the ten commandments stated that thou shalt obey your father and mother or some bullshit like that.
Little boy was too smart to fall for that shit.
Safe and sound in his closet.
No matter what his old man thought.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
My friend Miguel Abreau is having an opening this evening on Orchard Street. A film by Pedro Costa and a single painting by Pieter Schoolwerth. No beer. No wine. The precinct captain has come down hard on the upstart galleries' serving alcohol without a license. Last time I went to his gallery I was served an 'open container' summons.
A $20 fine.
Miguel was punished to the max.
For serving beer.
And I thought this was America.
Miguel Abreau Gallery
36 Orchard Street.
His freedom to serve beer is my freedom to drink beer.
The 6th Sunday of the NFL season. Games are played around the country. The fans stand for the National Anthem and a honor guard reminds the TV audience of our military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. No one will go to their atlas to find out where these countries are. Unimportant. Bring on football and chicken nuggets and beer and pick-up commercials.
Not everyone is so lucky and to read what life is like for a solider overseas then go to the following URL
It's not all burning shit.
Men like to joke that they are lesbians.
"I only like to watch."
Lesbians don't find this humor funny. I've stopped saying it, but my rejection of my lesbian persona hasn't stopped the overwhelming percentage of the world's male population from fantasizing about the existence of an all-women world like those 1960s science-fiction movies such as QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE. Their eyes study the night sky for Mylar-clad vixens from Venus, however other male obsessions are more earth-bound as proven by a Chinese newspapers reportage on a Swedish town of all women.
Men are banned from its confines and women are free to engage in lesbian pleasures to their hearts' content. Chako Paul supposedly was founded in the boreal forests north of the Arctic Circle. The thousands of denizens are protected by Amazon guards given orders to beat any male trespassers to near-death. Swedish officials have no knowledge of this town, despite many searches by amateur explorers addicted to lesbian sex.
These rumors abound in myth.
The boys in my hometown told of a stone quarry, Josephine, where girls swam naked. Any intruders would be trussed up by vines and then dragged across the stony ground by a rope attached to their penis. Everyone had a tale of someone's friend suffering this fate. It was strictly legend.
Several lesbians have told me about all-female gathering in the woods of Michigan.
The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival has been run since the 1970s. Its focus is more political than sexual, but all sex is political. Domination and submission as I learned while hitchhiking down the Pacific Coast Highway in 1974.
I had left Monterrey behind for the redwoods along the PCH. The air was cleansed by the tall pines and sea breezes. The road was sparsely traveled for late-May. Few drivers wanted to stop for a longhair. I had food in my bag plus a few joints. Night as falling fast and I almost gave up on getting a ride.
A red ford pick-up stopped on the shoulder. Two hippies jumped from the back and ran into the forest. This strange behavior unsettled me. EASY RIDER had warned the counterculture about redneck revenge. I readied to bolt into the trees, except two smiling women were in the front of the pick-up.
"Where you going?" The passenger was cute. Maybe 22. Brown hair covering half an impish face.
"Us too, but we're thinking about camping out in the redwoods tonight." The redheaded driver was a little heavy. Nothing like Mama Cass. They both wore overalls without bras. "You wanna drink some wine with us?"
"Sure." I liked wine and camping in the woods. I threw my bag in the back and we bought two gallon jugs of wine at the local grocery store. The girls flirted with me like we were old friends. There was no confusing their intentions and we headed into the forest to find a remote redwood grove. Whatever they had planned for the evening was better executed beyond prying eyes.
They cooked a vegetarian meal over a fire of redwood branches. The smoke curled up into the columns of ancient trees. We drank the wine from the jug and set up a comfortable seating area with our sleeping bags. The flames cast sly shadows on the girls' faces. After the first joint they took off their boots. Owls hooted overhead. They pretended to be scared and wrestled me to the ground. The large redhead pulled off my shirt. Her lithe friend stripped off my jeans. I was naked and within a second they were too, but instead of kissing me they embraced each other with a fervor I had only seen on the silver screen at porno theaters in Boston's Combat Zone.
"Join us." The redhead took hold of my penis and guided my erection inside her. We had sex for several minutes. Her vagina was too big for me and her girlfriend pushed me off to insert her fist.
"Fuck me now."
I finished within the smaller girl within a minute. They would not accept a flaccid penis in their presence and devoted their attention to getting me hard again.
This went on all night and near-dawn I realized why the two hippies had fled from the pick-up. This pair were sexual predators. They wanted to sap your body of everything. I was in a science fiction movie where women ruled men. They wouldn't stop until I was dead. This fear was paranoia-driven. We had smoked much too much reefer. Scared for my life I waited until they fell asleep and then sneaked from the redwood grove.
A farmer picked me up around sunrise.
"Whew, smells like you been rutting with hogs."
I was a little ripe and bathed in a river farther down the coast.
I reached LA that night and took the bus to San Diego, where my friend Andy was shacked up with some acidheads. They all laughed at my tale.
"You had these two women to yourself and you let them go."
"No, I escaped and I was glad to escape."
Two days later I was walking naked on Black's Beach north of La Jolla. Andy was checking out the naked girls. He pointed to a pair sunning underneath the cliff.
"Let's go talk to them."
"Not a chance." It was the two women from the redwoods. Man-eaters. I dropped my head and jumped into the ocean. I swam with the current and came ashore some two hundred feet from them.
Andy shook his head.
"I can't believe it."
But I had lived in a world of women. Not forever, only long enough to know it's not natural. at least not for men.
Alfred Nobel stated the Nobel Peace prize should go "to the person who shall have done the most or best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
The GOP led by the Palm Beach media magnate Russ Limbaugh and Fox News Mormon correspondent Glenn Beck have harshly criticized the Nobel Committee for awarding Barack Obama the Peace Prize. Their protests are based on their political opposition to the democratic President, but even I have to ask why would any leader fighting at least two wars receive this achievement for pacifism.
Some pundits cited the award as 'pre-emptive strike', as Obama contemplates the strategies for GW Bush's wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries throughout the Middle East and Africa as well as the War on Drugs in Columbia and Mexico.
Critics called on the President to reject Nobel Prize and the $1 million cash accompanying the honor. Only 2 winners have refused the award. North Vietnamese negotiator Lu Duc Tho rejected the peace prize and the co-winner Henry Kissinger was embarrassed by the Nobel Committee's closing the door in his face when the US Secretary of State attempted to return his award. Their policy is once you have it, you own it ad infinitum.
Foster and polish
The warrior spirit
While serving in the world;
Illuminate the Path
According to your inner light
THE ART OF PEACE, Morihei Ueshiba
The Short-time bars of Soi 6 and go-go bars of Walking Street are not the only tourist attractions of Pattaya. Farangs and Thais travel down from Bangkok to enjoy lounging on the beach, dining at the thousands of restaurants, shopping at street markets, and taking in the sights. This week Louis Tussaud's Waxworks promoted its pseudo-museum with a new billboard on Sukhumvit. Farangs couldn't read the words in Thai, however the giant photo of Adolf Hitler sieg heiling said a million words to foreign travelers on the busy highway.
The ad campaign appears to be aimed at Thais, since the wordage is in the native tongue of Siam.
"Hitler is not dead."
German and Israeli embassies immediately complained to authorities and the Louis Tussaud's Waxworks manager apologized for this cultural faux pas.
"We think he is an important historical figure, but in a horrible way. We apologise for causing any offense which was not at all intended. We did not realise it would make people so angry."
Thais were unperturbed by the mistake.
'Man kill farang. Not kill Thai. What problem?" One of my Thai friends said over the telephone. Thais aren't too concerned with anything happening outside their borders or the present. Neither are my fellow Americans. "If he bad. Why no one kill him?"
Indeed Hitler has been rumored to have escape the Berlin bunker. George Steiner wrote THE LAST PORTAGE OF AH about an Israeli intelligence squad finding the Nazi leader in the jungles of Brazil. Several films have centered their plots of the lost empire of the Third Reich. Adolf would be a very old man if he was alive. In fact he'd be the oldest person alive on this planet.
"120 years old." An overweight Hassidic diamond broker told me the other day to start off a joke. "Things are bad on this planet. troubles so bad that people want a strong leader. someone finds Hitler alive in Brazil. 120 years old but still mentally capable. The world leaders struggle to persuade Hitler to take over the world. He refuses time and time again, until he agrees.
"Okay, okay, I'll do it, but this time no Mr. Nice Guy."
Yes, Pattaya, Adolf still lives.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
My skill at basketball is worse than mediocre on offense. My defense has been called tenacious by my friends and dirty by my opponents. Doctor Nick has warned against any further play.
"A man in his late 50s should know when to stop."
Sound advice, except I love the feel of the basketball leaving my hands. The unseen arc targeting the rim. The ball dropping through the net. The secret sensation of success. Even better when competing against other players.
It was cold this afternoon. Low 40s. I've played in colder weather and headed over to the basketball court on Dekalb Avenue. No one was in the playground. Not for basketball. Not for baseball. Not even for skate-boarding. I shot solo for an hour, hoping for someone to ask, "Mind if i shoot with you."
Before I left the States in 2002 the basketball courts were packed with young and old. Something happened in those six years to denude the city of street athletes and my friend Shannon Greer explained, "All the kids are inside playing video games and the old geezers our age are scared of getting hurt."
"But no one playing?" There should have been one pick-up game.
"I rode around to six courts the other day without finding a game." Shannon is a much better player than me. He once beat me only playing left-handed. It wasn't even close.
"So street ball is on the edge of extinction?" I have played basketball over 45 years. The game has given me great joy. when I was lonely, I played basketball. Break up with a girlfriend. play ball. Hung-over. Sweat out the poisons playing basketball. It's your birthday. Play ball to celebrate.
Someone out there has to feel the same way and I'll keep going out there until i find them.
In 1967 Circus Maximus released THE WIND. The title song achieved some success on underground radio. Its jazzy cadence and 8-minute length assured its failure to cross-over onto mainstream radio. After a month-long stint at the electric Circus on St. mark's Place the band appeared at Carnegie Hall. The show was far from a success and the band broke up, freeing lead singer Jerry Jeff walker to pursue a solo career highlighted by hits such as MR. BOJANGLES and UP AGAINST THE WALL REDNECK MOTHERFUCKER.
THE WIND remains a gem.
To hear this song click on the following URL
Brownsville is a tough section of Brooklyn. Actually tougher than tough. Its unofficial motto - "Brownsville! Never ran, never will!" guaranteed Kings County Hospital the title of the most gunshot victims admitted to its E.R. The US Army even set up a training program called the Academy of Advanced Combat Medicine to take advantage of the hundreds of gunshot and stabbing victims from neighborhood. Surviving the gauntlet of youth steeled Mike Tyson for his reign as the heavyweight champion of the world and molded my boss on 47th Street, Manny, for the old diamond dealer also hails from Brownsville.
"Brownsville was always tough," the 80 year-old jeweler explained to everyone who has to listen. "I fought with Italians, Puerto Ricans, Irish, and Blacks, but in some ways we all got along. Everyone knew who they were. One day this big black kid decides to fight with me. He didn't give a reason. Maybe he didn't like pastrami. He called me out and after school I met him in the playground. He had thirty friends with him. I wasn't too scared, because a fight with a schwartzer was usually fists. Only the wops and spics carried knives. 31 schwartzers versus me. So I tell the guy, "Listen you want to fight me then we fight, but if any of your friends touch me, then tomorrow they'll be a 100 guys out here looking to square things with you." The guy, his name was Horace, looks at me and says, "Fuck it." That's how things were back then. No guns. No one dead. The next day Horace and I were friends."
Black boy and Jew boy friends in the 1940s. A beautiful movie, except high crime, absentee landlords, redlining, and arson sunk Brownsville to new depths.
Jimmy Breslin wrote about the neighborhood in 1968. "Berlin after the war; block after block of burned-out shells of houses, streets littered with decaying automobile hulks. The stores on the avenues are empty and the streets are lined with deserted apartment houses or buildings that have empty apartments on every floor."
Manny left Brownsville well before this decay, but Brownsville remained in his blood. After working as a schlepper for several years, he met the most beautiful girl on the Bowery and they opened a jewelry store on Canal Street. Manny was true to his roots. He didn't take shit from anyone. Not the mob from Little Italy. Not the other jewelers who looked down their noses at the young upstart or his wife's family who couldn't see what she did in the undersized starker, as the old folks call a tough guy in Yiddish. He wasn't beholding to none of them.
Street fights were not acceptable, but Manny would protect his own.
Even after he moved uptown with his sons, Richie Boy and Googs.
"He comes from the Bowery." The older family firms would say to explain his rough ways.
"I come from Brownsville." Manny was proud of his heritage and even prouder to exhibit the street prowess a boy needed in that neighborhood.
Diamonds are traded on memo. One jeweler loans merchandise to another jeweler on the promise that in 90 days they return the goods or the money. Honesty is a crucial element in these transactions, however not all jewelers are honest, so the odds are high that sooner or later you'll get burned.
Manny depended on his tough guy reputation to avert any thefts.
Unfortunately Manny was getting old.
Young guys aren't scared of old guys and this one jeweler burned Manny for a $20,000 diamond. This was before the age of cellphones. No one knew where the thief had gone. Manny had to make good the loss. He never thought that he would see the thief again. Life went on. Manny took his second wife to dinner after playing tennis.
A midtown restaurant. Not too expensive, because besides being a tough guy, Manny was a little cheap. This vice was another legacy of a Brownsville upbringing. His second wife didn't mind, for she used to dine with the infamous Jewish gangster Meyer Lansky. Luciano's 'Little Man' would split a dish with her. She always told Manny that he was no Meyer Lansky.
"He was a runt." Manny wasn't too tall either, but his height broke 5-8. A good half-foot taller than Meyer Lansky.
Size isn't the only determining factor for toughness. Mike Tyson was only 5-10. He KOed taller, stronger men with regularity in the early years. Iron Mike hit Leon spinks so hard the then-champion's eyes rolled in his head like dice. Most of it was being ready to be tough and Manny was more than ready, when he saw the thief of his diamond at the bar.
He took out his tennis racket and whacked the gonif in the head. The thief was 30, taller, and once remarked that Manny could go fuck himself if he thought he was going to get back his diamond. Manny made him pay for this disrespect with another couple of whacks to the ribs. His wife pulled off the 60 year-old and the police arrested the two of them.
After hearing Manny's story, they freed him and searched the gonif's apartment. The diamond was in a steel box. The cops kept it as evidence. Manny cursed them for 6 months.
"I'd rather have the stone back then see that piece of shit in jail."
Manny's balance of justice had been met with the beating. It was the Brownsville way of life. Manny got his diamond in the end. He doesn't admit to hitting the gonif now, but he's still a tough guy at 80. Mean too, because something about those Brownsville street true a tough guy mean and Manny was no exception. A old mean tough guy.
We fought all day long over sales. he stiffed me on a commission. I called him a cheat. He was a piece of shit to me and I was a piece of shit to him.
The other day a hard-nosed Hassidim was late delivering a diamond. My customer didn't want to wait. I lost the sale. $200 out of my pocket. $2000 from Manny. Fish was a big guy. 6-4. It wasn't the first time that he had been slow to give me a stone, so I phoned Fish and said, "I might not wear a yamulke but I do make sales."
"I don't need to take this shit from you."
"That's apparent from the way you treat me, sie gesund."
Ten minutes later he was at the exchange, itching for a fight.
"I should hit you."
"Hit me once if you want." I was a tough guy too back in the 70s, 80s, and some of the 90s. I've been a tough guy in the 21st Century too, but with decreasing success. "But if you try a second time then I'll take out your teeth."
"Slow down." Manny came to the counter. "Fish, we're here trying to make money. If you say you're going to give us a stone, give us a stone. Don't make so much drama about the goy saying something about your beanie."
Manny hasn't been to temple in since his father Jake passed away in the 50s. Fish is an observant Hassid. He eyed the both of us and shrugged off the moment. We sold his stone to someone else later that afternoon. Manny complained about the profit I got from the customer. He was still a tough guy. A piece of shit too, but a tough guy from Brownsville wouldn't have it any other way.
"Brownsville! Never ran, never will!"
Thursday, October 15, 2009
In the WIZARD OF OZ Dorothy returns to Kansas via the wizard's balloon. Billions of people have seen the movie, yet few know her last name was Gale. The same went for a young boy in Colorado who was feared to have been airborne in a high-flying balloon launched by his father. The police scrambled their amber alert forces to rescue to 6-year-old, as the UFOesque balloon designated 3DLAV rose to 1000s of feet over the high plains. The missing whippersnapper was later discovered in his garage to the relief of his parents.
The family had survived a previous brush with fame through their appearance on the reality TV show WIFE SWAP. The title is self-explanatory and some reporters suspect a hoax by the father.
"In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." - Andy Warhol
And then some even get a second shot at it.
15 plus 15.
Almost a half-minute.
Certainly more than me.
ps the balloon family's name is Heene.
Olympia Snowe, the GOP senator from Maine, broke with her political compatriots to vote for the Democratic Health Plan. The threat of socialism didn't scare her DownEast constituency. 77% of Americans want a change in the present health system dominated by private insurers. The GOP don't get it. All they see is pinkos behind every nigger. Always have and I'm one of those pinkos, however I never get sick which is amazing for a hypochondriac.
No colds. No flus. No fevers.
My only visits to hospital were at birth and for sixteen stitches at Banglamung Hospital. A bad motorcycle accident. The other driver fled the scene. He was Thai. For a day I thought he might have been my first wife's lover. I'm insured for a million baht. My paranoia was ill-directed. He hadn't been in town that day.
The cost for that care was less than a $100.
In USA it would have been in the thousands and at present like millions of other Americans I have no coverage for health care.
"You have to get health care." Richie Boy stated as we drank at a bar. He's my boss and normally should be paying for this luxury, however I remain uninsured. Next year this could be against the law, but for the moment I treat my health the only way I can afford.
Not too many for I believe in excess in moderation.
At 57 I have no other choice.
Bless you Olympia Snowe.
I'm from Maine too and you make me proud that you shunned the power of the mighty Russ Limbaugh.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I won a scholarship to high school. Bad grades forced the principal to rescind the award. My diploma from university read 'sin laude' or without honor. Few of my employees have remarked about my intelligence, although Manny likes to say, "You're a smart person."
Anytime he says those words I realize that he's about to blow smoke up my ass.
At best I'm a pseudo-intellectual tempered by a healthy touch of cynic hypocrisy, which suits my purposes well in New York City. Every year the graduates of the best schools in the world gravitate to Manhattan for their stab at fame and fortune. For decades their designs were diverse, however the rising costs of living on this fabled isle required more and more of these recruits to join the world of finance.
The brightest and the best on Wall Street.
The odds seemed stacked for an unheard of bull market and throughout the earlier part of the 21st Century the Down Jones rose despite 9/11, two foreign wars, a debasement of the dollar, and the exodus of industry from our native shores. Derivatives and sub-prime mortgages were the invention of these great minds from ivy collages and MIT. No one understood them, but bet their houses on these innovations.
The geniuses weren't as smart as we thought and yesterday Calvin Trillin wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times placing the blame for the collapse on Wall Street not on the old boy system, but a newer suspect for the all-points bulletin.
The intelligent new-comer.
To read this article click on the following URL For a related article click on this URL
These geniuses look so lost in New York, but they wouldn't have survived a second in the 1970s. Even Manhattan was too scary for these square-state born back then.
North Dakota was a wasteland for rock and roll and the heavy-metal pioneers Blue Cheer deserted the badlands for San Francisco in 1966. Their first and really only hit SUMMERTIMES BLUES hit #11 on the charts in 1968. They were loud. In fact the group achieved the Guinness Books record of loudest band at a free concert. Hundreds of people complained of burst eardrums. On one occasion at the Kinetic Playground venue in Chicago Blue Cheer terminated the show because the rear wall collapsed thanks to the volume and people left with their ears bleeding. I never saw them but respect their power and even to this day love the raw talent on their LPs.
Play it loud for Dickie Petersen.
He passed away today at the age of 61.
No one ever put all the leads into the amp until him.
All the way.
To listen to PEACE OF MIND click on this URL
My older brother likes to tell a story at holiday dinners about my protesting against the Viet-Nam War. His version goes something like this.
"I was entering the commons and a group of anti-war demonstrators were lying on the ground pretending to be Vietnamese dead. I look down and there's my brother. I said 'hi' as I stepped over him."
I've been psychologically scarred each time my older brother tells this tale. Partially since I can't recall the incident and somewhat hurt that he would not join me. Now my pain is nothing in comparison to the suffering of Agent Orange victims denied health care by the Pentagon or the parents of Vietnamese infants deformed by the Dow Chemical product. but the pain exists, especially as my efforts were not rewarded with true peace. Instead Le Doc Tho and Henry Kissinger negotiated a faux peace and the war continued to its inevitable end ie the fall of the corrupt Saigon government.
Undeterred by my defeat I have protested against every US incursion and war since my conversion to anti-violence in 1968. This pacific attitude was strictly relegated against the military-industrial complex, for I've always liked a good fight. even into my 50s.
Still my stance against the wars of this country has led to a campaign aimed at establishing a pension for long-time anti-war activist. My letters to the White House were ignored during the Bush years. Father and son. Clinton's staff never returned an answer too. My petition was as popular with the Obama administration as a parole request from Leonard Peltier, the AIM activist sentenced to life for the cold-blooded murder of 2 FBI agents.
I'm not asking for much.
Just enough to allow my living in Thailand.
A mere $2000/month pension.
Saying it a million times has to be worth something.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Prostitution is illegal in Thailand, yet millions of men visit the nation to meet women. The whole world has heard of such sex entrepots as pattaya and nana Plaza, but few realize that the trade exists within the country and at the borders too, especially to the south beneath the restive province of Pattani and Yala.
Every night hundreds of Muslim men, if not thousands, pass through Thai customs to escape the Sharia law imposed on them by the Islamic councils. Beer, disco, girls, because some of these men want their paradise on earth and not in the next.
The Thai girls here prefer Malaysian men. "They don't do anything rude to me. Malaysian men only drink when they are partying and want to enjoy. Thai men drink as routine".
Sungai Kolok has survived the five-year war in the south. Bombs have torn the streets and threats have been issued by the insurgents. faced with death the customers keep coming in droves. Only this month a car bomb killed 4 near a hotel.
Death or disco?
In Sungai Kolok the vote for disco is obvious.
Disco will never die.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Years ago I was stranded in Penang. My Italian girlfriend took off with my airline ticket. She called to say it was a mistake, but never posted the ticket. This was before ATMs and cellphones. Bank transfers took several weeks. Luckily my father said that he would take care of the matter. He was is and will be my best friend. I waited at the Swiss Hotel on Chulia Street. It was cheap and cheerful. during the day I wandered through Penang and one day stumbled out of the mid-day heat into the foreign cemetery. The gravestones dated back into the 19th Century. The causes of death were clearly etched in big letters. Malaria. Typhus. The Flux. Westerners died in droves.
The same is true today.
More farangs die in Thailand than any other country only the causes of death are not disease. Most exit this world thanks to misadventure and last week 'that farang speaks 2 much' reported on the unusual death of a Pattaya nightclub owner. The police recorded his demise due to a bread roll a la Mama Cass of the Mamas and Papas.
Most of his friends suspected the cause of death at the Lido Hotel Guesthouse was something more nefarious. The Bangkok coroner entered the cause of death as the deadly bread. fingers were pointed at his common-law wife. In most cases the person with the most to gain from the murder. The police like to keep things simple and stupid.
"Dead men tell no lies."
Especially with bread in their mouths.
To live or die in Pattaya.
I like to see the dawn. Several decades more of them too.
So sleep with an eye open and keep that door locked from the inside.
The life you save might be your own.
Yes = No
No = Yes
Maybe = No
We need = I want
I'm sorry = You'll be sorry
We need to talk = You're in trouble
Sure, go ahead = You better not
Do what you want = You'll pay for this later
I'm not upset = Of course I'm upset, you moron
You're very attentive tonight = Is sex all you think about?
I'm hungry = I'm hungry
I'm sleepy = I'm sleepy
I'm tired = I'm tired
Nice dress = Nice cleavage
I love you = Let's have sex right now
I'm bored = I'd like to have sex with you
May I have this dance = I'd like to have sex with you
Can I call you some time = I'd like to have sex with you
Do you want to see a movie = I'd like to have sex with you
Can I take you out to dinner = I'd like to have sex with you
Those shoes don't go with your dress = I'm gay
This lesson in political incorrectness comes from the ever-popular Nick Adams ex of Pattaya.
ila jaheem ma'ik means 'go to hell' in Arabic, which is what most Arabic men might feel about the previous entry. Firstly most Arabs are not terrorists. Secondly some Arab men drink beer. Lastly most American men would flee in terror at the sight of a 300-pound naked American woman.
"Run for the hills before they dose you with Viagra."
Then again some guys like fat.
When I was working at the Milk Bar, a taxi would pull up across the street, every night around midnight. A couple would get out. The male weighing 140. The woman over 300. He was so in love with her and she treated him like shit. We couldn't figure it out, although Big Joel said, "Some men like a woman with a little meat."
A little meat.
This woman was mostly fat.
Another useful Arabic expression is 'kharrah ibina' or WTF.
DON'T FORGET ABOUT NEXT SATURDAY!
Don't forget to mark your calendars. As you may already know, it is a sin for a Muslim male to see any woman other than his wife naked. He must commit suicide if he does.
So next Saturday at 4 PM Eastern Time, all American women are asked to walk out of their house completely naked to help weed out any neighborhood terrorists. Circling your block for one hour is recommended for this anti-terrorist effort.
All patriotic men are to position themselves in lawn chairs in front of their house to prove they are not Muslims and to demonstrate they think its okay to see nude women other than their wife and to show support for all American women.
Since Islam also does not approve of alcohol, a cold 6-pack at your side is further proof of your anti-Muslim sentiment. The American government appreciates your efforts to root-out terrorists and applauds your participation in this anti-terrorist activity.
God bless America !
It is your patriotic duty to pass this on. If you don't send this to at least 5 people, you're a terrorist-sympathizing, lily-livered coward and are in the position of posing as a national threat.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Scandal loves scandal and Roman Polanski's arrest in Switzerland has caused several famous people to speak when they should have shut their mouths. Woody Allen came out in support on the Oscar-winning director. An old man who married his adopted teenage daughter. Not the best support and things got worse, as France's Culture Minister criticized the extradition process against Polanski only to have his name besmirched for having written a book about having sex with young rent-boys in SE Asia. Most politicians would have run for cover, however France's outspoken Prime Minister praised the 2005 book BAY BOY.
Sex sells, although not in the USA.
We'll be seeing Roman soon enough.
America is the Land of the Free as long as what you say, see, or hear is only what the government wants its citizens to say, see, or hear. This Orwellian bargain was highlighted this week by Congress' redlighting the release of 21 photographs of prisoner abuse by the US military. The Obama administration offered the excuse of conflicting interests as the publication of these incriminating photos would interfere with a ACLU lawsuit, but more importantly the decision up to this point has been made by the Secretary of Defense, who cites a provision in the freedom of Information Act, which prevents the release of any information that might cause a threat to the public safety..
The Defense Secretary is an appointed member of the government.
No one in America elected Robert Gates to this post.
He is a hold-over from the previous regime of GW Bush.
The photos are an indictment of torture and reveal the widespread system of detainee abuse condoned by GW Bush and Dick Cheney and their staffs.
Abu Ghabi was not an aberration.
And neither can the US public be certain that the Pentagon and CIA aren't using torture on detainees throughout their covert empire.
The freedom of speech means the freedom of speech.
There are no exceptions.
Published in ELK 2006
February’s blizzards buried New York City with two-foot drifts and people conversed about Global Warming as a distant threat in comparison to Iraq. America was gearing up to war and nothing could stop the process, because the President was acting like a pit bull too stubborn to spit out the bone stuck in his throat. After all Saddam had tried to kill his father.
When the Director of Homeland Security announced an unspecific Orange Alert, Manhattanites hermitically sealed their apartments with duct tape and plastic sheets against toxic attack. Two elderly people died of asphyxiation, but even worse the March to War was killing business in the Diamond District and It was hardly worth going to work, except my girlfriend in Thailand was awaiting my winter arrival, so I mummified myself in my warmest clothes to catch the 9:11am 9th Street
The sun was brilliant in a cloudless sky and the air temperature hovered above 10 without taking into consideration the wind. The time was 9:08 and a blue-and-white bus was traversing 1st Avenue ahead of schedule. The light was against me and I remained on the curb, since HBV or ‘hit by vehicle’ caused the most visits to the Bellevue Hospital emergency ward any season of the year.
On the opposite corner an old woman impatiently pushed her load into the street. The holes in her tennis shoes showed bare toes and I dug for a dollar in my pocket. The city was tough on the elderly, especially since she wasn’t the only one in a hurry.
A mammoth SUV with Jersey plates revved its engine on 10th Street and the ‘truck’ clumsily accelerated left with the old lady in its path. The collision seemed unavoidable and I could only shout. “Watch out.”
My warning paralyzed the old lady, but a lanky man in a long overcoat snagged her out of the luxury truck’s path, although its chrome bumper crashed into the shopping cart, cascading scores of bottles into the gutter. After the SUV lumbered to a halt, a middle-aged man in a NY Giants sweatshirt waddled to the woman. “Are you okay?”
“My things.” The old lady stared at her crushed cart.
“All right?” The man in the overcoat helped the old woman to her feet, daubing the lady’s bloodied knees with a pristine handkerchief. “You damn near killed her.”
“Hey, she stepped into the street.” The paunchy driver looked over his shoulder to the pasty blonde poking her head out the side window. A few spectators gathered on the sidewalk and I stopped too, for the upscale clothing couldn’t disguise Jamie Parker.
The driver reached for his wallet and a hundred-dollar bill quickly fluttered in his hand. “I’m glad no one is hurt. Can I pay you for the damages?”
“Damages?” Money was unimportant to Jamie. He was after trouble. “How much you wanna to pay for ruining her day with your big-ass SUV?”
“Hey, it was an accident and no one was hurt.” The driver hadn’t expected a tirade from a Good Samaritan. “Why don’t you calm down?”
“Calm down?” Parker was rat-tough from his years as a guest of the State. “You blew that light and almost killed her.”
Cops cruised the avenue. Their writing up a report meant an increase in the driver’s insurance rates. He held out two hundred dollar bills. “The cart isn’t worth twenty bucks.”
“So you’re bargaining with the old lady’s life.”
“We can call it quits, Sonny. I’ve fallen worse in my bathtub.” The old lady snatched the money with the swiftness of a cobra attacking its careless trainer and skedaddled down the avenue. The driver eyed Jamie. “Happy now?”
“Happy? Happy you drive that pig? Happy, 40,000,000 of those gas-guzzlers suck the oil from the Earth and spew billions of tons of smog into the air to breathe?” Jamie was on a roll. “The terrorists topple the Twin Towers and how does America respond? Build oil junkie cars to fund the Al-Qaeda through the Saudis, so you fatsos can feel thinner in your SUVs.”
“Yeah, that’s right.” His harangue was echoed by assenting shouts, for while the landlords might have renovated the East Village for young professionals, the neighborhood contained enough weirdo radicals to stage a hair-trigger riot.
The driver recognized the building anger and jumped inside his SUV. His vehicle veered into the oncoming traffic, thunking into a speeding Ford Navigator. Both cars stopped and the drivers inspected the damage. It was in the thousands of dollars.
Jamie hooted with triumph and I grabbed his arm.
His eyes widened in anger, then a smile. “Hey, man.”
“I liked the hero act, but the rabble-rouser was a bit much.”
Traffic had snarled into a knot. Other motorists rubbernecked the accident. The SUV driver pointed at Jamie and pulled out his mobile phone. His finger hit three buttons. 911. The police wouldn’t interpret Jamie’s saving a woman’s life as a carte blanche for abusing the public. “Jamie, it’s time to go.”
“I had my heart set on a croissant from SOMETHING SWEET.” He gazed to the corner bakery and pushed his gloved hand through greasy hair. Even lacking two front teeth Jamie was handsome, but nothing good lasted long on him. His cashmere coat had a tiny tear in the arm and his crocodile loafers were stained with salt.
“You can come back later.” I tugged at his sleeve.
Jamie understood my unspoken urgency and we strode along a 10th Street clogged with irate drivers. He spat at a parked Land-Rover. “Their fuel addiction doesn’t piss me off so much as their tough guy acts. I mean the only bump an Expedition runs over is their fat kid’s tricycle in the driveway.”
“A little angry this morning?”
“I haven’t abandoned the revolution.”
“The revolution?” This wasn’t 1776 or 1789 or 1845 or 1917 or even 1968. The Republicans ran the country and most Americans’ vision of change is dictated by a TV remote control.
“How many Communists took over Russia? 125. And Castro landed in Cuba with many followers? 17. How many voters in Dade County swung the vote to GW Bush? 217?”
“Che went into Bolivia with forty-five men and was buried a fat old failure.” The images of the SLA’s flameout, the Ruby Ridge’s shooting, and the Days of Rage in Seattle were dealt as losing hands by my memory’s blackjack dealer.
“I heard a rumor he hung up his AK047 to become a farmer.”
“The CIA says different. Che exists only on t-shirts and posters.” I wished otherwise for JFK, Malcolm X, and Marc Bolan. “Besides you’re looking a little prosperous better off than when we were swimming in the East River three years ago.”
“I was never too down on my luck that I sold out.” He tossed his head with a laugh at a forgotten punchline. “After leaving you, I met this punk girl. Mousy blonde hair, skinny, almost cute. You know the type. Their parents won’t let them use their stash or fuck the football team or they’re catching a beating in school, so they runaway to the East Village and live in filthy squats.”
“Not many burnt-out buildings left in the Lower East Side now.”
“Yeah, they live on the street off the kindness of suckers.” These ragged sons and daughters of the suburbs cadged cigarettes and quarters on St. Mark’s Place. Their sneering rejection of materialism earned the ridicule of veteran East Villagers, who labeled them ‘children of the dust’.
I didn’t give them a penny, but admitted, “I prefer them to the junior exec bar-crawlers shouting on their cell phones.”
“And the old junkies, right?”
“Let’s not get carried away.” The neighborhood was better off without Hakim, for thieving junkies had overrun the East Village in the 1970s. His murder had never hit the papers, but his death had cleared the way for the gentrification of lawless blocks beyond Avenue A.
“Anyway this punk called herself Bakunin. Always carried his anarchist essays around. She was eighteen and disenfranchised from her mother, an uptown heiress. Bakunin called me the street messiah, since I taught her friends where to find free food, how to stuff newspapers under their clothes to stay warm or to sleep with their shoes under their heads to prevent anyone stealing them. I didn’t tell them all the tricks, after all I have to protect the real bums from the amateurs.”
“Sounds you were sticking around, because you were soft on this Bakunin?” The clock on St. Mark’s Church bonged out the half-hour and I walked faster across 2nd Avenue. My boss hated my chronic tardiness and my excuses even more.
“Naw, she didn’t wash and smelled like she had been dug from the grave.” His nose scrunching in distaste was amusing, considering Jamie had historically been unparticular about his own personal hygiene. “But you’re right. You do get tired of being alone and I liked these kids. They didn’t watch TV or eat potato chips or listen to boy band music.”
“Or fake punk bands?” I looked both ways, crossing 4th Avenue.
“Plus they believe in something. A revolution.” Jamie followed me into the subway station. “Can you keep a secret?”
“Not if I’ve had three beers in me.”
Jamie must have thought I was kidding. “The main problem with a revolution is that they usually come about when everyone is real angry, which means bloodshed, however non-violence worked for Gandhi in India or Martin Luther King in the Sixties. Perhaps not as fast as violence, but it is the other path.”
THE JETSONS had promised a world of automation. I had dreamed of eternal youth and driving beautiful blondes along the beaches in streamlined cars. It was hard living the lie. “A revolution in this country is impossible.”
“We had one in 1776 and one in the Sixties.” “One win, one loss. The Mets aren’t playing .500 ball this year. Where you going?”
“47th Street.” I swiped my multi-pass at the turnstile.
“You working in the Diamond District?”
“No one else would have me.” My job on 47th Street consisted of extolling the beauty of diamonds to glowing brides-to-be and inanely explaining financial shortcuts to fiancées disgruntled with the prospects of blowing two month’s wages on an artificially inflated commodity.
“I’ll come with you.” Jamie leapt the barrier and darted into the car a second before the doors shut. “Old habits die hard.”
The other passengers’ disapproval disappeared as soon as the train left the station and Jamie respected their apathy, but whispering, “The President is dragging us into a war. The environment is a mess. Our food has produced two generations of fat people and TV has sedated the masses more completely than any religion or drug. 9/11 should have disturbed their complacent slumber, except the ‘people’ are toasty in their cocoons of consumerism.”
The train’s steel wheels shrieked on the curve into the Union Square Station. Not one passenger covered their ears and I asked, “You have a better offer?”
“This present is beyond help. Tomorrow is another story. Where we want to be ten years from now? Twenty? People’s aspirations are simplified to purchases of the same items in different colors and sizes. A change has to happen. A change for the better.” The train slowed to a stop. The people exiting ignored us. We had become invisible, even when Jamie’s fist thumped his chest. “I remember your old movement.”
“I had hoped everyone had forgotten the National Resurgence Party.” The last meeting in the cellar of a Polish church had been in 1979. A month later I had broken up with my hillbilly girlfriend and became persona non persona in the East Village.
“Who can forget ‘Nuke the Whales.’ or proposing a war against France to stop their theft of Jerry Lewis?” Jamie had been the treasurer and my hillbilly girlfriend the minister of disinformation. Another twenty people comprised the NRP. We wore brown shirts and black ties. Our critics declared us closet fascists. Our salute came from a gladiator movie. “They were punk jokes.”
“Most people have no sense of humor.”
“We’ve strayed far from the pursuit of happiness.” No one from the nation’s two killjoy camps dared laugh about fat-inducing corn, Osama Bin Laden, terrorism, or freedom.
“What better moment than now to take advantage of the chaos.”
My political activity consisted of voting at each election, writing insane letters to the President, and attending non-violent demonstrations. “I’m too old for revolution.”
“You’re never too old.” Jamie’s eyes sifted through the straphangers for any eavesdroppers and he dismissed our fellow travelers as mere wage-slaves. “Those squatters constatly blather about overthrowing the government, especially Bakunin’s boyfriend, Clash. I counseled against anything rash.”
In the 70s Jamie had aided the Underground, committed acts of felony, and robbed dealers without ever backing down from anyone in or out of authority. “The voice of reason doesn’t suit you.”
“I know, but one of them might have gotten hurt and Bakunin actually admired my pacifism. We spent a lot of time walking around Lower Manhattan. It was almost like being a teenager again. She discussed going back home and I said she could return to her mother’s duplex as easily as Dorothy returned to Kansas. I was shocked to hear she had never seen THE WIZARD OF OZ.”
“Probably hasn’t heard Judy Garland sing SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW.” Today’s teenagers didn’t know what they were missing from those old black-and-white movies and no one was telling them either, because Time/Warner didn’t want kids seeing SULLIVANS TRAVELS, THE WAGES OF SIN, or SOME LIKE IT HOT. “Funny, how the parents don’t tell them about it.”
“They’re too busy trying to attain an impossible lifestyle. Bakunin’s not knowing about the Tin Man or Wicked Witch was wrong and right then I saw a billboard for a Cadillac SUV. A big fat-ass car for stupid fucking people. That’s all these kids see. Something to consume. I had to destroy it. Hit the corporations in their pocket, only it was too far away for a Molotov cocktail.”
“So the rage passed?” It was twenty to 10 and we were only at 28th Street. Like Jamie the train seemed not to obey any schedule.
“No, Bakunin told me how Clash practiced for an FBI shoot-out with a paintball gun. While he was drinking beer at Sophie’s I liberated it and headed back to the Caddy SUV billboard. Bakunin tagged along as a lookout. I splattered the ad with three hits. Red for revolution and I wasn’t done either. I took out a Tommy Hilfiger billboard and another for Pringle Potato Chips.”
“Cars, fashion, and fast food.” Each was an enemy of the people.
“Bakunin nailed a model selling perfume in the breasts. She hugged me and I kissed her. Bakunin told me her real name was Billie and she wanted a bath. We went for a schvitz at the Russian Steam Bath. She cleaned up good and we took a room in the St. Mark’s Hotel, where we made love and talked about saving the world from consumerism.”
“By paintbombing SUV ads?” It seemed a little lightweight.
“No, I had small ideas to take advantage of her clan. We made fake parking tickets and pasted a warning to SUV drivers that they were violating the Earth under their windshield wipers.”
“What the drivers do?”
“Just stuffed them in their pockets or threw them on the street without reading a single word. They didn’t care about the planet.”
“We needed a more radical course of action and I bought a couple of cans of paint.”
“For another attack on the billboards?”
“I had Bakunin’s squatter friends paint all the parking meters in the Lower East Side. The meter maids were blocked from seeing, if they were in violation. We obliterated the parking signs in Wall Street and Chinatown. Several squatters covered the City Courts with FREE NEW YORK without ever saying from what.”
“The Staten Island Ferry is the only thing free in New York.”
“Nothing wrong with dreams.”
The train pulled into Grand Central and I exited from the train with Jamie in tow. “The paint squad planned on tagging every meter and sign in the city. Way too ambitious and bound to get someone on Rikers Island. I called off the painting campaign and organized them into gangs gathering the circulars stuck on the doorsteps. We returned them to the super markets and chain stores and then blockaded a luxury condo with those phony newspaper dispensers of the corners.”
“Sounds Mickey Mouse to me.” None of these incidents had hit the newspapers, then again the newspapers didn’t report on events, which might upset the status quo.
“You’re right. I had to devise a feat which the media couldn’t ignore or blame on teenage vandals.” Jamie was a menace to society and himself, but no terrorist, yet I had to say, “Sounds like the end to non-violence to me.”
The two policemen armed with shotguns guarded Grand Central. Despite 9/11 people weren’t avoiding populated or famous locations. As we mounted the escalator for the old Pan-Am Building, Jamie glanced at the starry ceiling. “Bakunin’s boyfriend suggested robbing banks with a toy gun like that actor from ZABRISKI POINT.”
“Michael something.” The handsome actor had robbed a bank high on acid and the police had shot his friend dead. His defense was insanity. The State of Massachusetts had ignored his plea of insanity and given him 25 to Life. “He died in Walpole Prison. Weights fell on him.”
“Clash was jealous of my telling the squatters there’s no such dog as a little violence and he suspected Bakunin and I were having an affair.”
“He wasn’t wrong.”
“He was when he chained her to a wall. I wanted to kill him, but Bakunin told me to chill. Things would work out. Fucking kids.”
“Shouldn’t we be hanging out with people our own age?”
“Most of my old friends are dead plus you’re only as old as you feel.” Two businessmen passed us and he whispered, “Riding the Staten Island Ferry I got an idea.”
“Kidnap the Statue of Liberty?”
“Close. I decided to invade Governor’s Island.”
“Invade?” I asked loudly enough for two Hassidim to flinch.
“The Coast Guard abandoned the island ten years ago and the Federal government has been trying to give it to the city ever since. Clinton offered the island to Giuliani for a measly dollar. The mayor considered its upkeep was too expensive and there was talk about his cutting a deal with the real estate developers. 400 acres of free land for the taking and I proposed to the squatters we liberate the island and declare it Babylon.”
“Babylon?” Pattaya in Thailand satisfied my vision of Babylon.
“Not everyone wants to be a saint and an anything-goes-land would be the perfect outlet to do drugs, sex, murder, total anarchy. No laws, no police and, if I ran a bordello, I’d earn more money than God. Babylon Island five minutes from New York. They’d be traffic jams south to the Delaware Bridge and north to New Haven.”
“How’d liberating Governors’ Island to establish a sex paradise sit with your squatters?” Cities in the Sixties had experimented with Combat Zones only to discover their citizens’ demand for Sin outpaced their expectations.
“Hey, they dig free love.” We exited the terminal into the city’s icy claws and Jamie pulled up his collar. “The girls weren’t above hustling Hassidic men on Delancey Street. One even stripped at the BabyDoll Lounge. They thought it sounded like fun and we assembled at the Hudson River Boathouse to appropriate some kayaks. The squatters had the banners to declare the island’s liberation. Before I cut the chain locking the boathouse, something made me turn around and I saw these young kids’ faces. They would obey my every command and I flashed on Hitler at the Munich Beer Hall Putsch.”
We turned onto 46th Street and I bought a large tea from a street vendor’s cart. The cup was warm in my gloved hands. I had felt the same way with the National Resurgence Party. “People are willing to do anything anyone tells them, if they think it’s a good idea.”
“Or have nothing to live for and I know all about true meaninglessness, except these kids were too young to throw away their futures.” After Jamie ordered a large coffee, we proceeded across 5th Avenue with the ‘walk’ light. He ripped off a sliver of plastic and sipped the coffee. “Clash resented my backing out and tried to force Bakunin into a kayak, but I wasn’t letting him ruin her life and pushed him into the river. He couldn’t swim and I had to rescue him. He started crying and I told the rest of them to find another messiah and took Bakunin home.”
“So you betrayed the revolution?” The corner shops on 47th Street were already open and their jewelry glittered in the morning light.
“I told Bakunin that the revolution was a one-man show.”
”Something tells me that’s not the end of the story.”
“Her mother was so grateful that she hired me as chauffeur/go-fer.”
“You’re Tony Danza in WHO’S THE BOSS?” I joked, nearing Manny’s store.
“Much more classy.” Jamie frowned with the disapproval. “MY MAN GODFREY, the forgotten “Your patroness as beautiful as Carole Lombard?” I tried to recall if she had starred opposite William Powell.
“More a dissolute Veronica Lake.” Jamie threw his coffee cup into the trash.
Manny was in the window tapping his Rolex. Another minute or two wouldn’t cost me my job. “So all’s well that ends well?”
“I guess so.” Jamie wasn’t free to tell me about his life as a man-of-all-trades on the Upper East Side.
“You see any of the other squatters?”
“No, autumn drove them to the suburbs or college.” Jamie studied the diamonds in the window, a thief pondering his old trade. “A few die-hards are lingering in Tompkins Square Park like bears who had forgotten the location of their hibernating caves. Clash, he’s hanging out with a fat girl. They seem happy, although he walks the other way, if he sees me.”
“What about Bakunin?” I signaled to Manny a few more minutes.
“She went off to college.” Jamie raised his collar. “We have the weekends.”
“And the mother?”
“It’s a job,” he said with little conviction and I asked, “What car you drive?”
“A Bentley. Nice ride and it isn’t a SUV.” The sun flashed against a skyscraper in the Rockefeller Complex and he put on imported sunglasses. Manny regarded him as a potential buyer and pointed at a ring. “Your boss seems a little eager to make a sale.”
“So am I.” I could use the money and we shook hands. “You take care.”
“Hey, what other choice I have?” He released his grip and strode toward the Plaza Arcade.
I worried about him finding some meaning to his life, but I should have been more worried about myself, for a voice called his name. He turned to greet the old lady. They embraced and the old lady’s wig fell off. The thin girl was young and blonde. I recognized Bakunin from Jamie’s brief description. They turned to me and waved good-bye. I pulled up my coat collar and looked to the sky. The clouds to the west promised more snow, though not enough for snow tomorrow.
Manny rapped on the window. No one else had showed up yet. Not his son. Not my co-workers. I was almost early. Entering the exchange Manny shook his head. “When are you ever going to come on time?”
“Manny, I’m never going to change.” It wasn’t the answer he wanted to hear, but nothing in the world was changing soon, because nothing happens overnight except to those who weren’t expecting the change in the first place, then again one day I might be surprised and Jamie Parker and I were counting on that day. Hopefully others were too and until that moment living right is my only course of action, for even at one revolution per minute positive actions add up. You only have to do the math, even if it means taking off your shoes to count your toes.