Sunday, January 31, 2010
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 7pm at Freddy's Backroom
Mr. Beller's Neighborhood Reading Series is moving to Brooklyn and as a tribute to our move to the Dodgers home borough, our first event will feature all stories from New Yorkers and their love for the game- any game- all games! We will hear from soft-ballers, basket-ballers, marathon-ballers- all kinds of ballers!
Readers on February 18th are PATRICK SAUER, PETER NOLAN SMITH, JB McGEEVER. The host is CONNOR GAUDET.
Patrick Sauer is a former hotel reviewer at Oyster.com, a contributing editor at Inc. and a senior editor at TheDailyTube.com, Sauer also writes for New York, Fast Company, City, Details, Success, Jewcy, Mr. Beller,s Neighborhood, Popular Science, Smith, Portfolio.com and ESPN.com. He is the author of Court TV Presents: You Be the Judge and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the American Presidents. For more, check out PatrickJsauer.com.
Peter Nolan Smith left New England in 1976 for the East Village. Most of his 21st Century has been spent in Pattaya, Thailand, although this year he summered in Palm Beach writing BET ON CRAZY, a semi-fiction book detailing his career as a diamond salesman on New York’s 47th Street. He is the editor and writer of www.Mangozeen.com.
JB McGeever's stories have appeared in Hampton Shorts, $pread Magazine, and The Southampton Review, with nonfiction in The New York Times, Newsday, Daily News, and Lost and Found: Stories from New York.
Connor Gaudet is a Brooklyn-based writer and musician passionately pursuing a life of debt and poverty. Diarist, embellisher, and non-fiction storyteller, he occasionally comes clean at thedailyhell.typepad.com
Freddy’s Bar & Backroom is located at 485 Dean St. @ 6th Ave in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The phone number is 718.622.7035.
CONTACT: Connor Gaudet
"That's not true anymore." I'm faithful to my wives in Thailand. One figuratively and the other in reality. "I haven't touched another woman other than Mem for more than 3 years."
"You could never fuck again and you'd still have the title of most fucks on 47th street."
For some reason Manny is very proud of my exploits. I don't talk about, but occasionally dream about these women chasing me to ground. A rake runs fast from the past, especially since way the Catholic Church and other derivatives of the Judeo-Christian faith feel about monogamy.
Priests, rabbis, mullahs, and reverends teach monogamy as the true state of man and woman. The birds and bees worshipped God in holy union. My parents explained the arrival of each new brother or sister as the gift of a stork. Big birds at hospitals made no sense to me, but my parents remained faithful to each other till death like mating pigeons.
On the other hand I have been a wanderer. I can't count the number of my paramours on one hand or all my digits either. I've never made a list. Somehow that seemed a little too gauche. While I don't remember all their names I do recollect their faces, smiles, and smell. Strangely very little of the sex. Woman pride themselves on their memories. They can quote you twenty years after the utterance left your lips. I thought that females would be the same about the act of love.
Not all of them.
Several years back I ran into Valda at a studio opening in Manhattan. I had been out of town for a half-year in Asia. We sat on a window sill and spoke of our lives. Past and present. Two younger people came up to us and asked if we were a couple.
"You seemed so comfortable together." The male beamed with the promise of two hearts beating as one. He held his girlfriend's hand with tenderness. They had a lot to learn, but I wasn't giving them any harsh lessons, so I said, "No, we're not a couple, but we once were lovers."
"No, we weren't." Valda's answer was quick and harsh.
"We weren't? I was certain we had slept together on my futon. Sweat slickening our bodies on a hot August night.
"Not at all." She was adamant.
"Are you sure?" Her kiss had been long.
Those encounters couldn't have been a phantasm of my fantasies. She had scratched my back to shreds. A fury dwelt in her eyes. The young couple were aghast. I admitted surrender. "Sorry, guess I was thinking about someone else."
I had slept with two of her best friends; Mary Beth and Lucille.
They would know if I was right, but those two had vanished from New York at least a decade earlier. Valda walked away angry. She glared at me the rest of the night. I hadn't thought I was so bad in bed, but you never are as reality no longer matches up with your memory.
After all a recession is when a friend loses a job and depression is when you lose yours.
The economy is still in the shitter and I have to ask myself what jobs are available for a 57 year-old man. My friend Bruce Benderson took me to dinner as thanks for selling his rings. The Asia-fusion restaurant was crowded with young people. My competition for a job. I explained my fears to Bruce and he suggested that I lose ten pounds and apply for a job as a go-go boy at a gay retirement home.
"They want someone young." I felt my age more and more, although my wife kept reminding me I wasn't 17 anymore. She's 25 and my son is one year old. I figure I have to work until I'm 80.
"You are young." Bruce had quit the stage after Mayor Giuliani closed the strip bars of Times Square. "Young for the old queens in the nursing homes. None of them have seen anyone young as you in decades. You could charge the homes $100 a visit. Has to be better for the old geezers than any other medicine."
"Thanks for the idea." My last visit to Boston had been to my father. He lives in a retirement village for Alzheimer patients. Mostly female. They smiled at me, as if i might be someone they knew. My father was the same. He thinks I'm his son still, but he's not sure why. None of these inmates need any erotic dancing.
"It's not a bad idea. Hell, you could franchise it in Florida. How many retirement homes you think are in the Sunshine State. Thousands. There has to be a market for it."
"Probably." I ordered scallop and seaweed noodles. A glass of wine. The waiter was thin and handsome. He had to be 30 years younger than me.
"And who knows? You might be able to sex them up." Bruce caressed the waiter's behind. He was a regular here. The waiter laughed walking away content to know he would be receiving a good tip. Bruce liked to pay for sex in any form. Love was another story.
"No way." I barely wanted to have sex with myself let alone.
"Why because you're too good to have sex with someone older than you. Like me." He frowned at this unintended insult. "What about the woman you had sex with in Palm beach? You said she was over 70."
"That was different." Helen was the publisher of a Florida magazine. We smoked reefer together. Her apartment overlooked Lake Worth. The address was in West Palm.
"How? She said she hadn't had cock in her mouth in ten years. She begged for it and you gave it to her."
"It was a mercy mission." The lights were off, the curtains filling with the gulf breeze, and Helen was wearing sheer lingerie and satin high heels. On her knees she did everything.
"Maybe the first time, but what about the second time?" Bruce sat back to let the waiter deliver our appetizers. Fried calamari for him. Raw bluepoints for me. "Gore Vidal said about orgies that once is experimentation, but twice is perversity."
"The second time was because I was drunk." Two bottles of wine and a joint. Helen had her way with me. I was her slave. "They was no third time."
"Only because you saw her with another man and found out she uses that 'haven't tasted cock' line with all the fresh meat in Palm Beach, so don't tell me you can't go-go boy anymore. You're the master of re-inventing yourself."
"I'd rather rob a bank." I sucked down an oyster. It tasted of the Atlantic. The boyhood border of my home in Maine.
"And end up a stick boy in prison." Bruce was enjoying himself. "You do what you have to do to survive. Believe me. I know."
"I know you do." Bruce was in his 60s. He was a well-known writer. His novels were in every bookstore. His tales of hustlers and go-go boys were cult classic within the gay community. His name in in Wikpedia. All that means almost nothing. Bruce is forever broke. Same as everyone in America, except for the very rich, and they have no use for an old go-go boy.
Hollywood has embraced the philosophy of 2012 and the studios have produced a series of apocalyptic films portraying the end of the world through natural disasters, zombie infestation, or plague. We can't blame nature, God, or Commie Martians for our position at the brink of extermination, for as Pogo said so eloquently in his cartoon strip, "We have seen the enemy and they are us."
In THE DAYBREAKERS the film's director promised the premiere audience an opera of blood.
Gore and cigarette-smoking vampires.
And the bloodsuckers have hunted the remaining humans to the end.
No blood source, but Willem Dafoe plays a muscle-car messiah who has passed through the fiery crucible to return to humanity. His final screen is a triumph of heroism. One man against millions. I loved him in the film, but hated the cigarette smoking.
How much money do films get for this product placement?
Does anyone know?
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Every start of the holiday Selling Season Manny, my boss on 47th Street, told the diamond sales staff, "Most people lie 17 times a day. In order for you to make sales. Lots of sales. I expect you to get your lies into triple figures. He who lies best, makes the sale."
People lie and the best lies are the ones they tell themselves.
A recent British survey underscored Manny's 17 lies.
4 lies per day in the UK.
#1 "I'll give you a ring."
#2 "Sorry, I missed your call."
And the classic.
#3 "I'm on way."
Most people lie not to lie, but to avoid embarassment.
"I'm stuck in traffic."
"Of course I love you."
"My alarm didn't go off."
"The check is in the post."
"I'll phone you back in a minute."
Somehow they missed the all-time winner.
"My grandmother died."
No one wants to admit to telling that one.
Thai bar girls are champion liars and they must wear some special cologne to befuddle mens' sense of truth, because we're perfectly willing to accept her Thai boyfriend as her brother, cousin, or gay friend.
The proof is revealed in two recent youtubes entries.
The bargirl has finished sex with a customer and gets a call from her boyfriend from the UK.
You can probably write the dialogue yourself.
For a related article click on this URL.
My father used to tell a joke.
"What gray, howls at the moon, and is made out of concrete?"
Everyone wanted to say a wolf, but the concrete threw them off the track. After they relented and asked, "What?"
"But a wolf isn't made out of concrete." Everyone would protest at this devious deceit, until my father smiled and explained with a smile. "That's only to make the joke harder."
It was a bad joke but makes me smile too as does SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING by Howling Wolf.
This cat knew how to howl.
To see his 1964 performance of SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING go to this URL
Semi-Fiction from Peter Nolan Smith I spent 28 years in the East Village of New York. My apartment was at 256 East 10th Street. I worked nightclubs. CBGBs, Hurrah, Studio 54, and The Milk Bar. I had two motorcycles; a 1964 Triumph and 1970 Yamaha. Dmitri from the East 6th Street Bike Shop introduced Rick, the owner of Madame Rosa's. The Californian had a Ducati and Norton. Neither of us had girlfriends and switched nights cooking dinner after which we would play gin rummy. Rick was a better cook and Dmitri joked that we were man and wife. It was only funny the first time.
When Rick mentioned to a neighbor that I was brought up in outside of Portland, the middle-aged woman extended an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner at their tenement building.
Jane hailed from Columbia Falls, Maine, which she considered was the last place God created before finishing with Aroonstock County.
Jane was a graduate of University of Maine. She had moved to New York to become a beatnik and ended up marrying a East Village plumber. She still loved Maine and we became friends. although she got a kick out of riding me about my hometown outside Portland.
"Falmouth Foresides is almost like coming from Massachusetts."
"Nothing like being a Masshole." Carmine, her husband, had a good word to say about everyone. My nickname was 'Scumbag'. I called him 'Uncle Carmine'.
The Lower East Side native had learned pipe-fitting in the Merchant Marines. Plumbers from the 5 boroughs asked for his advice. Carmine had pull with City Hall. The connections were a gift from his father. The old man had been a bookie. Jane collected strays. Rick, Steve the Montana ironworker, David the biologist from the natural History Museum, and countless others. Every big holiday she set a big table for her orphans. People without family in the city. We drank wine and ate turkey until we were semi-comatose, after which Carmine would mumble stories about the East Village from the 50s interspersed with racial epitaphs, although he was always helping people from every race. We all called him Uncle Carmine and thought of him as a permanent New York fixture, except he had one weakness.
Cigars and he started complaining about a stomach ache. We told him to see a doctor. He refused every entreaty. I got him medicine with fake scripts. It helped a little bit, but not much. Carmine had more than a stomach ache and passed away suddenly while I was in Thailand. Jane called room 302 at the Malaysia Hotel to convey his last advice, "Don't go crazy, scumbag."
Jane said the burial wasn't taking place until October 12. Carmine was Italian. He never believed Columbus was anything but. "We're burying him on Columbus Day up in Schoonic Bay. He liked the view from the hill."
"I'll be there." I scheduled my return for late-Sept. The flight stopped in LA. I continued on to New York. My subleasee, a Swedish male nurse, had cleaned the place before leaving. Everything seemed to be in order. I dropped my bags on the floor and walked two blocks over to Jane's compound. Carmine had bought two buildings and a vacant lot back in the early 70s. $15,000. The property was now worth millions.
Jane gave me a big hug and said, "Carmine wanted you to have some books." Carmine's interests tended towards military history and I picked ten books. The best was one about Stalingrad. THE ENEMY AT THE GATE.
"You're going to help drive up to Maine?" Jane sat down heavily. She was not in the best of health.
"Wouldn't miss it." I had been driving her to dog shows for years. She was good company. This trip would be a home-coming for both of us. Lobsters and a funeral. She opened the closet in Carmine's office and held out a ceramic urn.
"The old man." Two identical urns were in the closet.
"Are those extra?"
"Those are the dogs. Carmine wanted to be buried with them."
No markings were written on the urns to distinguish them from each other. Jane saw my eyes and said, "No know which ones are which."
"Never said you didn't." Jane was almost as near-sighted as me.
We went to dinner at the local Italian restaurant and she outlined the funeral arrangements. Burial atop a blueberry hill. Friends and family consisted of Jane, her son and daughter. The latter two were not on speaking terms. Friends were a few. Rick, Steve the iron worker, Carmine's workmates and Lenny the anti-Zionist. A strange gathering for Schoonic Point any time of the year, but Jane said, "We'll be welcome. It's off-season."
Columbus Day was overcast without the threat of rain. Cumberland County takes up the farthest corner of NE America. Weather stations in New England cite the northern reach of their maritime forecasts. "Eastport to Block Island."
We stopped in Brunswick for lobster rolls at the Chamberlain Inn. Rick and Steve were enthralled with the Maine delicacy. It meant more to Jane and me. My grandfather and father had attended Bowdoin and Jane had gone to U Maine. We were familiar with the town. This was home and every mile more like heaven. Pine trees bordered long coves offering glimpses of the sea. The foliage was a little past prime. The air was champagne from Canada.
Jane had picked Ellsworth as our destination for the night. The hotel was on the strip. It had seen a hundred thousand customers this summer. The rooms had not stopped vibrating from their comings and goings. "Nothing is open in Schoonic Point this time of year."
She distributed room keys. This trip was on Carmine. We had a great lobster at the bridge leading to Bar Harbor. They were closing after this weekend. The Lobsters were soft-shelled and delectable. We agreed that Carmine had made the right choice about being buried in Maine. Upon re-entering Ellsworth, Jane said, "I know Rick is a good boy and wants to get to sleep, but I checked out the bars for you and Steve. There's one that's a fern bar and the other that is always in the police reports. I'm not letting you drive, but here's a twenty for the taxi."
Rick was married with a kid. Steve was divorced and I was perennially single. We said our good-nights and headed first to the fern bar. We lasted a single drink. The same taxi took us to the bad boy bar. The driver told us to watch out for the girls. "They like strangers."
Steve and I stood before the bar. Loud rock music and neon lights. We drunk beers on more than one occasion. and he knew my tastes and said, "You can have all the skinny ugly ones and I'll have all the fat cute ones."
"It's a deal."
He opened the door and then shut it. "What about Big Foot?"
A she-man grabbed him before he could explain. I followed and was immediately set upon by two women twice the man I was. Steve was dancing to Deep Purple to a 200 plus human version of a moose in heat. She wore size 14 boots. The men at the bar appeared relieved to be allowed to drink without any female interference.
Steve shouted one word. I couldn't hear him, but I knew the word was 'help'. We stayed three beers too many and were driven back to the hotel by four seriously masculine women in checkered shirts. Steve was groping one of them and whispered, "I'm checking to make sure they don't have any dildos."<
Back in 1974 I had been picked up by two lesbians in Big Sur. They had had their way with me for two days without stop. I had to escape into the redwoods. If they had possessed dildos they would have used them. So would these girls. The Big Foot women were talking dirty. Sex as a Sumo wrestling event. I told them we couldn't do anything and they said, "Date rape."
Their station wagon braked before our rooms. Hands unbuttoned my shirt. Steve was dragged out of the car. We were doomed, until Jane appeared in a celestial nightgown. "Leave those two men alone. They're with me."
"Gigolos." They muttered, reluctantly before letting go of us. Jane stood her ground until they left the room and then asked with a smile, "You boys have fun."
"Yeah." We were glad to have escaped Big Foot's grasp.
"I'm sure Carmine would appreciate it, now go to bed. We have a busy day tomorrow." She was right. We buried Carmine without a priest. On a blueberry hill overlooking Schoonic Bay. The sun came out as we lowered the urns into the earth. Jane cried and her children hugged her. They almost seemed like a family.
I proposed a drive around Bar Harbor before the memorial dinner in Hull's Cove. Rick and Steve loved the rocky coastline and also that we saw Martha Stewart who was in hiding from the New York press. She had been a bad girl. Steve said she looked like a Big Foot woman.
I didn't laughed.
Dinner was in a small restaurant and two of the waitresses were from the Big Foot tribe. A dress tamed them and they made sign of recognizing us. Jane couldn't help but tell Rick about last night's scene and he was happy to tell everyone in the East Village that Steve and I had mated with moose. Jane knew the truth, but said, "It's funnier the way he tells it and Carmine would like that ending too."
The full moon through this Saturday will be the largest and brightest of the year. This is also called the Wolf Moon, which will be 14 percent wider and 30 percent brighter than a typical full moon.The moon's orbit around Earth is not a circle, but an ellipse, with one side 50,000 km closer to Earth than the other. The... point of closest approach is called the "perigee," and that is where the moon will be Friday night through Saturday morning.
This report comes thanks to the ever-vigilant Jorge Socarras.
Cloud cover should prevent my viewing of this moon.
My body doesn't need eyes to feel its power.
Hair is sprouting from my pores like Lon Chaney.
Never shaved body hair.
1978 was a great year to live in New York. I was working at the city's #1 punk disco. My girlfriend was a blonde model from Buffalo. Lisa was having an affair with the 10th ranked tennis player in the world and I thought that they were just friends. The tennis player even bought me drinks at Studio 54 after which he asked to dance with Lisa. His European good manners further masked his true intentions. They disappeared for an hour. I never said a word. Love can render a man blind and sex even blinder.
Disco, nightclubs, fashion models, punk rock, drugs, and New York City was an intoxicating cocktail for a man in his early 20s. Girls came onto me everywhere. I remained faithful to Lisa. My friends hinted at her infidelity. They had proof. The newspapers repeatedly published photos of her with the tennis player.
"They're just good friends."
No one bought that line, except for me.
Maybe I was blind to her affair. Lisa and I rarely spent time together. She worked days hunting jobs with photographers. My hours at the club were nocturnal. It was easy to believe she loved me. Her blonde Slavic beauty mesmerized my senses and her words of love after sex were too breathless for lies. No one was happier than a fool.
Six months into our relationship Lisa was invited to a club opening. My boss at the punk disco wanted me to scout out the new venue. He regarded everyplace new as a threat to his business. Lisa was surprised when I asked to accompany her, but said, "It will be fun."
club was opposite the Holland Tunnel. An unruly crowd clustered before the entrance. Lisa was recognized by the doorman. She was a regular. We went inside and she was met by the tennis player. He shook my hand and then kissed Lisa on the cheek. His lips slipped down to her neck and for once I suspected that they might be more than friends. His smile disarmed that fear and we drank champagne at the bar.
"May I dance with Lisa?" His diction was too Mittel-Europa to be denied by a punk rocker from Boston. They made a good couple on the dance floor. Other people thought the same. Every eye watched their every move, except those of a slender brunette with full lips. She was staring at me. The men around her sensed her shift in attention. They were jealous within a second and with good reason. I had never seen such a beautiful woman, although most men would have considered her too young to be anything but a girl.
I put down my glass and walked up to her, obeying the silent command of her gaze. Her face was lifted from medieval portrait and I felt like I was approaching a ghost. My mouth went dry. I didn't need to speak. She introduced herself, as if I should know her name, "I'm Gia."
"Gia?" I had never heard that name before. It sounded Italian. I told her mine and she asked me to dance. No one else existed in the club. Only the two of us. Her hand looped around my neck and she whispered, "I like you."
"Why?" I stuttered with a fresh dose of innocence. Somehow she had reversed my age to 15.
"Because your girlfriend is fucking someone else and you don't care."
The hall of mirrors reflecting Gia's image into a kaleidoscopic blur shattered with those words. She was telling the truth and I craned my neck to find Lisa. Gina stopped me with a finger to my lips
"Don't be so concerned. I'm sure she will come back to you. It's only business."
Models needed exposure. Lisa got that from the tennis player.
"How do you know?"
"Because I'm a model too." She tilted her head to strike a vogue pose. Even without make-up I could tell she was a cover girl. Everything Lisa wanted to be. $1000/hour. Top photographers. Glossy ads. Her name on everyone's lips. Fame and fortune from the fate of being beautiful and Gia knew it too. "You want to kiss me?"
The answer was yes, but I felt a presence behind me and Gia smiled with half-parted lips. "Your girlfriend is here."
I knew that and said. "I'll see you around."
Lisa was unhappy with my speaking with Gia. She wanted to know everything she had said to me. I related the brief encounter numerous times like a prisoner in an interrogation cell. My story never changed in the telling. Lisa wasn't satisfied with my version. Neither was I, because given a few more minutes there was no telling what the two of us might have done.
I was guilty in thought rather than deed and Lisa began to stay out later with the tennis player. My faith in her wavered each time she came back to my apartment with her clothing in a state of disarray. She always had a good excuse for a missing button or torn seam.
"Studio is crazy."
Studio 54 was crazy, but not that crazy. We were over, except for the sex. Twice a day. I couldn't figure out why and I never asked her or anyone else for an explanation. The state of my heart was a secret even if the health of my affair wasn't. Friends at the punk disco said to get rid of Lisa. I tried by not calling her. She called instead. When I didn't answer the door, she had the key. One night I decided not to go home at all. I walked the streets of the East Village. Beer at the nursery. Breakfast at the Kiev. Dawn rose in the east early. Only bums and addicts were on the streets. It was time for me to go home.
Crossing 1st Avenue I was almost hit by a Fiat Spider. I jumped back fast and felt the tug of the slipstream. Another millimeter and its bumper would have broken my knees. The convertible braked twenty yards away. The driver turned around in the seat. It was Gia. Her smile was one of surprise mixed with amusement. She waved for me to join her. I got into the front seat.
"That was close." Both hands were on the wheel. "You should watch where you're going."
"Was that a red light?"
"Yes, but I didn't see you." She shifted into first gear. "You have any place to go right now?"
"No." My bed was a good destination, if there was no one there.
"Want to come over my place?" It was a silly question from the most beautiful woman in New York and I gave her the only answer it deserved, "Yes."
She drove like an F1 racer to her 4th Avenue apartment. The doorman nodded as if I were the 12th man to come upstairs that night, but something about her told me that Gia had been with no one. The past months with Lisa was honed my perception about a man's touch on a woman's body.
"What were you doing out so late?" Gia asked inside her small apartment. The day was softening the night to the west. The noise of the city was building toward the rush hour. She put on a Steely Dan song. AJA. The room smelled of expensive incense. The sofa caressed my body. I was completely relaxed and sat next to her. She smelled even better than the incense. I wondered what her body looked like naked and then imagined even more.
"Work?" The club has closed 4 hours ago.
"More like wandering the streets like the lost." Gia pulled out a packet of cocaine. "You want some?"
I nodded in submission, for she had read my soul as clearly as I had read her lack of a man's touch.
"I don't do this usually, but it's been a long week. My agent has me working every day. She says that I have to make as much money as I can, because my beauty will one day be gone." She huffed a line. "My agent is also my lover. I don't really like men"
"Oh." My lurid fantasy disappeared with those words. We were only made to share drugs and rock and roll. Sex was reserved for someone else. She did most of the talking. I did most of the drugs. In the end she said, "You know I saw you're girlfriend this evening."
"Where else?" Gia shook her hair free and looked at her watch. She had a 9am shooting. In another half-hour she would be late. It was time for me to go, but I had to ask, "You talk with her?"
"Only a little. I was wondering where you were. She said at an East Village apartment waiting for her. She really is beautiful."
"But not like you."
"Maybe just like me, only I have a name."
"Gia." Many models have made-up names like porno stars. Hers was hers. No one else could have her name.
"It's my real one." Gia was good at reading my mind and said, "You have to go. I have to work real soon."
She was already unbuttoning her shirt. It dropped to the floor. This was a dare. I walked out of the apartment without taking up her challenge. Back at my place Lisa was in bed. She asked where I was. I told her the truth. She asked if Gia and I had had sex. I told her the truth again. She didn't believe me. Not many people would and I couldn't blame them either. I didn't believe me either. Lisa left for Europe in the Spring. Her phone calls stopped after a month. I gave up on her return at summer's end. She was gone for good.
I never saw Gia again either. Not in person. Only on the cover of magazines. Vogue, Elle, and Cosmos. I thought about telling people about my evenings with Gia. It seemed like bragging and I kept those moments to myself. Enough people spoke her name in the clubs of New York and Paris. She didn't need another, although occasionally thought about her Fiat and looked both ways crossing 1st Avenue.
Even now after she's dead.
Her beauty in a grave, yet alive in my memory.
Gia looking over her shoulder.
A crowded dance floor.
Her eyes locked on mine for an instant will never die, because I can hold my breath forever for beauty.
Playing with dolls was a sin for boys in the 1950s. Barbie changed the opinion of many boys during the 1960s. The first Barbie came out in 1964. I was 12. My friends and I were on the cusp of pubescence and Mattel's doll had curves. Curves like Jayne Mansfield. A wasp like a wasp. Barbie was our first girlfriend, although only when our sisters were not at home. They would not have liked what we did to their dolls; Barbie and Ken. The unspeakable was saved for Midge. We had no respect for her. At the end of my 'play' session I would redress the dolls and put them back where I found them with a warning.
"Don't say anything."
Silence was always their answer and my sisters would ask the dolls, "Why aren't you talking?"
They knew something was wrong and told my parents that someone in the family was abusing their dolls. I never admitted to the truth and Barbie kept her mouth shut even after I abandoned her for a Playboy. Dinah Willis was the centerfold. She was a goddess I worshipped far from Barbie. THE ITCH by Olympic Press stole my heart. Barbie and I were done forever. All good things have to come to an end and all bad things too, but somewhere in my heart is a atom of love for my first girlfriend. She had such tiny lips for a kiss.
The first love is always the best.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Nothing says 1970s Lower East Side better than Johnny Thunders performing the classic CHINESE ROCKS.
"I'M LIVING ON CHINESE ROCKS. ALL MY BEST THINGS ARE IN HOCK."
For a listen to this song, click on this following URL
Is this the past or the future of mankind?
I'm hoping for a little of both although as Woody Allen says,"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”
Johnny Thunders certainly knew which way to go.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
A group of 40-year old Boston College alumni discuss where they should meet for dinner.
Finally it is agreed upon that they should meet at Jacob Wirth on Boylston Street restaurant where some of the patrons at the bar have low cut blouses and nice breasts.
10 years later, at 50 years of age, the group meets again and once again they discuss and discuss where they should meet. Finally it is agreed that they should meet at the Jacob Wirth because the food there is very good and the wine selection is good also.
10 years later at 60 years of age, the group meets again and once again they discuss and discuss where they should meet. Finally it is agreed that they should meet at the Jacob Wirth because they can eat there in peace and quiet and the restaurant is smoke free.
10 years later, at 70 years of age, the group meets again and once again they discuss and discuss where they should meet. Finally it is agreed that they should meet at Jacob Wirth because the restaurant is wheel chair accessible and they even have an elevator.
10 years later, at 80 years of age, the group meets again and once again they discuss and discuss where they should meet. Finally it is agreed that they should meet at the Jacob Wirth's because that would be a great idea because they have never been there before.
I ate at Jacob Wirth's last weekend. Great selection of draft beers and their nibbler of wursts is the perfect meal before the train or bus from Boston to New York. I also recall going there with feminists in the early 70s who would get pissed by the bartenders refusing their orders at the bar.
No women allowed.
Those were the days.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
It's cold outside my Brooklyn apartment and I'm debating whether to bolster my interior heat core with a bacon and eggs from the Academy. The temperature is 19F. Cold, but I've been colder. -40F atop Wildcat Mountain across from My. Washington. The year was 1971. The chairlift operator warned that that our run would be it for the day. The cold was causing malfunctions with the chain drive atop the summit. John Gilmore, Tommy Jordan, and I decided to brave the weather and cruised in the gondola car to the top. Ski equipment back then was good to zero. Halfway up we were questioning the wisdom of this late-afternoon run.
The gondola car was swinging in the ragged wind. The visibility was zero from a low ground fog. No one else was on the slope.
"No stops on the way down." Tommy Jordan was the best skier of us.
"Unless one of us fall." John was second best. His father was a doctor. His parka was fluffed with goose down.
"No stops." I wore a thin shell with two sweaters. "And no falling. Upper Wildcat and then Middle Wildcat."
We agreed without any further discussion. That route was the fastest way to the bottom.
We burst from the gondola like Olympic skiers on the grand slalom. Tommy took the early lead, but John and I were fighting for a close second. Our lungs were frozen by the first turning. My ears were numb within a minute. The wind and speed combined with the cold to inhumanly frigid conditions. My tears formed ice inside my goggles. I followed my two friends and four minutes later we ran into the ski lodge.
It took about ten minutes to thaw out our extremities.
We had a brandy and loaded our gear into my VW Bug. Its air-cooled engine was the only one to start in the parking lot. We drove back to North Conway happy to have survived that trial on the trail, however Mount Washington's fierce weather reputation was assaulted this week by a claim from Australia that the wind during a typhoon in 1996 gusted faster than the old record of 231 mph registered at New Hampshire's highest peak in 1934. A previous challenger from Guam in 1997 had been refuted due to a faulty anemometer and I'm not convinced that the 1996 measurement at Barrow Island was the worst, because I've been atop Mount Washington in the summer and it was not close to summer at the summit.
Not back in 1959 and not now.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Sometimes you have to ask yourself why Iggy never was a superstar.
LOOK AWAY conveys the story of Johnny Thunders and Sable, his muse.
Heroin, the needle, and beauty.
Definitely not Top 40.
Go to URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nN3KsdtF9o to hear this classic.
I used to have dreams about walking in public without my trousers. It was a scary thought and Herb brown captured this phobia in his paintings from the 1960s. Exhibitionesque elegance and tomorrow the BLT gallery at 270 the Bowery will be presenting his works.
I'll be there.
And so will the international B-movie legend Eric Mitchell.
Free wine for all my friends.
The night Barack Obama was elected president the city of New York danced in the streets. We sang PEACE TRAIN in bars. I hugged men my age with tears in my eyes. Their eyes were wet too. It seemed like 40 years of government by assassination, corruption, and deceit were coming to an end, then our Black Hope nominated Hillary Clinton Secretary of State, loaded his cabinet with Clinton bankers, and left Bush's Defense Secretary. We still prayed for the best, but 'our' president pardoned the banks by following the center line of capitalism. More troops poured into Afghanistan and health reform was watered down more than the beer at Yankee Stadium.
We lost faith.
A GOP upstart filled Ted 'When I got to the car Mary Jo wasn't there' Kennedy's vacant senate seat.
Marijuana remained illegal and no one was prosecuting Dick Cheney for torture.
The Who are the Superbowl showpiece band and they won't be playing WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN.
Only one person can save the Democratic Party from complete disaster and the Clintons will never give their approval to phone this saviour. The question is whether Obama has the balls to make the call. His wife Michelle knows the number and the area code is not for Chicago, New York, or LA.
"Could I please speak to Howard Dean."
The ex-governor of Vermont sculpted the 50-state strategy for the 2008 campaign which won the Democrats the Senate, the House, and the Presidency. The leadership ignored Dean for any post in the present administration and he currently holds no elected office or official position in the Democratic party.
"I think we had quite enough capitalism in the last eight years."
Those words and the scream explain it all.
A man was sunbathing naked at the beach. For the sake of civility, and to keep it from getting sunburned, he had a hat over his privates.
A woman walks past and says, snickering, "If you were a gentleman you'd lift your hat."
He raised an eyebrow and replied, "If you weren't so ugly it would lift itself."
Ha-Dee-Ha-Ha thanks to my leisurely brother-in-law.
The Catholic Church promoted sex for proreation instead of recreation in hopes that those of the faith would overwhelm the other religions. My mother was a devout Catholic. She gave birth to six children through the 1950s. Our family car was a Ford station wagon and my father child-proofed the spacious car by affixing aluminum tubes to the windows. Other motorists regarded the pale blue vehicle as undercover transport for the Maine reform school system.
I stared back at them as if I were a prisoner, even if my parents were taking us to Old Orchard Park, the Pine Tree's State playground by the sea. Their expressions kaleidescoped between pity and horror, as they wondered what heinous crime had been committed by the children incarcerated in the Ford station wagon.
"The youngest convicts in Maine." My grandmother joked every time we departed from her house in Westbrook and I sat in the back planning my escape. None of my attempts succeeded in gaining freedom. My father and mother were vigilant, but on one trip from Boston I wandered from the family car at a rest stop to go the bathroom. when I came out of the toilet, the Ford wasn't in the parking lot.
Free at last and within two seconds I was near tears. I was only 7. Kids my age were told every day to not speak with strangers and now I was surrounded by only strangers. Luckily a toll booth operator spotted me before a band a gyspies. My father realized one of us was missing and returned to the rest area at 100 mph. Top speed for the Ford. I was glad to see him and sat back in the moving cell with relief.
Freedom would have to wait until I was ready for it.
At age 11.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Sydney Australia is 9463 miles from LA and Darwin is 8603 miles from the UK. Only Antarctica is farther from from London and New York. Earth's tectonic plates may be moving closer, but Australia remains on the edge of the unknown and that distance has fostered its own culture of barbies, sheilas, and amber fluid without any osmosis absorption from the darkie culture.
White power ruled supreme.
The closest I've ever been to Australia has been Kuta Beach during the 90s. Wild fearless surfers and scraggly-haired beach bunnies. I wasn't into that scene. My rumah overlooked a bathing spot along a jungle river outside Ubud. To the west volcanoes veed the horizon of emerald rice fields. They were my ocean until Richie Boy came out to visit me in Bali. It must have been 1994. Richie Boy braved the 26-hour flight and deboarded the 747 in a coma.
"You want to sleep?"
"I slept enough on the ride out. Let's go surfing." Richie Boy was a dedicated surfer. He had learned from the legendary Duke Stein at Lido Beach. Neither of them could teach me how to stand on a board. Richie wasn't taking 'no' for an answer. We surfed Kuta Beach. I was sucked up by a riptide. I almost drowned. We surfed Ulu Watu. I went over the falls. I almost drowned. At Bingin Beach I got up and a Brazilian cut in on my wave. I fell off and almost drowned. Our Aussie friends made fun of me. Richie Boy couldn't really defend me. I was basically a log. Harmless unless you ran into it.
At the surf shack I decided to confront the 'convicts' on a matter of national pride.
"Name me five famous Aussie rock bands."
"Five." The Aussies scoffed at this challenge. "AC/DC. INXS. Midnight Oil. Men at Work."
A longer pause.
"The Bee Gees." I like their music but they were more pop.
An even longer pause.
"The EasyBeats." Their FRIDAY ON MY MIND had been covered by David Bowie. "Unfortunately they only had one hit. Let's face it you can't even come up with #5 and even AC/DC isn't really Aussie. Two Scots and a Brit. It's like saying Hitler was German."
The surfers argued the nationality of AC/DC without ever saying the name of Aussie band # 5 and no one since that night has been able to complete the list.
Not unless they included Olivia Newton-John.
These Questions were posted on an Australian Tourism Website and the answers are the actual responses by the website officials, who obviously have a great sense of humour (not to mention a low tolerance threshold for cretins!)
Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia ? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? ( UK ).
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.
Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? ( USA )
A:Depends how much you've been drinking.
Q:I want to walk from Perth to Sydney - can I follow the railroad tracks? ( Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only three thousand miles, take lots of water.
Q:Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia ? ( USA )
A: A-Fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not... Oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.
Q:Which direction is North in Australia ? (USA )
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.
Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia ? ( UK )
A:Why? Just use your fingers like we do...
Q:Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? ( USA )
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is Oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.
Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia ? ( UK )
A: You are a British politician, right?
Q:Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all year round? ( Germany )
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.
Q:Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who dispense rattlesnake serum. ( USA )
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca which is where YOU come from. All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.
Q:I have a question about a famous animal in Australia , but I forget its name. It's a kind of bear and lives in trees. (USA )
A: It's called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of Gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.
My co-worker at the diamond exchange on West 47th Street is a born-again Christian. Ava sits behind me. She listens to Brazilian Jesus music at a low-volume. I don't understand the lyrics, but the word 'Jesus' is repeated of often. Ava goes to church on Saturdays and Sundays. She believes in the 2nd Coming of the Messiah. The Judgment Day is a tangible date in the near-future.
"Do you think I'm heading to heaven?" I was joking with her. My non-belief is well-known on 47th Street.
"No." Ava shook her head vehemently without condemnation. "You're not going to heaven?"
"I'm not?" My concept of the afterlife consists of coming back as a skinny blonde go-go dancer, so I can control the destiny of men. Ava's version was more traditional and I said, "What if I repent at the last moment?"
"Then you go to purgatory after you die?" Ava was convinced on this fate.
"That's better than hell." The fiery pit was legendary for its lack of cold beer, although the only beverage in limbo was a grey flagon of regrets and heaven's fountains are not spraying lager.
"Only if you truly repent."
"And who decides that?" I had a feeling that the arbiter of eternal salvation would not be fooled by my last-minute re-conversion to my old faith.
"He has to have too much to do to bother with me."
"That attitude will send you to hell." Ava exercised no sense of humor on the subject of eternal damnation.
"Well, could you tell me when the Day of Judgment is coming?"
"Why?" The Brazilian was puzzled by this question.
"So I can drink cold beer for a month before I go burn in Hell."
"Damned. You're damned."
At least I won't be alone.
KING KONG is #43 on the AFI's 100 best American films of all time. CITIZEN KANE is # 1. The first is about an ape and the second by a genius. KING KONG smashed box-office records while CITIZEN KANE was a financial flop. The 2nd KING KONG in 2005 proved even more popular and no movie producer has yet to contemplate revisiting Orson Welles' dark tragedy loosely based on the life of the newspaper magnate, W. Randolph Hearst. I used to joke with film people that I was working on a musical version of the 1941 classic. Some of them even believed in my project, although not enough to invest in a script or score.
The BBC has voted to follow the path of KING KONG by broadcasting a movie filmed by apes revealing how the primates regard one another. The BBC is calling the film 'CHIMPCAM'. The apes have yet to vocalize their choice. Some people are betting on DIRTY HAIRY.
The plot remains a secret, but it has to be better than AMELIA, which was the worst film I viewed in 2010.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
"I'm not an artist. I''m a failed writer."
Artists are just as poor in Thailand as they are in the USA, unless you're a big star and I'm not even a 40 watt lightbulb.
Of course I didn't tell her anything about my 'mia noi' or second wife.
That 'nah sia' or loss of face would have sealed her opinion about artists.
Sometimes the best truth is the one you never say.
"Why do men die before women?"
"Because they want to."
It's an old joke but very truthful, for yesterday afternoon I visited my father in an Alzheimer's hospice. My father was the only male in the renovated mansion. The rest of the residents are women. No one has any idea where the hell they are.
"I know you." My father greeted my entrance with a smile. "You're my son."
He can't remember my older brother and I asked him why.
"Because you still look like you used to look."
I laughed at this comment and spent about an hour with my father. He asked the same questions over and over. My older brother is upset by my father's condition. I am too, since I never had an intention of surviving my 30s and somehow I have outlasted the my-contemporaries, who succumbed to James Dean's edict of 'live fast and die young'.
As we left my father's home, I told my brother-in-law, "If I tell you to get my pills, get my suicide bag."
"Better get the stash now. Who knows if we can find it once we get older."
The answer will be no, so we'll have to make plans for that step into eternity.
Sooner better than later.
The Baltimore Colts entered Superbowl III as 18-point favorites over the AFL's New York Jets. The underdogs were quarterbacked by the flashy Joe Namath. The brash Alabama native boasted in Miami, "We're gonna win the game. I guarantee it."
The Colts were infuriated by this brash statement and quashed the first drive by the Jets, however big games are won on injuries as much as luck and after the bruising fullback Matt Snell knocked out the Colts' safety the secondary was open for Don Maynard, who scored 2 TDs. The NFL champs never really challenged the upstarts, as their all-star OB missed several opportunities to hit receivers in the end-zone. The victory acted as a turbo-charged boost for the AFL, however the Jets have never come as close to the SuperBowl as today's game against an historic rival.
Betters lost millions on this game and years later I ran into Bubba Smith at the Deauville Film Festival. The Colt defensive lineman was attending the event to promote POLICE ACADEMY. Not #2 or #3. The original. Most of the other reporters were huddled around Steve Guttman, the star of the comedy. Bubba was off to the side and we started talking about the old Patriots of Jim Nance and Gino Capeletti. We retired from the press interview and retired to a bar to discuss sports.
Somewhere after my third glass of cognac and coke I leaned over to ask Bubba Smith, "Your team was such a favorite, how did you lose to the Jets?"
"They got to the quarterback." Bubba answered without caring who heard that accusation.
"The game was fixed?"
A shrug indicated that it was up to me to make up my own mind and I remembered Unitas throwing the ball to the Jets defender and Morall's 3 interceptions.
"Who fixed the game?"
It was a stupid question and Bubba Smith excused himself to speak with Michael Winslow, who was delighting the crowd with his imitations of a helicopter. I didn't mention any of this to the editorial staff of Actuel. That magazine was more interested in my interview with Rock Hudson. In the ensuing years several old bookies have mumbled about how the Mob had threatened the lives of Earl Morall's and Unitas' families.
"We're gonna win the game. I guarantee it."
Joe Namath knew.
And so do I.
Bet Colts to win in 2010.
All the way.
Games are never fixed in the NFL.
Not then. Not now.
ps Anita Bryant sang the National Anthem in 1969 whose later anti-gay campaign was immortalized by David Allan Coe's 1978 song "Fuck Anita Bryant".
Friday, January 22, 2010
My wife sat down on the settee next to me as I was flipping channels. She asked, 'What's on TV?'
I said, 'Dust.'
And then the fight started...
My wife and I were watching "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" while we were in bed. I turned to her and said,
"Do you want to have s*x?"
"No," she answered.
I then said, "Is that your final answer?"
She didn't even look at me this time, simply saying, "Yes."
So I said, "Then I'd like to phone a friend."
And then the fight started...
Saturday morning I got up early, quietly dressed, made my lunch, and slipped quietly into the garage. I hooked up the boat up to the van, and proceeded to back out into a torrential downpour.
The wind was blowing 50 mph, so I pulled back into the garage, turned on the radio, and discovered that the weather would be bad all day.
I went back into the house, quietly undressed, and slipped back into bed. I cuddled up to my wife's back, now with a different anticipation, and whispered, "The weather out there is terrible."
My loving wife of 5 years replied, "Can you believe my stupid husband is out fishing in that?"
And that's how the fight started..
My wife was hinting about what she wanted for our upcoming anniversary.
She said, 'I want something shiny that goes from 0 to 150 in about 3 seconds.'
I bought her a bathroom scale.
And then the fight started...
When I got home last night, my wife demanded that I take her some place expensive... so, I took her to a petrol station.
And then the fight started...
After retiring, I went to the Social Security office to apply for Social Security. The woman behind the counter asked me for my driver's Licence to verify my age. I looked in my pockets and realized I had left my wallet at home. I told the woman that I was very sorry, but I would have to go home and come back later.
The woman said, 'Unbutton your shirt'. So I opened my shirt revealing my curly silver hair. She said, 'That silver hair on your chest is proof enough for me' and she processed my Social Security application.
When I got home, I excitedly told my wife about my experience at the Social Security office.
She said, 'You should have dropped your pants. You might have gotten disability, too.'
And then the fight started...
My wife and I were sitting at a table at my school reunion, and I kept staring at a drunken lady swigging her drink as she sat alone at a nearby table.
My wife asked, 'Do you know her?'
'Yes,' I sighed, 'she’s my old girlfriend. I understand she took to drinking right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear she hasn't been sober since.'
'My God!' says my wife, 'who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?'
And then the fight started...
I took my wife to a restaurant. The waiter, for some reason took my order first. "I'll have the steak, medium rare, please."
He said, "Aren't you worried about the mad cow?""
Nah, she can order for herself."
And then the fight started...
A woman was standing nude, looking in the bedroom mirror. She was not happy with what she saw and said to her husband, "I feel horrible; I look old, fat and ugly. I really need you to pay me a compliment.'
The husband replied, 'Your eyesight's damn near perfect.'
And then the fight started
Thursday, January 21, 2010
May 14 2004
www.mangosauce.com stopped publishing new entries in 2007. Its wit and poignant insights of Thai life were invaluable to farangs and still are appreciated by long-time fans such as myself. Te non moritum salutem or 'those who are not about to die salute you'.
I love Latin.
May 14 2004
The ultimate sick-buffalo story
Mango Sauce reader Nick has concocted the last word in sick-buffalo stories.
I love you and I miss you too much. my friend bar say you old man look same same monkey but I know you hansum man I have problem I write you before that buffalo me sick Now it die Fall down and dead in middle rice field. Bad fortune when it fall it fall on papa and break leg he three place Now he not work Brother me make stretcher bamboo he take from roof house Roof come down and rain in house He take papa to hospital motorcycle Have big accident when he come home hit police car Police say brother me blame Police say he pay big money. not worry darling motorcycle OK but Police car bad broken Bad luck make Mama heart problem. Doctor say she must triple by-pass. I no understand but brother say you understand.
You know darling I only work in bar and not go with man I wait for you come back Bangkok but if you no help me I fuck many many many many many farang get pay bills money.
Old people my village say you responsible if you send money me before buy medicine sick buffalo then it no die papa no break leg house have roof brother no ride into police car Mama no have heart problem.
Please send me 200,000 baht for my bank. Papa fix 10,000 new roof 30,000, new police car 100,000, mama fix 50,000. I take off 2,000 baht for sell buffalo meat but me have to pay more hospital bill for 24 people have problem eat contaminated meat 12,000 baht. I not know money England but my brother me say me it 71.2424 mid-market rate close of trading yesterday This means you send me 10,000 your pound
I love you darling
My online search for Judas Priest led to this cover of BREAKING THE LAW by Hayseed Dixie. I can only blame my ignorance of this bluegrass heavy-metal band on my seven-year self-exile in Thailand.
To see their cover go to this URL:
Several years ago my wife's brother-in-law received a phone call from his brother. His favorite buffalo was sick and needed Bok's expert attention. It was 8pm. Starlight cannot pierce the black night west of the Chao Phra River and Bok's eyes aren't so good, so he enlisted his 16 year-old son, Beer, to chauffeur him on this mission of mercy.
Buffaloes run about 10-20K baht. Thai farmers give them names and sing to them in the rice fields. Some people call it love and urgency coupled with youth necessitated Beer's driving at 80kph. Way too fast to see a rice tractor parked on the side of the road. The driver was pissing in the bushes. The motorcycle hit the tractor's rice wagon. Beer flew like Superman for ten meters.
His father's flight could be measured in centimeters.
Neither of them died, but Beer suffered two broken arms and Bok fractured his leg in three places.
All for a sick buffalo.
Anyone frequenting Thailand has heard the 'sick buffalo' story from their wives or girlfriends.
"Kwaii sick. Need money."
The story has become a joke and my friend, Jamie, thinks up-country Thais rent a sick buffalo to prove the existence of this ailing bovine. "It's called RENT-A-SICK-KWAII."
Millions of baht had been dedicated to the health of sick buffaloes throughout Isaan. Could even be billions, although until hearing Bok's story I thought the only people who heard the tale were farangs.
"How is the sick buffalo now?" I asked my wife over the phone.
"Buffalo good. Bok Beer no good. You come see them."
"Sure, why not?" I rented a car and drove north of Bangkok to Chai-Nat. A ferry carried me across the Chao Phyra River a little after sunset. 10 klicks out of Wat Sing my telephone service died, but I knew my way around the dirt roads.
Bok's new house was lit. My wife and daughter were waiting. We hadn't seen each other since Songkran. She hates Pattaya. My daughter lovees the beach and me. she hugged me and we ate. Sleep comes early in the country and I read myself into the night.>
In the morning we went to the hospital in Chai-nat.
Beer was released into Nu's care and we visited Bok.
His leg was swollen an ugly shade of yellow.
His wife was hungry and the women left him with me.
"So why did you have to go see your brother."
"He had a sick buffalo."
"Mai shua." I didn't believe him. "You brother called you up to drink with him."
Bok lifted his finger. "Not say. Sick buffalo better story."
"Sick buffalo? I see sick buffalo in bed." I was seeing the 'sick buffalo' in its purest form.
"Stop. Not make me laugh."
"Sum num nah."
"Now no lao, no cigarette. Very not happy."
"Just like me and my skateboard." Two Februaries ago I had tried to skateboard down a steep hill. I reached about 30kph within three seconds and struck a rock. Airborne. My body crashed to the pavement. Nu and her family were in the car.
Everyone had a big laugh and joked for months about my skateboard skills.
I think 'sick buffalo' will be a bigger joke in the years to come., because even you a farang can used the water buffalo excuse. It's a lie every wants to believe when they don't want to hear the truth.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Books are much better than DVDs. While used ones cost about 160 baht as opposed to 100 baht per DVD, movies rarely last longer than 2 hours, unless you hit the fast-forward button. The BLACK DAHLIA flashed before my eyes in less than 12 minutes. It sucked.
Reading a book is a journey of days unless the book was no good, however I was recently lucky enough to find THE LAST EXECUTIONER by Chavoret Jaruboon, the last prison executioner on Thailand
The frunctional writing recounts Mr. Jaruboon's life as a teenage rock musician, soldier, prison guard, executioner, and finally monk. Neither of the first three prepared him for the 55 executions performed at Bang Kwang prison.
To him the job of poo sam-re?t toht or executioner meant more money.
He outlines the crimes that led the condemned to their fate. Their crimes were often heinous. On the day of execution they were tied to a crucifix and shot up to 15 times by a machine gun. This humble man respects the dead, for fear of their ghosts. In the end Khun Jaraboon is glad to see the deadly fusillade replaced by fatal injection.
His last job was on 12/8/2002.
8 bullets into the back of a murdering rapist.
After that Jaruboon became a monk.
His favorite band was the Beatles.
One more thing.
Paperbacks are better than hard-covers. You can swap mosquitoes with them.
For a related article click on this URL
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The Plaza Hotel's Retail Collection was a disaster. No signs were posted on the entrances of the hotel to inform passers-by about the 20-odd high-end stores in the basement of the landmark hotel. Few hotel guests strayed down to the renovated boiler room. Weeks passed without my making a sale at our jewelry store. My 60 year-old co-worker was having a nervous breakdown. Her husband had leveraged the value of their dream house in Jersey to zero. Everyday my work wife talked about suicide and I wondered what I had done in my previous lives to be punished by imprisonment in this purgatory.
The only redeeming aspects of the Retail Collection were a weekly salary, the cakes of Demel's Pastry Shop, and an after-work beer at the Oak Bar. The bartender was an old friend and I would sit at the historic bar, happy to be away from the room of gloom underneath my feet.
The clientele of the Oak Bar was a mixture of nostalgic guests, loud tourists, and hard drinkers not offended by the management's edict to measure out the alcohol in drinks. I mostly minded my own business, but one night an Arab man took the stool next to me. He was young, fat, and effeminate. He asked the time and commented on my Omega. The automatic dated back to the 40s.
"I love watches." He was sporting a Audemar-Piguet. It cost $45,000 retail.
I explained about my diamond store in the Retail Collection and he mentioned that he had a 4-carat blue diamond in his hotel room along with some jewelry to sell.
"Would you like to see it?" His gestures were extravagant. His clothing expensive without any addiction to fashion. His lilting speech had been sculptured by English private schools. "It's a deep blue."
"Sure." Gays didn't hit on out-of-shape 57 year-old men. "Are you staying here"
"Not in this hotel." He laughed with lisping disdain and signaled for his check. "I don't stay here anymore. Only the St. Regis. You want to see it."
"Yes, of course." Blue diamonds were rare. I had only seen a few in my 20-year career as a diamantaire. I paid $9 for my Stella with a ten. Orlando was good with that tip. We went back to the Blackout of 1977, although he arched an eyebrow about my companion. I shrugged with a smile. No way I was turning a trick. That is a game for young men.
It was a winter night, but not too cold, so we walked over to the St. Regis. Mubarah came from the Gulf. His family was connected to a royal family. The Islamic right to have multiple wives led to big families and his country was crowded with princes. The doorman greeted Mubarah with deference and we went over to the elevator with getting a key. He didn't make any moves on the ride up to his suite. It was bigger than my lost East Village apartment by several hundred square feet.
"One minute." He took off his coat and motioned for me to do the same. He sat on the brocaded couch and I positioned myself opposite on an elegant chair. Mubarrah reached into a bag and pulled out a box of jewelry. Most of it was very ordinary.
"Looks like someone is getting rid of their unwanted possessions." Necklaces, bracelets, and ring from the 80s and 90s. None of it stamped by Cartier or Tiffany. Our store on 47th Street brought such merchandise for 20-30% of value. Most people thought their treasures were worth more.
"There's not much money in this."
"No, I know, but there is in this." Mubarrah opened a small diamond parcel. A iceberg blue diamond flashed in the low light. The loose emerald-cut gem was beautiful and Mubarrah handed me the paper for a closer inspection. A loupe revealed that the stone was clean. "I want to sell this."
"Is it yours?"
"I used to wear in a ring." His voice betrayed the loss of privilege. Mubarrah was 25. His hands betrayed his never having worked a day in his life. "But I could use the money."
"Have you shown it to anyone else?" It was a stupid question. No one would take a stone of this value out of a ring, unless a dealer wanted to find out the true weight. Playing dumb was a trick, but I had a good idea that Mubarrah was as skilled at this game as an old camel dealer.
"And how much do you want?"
"A good price." The Hope Diamond was on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington. The grayish-blue gemstone had been stolen from the statue of Sita. It was supposedly cursed from this act of sacrilege. The 31.06 Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond had been sold at auction for a fortune. "Any takers?"
"You're the first person to see it in New York." His rounded face was devoid of deceit.
"I feel honored." I believed him, but my boss Manny would think he was a liar and Manny was rarely wrong in this matters. The Brownsville native had worked in the jewelry trade for over six decades. He had heard every story and considered most of the interesting. "Can I show it to some privates?"
"Here's the GIA certificate. The stone stays with me." His fingers plucked the parcel from my grasp with the delicacy of a tiger. It disappeared inside his jacket. "See what everyone says about it. I'm here for a week and why don't you take the jewelry. Get an offer from your friends."
"Now?" We barely knew each other an hour."
"You're not Jewish. right?"
I had spent over 40 years with the Chosen People in the nightclub and diamond businesses. I understood Yiddish. Hassidim and I argued the dietary strictures of the Talmud. Some of this exposure had rubbed off the good way, but I had to admit, "No."
"Then I can trust you."
"Thanks." The #1 rule on 47th Street was 'trust no one' and that adage worked for the rest of new York too. Even Staten Island, however the young Arab's confidence was based on the fact that none of the out-moded jewelry belong to him.
Mubarrah was only interested in his blue diamond and I wasn't leaving the room with the gem. We said good-night and downstairs in the lobby I telephoned Manny's son, Richie Boy. I rattled off my find without mentioning the blue. I'd tell him about that after speaking to Jakob, an Afghani diamond broker. That market was controlled by that tightly-knit group of exiles. If one of them had seen the stone, then each of them would know of the gem.
The next day I excused myself from the Plaza. My co-workers was high on Valium. I doubted whether Janet had registered my presence or departure. Bernie Madoff had stolen her American Dream. She wasn't alone. I strolled down 5th Avenue. The sun was bright and the wind whipping around the edges of the buildings was very cold. A good cashmere coat and hat kept me warm and I arrived at the colored diamond dealer within ten minutes. he greeted me in his office. It was on the 17th floor.
"You seen this stone before?"
"Let me see the paper." Jakob was a small man. He had a big family. They had fled Kabul before 1975. There were very few Jews left in Afghanistan, but those remaining were family. "The certificate is interesting and he wants 2 million for the diamond."
"2.3." The number stuck in my head. "It is a beautiful stone."
"And you have seen so many blues?" Jakob was big in his field. Hundreds of diamonds passed under his eye every day.
"Not many, but I can recognize something special." I had sold a million-dollar ruby for him the previous spring. Its color was blood red and clean as a burgundy wine. "This is not a fake. It's a real diamond. Blue as an iceberg."
"Deep blue. 4 carat." Jakob handed back the certificate. "Someone was showing this stone in Switzerland. The same numbers. Tell him I'm interested at 2 million. At 2.3 no one makes money but him. Understand?"
"Of course." I wasn't getting involved in this sale for my health. I had two wives and two kids in Thailand. They liked eating every day. I bid Jakob good afternoon and went over to our diamond exchange on West 47th Street. Richie Boy was unimpressed with Mubarrah's dreck.
"A waste of time."
"What about this?" I handed over the certificate. My commission on this sale would in five-figures. "I saw it last night. A beautiful stone. Worth about 2 million."
"Still sounds like a waste of time. You have a buyer for it?"
"Jakob said it was worth 2 million."
"Yeah, but how much would he pay for it? Not 2 mill." Richie Boy got on the phone. He knew Jakob's number by heart. The conversation was short and not so sweet. Jakob was still owed 90K for the ruby. Richie Boy changed the conversation and asked, "Does the Arab really want to sell the stone?"
"Says he does."
"Then get him down here."
It was more an order than a request and my friend's tone said that I would get cut out of this deal by Jakob at the last moment without any commish. I would have loved to back-door the deal to another broker, but all the other Afghanis were more untrustworthy than Jakob. I called Mubarrah to tell him about the jewelry and the offer for his diamond.
On the way back to the Plaza I stopped by the St. Regis.
Mubarrah was in the lobby. He smiled upon seeing me and bid me to sit down.
"Please." I passed over the bag of jewelry. He understood their disinterest as well as the appeal of the blue diamond. "It is rare. Clean and so blue. 2 million is an honest offer, but I have a better one from a friend in Geneva."
"Oh." My big commission evaporated with the confirmation of his shopping the stone. He had wasted my time and I sought to regain the upper hand.
"I lived the last twenty years in Thailand."
"Selling and buying rubies and sapphires."
"Something like that." Actually it was counterfeit shirts and jackets. "I arrived in 1990. A year after the Blue Diamond Heist. Are you familiar with this story? About how a Thai janitor stole $20 million worth of jewelry and gems from the Saudi Royal Palace. He smuggled the loot back to his native province and started selling the jewelry at a 1000-baht each. A Bangkok jeweler discovers the treasure trove and buys it for nothing. The janitor buys a new tractor and some rice fields."
"I've heard some of this story." Anyone from the Gulf knew what happened next. "Go on."
"The Saudi King considers this theft an insult to his throne and send two diplomats and a royal thug to find the jewelry. The royal thug thinks he's tough, but not as tough as the Thais and he gets shot dead. The investigating police commander arrests the janitor and jewelry, but another two Saudi 'diplomats' get whacked in Bangkok. It's a dangerous town and bodies are piling up, but finally the police handed over the stolen jewelry in a public ceremony only most of it is faked the Thai media photograph many of the cops' waives wearing the swag at a Red Cross functions. This was not a shining moment in Thai-Saudi relationship and it gets worse with the Saudis sending back 250,000 guest workers. The cops kill the jeweler's son and wife looking for a 50-carat blue. Bigger than yours, but maybe that's where yours came from."
"It's been in my family for years."
"The certificate is new, but that's unimportant. Heads roll in the police hierarchy and the thief comes out of prison after serving two years. His family and tractor are waiting in Lampung. The head cop gets convicted for the murder of the jeweler's wife and daughter. His death penalty is lowered to 25 years. He claims to be innocent."
"A bad story." Mubarrah toyed with his jacket. The blue diamond was inside a pocket.
"Behind all big gems are a bad story." I could punched him once. A quick hand and then out the door. A taxi to JFK. 747 to Bangkok and my wives. The fence's price of 20% would last 10 years, except Thailand had a special method of writing bad endings.
"Like the Hope Diamond." Mubarrah tightened his grip on the hidden parcel
"You know your gems. If you can't get your price in Switzerland, give me a call." I thanked him for the tea and wandered back up to the Plaza. My co-worker was crying behind a People magazine.
"What's wrong now?"
"I can't pay for my Botox." Janet was inconsulate and I consoled her with a glass of wine from Demel's. I had one too. She popped a Valium and asked, "Where were you?"
"I had to go to the bathroom." I had to have been gone over three hours.
"I hope you washed your hands." Janet was too loaded to have notice the passage of time and I thanked her for the advice. She was a good work wife.