Sunday, February 27, 2011
Last night I was invited to a dinner in the East Village. AP, my landlord/friend was impressed by my energy. It was 8:30. My usual bedtime was a little past 11. This detour from my pillow was at the request of the greatest B-movie actor in the history of punk rock. I bid AP good-night, "I'll see you in the morning."
The subway ride over to the Lower East Side took less than a half-hour. This was my old neighborhood. I had lived on East 10th Street for nearly 30 years. The walk from the 2nd Avenue stop to East 3rd Street was very familiar and I rang the doorbell of the actor's apartment. I was buzzed through the double doors and climbed the stairs to his typically tiny apartment. EM greeted me with a hug and I shook hands with his guest; an aging child actor in his late 40s, the son of a renowned Chilean painter, a young artist from New York, and a art dealer from the Bowery. All of them were good drinkers and I brought two bottles of Cote du Rhone. The more the merrier and we drank several buckets of wine accompanied by a delightful meal of bouef bourgogne. The aging child actor bemoaned the loss of his hair and indulged our ridicule by combing his longish locks over his thinning scalp in a classic Donald Trump sweep-over.
"Only money can grow a bald man hair in the eyes of a beautiful woman," I misquoted Fredrich Engels, the ignored co-writer of the Communist Manifesto.
We badmouthed absent friends, lambasted pretentious artists,and praised our present paramours, girlfriends, and wives. My son's mom was the youngest, while our host was dating a 50 year-old. He was happy with the situation and said, "She smells good for a woman her age."
"All women smell good if you love them." The art dealer from the Bowery was involved only with his dog.
"And nothing is heavier than the body of a woman you have ceased to love."
We raised our glasses and drained the last of my wine. The young artist had brought a bottle of champagne. The Moet was evaporated by our rapacious thirst. It was past midnight. I had to open the safe in the diamond exchange in the morning. The other guests were ready for a homeward bound voyage. I thanked our host and recounted a quick story about his defending James Chance, the lead singer of the Contortions, at CBGBs.
"That boy liked trouble."
"And I like James."
We would have toasted the wild man of the New Wave, but we had drunk our host dry.
I caught a taxi to Brooklyn. Getting out of the cab I searched my pockets for keys. They were anywhere and I recalled putting them on the table back in the East Village apartment. I cursed myself for losing them. I lost everything all the time. Keys, glasses, telephones et al. It was too far to go back and I looked up at the windows of AP's townhouse. The windows were dark. I thought about sleeping under the stairs, but the temperature was dropping toward zero. I texted a message to AP.
His response was immediate.
"I'll be right down."
I was saved once more by AP and apologized for disturbing him at this late hour.
"Not at all."
"I'm watching ENTOURAGE. My wife's asleep. The kids are in bed. Life is good."
"Thanks then." I clapped him on the shoulder for being such a good sport and headed to the top floor. My room was warm. I opened a window. The night air felt good. Almost as good as being in bed, but only one thing feels better than that and that's sleeping with your woman. I hugged the pillow in a drunken embrace. It smelled too much like me to transport me to the other side of the world and I dropped off the face of the Earth into slumber. It was a good place to be.
Last night I attended a soiree peopled by the lingering literati of Lower Manhattan. Not all intellectuals have been exiled by the exorbitant rents. Editors, writers, publishers, agents, actors, painters, and pundits drank wine at a triplex owned by a right-wing sophist. Nobody was famous, although several had come close. The first arrivals congregated in the basement kitchen. The Guatemalan maid poured rose champagne and red wine. Our hostess was dressed in a sleek black dress complimenting her svelte figure. I gave her several sprigs of Spring and a paperback 1st edition of Jacqueline Susann's VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. She thanked me for the gift and swiftly swung her attention to the avalanche of guests descending the winding stairs.
Within thirty minutes the kitchen was filled with smart people sounding smarter with each glass of wine. Conversation was nearly impossible with the rise tide of volume. Years ago I would have glowed at the center of this cosmos. Tonight I simply desired some quiet words. I ran into a friend's ex-wife. She also came from Boston. After a few questions about my family in Thailand, the 34 year-old brunette asked if I wanted to have a baby with her.
"You have several kids. I want a baby before I'm too old." She seemed so fragile in this desire.
"You will, but you deserve better than me or your husband." I was devoted to Fenway's mom. It was impossible to think of lying with another woman and I introduced my friend's ex-wife to a banker. Good-looking and single. Her smile disguised the disbelief of happiness in her time and I ascended from the mosh pit with a bottle of Chablis. The maid was trapped in the kitchen. She'd never make it any higher to serve the other guests.
The first floor was crowded with guests piling their coats on the sofas. I checked for my leather jacket. A Purple Label Ralph Lauren rescued from a Chelsea trash can. The foot-long tear in the front had been repaired by a Chinatown tailor. $20. The rip was invisible to most eyes and looked the money. I buried it underneath two fur coats and climbed to the second-floor.
A Laotian-French girl was sitting with her Lebanese boyfriend. He was praising the wave of rebellion washing across the Middle East. Another banker proposed a toast to Democracy. My glass stayed at my side and I said, "This is less about Democracy than the struggle of the poor against the rich. No jobs, no food, no rights."
"Well, here's to the rich." The Lebanese boyfriend drained his glass. A sneer twisted his lips. His aspiration to wealth was no sin in America. Everyone wanted to be a billionaire.
I spoke to a pregnant literary agent about giving birth. She asked for advice from a father of four. I only know what I know and said, "Don't have a c-section. Let the baby sleep in the bed with you. Feed the baby breast milk as long as you can and quit working your job. Your baby is more important than any book."
She thanked me and asked about my writing. I raccounteured the outline to my short stories about hitching across America in 1974. "Lesbian orgy in Big Sur, LSD on Black's Beach, drinking moonshine with ex-cons on Route 66, ghosts in a haunted mountain house in Vermont, gay marines at a disco in San Diego. A tale of lost times."
"Maybe you'll get to read it one day." I have abandoned any hopes of getting my stories in a book. I'm 58. Editors want young blood. Writers who have a knack for tapping out fiction on their Blackberries. That person was not me. It was time to go home.
Barely midnight, but one the way out I was introduced by an English dandy to his friends as a man who had been thrown out of Thailand.
"Excuse me." His comment bordered on slander and as a younger man I might have assaulted him in front of everyone, however he had actually lent me $100 upon my return to the States and that money had come to my family. That favor granted him liberty at my expense.
"Come on, everyone knows how the Thai police escorted you to the airport in chains." The ex-child star lifted his head to laugh at this image. His friends regarded me with delight. I was a true criminal in their midst.
"That's a funny story, but not even close to true." I swiftly explained how the Thai police had treated me with absolute deference. "No chains, no dirty jail cell, they bought me dinner after I paid bail. The head detective said that he would protect me. Three months later I paid a $100 fine for international copyright infringement and the police were waiting outside to take me for drinks again. I'm persona grata in Thailand. By the way I'm paying off everyone who helped me back then. Here's your c-note."
The fop snatched the bill from my hand. He has two kids. I left the room, as he told his friends about the sordidness of sending money via Western Union. he was quite right about that. Western Union offices are drenched with the sadness of desperation and I haven't been to one in ages.
Now I do that business online.
My jacket was buried by a deeper pile on coats. It wasn't cold outside on the street. I walked over to West 4th Street. The A train was making local stops to Far Rockaway. Home in Fort Greene was less than 30 minutes away. I couldn't get there faster.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
My early youth was spent along the coast of Maine. Winters were harsh. My father was native to Westbrook and every autumn would say, "There are two seasons in Maine. Winter and preparing for winter."
He had learned this adage from his father and his father from his father, for no matter how corny the comment sounds it is true in Maine.
My family headed south to Boston in the summer of 1960. The season lasted weeks longer in our South Shore suburb. Winter was shorter than in Falmouth Foresides across the harbor from Portland's Eastern Promenade. We lived in a land of four seasons and my mother loved the change in the weather.
"Just wait a few minutes in Boston and the weather will change." My mother was a proud Bostonian. Her mother came from the lands north of the Connemara and said of her Ireland, "It was either raining, just finished raining, or about the start raining."
The weather is a safe subject. A beautiful day owes little to religion. It is a gift from Nature and I moved farther south to New York in 1976 to fall in love with a painter from Pennsylvania. Ro left her Brooklyn Heights apartment several hours before my arrival. There was no letter of explanation. I could have returned back to Boston, except April was early spring in New York and the end of winter along the Charles River.
I've lived many places since that day; Paris, Hamburg, Key West, Perpignan, Isla Mujeres, Bali, Sumatra, Thailand, and Palm Beach. Weather differs in each location, but I'm used to the temperate climate of New York. It has been my home for over 30 years.
Winter was never much of a concern in New York. A scattering of snow here and there during the season. Global warming had transformed the five boroughs to a semi-tropical climate throughout the summer of 2010. The temperature rarely hit the high 90s. I threw the air-conditioner in the street. The harvest of tomatoes were glorious and I swam at Fort Tilton into October. The local meteorologists offered no predictions for the winter of 2010-2011. Their crystal ball of their science offered a mere ten days window into the future.
The first snowfall was on November 16. Light snowflakes swirling on the wind. December for the most part was normal. Average High: 44°F and Average Low: 32°F. Christmas in Boston was cold, but nothing arctic. I awoke on December 26 and my nephew was on the phone. His flight to Washington had been canceled due to an extreme weather alert. A major blizzard was aiming at the US capitol. 24-36 inches of snow. New York was next in line. I had been planning to leave Boston the following day, however the Weather Channel was predicting storm of the century status for the impending blizzard. My nephew and I evacuated Boston on the 11am Fung Wah bus.
The journey usually takes about 4 hours. The snow hit I-95 south of New Haven. We didn't reach Chinatown until 3pm. Good time, but I had spoken with Ms. Carolina down south and she had said that the snow was heavy. I offered my nephew a bed in Fort Greene. He had work the next day. We bid good-bye with a hug and I took a taxi across the river. The driver dropped me at Frank's Lounge for a drink. My landlord and his family had flown west to California for the holidays. They were out of harm's way.
One beer turned into four and I finally exited from my local drinking hole into a full-blown blizzard. I barely made it home and the next morning I woke to a winter wonderland. 24 inches of white stuff. Nature had shut down New York. The mayor was pissed at the city workers for their response to the emergency, but the trains weren't running and the mayor is a fuckhead. He fired the EMS chief to appease the right-wing press who were blaming the lack of services on the unions rather than the epic snow fall.
January had its share of ice and snow. Winter was seemingly endless. I landed at JFK from Thailand. The airport was only accepting international flights. The entire Northeast was shut down.
Cars remained buried until the beginning of February. The city was the frontier of the tundra. Some meteorologists spoke about the New Ice Age. The Far North was very close last week. I left the city on a freezing cold morning. Winter had a month more to go at least.
The flight to West palm Beach lasted a little more than two hours. Palm Beach was cooler than normal. I swam off Chilean Avenue. The sea was warmer than the air. I got a tan. The sun sucked out my aches and pains. A lingering cough disappeared in the warmth. I swam several times. The Sunshine State was the fountain of youth. I returned to New York.
No feeling about the weather.
The air was cold, but there was no snow. The tundra had been vanquished by several rain storms and a short thaw. Tonight the weathermen are calling for snow. A dusting. I'm walking over the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan. Winter is over this year.
Daring words for the end of February.
My occasions for continental flights within the United States. Most of my travels in America is by ground or sea. The ferry from the Manhattan terminal carries passengers to Staten Island. The Harlem and Hudson trains get me up to Duchess county and the LIRR plodders out to the Hamptons. The Fung Wah bus from Chinatown provides transportation to Boston. The railroad runs to Cape Ann and Maine from North Station. Norwood and Needham are reached by the steel rails. No police check bags. No TSA agents examine your person in fear of discovering an explosive vest.
Every day millions of Americans take to the air. Each year over 800 million travelers travel between the cities and towns of the USA. Since 9/11 nearly 9,000,000,000 airline passengers have been subjected to increasingly strict search procedures by vigilant TSA agents at the security gauntlets of the country's airports.
The routine is the same everywhere. Travelers wait in endless lines before the X-Ray machines and metal detectors. Bottles of water are disposed in the trash. Upon reaching the gleaming steel tables a passenger is expected to load their carry-on bag into a plastic tray. Computers are scanned separately by the X-Ray technician. All metal is emptied from pockets. Keys, watches, cellphones et al. Any deviation earns the attention of the security crew. They are dying to find something, for after the billions of searches not a single terrorist has been caught with any kind of weapons. Only Americans with toenail cutters and guns stuck in their luggage. The NRA has remained mute on
In those ten years only three incidents have threatened the safety of air travel.
In 2002 a gunman attacked the El Al ticket counter at LAX. 2 DOA and 4 wounded.
In 2006 terrorist graffiti was scrawled in an airliner cargo area at the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City. The message was not released to the public.
Also in 2006 two cars breached the security at JFK and O'Hare on the same day. The first was an elderly man who had lost his way and the second was a tourist taking the wrong turn on his way to drop off his rented car.
Despite the lack of arrests the TSA argues that the security measures act as a deterrent against potential terrorists.
"The goal of aviation security is to prevent harm to aircraft, passengers, and crew, as well as support national security and counter-terrorism policy."
I was relating this information to a young traveling companion on the way back from Palm Beach this week. We had been working a luxury goods show at the convention center. The two of us were standing in a line. Racial profiling is not permitted by the staff, however I shot a quick glance over the faces of my fellow passengers. Most were over 40, white, and out of shape. I assessed the threat level as colorless and said to Elle, a slender blonde from the Baltics, "This is a waste of time."
"Aren't you scared of terrorism?" Her accent was attractive to the men at the show. Elle made the supreme effort with her dresses and several guards had commented on her shoes. They had 4-inch heels.
"I'm more terrified of my wife." Mem was on the other side of the Earth, but her female antennae could probably sense my speaking to another woman. I put my iBook G4 on the table.
"Is she dangerous?" Elle was married to an American running a Brooklyn nightclub. She slept alone and said sometimes ghosts came into her room.
"All women are dangerous if they love you." I had lived in a haunted house in Ireland, so I believed Elle. "When they don't love you, they could care less."
The other travelers were taking off their clothing in a casual manner. Something was wrong about their surrender of rights and I said to Elle, "You know it would be much better if the airports put on some good music to strip before the X-ray machines. Something like this."
I switched on the Lounge Lizards' version of HARLEM NOCTURNE and slipped off my shoes in a sexily provocative manner. The belt slid out of my jeans as slow as a snake losing its skin and I peeled off my jacket like Gypsy Lee Rose flashing her nakedness through a screen of ostrich feathers.
"Sir, are you having a problem?" The TSA was not smiling at my antics. Hundreds of complaints had been received about their draconian behavior to innocent travelers. A strip search of a 4-year old and the patting down of voluptuous women.
"No, just going through the motions." I bumped my hip and ground my pelvis. Elle laughed at the move. I was still agile in my late-50s.
"Sir, I will have to demand that you desist." The TSA Agent was 30. His hair was shaved close to the skull. His laughter was reserved for after work.
"No worries, just want to make my flight." I lifted my hands to show that i wasn't going to provide any more distractions and I passed through the X-ray machine without a buzz. A female TSA agent waved me to the table where my things awaited me.
"Nice move." She nodded to me.
"Thanks." I appreciated her comment and after dressing proceeded to the gate. I was anonymous in the crowd. Just the way I like it, except for when searching for the TSA.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Last week I went out to eat with my nephews and their parents at a Mexican restaurant on Okochobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach. The conversation gravitated to sports; baseball for Trey, golf for Reese, and basketball for their father and me. Their mother was happy to be left in peace. After dinner we stepped into a warm Florida night. There was no one in the parking lot.
Looking at the colorful mural on the wall, I said, “Mexico 1968.”
“What about it?” AK’s slender and ever-beautiful wife responded with wary. We were more friends than before. I was good to her kids and nothing earns trust from a mother faster than treating their spawn well.
“Summer Olympics was held in Mexico City.”
“More like the Autumn Olympics. For some reason they were in October.”
“Summer or fall didn’t matter after Bob Beamon set a world record in the high jump.”
“Broke the previous record by a foot and a half.” AK joined in the telling. He was my age. 1968 was our youth.
“The world was on fire. Only the week before hundreds of students had been shot by the Mexican army and the streets of America were on fire after the assassination of Martin Luther King.”
“Could we talk about something else?” AK and I went back over thirty years to 1973. He was no born-again conservative, but the right-wing Storm Front had their headquarter meetings not far from here, White people in Florida tend to be whiter than most whites elsewhere in the USA and my talk was incendiary. The parking lot remained empty.
“Let him talk.” AK’s blonde wife taught music at a private school. The curriculum was restrained by religion. She appreciated my loose tongue. ”
“Other places were in revolt too. Viet-Nam, Paris, Prague.”
I sang the first stanza of the Rolling Stones’ STREET FIGHTING MAN.
“Everywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy, cause summer’s here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy.”
AK rolled his eyes. He was more into R&B than rock, having played in the Authentics, a Boston funk band, to pay for his tuition at Berkeley School of Music. On our cross-country trip in 1974 AK had taught me how to the kazoo.
“No one protested the death of those Mexican students. The army was in the streets. The best runner in the world was Tommie Smith, 220 and 440 champion. A black man.
“From California.” AK was a sports nut too. Knicks versus my Celtics. We had played countless one-on-ones on the playgrounds of Boston and New York. He dominated the first twenty years. I outlasted his knees during the 90s, although now neither of us were in good shape.
“Tommie Smith set a world record in the 220.
“Time 19.83 seconds.” AK was showing off to his sons.
“At the medal ceremony Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the bronze winner, lifted their fists during THE STAR-SPANGLED banner to protest the mistreatment of blacks in America. The white man was very cruel.”
My best friend is black.” Reese was named after Pee Wee Reese.
“And what he say in class the other day.” AK was a Brooklyn boy at heart.
“That his father had been killed in Iraq. His father was a soldier.” Reese was 11. Old enough to understand that death means death. His younger brother believes in Santa Claus. I wished that I did too.
“Probably a good man as was the silver-medal winner from Australia.”
“Peter Norman wore an American “civil rights” badge as support to them on the podium.” AK remembered the incident better than me. “The Olympic Committee banned Smith and Carlos from the Village and Norman was dropped from the 1972 team.”
“The good are always good at the moment of their best.”
I explained the myth of the rights of man. My nephews are fast studies and loyal nephews. We were two miles from The Breakers Hotel. I told them a story that i had heard three years ago.
“The beachfront hotel had been a world-class destination for over a century. The railroad tycoon Henry Flagler completed construction on his resort for the rich in 1896. That night Flagler held a BBQ for the laborers on the golf course. While they were feasting on ribs and chicken, Flagler ordered his goons to burn out the workers’ bungalows, thus insuring that no poor people will ever live on the barrier island.”
‘Is that a true story?” My oldest nephew asked his father. We had been friends for almost 40 years. The West Palm Beach school teacher shrugged with suspicion.
“True as far as I know.” My source was well-read, but no historian. “But that wasn’t right either. That’s why we protest against the evil in man.”
“Your uncle tells a good story.”
“It’s the truth.”
“Interesting if true. That’s you.”
My nephews and I posed before the Mexican mural with raised fists. Their mother took the photo. We said good night. It had been great to see AK and his family. The last time had been in the summer of 2008. Things were better now.
Later that night I went online to find out the truth about the Breakers.
It wasn’t there.
Then again the truth is yet to be told.
Bring on the revolution.
The youth is with us.
Hollywood held its breath for several minutes listening to the surprise cancellation of NBC's huge hit TWO AND A HALF MEN. The show's creator had been verbally assaulted by the star of the sit-com, Charlie Sheen. His comments were interpreted by the flaks of the movie media to be anti-Semitic ie Arab or Jew, then again nothing kills a career in Hollywood faster than saying something against someone in power.
The Hollywood reporter joined the fray by asking a number of publicists about Charlie Sheen's chances of resurrection. He has been a bad boy for a long time. Porno starlet Ginger Lynn for a girlfriend in 1990. I say 'bravo'. She was very hot. Accidental shooting of fiancee. Another sexy XXX actress. Connections to a Beverly Hills brothel. Overdoses on cocaine. Abusive husband. Weapons possession. More drugs.
A gun ban.
No oen gets banned from a gun in the USA but Charlie Sheen.
He's one bad motherfucker, but his producer decided enough was enough after Sheen's admitting on national TV the following:
"I embarrassed him in front of his children and the world by healing at a pace that this un-evolved mind cannot process. I’ve spent, I think, close to the last decade I don’t know effortlessly and magically converted your tin can into pure gold. And the gratitude I get is this charlatan chose not to do his job, which is to write."
The press accused Sheen of ranting and the show producer retorted, "If Charlie Sheen Outlives Me, I'm Gonna Be Really Pissed."
Dead men never get pissed, but Chaim Levine must have paid a pile to get Hollywood Reporter to have ten nameless PR agents gangrape Charlie Sheen with pithe critiques about his 'problem', rehab, and forgiveness. Only one said chill and take a low profile.
Charlie Sheen is not a person to chill and he challenged Lorre to a fight, saying "If he wins, then he can leave my show."
Now that's a man.
As for fucking XXX stars.
The American-based Roman Catholic activist pro-life organization Human Life International has declared the failure of an American aid effort in Cambodia aimed at decreasing the Aids infection rate though the distribution of 'rubbers'. The criticism is harsh at best.
“These programs, according to the promoters, would have had to stop AIDS, but instead encouraged its spread, fueling a culture of sexuality as a commodity."
” according to HLI. 160,000 of the nation’s 13 million people now suffer from the disease.
In contrast according to USAID the prevalence of AIDS amongst adults has dropped from 3.3% in 1997 to 2.6% in 2002. Money is tight in the previously war-ravaged nation. Young girls are sold to brothel owners to pay off debts to rural loan sharks. USAID has been active promoting education of the young as a bulwark against the flagrant pedophilia pleasure domes of the 1990s haunted by UN troops and agency workers.
Everyone from that time remembers K11.
The notorious sex entrepot of Svay Pak.
Most of the girls were from Viet-Nam. Virgins were sold for $500. Hymen reconstruction surgery was a gold mine for local surgeons. The male brothel owners ran the finance and security. The women tended to the girls. Few tried to escape. Their families had been fronted big money. The debt took about a year to pay off. Most of the traffic is local. Cambodian men rarely use condoms. The AIDS infection in Svay Pak used to be 40%. The police raids of 2005 ended the open sale of underage girls and boys, but also resulted in the hermitization of the flesh trade, so that almost knows what is happening to these stateless girls, whose greatest enemy are the predatory police. Nothing worse than a dirty cop for whom the law is no longer the law but a privilege.
Despite the dangers to girls like these and many other parts of the world including the USA, the pro-Vatican Human Life International condemns the usage of condoms for any and all people in fear that their god will lose a soul through sin.
The Church is really a group of stupid motherfuckers betting on the line with the power. No one got rich backing the poor only off the backs of the poor and this means the spread legs of pre-teen girls in Svay Pak.
Only Holy Mary virgin goddess of the jesus.
Save everyone from condoms.
One more time.
No one in the USA will rebel until they surrender their dream of instant wealth.
'Who wants to be a Millionaire' is a lie. A million dollars after taxes lasts a poor man about three years, unless he throws away his telephone and stops talking to his family. The Lottery is a scam. Most of the winners exit the 20 year pay-out broke. The stock market is a den of thieves dedicated to increasing the debt of the working man.
There are only three ways of becoming rich.
And theft is only acceptable amongst the rich
For a poor man to steal a loaf of bread is a felony.
To launder millions for a corporation is a movie fantasy for the middle class aspiring to be a palm beach heir or heiress.
It is time for people everywhere to reject the illusion of wealth. Fast cars, beautiful women, and big houses are a hoax. The car needs a mechanic. For every beautiful woman there is a man down the street who is tired of fucking her and vice versa even more so. Big houses are too much work without help and who can get good help in the days of no slavery.
Time to think of a more simple existence.
A loaf of bread and a bottle of wine beneath the bough of a tree. Paradise anow - Omar Khayyam
Works for me.
I have an illustrated copy of his Rubaiyat.
Sufi assassin hashish paradise.
"One day in paradise is considered equal to a thousand days on earth. Palaces are made from bricks of gold, silver, pearls, among other things. Traditions also note the presence of horses and camels of "dazzling whiteness", along with other creatures. Large trees are described, mountains made of musk, between which rivers flow in valleys of pearl and ruby."
According to the Koran and there will be wine served by immortal youth.
The quaffs will not grant drunkenness or incited fighting.
Obviously we Irish will not be going to Jannah.
Our home for eternity is Avalon.
Beer and whiskey forever.
I haven't been to England in ages. My friends call from time to time. They want me to break the routine of JFK-Bangkok flights for a JFK-Heathrow landing. London is 20 hours closer than Thailand. Unfortunately I miss my children too much to deviate from my flight plans, although last night a dream transported my sleeping consciousness to visit my friends. We met in a pub on Westbourne Grove. Drinks were on me. The crowd was enormous. Every one of my English friends were at the bar and several girlfriends vied for my attention. No one had aged a day from when we had last met years ago. The room overreached capacity and I escaped before the publician could present the bill. The total had to be in the thousands, for the British can really drink when it's on someone else's cuff, then again so can most people.
I wandered through a nearby park to a car dealer selling souped-up 70s Toyota for a half-million each. The dealer said no car was faster and a single lap around the racing track cost over $500. I thanked him from the offer and stepped into the ether of my alter-ego.
England is certainly expensive these days.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
I hate the War of Terror. It's a long-running fraud. The United States under Clinton, Bush, and Obama have promoted the threat of terrorism and after 9/11 Americans turned a blind eye to the loss of civil rights within the USA and the spread of extrajudicial murder and torture beyond our borders. Every dead Iraqi, Afghan, Paki, Yemeni, Somali, and countless other corpses got what they deserved for being a Muslim. Protest against the War on Terror has been controlled by accusation of treason by the politicians, the mainstream media, and a revenge-driven populace frustrated by the failure of the Pentagon and CIA to assassinate Osama Bin Laden, the FBI's most wanted fugitive.
The intelligence community has deadened the public's frustration with claims of killing the bad guys. Death from Above by drone missiles and a Nowhere To Run strategy by the black squads of the CIA have taken a toll on our enemies here there and everywhere. Success in body counts. Attrition on their leaders. The Phoenix program from Vietnam quelled the insurgents in Iraq, not the surge.
Success is never published in the papers.
All hush hush, although when a CIA agent shot dead two supposed attackers in Pakistan, Washington was quick to demand his freedom, despite witnesses testifying that the agent shot two Paki's on the street and then delivered a coup de grace to each fallen man.
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Admiral Mike Mullen, Senator John Kerry, and CIA director Leon Panetta have called for this agent's release from Paki custody. The left wing media has attacked the agent as a paid assassin, but something about this story doesn't add up to the proper sum. He is accused of financing terrorist attacks against the Paki military through our Al Quada connections and the dreaded Task Force 373.
Something about this story stinks, because it's is too obvious to be true.
This agent was set up by his minders.
He knows something and they don't want him to say.
Spiegel und nebel.
Mirrors and shadows.
Those that say don't know and those that know don't say.
Do not be deceived by the obvious.
Seek the truth without lies.
Just like Captain Renault in the film CASABLANCA after he and Rick shoot the Nazi villian;
Strasser falls mortally wounded, shortly afterward, some police arrive on the scene]
Captain Renault: Major Strasser's been shot.
[Renault looks at Rick, Rick gives him a look]
Captain Renault: Round up the usual suspects.
[the police pick up Major Strasser's body and leave, Renault looks over at Rick, who is smiling]
Yes, the usual suspects ie the fall guys.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Urban social scientists in Boston attempted an experiment to contain the wickedness of mankind with the creation of an adult entertainment area between the bus station on Boylston Street and Chinatown. The city decided to green-light prostitution, drag queens, piano bars, go-go bars, rent boys, and pornography along Washington Street and the blocks running adjacent to that main vein of sin. The Boston Record-American newspaper labeled the effort of containment the 'Combat Zone' and men across New England gravitated to Boston's Decriminalized Zone of Sexuality to cut loose with friends and complete strangers.
The Combat Zone featured top-notch strippers at go-go bars such as the 'Teddy Bare Lounge', the 'Two O'Clock Club', 'Club 66' and the 'Naked I'. LaGrange Street was the hot spot for street whores running out of 'Good Time Charlie's'. Most of the pimps frequented the Sugar Shack. I saw James Brown performed on that stage and my friend Andy K swears that he went to the Sugar Shack with Bill O'Reilly, future famed right-wing propagandist. I was a lesser personage. A taxi driver. I drove strippers home. A fare and maybe the offer of a joint. They were good girls other than selling their bodies for sex. I never thought them bad, but the newspaper attacked the Combat Zone as proof that Satan was walking the Earth.
I wish that I could say they were wrong,but the Combat Zone was too much fun for most men and bad things happened on those wind-blown streets every night. A state trooper was killed on LaGrange Street. That homicide brought on the end of the Combat Zone. although the true killer was the higher rents for downtown properties. Sin is cheap. No sex is expensive.
Few people remember the Combat Zone. It was an aberration. I recall the organ/bass/drum trios supporting the white-skinned strippers. Boston was a white town. I had good luck with the dancers after midnight. I was their ride home and I got them there fast.
It was the best a man could do.
Monday, February 21, 2011
This came from a woman writer from the Melrose Post outside of Boston
Memories of a time gone by
This year all I want for Christmas is for you to take me back in time about 45 years so I can once again experience the thrill of the sights, sounds, gaiety, and hustle and bustle of downtown Boston as it was in the 1950's and 1960s. I don ’t need any money, I just need for you to re-wind time so I can run into S.S. Pierce to buy a few jellies or jams, walk through R.H. Stearn’s — or was it R.H. White’s? — and have a moment to stop to buy flowers from the vendor outside of the subway stop on Winter Street. I always meant to do that, but never did.
I’d also like to go to the original Windsor Button Shop on Chauncey Street to find a replacement button for my favorite coat and resist the urge to buy a new one at either Raymond’s or Conrad & Chandler’s instead.. Also, having the opportunity to buy something at the Jordan Marsh basement store on “Dollar Day,” or to once again see my aunt standing behind her counter selling Van Raalte lingerie would mean so much.
Please, Santa, if only for a moment it would be fun to return to the afternoon I met my girlfriends — where else but under the clock at Filene’s on the corner of Washington and Summer Streets — and once again laugh with them as heartily as we did when we invaded I.J. Fox to try on fur coats none of us could afford to buy. At the time we barely had enough money to go to the lunch counter at Kresge’s, Neisner’s or Woolworth’s for a hot dog, let alone to buy a mink. If we could do it again, I wonder if any one of us could — or would want to — purchase one of those now politically incorrect fur coats.
It would be nice, too, if before Christmas Day, instead of standing outside to meet someone, I could walk into Filene’s, get on the escalator and as the scent of the perfumes on the street floor fade away, have one more chance to look down at the breathtaking view below. The twinkling white lights wrapped around shimmering garland hanging in perfect loops from the tin ceiling and the decorated Christmas trees at every counter were more beautiful than anything I’d ever seen before or since. You were there, Santa. Do you remember that sight?
I don ’t want to appear greedy, but most of all I’d love to relive the evening I met up with my steady boyfriend — now husband — on the corner of Temple Place and Washington Street .
On that night in December 1965, we went down to Filene’s Basement and bought toys for our nieces and nephews. After we loaded up his car, which was parked on Temple Place in front of the branch of the First National Bank where he worked, we went up to Tremont Street and walked through the lighted Boston Common trying to decide where to have dinner. I’m a little fuzzy as to where we went, but I’m pretty sure it was either Dini’s on Tremont Street, or Café Marliave on Bromfield Street .
I know for certain that we didn’t go to Locke-Ober’s because, as you must remember, Santa, in those days unless Harvard won a home game against Yale, women were excluded from the main dining room.. However, where we had dinner doesn’t matter because even though it was cold and snowy, we ended our evening at Bailey’s to devour ice cream and hot fudge from not only an overflowing sundae cup, but from the silver tray underneath it as well.
If you can pull any of this off, I promise I won’t leave the past without bringing home either a blueberry muffin from Jordan Marsh or a couple of the famous almond macaroon cookies baked on-site at Gilchrist’s. Further, while I’m back in time I swear to you that when I drop a coin into the slot to release the latch holding the shopping bags at the entrances to most of the stores, I’ll be nice and not naughty. As tempting as it still may be, this time around I’ll make sure my sticky fingers take only one. Work your magic, Santa, because although I know I can go to Jordan’s Furniture to see the Enchanted Village, I’d rather take my grandchildren to its birthplace; the Jordan Marsh department store in downtown Boston.
Realistically, if I’m asking for too much, perhaps the next time I see you at a mall you could give me a wink and a nod just to confirm that you got my letter and that you too believe it was a wonderful life!
The youth of Boston will never know what they missed with the coming of the consumer age and it's probably better that way, because while you can rent happiness, you cannot buy it.
ps the photo is from my prom night
# 1 in rapes, prison population, CO2 emissions, divorce, plastic surgery, MacDonald's fast food franchises (they are not restaurants ), teen birth rate, heart attacks, and let's not forget that while China is more populous, 1.1 billion to 330 million, the USA outweighs population of the Middle Kingdom by a billion pounds.
USA USA USA
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Palm Beach is the fountain of youth. Anyone in their 50s is the youngest person in the room this side of the grandchildren. Nowhere in that enclave of the filthy rich is reincarnation of youth more miraculous than the Leopard Lounge in the Chesterfield Hotel on Poinsetta Avenue. Palm Beach has trails, vias, lanes, roads, avenue, drives, ways, parks, and boulevards, but not a single street to avoid anyone accusing upward striving women and men of street walking.
Palm Beach looks so good that a visitor might think that the beach resort was heaven on Earth, however hell is simply of question of handing the keys of a rental car to the valet at several salubrious bars. The stools are filled with the hunted and the hunters. The age of these sinners is well beyond the realm of decency. 60s and 70s and 80s. Their libidos on fire. Fine liquor fuled the illusion of youth in the mirrors. It's a lively scene evoking the sentiment of Oscar Wilde's quote about fox hunting.
"The unspeakable chasing the uneatable."
I'm down here on business. A jewelry show. Our hotel is the Chesterfield and its Leopard Lounge is renown as a rendezvous for these historic harpies and pussy hounds. My second-floor room is above the bar. At night the music from the two-piece band faintly seeped through the floor as a siren call and the other night I descended via the stairs to the patio, where my boss, Richie Boy, was sitting with his wife and our co-worker. They had been dancing in the lounge.
"It's a crazy scene in there." Richie Boy loved the night life. His wife loved her Richie Boy happy. He ordered wine, but started to explain about a fat woman in her 80s trying to pick him up. Before he could fully describe her, the automatic doors opened and an aged couple exited from the bar.
"There she is," Richie Boy's wife whispered with discretion. The denizens of the bar had big ears.
The man was in his 70s. His tie was askew. Sweat soiled his jacket. The blonde octogenarian wore a silk sheath over her fireplug body. They were headed for the valet, however the man had second thoughts watching his conquest waddle across the patio.
"I'm out." His thin pate of hair was dyed the color of persimmon. "You need to call a cab."
"Taxi." The woman's eyes swam in their sockets like stoned goldfish and she slurred, "I thought we were going to have a good time."
"Not tonight." The man was drunk but not a fool, however his rejection sapped the wobbly woman of her last reserves and she swooned from the forces of gravity. Her obese body crashed through the tables and hit the bricks like a hippo losing its balance. pulling on her obese body. Richie Boy and I helped her to her feet only to have her rerun the collapse with an increasingly danger trajectory across the patio. The third time I lifted her by myself and said the same thing her date had said two minutes earlier.
"I'm out and you're on your own."
Richie Boy, his wife, our co-worker and I fled the patio for our rooms. It had been a long day. Up in my room I took a shower and then looked for my wallet. I couldn't find it and remembered the blonde woman's arms around my back.
"That bitch." I suspected her of faking the drunkenness to rip off a good Samaritan. I ran downstairs. She was gone. I said nothing to the desk clerk, thinking that a fool I had been to help a stranger.
"Serves you right."
I entered my room and spotted my wallet on the floor.
The woman was no thief and I was no fool, although any man around the Leopard Lounge is a fool past midnight and happy to be a fool too.
Worth Avenue is the richest shopping street on the East Coast of Florida if not America. The thoroughfare runs between the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Worth. The litany of high-end stores along the four blocks west of South County Road read like a pantheon of luxury. Worshipers of wealth can shed their riches at Giorgio Armani, Neiman Marcus, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Hermès, Polo Ralph Lauren, Gucci, and Chanel.
After dark Palm Beachites frequent the restaurants within the alleys or vias.
By 10pm Worth Avenue is a ghost town and I walked from the beach to my hotel, the Chesterfield, without seeing a single living soul. Only a Duncan Hanson statue guarded the temple of exquisite consumerism. The plastic-form police officer was waiting for a billionaire to take him home, otherwise Worth Avenue population past midnight was pop. 1.
The Palm Beach City Council could animate the famous street with fake people less expensive than the Duane Hanson statue. Blow-up dolls from a sex shop would give the some life. Almost like a combat zone of silent street walkers dressed in the hand-me-downs of the rich.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
I don't believe in heaven or hell, but if there is a hell I hope Roy Cohn is getting a good burning and if not when the revolution comes, first order should be to be exhumed after the triumph of the revolution and his pulverized bones scattered to the winds
forgive, but never forget - james steele
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Men celebrate their 50th birthday. Women avoid the date with a cloak of forgetability. Age means little to men. To them fifty is the old age of youth and the youth of old age. I never expected to live that long. 50 came as a surprise and I started the party in Pattaya to Bangkok to New York to Boston and finally Watchic Pond in Maine. None of my friends used the word 'old' in my presence, I had all my teeth and hair, and my waist didn't rival my age. 50 was nothing to a man and I toasted my friends and family with wine and humor.
In vino veritas.
We were fearless in the face of truth.
Several years later a friend asked me to speak at his 50th birthday party. I was surprised by Lonnie Boy's request, but we went back to the early 80s. Never a bad word said between us. He was Richie Boy's best friend. I told RD that it would be my pleasure. I didn't write down anything, because I can not really read anything with feeling. Every lines was memorized in sequence through countless cerebral rehearsals. The honorarium was something close to perfect.
Lonnie D had done well in life. He was a CEO of a major clothing line. As a father without my kids I like going over to his house for dinner. His young boy was a prince and his choice of wine was beyond my salary.
Like I said he was doing good.
His income was a just reward for his efforts, although I was surprised that he had rented the entire ground floor of a classy Soho hotel for the evening. 200 guests wandered through the garden.
The music was 80s.
The heyday of Richie Boy and Lonnie Boy and their teammate in madness, Herthel, once the Meanest Man in the World. I currently held the title. My drunken comment had brought Richie Boy's wife to tears. I had no idea what I said to hurt her. Drunks never remember yesterday.
Herthel gave a few jabs in my direction. My living overseas was a betrayal to America. I never picked him for a patriot, then again the factory owner relished making people feeling bad. Especially his friends. The barbs ran off their backs. I was the Meanest Man in the World. I felt nothing.
Dinner was exquisite. The wine plentiful. Our company the best of friends and family.
Before dessert several people raised their glasses to Lonnie Boy. His Wife and mother of his son. His Schwule Austrichen freund roasted RD about a gym exercise. The gathering laughed at their host's expense and then RD pointed my way with a nod.
It was my time to speak.
My stammer was under control during my address to his remaining parent, his family, friends, and his love for the nightlife without any confessionals.
"Finally I'd like to close with one thought. Lonnie Boy is our friend, but even more he is a father and a husband and with all the things that he had achieved, including the miraculous regrowth of his hair." His hair doctors had sworn the truth to the grave and they are Jains.No one more honorable than a Jain. "The most important was his meeting the woman of his dreams and their giving birth to a son."
I remembered his name despite the numerous glasses of wine that I had drunk throughout the night. Glass raised to the stars I asked for everyone to do the same.
"Lonnie Boy's 50. Close to 80 than 20, but still 15. To him."
Clinked glassed were drained by the multitude of guests. I sat down in my chair, relieved I hadn't forayed into bad language. LD's wife thanked my kind words, as the waiters served a potpourri of desserts. The Gambian chocolate mousse was my favorite. Several guests complimented my speech. Richie Boy was one of them. He was proud of me.
"I knew you were a great writer, but never a poet."
"Thanks." It was a free-style remembrance of the birthday boy and I hit the nearest bar to quench the dryness in my throat. My stutter returned after the second Jack. I hit my bed fifteen seconds before a coma. I was 57 years old and dawn broke on my centuries-old bones with a vengeance.
And I coasted into the future thinking about wife, children, and wine until Herthel mentioned that he was having a 50th and expected my words at the dinner. The destination was the premiere fish restaurant in New York. 50 of his friends. I was told not to bring a date. Everyone else was with their wife or girlfriend. I knew a couple of girls who might have been impressed by the restaurant choice of the host. They were high-class epicures. It wasn't my soiree, so I refrained from any mention of Herthel's stinginess.
"You mind if you prepare a few words for the dinner."
"I'd be happy too." Even though I had never eaten at Herthel's house. We went back to the 80s too. I had once raced him for a cheese sandwich when I didn't have any money. He had broken someone's nose in front of everyone for grabbing coins out of his coin bowl. Herthel was still the meanest man in the world, because I never did anything that mean other than a few things in Paris. Those things don't count in the USA due to the different time-zone clause on culpritability.
The week before the party I constructed a minute-long speech. There would be no mention of Herthel's mishaps or accidents as a youth. At 50 those mistakes are a smudge of the distant horizon. I would relate racing him down 25th Street to win enough money for a sandwich, otherwise my words would compliment his accomplishments and family life. He was a good father and husband.
The night of the soiree my back was aching and I took a pain-killer. I arrived at the mid-town seafood bistro on time. 50 of Herthel's closest friends were at the bar in the private dining room. All were successful. They were mostly his age. I was the oldest man. The women were in their prime. An afternoon at the beauty salon had subtracted a few years. Maybe it was the lighting, but after two drinks I thought that they were in their 20s.
Dinner was delicious. I had Atlantic Sole. A fish on the verge of extinction.
Before dessert several friends toasted Herthel and then he called on me to say a few words. I had it down to 200. JFK spoke at 345 words per minute. I'd take the full 60 seconds with my pauses to still my stammer.
"I've known Herthel since he was a teenager and...."
"I was 17." Herthel interrupted my opening sentence and the second and the third. I couldn't find my stride and stuttered on several occasions. He made fun of that. For some reason he didn't want me to do good and that was because Herthel was the meanest man in the world, so I wrapped up my speech swiftly, "Here's to Herthel. Once the meanest man in the world and now a loving father and husband. Happy 50."
I sat down disappointed with my performance and you're only 50 once.
As published in Mr Beller's Neighborhood
by peter nolan smith
Neighborhood: East Village, West Village
Everyone on the scene thought operating an after-hours club on top of a 14th Street theater was a good idea and Arthur Weinstein opened the Jefferson on New Year's Eve 1980. During the week the loft was home to Arthur, his wife, daughter, and best friend, Scottie. On the weekend hundreds of revelers unwilling to call it a night crowded into the second-story space like it was the Noah’s Ark of decadence. Movie stars, musicians, models, bankers, politicians, go-go dancers, punks, gays, cops, and dealers called the Jefferson their home away from home, until the NYPD raided the Jefferson Theater in the late fall of 1981. It was 3am. Arthur Weinstein escaped out the fire escape under a black Halloween cape. Scottie slinked out the front door with the cash from the bars. Not everyone got away free.
Internal Affairs arrested 2 cops from the 9th precinct, a sanitation cop, a bag man for the fire department, two transvestites, a circus clown, two barboys, three female bartenders, and me. The sanitation cop put up a struggle. The cops hauled him into the back bedroom and broke his leg with a baseball bat.
"Anyone else want some." A plain-clothed officer shook the baseball bat at us.
We shook our heads.
After 30 minutes an ambulance arrived for the injured cop and the officers led the other arrestees into a paddy wagon. We were arraigned in the morning and released without bail. Arthur and Scottie met me later that night at the Ritz. Arthur was wearing sunglasses and as nervous as a fugitive.
"What did Internal Affairs say?" Arthur had been visited by a psycho cop. A double blast from a shotgun was the 9th Precinct's warning to keep his mouth shut. He was hoping that we had done the same.
"Nothing. They didn't ask us anything."
"No names?" Scottie wore the same jeans, shirt, and jacket as the night before. His hair stuck straight up in the air as if he had standing on his feet and in his unshaven state he looked like Charles Manson's illegitimate nephew on the run.
"None. They booked us, arraigned us, and cut us loose."
"Cool." Arthur was relieved that none of us were in trouble. Not that he could do anything to help us.
The Jefferson closed its doors forever. I paid three months rent in advance. We never went to trial for the Jefferson. The story never made the papers. None of us had jobs. We didn't deal drugs. We only did them. Mostly cocaine. Within a month we were broke. Arthur kept talking about opening another place. His wife thought he was crazy, but agreed to decorate the next venue.
"Think about how we can do if it was bigger," Arthur told Scottie and me. Bigger meant more money. Investors thought the same thing and in the summer of 1981 Arthur found an abandoned garage on West 25th Street. He told the landlord that it was going to be an art gallery.
"It just needs a little work." The floors were caked with oil. The walls sagged with mildew, and the ceiling panels hung down like limp tongues. "We don't have to make it livable. Only good enough to serve drinks. We can open by Labor Day."
"Who's going to do the work?" I wondered. Scottie was a bartender. I was a doorman. The only time we used a hammer was to chip the ice out of the freezer.
"You guys and your friends." Arthur said without saying how. "I'm no contractor."
"How much are you going to pay?" I was only interested in money.
"Not much." Arthur was living on the skinny edge of life same as us. “But you'll have a job at the end of it."
"Throw in lunch and you got a deal."
"Deal." Arthur’s word was good enough for Scottie, myself, and several friends.
Werthel, a lanky 19 year-old cokehead from the Five Towns, also wanted to join the work crew. During the last months of the Jefferson his use had gone from daily to hourly.
"Why don't you go to rehab?" Scottie asked at the apartment that Werthel shared with our mutual friend, Richie Boy. "Your father has money."
"I don't want him to know about it." Werthel was swearing off blow forever. He gave us the last of his stash. "Have a party," he said.
"You mind if I take some change too." Scottie was staring at the bowl of coins on a glass table. It was filled to the brink with quarters.
"Sure, but only as much as you can grab with one hand."
Scottie snatched a handful and Werthel grabbed his wrist, shaking it so hard that Scottie's take was decreased by half.
"You're the meanest man in the world," Richie Boy declared from the sofa. Richie was Werthel's schoolmate from kindergarten. No one knew him better.
"What you mean by that?"
"If you have to ask, then what the use of explaining."
"Do you guys think I'm mean?"
"I won't if you let me take another handful." Scottie was ready to go double or nothing.
"Get out of here."
The coins covered a sandwich at the nearest deli. The cocaine went fast at AM-PM, an after-hours club abutting the exit for the Holland Tunnel. Free cocaine always had a funny way of making you too many new friends.
On Monday we showed up to West 25th Street at 9am. The street was shimmering with heat. Arthur’s craggy-faced partner was waiting for us. We all recognized him as the coverboy for a Time Magazine article on Herpes. We called him HP.
"You were supposed to be here at 8." HP was standing with his twin brother and a friend. The brother wasn't as craggy and the friend was wearing a very professional carpenter belt. It was leather. "Any of you have tools?"
"I'll take that as a no." HP gave the carpenter friend $40. "Go get some hammers and shit. The rest of you I don't want talking to anyone about what we're doing. Nothing. I want you here on time. 8am. We finish when we finish. No overtime."
"What an asshole," Werthel muttered under his breath.
"As long as we get paid I don't give a shit." Scottie’s definition of paradise was a joint and Chinese take-out.
"Yeah, but he's still an asshole."
Within 30 minutes we were tearing down the walls. Scottie and I loaded up metal in a trolley. Werthel commandeered the sledge hammer and pounded the walls with a fury confirmed his status as the meanest man in the world. Decades old dust covered our bodies and sweat wet our skin. Arthur showed up at noon.
"Good work, guys. You look like coalminers."
"Looks like lunch time." Scottie was exhausted from the first physical work he had done in his life. I was out of shape. Only Werthel was ready for more, because his system was running on cocaine fumes.
"Who said," HP countermanded Scottie's suggestion. "It's lunch when I say it's lunch."
"Who elected you god?" Arthur snidely demanded in our defense.
"I'm paying for this. I'll tell them what to do." HP was approaching the first stages of apoplexy.
"Shut up already. Don't be such an asshole." Arthur was our union rep. "Lunchtime, guys. Cough up."
"Cough up what?"
"Lunch money." Arthur had as little money as we did i.e. nothing.
"I never said anything about paying for lunch.” HP was as stingy as a 13 year-old boy on his first date. “These guys are on their own. You have thirty minutes."
Werthel, Scottie, and I muttered "asshole" under our breath and Arthur rolled his eyes as if to apologize. Arthur and Scottie looked at the scrap metal. There was a junk dealer on 28th Street. The metal had to be worth something.
"We'll get rid of the metal and be right back."
Arthur and Scottie rolled the trolley onto West 25th Street. The temperature would have been 95 in the shade if there were any trees. The trip took them 20 minutes. They came back with two sandwiches. The junk dealer had given them $8. Arthur split the sandwich four ways.»
The author reading poetry at Danceteria circa 1980. by The Author
“You done her.” HP was complaining about us taking too much time.
"I'll talk to him." Arthur was good with people, only HP wasn't listening to anything Arthur had to say. He knew it all. By week's end we wanted to quit. Arthur begged us to reconsider.
"This guy won't hire you, if you do." Arthur was powerless to stop HP from being an asshole, but we knew once the club opened we'd get our reward one way or the other and we stayed on the job.
Werthel was the only one who didn't mind not having any money for lunch. His mother thought that he was in summer school and gave him a weekly stipend. Every lunch he'd get himself a good sandwich, while Scottie and I ate a $1 slice of pizza. Scottie and I were losing weight. Werthel was getting stronger. We tried to schnorr extra food. He would throw the half-eaten sandwich in the trash. Scottie and I were too proud to dig out his scraps. He didn't deserve it, but we transferred our hatred from HP to Werthel.
The demolition got harder and dirtier. Things should have improved once we started construction, except none of us knew what we were doing. Werthel fell off the ladder and I smashed my thumb with a hammer. Arthur suggested that I should go see a doctor. HP wouldn't pay for the visit, so I wrapped my thumb with a torn tee-shirt.
One day Scottie and I were starving and Werthel said, "I'll race you for a sandwich."
"Me?" Scottie was short, but very fast.
"No, you." He pointed to me.
"Me." I had been a cross-country runner in high school in 1969. My finishes were never in the top 5.
"Yeah." Werthel was younger and taller. “You’re not hungry?”
“Then race me?”
“Werthel, just give us the money for a sandwich.” The previous night I drank until dawn with Richie Boy. My skin was sweating vodka.
“You want it. Run for it.”
HP and the rest of the crew stopped working. Arthur and Colleen got out of a cab.
“What’s the wager?” My stomach was growling from the lack of food.
"Okay, two sandwiches versus you being my slave for a day." Werthel was wearing sneakers.
"One day." I had on cheap work boots.
"I'll take some of that bet." HP yelled to Arthur from the loading platform. "But you have nothing to bet."
"I do." Arthur pulled $100 from his pocket. Colleen slapped his hand. The money was probably for an over-due bill.
"Straight up." HP was giving no odds.
"Straight up." Arthur looked at me. "You can do it, kid?"
"No problem." Arthur was 35. I was almost 30. His saying 'kid' made me feel younger. "The bet's on."
"Scottie, you hold the money." Arthur handed his c-note to Scottie. HP did the same and stared at Werthel. "If you throw the race, I'll welsh on the bet."
"I'm not throwing any bet. I'm the meanest man in the world." Werthel threw his sandwich in the trash. This race was a test of his drug treatment. "You ready?"
"100 yards." He was definitely faster than me for 50.
"100 yards." Werthel dropped his tools. Colleen was berating Arthur. Scottie was the referee. Werthel and I walked off the distance in the middle of the street. Workers from the rest of the street stopped what they were doing.
"You know we don't have to do this. You could give me the money for the sandwiches and I'll be your slave." I was more hungry than proud.
"No, this is a race." Werthel stopped at a manhole cover. "This 100?"
I nodded yes. He crouched like Jesse Owens and I stood at ease, both arms at my side.
Scottie shouted from the finish line. "On your marks. Get set. Go."
Werthel and I burst down the street. He pulled ahead instantly. One yard. Two yards. I dropped my head and pushed harder. My feet slapped onto the hot pavement. Shouts filled my ears. We were neck and neck. Scottie was only ten yards away. I leaned forward and beat Werthel across the line by a foot. Colleen screamed with delight and HP called for a rematch. Arthur grabbed the 2 $100 bills.
"No rematch. He won fair and square."
I thought so too, then he winked at Werthel. I turned to him and he said, "What? You won your sandwich. Enjoy."
Arthur gave Scottie and me $20 each. The sandwiches from the closest deli were terrible, but victory was a tasty condiment. That Friday HP said he'd pay us at his apartment. We went to One 5th Avenue. The doorman told us that he had flown to Paris to shoot a commercial about acne. We didn't see him till the following week. After HP paid us, Werthel called him an asshole.
"I don't need to hear that. You're fired."
"You can't fire me. I quit." Werthel chucked a hammer at HP. It travelled too fast for him to duck, but Werthel's aim was off. The hammer quivered in the wall. Werthel stomped off the site and HP said, "Don't even try to come to this club."
"Asshole," Arthur muttered.
He was a good judge of character. Later that night we went to see Werthel at his apartment. Richie Boy had a good laugh at everyone’s version of the story and Scottie asked, “Werthel, how it feel to lose to an old man?”
I might be beat up for my age, but not old, but before I could say anything, Werthel put down his Diet-Coke. It was the drink of recovering cokeheads. "I didn’t lose. I threw it."
“You don’t like losing at anything. Even checkers when we were kids.” Richie Boy had all the answers.
“I made it look like he won.” Werthel folded his arms across his chest.
“Shut up already,” Arthur sat forward on the sofa. “I saw your face. You wanted to win and thought you could win against a drunk and maybe if you hadn’t eaten your sandwich before the race you could have beaten him, but not on a full stomach. He won, because he was faster.”
“I could beat him now.”
Werthel was right. I had already drunk 5 beers. My feet and legs and heart were out of the competition.
“Maybe.” Arthur wasn’t letting Werthel slide. “But not then. Who was faster? Tell the truth?”
Werthel waited several seconds and grunted with an off-center smile.
“I have a good eye for winners.” Arthur was looking at Werthel with a sly grin. “And an even better for losers and no one’s as big a loser as HP.”
“Asshole.” We clinked glasses and drained our drinks.
"But not Werthel.” Arthur added, because where Werthel might be the meanest man in the world to his friends but he would always be one of us and to this Werthel had nothing to say. He could only smile.
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.
Monday, February 14, 2011
And suddenly it was 4am.
No one of the modern age remembers waking to this signal and even fewer can recall its black/white ancestor and only a handful the sight of electric snow blanketing the screen of their Zenith Television.
Only 4 channels and all of them were good.
Facebook has brought me closer to many of my old friends. Some connections re-affirm the reasons for our friendship and other online rendezvouses strengthen the rationale for cutting off ties with people. I only resume relationship with old comrades, however several peripheral FB 'friends' are less restrictive with their amity.
A U of GA dropout found success with a silly band. They were perfect for the time and even more perfect for now. The New Yorker claimed 5000 friends on Facebook.
My Uncle Carmine said, "One friend and you're lucky. Two friends and you're blessed. Three friends and you're a liar."
5000 friends on FB promoted the U of GA dropout to messiah level.
Messiahs have more friends than Jesus.
Me myself I have few friends. More than most people. Less than the dropout for the U of GA, but I'm grateful for each and every one. The past, the present, and the future. i love you all.
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Astronomers downgraded Pluto or as its known by its formal designation 134340 Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet. Its low mass was a problem, especially since beyond the Solar System larger objects orbit the Sun. Some scientists were not so quick to accept the IAU's finding against Pluto and its three satellites; Charon, Nix, and Hydra. The public also questioned the validity of the scientific body's decision. California called the decision 'heresy' and New Mexico passed a resolution in honor of Pluto's discoverer and native son Clyde Tombaugh to affirm that Pluto would always be a planet while over the skies of the Enchanted State.
A few skeptics espied a more sinister aspect to the IAU's celestial coup de Pluto.
With Pluto out of the way the religionists could plot the date of the Grand Planetary Alignment in accordance with Mayan prophecy as to the End of Times. Doomsayers have predicted the actual date of The End to be December 21, 2012 or 12-21-2012. Andy the security guard at the diamond exchange has warned non-believers that the magnetic pull of the planets will knock Earth off its axis.
"South will be West and East will be North." Andy served in Vietnam. He has seen death. The End is not the opening song in APOCALYPSE NOW. "The clock is ticking."
Andy is not alone in his affinity for The End. Millions of his religionists are praying for the Event to spur the 2nd Coming of their Messiah, the Ugly Son of god, however last month the date of The End was pushed forward by a biblical conjurer from California arguing against the 2012 termination of all things good, bad, and in-between.
"That date has not one stitch of biblical authority," laughed the head of Oakland's Family Radio, whose math calculations coupled with prophecies from the Good Book have guided his determination. "It's like a fairy tale. The real end of times is 2011. May 21, 2011 to be exact."
That date is a little more than three months away and last week I spotted a group of doom-believers marching down the sidewalk of 5th Avenue. Placards were attached to the bodies of Mayan men.
"Repent. May 21, 2011 is nigh."
Pedestrians ignore the warning just like the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. I shouted for them to take their shit to Kansas or any of the other square farm states or South of the Mason Dixon line. If The End is on May 21, 2011, then I'm quitting work on May day and flying East to be with my family. We will see out the End of Times drinking beer, for after May 21, 2011 the Book of Revelations predicts five tough months until the real End.
"And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man." Revelation 9:5
The Thais love eating scorpions.
Bible-thumpers are not welcome on my soi. The Thais call the missionaries 'ET' because they don't sweat in their white shirts and ties. I tell the Thais that these religionists are dangerous and the greatest threat is their all-consuming ignorance.
The founder of Family Radio has listed the most important events in history as the following;
11,013 BC—Creation. God created the world and man (Adam and Eve).
4990 BC—The flood of Noah’s day. All perished in a worldwide flood. Only Noah, his wife, and his 3 sons and their wives survived in the ark (6023 years from creation).
7 BC—The year Jesus Christ was born (11,006 years from creation).
33 AD—The year Jesus Christ was crucified and the church age began (11,045 years from creation; 5023 calendar years from the flood).
1988 AD—This year ended the church age and began the great tribulation period of 23 years (13,000 years from creation).
1994 AD—On September 7th, the first 2300-day period of the great tribulation came to an end and the latter rain began, commencing God’s plan to save a great multitude of people outside of the churches (13,006 years from creation).
2011 AD—On May 21st, Judgment Day will begin and the rapture (the taking up into heaven of God’s elect people) will occur at the end of the 23-year great tribulation. On October 21st, the world will be destroyed by fire (7000 years from the flood; 13,023 years from creation).
2011 is 7000 years after the Deluge.
And while their god promised to never flood the Earth again, the seas are rising around the world thanks to the rapacious progress of globalization. Food is scarce due to crop failures. Dictatorships are falling in the Middle East. Sin is a sales technique for the multi-nationals. Greed is rampant. The rich are very rich and the poor are many.
The situation looks bleak for Mankind, but there is no grand alignment of the planets scheduled for 2011 or 2012.
Then again the reilgionists' god is a cruel god.
And has no education or watch, so beware of May 21, 2011.
To err is human, to err all the time is the right of a god or the very rich. - James Steele, blasphemer.
The Universe is a cosmos of mysteries beyond Man's comprehension. Scientists battled religionists on the story of creation. The Bible versus the Big Bang Theory. Seven days versus seven billion years. I reject both their antiquated offerings in favor of the 'Always Was' Factor based on Einstein's Theory of Relativity.
E = MC squared.
The eloquence mathematical equation of the infinite transfer of energy and matter at the speed of light addressed the absurdity of the finite time-frame forced on physicists by the myths of religion.
Energy always was, always is, and always will be.
Religionists agree with this supposition, since they regard their god as eternal, plus that their god in the muumuu is the glue holding together the universe.
The ex-model from Paris posted this email on FB
"96% of our universe is missing!!! Something which cannot be seen is holding everything together. There is not enough gravity to hold everything together. What could be holding everything together... HMMM! Dark Matter is what scientists have come up with."
In other words, her god's hands are very busy grappling with the universe.
Hopefully their god isn't as creepy as a TSA groper.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
My father's side of the family hailed back to the Mayflower. My parents enrolled my name in the ranks of The Sons of Colonial Wars and Mayflower Descendants. As a hippie I was anti-status quo and never attended a single gathering of boast of my family ties to Hannibal Hamlin, Abraham Lincoln's first vice president. We were from Maine. My grandmother's last name was Hamlin. I recalled her saying that she was related to the great man and have mentioned this to many of my friends over the years.
Few have believed me and I researched the family connection on the Internet.
The first page of websites blatantly accused my supposed ancestor of having been a mulatto, citing his dark complexion.
“Hamlin is what we call a Mulatto…they design to place over the South a man who has Negro blood in his veins.”
His Vice-Presidency added another incendiary flame to the secessionists and his political opponents in Maine further scandalized by untruths as to his heritage.
"That black Penobscot Indian.”
Of course no one was really white back then. Artists painted presidents as white when in truth they were men of color, because white women died in droves during childbirth. Faced with extinction white males impregnated black women to save the race, plus sex with white women was an obligation instead of a pleasure, however the darkest of the dark were thrown out of the big house same as Abraham banished his concubine Hagar and his son Ishmael into the desert.
As for me, "I'm not black,but there's a lot of times I don't feel white."
It's in my blood.
New York's Mayor Bloomberg spent $100 million to convince the voters that his opponent stood no chance against his juggernaut. The billionaire won by 6% thanks to the apathy of the brainwashed electorate. Bloomberg has cut services, raised subway fares, and balmed underlings for his failings, but this week the nebbish crossed ethnic lines by insulting my tribe at the American Irish Historical Society on Wednesday night by saying that 'he was used to seeing “people that are totally inebriated hanging out the window” at the society.
“I know, that’s a stereotype of the Irish, but nevertheless, we Jews from around the corner think this.”
Then we Irish have a special blessing for you.
Téigh trasna ort féin or go fuck yourself, I'm Irish.
Padraic's Day is only a month away.
Free Ireland and free Palestine too.
Brooklyn Tony was sitting on a park bench munching on one candy bar after
another. After the 6th candy bar a man on the bench opposite him said, "Son, you
know eating all that candy isn't good for you. It will give you acne, rot your
teeth, and make you fat."
Brooklyn Tony replied, "You know, my grandfather lived to be 107 years old."
The man asked, "Did your grandfather eat 6 candy bars at a time?"
Brooklyn Tony answered, "No, he minded his own fucking business."
The dead never come back to life and I know that since I've almost died on several occasions from motorcycle accidents, beatings, and chemical misjudgments. These brushes with death must not have been too serious, because my soul was never enveloped by the tunnel of light.
When I returned to the USA from Thailand in 2008, my friends and family recited the list of the missing. Few of the deceased were close, however I was deeply saddened by the demise of Howie Hermann. The owner of our diamond exchange was a 15 year-old at heart. He and I met at the 2nd Avenue Deli on Monday nights for a sandwich and then drove over to the 20th Street shooting range. His other friends pulled a few rounds on their personal weapons, but Howie would bring special guns for me.
Whatever I wanted, because I liked shooting a pistol and Howie liked having someone with whom he could shoot for an hour. He was as good as they get and his death was even more traumatic, since his loving son Josh had preceded him into the cosmos. A good skier and a great father and a favorite son. I counted my blessings to have known them both.
I noticed a few more faces missing from 47th Street and I asked for Lenny the Bum.
No one had seen him for months and finally someone said that he had passed away in 2007. My boss hated Lenny.
"He's a Trombenik."
The Yiddish expression was new to me, but I divined its meaning, since Manny had worked from the time that he was old enough to wear long pants and Lenny begged for his living. He was a bum.
"Better he should be in Gan Eden without a penny to his name." Manny wasn't very religious, but hard times can give people a belief in the after-life.
I'm a humanist. Heaven and hell are destinations for the faithful. My heaven and hell is the now, but I was surprised to see Lenny back amongst the living in 2009. he was angry at my listing him among the deceased on mangozeen.com.
I was surprised that he read my writing.
"I'm a big fan, but could you bring me back to life?" he pleaded with a whining voice. the grating tenor earned him a good income.
"Like Lazarus and you won't smell as bad." Lenny looked in better shape than when I departed the States in 2001, although his balding head was sporting an ugly growth and his weight had to be over 250.
"I have some place to live. I have to take care of my sister. If it was just me, I'd still be living on the street. I like the fresh air." His clothing was clean and his breath was shy of the old bouquet of cheap brandy. "I stopped drinking too much. Now a little too much but not often."
Lenny asked about my kids in Thailand and I gave him another dollar. He knew his audience.
Over the past two years we have discussed politics, Israel, heaven, Obama, Iraq, and my trips to Thailand. His stock advice made me a few dollars last year and I hold my sand about the personal stories that he tells me about his life.
This week Lenny and I have been engaged in a debate about Egypt and the threat to Israel from the change of regime.
"Lenny, this is not about democracy. This is about revolution and the rich versus the poor. Democracy has failed the Egyptians. It has failed the Iraqis and it has failed in America."
"Maybe, but the Muslim Brotherhood is going to kill all the Jews."
"Lenny, you're smarter than to believe that propaganda." Egypt only had to shut off Israel's natural gas to threaten the Zionist state.
"Have you ever read the Koran?"
"No." I haven't read that book or the Talmud or Thomas Mann's THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN or James Joyce's ULYSEES and millions of other books.
"You know that Mohammad married an eight year-old."
"Alyessa." The Mother of Islam was young. Some people say that the prophet bedded her at ten. Others at 15. I could only counter with the truth. "Abraham was 86 when he bedded Hagar and he threw her and his son into the desert. So don't get high and mighty about the old times."
My boss Manny rapped on the window. He had not time for my discussions with Lenny. Every second with the Jewish beggar was one lost to his business. Later that evening I passed Lenny on my way to the bank. I had to send money to my kids. Angie had to buy school books and Fenway needed some medicine and Fluke and Noi were asking their mother was sweets.
Lenny stopped me in front of the 20 Exchange.
"Damian, you know the Arabs hate us. Mohammad killed all the Jews of Medina."
"Because they backed the idolaters of Mecca." I had been surprised to read how the Jews of Arabia had figured into the rise and fall of Islam.
"Islam comes from the Bible."
"And the Bible comes from the ancient religions. It's all bullshit to me and the Christians and Jews and Muslims kill each other for their beliefs. There is only one good and one evil." I was tired and had lose my track, but then said, "How many Palestinians were on the plans of 9/11. How many at Dachau? Answer me that."
"The grand Mufti of Jerusalem had 10,000 SS troops at his command." Lenny shouted in the cold winter air and I made a note to check this riposte once I got home to Fort Greene. Lenny might have been crazy, but he was no fool and I read online about how the Grand Mufti fled Palestine to Nazi Germany, where he encouraged Bosnian Muslims to wage jihad against the Serbs and Jews of Yugoslavia. The 1943 Hanzar SS Division were ruthless during the savage civil war during the Nazi occupation, horrifying their German overlords, but I could find nothing about Palestinians working for the Nazis.
Only the Grand Mufti who worked both sides of the fence between the Axis and Allies to restrict Jewish migration to Palestine.
"Lenny, let me ask you a question." I brought Lenny to the side. People on the street had heard about our discussion and stood close to hear what we had to say. What we had to say was for our ears only.
The Sheygutz and the Trombenik.
We spoke for several seconds. He had good points and I spoke about good versus evil. We were on the same side of the argument within a minute. I gave him a dollar. it was not a bribe and he said, "Thanks for bringing me back to life."
"It's an easy miracle with a live person."
"I love you, Damian."
"And I love you."
Omnes vincit amor.
But anyone coming back from the dead knows that 'love conquers all'.