Thursday, June 30, 2011

Starry Nights for UFOs




As a child of the 1960s I lived in the suburbs south of Boston. Nights were filled with silence. No cars, no voices, no music. Every house was a tomb and in the summer I'd steal from the house to our back yard. The grass was shorn short by constant mowing. The stubs were painful to my feet, but I'd strip off my pajamas and lie on the lawn, looking to the sky.


I was not seeking the mystery of God in the celestial night sky, but an aberration in the galactic traffic.


"Oh, UFO come take me away."
Alien abduction was a better fate than suffering pubescence in the suburbs, yet no flying saucers hovered over my body. I was stranded on Earth along with billions of other humans. None of us were going to the stars, for our solar system is located on the most remote edge of the Milky Way.

Think Great Slave Lake.

Spaceships warp past Earth without decelerating. Our planet isn't on the Inter-Galactic Guide. A cosmic billboard on the Moon WINE AND DINE AT EARTH' might help trade with the passing aliens, however Earthlings are stuck on the ground. Wreckers are cutting Space Shuttles into scrap. Governments are short cash. Travel to the stars has been abandoned for the moment and we exist alone, despite claims to the contrary by Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell that UFOs regularly on this blue planet and not only the cow-mutilators of Wyoming.

His conversations with old-timers from Roswell strengthened his own experiences in Space and Edgar Mitchell is convinced that NASA and the Pentagon have been vigorously prevented the truth from reaching a public more interested in potato chips than UFOs.


"Is there life outside of Earth?"


The Colonel thinks so and I hope so, for humans have fucked this planet and as my biker friend, Wayne Shepherd said back in 1973, "When the foot gets a foot high you have to step a foot higher."


My father considered billions spent on NASA to be a waste.


"There's nothing out there?"


No go-go bars for sure or romantic lakes or no marching bands, for.


tubas take up too much room in a spaceship, although I once saw a tuba on a Star Trek episode.
The former astronaut also says that the three crafts hovering over Phoenix three years ago were not ours. They were from another planet and not Mars either. Someplace much farther away and we can't even estimate that number with our pea brains, but i no longer want to go to the stars.


I have four kids.


A two loving daughters and two busy boys.
Those are my aliens, for ET are us.

Children from future.

Venus Versus Mars



I was a UFO movie fanatic as kid. My friends and I thought that the Martians were ugly, but the invaders from Venus would be tall blondes in bikinis. We much preferred Venus to Mars. It was the planet of love and over the years I became a Star Trek devotee. All the series were good. All the crews were honorable. Not like STAR WARS, yet despite my affinity for the stars the aliens remained absent from Earth.


Can you blame them?
Earth's galactic address is East Bum Fuck, the Milky Way.


Still people see things in the sky.


Dozens of rural dwellers in the Texas dairy country reported UFOs in the early evening sky. The US Air Force refuted their claims saying that the object in question was actually 10 F-16s on a training mission. Not everyone was convinced by this disclosure.


"I guarantee that what we saw was not a civilian aircraft," Steve Allen, a pilot and freight company owner, said about the incident and his assertion was backed up by several witnesses seeing the F-16s chasing the UFO.


I did not see the UFO in the video. Only the planes, but this last week in Pattaya I noticed several blonde men in white clothing and they didn't use any form of transport other than their feet.


Long and lean.


They didn't really walk like humans either.


I spotted two of them behind the Avenue Shopping Mall once and tried to speak with the odd-looking pair, but by the time I caught up with the pair they were gone.


Vanished into thin air.


I told my wife about these ETs,


She thought I was going crazy again.


Better I tell her about ghosts.


That Thais can believe, but I swear they were aliens.


They showed no sweat in the mid-day sun and only women don't perspire in the tropical heat, because women never sweat.

They only glow.

The All-Seeing Eye


Young Catholic school children were taught by the nuns and priests and their parents that God was all-seeing. His Divine Eyes was more penetrating that Superman's X-Ray vision. Our every thought and deed were an open book to The Almighty, but as the population of the world increased by billions, I as a non-believer detected blind spots. Neither The Father, The Son, or The Holy Ghost flashed on my juvenile or adult self-abuse. They had no interest in watching the zillionth repeat of another man flogging the dolphin. I reveled in this freedom for years upon realizing that the Gods were bored with man's sins

Massacres were nothing new.

Adultery older than prostitution.

Idolatry in the modern era was embarrassing.

The gods had averted their eyes from the sheer volume of venial sins and shuddered at witnessing the avalanche of wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony, however the slack was tightened by the street and building CCTVs. Their cameras are everywhere and my friend Amin was caught by Google Earth smoking a cigarette in front of a jewelry store in Juneau, Alaska.

Busted by the all-seeing eye of the Internet.

You never know who is watching.

Monday, June 27, 2011

On The Run Forever


THe assassination of Osama Bin Laden and the capture of Southie mobster Whitey Bulger had depleted the ranks of the FBI Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitives. The seven of the hold-overs consist of a Russian stock scammer, a drug trafficker escaped from prison in 1991, a bisexual bank robber evading the law since 2004, a Chicano drug killer, a cocaine dealer, a man who killed his family, and a child killer.

The only honorable fugitive on the list is Victor Manuel Gerena, who ripped off Brinks for $7 million without a gun. He supposedly gave to the money to the Puerto Rican Liberation Front. No one knows where he is. The FBI will give one million dollars for any information leading to his arrest.

Say nothing.

Andale Victor Andale.

Run Down By The G-Men


Heroes for young boys in the 1950s were Marines, Davey Crockett, and the Three Stooges. The latter led us to the Young Rascals and the Bowery Boys on Saturday morning TV. Our parents despised the three shows as trash, but young boys across America envied these juvenile delinquents for their lively adventures in the city. None of us knew that the original Bowery Boys were a notorious anti-Irish gang from Manhattan's deadly Five Points. Hollywood had resurrected the black-hearted pimps and murderers of Bill the Butcher as fun-loving thugs of the Great Depression.

In the 1938 gangster film ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES the Bowery Boys admire the killer Rocky Sullivan played by James Cagney. He goes soft at the sight of the electric chair in order to save his disciples from following to a bad ending, but we weren't fooled by Cagney's going yellow. PUBLIC ENEMY was a triumph for the actor and Tom Powers was infamous for the line 'you dirty rat', even though Cagney never said the line in that movie or any other.

It didn't really matter to us, because we understood that to rat on someone was the greatest sin this side of adultery and we were too young to break that Commandment.

Fink, stool pigeon, pilferer, stoolie, and snitch were only a few of the epithets tagged on betrayers of trust by boys under the age of 12. Holding your sand in the face of authority was considered an honor. Anyone breaking their bond was doomed to the hell of Judas, so when Whitey Bulger was captured by the FBI in Santa Monica this past week my friends emailed me their condolences.

While I had admired the South Boston gangster for his ability to stay in front of the law for 14 years, I disapproved of his terrorizing his own. He never had the courage to bang out the big hitters on Beacon Hill or Dover or any other rich suburb of Boston. He took it out on his own and if anyone stepped on his toes, they were shot down like dogs.

Silence was bought with murder, but Whitey Bulger was not above snitching out his opponents. He grassed out any rival; Mafia, Irish, hometown.

"Oh, you dirty rat."

He was never anyone in Boston's hero.

A snitch is always a snitch.

Then again I did name my dog after him.

A hypocrite maybe, but a snitch never.

I hold my sand, because I know nothing unlike Whitey Bulger or my dog.

He knows how to lick his balls, because he can.

ps the Feds always knew where Whitey was same as they knew about Osama Bin Ladin's hide-out.

The Filth know everything.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Food Superstitions in Thailand



Thais have more superstitions than the Irish and some of them are devoted to food, since it’s their third greatest love behind fun and sleep.

Here’s a short list of Thai don’t for eating.

Eating a double banana will give a woman twins, which must be tough for those showgirls doing the banana tricks at go-gos.

Eating before your elders will reincarnate you as a dog. This rule is waved for disasters and fast food restaurants.

Eating food without rice will give you rickets.

Eating salt under a tree will kill the tree.

Eating other people’s food without permission will swell your throat, so schnorrers beware. Schnorrer is a Yiddish term for people who eat from another person’s plate without permission. I’m sure there’s lots of Yiddish superstitions too.

Eating a kids’ left-overs will make them naughty.

Eating before monk during the day will turn you into a ghost.

Eating corn with the flu will raise your temperature.

Never eat all the rice on your evening plate. Leave a little for the ghosts.

Eating chicken feet will give you bad handwriting. My wife loves chicken feet. Yech.

Eating chili sauce from a mortar bowl will give your kid big lips.

Eating turtles will make you walk slow. Eating chicken feet make me sick.

The last is about eating dog. I’ve feasted on dog in Indonesia. It doesn’t taste like chicken feet. It’s actually delicious, but Thais think if you eat it, then you will be possess by the dog’s spirit. Arf Arf.

Is that such a bad thing?

To Live in Pattaya


Pattaya isn't what it used to be. The coconut plantations have been replaced by luxury villas. Interpol and the Thai Police hunt fugitives and the Russians have taken over the hills.

Two summers ago I moved north to Sriracha. It was a quiet town. Too quiet some nights and Fenway's mom doesn't mind my visiting old friends in Pattaya. I worked hard in the USA. My trips are basically to see her and Fenway, but Thais understand the concept of fun or sanuk better than westerners. She knows my heart is hers and hers alone, swearing that my longtime fidelity has nothing to do with a magic potion.

"I not need magic to make you love me."

Mam is right. I love her for her and she loves me for me. No one else can handle either of us.

"You want go out. Go out. Not get too drunk." Mam worries about my getting into an accident more than cheating on her. At my age I'm too lazy to butterfly, so I called Jamie Parker and we arranged to meet at an old haunt. I kissed Mam and my son good-night and caught a slow bus to Pattaya.

40 minutes later I walked into Chez Michel on Soi Buffalo Bar. Jamie Parker was on his first beer. He had always been thin, but the new gauntness was worrying.

"I know whast you're thinking, but I'm okay." The exiled New Yorker explained that he had goen on a six-month Ice binge with little Ort, the 23 year-old go-go dancer from the Paris A Go-Go. "It's all over. Ice, Ort, and not eating food."

He ate three courses; salad, steak, and dessert.

Afterward we walked to the Buffalo Bar for a nightcap at a slow pace. Jamie was in a New York state of mind. “Tomorrow will be nine years since 9/11. Remember everyone saying how it would change the world. Nothing’s changed. Nothing at all.”

He paused and a second later a woman’s body hit the pavement with a soft thud. We looked up to see from where. A second-story balcony. A groan reverted our attention to the woman. Her fall hadn’t been fatal. Jamie knelt down to help her.

“Pai ke ki.”

She didn’t want our help. Two women came from the small restaurant. They regarded us as assailants, until seeing the woman’s face. She was no stranger to them. I would late find out the jumper was one of the other woman’s lover. She had found out about her seeing someone else. Her leap to the street had been an act of love. The police took the failed suicidist to the hospital and Jamie helped me hobble into the Buffalo.

“If she had wanted to kill herself, she would have jumped from the roof.”

“Have a little heart.” People jumped to their death frequently in Pattaya; mostly jilted lovers and bankrupt farangs.

“She broke her arm. That’s all and you know what day today is?”

“September 10th.” I couldn’t recall anything significant about the date.

“World Suicide Prevention Day.” Jamie ordered two Chang beers. They were stronger than Heineken. “I read about it in the Bangkok Post. She was trying to kill herself on a day like that.”

“Suicides aren’t interested in dates only a relief from their misery.” Last year during my black period I had contemplated killing myself, although only with a gun and rejected jumping as too messy.

“Then she should have picked another day. The terrorists from 9/11 did.”

“9/10/2001 was rainy. Ceiling visibility in New York was a 1000 feet.” no way they could have found the World Trade Towers in that slop.

“I know but the real reason they didn’t pick 9/10 was that it was World Suicide Prevention Day.”

“You really think 19 Arabs had any idea about that.” I had never heard of World Suicide Prevention day until Jamie mentioned it.

“Yeah, I do. If you’re going to drive a plane into a building then you want things right. Everything. They did it on 9/10 out of respect for what they were about to do. Suicide.”

“You’re crazy.”

“Then you give me a good reason why they chose 9/11.”

“It had nothing to do with 911 being the telephone call letters for many countries.” I sipped the beer from my glass. The ice made it nice and cold. I had actually researched the numbers once and said, “9 is the first cube and 11 symbolizes threat in numerology. Revelation 9:11 warns of destruction. George Bush Senior declares the creation of The New World Order on 9/11/2000. Eleven years later 9/11 and 9+1+1=11. September 11 is also the 254th day of the year: 2 + 5 + 4 = 11.”

“Stop it before you go mad.”

“They’re only numbers.” I wondered how many times 9/11 had been said since 9/11. Billions of times a day. Those numbers added up to no good. “But not if you consider GW Bush as the anti-Christ.”

“And you do?” Jamie’s eyes rolled in his head like a broken slot machine.

“I don’t believe in anything, but I think I’ll keep trying to kill myself with beer.” No God. No country. No Santa Claus. Just my son, my wife, and beer. I lifted my finger to signal we wanted two more Leos. “Is that all right with you?”

“It’s not like we have a choice.”

“Beer.” We clinked glasses. “The only way to go.”

To Die In Pattaya



The NY Times regularly published a list of why Americans die. The leading causes of fatality come as no surprise; heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, in that order. Almost all of them are related to either environment, bad food, obesity, or a cocktail of the three. You are what you eat, however westerners in Pattaya are promoted from this mortal coil for a contrasting set of circumstances;

#1 Motorcycles.

Men over 40 hit their second stage of youth on a Japanese riceburner or 125cc motorscooter. These born-again farangs reincarnate their youth, while singing BORN TO BE WILD in leather. This reversal of age doesn't last long, because many of them plow a song-thaew at full speed. They never learned how to brake and end up DOA at the local hospital. Toe tag reading 'death from misadventure'.

10-20 a month.

#2 Sex on Viagra.

55 years old with a pacemaker. 30 kilos overweight. 10 beers in their gut. A 45 kilo go-go dancer in bed. Two Viagras coursing through in their system to re-awaken a dormant libido which finally burst alive like Mt. St. Helen. spitting out the lungs of lava. OD on lust. No one knows how many farangs are bodybagged for in Bangkok-Pattaya for exceeding the speed limit for heartbeat per minute.

Some sources say 50-60 a month.

At least they died in the saddle.

#3 Suicide.

Farangs blow out their bank account, savings, and credit cards on an 18 year old bar girl named Lek. Once the ATM goes dry, her eyes seek out a new sponsor like a predator drone hunting the Taliban.

“She can’t be looking at that 80 year-old fat man?” The farang asks himself.

Two minutes later Lek’s sitting being the octogenarian on a taxi bike waving as if she were going to 7/11 for a phone card. It's the last time that farang will see his tee-lat. Broke, busted and faced with having to go back to East Doversham, the farang weighs out his options.

Graham Greene wrote in OUT MAN IN HAVANA that suicide was the work someone who reckons that the odds of ending it all are better than going on.

I know from personal experience that whatever doesn’t kill you will only make you wish you were dead. Once past that drama of a go-go girl's departure, then things get better and beer won't taste like dusty acid.

In the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Add in drinking, ODs, and murder, a farang have to ask, “Does anyone here die of natural causes?”

And there is only one answer.

Not if they can help it.

HISTOIRE DE MELODIE NELSON




Music sucks in Pattaya. Old farangs sing to HOTEL CALIFORNIA and bar girls dance to boy band love ballads, while Thai bands play dinosaur rock for drunken tourists.

Nothing wrong with a bad reprise of SMOKE ON THE WATER, except I once lived in nightclubs and bars in which music meant more than a tune you can sing while drinking beer with your mates, hoping the Viagra will work with your new missus. Pattaya certainly doesn’t have a bar close to Max’s Kansas City, where you could see the Jam, MC5, or Iggy. Not even close.

None of the geezers here care, because most Pattaya farangs are too low-class only listened to what was playing on their car radio. Muzak for 9-to-5 existences and none of them ever heard Serge Gainsbourg’s HISTOIRE DE MELODIE NELSEN.

And that’s too bad, because this 26-minute masterpiece set a highwater mark in 1971. Forget the French lyrics. They are sexy. Forget Jane Birkin’s breathy interpretation. Her daughter was sexier. LEMON INCEST. Dig the guitar and bass. The two musicians weld a groove unattainable in this modern world on pre-packaged CDs. Serge told his tale of Lolita sans the fear of moral outrage. This concept album wiped the floor with the Beatles’ SARGENT PEPPER.

They were no longer a band, but they must have spun this record and said, “We fucked up.”

Horrible to know you will never write anything as good as HISTOIRE OF MELODIE NELSEN.

Worse is to copy the LP like Beck.

No talent plagiarist.

Because he’s no Jean-Claude Vannier, who arranged the 33 rpm disc or Serge, who was the ugliest man in Christendom, yet ended up with Jane Birkin as his sex slave. The two of them might have Jimmie Page to play lead guitar. That’s the rumor, but the riff sound nothing like his solos with Led Zeppelin or the Yardbirds. Understated and raw.

Leaves you asking for more.

And you only get 26 minutes of 15 year-old girls on bicycles, Rolls-Royce, defloweration and a dirge about Melodie dying in a plane crash.

Not 9/11.

Genius and I advise anyone with any musical taste to pick up this chef d’ouvres.

‘une poupée qui perd l’équilibre, la jupe retroussée sur ses pantalons blancs… (A doll who lost her balance, her skirt pushed up over her white leggings) isn’t getting any radio play in America.

Not this year.

But I got it on right now

Midnight. Gin-tonic. Dark outside.

Melodie Nelson.

The LP should have been a big hit, except French music has not fared well with Americans. The Gallic superstars have failed to dent the charts. The only excursion into the Top Ten was by the Singing Nun with her 1963 hit DOMINIQUE. The language is a problem. No teenager wants to dance to music whose lyrics need subtitles.


Tant pis or too bad, for French music has produced hundreds of great songs by Alain Bashung, Jane Birkin, Manu Chao, Julien Clerc, Etienne Daho, Jacno, Jacques Dutronc, France Gall, Françoise Hardy, Indochine, Marc Lavoine, Vanessa Paradis, Les Rita Mitsouko, Alain Souchon, Les têtes raides, Tahiti 80, Téléphone, Sylvie Vartan ad infinitum.


And of course the legendary genius of Serge Gainsbourg, whose 27-minute LP THE BALLADE OF MELODIE NELSON ranks as one of the greatest rock albums of 1971, if not all time. The concept of Gainsbourg colliding with a nymphette's bicycle was a homage to LOLITA. The music on this album contained a consistent stream of atmospheric guitar complimented by a solid bass. The album notes never gave credit to the musicians and I searched for years to find their names. Their identities were a mystery.


Finally someone added them to Wikpedia.


# Alan Parker - guitar

# Herbie Flowers - bass

# Douglas Wright - drums

# Alan Hawkshaw - piano

# Jean-Claude Vannier - arrangements, Orchestra Director

# Jane Birkin - vocal parts (and posed for front cover art)


A belated thanks for the hours of listening to a gem.


To hear the prelude of Melodie Nelson go to the following URL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nrru8MTKPQ

Cut To The Flesh


Bill Mahr of HBO considers most of the media lazy and this week CNN, ABC, the NY Times, the Daily News, and hundreds of other news sources proved the comedian right by reporting that the DEA and FBI had discovered that cocaine entering the United States was cut with a common deworming medication. The Drug Enforcement Administration conjectured that the drug traffickers were adding Levamisole to cocaine to bulk up the drug and enhance its high. Unlike previous inert cuts this drug has the nasty side effect of eating flesh and hospitals from Texas to Canada was treated users for this condition. Supposedly in 2009 73 percent of cocaine seized by the DEA tested positive for .

For decades traffickers transport pure cocaine for economy. Dealers in the States like their gear pure, so they can cut the drug locally with milk sugar, vitamin C, or baby powder. They tested the cocaine with Clorox. If it dissolved 100% then the shipment was considered pure. Levamisole passed this test and the drug assisted the brain in getting high, preventing the onset of adonia or lack of pleasure associated with continued cocaine use. A boon for the Columbian Cartels, however hospitals have yet to see a rise in deaths from levamisole use.

In fact there have been none.

Unlike pharmaceutical drugs which are ravaging the heartland of America.

20-30,000 dead each year.

And these drugs are made in the USA by Big Pharm.

They are the true killers along with Big Tobacco.

3-400,000 smokers per annum, but CNN and ABC report nothing about that.

It isn't in their best interest.

You Bet I Would # 11



Michelle Pfieffer in SCARFACE 1983

I was in Paris. She was in LA. Out paths never crossed that year or any other.

Shame.

Iowa Snow


Many people living on the East and West Coasts of America refer to the land in between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as the fly-over. The State of Iowa is in the center of the United States. The nearest big city is Chicago. Most of its residents are devoted to growing corn. The Federal government has been generous with subsidies for this crop. The vast majority is used to feed cows and a good 20% is contributed to the ethanol fuel program.

I have one friend in Iowa. Colonel Rockford lives outside of Iowa City, the home of the state university. His family farm has laid fallow for decades. His crop lies underneath the soil in subterranean bunkers. The entire process was governed by science. Twice a year his harvest of hydro was sold to the highest bidder. The coastal pot smokers like Iowa. It's a green state.

Colonel Rockford and I first met in 1974. My good friend AK and I met him north of La Jolla during a hitchhiking tour of the West. He was a hippie musician with a following of three girls. We dropped LSD on Black's Beach. The girls danced naked by the sea. AK and I spoke to a seal. He told us the secret of the ocean. His words sounded like barks. No one else could understand the seal, not even Colonel Rockford.

The three of us remained friends throughout the years and Colonel Rockford would visit AK and me in New York. We had a standing invitation to come to Iowa. Somehow our travels avoided the fly-over until in May of 2009 an English friend, Brock Dundee, asked for my assistance in the Brit's filming of a famous sculptor's pieces scattered across the Midwest.

"No one is better on a road trip than you." The Londoner had heard about my gift for the highway from many of his friends.

"Thanks."

The offer was more than tempting and I phoned Colonel Rockford about the possibility of hooking up in Iowa City.

"I'll be waiting." Harvest time was months away.

Brock and I rode from Chicago to St. Louis to Kansas City to Des Moines. We stayed off the Interstates. The police were looking for revenue on this roads. The two-laners criss-crossing the plains were straight-lines. Our rented Ford Taurus never dropped beneath 80.

Iowa City was a little off the route from our next destination, but we were running ahead of schedule. We pulled into a cheap motel and called Rockford. he couldn't believe that I was actually there.

"I said I was coming."

"Saying and doing are two different things, but I'm happy you're here and have a special reward." Rockford told us to rendezvous at a downtown dive.

The Deadwood Tavern had a long bar, pool tables, drunks, and a smelly men's room. Brock loved the ambiance. The beer was cheap. College boys avoided the Deadwood. They preferred the sports bars. Co-eds frequenting the tavern looked like white trash. It was a good look. Rockford entered the bar without anyone saying 'hello'. He flew under the radar. We had a good night drinking and retire to our motel to demolish the mini-bar.

"I told you I had something special." Rockford pulled a small vial from his pocket. The contained substance consisted of a flaky pink-white powder. "Bolivian Blow 1978. I've been saving it for a special occasion."

"Impossible!" Brock couldn't believe that someone had held onto coke that long.

"Not impossible." He pointed to me. "He has the last Qualludes on Earth. Four jars from 1975."

"1974." I had found the extinct muscle relaxants in 1997. They were still active.

"I have five jars of this left." Rockford's stash came from a deal gone bad. He had been arrested for weed, but imprisoned for trafficking in cocaine. The amount was small, but the state police never found the six jars in the cornfield. He poured a small mound on the coffee table. The flakes shone like smashed opals. The lines were thick. We were eager to huff them. The coke was gentle on our nasal passages.

"Damn, it works."

"Of course it works. It's pure."

"No cut."

Pure was a myth in New York. Most of the blow I had done over the years was cut with corn starch, vitamin c powder, or milk sugar. Rockford was speaking the truth. He had no reason to lie. His blow was as clean as a snowstorm sweeping the tundra.

"This is the real deal." Brock was in love, but it was a one-night stand.

In the morning Rockford returned to his house on the prairie. Brock and I compassed north to Minnesota. Brock never did cocaine after that night. I was less eager for a cure and dreamed of driving to Iowa. It was only 13 hours from New York and 13 hours is nothing, when Bolivia was at the end of the line.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Plight of a Billionairess



Back in 2008 a shoe dropped on the world economy week. The downturn was unlike anything I’ve seen since gas crisis of 1973. One spring weekend I couldn’t take any more bad news and fled New York for the bucolic hills of Dutchess County. My good friend AC picked me up at the Poughkepsie train station and we drove to a mansion overlooking the Hudson valley. Dinner was at sunset.

10 people were at the table.

Three billionaires and four exceedingly well-off scions of famed wealth.

Andrew, his wife, and I were the representative from the other 99.999999% of humanity.

Most of these people never travel to New York, except to the dog show or gala dinners and the hostess asked me how was business. She had a good heart and laughed at my stories. Sandy liked introducing me as'the entertainment'.

“I’ve had better years and worse years.” Last year was bad, but getting arrested in a foreign country is always a bad bad start. Richie Boy and I had opened a jewelry store in the basement of the Plaza Hotel. Our dreams had been dashed by bad location and a thieving partner. “But this is different. No one wants to spend. Not on anything. Luckily I have a big ruby sale in the works.”

“Really?” Sandy asked with interest. Her wealth was 9 zeroes long. The aging brunette loved jewelry, but worshiped horses. Her new stables were a statement of love for her animals. They cost more than I would see in my lifetime.

“Yes, I’m selling a 6-carat Burma ruby, untreated, unheated, blood-red.” The customer was wavering on the stone, because its color was a little pink. Just a little, but color is everything in fine rubies.

“How much?” Her eyes batted like butterflies on speed. Sandy had once been Olympian. Her beauty still held on her flesh.

“$1.4 million.” I had put on enough profit to send me back to Thailand for a good month. Even then it was a good deal for the buyer.

“Ooooh, so much.” Sandy frowned with the disapproval based on her descent from the Pilgrims. “I just canceled my trip to San Francisco, because I decided it wasn’t prudent to spend money in this economy.”

“Say what?” The words from Captain Sensible’s hit song from the 1980s. There was a recession at the time of that recording.

“Yes, I lost 20% of my wealth in the last 4 months. Mind you I’m still as rich as I was when I inherited my money, but I’ve decided to be prudent. I might even have to cut back on my polo ponies.” Tears misted her eyes, thinking about which ponies might get cut from the string in Wellington, Florida. “I have to be responsible.”

AC's wife kicked me in the leg before I attacked the entire idea of the trickle-down theory of the GOP, where the rich would become really rich and then spend their money like lottery winners in order to make everyone else rich. I glared at Sandy, but took a deep breath and said, “I think that’s a good idea that you set a good example of economic prudence for the rest of the rich. Save and then other people will save, maybe even the middle class.”

“Yes, I’m doing my part to increase the flow of economic prudence.” She leaned over to whisper, “You don’t have a line of cocaine, do you?”

“I do.” It was a lie, but sometimes a lie is better than the truth. “But it wouldn’t be prudent for you to do any. I have to think of my finances too. Thanks for the inspiration.”

I left the table and went straight to the bathroom. All the males followed suit. They were disappointed to hear that I wasn’t holding drugs. Outraged in fact. I almost thought that they wanted to strip-strip me. I wasn’t having any of that and went into the bathroom. I faked snorting several lines and returned to a scornful table, wiping my nose.

“Economic prudence, didn’t the Beatles do a song about that?”

The revolution obviously should begin when billionairesses stop spending money.

At least on gigolos.

The Death of Cars


The population of the world was well under a million in the 17th Century. A horse was the fastest means of travel. China was the most populous nation. The Celestial Kingdom was ruled by the Qing Dynasty. Europeans sought favor with the Manchu court and a Flemish Jesuit supposedly presented the Chinese Emperor with a 65 cm-long steam-powered vehicle. It was the first car.

Today over 800 million cars and trucks travel over roads on every continent in all weather. Most are powered by carbon-based fuels. Oil companies suck oil and gas from the earth to feed Man's need to travel on wheels. Global economies are dominated by the demand for gas and politics are designed to control the sources spread across the planet.

Last night Richie Boy and I decided to have a drink at a nearby hotel. The bar is deco. The crowd consists mostly of businessmen and their clients. The room was designed to throttle the noise level and we spoke about our plans for the future. Diamonds are increasingly difficult to find. The Chinese and Indians are cornering the market. They pay top dollar for the goods. The cartel couldn't be happy with their new partners and everyone on 47th Street is feeling the pressure of the increasing costs of diamonds.


"At least we're making money." Richie Boy raised his glass to toast a successful week. We have completed a 30-inch chain of gem 40-point round-brilliants for a discerning hedge fund operator. The necklace was a work of art.

"That we are." I had sold a diamond eternity band of certified oval diamonds to an NBA basketball player. We worked hard five days a week. Richie Boy put in extra hours over the weekend. His phone never stopped ringing. He had rich friends. Mine were struggling to keep their jobs.

The man next to us ordered a Negroni. I was drinking a gin-tonic. My tastes are very simple. The 50 year-old was in the oil business.

"Things couldn't be better." The upstate native had switched from Wall Street to analyzing the oil industry in the mid-90s. "Back then the business was dying in the USA. Now we're extracting oil off-shore and fracking gas out of shale in North Dakota."

"I'm one of your best customers." Richie Boy liked luxury SUVs. He had forsaken a Land-Rover for a Mercedes GL 450 with a 4.6-liter V-8 engine. "I figure that I'm being green by burning up all the gas I can, so there'll be none in 20 years."

"We aren't running out of gas soon. There's enough reserves in the USA to last the century." The analyst lambasted President Obama for opening the Strategic Oil Reserves. "Government should never determine prices."

"I agree, the price should react to demand." I had majored in economics at college. Some of that knowledge stuck in my head, also a good part of the politics of the early-70s. "Except when the industry is price setting for profit. There is no shortage of gas, yet prices have hit $4 a gallon thanks to speculation. Not that it matters to me. I don't have a car."

"Neither do I." The analyst lived on the Upper West Side. My apartment was in Fort Greene. Both of us traveled by subway or taxi. "No parking tickets, no garage fees, no car insurance."

"Freedom from the car and I foresee the day when the car will no longer be part of our lives."

"There will always be cars." Richie Boy loved his cars. They hauled his skis to Vermont and his surfboards to Montauk.

"There were cars a little over 100 years ago. Everything comes to an end." Trolleys and trains once connected cities to towns and towns to farms. "People rode horse an buggies. In 1919 the future president Eisenhower accompanied a convoy of WWI army trucks from Washington to San Francisco in 1919. The main route was the Lincoln Highway. 3000 miles of dirt roads. The trip took 62 days."

"And that trip impressed on Ike the need for highways. He had seen the autobahn in Germany and he created the Interstate Highway System." The balding analyst knew his history. Oil and cars went hand in hand. "New highways, suburbs, shopping malls, fast food."

"America at its best." The golden era of the car ended with the 1974 Gas Embargo. GTOs were replaced by Pinto, but the cheap gas of the 90s brought back big; trucks and SUVs.

"Cars aren't going anywhere." Richie was a member of the faithful.

"Twenty years from now cars will have disappeared from the planet."

"And what will replaced them?" Richie Boy didn't share my vision of a carless society.

"Nothing will replaced them." I envisioned a world population of one billion. Cities across the planet would disappear or shrink to a fraction of their size.

"And what do you base this claim on?" asked the analyst. He was used to hard facts and sheets of numbers.

"Just a hunch." I would miss the cars. Motorcycles too. I wasn't a very good horseman.

"That's not very scientific." Richie Boy signaled for another round of drinks.

"No, I'm no scientist." I has been born with the placenta around my head. The Irish considered that a sign of foresight. Seeing the future was no gift. I took my drink and clinked glasses with Richie Boy and the analyst. "Here's to the car. GTOs, jeeps, Porsches, and the VW Bug. I love them all."

"So what are you trying to say?" The analyst was perplexed by my flip-flopping and Richie Boy explained, "He's a Gemini. They change their opinions like a weather vane. According to their moods."

We drank up and spoke about Troy, New York. It was the analyst's hometown. Richie Boy drove through on the way to Vermont. He knew most of its restaurants. None of them were good. I had hitchhiked through Troy in 1974. It was rundown then and it's rundown now. Someplace to drive through on your way to somewhere else.

And that remains the beauty of the car.

It gives people escape.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Good News Every Day


These are hard times for people my age. My friends are fired from long-time jobs by bosses seeking to maximize profit. Their houses are underwater in debt. Pensions are threatened by the GOP, corporations, and Democrats. Health care is a myth. The world is supposed to end in 2012 and many people are anticipating the apocalypse with expectation of relief, however good news does occur from time to time.

My boss Manny is going on vacation for three weeks. He needs the rest.

A good friend, Ralph, informed me that he had just become a grandfather at 48. His son is serving under the flag. 26 and back from his 3rd tour overseas with the military. Ralph's father is 70. The great-grandmother is 90. They hail from Martha's Vinyard. The wheel remains unbroken.

My family is intact after the passage of my father last year. We speak to each other without too much rancor. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup and I have been appointed the writer-in-residence of a foreign embassy in Europe. I'm quitting my job on 47th Street to write a book about free love in a Utopian commune in Northern New England set in the 1840s. Room and board and a small stipend. My commute to Thailand has been shortened from 26 hours to 11 hours. I will see my kids more often.

"You are entering a time of perfection," a friend said upon hearing the news.

It's been 10 years since I've been in Europe.

TRANS-EUROPE EXPRESS.

I can't wait to see the Alps.

Life is good.

Even at 59, because family and friends are more important than money.

They are the chain of life.

Past, present, and future.

Moe-Ho Road Rage ala Thai


This Thai expression is rarely used while behind the wheel.

On Boxing Day 2005 a neighbor roared down my soi in his pick-up. He nearly hit my daughter. My wife later said he didn’t come close, but I took off after him to give him a piece of my mind. At the end of the soi I slapped his door, but had to arkwardly brake to avoid entering the busier main street. The bike fell over and as I was picking it up, my neighbor, whose head appeared small behind the tinted windows emerged as a football hooligan and walloped my head several times. Bloodying my head, breaking my nose slightly, and blackening both eyes.

“Had enough?”

“Yeah, but your still an asshole for driving like one.”

Of course this is hardly an isolated incident.

Everyone’s temper worsens in their vehicle.

Sourette’s syndrome is pandemic.

“FFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUU.”

Up in Chiang Mai back in the 90s a German gave a motorcyclist the finger.

A year later the Kraut was shot dead by the same motorcyclist.

Last week a Thai driver was angered by three kids on bike. They were driving in between the cars without any concern for life or limb. The driver beeped his horn and one of the bikers slowewd down to shoot the driver. He was lucky.

Only wounded.

His girlfriend said, “I told him to be cool.”

And that’s what everyone should be

Cool.

Me too.

Like where we going in such a hurry?

7/11?

To get some shitty food.

Jai yen.

I’ve learned my lesson, but if anyone sees a blue Isuzu pick-up with 6522 plates, I give you the green light to slash their tires.

Beers will be on me at the Buffalo Bar in August.

No-Man’s Land at Prum



Farangs aren't smart. Westerners might go to good schools. Their jobs might be respected in the West, but to Thais that prestige means nothing. Thais love Thais. Farangs are considered kee-nok or bird shit. I had moved to Thailand to be with the daughter and her mother. Our loveless bliss ended after two years. My 'mia' to whom I never married at the wat or village or city hall, because she had betrayed my trust at the birth of my daughter, decided to move up-country. Her excuses vary from month to month. I don’t lift them to the light, because the truth is an onion with many layers. Once you peel them all, you have nothing.

Neither did I question her returns, which coincided with my wandering farther from home. I’m happy to end my ersatz-singledom, because her arrival meant I got to spend time with my 3 year-old daughter.

My friends understood during her visits my status around Pattaya is persona non persona. My daughter and I went swimming at the Shaba Hut and rode around town with our little dog in the motor scooter basket. No bars, no late nights, and I spent bedtime reading my little angel Winnie the Pooh in horrible Thai. My wife recently found this good behavior very suspicious and after two weeks ordered me to take a break on a weekend night.

I needed little encouragement to bust out of the domestic kraal and once my daughter was asleep, I drove my bike to Walking Street like a rat with its tail on fire.

Sam Royalle was waiting at Heaven Above A Go Go.

His girlfriend had a posse of girlfriends retired by out-of-town boyfriends.

After my 3rd drink they were no threat to celibate state. My daughter's mother and I hadn't had sex since her conception. I was bored by the go-go bars. They were too loud to speak over the boy band disco and ’suck-my-dick’ rap. Naked girls held no thrill. Not when they’re shuffling the old bored one-two step, but Sam kept ordering tequilas. After three my tongue reverted to Neanderthalism.

As Sam called for a round of Kamikazes, I escaped from Heaven and staggered down the stairs to Soi Diamond. Every step was a challenge and I wondered how to negotiate the two blocks to my parked bike. A catapult was my only solution, until Jamie Parker commented, “Man, are you really that fucked up?”

“Tequila on an empty stomach.” I was trying to lose weight. Not drinking beer was the answer. Not a diet.

“Are you really thinking about driving home?” Jamie was alone.

“I’ve driven in worst condition.” I hadn’t seen him since the disastrous 9/11 opening of his defunct PIGPEN A GO GO.

“Which is why your wrist looks like a Klingnon warship.”

“I wasn’t drunk then, only distracted.”

“I’ll help you on your way.” Jamie and I went back to New York. The East Village to be exact. Drugs and crime to be precise. Neither of us tempted fate in Pattaya. We were the few 50 year olds to be that wise, but not tonight, because Jamie dragged me over to the Jennie bar. World famous for the most beautiful TVs in the world. He ordered two vodka tonics. Doubles.

“Is this Drivers Ed 2006?”

“No, I had something weird happen today. On a visa run.”

“Weird?” Visa runs are as interesting as an airport transit lounge.

“Yeah, I get on the minivan. 6:30. Crack of dawn. Sleep two hours. Listen two hours to the various bullshit from the other visa-runners. The only one not speaking was this old guy. Maybe 65. He’s reading a book. I like reading like you and ask him what he’s reading. He says with a German accent, “Zarathusa, but this version is called BANGKOK 8.”

"We spoke about the ubermensch and the untermensch. The old guy originally from Austria. Fled the Nazis but he wasn’t a Jew. Father was a commie or a criminal. He’s been out here since before electricity. Runs a restaurant in Made in Thailand.”

“I know the place.” His wife made a great veal schnitzel. “His name’s Frank.”

“Yeah, that’s right, but I have bad news.”

“What?” I was expecting him to ask me for money.

“Frank’s dead.”

“Frank’s dead?” He was only 65. I knew his daughter. She was beautiful.

“Yeah, we crossed the border into Cambo. No problem. He’s fine. Gets his visa stamped and lowers his head into his book. I thought he was asleep and went to get a bottle of wine. Nice Bordeaux. I come back and see he hasn’t changed position. I touch him and he’s cold.”

“Dead.”

“Than a bucket of nails.”

“Fuck.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought. I told the guide and he said the same thing. We had a little conference and decide to risk taking him back across the border. I mean, i didn’t want him stuck between the borders like Orson Welles in A TOUCH OF EVIL.”

“No one would have wanted to take responsibility for him.” Frank could have been stuck there for days. “Bad luck.”

“The guide wasn’t too happy about the situation, but we got him upright. You ever notice how heavy dead people are?”

“A bucket of mud in a plastic bag.” I had worked as a janitor in a terminal ward during university. The orderlies were my friends and I helped them move the dead to the gurneys.

“You know the border. Shitty muddy waiting area. Crappy bridge.” Jamie downs his drink ad orders two more. Doubles again. “We get to the passport control. The officer looks at Frank and asks what’s wrong. We say he’s drunk. The officer knows drunk. Frank is more than that and signals us to come to the side.”

“How much?” Thai border officials are quick on the take.

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?”

“The guy had seen ‘papa’ for years and says he’ll stamp the passport for a renewed visa, but only if we declared him dead in Thailand.”

“Good guy.”

“That’s why we live here. Thais understand reality.” A Britney Spears look-a-like TV sits on Jamie’s lap. “We carry Frank’s body into Thailand. Everyone waied his corpse. They respect him as an old man who loves Thailand. The cops think about taking him back to Pattaya but let the minivan bring him home. His wife cried a bucket.”

“Guess we’ll be going to the wat for cremation.”

“Better than being buried in a box.” Jamie and I never thought we were going to die. We clinked glasses and I knew I wasn’t going home soon. Sitting the dead took time and I still have plenty of that. My daughter would understand. I didn't give a shit what her mother thought.

New Words for the Modern Age



Every year Webster Dictionary enters modern slang into the lexicon of the English language. Most English speakers are light years ahead of the educational tome in their depravity, but here are some words which might make it into the 2012.

1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

5. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject
financially impotent for an indefinite period.

6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

11. Karmageddon: It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like, a serious
bummer.

12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

13. Glibido: All talk and no action.

14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve
accidentally walked through a spider web.

16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit
you’re eating.

And the pick of the litter:

18. Ignoranus: A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.

Bannok Loves Farangs



Middle-Age farang males vacation in Thailand for the beaches and the temples. A friend sometimes suggests a visit to the Last Babylon. In Pattaya the man meet a girl. Past and present are unimportant. She is something out of a dream and they spent an idyllic vacation on Koh Samet.

The disgust of fat western women rivals the envy barely hidden on these obese cows’ husbands. The two make love five times a day, mostly to make up for years of abstinence. Upon their return to Pattaya, she doesn’t seem to mind accompanying the farang to go-gos. Love so blinds the western male that he can’t see that she doesn’t trust him out of her sight.

This has to be paradise and two weeks into the honeymoon his beloved says, “I want see my family. You come with me?”

It seems like an innocent proposition and his agree to this journey to Ban Nok.

Hearing your plans his bar friends exchange a knowingly glance.

“What’s wrong?” You really want to know.

“Nothing.” They smile like the farang had brought a blind donkey “Have a great time.”

“Thanks.”

He rents a car for several days and leaves Pattaya for this great adventure. Ban Mai-mee-tee-nai is not on the map. He asks his sweetheart for directions. She is about a minute from a semi-coma and points north. “Isaan.”

Isaan.

The mythic plateau of Northeast Thailand which has figured into his friends jokes about the sick buffalo, blind aunt, feeding a host of hundreds and drinking lao whiskey with toothless rice farmers till dawn. The farang suddenly realize that he don’t know what he ahs gotten himself into and his tilat isn’t explaining either, because she scrunched against the door in a state of exhaustion.

Oblivion comes easy are two weeks of making love to a Viagra-crazed farang.

The highway turns into a two lane road. At one point his darling opens an eye and indicates a dirt road. By the time the car hits the first pothole, she has lapsed into another coma.

The electric lines disappear and dry fields stretch to a hazy horizon. Buffalo laze in a torpor. No cars. No people. Crossing a bridge over a muddy creek and his girlfriend opens her eyes. “We here.”

“Ban Mai-mee-tee-nai?”

“My home.” She beeps the horn, as the car pull into a forested complex.

A horde of Thais surge from several wooden houses. He haven’t seen any place this ramshackle outside of a National Geographic magazine, but everyone is all smiles. He smiles back. Kids pull on his leg. An toothless old geezer man greets him with a bow. The farang gracelessly effects a wai back as directed by his girlfriend. Everyone chortles at his clumsy gesture. The farang smiles back. Food appears out of nowhere. Everyone sits down and eats on the ground. The westerner think this isn’t too bad, until his legs cramp up and everyone laughs at his uncomfortability.

His girlfriend’s ‘brother’ gets him a chair dating back three centuries. Sweat pours from his skin. He is offered beer with ice. The farang disdained drinking it before. Now it’s perfect. The heat is stultifying. More food is eaten. Some of it he doesn’t recognize. He tastes a little. Your mouth is on fire. He drinks more beer. Soon it’s gone.

“Need more beer.” His girlfriend holds out her hand.

The farang reaches into your pocket. Hss girlfriend grabs 2000 baht and jumps on a dilapidated motorcycle. “Be back soon.”

The remaining crones clear the food and he is left to drink lao whiskey with the male family members. They insist on his drinking this villainous concoction, even though he passed triple the legal limit for DWI an hour ago. His girlfriend hasn’t shown up and the man peak his ears for the sound of the motorcycle, only to hear the buzz of the early evening’s mozzies.

Several hours later the man wakes on the floor of a house with three men downing a plastic bag of lao whiskey. His GPS is off line. His wallet is still in his pants. Thais are very honest. Female voices babble under the floor. Nothing they say makes any sense. The man climbs over the pile of drinking men and descends a vertiginous set of stairs to the ground.

Over head stars blaze in their billions. A fire burns in the yard. Some of it is plastic. His girlfriend is sitting with a gaggle of women. She smiles at him. He smiles back, wishing a doctor could shoot him with an injection to get rid of his growing hangover.

Footsteps sound behind him. The men are carrying down the plastic bags of lao whiskey. The farang protests against being offered a glass. His girlfriend frowns. The lao goes right to his stomach and he rushes into the bushes to heave like a Girl Scout drunk from sherry. Everyone laughs and that’s the last sound he remembers before waking to the sound of roosters cowing. it’s dark. hell, it’s night.

His girlfriend is asleep and so is everyone else.

He triesto go back to sleep but his feet have been bitten to death by mozzies hungry for a new taste of blood. Soon dogs are barking and the sky is getting light. Before the dawn a loudspeaker crackles to life. For the next hour a man rants in Thai. No one stirs from their slumber and the westerner wishes that he could click his heels like Dorothy in THE WIZARD OF OZ to trasnport himself back in his hotel.

Air-con. Cable TV. Swimming pool. Mobile phone service. Western food. Chairs. Beds. Beaches. bikinis. Go-go bars.

Of course his girlfriend doesn’t respond to any hint about a return to Pattaya other than to say that tonight is a big party, which ends up a repeat of the first night only with more family members. Everyone is having a good time, since no one has put a hand into their pocket since his arrival and the farang mentally calculates that he could have flown to Bali for the price of the last two days ie bar fine, car rental, and expenses.

And his girlfriend hasn’t as much as kissed you, as she has reverted to a village girl. Food, friends, family, everyone having a good time. And she knows how to play a man, farang or Thai, because at the night’s end, she comes up to him and says, “Everyone like you. Me, I love you, because you not make face.”

“Make face?”

“Yes, make face same dog, because you spend too much money.” She sneaks a kiss and everyone laughs. The farang too and he decides to stick it another day.

On the fourth day the farang wakes up and packs the car. Everyone waves good-bye, except for the three family members joining him for the voyage south.

Back in Pattaya the farang drops off the relatives. They get out of the car without a word of thanks. He delivers the car three hours late for a half-day penalty. At the hotel the westerner is glad to be back in civilization, although his girlfriend cries, “I miss my family.”

They make love for the first time in four days and she cries throughout the labor. The farang feel like he's having sex with a war widow and almost stops, except those years of abstinence have created a monster and he completes his mission, after which the farang leave the girlfriend in the hotel room watching TV to meet his friends. She is on the phone to a family member. She barely notices his departure.

Later night the gang at his favorite bar ask, “How was it?”

“It was great.”

And they nodded in unison because they’ve said the same thing too.

And it's all true, because they've never experienced anything in years.

Bannok loves farangs.

Pattaya Always Pattaya


Back in the 1970s Miami Beach was a neglected beach resort populated by ancient retirees in moldy art-deco apartment buildings. Elderly snowbird males dine at Wolfie's Deli sporting Sta-press shirts, plaid trousers, and gleaming white shoes. Attired in their polyster finery these septagenarians trolled Miami Beach for blue-haired widows with a little extra income.

The tropical sun set early in Florida. Darkness was not an old man's friend. Females in their 70s looked 50 to a man with poor night vision. Desire youngified every senior female on Collins Avenue. The sidewalks emptied after dusk and the windows female compatriots in looked better than good after dusk and the sidewalks were empty by the end of dusk. Hotel windows glowed with TV lights and the ACs hummed to frost the bedroom to the temperature of the Belleville morgue.

That somnambulent elegance was vanquished by the trendification of South Beach in the 90s. The decaying hotels were renovated by New York hoteliers, the decayed rooms were filled with hipsters, and the night was animated by bars and discos for the first time since MIAMI VICE.

The city was re-born as a super-cool destination. Nothing kills a city faster than a hipster.

I lived in Pattaya from 1998 to 2008. The population was 90,000. A good mix of thai go-go girls, drag queens, and fugitive farangs. It was good fun and citizens avoided the Costa de Mafia like we had the pox, then Pattaya was discovered by the squares.

Luxury condos replaced decrepit beach resorts with hopes of replacing the its faithful clientele of European sex tourists with more fashionable tourists from the Pacific Rim.

Gucci instead of tee-shirts.

Prada took from knock-offs.

Upper-class Thais from Bangkok besmote by the need to flaunt their success with au courrant styles have exiled the lager louts and steroid juice monkeys from Walking Street the same way Madonna pushed Meyer Lansky's widow off the throne of Miami Beach, however this transition will take time in Pattaya, for the city on the Gulf of Siam reamins the most unfashionable city in Asia.

Dressing well is considered a sign of respect for yourselves and those around you, so Thais can't understand why farangs dress so badly in their wife-beater t-shirts, soiled shorts, and grubby sneakers. I expect nothing better from retired postal workers from South London and divorced accountants of Berlin.

Slobs are always slobs.

It's in their blood.

And they will save Pattaya for the scourge of the good.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gold Frenzy in Thailand


The price of gold has rocketed during the last year. The rise has been fueled by the drop in the dollar combined with tremendous demand from India and China. Sadly gold has been the staple gift for Thai girls from their farang boyfriends since the Vietnam War. 5 baht of gold on a bar girl’s neck or wrist is a dead give-away she has a love-struck sponsor in the closet. The girls love this show of wealth, for the sheer pleasure of rendering other bargirls green with Goldfingeresque envy or it-chaa.

“My boyfriend love me 5-baht.”

Jamie Parker, who’s a STAR TREK fan, once likened Thai bargirls to the unscrupulous Darbo girls hungry for gold-plated latinum.

”Thanks the stars they don’t know diamonds are a girl's best friend.”

His comment rang clear with truth. 5 baht of 24 Karat gold is a little more than $6000. A 2-carat diamond ring for a western woman, whose virginity is uncertified, can run $20,000, so the Thai mania for gold is a blessing in disguise.

If you want to make a Thai girl happy. Buy her some gold, but there are several standard rules of gold-buying to obey;

1.) If the girl already has gold, the odds are that she has a sponsor and you are being taken for a ride. Not that your generosity isn’t appreciated. You will be her darling until the guy who bought her the bigger hunk of gold comes into town, then she’ll have to leave to take care of a sick family member. The one week usually runs from Saturday to Saturday and she seems to have telephone problems during her absence.

“Signal no good. Too many buffalo farting.”

2.) You buy it, it’s hers.

A diamond engagement ring is a contract in NY State. No marriage, the ring goes back to the man. Not so in Thailand. A girlfriend or wife considers the gold a safeguard against a time of drought or a brother in the monkey house or a sick buffalo.

“Sick buffalo need glasses to see grass.”

Never question these problems too deeply since to question more means your obligation increases. Accept what you are told on face value and go out and get drunk. The drunker the better. At least the money is going into your gut instead of bunch of upcountry farmers who owe more money to the banks than their famrs are worth on the open market.

3.) If you’ve done something really wrong, gold will save face for your girlfriend.

You’ve disappeared into a k-hole for a week, had sex with ka-toeys or lady-boys, smashed the family car in an impromptu F1 race on Sukhumvit, and been seen with her best friend at a karaoke bar.

Unforgivable?

5 baht of gold will soothe her anger like a OD on Valium.

I used to work in a New York City diamond exchange. 47th street. One morning a man knocks on the window. We let him in thinking he’s a thief, until he hurriedly says, “Gimme something for $3000.”

I show him a gold/diamond necklace.

“Fine. I’ll take it.” He peels off 100s like he’s spent the last five days in a casino and needs a gift to show his wife, (who he hasn’t called in that time ) that he was thinking about her.

Same for you after this weekend from hell.

Buy the gold before you walk in the door.

Believe me, she’ll drop the carving knife on the floor and be on the phone the rest of the day happily bragging to her friends.

Lastly buying gold means that you have to go along.

If you give her the money, it will never make the distance to the gold counter.

“Sick buffalo rob me.”

Here’s a few facts to help you,

Caveat emptor which is Latin for ‘let the buyer beware’.

Som nam nah or ‘serves you right means the same in Thai.

Go to someplace where the people look more honest than a car salesman.

Check if the gold has a stamp.

Have them weigh it.

40 years ago Thai gold was 98% gold with a special alloy called nam prasam tong.

This gold was soft as putty and was replaced by the present melange of 96.5% gold and the rest silver and bronze. The basic measure is more than a half ounce or 31 grams. The price of gold is usually about $30 over the gold market price.

Gold in recent weeks has bounced to new heights.

21000 for one baht.

Yikes!

So if you’re thinking of doing something really wrong, make sure you do so in another town.

“Darling, I have to go to Bangkok to see a sick friend.”

“Who you go see.”

“Derek, you remember him.”

Five baht of gold now is a motorcycle or 50 short times at a go-go.

Five baht of gold or 50 short times?

Peace at home or paradise for 15-20 minutes.

Your choice.

Lame Ass Poser


Editors and agents have asked for a definition of my writing. Corporate executives like neat niches. I tell them the easy answer, "Semi-fiction."

"What's that?" None of them are familiar with that genre, since it doesn't really exist in their marketplace.

"Whatever is interesting is true." My employer Richie Boy had once described my story-telling technique as that. I have never disputed that my tales are a melange of truth, demi-truth, and outright fabrication. The same goes for my grammar.

Most recently I had written a story about a concert by the English punk band, the Damned. I recounted the evening to the best of my memory's ability. One reader took exception. Cheetah Chrome of the Dead Boys lambasted my remembrance of that night.

"Nice story , too bad it never happened. Do yer research man.The only gigs we ever did with the Damned in the US were at CBGB.The only tour we ever did with them was in England. Documented fact. Christ, you lameass posers."

Lameass poser.

Coming from Cheetah Chrome, I consider that a comment.

Thank you for SONIC REDUCER.

Monday, June 20, 2011

CHICKEN MESSIAHS by Peter Nolan Smith



Several years ago the media covered a story about rats infesting a Greenwich Village KFC. The stock for Yum Corp, which owns the fast food chain along with Taco Bell, dropped fifty cents on the NYSE with the negative news and I felt bad, because for several years I had been a quality control inspector for KFC in the New York area.

I got the job in 1999 through Jim Rockford, no relation to the TV character. Our friendship dated back to an acid trip on Black’s Beach in August 1974. I swam with seals and they spoke my name. Jim laughed at their jokes. Coming down we forgot the punchlines.

Jim was a hippie guru with a girlfriend who looked like Patty Hearst. The cops stopped us everywhere with guns drawn. The police attention was a buzzkill and Jim felt the urge for going. “Come join us in Frisco. You can wear flowers in your hair.”

My senior year in university began in September and the summer of love died in 1969. We shook hands good-bye on the highway and I hitchhiked east to Boston. I graduated sin laude from BC and drove taxi, while waiting for a teaching job for the fall of 1974.

Jim showed up that summer. Hair longer than before. His blonde SLA clone girlfriend traded for a young Eurasian twenty year-old named Nona. Everyone in Boston fell in love with her that summer. Me too. We swam in Provincetown and danced at gay clubs in Boston. September arrive with a frost and they left for Woodstock.

We stayed in touch for as long as we could, but I moved to New York to pursue a career as a poet and the connection snapped like an old rubber band. I thought about Nona a lot. Her beauty was an exception to the rule in America. Dusky instead of blonde. I never expected to see her again.

In the winter of 1995 I was in Bali at a seaside bar where everyone who disappeared from your life reappears cooler than before and one night a woman called my name.

It was Nona.

The early evening tropical light was the best make-up a woman in her 30s could desire. We had a laugh that night with mutual friend and later went to her kon-tiki house in a bamboo grove. Her jealous Balinese boyfriend threatened me with a ceremonial kris. Nona showed him the door. “Pagi. Anda tidak bagus.”

“Not you. Stay here. He scares me.” I slept in the spare bedroom listening to the bamboo trunks rub against each other like lovers driven by the wind. I heard her lover climb the wall and throw rocks against the window, whispering words of love in Balinese.

In the morning he was gone and Nona said she was leaving for Singapore. No packed bags lay by the door and I read the situation for what it was, but before I left the house, I asked about Jim.

“I left him.”

“Why?”

“Because he hit me.”

“Hit you?”

“It’s a long story, anyway he’s married and living in Iowa. I think he’s growing marijuana. Here’s his number. If you see him, tell him thanks for everything.”

A month later I was back in New York and called the number in Iowa. The woman answering the phone said Jim wasn’t home. I later found out he was doing a five-year bid for cocaine possession.

I was able to afford my travels because of my diamond gig on West 47th Street.

Six months on. Six months off.

I ran into Nona over and over again. Bali, Paris, and London. She was making silver jewelry for a German boyfriend. There was no talk about the Bali guy or Jim. Women don’t discuss guys that hit them, unless they’ve had a lot to drink and Nona only sipped wine.

My 1998 trip to Thailand ended with my falling in love with a one-eyed go-go dancer. New York and its nightlife was a bland imitation of my redux of the film THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG. My friends avoided my calls. Broken hearts are always bad luck. I drank at the 10th Street Lounge and one night spotted someone familiar staring at me. He was older and had long hair. I couldn’t ID him until he smiled.

It was Jim Rockford.

“What you doing here?”

A friend from Boston had said I was living on East 10th street. “This seemed like the bar you would drink in.”

“How so.”

“Pretty girls. Good music.”

“What are you really doing here?” I asked in the bathroom doing a line of coke.

“I spent the last five years as a guest of the Iowa penal system. The cops invaded my house for suspicion of pot growing. Couldn’t find anything but an ounce of coke. Said it was for dealing.”

“Was it?” I’m very pro-anti-drugs.

“What you think?” Jim hooted a cigarette-thick line from the shelf.

“Personal.”

“Anyway they never found the reefer since I had buried the farm and was using solar panel to heat the room. Couldn’t see the heat signature. Dopes. I’m still dealing pot but needed a clean source of income, so when I got out of prison, my PO got me a job inspecting KFCs.”

“Kentucky Fried Chicken?” Jim had been a vegetarian since a near-fatal bout of cancer in his teens.

“Yeah, Frankenstein chickens with no legs and no eyes. Only a mouth, bones, meat, and an asshole.”

It wasn’t a pretty picture and I ordered a vodka at the bar from the waitress I’d been trying to seduce for ages. The coke didn’t help my spiel and at the end of the night I invited Jim to sleep at my place.

“Thanks, I couldn’t have made it to New Jersey.”

“What are you really doing out there?”

“Well, I told you about that KFC gig. Every day I go to about 30-40 of them. Maybe you can help me.”

“How so?” My coke-spastic hands were having trouble with the front door. The key kept getting bigger.

“You can drive while I fill out my reports. I’ll give you $200 for the day and all the chicken you can eat.”

“I have my diamond job.” It was September and no one was buying jewelry.

“Call in sick.”

My boss Richie Boy was my drinking buddy. He would read my saying a head cold for what it was. A killer hang-over.

The next morning’s recovery required a bacon and eggs sandwich. Jim had a cup of coffee and a line of blow. “Hair of the dog.”

We picked up his rented Ford Taurus from the parking lot on East 9th street. I put Arthur Lee’s LOVE on the CD player.

“Damn, I love SIGNED DC. Head over to queens. I have a battle plans.” Jim threw a metropolitan map on my lap. The locations of the KFCs were marked with a red marker. “Today’s Brooklyn and Queens. Tomorrow the Bronx and Manhattan.”

I glanced at the map. There were over a hundred KFCs. None of them were on 5th Avenue or Soho or the Upper East Side. I mentioned this to Jim and he laughed, “Wherever KFC is, then you can count it as a scary neighborhood after dark. So step on it.”

We drove over the Queensboro Bridge and hit 10 KFCS before noon. The back seat was jammed with specials and supersized drinks. “The stores get a bonus if they ask us to supersize.”

The traffic sucked, but I made good time throughout Queens, because most of the shops were on the same boulevards, however Brooklyn had 30 KFCs scattered over the 5th biggest city in the USA and the neighborhoods got rougher as darkness dropped over the city.

East New York was an apocalypse. Especially Pitcairn Avenue. KFCs were the only sign of life. No bars. No restaurants. No stores. Only KFCs and bums hanging around the corners. No one bothered us, since two white guys cruising a black neighborhood look like cops.

“We had about $300 worth of chicken in the back seat. The car reeked of the Colonel. I had eaten about $20 worth. “We gotta to get rid of this shit.”

“Stop at Coutlandt. There a few homeless people there.”

“A few was about twenty and most appeared ready to run when we pulled up to the curb. Jim lowered the window and said, “Don’t anyone make a move.”

They froze like it was a Kojak episode and Jim got out of the car. “Anyone here like chicken?”

“Does the pope shit in the woods?” A toothless wino joked, until Jim opened the back door and distributed fifty meals to the shopping cart brigade. The toothless wino cackled holding up a drumstick. First I thought you wuz the cops. Now I know who you are. You the chicken messiahs.”

Like that the chicken messiahs became an urban legend to the needy in Phillie, Newark, Yonkers, and New York.

Only the homeless would accept our charity on the streets. Anyone else was too proud or suspicious to take a hand-out. Not the boys working security at the 10th Street Lounge. The Jamaican bouncers loved the special deliveries.

Jim and I washed off the grease and drank vodkas at the bar. Our dessert was a line of blow. Nothing too extreme. “I got another busy day tomorrow.”

In the morning he woke early. “I’ll be back next month.”

Every month we would come into month with a kilo of pot and a bag of blow. KFCS recognizes us and put a special effort to cleaning their stores for our review. Some were good. Some were horrible. Jim never ate the chicken. Only the potatoes and corn bread. I loved the skin.

“Most people working this job get really fat.” Jim warned, as I had a bite of an extra spicy chicken. “So watch out.”

I did and concentrated on driving. I got to know the roads in the Bronx and Brooklyn like a gypsy cabdriver. Phillie was worst than anything New York had to offer. Especially North Phillie. People there shot dope on the streets. They never wanted charity chicken.

About a year into the gig Jim asked at the bar, “You know I been wanting to ask you a question.”

He had gotten the manager, Cornell, to play IMAGINE. Jim was a Beatles fan. I liked the Damned.

“What kind of question?’

“How you get my number?”

“Nona gave it to me.”

“Nona? Where you see her?”

“In Bali.” I explained about our meeting at the Blue Ocean without adding the boyfriends.

“How she look?”

“Beautiful.”

“She say anything about me.”

“She said you hit her.”

“It was a mistake.”

“Yeah,” I never hit women. At least I told myself that, but had done so three times. They were also all mistakes.

“She was telling me I was a loser. Every day. It got to me and I slapped her once. She left me after that. I don’t know why her telling me that would have such an effect. I’m a peaceful guy.”

Nona had recently returned to New Jersey. “I saw her last week.”

“She’s back.”

“Yes.”

“You have her number?”

Nona had told me never to give her number to Jim, but he was my friend and she was a 100 miles away. I wrote down the number and he went outside to call her. He came back after a few minutes and said, “Now I remember why I hit her.”

“The voice.” Nona came from Trenton. Her voice was a garbage router in your ear like the movie actress from SINGING IN THE RAIN.

Painful.

“She still didn’t deserve to get hit.”

“You’re right. Jim was contrite. “She was a good girl. Said she wants to meet me.”

“You tell her about KFC?”

“She had a good laugh about that. Made me feel good I could make her laugh.”

Me too and they did get together. Although only as friends. I left the states after 2001. Jim and I still speak. He still visits Nona on his trips to Jersey. She eats chicken. He drinks wine in her house on the Delaware. No chicken messiah could hope for more in this age of magic.

Da Chicken Farm - Sihanoukville 2007


In 2007 I was losing my mind. The mother of my daughter has deserted me to live in the hicks or 'bannok'. I had given up everything to move to Thailand and be a father. Angie's mom was scared that I was planning to kidnap her. She was stupider than a bucket of mud. I would do nothing to hurt my daughter, but it was too late to make things right. I was lost in Asia.

My good friend Nick Tottenham suggested that we leave town for Songkran and head over to Cambodia. I rejected the trip at first, but Nick recognized the depths of my depression and said, "Mate, nothing says you've fucked up like a binge through Cambodia. Beer, pussy, and me will cure your ills."

It was worth a shot in my condition and we took off two days before Songkran to overland to Sihanoukville. The beach resort had been a nothing town for decades. The Khmer Rouge had seen to it that beaches were off-limits to the masses. A major pollution spill in the 90s had scared the most durable of backpackers, but beachfront property was a seller in the 2000s and we pulled into a forgotten town on the verge of a boom.

I had been here several times since the 90s and we booked rooms at the Angkor Arms. The hosts were Froggies named Roland. Beers, the Who, and ganja killed the early part of the evening, but the two of us were used to spending our nights with women.

"Ou est les femmes?" Nick asked the straight Roland. The other Roland was asexual.

"Les putas ou les filles?" Roland understood Nick's query.

"Whores."

"The best place is the Chicken Farm."

"I know where it is." On my three previous solo trips to Sihanoukville I never ventured over to its infamous ‘Chicken Farm’ or street of ill repute near the harbor. Red light districts are never really fun, unless you’re with a friend.

“You ready?” Nick paid the bill. $5 for five beers.

Cheaper than Pattaya., which is why many farangs on a budget have offshored their retirement plans to Cambodia. Money went further. Rent was cheap, but due to a fatal accident a year ago the governor prohibited westerners from riding motorcycles in Sihanoukville, so we stepped into the street. Two motorcycle taxi guys appeared as if they were beamed from the sky.

“Where you want go?”

“Chicken farm.” Nick and I said at the same time.

The drivers knew the way to ‘Phum Thmey’ or the new village. It was every farang's destination. Mine explained that the port expansion had wiped out half the shantytown of working girls. The remaining brothels exude an aura of authentic seediness untouched by trendy travelers. The offerings were mostly older women and they were fat.

Nick’s driver said, “New Year. Many girl go home.”

They drove up to BIBA. The hottest disco in the Chicken Farm. Nick and I walked into the dark karaoke lounge. Girls snapped to attention. None were under 30. It was a horror show. The girls smelled of bad food. No one wanted them home for the holiday. We bought them a round of drinks. It cost us $20.

One of them begged me to go into the backroom.

"I do everything cheap." She probably had worked sailor for $2 a go. Her breath stank of rotten teeth. I guessed her age to be close to mine. The red light made her 30. I gave $20. Tears warmed her eyes.

"I do more than everything."

"I don't want anything." Sex was a destination a long way from the BIBA.

"You no think I pretty?"

"No, my wife leave me. I have a broken heart."

"I sorry."

"She is not. You want some tequila?"

"Yes." She understood broken hearts better than a professor of romance languages at Harvard. "We forget."

"Forgetting is everything."

After three shots Nick and I fled the BIBA and told the drivers to go to Victory Hill for drinks. They detoured by every possible knocking shop in Sihanoukville, hoping for an extra pimping charge. No such luck.

We blanked every one of them.

The drivers dropped us at the Angkor Arms. The Rolands were waiting in the bar. Two girls at a small table. They were better-looking than any of the girls from the Chicken Farm. They actually looked clean. Nick booked them both. I wasn't in the mood. Angie's mom had put me off women for the time being. He went upstairs and I ordered a Tiger beer for me and the Rolands.

"What about your friend?"

"He's English. He shoots quick. He'll be here soon enough."

And that was the truth.

Fried Chicken Feets


White people don't eat chicken feet. Ham Hocks or Eisbein might be tasty for Germans and other Aryan races, but chicken feet have never graced the menus of Mickey Ds, although there is no telling what part of the chicken KFC doesn't use in their nuggets. Chicken feet are for poor people from the Deep South, the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. It's even cheaper than offal.

Thai women love ting gai or chicken feet. Cooks fry or boil the feet until the skin, cartilage, and tendons are edible. All classes of Thai people eat chicken feet. Hi-so and Lo-so. They claimed ting gai cures aching joints and smooths out wrinkles.

My son's mother loves them.

The sound of her sucking on them drives me crazy.

And not in a good way, but love is not only blind but sometimes deaf, if there's a door in between you.

Chicken or the Egg


The question 'which came first the chicken or the egg' has befuddled mankind for centuries. Philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato have pondered on this case of circular cause and consequence without satisfaction. Darwin argued that the chicken came first and lately Stephen Hawking has backed the egg. DNA testing on ancient fossils have failed to enlightened modern science. Christianity supports the 'Big Bang' creation miracle of the Old Testament, while Buddhism contends that the wheel of time leads to nowhere and in nowhere the chicken and egg are meaningless.

I am a simple man.

My education was extensive. My de-education even more so, for I have come to realize that anyone knowing all the answers hasn't heard all the questions. My mind has been erased countless times by drink and drugs.

The other morning I awoke from a near-death stupor gifted more by oblivion than enlightenment. It was Father's Day. My children are far away in Thailand. They are my reason for living along with beer, my wife Mem, the Boston sports teams, western movies, books, art, and a pantheon of interests. They are my everything, but in truth I know that I came before them.

My eggs ie sperm predated their existence. My semen is the river of life. Without it women are merely women, so laying in my bed on a Sunday morning I came to the momentous conclusion that I as a man am the egg and the woman is the chicken, for all a woman does is sit on my egg to hatch the chicklet.

Of course I would never say that within hearing distance of a woman, because chicken has big ears and short tempers.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Heading Up Country


Heading up country. Leaving 0069 in charge. She is a good agent.

Have a good weekend one and all.

Victory At Last


My history with the Boston Bruins dates back to the 50s. My father took my older brother and me to a game at which both Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull scored hat tricks for the Chicago Blackhawks. My youngest sister and I watched Bobby Orr score the winning goal against the St. Louis Blues on the grandmother's black-and-white Zenith TV in Maine. The following spring the great comeback by the Canadians crushed the hearts of the faithful, although the following year the hometown team recaptured the Cup against the NY Rangers.

Then nothing.

39 years of blank.

My interests in the Boston Bruins dwindled with each disappointment and last year's collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers ( up 3-0 and losing 4-3 ) relegated my longstanding allegiance into the same category at my support for Boston's soccer team. Wait till next year became a mocking chant. Wait for never was the reality, so when the Bruins began their Stanley Cup campaign of 2011, I prepared my wounded pysche for yet another short show, however they beat Les Habs in a 7th game overtime. Revenge against the Flyers took 7 games. The same number were required to vanquish the Tampa bay Lightning. Last team on the slate were the Vancouver Canucks; tough goalie, hard-hitting, dirty, great power-play, and their name had never graced the Stanley Cup.

The Bruins went two games down on the West Coast and then pummeled the Canucks at home. 2-2. We traded the next two games to set up a 7th game in Vancouver. Last Wednesday I walked down the street in my Bruins regalia. Brooklyn is not a hockey town, although the few Ranger fans on the sidewalk raised their fist and shouted, "Go, Bruins."

The Canucks were a dirty team and our teams came from the original 6 of the NHL. My skin sizzled with anticipation of the dropped puck and I entered the bar to take a seast at the bar. Two other Bruins fans were staring at the TV. We acknowledge each other with a nod. Our nervousness allowed no further greeting. The bartender put a draft Stella in front of me. He knew my order, since I had abandoned Frank's Lounge for Mullane's during the Stanley Cup. Frank's is even less hockey than Brooklyn.

The national anthem were sung by fat men in tuxedo and the sell-out crowd cheered their team for every hit, shot, and save of the first period. The score was 1-0 Bruins. The 2nd period ended with us up 3-0. The final was 4-0. I had drunk at least six beers and was good friends with everyone in the bar. A young Bruins fan and I traded shots of tequila. I fielded phone calls from friends and family. I got into a stupid fight with my younger brother about racism in Boston. Paddy hung up on me and wouldn't answer the phone. I staggered home and fell into my bed wearing the Bruins jersey that Paddy had bought me in 1988. I remembered stuffing cherries into my mouth and then woke to a dream about teenage girls' hardened nipples.

It was 8:20. I had to be at work within the hour.

Cherry pits were stuck to my face and chest along with smushed cherries.

Sometimes your dreams are a way of telling your brains that you had too much to drink and I rubbed the cherry pits off my bodies. I tried calling my brother. He wasn't answering my call and I opened my emails. Somehow I had been stupid enough to write him a message before crashing out. His response titled DON'T EMAIL ME ANYMORE.

"I called to talk hockey and Stanley Cup, not to suffer your sanctimonious pontifications. If I cannot talk sports to you without offending your over-inflated opinion of yourself which others do not share, then we just won't talk to each other."

Opps.

My calls were cold-shouldered without any response.

"Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa."

I went to work and read about the riots in Vancouver. The Canucks were sore losers. My hang-over disappeared by mid-afternoon. My regrets about what I had said to my brother lingered into the night. We were family and I had to make this wrong right.

I was fifteen minutes late to the diamond exchange. Manny was pissed at me as usual. I hadn't been on time for years. My Brazilian co-workers arrived ten minutes after me. Traffic in New Jersey was brutal. Too many people came to the City for work. There were no new jobs in their state.

Ava draped a scarf over her shoulders. The air-conditioning in the exchange worked great in the morning. "I was walking by the NHL store on the corner and there were a lot of people inside. TV cameras too."

TV cameras, fans, and NHL store said one thing. Some Bruins were in the store. I put down the diamonds and ran out of the store, telling a perplexed Manny, "I'll be back in five."

I hurried down 47th Street, weaving through the gauntlet of gold buyers blocking the sidewalk. The pedestrian light at 6th Avenue was against me. I dodged the oncoming traffic like a matador avoiding a herd of bulls and beelined into the NHL store. Bruin uniforms adorned the two mannequins at the entrance. A crowd of fans stood beneath the TV room on the 2nd floor. Their eyes were locked on the silver object above them.

The Stanley Cup bracketed by the MVP goalie, Tim Thomas, the monster defenseman Chara, and Bergeron the attacker. They were finishing the interview for ESPN and Bergeron exited onto the walkway to the stairs carrying the trophy.

"Go Bruins. Show us the Cup." I shouted like a 12 year-old and Bergeron hoisted the Cup. Tears came to my eyes and for the briefest of moments I was 8 years-old at the Boston Garden with my father and older brother.

"Go Bruins."

I went outside and called Padraic. His last message had included the ultimatum 'call me if you're a man'. He answered on the first ring.

"I just saw the Cup at the NHL store. I just saw the Cup. I can't talk right now. I'm too overwhelmed. Go Bruins."

"Go Bruins." My brother was a big fan. All was forgiven. Sports are like that. They span the ages and differences.

"Go Bruins."

Indeed.