Friday, August 31, 2012

Sleeping On The Job

Farangs constantly criticize Thais for their uncanny ability to sleep anywhere without realizing that Thai workers are pushed to the limit. There are very few worker's rights in the Land of Smiles, where a Thai might labor 10 hours a day 6 days a week for 200-300 baht a day, so whenever a workers get the chance to rest, they’ll find someplace to catch up on their sleep and no one does it better than this day-laborer lying on a steel atop a townhouse.


Click on photo to enlarge and you’ll see how comfortable a man can be when he is worked to a frazzle.

Nom dee, comrade.

Make Mine Rare

Last Labor Day weekend in Maine my brother-in-law and I had several discussions about whether it was better to BBQ with charcoal or gas. He voted for gas and I'll have to bow to his greater savvy on this subject. Some things you have to leave to the experts.

CBS Top 10 Songs For Labor Day 2012

I googled 'top ten songs labor day' and was surprised by the selection from CBS. I'd have never expected Van Morrison to score that high. Go Ireland. #1 Van Morrison “Brown Eyed Girl” #2 Eagles “Hotel California” #3 Four Seasons “Sherry” #4 Beatles “Hey Jude” #5 Lynyrd Skynyrd “Sweet Home Alabama” #6 Elton John “Your Song” #7 Jimmy Buffett “Margaritaville” #8 Frank Sinatra “New York, New York” #9 Journey “Don’t Stop Believin’” #10 Don Mclean “American Pie” And as a shocker Led Zepplin's “Stairway To Heaven” was listed as # 13 as well as Lynyrd Skynard hitting # 5. Southern Man by Neil Young wasn't even in the top 100.

Roofie The GOP

A lot of my liberal friends are shunning their GOP comptriots in this preseason of the presidential election. FH wrote on facebook the following; i am shocked that some of my friends are for Romney/Ryan .I am a total bad judge of character. If you are suddenly defriended you will know why. Enjoy you fantasy. I suggested to FH, a Bushwick painter, "Tell your friends this. Listen, I'm voting for Obama. You're voting for romney. Our votes cancel out each other, so let's not vote at all and save the gas and time on election day." If they're voting for Williard Romney then one or two of them will be stupid enough to believe you FH's friend wrote later "I have already gotten up from a couple of dinners and conversations never to return - when people mention that they are republicans. That is a filth/dirt/stain you cannot wash off." I'm much more forgiving. "I don't leave the table until I've drunk all the wine and then stiff them with the bill, plus I like calling them names and telling them once we repossess their homes for the revolution that we'll be shipping them to re-education camps. No more potato chips. No more SUVs. All their daughters will be strippers and their sons working as street sweepers along the highways, but even better is to roofie your GOP friends the night before the election or dose them with LSD so they see the light. It's all about hope, isn't it?

Make My Way

Earlier this month Clint Eastwood announced his support for Mitt Romney and the Hollywood icon appeared on stage of the Tampa Convention Center with a chair. The actor/director/producer pretended to speak with an invisible Barack Obama, accusing him of creating 23 million unemployed, even though the US Department of Labor puts the number at 13 million, which is way too many, especially when many of those are underpaid by WalMart and the Pentagon. Clint went on to harangue the chair about Gitmo. "Well, I know even people in your own party were very disappointed when you didn’t close Gitmo. And I thought, well closing Gitmo -- why close that, we spent so much money on it. But, I thought maybe as an excuse -- what do you mean shut up?" And then he brought up the tears shed on the night of Obama's election. "I remember three and a half years ago, when Mr. Obama won the election. And though I was not a big supporter, I was watching that night when he was having that thing and they were talking about hope and change and they were talking about, yes we can, and it was dark outdoors, and it was nice, and people were lighting candles. They were saying, I just thought, this was great. Everybody is trying, Oprah was crying." Liberal pundits likened the hemhawing monologue to that of a rant by Homer Simpson's father, but the star of EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE pleased the audience with his humor and heartfelt anger with our president. And for one time in the GOP convention someone said bring back the troops from Afghanistan. "I know you were against the war in Iraq, and that’s okay. But you thought the war in Afghanistan was OK. You know, I mean -- you thought that was something worth doing. We didn’t check with the Russians to see how did it -- they did there for 10 years. I think Mr. Romney asked the only sensible question, you know, he says, “Why are you giving the date out now? Why don’t you just bring them home tomorrow morning?” I agree that the troops should come home tomorrow, but it's harder to stop the Pentagon from wagign a war than drag me out of a party when there's still booze to be drunk. Clint, you're still the man on screen, but anyone who says he's a pal of Jon Voight aint' playing with the full deck of marbles. To view Clint's speech, please go to the following URL and decide for yourself.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bag Of Gas

Two night ago NJ governor Chris Christie to the stage of the GOP convention in Tampa. "Thank you! Thank you all very much. Thank you. Well, this stage and this moment are very improbable for me, a New Jersey Republican." According to Fox News the rotund speaker said the word "I" 37 times, "Romney" seven times, and "jobs" one time in his speech I counted him saying the word 'believe' twenty-four times, saying 'believe me' twice in a row. Manny my old boss from 47th Street said more than once, "Never trust anyone who says believe me. Especially if they say it so fast." Manny trusted no one and he's still at his desk on 47th Street. ps Chritie was speaking to one county in his state. Monmouth county. It's the fattest county in New Jersey led by Donna Simpson, who's trying to become the fattest woman in the world. ps Ms. XXXXXXXL has yet to announce her party allegiance this year.

Peace in Our Time

This week the Israeli court came to the preconceived conclusion that the Zionist state had nothing to do with the 2003 bulldozing death of US activist Rachel Corrie, thus ending her parents' long fight to force the apartheid state to admit guilt. The Corrie family was seeking $1 plus legal expenses in damages. The BBC reported that Israeli spokesperson Mark Regev said, "It's clear by the Corrie family's own expert - they nominated an expert to come to the court - he himself, their representative, said that it was impossible for the driver to see her." Israel also scored big at the GOP convention with various Republican speakers extolling the virtues of our ally in the Mideast and vowing to aid the country in its endeavors to stop Iran from attaining nuclear capabilities. Senator John McCain expressed the party line best by saying, “We can’t afford to stay on that course any longer. We can’t afford to cause our friends and allies – from Latin America to Asia, Europe to the Middle East, and especially in Israel, a nation under existential threat – to doubt America’s leadership.” According to Wikipedia Existentialism holds that the starting point of philosophical thinking must be the individual and the experiences of the individual, that moral thinking and scientific thinking together do not suffice to understand human existence, and, therefore, that a further set of categories, governed by the norm of authenticity, is necessary to understand human existence. The facts have nothing to do with Israel's fear of Iran and neither does Sartre or Camus, for Dawlat Isrāʼīl can only exist in a constant state of war in order to protect itself from the real and the imaginary.

Of course the only true peace available for Israel is a retreat to the 1938 borders, but no one in Israel is contemplating this destiny. After all their lease is written by Yahweh. For ever and ever.

My Uncle Carmine had the best solution for the Middle East, which also solved the Cuba Question for the USA.

"What we do is propose normalization of relations with Cuba. We call off the embargo and offered Castro a major league franchise, but only on the condition that he change the name of Havana to Miami, so all the Cubans in Florida move back to Cuba, then we change the name of Miami to Jerusalem and get Disney to built a new Israel, so the Chosen People can live in peace in the Promised Land. What could be more simple?"

I do miss Uncle Carmine.

When David Became Goliath

Role reversal in the myth of Little David versus the Goliath of Palestine.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Never Say Not Never

My younger brother died on AIDS in 1995. Our family buried him in the town cemetery. I couldn't speak at the funeral and I said little after the burial. My sisters knew that I had a packet of airline tickets in my pocket. Each destination offered a holy site, at which I would prayed for my brother's passage into the Here-Beyond. They were;

Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok, Thailand
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Jokhang Temple, Lhasa, Tibet
The Bodhi Tree
Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal

I stopped at a few go-go bars on the way. When I got back to the States, a Hassidic friend from the Diamond District asked why I hadn't gone to the Western Wall. "You say a prayer and then stick a paper with your brother's name in the wall. It's a Mitzvah." I understand how the Jews consider the Western Wall or Wailing Wall one of the holiest sites in the world for Jewish worship. It was built by Herod, the original bacon Jew, 19 years before the birth of the Great Troublemaker. The stones weigh between 2 and 8 tons.


I hadn't thought about that weight for a long time, but this morning I had bicycled to Fort Tilden Park. After a swim I tried to lift a water-soaked log out of the sand.


Not for the builders of the Second Temple.

The Glory of Yahweh suffered greatly at the hands of the Romans. The Latin rulers banned Jews from Jerusalem for centuries after their revolt in 135AD. After the Arab conquest the Jews were left the Wailing Wall as a reminder of what they had lost. The Western Wall still exerts incredible power over both Jews and Muslims as well as Born Again Christians in America, who believe that the Ten Commandments connect God to this world, but they like many Israelis also believe that Arabs were interlopers on the Holy Land and the current Prime Minister of the Middle Eastern Apartheid state has vowed to never give up the Western Wall along with the rejection of right to return for the refugees over the occupation of Palestine.

The refugees number in the millions.

Jordan 1,983,733
Lebanon 425,640
Syria 472,109
West Bank 778,993
Gaza Strip 1,106,195

My grocer in Fort Greene is Palestinian and late this morning I entered the store on South Portland for ice. The long ride back had sapped my body strength and I needed fluids.

"Do me a favor." Ralph looked over my shoulder to where a Latino man my age was haranguing his young worker.

"You want me to say something."

"Only say. Nothing else."

"You got it." I had been bullied as a child and walked over to the two men.

The Puerto Rican man was a construction worker. His clothes were covered in dust. He was taking a break from his sixth day of work. He held a long Bud in his hand and was talking bad in Spanish.

"Yo, hermano, why you picking on the boy?"

"He lazy. I say some shit. Just joking."

"No one's laughing. You're my age. 50s. We're supposed to be helping the young. This boy has a job. Not many kids can say that, because these are hard times. So lay off the young brother." I was asking nice and added, "We have to be make each other stronger. We can't let the world beat us down. Not us against us."

"Yeah." He was non-committal. It had been a long week.

"Yo, young boy, he give you any trouble, let me know and give me $10. I'll punch him once. Not to hurt him, but to let him know you have back-up." I walked back to the counter and the construction worker left the shop.

Ralph was happy with my discourse, because couldn't talk to customers this way.

"What else you need?"

"A bacon and egg sandwich with cheese." I gave him a ten. Ralph gave me the change. The construction worker was drinking his beer outside. I clapped him on the shoulder.

"Work safe."

"Same to you." We shook hands and I rode my bike home with the sandwich and ice.

I do love my bacon. ps my brother's name is Michael Charles Smith

Free Tibet Now And Then

Back in 1998 I went down to Washington with my father. The ostensible purpose was to visit my cousin Cindi in Annapolis. My secondary reason was to protest against the World Bank with the Free Tibet Society. My father was comfortable situated with my cousin, her daughters, and husband. He had his crossword puzzle and a glass of white wine. I mentioned the demonstration and my old man said, "Aren't you a little too old for fighting with police." "This will be a peaceful gathering." "I don't want to get a phone call from the police." He handed me the keys to his car. "I don't plan on getting arrested." I had never been caught by the cops during the anti-war movement in my youth. "You're not as fast as you used to be." Cindi had been with me on Boston Common for a massive gathering protesting the invasion of Cambodia. "I won't do anything stupid and at the first sign of trouble, I'm out of there." She was right. I couldn't outrun any pursuit other than by fat people. "If you're going into DC, then parking could be difficult." Her husband gave me his pass for parking in the National Geographic HQ. He was an editor for that esteemed magazine. "I'll be back before dark." "If not, we'll send out a search party." My father held up his glass for more wine. It was almost noon. No one said anything. He was still mourning my mother. Traffic into DC was light and I drove down New York Avenue to the center of the city. Various convoys of black Ford Suburbans sped past me. The SUVs were loaded with crew-cut men with steroid-thick necks. They were out-of-town reinforcements for the DC police. During the early 70s I had protested against the Viet-Nam War with a college friend from Northern VA. We also drank at the Tap o Keg on Wisconsin Avenue. After parking my father's car under the National Geographic offices, I phone Tom McNelly's old number. It was disconnected, so I started searching through the crowds for my Tibetan friends. Finding them was an impossible task and I found myself in front of the World Bank HQ, as the buses were bringing in the delegates for their meeting. A phalanx on cops pushed us back.

I said, “Hey, I’m moving.

The cop in front of me jabbed my stomach with his nightstick. His second hit was on my wrist. I hadn't done anything wrong, but I had had enough and retreated to the National Geographic parking lot, where I retrieved the car and drove back to Annapolis to drink wine and eat soft-shelled crab by the harbor. My father asked how it went.

I told him, “As I expected.”

"Glad you're in one piece." We clinked glasses and he said, "Free Tibet."

"Free the world." My cousin and her husband joined the toast. It was a good cause.

From The North

In October of 1995 I hitchhiked out of Tibet to Nepal. I stood at the edge of Shigaske, the last town before the border. Most of the traffic was trucks loaded to capacity. A van stopped on the dirt road. It was heading to pick up tourists. The driver wanted $10. I gave him a ten-dollar bill and sat in the back with two other westerners on their way out of Tibet. Later that afternoon we crossed the highest pass at 16500 feet. The other passengers were unconscious from oxygen deprivation. The Tibetans were telling jokes and smoking cigarettes. I asked them to stop. This was as close as I got to Everest. I wanted to stay there forever, except my China visa was up the next day. The Tibetan driver said, "I see this every day. It's called Chomolungma or the Holy Mother." "There might be climbers on it." It was late in the season for summiting. "Koreans and Sherpas." News traveled fast on both sides of the Himalayas. He lit a cigarette and motioned for me to get back to the van. "It's a long way to the border." "Thoo jaychay." I thanked him for stopping. "Kay-Nang-Gi-Ma-Ray." We didn't stop until the border.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ganden Mud

In 1995 I went up to Ganden monastery with my friend Tim Challen. The Red Guard had destroyed the temple complex during the Cultural Revolution. The Tibetans were finally rebuilding it in the 90s. I joined the volunteers in tramping around the roof singing Louie Louie. It's an easy song to learn and a good one for tramping in the mud. Free Tibet.

Tubes in Bali

Bali 1993. Richie boy and I hired a guide to take us to this spot. The aussie swore it was surfable. We looked at the break. The waves were double-overhead, but we saw coral heads above the water. Richie Boy and I said 'no go'. The aussie said we were wimps. he took off on the first wave and stoved in his ribs on a gnarly coral head. He came out of the water holding his side. "Mates, I was wrong." Richie Boy and I agreed with him and took him to the hospital. He was a good Aussie and shared the painkillers with us. The bar at Tubes was much better that way.


Billy Holiday was introduced to the song STRANGE FRUIT by the owner of NY's integrated nightclub Cafe Society. The words came from a poem by a Jewish school teacher from the Bronx. According to Wikipedia she first performed the song in 1939 closing out her set in total darkness other than the light on her face. No drinks were served during the song and she never came back for an encore.

STRANGE FRUIT remains a powerful weapon by one woman fighting against the horror of racism.

Lady Day passed the song on through the ages.

To hear STRANGE FRUIT by Nina Simone please go to the following URL

Rope Obama

This past June Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center hung Obama in Effigy in front of his Gainesville FLA church in retaliation for the president's views on same-sex marriage. The countless calls for the lynching of Obama slither on the internet from hate groups and citizens incensed by the rise of socialism in the land of the Free. Yesterday an image floated onto Facebook transforming Obama's 'Hope' poster into "Rope' showing him hanging by the neck. Thousands of us called from the removal of this offensive image and Facebook reacted to a petition against the photo by pulling it from whatever site generated this overtly racist pitch to the radical white right. According to Wikipedia lynching is the practice of killing people by extrajudicial mob action. It was almost a sport in the South during the last century with organized crowds storming jails and black houses to seize prisoners, accused criminals, or innocent men to enforce segregation of the races. Republicans supported an anti-lynching law in the 20s, while Southern White Democrats filibustered against such a measure as a curtailment of State's Rights. Millions of blacks fled the reign of terror creating the future voting blocs for politicians siding with equality of racism, but in 1921 blacks resisted the lynching of a young man and a white man was shoot in the street. Whites in that city retaliated by burning down black Tulsa. The Klu KLux Klan led the way for lynchings throughout the 20th Century. The numerous photos of these atrocities are worsened by the gleeful expressions of the white spectators posing around the hanging bodies and I suppose that there are thousands of white Americans viewing the above photo with the same simian smile on face of those men in the photo below. Calling for the murder of the president is a crime. It is not a joke.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Naked As A Jaybird

The Soviet Premier Khrushchev famously declared in 1956 that the USSR would bury American Imperialism. "We will bury you!"

Actually he said, "Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will dig your grave."

The Western press preferred the more threatening 'we will bury you'.

President Kennedy was upset by the USSR thinking America was soft and JFK called the American people to improve their health and fitness. His primary challenge was the 50-mile hike, which Teddy Roosevelt had challenged the Marines to accomplish the feat in 20 hours. In February 1963 JFK and his brother walked the distance in the winter. It was a cold and snowy day. Bobby was wearing leather oxfords. He must have been miserable.

The fifty-mile hike became a national fad by spring and that summer at Boy Scout camp in New Hampshire my older brother and I joined a troop of hikers on a 100 mile hike through the forests of the White Mountains. Our scout leaders drove the phalanx of 12-13 year-olds in 20-mile stages every day. We ran out of food on the second day and pillaged a nearby cornfield for dinner. The farmer caught us red-handed and had us pay for the corn. My brother and I gave him fifty cents. The next morning we woke without breakfast and we set out on a tortuous trudge surrounded by miles of chopped tress. The relentless sun beat us with a solar whip and the leaders promised us a good meal at the end of the trail.

"At Big Man Pond." They said that the crystal-clear lake was 30 miles across from shore to shore.

"Food and water." Hot dogs and hamburgers were cooking on a BBQ with ice cream sodas to chase them down.

We tramped with the first word for the right foot and water for our left.

'Food and water' built a mirage of Big Man Pond and hastened our weary legs.

The reality came as a shock.

Big Man Pond was barely 300 feet in length. One of the boys from South Boston threw a rock across it. There was no food. We groused about the failings of our superiors. The troop leader yelled at us.
,p>"Stop your complaining, This pond is spring-fed. That's our water. The food will be here later. We've marched 60 miles in 3 days. Everyone strip off your clothes."

"Naked?" None of us obeyed his order.

"It's time for a swim. You've earned it.

He led the way and was buck-naked with seconds. We joined him without protest. Boys are age were good at following orders when we were hungry.

"Everyone in formation. Now one quick jog around the pond and then in the water."

We followed the troop leader. Our penises bounced up and down. At the starting point he stopped and pointed to the pond.

"Into the water."

We were robots to his command.

That was the first time that I went skinny-dipping, but not the last.

Since that day I have swum naked on Cape Cod, at Watchic Pond, the Quincy Quarries, Riis Park in New York, Black Beach in San Diego, and Goa in India. I enjoy the kiss of the four elements on my flesh, however most Americans condemn a naked body as a threat to morality whether in a movie, on stage, or swimming at a beach, but especially in the Sea of Galilee as evninced by the GOP Congressional leader excoriated a Kansas congressman for swimming au natural where their savior walked on the water 2000 year ago. The naked plunge took place last year, but Willard Romney and his running mate joined in the pillorization and a few Democrats chucked a few stones for good measure. Personally I applaud the representative's free-style. It sounds like it was fun, as was Prince Harry's evening of fun and games in Las Vegas, until someone took photos of his naked frolics with a beautiful girl and posted them on the internet. A complete wanker and Rupert Murdoch's The Sun published the pictures for their readership. Naked women, Las Vegas, strip billiards. The news of the day, but no one is taking any naked photos of me. Not even myself, for these days I no longer look at my reflection in the mirror. My shadow perhaps, but never my reflection. But I still like being naked. It's a natural thing. ps the expression 'nekkid as a jaybird' supposedly comes from the bird's private being covered by down instead of feathers

Lobstah Roll Badger's Island

My younger sister called from her drive to Maine. She was heading north to spend some time on Watchic Lake. I had hoped to join her on the ride, but financial obligations required my staying in New York. We asked me about the Red Sox and I snapped, "I don't want to talk about them until next year." The 2011 collapse and the disastrous 2012 opening had soured my faithfulness to the hometown team. "A little grumpy these days?" My younger sister warned that I was starting to sound obstreperous and I had to agree with her assessment. She also asked me to kick her in the knee, if she was short with people. "This I can do." "I'll talk to you later. I'm at the Portsmouth rotary and I'm getting off to find a McDonalds." "I have a better idea." I was at my desk and hit Google maps for Portsmouth. My new connection is fast and a satellite image of the Piscataqua River. "There's a lobster shack on Baxter's Island. I've stopped there a few times coming back from Maine. It's the last place to get real Maine lobster." "I don't want to waste a lot of time." It was a beautiful afternoon in Fort Greene. I could only imagine how nice it was in Maine. "I know, but you don't want to eat at Mickey Ds either." The younger sister ate well, but still subscribed to fast food on the road. In most cases there wasn't much of a choice, but I said, "Cross the Route 1 Bridge and then drive over to the old bridge. Ignore the signs saying the bridge is closed, because you're only going to Badger Island. The lobster shack in on the right." It was a short distance and I guided her through the turns. "I see it now. It's called the Weathervane." "That's it." I'll let you know how it is." "Love from old Grumpy." 30 minutes later she sent a photo of her lobster roll. The bun wasn't grilled, but it looked better than good. I'm sure it was.

The Jewels Of Life

Several years ago my younger sister expressed her anger for my fathering a child at 55. "You should get a vasectomy." She thought I was a fool for bringing another child onto the planet without a steady job. She was more right than wrong, but then women always are more right than men. "I don't need one." I was back in the States and there was no danger of my having sex with the Rubenesque women of America. Back in Thailand with my new wife was another story. "It's not just to stop having babies. A vasectomy helps cut down on the risk of testicular cancer." My sister researched everything she wanted to say following the old legal adage 'never ask a question to which you don't know the answer'. "That may be so, but I can't have a vasectomy, because I'm thinking of the human race." While vasectomy is not castration, it sounds the same to men, although through the miracle of modern medicine there are procedures for vasectomy reversal. "How so?" My sister was a lawyer. She wanter to hear my rationale. "Say every man in the world is exterminated by a space virus and I'm the last man on Earth. I would be the only source of sperm on the planet and as such be required to seed every woman possible no matter what my age. The fate of humanity rests below my waist, so I have to safeguard against this seemingly distant possibility." I had written a screenplay about the last man on Earth in the 90s. It ends with the character impregnating the last women. He was no Adam. "You're crazy." "That may be so, but I will protect mankind from extinction to my grave." France considered vasectomy as a crime of self-mutilation until 2001. "So no vasectomy?" I was being requestioned by an expert. "Not a chance." Some things are best left the way they are, because the way they are is the way they;'re supposed to be.

The Sanctity Of Life

On August 24, 2012 Professor Greg Hampikian of Boise State U wrote an article for the New York Times entitled MEN WHO NEEDS THEM, suggesting that the male of the hmna species has 'become less relevant to both reproduction and parenting. Women aren’t just becoming men’s equals. It’s increasingly clear that “mankind” itself is a gross misnomer: an uninterrupted, intimate and essential maternal connection defines our species.'

Scientifically women can reproduce without men and data supports the positivity of this approach to childbearing and good professor writes the following;

"Think about your own history. Your life as an egg actually started in your mother’s developing ovary, before she was born; you were wrapped in your mother’s fetal body as it developed within your grandmother.

After the two of you left Grandma’s womb, you enjoyed the protection of your mother’s prepubescent ovary. Then, sometime between 12 and 50 years after the two of you left your grandmother, you burst forth and were sucked by her fimbriae into the fallopian tube. You glided along the oviduct, surviving happily on the stored nutrients and genetic messages that Mom packed for you.

Then, at some point, your father spent a few minutes close by, but then left. A little while later, you encountered some very odd tiny cells that he had shed. They did not merge with you, or give you any cell membranes or nutrients — just an infinitesimally small packet of DNA, less than one-millionth of your mass.

Over the next nine months, you stole minerals from your mother’s bones and oxygen from her blood, and you received all your nutrition, energy and immune protection from her. By the time you were born your mother had contributed six to eight pounds of your weight. Then as a parting gift, she swathed you in billions of bacteria from her birth canal and groin that continue to protect your skin, digestive system and general health. In contrast, your father’s 3.3 picograms of DNA comes out to less than one pound of male contribution since the beginning of Homo sapiens 107 billion babies ago."

His harsh representation of the traditional birth process suggests that males are a cul-de-sac in the evolutionary path of mankind and that the race under the aegis of a purely female regime will free this world from the evils of our reign.

The professor, who also runs the DNA Innocence Project, ended the article with an anecdote.

"When I explained this to a female colleague and asked her if she thought that there was yet anything irreplaceable about men, she answered, “They’re entertaining.”

Sorry, good people, but we men offer more than than a pony show, for life actually begins with the constant flow of semen, for the sperm is the egg and the ovaries are the chicken in the beauty of life. Men spent a lifetime protecting their balls from harm, but women prefer to refute the origins of life.

Our balls and men, don't let anyone tell you different.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Good Shooting NYPD

The NYPD has been accused of trigger-happy shootings over the years and yesterday two patrolman confronted a killer in front of the Empire State Building. The disgruntled fashion designer was walking away from having killed his ex-boss. A CCTV caught the action on the street. Clearly the police told him to stop. Their guns are out and the shooter pulled a pistol from his bag. The two officers fired sixteen shots and killed the gunman, but also wounded three bystanders with bullets and another four with fragments according to NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Several friends of mine were discussing the shooting in front of Ralph's. One said, "Shootings are an everyday occurrence in America. Too many people have guns and kids too." "There are too many guns, but these cops had no choice." I had seen the VDO. "Plus they hit eight targets with sixteen bullets. That's some top-notch shooting, but they'd never get a job as an extra on THE A TEAM." "Nobody never hit no one on THE A TEAM." Errol waved his hand in disgust. "Shit, and the cops ain't so good. How many shots it take to put down Sean Bell or that African in Harlem. A hundred. Fuckin' shit. They ain't no Daniel Boone." "But why didn't the cops shoot him in the foot, instead of blasting everyone in sight," asked a white female eavesdropper. "Someone pulls a piece on me and I have a piece. He who shots first is right. Who's dead is the fuck-up." Errol had no sympathy for the Empire State Building shooter or the innocent bystanders. He was from Bed-Stuy. "Black people know how to get out of the way of bullets. I bet there wasn't one black man shot there." "All I know is that I don't carry a gun, because there are too many targets. I lived on East 10th Street in the 70s. My corner was a hot spot for drugs. My uncle asked if I wanted a piece for protection. I told him no, because I would have run out of bullets before I reached 1st Avenue. I guess those cops thought, "Shit, might as well cap some other perps." Good thing I ain't a cop. To view the surveillance VDO, please go to the following URL from

Reefer IQ

While searching for US arrests for marijuana I discovered this test from FRONTLINE. I got all the answers right. My IQ for weed is very most excellent. 1. Under which president have more people been arrested for marijuana crimes? a) Ronald Reagan b) George Bush c) Bill Clinton 2) What's the breakdown for marijuana arrests -- for dealing or for possessing pot? a. 90% for dealing, 10% for possession b. 60% for dealing, 40% for possession c. 30% for dealing, 70% for possession d. 15% for dealing, 85% for possession 3) How much money was spent battling drugs in 1997? a. $800 million b. $8 billion c. $60 billion d. $15 billion 4) What percentage of people in federal prisons are serving time for cannabis crimes? a. 70% b. 45% c. 25% d. 10% 5) What percent of federal marijuana crimes involved a weapon? a. 92% b. 50% c. 23% d. 8% 6) Growing 101 marijuana janga plants will get you a longer sentence than which other Federal crimes? a. manslaughter b. assault c. kidnapping 7. How many states have a life sentence for marijuana crimes? a. none b. two c. thirteen d. forty-one 8) How many people smoke pot every day in America? a. roughly three million b. approximately eleven million c. about one million 9) Marijuana is growing stronger as agricultural science advances. How many joints would you have had to smoke in 1974 to equal one joint today? a. 1 b. 2 c. 3 d. 4 e. 5 10. How much does an average pound of marijuana cost? a. $100 b. $350 c. $800 d. $8000 There are the answers mostly from 1996, which means thing are more fucked up than ever. 1. c. Bill Clinton. Nearly 642,000 people were arrested for marijuana related crimes in 1996 (This represents an 80% increase since 1990.) 2) d. 85% were arrested in 1996 for possession; 15% were arrested for selling. 3) d. It's estimated that some $15.1 billion was spent in 1997 on the drug war (out of a total federal budget in '97 of $1.6 trillion.) 4) c. Between Oct 1995 and Oct 1996, marijuana offenses represented nearly 25% of all federal sentences. 5) d. 8% of federal marijuana cases involved a weapon (statistics are from Oct 1995-Oct 1996). 6) b. 101 plants will can get you a 5-year mandatory federal sentence. No parole. You would be in prison longer than if you were convicted of assault. crime sentence in months murder 296 months kidnapping 180 months marijuana (10 year min)* 120 months sexual abuse 67 months marijuana (5 year min)** 60 months avg: marijuana sentence 42 months assault 34 months manslaughter 27 months fraud 13 months *10 year mandatory minimum for marijuana (growing more than 1000 plants = 120 months ** 5 year mandatory minimum for marijuana (growing more than 100 plants = 60 months) 7. c. In at least thirteen states you can get a life sentence for marijuana. 8) a. A 1992 study by the National Institute for Drug Abuse found that roughly 3 million Americans smoked pot everyday; another 2 million smoked once a month; and some 12 million smoked pot once a year. 9) d. According to a 1997 U.S. Dept. of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration report, you have to smoke four joints to equal just one grown today. 10. c. The average price of a pound of marijuana was $800, in 1996. Depending on quality, however, a pound could range from $350 for homegrown to $8,000 for high grade sensimilia. Free the Weed To view BUSTED on Frontline please go to this URL

Friday, August 24, 2012

It Wasn't King Kong

Since 9/11 murders in NYC have averaged around 500 per year and this morning a disgruntled garment worker assassinated his former boss in front of the Empire State Building. One passer-by said, "It was like CSI, but it was real." According to the NY Daily News another eyewitness told their reporter, "“He shot the guy in the head. The guy went down. He took a second shot when he was down, then walked down the block, like nothing was happening, real casual. We were screaming from the top, ‘It’s the guy in the grey suit!’” Police responded to the unexpected shooting and unleashed a fusillade at the armed murderer, killing him and wounding nine, which was good shooting for 14 shots. The gunman had no prior criminal record. So far Willard Romney had no comment on the shooting.

Singapore the City of No

My great grand-aunt, Bert, circumnavigated the globe in the 1870s. She was 12 years-old. Her father was the captain of sailing ship. I first met her in 1958. She was almost 100. Her house in Falmouth, Massachusetts was decorated with the curios of several continents; scrimshaw whale teeth, Zulu war shields, and ornate opium pipes from the Orient.

"When we arrived in Singapore, I was horrified to see women with black teeth. I thought it was a disease, but it was from chewing betel nut." The gentle white-haired nonagenarian laughed at the memory of her horror. "I tried it on a later trip to that island city. It's actually quite stimulating. Like a strong cup of coffee."

"My mother lets us drink tea sometimes," I said, as if this admission would age me in her eyes.

"Tea is good for you, but I think young boys should stay away from coffee and betel nuts. Those women really spit too much in Singapore."

I was 6 years old. Great-grand-aunt Bert passed away in 1962. She was 103.

For years later I dreamed about chewing betel nuts in Singapore. Few cities sounded as exotic. Conrad wrote stories about clipper ships carrying pilgrims through the Straits. Raffles Hotel had the longest bar in the world. The British army surrendered Singapore to the Japs in WWII. No one from my father's or mother's generation had been to Singapore. We were happy in New England, but I was touched by the wandering soul of my great-grand-aunt.

In 1991 I bought a round-the-world air ticket for $1500.

One of the destinations was Singapore and I arrived there by plane from Indonesia. The city-state seemed like LA after an idyllic sojourn on Bali. Most of the hotels were too expensive for my budget, so I took a taxi to Hotel Street. $10 bought a cheap room in a converted Chinese godown. The shared bathroom had a proclamation pasted to the wall warning that people using the bathroom had to flush the toilet and also wash their hands. The fine for disobeying this edict was $100Singapore and I wondered whether the city police investigated this crime by training their officers to sniff dirty hands.

The president of Singapore had issued several other draconian laws to curtail bad behavior. One was against chewing gum and another forbade spitting. I feared that these taboos would effect the realization of my chewing betel nuts in Singapore, however betel chewing remained an important part of Peranakan culture dating back to the intermarriage of Chinese settlers with the local Malay women.

Outside the hotel a withered husk of a woman chawed a mouthful of Adakka or betel nut. She noticed my interest and offered a rolled betel leaf. It contained a betel nut paste and lime. The old woman or Bibik demonstrated the method to best extract the juices from the concoction.

"Thanks you." I stuffed the leaf in my mouth and imitated her expertise. Spit dribbled from my lips. I tasted cloves and hoped for a rush similar to a blast of cocaine. Instead the effect was exactly as preview by my great-grand-aunt.

A strong cup of coffee.

Actually several strong cups of coffee.

The woman spit in a can. I tried the same and splattered my shirt with the excess juice. She laughed at my ineptitude. I bought several rolled leafs from her and retired to the nearest bar. A police officer walked past me and said nothing about the wad of betel nuts pouched in my cheek. Possession of drugs could have cost my life, but betel nuts was sanctioned by local custom and I chewed them every day I was in Singapore.

It was cheaper than coffee, if you're going to drink 20 cups a day.

But please don't assume that Singapore is an easy-going fun city. It consistently wins least sexy city in Asia. The women and men work so much that they don't have time to breed or even mate. Chewing gum and spitting are illegal as is littering.

There's a rumor that police will arrest any women whose erect nipples dimple their shirt, but this is a traveler's tale.

Oral sex was against the law. No one could get proof. More important is their criminalization of homosexuality. I know that many Baptists would care to approve this stricture to bring America closer to God, but fuck them and fuck Singapore too.

Enough with the nos.

This is the Age of Aquarius.

It's the time for yes.

But I do understand about the spitting.

It's the national sport of China and Singapore is predominantly Chinese.

My Great-grand-aunt Bert would disapprove too.

Even in this age of semi-enlightment, for it's one thing to have bad manners, but good manners knowing when not to use your bad ones.

Washing Hands a Go-Go

Another New York survey revealed that less than 1% of men at Yankee Stadium washed their hands after using the bathroom. Even scarier was that less than 2% did so after squatting on the porcelain throne. Thankfully more than 20% did so after puking cheap hot dogs and worthless Bud beer. Last month I decided to conduct a similar survey in the go-go bars of Pattaya.

This meant drinking a lot of beer, but I was surprised to see that more than 30% of the lager louts attending the exotic dance performances actually washed their hands and I hired the one-armed bathroom attendant from the Carousel Go Go to verify these findings. She later reported that almost 50% of the men washed their hands, then again she earns her living from tips, so she might misrepresent the free-style piss and wash statistics, so as not to lose face with her customers.

Me, I always wash my hands, just because I like cleanliness.

Not washing your hands after peeing is a crime in Singapore and the government has trained special agents to sniff your hands after exiting from the toilets, so wash your hands or else expect a caning.

Only 5 strokes for 1st offense.

Masochists need only apply.

Up Or Down

Toilets were invented in the third modern millennium BC and the question of toilet seat up or down has plagued mankind throughout the ages. Men lift the seat to prevent splatter and women keep it down during their business. Men sometimes forget to put down the seat, creating the potential for a woman rushing into the bathroom to relieve herself only to dunk her butt onto the porcelain bowl. Men call this the moon dunk. Women fail to find this term humorous, but some females consider sitting on a toilet seat dirty and cover it with toilet paper. The more the merrier. A woman explained the conundrum by saying, "Men are always moving some part of the lavatory up or down - seat up to pee, seat down to poo. So they're used to the machinations. Women, on the other hand, don't need to move nuthin' - never (unless a man was there before her). It's annoying - simple as that." Mystery solved or open for discussion. Personally I leave up the toilet seat so women will know I didn't wet it. I call that being considerate. Women call it something else. None of it good.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Safe Sex In Pattaya

On my first visit to Pattaya in 1991 I went to the Marine Disco and picked up a girl. We had sex. More than once. Nothing bad happened. She didn’t get pregnant. I didn’t contract an STD (sexually transmitted disease) and we didn’t get married. We were lucky, since I hadn’t been wearing a condom.

No one comes to Pattaya for the water. Not the beaches, maybe the golf, but thousands of men past their prime arrive in the Last Babylon with expectations of fulfilling fantasies previously available only through fast-forward action of a porno DVD.

Girls. Girls Girls.

Pattaya has more girls than you can shake a stick at and almost all of them will say yes, but yes does not mean yes to everything.


“Feels like taking a shower with a raincoat.” Many men quote from an anonymous source about condoms.

Wearing a ‘French envelope’ might be not as pleasurable as bare-backing your tattooed and pierced sex kitten in a cheap short-time hotel off the Beach Road, but the casual tourist has to consider the risks of this action, which is not easy after swilling a dozen beers and ingesting 2 Viagra.

In the early 90s Thailand was beset by AIDS. NGOs blamed the pandemic on the sex trade. The real reason was that the DEA had eradicated opium plants and the hill tribes started shooting heroin with swapped needles. The sex trade was also at fault and the government waged a very effective publicity campaign to educate women of the benefits of using a condom.

Condoms are now a fact of life in Pattaya.

While not 100% effective, they cut down on the risks of catching anything you wouldn’t want from a toilet seat.

Many men complain about ‘rubberitis’ i.e. the touch of latex leading to dreaded loss of wood before coitus-a-g-go. I suggest cutting down on your alcohol consumption, having sex before 3am, or take a blue boy to adjust any chemical imbalance. (caution – it is rumored that scores of middle-aged farangs are admitted to the local hospitals after suffering a heart failure as an after-effect of taking a Viagra). While condoms diminish pleasure, you can still achieve ejaculation and that’s all men are really after in sex.

If a woman wants a friend, then she can buy a dog.

Here’s some pointers about Condom Use

Use latex condoms.

Brands such as Lifestyle, Trojans, Kimono, or Durex are usually reliable. Natural skin condoms feel good, but do not prevent diseases. If you or your partners are allergic to latex (it might give you a rash or irritation), try the polyurethane condom called Avanti.

Get the right size. In the USA the condom makers downsized their product one step to make men think they had bigger penises. You might not be the XXL you thought you were, so check the size first. Also some girls will offer you a smaller size if only to cut off the blood from its appointed destination. If the shoe doesn’t fit don’t wear it.


Most condoms come with some lubrication inside. Whether you believe it not most of the women you bed in Pattaya are not into sex because you look like Brad Pitt. Spit is nice in your videos, but Thai girls think it’s disgusting. And butter despite Marlon Brando using it in LAST TANGO IN PARIS ruins hotel sheets.

For the pleasures of intercourse without discomfort, you will probably want to use additional lubricant on the outside of the condom… use only water-soluble lubricants that do not irritate you or your partner… never use petroleum-based lubricants or other oils or jellies because these will rot latex and cause damage to your condoms.

Use care to roll the condom down the shaft of your penis as soon as you get erect. (If you’re uncircumcised, you’ll probably need to pull your foreskin back before putting the condom on). Pinch the reservoir at the top of the condom so that there’s no air bubble trapped inside the condom (air bubbles can cause breakages). Some girls are orally adept at equipping your member and you’d never know it happened until after the moment of joy.

Beware of jewelry or sharp fingernails as these can cause small rips or tears in a condom (which later lead to breakages). That also goes for larger objects too.

Keep the condom firmly on your penis until you ejaculate. Then, if you are inside your partner withdraw and carefully remove the condom and dispose of it. Use a new condom each time you come inside your partner. Unless you are really cheap.

If you want a kid or a dose of the clap, try some bare-back bronco riding.

Nothing like that first burning sensation or getting a phone call from your teelat.

"We have to talk."

Law ke khun or up to you.

RanXerox - Tanino Liberatore

My life in Paris are well behind me. My last visit was in 2011. Like New York changed during my years in Thailand from a city of artists to a metropolis of wealth. Thanks to Facebook I have been able to reconnect with old friends and last year I was pleased to hear that the famed cartoonist Tanino Liberatore was alive. Back in 1986 I had the pleasure of working with him on three projects; two cartoons and the script translation of his classic tale of an android in love with a 12 year-old junkie RANXEROX.

The director for the film Jean Mondino. The script had been written by Pierre Grillet. They needed an English screenplay to get Hollywood money. I wasn't a particularly good writer, but Tanino, Pierre, and Jean were my friends and I had just finished EMMANUELLE 3 for Paramount-France, so for better or worse I was the man for the job and I sat down for two weeks and typed out 100 pages of a futuristic search for Elvis' lost master tapes. Tanino's pubescent heroine Lubna was addicted to a drug. Pierre had called it 'bleu'. I used the word 'heroin' in my adaptation. I gave the script back to Mondino and told him to read it before he gave it to anyone.

He must ahve been under pressure for the producers, because he sent the screenplay untouched to Hollywood. Drugs were rampant in the film world, but the 80s were the time of Nancy Reagan's Just Say No. Those cocaine-addled Hollywood hypocrites read heroin and axed the possibility of any financing for the project.

I was rightfully blamed for the disaster and my translation work dried up faster than spilled water on a Death Valley highway.

I remained friends with everyone, because failure isn't a fault in France.

Not for your friends.

Check out ranXerox the graphic novel.

Here are the images;

For a related article click on this URL

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Damaged Done With The Needle In My Arm

After the Viet-Nam War wounded veterans dealt with their pain by shooting heroin. It was cheap and available. A knife, a fork, a needle, and a cork was the way Rastas spelt New York, the smack capitol of the USA and the other night my friends were telling me about this opium they smoked in New Jersey. "Opium?" I haven't seen opium in Thailand for at elast fifteen years. "That ain't no opium. That's black tar heroin from Mexico." "No, it isn't." They were proud of their source and I asked them to show me the shit. I dipped my finger into the goo. "Heroin." I knew the difference and I was feeling woosy. "Strong too, but better than that OxyContin shit those crackers are downing to deal with the pain of being nothing or the troops coming home and finding out the VA wants them to pray to God to stop the pain." "I done Oxys once. It's fucked up." The Jersey boy didn't believe in Pharms. "Two of my friends ODed on that shit and the rest of them are robbing to get that shit. They shot it or snort it." "And you think that your opium doesn't have it in it?" I don't trust any drugs. Only beer and wine. "I don't know, you wanna give it a try?" "No, I'm good." I wish I could have said yes, but I've seen the damaged done back in the 70s and we ain't seen nothing yet.

2000 Plus

Tonight Texas is playing Tennessee for a berth in the Little League World Series. The crowd at Willamsport, PA is about 5000. I was watching the game this evening with my landlord's two kids. The score was 0-0 in the 2nd inning. ESPN showed happy faces eating hot dogs and slupring slush. There was no mention of the 80,000 troops in Afghanistan or that the number of US Military deaths in that long war have topped 2000. This morning the New York Times did not ignore that number. The center pages of the A Section was filled with the faces of the dead. Life Magazine had published the faces of the dead from a week in Viet-Nam. In the Times I noticed that some were young and some were old. A few were female. They all have names, although none of the dead Afghani dead are counted in the death tolls. One of the most recent US casualties was Lance Cpl. Gregory T. Buckley Jr. from Long Island. The New York Times reported that three out of four were white, 9 out of 10 were enlisted service members, and one out of two died in either Kandahar Province or Helmand Province in Taliban-dominated southern Afghanistan. Their average age was 26 and they were Marines. Eleven years with the Pentagon telling the White House to stay the fucking course. Fuck you. Bring the troops home. Barack Obama, do it before the election. According to the NY Times Mrs. Buckley recounted things her son loved — basketball, girls, movies, the beach — bitterness choked her words. “Our forces shouldn’t be there. It should be over. It’s done. No more.” Sorry for your loss, Mrs. Buckley. And this is the failing the White House, the GOP, the Democrats, the Pentagon, and especially the Press like ABC whose lead-in story for the 7PM news was the Ex-Penn State Pres. Citing His Own Child Abuse and a woman losing $4.68M Down Payment on NYC Apartment. Fuck you, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOx, CNN and the rest of your useless flacks. The news of today is not dead and California is in the finals for the final berth in the LLWS.

DANCE DANCE DANCE by Peter Nolan Smith

After sunset AK, Pam, Helen, Carol, Rockford, and I ate a vegetarian dinner with Farmer Bob. He was tending to the flower plantation surrounding the bungalow. We drank five bottles of cheap wine and smoked his homegrown pot. Farmer Bob believed in nature’s way. The seven of us danced to the music on the stereo. The lack of neighbors allowed us to test the strength of her uncle’s Frazier Model 7 speakers and the walls vibrated with seismic shudders, as we pranced around the lawn to The Jefferson Airplane and Spirit. Near midnight Farmer Bob gave us the slip and soon after Rockford announced that it was his bedtime. Carol put on her shawl for the long walk through the floral fields to the professor’s house on the bluff. Helen turned off the stereo and blew out the candles, darkening the living room in stages. Carol lingered on the porch. AK and Pam watched the two of us. “You don’t have to sleep alone.” The young girl’s melted musk traipsed across the short distance between our bodies. Her almond eyes were flecked with green and her hand was warm on my chest. “I know, but you’re so young.” I had been resisting my desire for the past weeks, but my resistance was weak after a bottle of wine and a couple of joints. “You were young once. Young as me and not so long ago.” Her breasts pressed against my chest and I sagged against the door. Rockford was a lingering shadow against the chest-high flowers. “That was yesterday and yesterday’s gone.” I quoted from a Chad and Jeremy song from the 60s. “I can make it come back.” She was persistent for a good cause. I almost gave into her, but instead kissed Carol on the cheek. “Maybe tomorrow.” “You’ll regret this night one day.” She pouted and ran into the night to join Rockford. They disappeared into the murk within a few seconds. “And probably more than once.” I said to myself and rolled out my sleeping bag on the porch’s couch. “You’re a stronger man than me.” AK smiled entering the guest bedroom with Pam. “And you too.” I had yet to catch them kissing or exchanging intimate caresses. She was recovering from a broken heart and he had a girlfriend back in Boston. Neither of them spoke about September. It was only a month away. “Or stupider.” I cleared the table and told Helen, “I’ll do the dishes.” “She really wanted you.” The artist lingered by the sink. Her eyes studied my face, as if I were someone new. “And I want her.” I set the plates in the sink and placed the glasses on the counter. Not all of them were empty. “You care to explain?” She was stumped by my refusal. “Carol’s young.” “Carol might be young, but she’s not as young as you think.” Helen was a firm feminist and preached a hardline on man dominating women, so I wasn’t expecting her to say, “She’s probably older than all of us combined after what she went through on the streets.” “That’s true, but remember how I told you about that gang in the Haight trying to rip me off. The leader had a young girl. Her name was Floral. After I knocked out her man, she asked for me to protect her. She couldn’t have been any more than fifteen. I said that she should return home. She told me that the street was safer than her home and pleaded for me to take her with me. I gave her $20 instead. Carol had been this girl once.” “And you’re feeling guilty about not saving that girl?” I nodded yes. ‘You’re not as bad as I thought.” Helen patted my hand. “I’ve been on good behavior here.” I had lifted the toilet seat and washed my hands after every visit to the bathroom. “Your trip here was action-packed with ‘adventure’.” AK had told her about my winning streak screeching to a stop in Reno, Pam was my ex-girlfriend’s roommate, and I had informed her about my escape from the lesbian murderers in Big Sur. “I try to avoid trouble.” “Maybe you don’t go looking for it, but you have a funny way of finding it.” “I wish it wasn’t true.” She wasn’t the first person to accuse me of being a magnet for trouble. “Maybe it won’t be one day. You have a good night’s sleep.” Helen entered her bedroom, after which I washed the dishes and finished off the wine in the glasses. I folded the dish towel and walked through the quiet living room. Standing on the porch I peered into the darkness. Even the owls had called it a night. I stripped off my clothing and crumbled onto my sleeping bag with Steinbeck’s CANNERY ROW in my hand. Within seconds I was out cold. Sleep came easy in this bungalow. Hours later the ringing of the telephone burrowed through the subterranean layers of my slumber. Neither Helen nor AK answered it and the caller gave up after fifteen rings. I sat up on the couch and looked out on the early morning. A thick fog muted the low mumble of commuter traffic on I-5. This time of year sunrise was a mystery to the beach towns north of San Diego and I resumed my sleep, which didn’t last long, for fifteen minutes later the caller showed more resolve by letting the phone ring for a full minute. I got off the couch and walked into the living room, where I picked up the receiver. “Hello.” The plastic was cool to my ear and I shivered in my underwear. Summer took its time getting warm in Southern California. No one replied from the other end and the connection clicked dead. I didn’t have time to swear at the caller. “Who was it?” AK asked from the doorway of the guest bedroom. With the white sheet wrapped around his body, the long-haired pianist could have passed for a young Roman senator. “They hung up. Guess I got to the phone too late.” I rubbed my face and pushed the hair out of my face. It was barely 7am. “Probably a wrong number.” AK tucked his makeshift toga tighter to his waist. “How you feeling?” “Like my brain is a bag of wet pennies.” The total worth would have been about $22. My temples throbbed with sharp jabs of a lightweight contender for hangover of the month. I needed more sleep. “I don’t doubt it.” AK was more into weed than wine. “You and Bob were sucking down the wine.” “I had the thirst.” And then some. The telephone rang again. I picked it up on the first ring. “Who is this?” “Victor.” The man answered with his a lazy southern accent. “Who’s this?” “Helen’s guest.” I motioned for AK to field the call. “I’ll pass you to AK.” “Who is it?” AK was dodging his girlfriend back in Boston. “Your friend Victor.” AK and Helen had gone to college with Victor. Our hostess was smitten by their mutual friend. She hadn’t admitted this love, but a bedroom wall was covered by his photos. I handed AK the phone and retreated to the porch, pulling my sleeping bag around my body. It had to be warmer than AK’s toga. Five minutes later AK sat on the rattan chair next to me. “That’s fucked up.” He picked up a half-burnt joint from the ashtray, which he lit with a match. “What?” I had been crashing on the couch for more than a month. I kicked in my share for food, but lately had been worried that I might have overstayed my welcome. “Should I find someplace else to stay?” “Not at all. Helen likes the company.” “Then what?” I asked with relief. I wasn’t ready to go back to Boston. “Victor has a problem.” AK scratched the bottom of his chin. He was trying to grow a beard. It was taking its time getting past the scraggly stage. “A big problem.” “Victor isn’t coming?” Helen had been preparing for his visit with the devotion of temple virgin. Flowers adorned the house and the rooms were spotlessly clean. “He’s coming all right and he’ll be here in thirty minutes,” AK spoke with the hushed tones of a confessional priest. “Oh, Helen will be happy to hear that.” “Not really.” AK leaned back to check the main bedroom door. It was closed and he said in a hushed voice, “Victor had a fight with Cuchillo.” “Cuchillo?” The name belonged to a bandito in Clint Eastwood’s FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. “Victor’s lover.” AK whispered, as if the porch was wiretapped by the FBI. “He sells drugs in Hollywood and Victor wanted him to stop.”
 “What kind?” “Not pot,” AK said with disapproval. “Oh.” Not pot meant cocaine. “Cuchillo said no and Victor left him. He’s coming here to hide out.” “A fugitive of love.” “You could say that, but Victor asked for me not to say anything.” “Does Helen knows that Victor is gay?” “Victor came out in freshman year. That didn’t stop her from loving him.” “Does she think that she can cure him?” Doctors and the Church had determined that homosexuality was a disease curable by shock treatment. The fag hags at the 1270 Bar were convinced that one night with a woman could turn a gay man straight. Both techniques’ success rate hover over zero. “She accepted him for what he is.” AK held up the joint. I refused it with a wave of my hand. I wasn’t getting stoned this early in the day. “Same as me.” “You’re gay?” “No, you really are dense after a drunk. I was talking about me accepting as a gay.” “Sorry.” I sat up on the couch and drank half a bottle of water. “You ever think you were gay?” “No, what about you?” AK’s answer was returned quicker than an Arthur Ashe’s forehand. “I had a stutter when I was a boy. The speak therapist in Maine said that it might develop into a lisp. He suggested that he cut my palate once of week to force my tongue to move faster. My father stormed out of the office and told my mother that there was nothing wrong with the way I spoke.” “I noticed a lisp, but never a stammer.” “I had speech therapy in Catholic grammar school.” “What’s that?” As a half-breed Jew AK was mystified by nuns and priests. “Saying the rosary so many times that your tongue was too tired to lisp.” 
I caught AK off-guard with that comment and he coughed out his last inhale of weed. After he recovered, I asked, “Why you ask me if about being gay?” “Because Pam said that Jackie told her that you went to gay clubs in Boston.” 
“She’s telling the truth.” “And you never did anything with anyone?” “Never farther than second base.” Telling the truth was hard in the beginning, but easier than having to make up lies at the end. “Going to bat is too far for me.” “I think I will have a little of that weed.” I took a hit, then said, “If we have a guest coming in twenty minutes, it’s time for my shower. I’ll make it quick.” I grabbed my clothes from last night off the floor. They didn’t smell dirty, but the towel hanging over the chair was damp. Nothing ever really dried in the evening mist wandering inland from the ocean. I went to the bathroom and turned on the shower. The water was hot and I soaped my body from head to toe. Five minutes later I exited into the living room. AK had brewed coffee. The acrid fragrance invited me to the table and the pianist served my coffee the way I liked it; milk and one sugar. “So Helen doesn’t know about Cuchillo?” “Only that he’s Victor’s friend.” “Friend?” “I guess it sounds better than lover.” “To someone in love with Victor.”
 “What about Victor?” Helen was standing at the kitchen doorway. Her pale skin was whiter under the red silk night gown. She brushed back her long brown hair. “Victor phoned about twenty minutes ago. He’’ll be here soon.” AK poured another cup of coffee and handed it to Helen. She liked hers black. “I thought he was coming this weekend.” She peeked out the window to the driveway. “He said there was a change of plans.” AK wasn’t saying anything about Cuchillo. “And you didn’t wake me?” Helen fussed with her hair. “He wanted it to be a surprise.” AK’s gift of improvising the truth was an unexpected benefit from his playing jazz piano. “Guess I’m not good at keeping surprises.” “Thank goodness you aren’t. I have to get ready.” Helen sipped at her coffee and retreated into the bathroom. “Quick thinking.” I glanced out the window. The fog was heavy this morning. The coffee cup warmed my hands. “You got that right.” AK turned his head. A large convertible was rumbling down the drive with the top down. A man was behind the wheel. There was no passenger. “That was a quick thirty minutes.” AK chucked the sheet into the guest room and then walked outside to greet his friend. I joined him on the lawn. The grass was wet with dew under my bare feet. While America was in the throes of a gas crisis and drivers were abandoning their Big Detroit cars in favor of smaller cars, the pale yellow Mercedes came to a halt in the driveway with European elegance. Victor got out of a yellow Mercedes Benz. The canvas top was black. The 250C was a car driven by the foes of James Bond or their boyfriends. The Mercedes stopped short of the bungalow. The driver shut off the engine and got out of the car. Victor was tall, lean, and moved with an innate grace of movement. “Nice ride.” AK hugged his friend. “In Hollywood people judge you by your wheels.” Victor’s athletic frame was devoid of muscle. He reached over to shake my hand. His nails were buffed by a manicure, but the brown-haired dancer had a strong grip. “Helen said you resembled a Neanderthal and she wasn’t kidding.” “I like to think of myself as the last of my kind.” Many people had commented on my brooding features and for the most part I considered the caveman comparison as a compliment. “Oh, I’ve seen a few more of your kind in my time.” Victor beamed a smile and his eyes had dropped to my crotch for a flicker on an instant. He checked my eyes to see if I had done the same. The instinctive act was like two dogs sniffing their asses. “I could have used you last night. AK says you’re a street fighter.” He must have heard about my confrontation with the thieves in the Haight. I had come out of the scrap without a scratch. “Anyone is in comparison to AK.” The long Islander hadn’t had a fight since grammar school on Long Island. I wished that I could say the same. “I’m a lover not a fighter.” AK grabbed two bags from the back seat. “Me too, so I dosed the brute with some ‘ludes last night. He crashed dead asleep and I hit the road. He’ll be fine. Cuchillo has family in LA.” The brevity of this statement indicated that this subject was off limits. “Where’s Helen?” “Here I am.” The young artist ran from the house. Her colorful silk dress trailed like smoke in her wake. Her face was besot by happiness and she leapt into the air. Victor caught Helen in his arms and spun on his tiptoes leaning back to support her orbit around him. This ballet grace was balanced by a surprising show of strength. Helen grasped his shoulders and Victor ended the impromptu ‘pas de deux’ with a gentle descent to his knees onto which he placed the breathless Helen. “Wow.” I had been to the ballet once in my life and recognized that Victor was blessed with the gift of movement. “Yes, very wow.” Helen clapped her hands with delight. AK and I joined her applause. “You’re too kind.” He released the painter with a gracious bow. “Did I miss something?” Pam stood at the doorway in a simple cotton dress. “Only the joy of re-union.” Victor beamed at the blonde nursing student. “You must be Pam. I’m here to join a commune.” “Commune?” Helen regarded her three guests and then Victor. “Yes, I guess we are a commune and now we have one more member. Are we in agreement?” “Yes.” AK, Pam, and I answered without reservation. “I love democracy.” Victor kissed Helen on the cheek and pointed to the fog overhead. “Is that overcast permanent?” “It will be sunshine and blue skies before noon.” “Glad to hear the weather will be fine. I could use a tan.” “Put his things in my room.” Helen led Victor into the house. AK room-serviced the bags into her bedroom. Once we were at the kitchen table, she leaned over to kiss him with a touching tenderness. “It’s good to see you.” “And you too.” He trumped with a lingering caress. He lifted his fingers from her face. The moment passed and Victor asked, “Who has reefer?” “I do.” AK rolled a new joint and the two of them smoked it. They discussed about college friends before Victor digressing to tales of auditioning for TV shows. “Can you imagine a boy from the sticks dancing on the Merv Griffin Show? My mother says those old cracker bullies are green with envy, because I dance with beautiful women for a living, although that might be pushing it a little. Those boys were rough with girls, fags, and cows.” He had been a soft-hearted Opie in a Mayberry filled with mean-spirited Barney Fifes. “So who did you meet so far?” Pam was enthralled by his encounters with famous stars. The names spun our heads. Hollywood was a world onto itself. “They love a new face.” He threw back his head to show his profile. I had to give it to Victor. He had style. “Especially if it’s young. By the way where’s your TV?” “There is none.” AK shrugged without an additional comment. “No TV?” Victor was visibly outraged by the sacrilege. We were brought up with TV as our God. 
“My uncle banned it years ago and I obey his wishes.” Helen smiled at Victor, as if he was a young boy punished for not paying attention in class. “Besides your hours exclude any prime-time TV.” “Who has the time to watch summer re-runs. I can live with no TV, if the rest of you can. Time for me to shower.” Victor spun out of the living room and glided the bathroom. “I’ve canceled my art class.” Helen went to the kitchen to cook a big breakfast. It was an official beach day and once the haze burned off, Victor drove us down to Moonlight Beach for another day beneath the cliffs. In the early afternoon Rockford and Carol enlarged our beach commune by two. We played frisbee, swam in the ocean, and sang songs with Rockford on guitar. The rising high tide forced us to retreat to the top of the bluff at sunset. “Is this how you spend your days?” Victor wrapped a sarong around his waist. The sun had kissed his skin gold. “It’s a good life.” Rockford had been living in Encinitas since the Spring. “Almost paradise.” Carol spread her arms to worship the end of the day. The rest of us joined her silent homage and Victor embraced Helen with tenderness. Today had belonged to paradise and we returned to the bungalow for a vegetarian dinner accompanied by numerous bottles of wine and reefer provided by our hippie neighbor. Victor assumed the role of DJ on the stereo and played on a series of recent R&B hits. “So what have you been doing for fun at night?” Victor asked with a joint in his hand. His body bopped to the music. “This is pretty much it,” AK exhaled a cloud of marijuana smoke. His hands mimicked the keyboard player on ROCK THE BOAT. He loved soul. “Reliving the 60s.” Victor sounded disappointed with our choice of decades. “Better than the 50s.” I liked hanging out of the bungalow and explained, “The bars in Encinitas are filled with crackers and they keep mistaking Pam for Patty Hearst.” Patty Hearst, a white heiress, had been kidnapped by the SLA. The revolutionary outlaws was led by Donald DeFreeze. The ex-convict converted Patty to their cause after her father balked at paying them the ransom. She joined them in a bank robbery, AK-47 in her hands. A firefight ensued with two civilians wounded in the exchange of bullets. The take was $10,000. The price of three Cadillacs. “You’re joking?” “No, twice a drunk idiot has called the police to say that the SLA are in the bar and ten minutes later the SWAT squad rolls with guns to arrest us.” “That could only happen once before the cops learned their lesson.” Victor studied Pam’s face. “Plus she doesn’t bear any resemblance to Tania.” “I agree.” Pam was blonde and beautiful, but our friend did bear a slight resemblance to the renegade heiress hunted by every police officer in the USA, especially after the LAPD killed most of the SLA in a Compton shoot-out. “We’ve called the Highway Patrol and local cops. They say not to worry, but once the crackers drink a few beers all they can see is Patty Hearst and start counting the reward.” “$50,000, right?” Patty Hearst was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. She was on the run with the surviving members of her gang. “Yes.” The cops pulled their guns on us every time, but they were more after glory than money unlike the drunks at the bar. “If only you were Patty, then I’d be rich.” Victor hugged Pam. “Just kidding.” “Thanks.” Pam didn’t find the joke funny. The SLA had ordered Patty Hearst’s father to feed the hungry. He had shortchanged the demand with rotten food. “There are other bars here. One down in San Diego called the Brass Rail is for people that are a little different,” Victor shrugged, as if we understood what he meant by ‘different’. “You mean ‘gay’?” I knew exactly what he was saying. “Yes, but gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, straights, whatever. Remember this is the 70s. The height of the sexual revolution. It’s time to explore our selves and if not that then to dance and have fun.” Victor reached over to AK. “And there are plenty of straight women in the clubs who love to dance with good-looking men.” “Plenty of men for you too.” AK might have gay friends, but he was 100% straight. “I’d like to see you dance with a man.” Pam sat closer to AK. They had been sleeping together for the last month. As far as I knew they had yet to consummate their relationship. “It might turn you on.” Victor changed the record to THE HUSTLE. “I like to dance.” Rockford rose to his feet with Carol. The two of them showed their moves. He spun her into his arms. Rockford was a surprisingly good dancers, but her moves came from another school than high school hops. The strippers at the Two O’Clock Lounge in Boston’s Combat Zone would have been jealous of her mindless fluidity. “I’m open-minded too.” “And I think they have two-for-one tonight.” This comment was directed at me. “Two for one?” I almost stuttered, because I was trying to digest Carol having worked on San Francisco’s Barbary Coast. “Drinks.” Victor read deeper into my mind. “Is this still a democracy? Because I vote ‘yes’.” My high was getting tired of cheap wine and I wanted to see Carol dance more. “Who else is ‘yes’?” The vote was unanimous, although AK was the last hand to hit the air. The girls went to the bedroom to get dressed and make up their faces. “Now it’s your turn.” “Our turn for what?” “To time travel out of those Woodstock revival rags into the now.” Victor rummaged through his bags to outfit us in ribbed tee-shirts, bell-bottoms, and platform shoes. I waved away his offer and said, “I have my own.” “You carried platform shoes across country?” AK was surprised by this addition to my wardrobe. “Now I understand why your bag is so big.” Rockford was the one-bag existence messiah. Carol was his devotee and she disapproved of my excess. “You never know when something might come in handy.” I went to the porch and pulled my tan platforms from the bottom of my bag along with sky blue flairs and an azure tee-shirt from Italy. I changed into them and regarded my transparent reflection in the window. I was no longer a hippie beach bum and entered the living room to stand with AK and Rockford for Victor’s inspection. “How very Slade.” Victor referred to the English glam band. The four of us could have passed for a stranded glitter band from England. “Anyone ask tonight and we’re the Flash Band out of New York.” “You mean lie?” AK tended to not stray from the truth, which was easier to remember. “Just having a little fun.” Victor shrugged, as if he changed identities faster than his clothing. “Who are we?” “The Flash Band from New York on our way to LA.” Rockford was buying into the fantasy. “That’s the spirit.” Victor broke out a vial of white powder and gave us each two lines of pinkish cocaine. “Think of it as our sacrament.” “I have no trouble with that.” The powder snapped back my head on an elastic band. Cuchillo’s blow was the real thing and my heart raced to an imaginary finish line on a lost horizon. “It’s the drug of choice for the disco crowd.” We received a white pill stamped 714. “And this is choice # 2.” “No quaaludes for me. I have to drive.” AK handed back the pill. “And don’t mention this to Helen and Pam.” “Not a chance.” Victor lifted a finger to his mouth, even though his darting eyes were a dead giveaway to anyone versed in drug detection. The girls emerged from the bedroom in fancy dresses and high heels. Helen was splendid in a long rust-colored peasant shirt belted to double as a skirt, a bottle-green pajama pant suit opened to her navel, and Pam was a vision of disco splendor in a dusty pink two-piece wrap dress of Qiana. Sparkle make-up covered their eyelids and Pam had hidden her lustrous blonde hair beneath a sheer pink scarf. There was no mistaking her for Patty Hearst or us for the SLA. “I have to get a photo.” Helen picked up her Leica and snapped individual and collective shots in various poses choreographed by Victor. After a few minutes he tapped his watch. “It’s almost 9. Bars in California close at 1. If we’re going, we have to go now.” I was dying for another line, but Victor was more into hitting the bar. He had men on his mind. “I’m ready.” We hadn’t gotten dressed up to admire ourselves in the mirror and the seven of us piled out of the bungalow into Victor’s Mercedes. “You’re driving there.” He threw me the keys. “Why him?” AK was a better driver. “Because he looks like a car thief and you drive like an old lady in Palm Beach. The night gets old fast in California, so we have no time to lose.”
 Victor, Helen, and I sat in the front of the convertible. Pam, Helen, AK, and Rockford crammed into the back. I drove slowly down the dirt road, as Victor explained to the girls about our being the Flash Band and slipped the Rolling Stones into the 8-track. The first song was STOP BREAKING DOWN from Exile on Main Street. “Stones.” “Don’t say anything about the Beatles.” Rockford defended his band and explained to Victor. “He has a hang-up about the Beatles. Something about losing a girl in grammar school, because she was in love with Paul.” “I’ve never forgiven him, but I love John.” IMAGINE was one of my favorite songs along with WORKING CLASS HERO. “Long time to carry a grudge.” Victor was more forgiving. “Her name was Jenny.” At the end of the driveway I checked both directions and pulled out of the empty two-laner. Two minutes later I was driving down I5. Traffic was running at ten miles an hour over 55. The freeway was teeming with young people in cars. I maintained our speed with the flow of the other cars. Victor urged me to step on the gas. “65 is plenty fast.” The Mercedes was overloaded by two people and CHiPS loved stopping multiple violators. Victor directed me to the Brass Rail in Hillcrest. “Have you been here before?” AK asked his friend. “No, but I have good gaydar.” Victor lifted his hands like they were antennae searching other homosexuals. “Take a right here.” “My uncle once went to the Brass Rail,” Helen said over the Stones. “He and a friend stopped there for a drink in the afternoon. They thought it strange there were only men in the place and these men were writing notes to each other like high school boys and girls.” “I guess their gaydar was shut off,” AK quipped from the rear. “Or they were in the closet.” Victor pointed to a two-story building on Sixth and B next to a movie theater featuring porno movies. “This is the place. Park anywhere.” Anywhere was a difficult request. B Street was filled with cars. “Better I let you out and I’ll find a spot around the corner.” I pulled over to a bus stop. “Don’t be long.” Victor helped everyone from the car. AK had never worn platforms before and almost tripped on a crack in the sidewalk. The girls were experts in their heels. Victor led the way across the street with AK and Rockford escorting the three women. I waved to let the bouncer know that I was coming back to join my friends. 

I found a spot on 6th. Raising the roof of the Mercedes was beyond my skills. San Diego had a reputation for a safe city, its police were the pride of California, and I left the car with the top down. Walking in the platform shoes felt funny after wearing boots or sandals for the past month. Taller by three inches I checked my reflection in a store window. I wasn’t a hippie anymore. I was a dancing fool and picked up my step to the thud of the bass through the wall of the Brass Rail. It belonged to EXPRESS by BT Express, which was a big hit at the 1270 in Boston. The doorman checked my ID and I paid $2 to get in the bar. “We only charge on the weekends.” “What if we come all the time?” I had a feeling that Victor would be staying home much. “Then it’s half price.” “Half is better than full.” I entered the bar and my eyes adjusted a new world of loud music, bright lights bouncing off a mirrored ball, and men dancing with men. Victor was creating a sensation with his moves. Helen tried to keep up with him, but his every move expressed a rainbow of emotions under the phalanx of lights and he deserved the undivided attention of each man in the Brass Rail. My other friends were scattered about the club. AK and Pam rocked by the DJ booth. Rockford and Carol were hustling in the corner. Dressed in her disco gear the young runaway showed that Carol was no novice to nightclubs. San Diego was a big military city and a good percentage of men with the crewcuts were probably off-duty marines or sailors. The rest of the clientele was a mix of dykes, disco queens, attractive men, and stylish fag hags, mostly white unlike the 1270, which had broken the color barrier back in the 60s. The DJ segued into DOCTOR’S ORDER by Carol Douglas and amyl nitrate riffed in the air. It was dance time and I joined Carol and Rockford. She took my hand and led me through the complicated ritual of the Hustle. Twenty minutes later I excused myself, asking what they wanted to drink. They both wanted beer and I went to the bar to order three Coronas. Boston bars didn’t served Mexican beer. The first sip tasted like I could drink a dozen. “Are you new here?” The bearded bartender shouted over the music. “We came with our friend.” I nodded toward Victor. “Is he a professional?” He sported a leather vest without a shirt to display a hairy chest. He smelled of vaseline and poppers, his eyes suggested sex, and his voice confessed that he was open to anything. “You mean for money?” I was thinking rent boy. They haunted the Greyhound bus stations from coast to coast. “No one’s a hustler here. We’re all too busy giving it away.” The burly leather boy shook his head with a grimace on his lips. “I was asking, if he was a professional dancer.” “I think he’s been on the Merv Griffin Show and in a couple of movies.” HIs agent had been calling from Hollywood. Victor was in demand. “We have good dancers here, but he’s the best I’ve ever seen. When he’s done dancing, send him over here. I’d like to buy him a drink and your other friend too.”

“Which one?” I was thinking AK. “The blonde.” His was strangely secretive, yet directed his glance at Pam. “Will do.” I went over AK and Pam at the DJ booth. They were resting for a minute. HIs face was shiny with sweat. Hers glowed with perspiration. “Pam, the bartender’s offering you a drink.” “Why?” She peered across the dance floor through a gauntlet of stares. “You don’t think that they think I’m Patty Hearst, do you?” “No, someone would have said something or the police would shown up already.” I scanned the bar. The kidnapped heiress had gone to ground after the SLA shooting in LA. She had to be on the top of the FBI’s most wanted list. I didn’t see any police. “It’s nice being a nobody again.” Pam held AK’s hand. She had fully recovered from her broken heart. “And I’m a nobody too.” AK put his arm around Pam. Her arrival in Encinitas had made his summer. “Not to me.” The nursing student pulled AK to the bar. Several men danced closer to me. I avoided any eye contact. Dancing with men at the 1270 without any friends present was more comfortable than dancing with strangers in front of AK and Pam. We had mutual friends back in Boston and some segments of my life were better left in the closet. After GET DANCING by Disco Tex and His Sex-o-Lettes we gathered at the bar. I introduced Victor to the bartender, who served us a round of drinks. “Who’s driving home?” I switched from beer to Vodka-Tonic. A little less than two hours remained until closing. I intended on being drunk by Pumpkin Hour. “I’m feeling a little woozy.” Rockford said to disqualify himself. “Me too.” Victor threw his arm around my shoulder. “Thanks for introducing me to the bartender. He’s a hunk.” “He might be into rough sex.” Leather boys were normally into S&M. “That’s fine with me. I like everything and he asked if you’ll join us.” Victor whispered in my ear. “Thanks, but I’ll pass.” I preferred women to men. “I’m not drinking anymore.” AK volunteered for the duty, but his eyes were glazed from the cocaine and ‘ludes. Helen grabbed the keys. Her limit was two glasses of wine. The clock ticked faster with the approach of closing time. The DJ spun NEVER SAY GOODBYE BY Gloria Gaynor and LADY MARMALADE by LaBelle before closing out the night with WHEN WILL I SEE YOU AGAIN by the Three Degrees. After lifting the stylus from the turntable he wished everyone good night. The manager flicked on the harsh lights, forcing the crowd from the Brass Rail. Several huddles of men gathered on the sidewalk, each one selecting their take-out date with a lightning-swift decisions based on maximizing the sating of their lust. I led our group around the corner to the Mercedes, which was intact. “You didn’t put up the top?” AK checked the interior of the car. “I didn’t know how.” “Nothing seems to be missing.” In Boston the seats would have been slashed by vandals or the car stolen by joyriders. “I’m a lucky man.” I handed the keys to AK, who passed them to Helen. AK and Pam squished into the back. Victor lingered on the corner with the bartender. As I opened the passenger door, he ran up to the Benz. “I’ve decided to spent the night with Butch.” Victor rolled his eyes with anticipation of Sodom and Gomorrah. “Butch might not be his real name, but he’ll give me a ride back to the house. See you around noon.” He leaned over to kiss Helen on the cheek and skipped to the corner like a boy invited to a birthday party with endless chocolate cake. “There goes a happy man.” “Get in the car.” Helen started the Mercedes and drove away without a peek in the rearview mirrors. Her love for Victor was a little more than platonic. The couples in the rear fell asleep on the ride back to Encinitas. Helen dialed in a jazz station featuring Dexter Gordon. Passing the La Holla exit she turned to me and said, “I love Victor for being Victor.” “I can see that, but gay men like him don’t mess around with women.” She had to be told the truth. “He said long ago that he’s never slept with a woman, but also that if he did he would sleep with me. Believe me, I’m not waiting for that day, but there’s nothing wrong with loving someone for just themselves and not sex.” “It’s the purest form of love.” I loved women who would never have sex with me again. I couldn’t get them out of my mind, but Helen was speaking of another kind love than mine. “Yes, and it’s not one way between us. We love each other more than just friends. So don’t feel sorry for me. I know what I’m doing.” She was a woman and not a man. “I won’t.” I felt too sorry for myself to feel sorry for anyone else. We dropped Carol and Rockford on their quiet street on the bluffs and I heard the waves crashing on the beach. “You’re home.” I shook Rockford’s shoulder. “Cool.” Rockford kicked off the platform shoes and handed them to me. “That was a fun evening.” “You want to come in?” Carol directed the question to me. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” If I had been alone, I would have gone with her. “On the beach.” “See you then.” Carol ran into the bungalow with the heels in her hand. “Tomorrow.” Rockford shook his head. “You’re missing out on a good thing.” “I’ll see you tomorrow.” I had a good idea about my loss. Back at the bungalow the four of us retreated to our sleeping areas without much talk. I was a little wired from the cocaine and laid down on the couch. I read Allen Ginsberg’s HOWL, trying to memorize the opening. A light breeze carried the fragrance of flowers from the low mist and I fell asleep with the book over my face. The next morning I woke up on the porch, telling myself ‘never again’. I had drank too much, but thankfully the sun was blocked by a morning fog thick as the mist in a Russian sauna. I grabbed the bottle of water from the night table and downed most of it, then lay on my sleeping bag holding my head. It was only 7am and I wondered why I had woken up this early. The phone rang in the living room. Whoever was on the other end wasn’t hanging up until someone answered the phone and I shambled into the living room to pick up the receiver, expecting Victor, except a man asked, “Is Victor there?” This could only be Cuchillo. “There’s no Victor here.” It was the truth for the moment. “Victor went down to San Diego to visit a friend. I found this number on my phone bills. I don’t know what he told you, but he took my car. A Mercedes. I haven’t reported it stolen. Not yet. My name is Cuchillo.” I didn’t answer him, partially since I had racially stereotyped Cuchillo as a bandito parody of Cheech and Chong and this man spoke pure Californian without any hint of the barrio. “Are you still there?” I waited several seconds. “Yes.” “Just tell Victor to call me. We have to talk. He has my number.” “Okay.” I hung up the phone and returned to the porch. For the first time in weeks an unease snaked up my spine. AK needed to hear about the car. Telling Helen would be up to him. Sleep was out of the question and I picked up HOWL. Allen Ginsburg didn’t use commas. The best minds of our generation were awake on the East Coast. No one in this house was looking for a fix. Victor had a bag of blow. The poet feared the FBI on the West Coast. New York was dangerous, but a homoerotic rush for Ginsberg. I had felt safe here until this morning’s phone call and waited for my friends to rise from bed. It took them longer than usual. I didn’t get a chance to speak with AK in private, until Pam and Helen left for their art class. “What’s with the long face?” AK was sipping his coffee with pleasure. He had finally crossed the bridge with Pam. “Victor’s boyfriend called this morning.” I put Robert Johnson’s SWEET HOME CHICAGO on the stereo. Helen’s uncle had an extensive collection of jazz, blues, and classical. The rock and folk belonged to his niece. “He said he needed to speak with Victor and that the Mercedes is his.” “How’d he sound?” AK rested the coffee cup on the table. “Not angry. Only like he wanted to speak with Victor. He says that the Mercedes is his and he wants it back. So far there are no police involved.” The bungalow had no mail box on the main road and Helen picked up her uncle’s mail at the post office. “I don’t think that he can find us here, but he can find out which town we are in from the phone number.” “I’ll speak to Victor. It’s his problem, until it becomes our problem.” “And Helen?” She deserved a head’s up. “I’ll speak to Victor first, then her.” Helen was his friend. This was his call. The sun seared through the fog at noon and we walked through the flower fields to the beach. The swell was double-overhead with a treacherous shorebreak. Rockford had erected a shelter from driftwood over which he draped a washed-up tarp. AK and he played music to the slap of the surf on the sand. Carol stripped off her top and lay by me. “You’re not writing today.” “My mind is taking off the day.” “Good.” Carol snuggled next to me and I surrendered to her caress. The offshore breeze luffed across the sand bearing the fragrance of a cut lawn. Carol massaged my neck. She had learned the pressure points from an expert and manipulated the knots of muscles with a cautious gentleness. I shut my eyes and several minutes later caught up with my sleep missing from my morning. Some time later I woke to Carol singing CATCH THE WIND. She was keeping the beat with an almost inaudible clap of the hands and dancing in a sitting position. In 1965 I had bought the Donovan’s 45 at a record shop in Mattapan Square. I didn’t remember half the lyrics and listened to her half-spoken rendition. Carol shortened the closing chorus and I sat up on the blanket. We were alone. The wave height had dropped to five feet. AK and Rockford were bodysurfing in the lift of a hollow swell. Their arms scratched the surface with hurried strokes and they were propelled forward to vanish from sight, as the wave collapsed twenty feet from shore. I swept my arm around Carol. She turned to me. We kissed for several seconds. Her lips tasted of salt and a wisp of her hair floated across my neck. Helen was right. Carol was older than her years. We separated and she opened her eyes. Someone was standing behind us. It was Victor. “What a night.” AK’s friend acted oblivious of his obvious interruption of our intimacy. “I feel like Rome after the Huns sacked it for Attila.” “Good time?” Carol smiled with amusement at my annoyance. “Butch has left me a rag doll.” Last evening’s outfit emanated an odor of too much sex and Victor stripped off his clothing to reveal that his body had not suffered from the night’s excesses. “Who’s ready for a swim?” “I am.” Carol offered her hand. Victor threw back his head and vectored his sculptured frame to elegantly assist Carol to her feet. He was a master at transferring his innate grace to others. The two of them raced to the water. Carol was accustomed to the ways of the ocean and plunged under a crushing wave, which body-slammed Victor to the sand. The dancer floundered in the sucking undertow before another wave knocked him to his knees. He was no swimmer and I ran to drag Victor from the sea. He sat on the sand and coughed out a good amount of water. “Are you all right?” I helped him to his feet. “I am now. The force of that wave caught me by surprise. For a few seconds I thought I was going to drown and I wasn’t even in six inches of water.” “People drown in less.” We walked back to the blanket and he toweled himself dry without shame of his nakedness. As usual we had this section of the beach to ourselves. “I never was a good swimmer. Hell, I didn’t see the ocean until I was twenty. I went to Cape Hatteras with Helen and I almost drowned there. I’m better off in swimming pool in Beverly Hills. There the only danger is human.” “I don’t even see Carol.” Victor shielded his eyes with his hand. “She’s to the left of the surfers with AK and Rockford. Don’t worry, we’re all good swimmers.” I had been watching her in the surf. If she had been drowning too, Victor would have been lost at sea. I knew her longer. “Sorry about before.” Victor sat in the shade of our shelter, positioning a towel over his crotch. “And I’m not talking about almost drowning. I’m sorry about interrupting your moment with Carol.” “It was nothing.” I could have killed him. “Nothing?” He flicked sand on my leg like a bully on the beach. It was in jest. “Helen told me Carol likes you and you like her, but you have some stupid hang-up about her age.” “She’s seventeen.” And I wasn’t sure if she was that old. “And you’re twenty-two. Ten years from now you’ll be thirty-two and she’ll be twenty-seven. You probably won’t even look at her then, because she’ll be too old, so stop sweating the age thing. It’s so 1950s. I had a fight about my boyfriend about sex. He’s a little older and wants to be monogamous. I’m young and I want it all. I decided we needed a break, so here I am.” “On a sex vacation.” “Same as you for what I hear.” “I wish everyone kept their mouths shut.” “Yourself included.” “Me too.” There was little chance of that. “My lips are sealed, but only on one condition.” “Which is?” “If you make love with Carol, then you can tell me how it was.” He arched his eyebrows. His mind was filled with wicked thoughts. “I don’t think so.” “A few lines and a few beers and you’ll ‘fess all like you were on truth serum. You know I’ve never been with a woman.” “Helen mentioned that last night.” “She hopes that one day I might change my mind, but I’ve warned her time and time again that I’m gay and I knew I was gay from the time I was six.” “You played with your sister’s Barbie dolls?” The blank bodies were valued show and tell for most boys in the 60s. “Not Barbie or Ken. I like men in the movies; cowboys, soldiers, gladiators. I guess I had a uniform thing, but not the Boy Scouts.” “Plenty of uniforms in San Diego.” I thought about mentioning Cuchillo’s call, but that was AK’s obligation. “Don’t make me crazy.” Victor fell back on the blanket. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to get some sleep. I have a busy night tonight.” I read HOWL again, trying to memorize the lines, but could only remember ‘I saw the best minds of my generation’. I slipped the book into my bag and shut my eyes. I got some more sleep too. Before dinner that evening Victor taught us to dance as an ensemble. “The Flash Band from New York.” Thirty minutes and we were in synch. “No one at the Brass Rail will have seen something like us.” He was right. We wowed the crowd. Between breaks I kept asking AK if he had spoken to Victor about Cuchillo. “I’ll get to it. You should take care of Carol.” “I will.” We danced for an hour and then made out in the corner till the lights signaled closing. A minute later Victor vanished with the Prince Charming of his choice like Cinderella’s stepbrother looking for a good time. Helen drove back to Encinitas singing to the Maria Muldar on the radio. That night Carol slept on the porch with me. She woke me with a kiss in the morning. “I have to go.” “I can drive you.” I reached for my jeans. “No, I like walking. I’ll see you at the beach.” Her smile was a promise. AK, Helen, and Pam said nothing about Carol at breakfast, so I volunteered, “She’s a nice girl.” “Nice?” The two women laughed in unison. “Nice is for your cousins. You two have a nice night.” “Nice enough.” I flashbacked to her kiss. Helen and Pam drove off to their morning art classes. AK and I cleaned the house and I asked him, “Did you speak with Victor about this friend?” “Yes, he said that he would call him today.” “So we have nothing to worry about?” The yellow Mercedes in the driveway was basically a stolen car. “Nothing at all.” AK rolled a joint and sat at the piano to practice the piano progression for Horace Silver’s SONG FOR MY FATHER. I wrote in my journal about last night. Carol’s smell remained on my skin. I tried to resurrect the breathlessness of her passion. Every word paled in comparison to the reality and I put down my pen. I was never going to be a writer. As soon as the coastal mist cleared, AK and I walked down through the flower fields to Encinitas. Traffic was light on the PCH and we climbed to the bluff overlooking Moonlight Beach. Several surfers were at the break. No one was on the beach. “What do you think?” AK started down the cliff path. “Another day in paradise.” We swam for a good hour before Rockford and Carol descended the cliffs to join us at the driftwood shelter, which had survived the evening tide. We played music, wrote poetry, and discussed the menage-a-quatre of the ocean, sky, beach, and wind. Altamont had not killed off these days of Summer of Love for us. Helen and Pam showed up a later with fruit and water. We were one big happy family. Helen departed from the beach at 3 to be at the bungalow. “Victor’s coming back to practice. I’ll play piano for him.” “You?” AK was a little upset that he wasn’t asked to accompany Victor. “He likes to practice to classical, not jazz.” AK helped her up the bluff and returned several minutes later. “Are you upset?” I asked him. “No, Helen and Victor have a special relationship. Better for me to stand aside.” That evening we left the beach before sunset. Carol and Rockford stopped at the professor’s house to pick up clothes for the evening and the five of us walked along the small path in the thickening dusk. We heard the music before we saw the bungalow. We stopped at the edge of the lawn and looked inside the bungalow, lit windows. The living room had been cleared of furniture. Helen sat at the piano. Victor was stripped to his shorts and poised on his toes. Her fingers delicately tapped the ivories to play Francoise Hardy’s LE TEMP D’AMOUR. His body spun a spell, as Victor was tossed across the room by an invisible Apache partner, mesmerizing the three of us in stunned admiration. I had known that he was good, but not this good. Helen stuck the coda and we applauded his effort. Victor turned with a smile and walked onto the porch. “How long have you peeking toms been there?” His white skin was glistening with a cloak of sweat. “Less than a minute.” Rockford walked across the grass and hugged the dancer. “But each second was an eternity and I have to say that you did is something that can’t be learned. It’s in your heart and soul.” “Thanks.” Victor was appreciative of praise and led the hippie into the bungalow. “My mother took me to the ballet once. I think it was Swan Lake. You died better than the ballerina.” Carol entered the living room blessed by wide-eyed awe. “Helen, give this man and woman a glass of our best wine.” Victor positioned Rockford to the stereo. “This evening you’re the pre-dinner DJ. Spin your best.” “I can only try,” the Iowan replied with a dry grin, as Victor disappeared into the bathroom for a shower. The rest of us arranged the furniture to their common position and prepared food for dinner. A glass of wine was close at hand. Rockford put on Lennon’s IMAGINE. “Talk about ‘imagine’, the Court decided against Nixon. He had to provide the tapes,” Helen said, chopping lettuce, mushrooms, tomatoes, and onions for a salad. The bungalow teemed with health and youth. “Congress will vote for impeachment.” AK placed a pot of water on the burner. Pasta was our staple. Salt, butter, pepper, olive oil, and garlic accompanied spaghetti. None of us was a chef, but we were well-fed. “Nixon will resign.” Rockford was trying to choose between BLUE and John Coltrane. “Ford will be president.” Some parts of the future was clear to me. I also knew that the Red Sox weren’t going anywhere this year. The injury to catcher Carlton Fisk had killed our season. “We’ll abandon Viet-Nam.” Pam was a little more right than the rest of us. “Saigon will fall.” Helicopters would flee the skies. Ships would sail east. People left behind would have to fend for themselves. It was an old story “It was always a deck of cards. I was in Viet-Nam in 1964. I enlisted after college, thinking it was better than being drafted. I did my time and never fired my rifle. I was lucky.” Moonlight Beach was as close as any of the rest of us had gotten to Viet-Nam and after a few seconds I said, “I tried to enlist at seventeen. My mother had refused to sign the papers.” “Then you were lucky too, because in the late-60s Nam was shit, but it wasn’t so bad back when I was there and one day it won’t be so bad again. Same as here.” Rockford pulled out BLUE and cued up ALL I WANT. It was a favorite for the girls and they sang along with Joni Mitchell. AK, Rockford, and I joined them on the chorus detaching our lives from the Watergate, Viet-Nam, Nixon, and the price of gas, for this bungalow existed on another plane than the rest of America and we were wise enough to not question which one. AK lit up a joint. I took a puff and passed it to Carol, who was wearing a maroon scarf around her breasts and an orange sarong about her waist. Her runaway eyes rolled into the back of her head, as she inhaled, as if this hit was the last air on earth. Getting high was in her blood and she gazed at me with a young girl’s desire for an older man who wasn’t that much older than herself. Dinner wouldn’t be ready for another fifteen minutes and I went to the bathroom to shower off the salt of the sea, half-expecting Carol’s knock on the door, but instead a deep rumbling shook the bungalow from the bowels on the earth. The shuddering lasted a short time and I thought that it was strange that a train was running so close to us. After the shaking subsided I exited from the steamy bathroom to an empty house. Everyone was standing on the lawn. “So that wasn’t a train.” It was my first earthquake. “No, a small tremor, but always best to get out of the house in case it gets worse.” Rockford looked into the trees. An owl hooted from its hiding place and my friends entered the bungalow. “I’ll remember that next time.” It felt a little strange having been abandoned by my friends, however scientists had long been predicting an epic tremor for Southern California and no one could take a chance of getting caught by the Big One, so it was everyone for himself or herself. Dinner conversation was dominated not by earthquakes, but Victor’s recounting of his recent sexual encounters, which he toned down for the girls, although Rockford, AK and I deciphered these exploits’ degree of XXXness through the prism of his lurid facial expressions. After dinner Victor pulled out the bag of cocaine, while the three women prepared for yet another night at the Brass Rail. His stash wasn’t getting any smaller and Victor propositioned Rockford and me, “If you dealt a little blow at the bar, I could front you a couple of grams. It’s a good way of making money.” “I tried dealing before. A little grass and LSD during college. I broke even between people not paying me and rip-offs. So count me out.” “I got arrested for dealing three years ago,” Rockford announced in a quiet voice. “What happened?” AK liked smoking pot. The rest of it was too heavy for him. “It was a case of mistaken identity.” “How so?” “I thought these two hippie dealers were cool, but they were narcs. Like I said. It was a case of mistaken identity and I did a few months in prison.” A few sounded more like six than three. “After that I’ve steered clear of dealing, but thanks for thinking of me.” “No worries.” Victor stashed the bag in his jeans, hearing the bedroom door open for Helen, Pam, and Carol. They were ready for a night at the disco and we left within minutes. The Brass Rail had become increasingly more packed every night. We were on a first name basis with the regular clientele. People bought us drinks. The drag queens chased after Rockford to convert him to their cause. The devout hippie loved dancing with trannies and they loved him. “They make me feel like a man.” Rockford glowed in their presence. “And they make me feel like a little girl.” Victor cooed, for the queens towered over everyone in their vertiginous platform shoes. That evening AK and Pam danced together without any room for the Holy Ghost. No one ever interfered with them, almost as if they were royalty, while Victor lifted the level of everyone’s dancing. At the moment he was taking a break with a ruggedly handsome man with a remarkable resemblance to a Marlboro Man. Helen was speaking with the new man, as if they were going to be best friends. There wasn’t a jealous bone in her body, since her relationship with her old college friend was strictly platonic. “They look like a nice couple.” Carol commented, as we caught our breath between dances. “Victor makes anyone look good.” He had really hit on me after that first night. "No, this man is someone special. Look at the way the two of them hold each other.” Carol admired the two of them. “It looks like typical groping to me.” I gave the romance a life expectancy of ten hours. “You men are so blind.” Carol stormed off to join Helen, Victor, and the handsome man. I still didn’t see what she saw, but five was three more than a company for the two men and I maneuvered my way to the bar. Butch came right over with a cold beer and said, “Your friend certainly gets the pick of the litter.” Butch had been Victor’s first night conquest. Since then Helen’s beau had tallied at least one kill a night and I asked, “I doesn’t bother you that he goes were someone else.” “Not at all. Well, maybe a little bit, but we gays were repressed for so long that now we’re free to be who we are with whomever we want and that’s more important than love at this point. The straights might think we’re a little crazy and maybe we are, but for us sex is an exploration of the soul as much as the body. It’s the new frontier. Care for another drink?” “Sure, thanks.” Drinking off the kindness of strangers was a bonus of knowing Victor. “I want to thank you for treating us so good.” “It’s a pleasure and honor to help you and your friends.” His whisper teemed with pride. “Help what?” My confusion had nothing to do with drinks. “You people.” These two words were said with a conspiratorial hush. “Us people?” I had a bad feeling about this insinuation. “Yes.” Butch’s eyes swung across the room to Pam. “None of us can believe that you’d hiding in a gay disco.” “Hiding?” I was getting a bad feeling about his meaning. “Yes, you and Tania.” “Oh.” It became all too clear with the mention of that name. Somehow the staff and clientele of the Brass Rail had decided that Pam was Patty Hearst and we were members of the SLA or Weather Underground. “You’ve got this all wrong. We’re just plain people.” “Your secret is safe with us.” Butch raised a clenched fist. “Power to the people.” I covered my face, as he left to serve two men are the end of the bar. They wore black suits, white shirts, and dark ties. Butch served them sodas. They were checking Pam from head to toe and I suspected that they were undercover from an organization with more authority that the San Diego police department. There was only one of those in the USA and it answered to the supreme lady boy J. Edgar Hoover I went over to Victor and Helen. Carol wore a smug expression and stood close to the blonde stranger. His eyes were jewels and his face shouted he-man. Carol said, “I told you this man was different.” “You’re certainly handsome.” I couldn’t help staring at him. He was that good- looking. “Thanks.” He had heard the compliment thousands of times and stuck out his hand. It was large and meaty. His middle finger tickled my palm. I didn’t respond in kind and the handsome stud frowned before introducing himself, “The name’s Cuchillo.” “Cuchillo?” This man was the antithesis of my mental stereotype. “Yes, I spoke to you on the phone.” He put his arm around Victor. “We’ve come to an agreement.” “I can fuck people if he fucks them with me.” “Congratulations, but we have a situation. One of mistaken identity. Everyone in the bar thinks Pam’s Patty Hearst and we’re the SLA. That’s why everyone’s been coming here. Not to see your dancing, but to be part of the scene with the SLA.” “You’re joking.” Victor was disappointed by the truth. “Everyone’s a starfucker one way or the other.” Patty Hearst was bigger than us. “I thought you were joking about Pam resembling her.” Victor laughed, as if I were fucking with his head. “No, it was never a joke and neither are the couple of undercover cops watching her.” “You’re just being paranoid.” “No, I’m not.” I nodded toward the end of the bar. Victor’s eyes widened with alarm. He had a bag of blow in his pocket. “How are we going to handle this?” Victor was carrying drugs. Class A possession was prison time. He looked ready to run. “By not panicking.” Carol lifted her palms. “I’ll handle this.” “How?” My vote was for running. “By telling the truth. It does set you free.” Carol smiled with benign confidence. The young runaway’s only crime was leaving home. She took my hand and led me over to the two plain-clothed detectives. They backed up with hands reaching under their jackets. Their back-up were by the exits. They looked nervous. One of them spoke into a walkie-talkie. The person at the other end couldn’t have heard him over THE BUMP. Carol lifted her shirt and wheeled around the two officers, then leaned over to speak with them. ”I know what you’re thinking, but you’ve wrong. That girl over there is not Patty Hearst and we’re not the SLA. I know you’re dying to be a hero, because my father was a cop. Out in Bakersfield.” She was snitching herself out. “He’d want the same thing and I can’t blame you for wanting the same thing.” Neither of them said a word. Carol knew how to work men. “You know why you’re in here.” She leaned into the both of them. “Because you’re low man on the totem pole, but don’t worry no one’s getting shot tonight, unless you shoot them and you don’t want to do that, do you?” “She’s not Patty Hearst?” The younger sounded relieved by this news. He was wearing a wedding ring. “Not even close. She’s a nursing student from Buffalo. We all have ID. None of us have guns. Can you tell the other officers to stand down?” “I’ll see that I can do.” Two hours later the FBI and their SDPD back-up teams drove away from the Brass Rail. The boys on the sidewalk seemed to be disappointed by our turning out to be normal people. Butch, Cuchillo, and Victor ignored the comments and we walked back to the Mercedes. AK and Pam were the last to get in the car. She hadn’t said much through the entire interrogation session. She was tired of the forced impersonation. AK walked her to the car. It wasn’t easy being Pam these days. The Mercedes was packed to capacity. Cuchillo was at the wheel. Helen and Victor were in the front street. Carol, AK, Rockford, and his drag queen date were in the back. Butch came over and asked if Carol and me needed a ride. She looked across the street. A hotel offered cheap rooms. I said no. “Sleep?” I asked Carol. The police andFBI were departing from the scene of the non-crime. We were free to go wherever we wanted in this world. “After.” She took my hand and kissed Butch good-night. It was only four hours until the dawn and I had a feeling that Carol and I would take our time getting there.