Thursday, February 28, 2013
This afternoon a friend of Richie Boy walked into the diamond exchange. It was the end of the day. Kwan wasn't wearing a suit. I had never really spoken with him. The Wall Street trader had a high opinion of himself. His clothes had been purple lapels and his cars ran faster than the State Troopers lining the highway to the Hamptons. Like every other time he didn't say hello and I didn't mind, because I blamed him and his ilk for the end of prosperity.
"Can I speak to Richie?"
"Sure." I surveyed Kwan's wardrobe. His suit was a year old and the shirts were frayed at the collar. He was hitting bad times and I waved him into Richie Boy's office. I watched them through the darkened glass. Kwan dropped his head into his hands. Richie Boy was saying nothing. He was hearing a confession. I saw money change hands. Richie Boy was an easy touch, especially for down-on-their luck friends needing money. I just hoped that their was enough money left in the house to pay salaries on Friday.
Kwan left the office without saying a word.
He was no longer a master of the universe.
Richie Boy joined me at the window.
"Kwan's busted. He was getting sued by his ex-partner and the judge decided against him."
"Shit." I had gone through $100,000 in the last year.
"And we thought we had it bad." Everyone was looking for a miracle. They looked to the skies, but the UFOs were staying clear of Earth. We were broke and ET was waiting for us to get broker.
"We're lucky, because we know how to scrap and guys like Kwan made their money easy." I had no respect for Wall Street. I considered them scum.
"Listen, I made a good living off them."
"They were no better than crack dealers." In actuality the crack dealers had been more honorable.
"Maybe, but Kwan's my friend." Richie Boy owed him money. More than he could pay today, but no one broke gets an even chance in this world.
"It's getting tough out there."
"We're in a recovery." Richie Boy was a true believer in capitalism.
"Yeah, right." I trusted in cash. The economy was a year away from revolution, but I couldn't say that in White America. They still drove SUVs.
We closed the safe and headed off to the nearest bar. They were serving oyster for $1 each. It was the new soup kitchen.
Let them eat oysters.
I like the ring of that and I supposed so had Marie Antoinette before the deluge.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Saturday, February 23, 2013
After Tom Selleck, Chuck Norris was my late gay brother’s favorite actor. Michael’s favoritism was based on trim facial hair. James Brolin was his third choice. Strangely Bryan La Boeuf, painter and rodeo phenom emailed a top ten list for Chuck Norris. And Bryan is straight.
Being a Bruce Lee fan I have never understood the white guy martial arts thing, especially the fascination with that hairdresser Jean Claude Van Damm.
Steven Siegel said of that actor, “He’s a nice ballerina.”
Chuck is actually be tough and can back up being tough. Here's Chuck Norris's Top Ten List
1. Guns don’t kill people. Chuck Norris kills People.
2. There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of animals Chuck Norris allows to live.
3. Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.
4. The chief export of Chuck Norris is Pain.
5. There is no chin under Chuck Norris’ Beard. There is only another fist.
6. Chuck Norris has two speeds. Walk, and Kill.
7. The leading causes of death in the United States are: 1. Heart Disease 2. Chuck Norris 3. Cancer
8. Chuck Norris drives an ice cream truck covered in human skulls.
9. Chuck Norris is my Homeboy.
10. Chuck Norris doesn’t go hunting…. CHUCK NORRIS GOES KILLING.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
"You want dessert?" Walter asked between a thoughtful chaw on the soft fish.
"No, I'm good." The carafe of wine was half-full. Walter was a slow drinker too. I turned my head.
The man next to us was dining alone. His face was more than a little red. He coughed and fell forward onto the table.
I snatched his plate of duck before he could face-plant in his meal.
His head thocked the table and he sighed his last breath.
Everyone in the restaurant regarded the man; knives and forks in hand.
I felt his pulse.
There was none and I told the waiter the same in my Boston-accented French.
"Merde," said the waiter since the dead man had yet to pay his bill.
The rest of the diners shrugged and tucked into their lunch.
"Dessert?" Walter repeated his offer.
Life goes on.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Back in the 80s I was invited to fashion shows by Claude Montana and Azzedine Alaïa. My friend were models and designers. Some have become famous and I was lucky enough to have known some of the most beautiful women in the world. Few were more exotic than Marpessa.
She was half-Dutch and half-Indonesia. Her beauty was frightening, but I seduced her into a dinner with the infamous art dealer Vonelli by saying that we wanted to exploit her beauty for NASA.
"Because NASA is broke and they want to hold a lottery to see who will be the first man to have sex in Space," I told her this in Dave's restaurant on Rue St. Roch. His BBQ ribs were exquisite and I piggyback their flavors to bullshit her about Vonelli being a NASA scientist. "He saw your photo on the cover of Vogue and said this woman could launch a Space Shuttle."
"C'est Vrai?" Marpessa spoke four languages and a fifth was saved for her lovers.
"Absolutelment." Vonelli was in his prime. He looked 50% CIA in his Brooks Brothers suit.
"Your face will grace posters across the globe. One night with Marpessa. $1."
"$1?" She usually gave it away from free to French painters.
"Times one billion people. We will make you rich." I couldn't believe she was buying my hooey, but Vonelli dropped a card on the table. It was only partially stained by BBQ sauce. "We will guarantee you $10 million for your efforts."
"And I'll have to go to Space?"
Vonelli and I pingponged a glance.
"Yes." He nodded like a senator okaying a secret assassination. "We call the project IN HEAVEN ABOVE."
"I'll do it."
We toasted our future.
It lasted to the door of Dave's.
Marpessa went her way in a taxi.
Vonelli and I repaired back to our table. Dave sat down and said, "You are mean. I want to wrapped you in Saran Wrap and cover you in Mayonnaise."
Sounds like the perfect Space Suit."
"For Heaven Above." Vonelli pointed skyward to the ceiling.
"You are mean to ignore me."
"And beauty is even meaner." Vonelli ordered a bottle of wine. We drank it regaling everyone about Heaven Above.
Everyone wanted to believe, for when the shit gets a foot high the cool step a foot higher.
"Maybe this gesture will ease the entrance of US beef into the Japanese market," one FDA official mused at a Georgetown sushi restaurant.
Yes, whale meant.
Back in the 1960s a Haymarket fish market served whale sandwiches to Bostonians. My friend and I tried one. It tasted nothing like beef or chicken or salmon. It was much better, although my great-grandaunt Bert who sailed around the world in the 1870s said that that the cheaper slabs were very blubbery and full of fat.
Despite its deliciousity I never ate it again for moral reason.
I guess it was too much like eating a fat person, but it's a good thing whale meat has no aphrodisiacal properties or else the Chinese would have sucked the bone marrow out of the last whale decades ago.
The Mormon author of THE REDEMPTION OF COLUMBUS offered the supposition that slavery was a boon to mankind, since that particular institution established a value to human life previously sacrificed to satisfy the blood lust of pagan gods. A GOP politician echoed Orson Scott Card's theory in the 2012 election by saying that slavery in the South had improved the lives of Africans by cultivating western values in the savage beasts. Such thought is considered progressive in some parts of the Deep South and this week the country was astounded to hear that the State of Mississippi finally ratified the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.
The vote was brought about by a University of Mississippi Medical Center professor after viewing the film LINCOLN and subsequently discovered that the measure had been passed by both branches of the state legislature, but never registered with the Federal authorities. This oversight was righted by an unanimous vote, although a number of 'ssippi representatives abstained from casting a yea or nay.
I was speaking with a Southern friend who defended Mississippi's reluctance to join the modern world, "Everyone sold slaves back then. Africans captured other Africans to sell to the Arabs and Portuguese."
"That may be true, but it's also no excuse for slavery." My Yankee side of the family had been involved in shipping during those centuries of human trafficking. There was a chance that they might have transported slaves to the South and West Indies, but that was a long time ago. "There's no place for slavery in this world, even though it exists throughout the world and even in the USA where young people are forced to work as unpaid interns with corporations."
"They have to learn somehow."
"Not as slaves." There is no other word for it.
The South will not rise again and neither should slavery exist in any state in America, but it does no matter what Mississippi does.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Monday, February 18, 2013
a joke from the roue of Bangkok, Alan Platt
The 7 Dwarfs go to the Vatican and, because they are the 7 Dwarfs, they are immediately ushered in to see the Pope. Grumpy leads the pack.
'Grumpy, my son,' says the Pope, 'What can I do for you?'
Grumpy asks, 'Excuse me your Excellency, but are there any dwarf nuns in Rome?'
The Pope wrinkles his brow at the odd question, thinks for a moment and answers, 'No, Grumpy, there are no dwarf nuns in Rome.
In the background, a few of the dwarfs start giggling.
Grumpy turns around and glares, silencing them.
Grumpy turns back, 'Your Worship, are there any dwarf nuns in all of Europe?'
The Pope, puzzled now, again thinks for a moment and then answers, 'No, Grumpy, there are no dwarf nuns in Europe
This time, all of the other dwarfs burst into laughter.
Once again, Grumpy turns around and silences them with an angry glare.
Grumpy turns back and says, 'Mr. Pope! Are there ANY dwarf nuns anywhere in the world?'
The Pope, really confused by the questions says, 'I'm sorry, my son, there are no dwarf nuns anywhere in the world.'
The other dwarfs collapse into a heap, rolling and laughing, pounding the floor, tears rolling down their cheeks, as they begin chanting......
'Grumpy screwed a penguin!'
'Grumpy screwed a penguin!'
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Yesterday a meteor scorched the sky over Russia. Its sonic boom broke windows and flaming contrail brightened the snowy steppes. Its path was recorded by thousands of cell phones and both RT News and the BBC broadcasted various videos of the fiery celestial visitor. Its sonic boom over the Ural city of Chelyabinsk broke thousands of windows and the flurry of broken glass shards wounded hundreds of residents watch the cosmic phenomena.
Chelyabinsk was off-limits throughout the Cold War, since the USSR's top-secret nuclear research were located to the far north of the city and now is Russia's main nuclear-waste management area. Accordingly Chelyabinsk has a well-deserved reputation for secretiveness along with a nasty streak of inhospitality.
The meteor came out of the sun and there was little warning of its approach.
The explosion from the meteor's break-up was estimated to equal twenty Hiroshima blasts.
No one has found the earth-fall of the meteorite.
Similar reports came from San Francisco and Cuba, leading some astrologists to conjecture that these were fragments of a large asteroid passing very close to the Earth.
About 17,150 miles (27,600 kilometers) above the planet's surface.
And that's close.
But a miss is okay with asteroids.
I have no interest in acting as a screaming extra in the remake of Bruce Willis' ARMAGEDDON.
He really does suck as much as Chuck Norris.ps there were two cars in Iowa in 1903. They had an accident outside of Davenport. Of course that could be a myth, but I remember reading it somewhere.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Every Valentine's Day diamond dealers and jewelers on 47th Street anticipate a winter spending spree by lovers for their loved ones. Each year of the 00s the sales numbers fell and nothing has improved in the last few years, as the economic downturn cuts into everyone's surplus income across the board. This afternoon the chocolatiers along 5th Avenue were packed with shoppers as were the high-end stores offering peach fuzz soft cashmere scarfs and arousing lingerie. Rose hawkers manned every corner and no man was going home empty-handed, if he knew what was good for him. Hlove and I stood in our diamond shop at noon. Not a single customer had entered the exchange. "This is not looking good." I was wallowing in pessimism. My kids in Thailand needed money for the weekend and I was late on my rent. My debts were mounting as was to expected after a long period of the shorts. "Valentine's Day isn't what it used to be." HLove was a little better off. He had given five guitar lessons in the last four days. The extra money came in handy. "Not that it ever was good." I couldn't recall a good Valentine Day. It had been that long. My telephone rang and I checked the number. It was an unknown caller and I answered the phone with caution. It was a friendly voice. "My name is Alex. I was recommended by a friend. Are you open?" "Very open." There wasn't a single customer in sight. "What can I do for you?" "I need a gift." "Then come on over and I'll help you find something." I hung up with dismay. Richie Boy and Fat Karl had stripped the store bare for the annual Palm Beach Antique Show. The two were the engine fueling the business. Without them and the merchandise we were almost dead in the water. Lenny the Bum had rapped on the window earlier and mouthed the question if we had been robbed. "Not at all," I answered in mime, but we had nothing to sell and I complained to Manny my boss. "Stop your crying." Manny had seen four score plus Valentine Days and he had spent most of today arguing with his girlfriend in Florida. Everyone on the Block was heading south this time of the year, because nothing said 'loser' louder than pale winter skin for non-Hassidic diamond dealers. "Selling when you have goods is easy. Selling when you have nothing is the sign of a great salesman. When your G comes in, act if you're standing in Cartier, because you are in the center of the diamond world and you know where to get everything." "Right." There was no sense in fighting Manny, since he was usually right, if he wasn't wrong. At noon Alex showed up with a smile on his face. His budget was $3000.
"How long you been going out this woman?" $3000 was more than most men spent on their wives all year and 2013 was not a particularly good year for most of us.
"Six months." Alex sounded like they were still having sex.
"Really? What she do?"
"She's from the Ukraine. Studied at University of London and works at the Bank of America."
"Oh." According to my calculations Alex was about one zero away from happifying this woman and I pulled out diamond hoops for $15000. They were the only ones left in the store.
"Way too much." Alex owned a high-tech company, but his budget was his budget.
Most men were avoiding jewelry stores like toxic waste dumps, so I showed him a pair of Italian diamond earrings with two carats in diamonds set in 18K white gold flower design. I had sold several other pairs over the last month and I had guaranteed each male customer a happy ending, but suspected that might not be the case for Alex, so I asked my diamond associate for her assessment of the diamond earrings. "THere's very nice." Danni was Eastern European, young, and adored jewelry. Her engagement ring came from Jacob and Company. Her mother-in-law ran Moscow's largest jewelry store. She examined the earrings and asked Alex, "How long you been with your girlfriend?"
"Six months. She's petite. Like a ballerina."
"The earrings cost $3000."
"They are beautiful. Italian too." Danni was telling the truth. We always do, mostly because it is easier to remember than a lie.
"I'll take them." Alex paid the $3000 without haggling for a lower price. We gave him a nice box. It was a classic ring-box-go sale.
"If you don't get a happy ending, I'll give the money back." It was our standard offer.
After Alex left, I called Richie Boy was at the Palm Beach Antiques Show. He wasn't happy with the sale. There was only $500 profit. "He's a friend of a friend."
"Oh, great." He had to share the profit with me.
50/50 minus the expenses.
"Better than nothing." I hung up the phone and put the money in the safe minus my commission.
My Valentine's Day plan was food and sleep before calling my wife and children in Thailand.
The train to Brooklyn was crowded with couples carrying Valentine Day gifts. They wore smiling faces. My effort had made Alex happy. I spent $10 of my commish on a Mexican dinner and fell into bed with Pier Brendon's THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE. Within three pages I was out cold and didn't wake until 8am.
It was Sunday morning. I called my wife in Thailand. She was happy to hear from me and my daughters and sons wished me much love. The store wasn't opening until ten, so my wake-up process lasted longer than normal. I read a little more of the book. England had really put it to India. I left my apartment in Fort Greene at 9am.
The subway was empty and I arrived at work a little past 10. My co-worker, Hlove, was waiting by the safe. The musician's face wore a veneer of exhaustion. He said he had yet to go to bed. The sixty year-old had stopped drinking due to doctor's order.
"I could get to sleep."
"Don't worry, I'll set up the front window."
Rain was splattering on the sidewalk. It was promising to be a slow Friday.
I was wrong.
Alex showed up several minutes later. The chagrin on his face revealed the answer to my question, "How'd it go?"
"Not good." He stood at the counter sagging with the weight of disaster.
"Let me guess." The $240 in my pocket didn't feel like mine anymore.
"Last night we were going to the ballet. She came out of her bedroom in a dress which looked like it was woven out of the wind. On her ears were two-inch long strands of diamonds. They were antiques and looked like her family stole them from the czar. I handed her the box."
"The box." I had luckily given him an expensive box. "It cost over $20."
"She looked for a name."
"Oh." The box was elegant, but anonymous.
"She opened it and her face dropped like I had called her mother a bad name. She examined the earrings and said, "You have to be kidding." She didn't stop either."
Most women like her don't when they're on a good roll realizing the man was defenseless.
"She said they looked like they cost $600 and said they were for a kid." Alex was reliving the pain from his failed offering.
"Enough already. I blew it. It's my fault." I went into the safe and counted out his money. He handed over the offending gift and I returned his cash. The bills were still crisp. I shrugged and said, "I don't know what to say."
Actually that wasn't the truth. Several bad words floated at the tip of my tongue.
"I don't know whether to leave her or not."
"There's only one thing you can do at a time like this." It was the day after Valentine's Day.
My wife had called to wish me love.
Alex's day of romance had been ruined by this unfeeling chuva which is a bad word in Yiddish, so I said the only thing possible, "Do what you think is best."
My advice was non-committal and exactly what he wanted to hear, because any advice from me would be seen in a negative light. I had ruined his Valentine's Day.
"Thanks for taking care of this." Alex held up the money. "This girl might come by to check out this place. she's that type of girl."
"No problem." I waved good-bye. "I'll be polite."
After Alex walked away, Hlove said, "That sucks."
"Big time. Can you do me a favor?"
"Anything." We were partners.
I asked HLove to T the G or follow Alex for several blocks.
A half hour later he came back and said the lovelorn executive had beelined into Van Cleef.
"Yeah." I phoned Richie Boy with the bad news. He took it with grace. We've lost bigger sales this year.
"That fucking bitch. A guy gives her a gift for $3000 and she shits on it. I can't believe it."
"First time it happened to me."
"Stay long enough in this business and you'll see everything." Manny said the same thing. His son and he were from the same school. Everyone was out for themselves and no good deed goes unpunished.
Around 2:30pm a small blonde in designer clothing entered the store. A wide-brimmed hat hid her face. She was no ballerina in my book, but Alex must have seen a different performance of SWAN LAKE than me. She examined the jewelry and I pulled out the earrings.
"You mind if I ask you a question?"
"No." The thirtyish woman was dowdy, but she wasn't telling the truth. She wanted out of here.
"If someone gave you this for Valentine's Day. How would you feel? Good? Bad? It cost me $2300. Maybe it's a little girlish for you. Women in their 40s like something bigger."
"I'm not 40."
"Are you in your 50s." I was being mean. Someone had to be for Alex.
She huffed out of the store. Hlove gave me the thumb's up. He was happy that I revenged her slight. I would have been happier with Alex's money in my pocket, but sometimes you have to settle for what you can get and some days revenge is all there is, when beauty is in the hands of the holder.
Valentine's Day has become a global holiday, although few people know the exact origins of why hearts are sent to loved ones. The tradition was mainly attributed to a Roman priest Valentine who performed marriages against the wishes of the Roman Emperor. According to Wikipedia Emperor Claudius took a liking to this prisoner – until Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor – whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stones; when that failed to kill him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate. Supposedly before his execution Valentinus wrote a farewell note to his beloved inscribed 'From your Valentine'.
Back then priests were not celibate.
The Holy Catholic Church makes no mention of this marital anathema on Valentine's Day.
Not that the priests of the Vatican are celibate.
Still the holiday is celebrated around the world and young people in Thailand vow to have sex with their lovers.
Puritan Thai authorities disapprove of this adaptation of the Valentine rites and officials post police near honeymoon hotels to prevent teens from acting on their desires. Contradicting this moral conservatism the Culture Minister has ordered his officers to distribute 10,000 condoms to teens in preparation for their civil disobedience. In truth the boys are praying to be lucky and I know that when I was a teenager girls were thinking in the opposite direction. Most teens will go to eat with their friends and the boys dream about getting the green light as they pay for the meal.
Only a few will be so lucky and that's only because they were lucky before.
So Happy Valentine Day youth of the world.
I'm celebrating mine with my favorite lover.
A bottle of wine.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Sly and the Family Stone launched funky soul in the late 60s with the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, and Parliament-Funkadelic.
The group hit mega-gold with their 4th LP, STAND and its # 1 hit EVERYDAY PEOPLE. Success was no a friend to Sly. His cocaine habit infected the other band members. He no-showed many concerts and passed out at others. Audiences rioted, earning Sly and the Stone a reputation for trouble, but on July 7, 1974 the group headlined an outdoor show at Boston’s Franklin Park.
Richard Pryor opened the day to be followed by Donald Byrd and the Blackbirds with their cross-over hit ROCK CREEK PARK, The Hues Corporation's ROCK THE BOAT, and Tower of Power. 20,000 fans had paid $5.50 to benefit the Elma Lewis School of Arts. Few expected Sly to perform that evening.
He had missed a third of his concerts in 1971.
My friend AK attended the concert and to this day says that Sly’s performance was unforgettable.
I missed the show, because I was working in Cape Ann as a waiter in a gay restaurant over the town line from Gloucester. It was a dry bar. Customers had to bring their own bottles. The owner fed the staff stiff fried liver and left-overs. I was fired later in the month for eating an off-limit dessert. I can still taste that pecan pie. It was good.
After his peak Sly’s musical efforts dropped down the Billboard charts, although songs from STAND remain a mainstay of 60s rock revival radio stations.
By the 80s he had vanished from the scene.
In 2006 Sly appeared at the Grammy Awards to play I WANT TO TAKE YOU HIGHER.
At the end of the song the once-time superstar walked off the stage and drove off on his motorcycle.
Future outings across the world amplified the singer’s embrace of failure.
Gone were the money, the mansions, the cars, and the acclaim.
Sly re-entered the news with the media excoriating his fall from grace.
Sly Stone lives in a van. His neighborhood is Crenshaw in LA. Friends support this life style. He maintains that he is happy.
The newspapers reported his present state with joy, for those who will never achieve can't love nothing better than to witness a high-flyer's descent from heaven to reinforce their lack of trying.
CBS and Fox News aren't waiting for the collapse of the banks. They love the rich.
But not the nigger rich. They get what they deserve.
Da money come and da money go.
Sly was no exception, but I'm sure he had a good time. All I want for him is to have a happy ending, because listening to SEX MACHINE is a gas.
To hear Sly and the Family Stone's SEX MACHINE
Please go to the following URL