Sunday, April 28, 2013

Big Mouth White Boy

The Boston Celtics had assembled the Big Three to win the NBA Championship.

2008 my team won the title behind Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett with help from center Kendrick Perkins and the playmaking sensation Rajon Rondo. The Celtics met the LA Lakers in 2010 to repeat their success. Kobe subbed Perkins with a knee and Boston lost its inside threat. Perkins was traded to OK City in 2011 for Jeff Green and Nate Robinson. This season Rondo fucked up his leg. The Celts were old and slow as if the old age truck had opened its doors for Paul Pierce and KG. The other night at Mullanes I was lambasting # 4 for the Celtics. I knew everyone at the bar and for some reason I said, "I wish the KKK were still around to lynch Jason Terry." The entire bar heard my statement. I have a big mouth. No one said anything, but I knew in their hearts I had become a cracker motherfucker. Saying sorry was not enough. Listening to Sly Stone didn't matter. Somehow I had dove into my soul to come up with a racist statement. I apologized and readied myself for a well-deserved beating. No one did nothing. Mullanes was a white bar. NO one does bad there. Except for me. Mea Culpa.

Go For It KIDNAP ZUCKENBERG

The economy is in the shitter. Billionaires are worshipped as gods. The masses are cowered by their desire to be wealthy. Last week according to yahoo.com Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reaped a gain of nearly $2.3 billion last year when he exercised 60 million stock options just before the online social networking leader's initial public offering. I have about $500 in the bank. Less tomorrow after I send money to my kids for the new school year in Thailand. But we could all become rich by kidnapping Mark Zuckerberg for an afternoon. Every hour of his life is worth $365,000. Holding him for three hours would net the kidnappers $1 million for the realization of the 'trickle down theory' to really work in favor of the poor. Better yet would be to grab the Brothers Koch. Those two scumbags are worth billions.

Simplicity Of Sanity

THIS IS HOW 'THEY' THINK 1. the Manitoba Legislative Building – this is the “eye” looking over the us. Also, if you are standing looking down at the us, it forms an upside-down pentagram. If you have the time, watch Scott Onstott’s 10 min video on youtube about this place. It doesn’t get any more overtly masonic than this. 2. Denver, Colorado – the suburbs around Denver are: Littleton (Colombine) and Aurora, Colorado. Also, the notorious Denver airport 3. Waco, Texas – on April 19, 1993, 82 people were killed by the ATF, (I think 11 of 82 could be ATF people, or 11 in addition to 82 were ATF, I need to check). Also close by, In Oct. 1991, George Hennard crashes his pick up truck thru a Luby’s cafeteria then shoots and kills 23 before shooting himself. This was in Killeen, TX, and, he was at one time in the US navy. Also, remember the shooting at Ft. Hood (same vicinity), in Nov. 2009 by Major Nidal Malik Hasan, army psychiatrist, who shot & killed 32 before officer killed him – 33 total dead. Waco area is a real hot spot. I think its because the points between Waco & MLB (see no. 1) form a line straight down to give form to the pentagram. 4. Oklahoma City – there happened to be a drill that day (sounds familiar) when Timothy McViegh allegedly bombed the federal building on patriot’s day, Apr. 19, 1995. 5. Atlanta, Georgia – 1996 summer olympics Eric Robert Rudolf (double R), member of the army of god, kills 2 with bomb. An officer discovered the bomb and alerted people – I think its ironic his initials are ERR. Also of note, Atlantis (I mean Atlanta) is on the 33rd parallel. 6. Tucson, Arizona – Gabrielle Giffords shot, 6 killed on Jan. 8, 2011. This one is so recent, so you know the details & know it has false flag written all over it. 7. 101 California Street killings – (note 101, or 11) on July 1, 1993 in San Francisco, Gian Luigi Ferri kills 8 then himself at a law firm at this address In Stockton (suburb of san francisco), Jan. 17, 1989, Patrick Purdy (PP), goes to Cleveland Elementary School and kills 5 kids then himself. It was reported that he hated Asian Americans. All 5 were asian. Also of note, his father was in the military and his mother abused him. 8. Indianapolis, Indiana – June 1, 2006 – shooting at 560 N Hamilton Avenue (11), suspects killed 7 people, they are in prison, maintain their innocence. Strangely, the house where it happened was burned down (arson) in 2008. 9. Deepwater Horizon oil spill – April 20, 2010 – you know all about this one. 10. Not in the pentagram, but clearly a false flag operation – May 21, 1998, at 333 N 58th Street at Thurston High School, Kipland Kinkel (KK), killed 4 then himself in Springfield, Oregon. the school colors are red and black.

OFF WITH THEIR HEADS Aquarium

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxU2xmjaRqE During my trip to 2009 trip to Russia I was lucky enough to Seve Gakkel, the celloist of the famous Soviet era band Aquarium. The band dated back to 1972, when Boris Grebenshchikov and Anatoly Gunitsky joined forces with several musicians to play art at Leningrad restaurant. The KGB hated rock, but somehow the band flourished in the Brezhnev era and to this date are highly regarded as a voice of freedom for the masses in the USSR. I don't understand a single word, but love their music. I'm an old folkie. To hear Aquarium please go to the following URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCNJp1X0N5Q

Flirting With Death


In 1988 I exerienced a series of dreams about nuclear annihilation. The first one was situated in New York. The sirens sounded the alarm and thousands of East Villagers headed to the subway for shelter. There wasn't room for all of us. Someone pointed to the sky and I spotted a black missile falling earthward.

White flash.

The next dream was situated in Moscow. The populace filed into trains with calm order and got off at the next station to allow other passengers to repeat our hopeless exodus to safety.

White flash.

The third dream occurred at a Siberian airfield. I was making love with a Red Air Force female pilot. The sirens sounded once more. The Comrade Pilot excused herself from my embrace and ran to the bomber parked outside the dacha. I watched her take off moments before mushrooms clouds rose over the tundra.

White flash.

I liked the last dream best, but I always thought that you weren't supposed to die in your dreams.

Guess I was wrong.

But I woke up to survive on all three occasions, because luck asleep or awake runs in my family.

We're half-Irish.

Moscow Taxi Touts


New York newspapers frequently report about naive visitors paying excessive taxifares into Manhattan. The record was set by a Japanese tourist. The cab driver extorted $2500 from the hapless visitor and ropped him Harlem when he wouldn't cough up another $500.

Things have improved at JFK, however the age-old practice of soaking the uninformed voyager has a global reach.

Back in 2009 I deplaned in Moscow's Terminal 2. My connecting flight to St. Petersburg was in Terminal 1. No signs suggested how to reach that destination, although a taxi tout was willing to drive me the 5 kilometers for $60.

"Sorry. I don't have to be there that bad."

"Special deal. $40." He showed a price card. $60 for Terminal 1

"Why so cheap?" I figured that rate was from Moscow.

"Because I liked George Bush."

"Fuck George Bush."

He wasn't my president and I walked away from the taxi tout.

An old bababuska cleaning lady was heading home. I followed her outside and we boarded the free transit bus. Free, which got me to the other terminal in plenty of time. I even was able to drink a beer.

$5 for a large stein of Stella.

It was a good place to drink beer.

Drunk in Moscow, Not Idaho


In 1994 I was traveling from Malaysia to Paris on Aeroflot.

Kuala Lumpur-Karachi-Dubai-Moscow-Paris.

The flight time to Moscow totaled about 24 hours. None of them were comfortable in the flimsy chairs of the Soviet era jetliner.

Disembarking at Moscow, I discovered that my connecting flight to Charles De Gaulle was delayed until the next morning.

The Norwegian couple whom I had met in Dubai Duty Free were in a similar predicament.

"It's 10PM. What are we going to do all night?"

"It was a stupid question.

"Drink wine." The husband pulled out two bottles of wine.

"I have two."

"And my wife has two."

We opened the bottles and sat on the floor surrounded by stateless travelers trapped in the aeroport. There were hundreds of these visa-less prisoners sleeping in cardboard villages. Some looked as if they had been in limbo for weeks. After finishing the wine a refugee from Afghanistan sold us a bottle of vodka.

"I here one month. Can no go back Kabul. No go to Paris. My brother live there. Now this my home." HIs name was Jameer.

The vodka was homemade. The liter lasted longer than the wine. Several other Afghans fleeing the civil war joined Jameer with other bottles of vodka. It burned a hole in my stomach. They spoke in dialects. After two bottles I was speaking their tongue, but was losing consciousness from the overdose of hard spirits and lack of sleep at dawn.

"Your flight is now." The Norwegian pulled me to my feet.

"I don't care." I wanted to live there. "Life simple here."

"You have to go." His wife strapped my bag over my shoulder and they escorted me to the plane.

"Bon Voyage." I saluted them at the door of the Airbus. I was back in civilization, but hardly in a civil state, as I stumbled down the aisle to my seat. The faces of the other passengers gauged my state of drunkenness. No one wanted me to sit next to them. I fell into an empty row and buckled up for take-off.

Several hours later a stewardess woke me.

"We are in Paris."

"Already?" I was the last passenger on the plane.

"We've been on the ground for 15 minutes."

"Great." I got to my feet and trudged out into the terminal. The time was 8:30. My friends were waiting for me in the city. It was Bastille Day.

It was good to be out of Moscow.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

TO RUSSIA FOR US by Peter Nolan Smith

In May of 2009 Johnnie Z asked if I wanted to go to Russia.

It wasn't for a tour of l'Hermitage Palace.

The Palm Beach millionaire financed cell phone towers in other countries. His off-shore partners were stiffing him.

"They owe me $500,000."

It was a lot of money. I had $10 in my pocket.

"Why me?" The previous summer I had taken care of his crazy Airedale. Pom Pom was a refugee from a Riviera Beach crack house. The local police force said she was a danger to the community. They weren't wrong, but that summer thunderstorms cured her madness.

"I send my people." His company was filled with young go-getters. "And they came up with nothing."

"Russia?" My voice was filled with hesitation.

"You worked with them at nightclubs."

"That was a long time ago."

1980.

"$5000 and expenses."

"Count me in." I rented easy.

My New York friends thought that I would get killed by the zeks.

"No one is killing me."

"How can you be sure?" AP, my good friend and landlord drove me to JFK.

"Because I have a plan." I had a family in Thailand, They needed the money.

I flew to Kiev. No one was there.

I left for Petersburg and was met by a friend.

Sev had played in AQUARIUM. They were huge in 80s. I loved THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR GLASS.

We showed up at the internet companies.

The bodyguards had Uzis. The owner asked, "Where your bodyguards?"

"Him?"

"Yes, him." I pointed to Sev. He had a long white beard.

"Who's he?"

I told him.

"Sev?" His bodyguards repeated the question. I shrugged, because a nod would have given them too much information.

Sev wasn't the leader of the band.

But he was part of its soul.

"Vodka." The owner called out to his staff.

He led Sev into the garden. He was purer than me. I drank a lot. The owner wired Johnnie Z his money.

"How you do it?"

"Friends know friends." I didn't bother to explain. >p> Sev and I went back to his place in then old city. He played cello for me. One song from MUSIC OF PUBLIC TOILETS.

It was worth the entire trip.

I didn't tell Johnnie Z that.

Like all rich people he was only after money.

Fast Healer by Mark Kamins

The headlights reflected off the rain-scarred streets. I saw her eyes,twisted, bloodshot red, dazed, as she looked at me. She didn’t see the gunshot wound. It wasn’t the first and I know it wouldn’t be the last. I had fucked up. It's fucking hard trying to make a quick peso, a fast G, in the back streets of Marseilles. I sipped the last drop of bouillabaisse, took a long taff, and asked for another nasty Richard.

Enough, I was bleeding,

I asked the Marocaine toiletgirl to call her sister.

She had stitched me up before.

It wasn’t a problem, I’m a fast healer.

None Of The Above

Millions of Americans are without work. Congress set up a hearing to deal with long-term unemployment this week and only Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) showed her face for the meeting. According to the Press Sens. Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). Reps. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), John Campbell (R-Calif.), Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) also did not attend. Congress and the government don't give a flying fuck about anything. For the next election vote for NONE OF THE ABOVE. Better no one than these thieves.

Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building

This afternoon I was rolling across 126th Street in Harlem. The traffic on 125 was brutally slow for a sunny day. Upon nearing Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard or 7th Avenue I ogled the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building and pulled over to the curb and stepped out of the pick-up truck to take a photo of the tallest building in Harlem. "You." A shout from behind. "What?" "Are you taking a photo?" A female security guard emerged from her cubby hole. "Yes, I am." I was a big fan of the brutalist architecture of the African-American architecture firm of Ifill, Johnson & Hanchard, which had also designed St. Martin's Tower. "Then you have to delete the photos." The unsmiling woman was not kidding about this edict. "I'm not a terrorist." "I don't care who you are. I'm just doing my job. No photos means no photos, unless you want the PD to come down here." I hate the police. "No, you don't have to do that, but it's a sunny day and I love this style of architecture." "Don't mean shit to me." "Okay." There was no sense in argument or sweet-talking. I deleted the photos and went on my way. I was a working man and in the words of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. "A man's respect for law and order exists in precise relationship to the size of his paycheck. Ain't that right. In the words

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Anita Pallenberg You Bet I Would

Why are bad girls so delightful?

Knock Knock It's Henry At The Door

I was listening to Michael Pollan on NPR talking about how nobody cooks anymore. I was cooking chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner. I still cook. It's not three-star, but it's better than Chinese take-out. My friend Emily Armstrong said, "I make smothered pork chops, oat bran apple muffins, and five pounds of mashed potatoes." That was a lot of mashed and if she lived closer I would have knocked on her door. In Tropic of Cancer Henry Miller wrote about showing up to his friends' houses at dinner time and upon seeing the food on the table, apologized, but they set him up with a plate. It was a brilliant stratagem for a writer. And also a plan for any hungry man. “I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive.” ― Henry Miller

Koh Tao

In 1990 I traveled around the world.

NYC-LA-HONOLULU-BIAK-AMBON-BALI-JAVA-SUMATRA-SINGAPORE-BANGKOK-NEPAL-DELHI-PARIS-LONDON-NYC

The Singapore to Bangkok segment of the trip was overland and I detrained in Suranthani to catch a midnight ferry to Koh Samui. I stayed at Coral Cove for $5 and after two weeks boated over to Koh Phanghan then finally took a little boat to Koh Tao where I slept on an idyllic island with 3 beaches. It had once been a penal island. A fisherman cooked fresh grouper under a billion stars and we drank beer until dawn.

23 years later the world is much different and so is this little island.

The coral is dead. The fish are gone. Only the beer is cold.

I do miss the old world.

Dewi Sukarno - Dragon Lady

Several years ago the 4th wife of Indonesia's 2nd President accused the recently-departed 2nd President of shortening her husband's life. The 19 year-old fiery entertainer had met the 57-year-old Sukarno during a state visit to Japan. She has always denied the rumors of her geisha background. Her non-conciliatory declaration was the sole voice of dissent during the mourning period for the long-time Javanese ruler.

No stranger to controvesy Dewi fought the daughter of a former Filipino president at a party in Aspen over the rumor that Dewi had risen to power from the redlight district. This gossip earned the PI heiress a wine glass in the face. 

37 stitches.

"So you wanna play rough?"

Dewi also scandalously posed nude to display a tattoo at the age of 53.

You can't find one on the internet, but she remained a beautiful woman for her age and if she goes to Palm Beach this April she can meet me at the Breakers.

I'm game, Dragon Lady.

Napa Redux

In the summer 1971 my friend Peter and I hitchhiked across the Golden Gate Park up into Napa. We stopped at a winery. A keg of red was shaded by an oak tree. Tin cups lay on a battered wooden table.The midday sun was strong. Peter and I drank our fill and some more before setting out for the Arcadia. That night we crashed in the redwoods and watched the evening become a night of stars in the golden land of California. Photo by Shannon Greer

LOST AT NIGHT by Peter Nolan Smith

LOST AT NIGHT by Peter Nolan Smith In the winter of 1990 I bought a round-the-world ticket from Pan Express in New York. The total cost was $1500 as was advertised in the NY Times. The boss of Pan Express helped to arrange the path of my circumnavigation of the globe. “Sir, you are going West.” John had a quaint Indian accent. He was about my age. “You leave from New York, then LA to Biak and then Bali. From there you overland to Java and Sumatra before flying from Medan to Penang in Malaysia. Is that good for you?” “I think so.” The route was popular with the backpackers and I had sic months to circle our planet. Two weeks later I took off from JFK, stopping for a two week in Biak before heading to Bali, where I sat writing a novel about a conman from New York forced into a Vegas hit only to fake the murder and escape into Death Valley with two feminist filming a movie about the last man on Earth. Hippie travelers in Ubud wondered why I wasn’t writing the novel in California. “You need a car in LA and I stopped there on the way out to take photos.” These pictures of Hollywood and Death Valley were pinned against the wall of my bungalow along with a score of postcards from Southern California. I gazed at them while writing on a Brother word processor, which was lighter than a typewriter. I was a man between worlds, sometimes in the West and sometimes in the East. During the day I wrote alone, listening to music on my Sony WorldBand radio. In the afternoon I rode a 125cc motorcycle around the island. Volcanoes towered over the terraced rice paddies, Temples abounded throughout the villages, and wild surf rose from the ocean to pound black sand beaches. At night I drank beer with Balinese musicians and female travelers. They were all in their 20s. I was at the end of my 30s. They made me feel young. My dyslexic fingers produced chains of typos and my syntax wandered through tenses like a drunken time machine, but each day I completed 4-5 pages and I counted about thirty pages at each week’s end. After two months I had two hundred pages covered with corrections. The local copy shop printed out a thick sheaf of paper, which I posted to my apartment in the East Village. On my last night in Ubud I held a Selamat Jalan party at the Cafe Bali. Arak and beer flowed down our throats. The Balinese boys made me swear to return next year. “Saya jah kembali.” It was easy to say ‘I’d be back’ in Bahasa. The next day I traveled by taxi to the port of Gilimanuk. The ferry left on time. A young girl threw a chicken over the side. The bird flapped its wings on the descent to the waters of the narrow strait. It seemed like a cruel thing to do, but I remembered reading many small stories in the NY Times about sunken Indonesian ferries and thanked the chicken for its sacrifice. Ketapang had a different feel than Bali. The people were Muslims. It was Ramadan. Eating or drinking during daylight hours was considered bad form. I traveled with other westerners to Mount Bromo, an active volcano looming over the fertile landscape. Next stop was the magical city of Yogajakarta. I toured the palace, bought batik, and waited till sunset to break the Ramadan fast. Outside that city was the sprawling stone monument of Borobudur, a reminder of Buddhism’s epic era pre-dating Java’s conversion to Islam. I rented a motorcycle and rode with an Aussie couple to the blackened pyramid surrounded by a low escarpment dominated by Mount Merapa. At the top I started to put a stick of gum in my mouth. Several Indonesian men frowned at this and I stuck it back in my pocket. “I’m starving.” The Aussie couple didn’t care about local customs. “None of the warungs are open.” Every food stand was shuttered for the day. “There has to be someplace to eat.” Jim was a good fella. We were planning to climb the mountains to the Dieng Plateau. “There’s a bigger town on the way.” I checked the map. “Megalang probably has a Chinese warung there. We can get noodles.” “And maybe beer.” Jim liked beer. “That’s right.” I liked beer too. We set out of the bikes. The road climbed to the small town. A Chinese restaurant was serving food. The owner peeked out the door to make sure the Indonesians weren’t spying on him. “They very angry. Eat food now.” He served us cold noodles. “Can not cook. They smell food. They go amok.” The word for mad with uncontrollable rage originated from Java. “They think tiger come in them. Tidak bagus.” “Same as the Vikings.” Jim’s eyes widened with expectation of a show. “I have no interest in witnessing a crazed berserker attack here.” Jim and his wife were on holiday. “Some people think that men go amok, because they can’t commit suicide and hope for someone to kill them.” I had read that in my tour book ROUGH GUIDE. “If no one does, then they claim amnesia.” “I bet no women go amok.” Jim’s wife had no time for machoism. “No, it’s a man thing.” “Stupid wankers.” Jim and I exchanged a glance and dropped the subject. We ate the cold food and drank warm beer, tipping the warung owner generously before continuing on our way to the plateau known in ancient times as the abode of the gods. Pine trees graced the slopes and the air grew cooler, as we skirted the surrounding volcanoes. The sun scorched my skin and I put on a long shirt. Prescription sunglasses shielded my eyes from the glare. We were almost 6000 feet above sea level at the equator. The Dieng Plateau was as high as the summit Mount Washington, the tallest peak in my native New England. We traversed the pass between the steep cones of Gunungs Suming and Sindoro. To the south lay thousands of miles of the Indian Ocean and the sharper blue of the Java Sea marked the northern horizon. Vertigo assailed my senses, as if I were traipsing the tightrope of an equatorial faultline. Jim and his wife were also swarmed by the massive loss of perspective. We stopped at a small Hindu temple. The shrine to Shiva wasn’t impressive, but dated back to the time of the Maya. “Once hundreds of these complex were here.” I had read that in ROUGH GUIDE as well as how the monuments were cosmic mountains. Sulphur seeped from the ground. My feet could feel the warmth from the volcanoes underneath us. “Locals probably used them to build their houses.” “Same as Rome disappeared after the Fall.” We drove around the plateau, stopping to take photos. There were no restaurants and the only village was shut for Ramadan. Jim checked his watch. “It’s almost five. We should start heading back.” “You’re right.” Sunsets came fast along the equator. One minute it was day and the next it was night. I looked into my bag for my regular glasses. I had left them back in Yogja. I looked at the map. We were a good ninety minutes from our hotel. “I’ll follow you.” The three of us set out down from the Dieng Plateau. The Koran said nothing about feeding our motorcycles and we filled the tanks of our motorcycles. Jim rode faster than I liked, but I kept up with him through Bulu, Termanggung, Secang, and Magelang. The sun dropped in the west on the outskirts of Tempei. I followed Jim’s taillight for miles and didn’t think anything, when he turned onto a smaller road. I got concerned, as the road, became a trail. I beeped my horn. Jim didn’t stop. I couldn’t see anything through my sunglasses. Darkness was complete without any moon in the night sky. The path ended in a tiny village and I braked behind what I thought was Jim’s bike. The driver got off the motorcycle and confronted me with a kris. The wicked curved knife waved inches from my face. The wielder was Javanese. He shouted with wild eyes glowing with the light of the nearest kerosene. I was facing a man amok. Other men gathered around him. They gaped at me. I was the first westerner to come to their village since the departure of the Dutch in 1949. “Pelan-pelan.” I wanted him to calm down. The kris was a deadly knife. “Kenapa tua disini?” I couldn’t think of the word for lost, but somewhere on the road I had followed him, instead of Jim. I pulled out my map and showed it to him. “Dimana disini?” “Donokerto.” It wasn’t on the map.” “Saya jalan ke Yogja.” He laughed upon hearing that I was lost. The knife was returned to his waist. “Yogja jauh.” In his mind Yogja was a thousand miles away. “Mau makan?” I smelled frying chicken. I was hungry and nodded my head. “Saya lapar.” “Sama sama saya.” Everyone was hungry this time of day during Ramadan. Especially if you were lost and I bowed gracefully and joined the farmer for dinner. I wasn’t driving any farther with sunglasses at night. It was good eating. The next morning I showed up at the hotel. “Where were you?” “I got lost.” I had slept the night with the family. They were good people. “And now you’re found.” His wife poured me some beer. Our hotel was a sanctuary of infidels. “For now.” The beer tasted good cold. Then again cold beer always tasted good.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Danger Mr. Smith


The 1960s Space Race between the USSR and USA exterminated young boys' worship of westerns. Cowboy hats, vests, guns, and holsters were retired to the closet next to toy boats and teddy bears. I pleaded with my parents for an astronaut costume for Halloween and my father answered my dream with a gleaming space suit complete with a visored helmet. My older brother dressed up as a Martian with green skin. Frunk had fabricated a ray gun from a broken egg-beater. After dinner we were eager to trick or treat, but before leaving the house I purloined sunglasses from my father's dresser without asking for his permission. He was leading my younger siblings around the neighborhood.

"You sure that's a good idea?" My brother was better at following rules than me.

"Sure I'm sure. They're extra protection from your death ray." I had seen INVASION FROM MARS ten times. The Martians' main weapon vaporized soldiers into carbon.

"It's your funeral."

"What can happen?" We lived in the suburbs, a land of two-car garages, good schools, and beautiful babysitters. "I guess nothing."

"Other than getting a lot of candy."

"We left our split-level ranch house. My best friend, Chuckie Manzi, joined us on the lawn. He was a young Frankenstein.

"First things first." He pointed across the street. Mr. Martini's house drove truck for Arnold's Bakery. His wife put out cake instead of candy.

The night was dark without any moon. We climbed the brick stairs. There was no metal railing. My brother rang the doorbell.

Mrs. Martini acted scared and offered a selection of cakes. I chose orange spice. Chuckie and my older brother were grateful for chocolate cake. We thanked her with filled mouths. I slipped on my glasses and shut the visor.

I couldn't see a thing and walked off the stairs, smashing my head into the wall and mutilating my little finger.

There was blood all over my astronaut suit, but I was more concerned with my father's sunglasses. They had fallen off, but luck was with me. They were intact.

My brother led me back to our house, careful not to let any blood drip on his costume.

My mother admonished my dangerous behavior. She had six kids. We were always in jeopardy. A band-aid stemmed the blood and my mother refused to let me leave the house with the sunglasses.

"Once is enough."

And she was right, for since that Halloween I have only worn sunglasses at night when I can't find my regular glasses. I still bear a jagged scar on my little finger from that fall.

In Space no one ever falls.

There is no up or down in the heavens.

Mission Underwear Control


Four summers ago I was living in Palm Beach. The off-season population of that wealthy enclave shrank 10% of its winter height. Few of the fabulously rich resided in their mansions and they appeared once a day to shop at the Publix supermarket.

The only poor were the dutiful off-island workers tending to the vacant estates.

Actually I was the poorest person on the island. My income was $350/week. $300 of which went to my family in Thailand. Living on $50 a week was nearly impossible and my revenge on the idle rich was to abstain from bathing in sweet water.

My daily ablution was in the ocean. A sabbatical from shaving enhanced my scruffy appearance as well as my torn jeans and shredded shirts. The rich would wrinkled their noses in the supermarket aisles. I smiled politely, as I picked out my weekly jug of wine.

$5.99 for 2-liters.

Funny, but I didn't smell dirty to me and neither did a Japanese scientist orbiting in the International Space Station who wore the same experimental underwear for a month. His fellow astronauts were ignorant of this test and he said, "The station crew members never complained, so I think the experiment went fine."

The underwear were supposedly antistatic and flame retardant, which must have been helpful against dingleberries and wet farts. Still the racing stripe must have been impressive.

He had to have smelled worst than me.

But maybe in Space farts don't smell bad.

I doubt it, then again I never smell dirty in Palm Beach.

Rocketman Redux


Over the centuries the Greek myth of Icarus has appealed to earth-bound children with the desire to fly.

As a kid my friends and I would steal large sheets of plastic from the nearby suburban construction sites. We would then climb to a wind-blown hilltop and spread the plastic sheets to capture the wind like a parachute. The lightest of us achieved lift-off. Landing were always rough for youthful thrill seekers and even worse for sky-drawn adults as a Brazilian priest fatally discovered after setting off to heaven in a lawn chair attached to 1000 helium colorful party balloons in an attempt to raise money for religious truck drivers.

"Excuse me while I touch the sky."

His body was found in the Atlantic.

Several years ago this dream of flight was shared by another sky-worshipper in Wisconsin, who developed a jetpack for the upwardly-mobile.

"There is nothing that even comes close to the dream that the jet pack allows you to achieve." The 48 year-old designer from New Zealand planned to market his contraption at $100,000 each.

At that price the skies will remain relatively uncongested, however one has to remember that in 1904 there were only two cars in all of Iowa and they had a collision, so aspiring jetpack aviators will have to make way for birds on their 30-minute flights at 110 dB thanks to its twin rotors and its 200-horsepower.

Zoom.

The inventor's wife called the noisy 250-pound engine 'a beast' and the designer has yet to quit his day job, but the jetpack does have a parachute in case of emergency.

So far only 12 people have gone up and come down.

None have had to press the panic button.

The inventor had a vision for his device. One he can't explain, but according to him when Ben Franklin first saw a hot-air balloon, someone asked, "What good is it?"

Ben Franklin too a second and answered, "What good is a newborn baby?"

In other words he didn't know, but as a new father I can tell you the real answer is happiness.

HELP ET HELP

World leaders are increasingly concerned about the collapse of the global economy. No one has an answer to the global dilemma, mostly because the problems multiply every day. I personally have been looking to the sky for our redemption. Not in the form of angels blowing clarion horns, but UFOs piloted by ETs looking to pay retail for everything we have on Earth.

This is a wild dream, since our planet is located on the fringe of the galaxy far from the flow of interstellar traffic, however the universe is changing shape all the time and we can only hope that one day a fleet of entertainment-hungry aliens notice the third rock from the Sun.

Last month this hope was crushed by the sighting of a UFO flaming through the stratosphere over Russia.

Government officials claimed the phenomena was caused by a meteorite.

I know better.

It was a friendly mission from the farthest reaches of the stars. They wanted to buy SUVs at the going rate. McMansions too. Instead their spacecraft struck low-orbit debris and we watched its fall from grace with awe.

Oh, poor ET come to our home.

The Danger of Asteroids


Several years ago a NASA spacecraft passed the planet Mercury. A transmitted photo clearly revealed the effect of meteor strikes on the surface. Their impacts of Earth were not so apparent from the Space Shuttle, unless you know where to look like in the Yucatan or polar areas, but most astronomers are more concerned with incoming asteroids or comets as a threat to life on Earth greater than Man.

"Civilization killers" of 1 kilometer, or about 3,300 feet are veering closer and closer to Earth due to the planet's increased magnetic pull. Some have missed our planet by 29.8 million miles or a third the distance to the Sun. Smaller objects can crash into onEarth with various degrees of destruction from not being able to watch TV to the flattening of Kansas and something as small as a semi-trailer could achieve that effect.

NASA has reckoned such events occur once every 300 years, but the odds favor an ocean landing, since Earth is 2/3 water.

One way to defuse this problem would be for Americans to lose weight, since the Earth's gravity pull is directly effected by the mass of the planet. NASA has been warned about the dangers of obesity, now is the time to act before it's too late.

Not only is losing weight for the planet, it's good for you.

I'm cutting down on beer.

Every little bit helps.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Stars And Stars Above

To celebrate its 23rd anniversary, Space Hubble Telescope released a new spectacular image of the Horsehead Nebula, the dark nebula located in the Orion constellation. The large cloud of hydrogen laced with dust is approximately 1500 light years from Earth and its 'height' is about 5 light-years. The molecular cloud, known as a stellar nursery, contains over 100 known organic and inorganic gases as well of dust consisting of large and complex organic molecules.

'This nebula is a very well-known object and a popular target for observations, most of which show the Horsehead as a dark cloud silhouetted against a background of glowing gas. This new image shows the same region in infrared light, which has longer wavelengths than visible light and can pierce through the dusty material that usually obscures the nebula’s inner regions. The result is a rather ethereal and fragile-looking structure, made of delicate folds of gas — very different to the nebula’s appearance in visible light.'

Dancing Fool

Late Wednesday night at the Mark Kamins Celebration of a Life Michael Holman introduced Lady Kir from Dee-Lite and remained on stage for the first song to dance his feet off. The artist, writer, avant-garde musician, hip hop impresario and filmmaker showed that old dogs are forever young. I was stunned by his mixture of Marvin Gaye cool and Hip-Hop breaks. His stamina allowed him to finish the entire song without losing steam. He came off stage a little breathless and said, "Damn, how long that song last?" "About four minutes." "Show me to the bar, man, show me to the bar. Drinks on me." Mt dancing skills might have been left behind in the last century, but my sense of direction is undiminished by the years. Especially when someone else was buying. Bravo Michael. ps I have a short video of the dancing fool, but I promised Michael to keep it off the internet and I la a man of my word.

No Dave's Luncheonette

Wednesday evening I arrived at the Santos Party House at 7pm. Walter Durkarcz the organizer for Mark Kamins Celebration Of A Life had asked me to come in early. Jorge Socarras was handling the guest list. "How long you want me to do the door?" I asked upon starting the night "I have some young guy taking over at midnight," Walter assured me and ran off to attend the thousands of loose ends unraveling at crunch time. He was a busy man, as was I once the crowd assailed the door. Santos' security had a system. I was old school. They admonished my letting people skirt their entry policy. "I won't do it again." That was a lie. The hours passed quickly without incident. I greeted old friends, assisted musicians to the stage, and talked of Mark. He was the man and everyone wished that he was with us, instead of cached in the Here-Before. Midnight passed without a young guy replacing me. I hadn't a drink and Walter said there were no drink tickets. My wallet was empty and I scrounged a sip of a beer from a few people. At 1 John Argento the owner of the legendary Danceteria grabbed me. "Are you getting paid?" "No." "Then you're coming with me." John and I went downstairs to the basement bar and drank beer. They weren't cheap. $10 each. John was generous and ordered a couple more for me. A friend came up and John said, "I'm buying what do you want?" "A water." Both of us laughed and I said, "Water? Go get it at the cooler." "More beer for my friend." John and I conversed past 2am and 3am. He excoriated me for having earlier written in mangozeen.com that the Boston Marathon bomber was a forty-two white male from New Hampshire. "You know it's Islamic terrorists." John was Italian. His family had been fighting the Moors for centuries. "I do now." Earlier that evening the FBI had announced that they had two suspects captured on video. They were young. "I hope they don't see tomorrow." "I feel the same way too." Boston was my city and while I support the Liberation of Palestine, I don't condone the killings. "Let's drink to that." We drank to freedom, Italy, the Romans, the Celts, the Irish, Danceteria, and Mark Kamins. He offered me a shot a tequila> I refused, which was probably the smartest thing I did all evening. The club's manager turned on the house lights at 4. We finished our drinks and headed out into the night. "Where to?" "If it were 1980, we could go to Dave's Luncheonette for an egg cream." The diner on Canal Street had been a favorite eatery after the closing of the Mudd Club and we walked to the corner. "Not there." "It hasn't been here for a long time." "Only in our memories. Time for me to go home." John waved down a taxi and I entered the subway. The Fort Greene Observatory was two stops away. Getting there took fifteen minutes. I walked into the door with shoes in my hand. It was 5:33am. I have no idea why the trip was so long, but I climbed the stairs to the top floor and crashed into bed like a bag of potatoes falling off a truck. It had been a good night. Thank you for everything, Mark.

Mark Kamins Lives

Wednesday night Santos Party House hosted a celebration of DJ Mark Kamins' life. Hundreds of friends, family, and admirers gathered to enjoy an evening of music, dance, drink, and fun. Coati Mundi, Konk, and Lady Kir of Dee Lite entertained the crowd from the nightclubs of the 80s, while countless DJ spun tunes for the revelers. Stories were retold, old friendship re-united, and memories of Mark were shared by the party-goers. He was there in spirit and remains with us for the Here-to-come. Kudos to Walter Durkarcz for pulling off the memorial extravaganza.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Celebrate Mark Kamins Tonight

Tonight Lower Manhattan celebrates the life of Mark Kamins, legendary nightclub DJ. Everyone will be there. DJs, dancers, bands, old friends, and a few fiends. I'll be working the door early. Entrance is $20. The money goes to his kids. See you there @ Santos Party House - 96 Lafayette Street below Canal. From 8pm to 'I can't believe it's this late'.

CNN Opps Again

Americans have a low opinion of the news media. According to Gallup 55% of Americans have little or no trust of the press. This afternoon CNN's John King verified this negativity by declaring that the Boston Police had 'a dark-skinned male' in custody for Monday's Boston marathon bombings. AP followed CNN's lead and their news-breaking claims were quickly reputed by city and state officials. As for the Gallup Poll, no one trusts them after the 2012 Presidential Election.

Redcoat Suspect

AP and I were sitting in the garden of the Fort Greene Observatory, discussing the lack of a video declaration from the Boston Marathon bomber(s). I had bought us big cans of 'Gansett beer. It came from New England. "It was only one person," I voiced my hunch. "He carried the two bombs in bags and dropped one and then the other." "Why four hours after the first runners?" AP had attended RISD. He had an analytical mind. "Because it was too crowded. Someone walking with two bags would have attracted attention." "And it didn't four hours later?" AP was a New Yorker. "The cops were standing down. The spectators were friends and family. No one was paying attention to a forty year-old white male with two bags over his shoulder." I knew my Boston, but didn't say that the police were in a bar on Newbury Street. There isn't anything more agreeable to any working man than getting paid to drink on the job. "One man? Those bags were heavy." The FBI said they were constructed out of pressure cookers loaded with household chemicals and ball bearings. "30-40 pounds each." I carried heavier bags, while smashing knives this winter. "He dropped the first up the street and then the second, which he detonated first and then blew the second." "And you're sticking with either a single bomber? The 42 year-old white guy from New Hampshire." "Missing a front tooth." "But not a Muslim." "A Muslim would have gone for a suicide mission, but there is another suspect." I put down my beer. It was empty. Luckily I had bought us two each. "The descendant of a redcoat officer from the Battle of Concord. Those Brits have a long memory." "That's the Irish in you speaking." AP was familiar with my blood. "Maybe you're right, so my money stays on the white guy from New Hampshire." "With the missing front tooth." We clunked our 'Gansett cans together. I hope they catch the bastard. Dead better than alive. And that's the Irish in me too.

The Iron Lady Restem In Infernum

This morning the funeral cortege of Margaret Thatcher was taken from Westminster to a funeral service at St. Paul's Cathedral. Millions lined the streets of London to pay homage to the Old Lady, who was Britain's longest serving prime minister of modern times. The funeral service was simple in accordance with the deceased' wishes. Members of the family and Conservative party were bereft with grief for Thatcher, who sat at 10 Downing Street through the Falklands War, the Poll Tax riots, the privatization of public housing, the escape of Chilean dictator Pinochet, the IRA hunger strikes, and the violent police repression of the coal workers. Britons proudly claim that Mrs. Thatcher put the 'great' back in Great Britain. She certainly had a way about her and that way wasn't to the pleasure of many, however no large-scale protests marred the proceedings, even though DING DONG THE WITCH IS DEAD is # 1 on the BBC. And they have that right. Even iron melts in a fire.

Boston Suspect # 1

On Monday two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three people were killed and over 170 were injured by the infernal devices. The explosion took place four hours after the start of the beloved race from Hopkington to Boston Garden held every year on Patriots Day commemorating the Battles of Lexington and Concord. My friend Eric was waiting for his wife on Columbus and Berkeley. She was in the changing room at the corner of Arlington and Boylston. His 82 year-old father-in-law went out to search for Meredith. They are both Boston natives. Two minutes later Eric heard a sharp boom and then ten seconds afterwards a smaller thud. "Bombs." He deducted within a second and called his wife. She was okay and he ran outside to get her father, whom he found standing in the rush of screaming people. "It was like 9/11." Eric collected his wife and got on the Mass Pike to drive west to Springfield before the police shut down the highways. East-bound traffic was dominated by first responders and black Ford SUVs with lights flashing within the shaded windows. I was glad to hear that he had escape harm. My older brother was fine. He worked on the other side of the Commons. Nobody I knew had been hurt, but my heart as well as many of those across the nation felt for the families of the dead and wounded, while asking, "Who?" Fox News was quick to accuse an Arab extremist, but upon seeing the footage on TV I immediately thought 'white male, 42, angry at liberals, pro-gun, anti-abortion and from New Hampshire'. Why New Hampshire? Just a hunch. Suspect # 2 a lone Muslim angered by the hunger strike at Git-Mo. I have no # 3. Two days later the FBI haven't a lead other than the bombs themselves. "It will take time... but we will find whoever harmed our citizens and we will bring them to justice” President Obama vowed, as the FBI transported the evidence to Quantico for further investigation.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

SANDWICH RUN by Peter Nolan Smith

New York nightclubs closed at 4am in 1979, however many people didn’t want to go home after Studio 54 or the Mudd Club, CBGBs. The Mafia ran the after-hour clubs like the Cisco Disco, the 82 Club and the Nursery on 3rd Avenue. Drinks were served with an undesirable degree of danger, so when nightlife impresario Arthur Weinstein announced the opening of an after-hour club in his apartment on New Year’s Eve, the city’s elite flocked to the Jefferson Theater on East 14th Street to celebrate the coming of a new decade. After convincing his wife that this illegal venture would coin good money, Colleen transformed their loft with a little paint, mirrors in the wall, art-deco furniture, and eclectic lighting into an Eden after midnight. Arthur’s good friend, Scottie was the bartender, his wife acted as hostess, Arthur spun records, and I worked the door. 11pm passed without anyone entering the Jefferson. Midnight came and went. The four of us drank champagne and Arthur shrugged an apology. “So it wasn’t such a good idea.” Nearing 2 we feared the worst, then super-model Christie Brinkley strolled up to the stairs and kissed Arthur of the cheek. “I hope you’re ready.” She was with two gay friends. “Ready?” “I invited everyone.” The blonde cover girl turned to Coleen. “I love what you did with this place. It’s so 40s.” “Everyone?” I asked Arthur. “Anyone mentions her name, let them in for free. For tonight only.” Arthur knew his business. Within the hour taxis and limos pulled up in front of the Jefferson, which immediately became home away from home for those late-night revelers unwilling to call it a night. Movie stars, musicians, models, bankers, politicians, go-go girls, punks, gays, cops, and dealers danced till dawn as if the second-story club was the Noah’s Ark of decadence. We thought the party would last forever, then again most of us were loaded on drugs. Arthur saw it different. The precinct cops were on the take. Internal Affairs were investigating their involvement at the Jefferson. After-hour clubs had a short life in New York and slightly before Memorial Day Arthur warned his wife to stay away from the club. “Anything wrong?” “Just a hunch.” His premonition was on the money, for two nights later the police raided the club at 3am. Scottie slinked out the front door through a gauntlet of police and Arthur climbed down the fire escape under a black Halloween cape. Not everyone got away free. Internal Affairs arrested two 9th Precinct officers, a sanitation cop, a bag man for the fire department, two transvestites, a circus clown, two barboys, the son of a CIA agent, three female bartenders, and me. The sanitation cop put up a struggle. The cops hauled him into the back bedroom and broke his leg with a baseball bat. They were playing hard ball. “Anyone else want some.” A plain-clothed officer waved the baseball bat at us. We shook our heads. 30 minutes later an ambulance arrived for the injured cop and the officers led the other arrestees into a paddy wagon. We were arraigned in the morning and the judge released us without bail. Arthur and Scottie met me that night at the Ritz. They surveyed the bar with a visible nervousness. A psycho cop had visited Arthur in the morning. A double blast from a shotgun had punched a hole in the ceiling. “He was from the 9th.” “Guess they want you to keep your mouth shut.” I had been slipping their bagman $200 a night. “What Internal Affairs say?” “They didn’t ask us anything.” “No names?” Scottie wore the same jeans, shirt, and jacket as the previous night. His hair stuck straight up in the air, so he resembled a hobo on the run. He could use a shower. “They booked us, arraigned us, and cut us loose.” “Cool.” Arthur was relieved that none of us were in trouble. Not that he could help us. We were on our own. The Jefferson closed its doors forever. I paid three months rent in advance. Those arrested never went to trial and the story of crooked cops was buried in the back pages of the newspapers. No one said nothing. I tried to find another job, but the summer was a tough time to get work. Within a month we were broke. Arthur kept talking about opening another place. His wife thought he was crazy, but agreed to decorate the next venue, if he could find a place. “Think about how we can do if it was bigger.” Arthur told Scottie and me. “Bigger meant more money.” “I like more money.” Scottie had simple tastes. He was happy with his Harley. “Then it’s a go.” “We’re with you all the way.” Arthur’s search for the right spot took time. Scottie worked the Ritz and I stood at the door of the Mudd Club. I contemplated getting a day job, then things fell into place as Arthur found an investor to finance the Continental. The space was an abandoned garage on West 25th Street. Arthur informed the landlord that he was opening an art gallery. Coleen, Scottie, and I were the first people to see the place. “It just needs a little work.” The floors were caked with oil. The walls sagged with mildew, and the ceiling panels hung from the ceiling like limp tongue. “We don’t have to make it livable. Only good enough to serve drinks. We can open by Labor Day.” “Who’s going to do the construction?” Scottie asked, since the only time we used a hammer was to chip the ice out of the freezer. “You guys and your friends,” Arthur said without saying how. “I’m no contractor.” “How much are you going to pay?” I was only interested in money. “Not much.” Arthur was living on the edge. “But you’ll have a job at the end of it.” “Throw in lunch and you got a deal.” “Deal.” Arthur’s word was good enough for Scottie and me. Werthel, a lanky 19 year-old from the Five Towns, wanted to join the work crew. During the last months of the Jefferson his drug use had gone from daily to hourly. This job was going to be his rehab. “Why don’t you go to real rehab?” Scottie asked at the apartment that Werthel shared with his friend, Richie Boy. “Your father has money.” “I don’t want my old man to know about it.” His father was a dentist. He expected big things from his son. Werthel was swearing off blow forever. He gave us the last of his stash. “Have a party.” “You mind if I take some change too.” Scottie was staring at a bowl of coins on the glass coffee table. It had filled to the brink with quarters. “Sure, but only as much as you can grab with one hand.” Scottie snatched a handful and Werthel grabbed his wrist, shaking it so hard that Scottie’s take was decreased by half. “You’re the meanest man in the world,” Richie Boy declared from the sofa. Werthel and he were schoolmates from kindergarten. No one knew him better. “Do you guys think I’m mean?” Werthel seemed hurt by the accusation. “I won’t, if you let me take another handful.” Scottie was ready for double or nothing. “Get out of here.” The coins covered a sandwich at the nearest deli. The cocaine went fast at AM-PM, an after-hour club, abutting the exit for the Holland Tunnel. Free cocaine always had a funny way of making you too many new friends. Breakfast was a coffee and a bagel at Dave’s Luncheonette. There was no lunch. On Monday morning we showed up to West 25th Street. The street shimmered with heat. Arthur’s craggy-faced partner was waiting for us. Paulie was a model, whose face had graced the cover for a Time Magazine’s article on Herpes. We called him HP. “You were supposed to be here at 8.” HP was standing with his twin brother and a friend. Both of them wore very professional carpenter belts with hammers and nails. HP asked us, “Any of you have tools?” “Tools?” Scottie’s only tool was a beer-opener. “I’ll take that as a no.” HP gave the carpenter friend $40. “Go get some hammers and shit. The rest of you I don’t want you talking to anyone about what we’re doing. Nothing. I also want you here on time. 8am. We finish when we finish. No overtime.” “What an asshole,” Werthel muttered under his breath. “As long as we get paid I don’t give a shit.” Scottie’s definition of paradise was a joint and a Chinese take-out. “Yeah, but he’s still an asshole.” Working construction for below-minimum wage was my version of Hell. Thirty minutes later we were tearing down the walls. Scottie and I loaded up metal onto a trolley. Werthel pounded the walls with a sledgehammer. Decades-old dust covered our bodies and acrid sweat poured out of our skin. Arthur showed up at noon. “You look like coalminers.” “Is it lunch time yet?” Scottie was exhausted from the first physical work that he had done in years. I wasn’t in much better shape, however Werthel was running on fumes of his spent addiction. He was ready for more. “It’s lunch when I say it’s lunch.” HP countermanded Scottie’s suggestion. “Who elected you god?” Arthur snidely demanded in our defense. “I’m paying for this. I’ll tell them what to do.” “Don’t be such an asshole.” Arthur was our union rep and stuck out his hand to HP. “Cough up.” “Cough up what?” “Lunch money.” Arthur was counting on lunch too. “I never said anything about free lunch.” HP was a stingy as a thirteen year-old boy on his first date. “These guys are on their own. You have thirty minutes. Werthel, Scottie, and I muttered ‘asshole’ under our breath. Arthur examined the scrap metal. There was a junk dealer on 28th Street. The metal had to be worth something. “We’ll get rid of the metal and be right back.” Arthur and Scottie rolled the trolley onto West 25th Street. The temperature would have been 95 in the shade if there were any trees. The trip took them 20 minutes. The junk dealer had given them $9. They came back with three cheese and mayo sandwiches. Werthel had brought his own, a salami and cheese with pickles on a roll. I could smell it from ten feet away. “You done lunch?” HP complained about us taking too much time. Everyone muttered ‘asshole’. “I’ll talk to him.” Arthur was good with people, only HP wasn’t people. By week’s end we wanted to quit. Arthur begged us to reconsider. “This guy won’t hire you at the club, if you do.” Arthur was powerless to stop HP from being an asshole, but we knew once the club opened we’d get our reward one way or the other and we stayed on the job. Werthel was the only one who didn’t mind not having free lunch. He was supposedly attending summer school and his mother gave him a weekly stipend. Every lunch he’d buy himself a good sandwich, while Scottie and I ate a $1 slice of pizza. We were losing weight and Werthel was getting stronger. We tried to schnorr his left-overs, but he’d throw the half-eaten sandwiches in the trash. Scottie and I were too proud to dig out his scraps. He was our friend, but we transferred our hatred from the model to Werthel. The demolition got harder and dirtier. Things should have improved once we started construction, except none of us knew what we were doing. Scottie was nearly decapitated by a falling slab of sheet rock, Werthel fell off the ladder, and I mashed my thumb with a hammer. Arthur suggested that I go see a doctor. HP wouldn’t pay for the visit and I wrapped my thumb with a torn tee-shirt. Worse was our hunger. One day Scottie and I were begged Werthel for some money and he said, “I’ll race you for a sandwich.” “Me?” Scottie was short, but very fast. “No, you.” He pointed to me. “Me.” I had been a cross-country runner in high school in 1969. My best finishes were 3rd and 4th place. Speed was not my forte. “Yeah.” Werthel was younger and taller. “You’re not hungry?” “I’m hungry.” “Then race me?” “Werthel, just give us the money for a sandwich.” The previous night I had drank until dawn with Richie Boy. I was sweating vodka, my legs were spaghetti, and my stomach was cramped from no food. “You want it. Run for it.” Arthur and Colleen got out of a cab. HP and the rest of the crew stopped working. “What’s the wager?” “Okay, two sandwiches versus you being my slave for a day.” Werthel was in sneakers. “One day.” I had on cheap work boots. “I’ll take some of that bet.” HP yelled from the loading platform. “But you have nothing to bet.” “I do.” Arthur pulled $100 from his pocket and Colleen slapped his hand. The money was meant for an over-due bill. “Straight up.” HP was giving no odds. “Straight up.” Arthur looked at me. “You can do it, kid?” “No problem.” Arthur was 35. I was almost 30. His saying ‘kid’ made me feel younger. I loosened up my body. “The bet’s on.” “Scottie, you hold the money.” Arthur and HP handed the c-notes to Scottie. The model glared at Werthel. “If you throw the race, I’ll welsh on the bet.” “I’m not throwing any bet. I’m the meanest man in the world.” Werthel tossed his sandwich in the trash. This race was a final test of his drug treatment. “You ready?” “100 yards,” I said, because he was definitely faster for the first 50. “100 yards it is.” Werthel dropped his tools. Scottie was the referee. Werthel and I walked off the distance in the middle of the street. Workers from the street stood on the sidewalk. More bets were placed on Werthel. The odds were in his favor. “You know we don’t have to do this. You could give me the money for the sandwiches and I’ll be your slave.” I was more hungry than proud. “No, this is a race.” Werthel walked to a manhole cover. “This distance is 100?” I nodded yes. He crouched like Jesse Owens and I stood at ease, both arms at my side. Scottie shouted from the finish line. “On your marks. Get set. Go.” Werthel and I burst down the street. He pulled ahead. One yard. Two yards. I dropped my head and pushed harder. My feet slapped onto the hot pavement. Shouts filled my ears. We were neck and neck. Scottie was only ten yards away. I leaned forward and beat Werthel across the line by a foot. Colleen screamed with delight and HP called for a rematch. Arthur grabbed the 2 $100 bills. “No rematch. He won fair and square.” I thought so too, then Arthur winked at Werthel. I turned to Werthel and he gave me $10. “What? You won your sandwich. Enjoy.” Arthur handed Scottie and me $20 each. The sandwiches from the closest deli were terrible, but victory acted as a tasty condiment. That Friday HP said he’d pay us at his apartment. We went to One 5th Avenue after 5. The doorman said that HP had flown to Paris to shoot a commercial about acne. We didn’t see him till the following week. After HP paid us, Werthel called him an asshole. “I don’t need to hear that. You’re fired.” “You can’t fire me. I quit.” Werthel chucked a hammer at HP. It traveled too fast for Paulie to duck, but Werthel’s aim was off. The hammer quivered in the wall. Werthel stomped off the site and HP said, “Don’t even try to come to this club.” “Asshole.” Arthur was a good judge of character and we echoed his sentiment with a chorus of mutters. Later that night we visited Werthel at his apartment. Richie Boy had a good laugh at everyone’s version of the race and Scottie asked, “Werthel, how it feel to lose to an old man?” I might be beat up for my age, but not old, but before I could defend my speed, Werthel put down his Diet-Coke. He wasn’t even drinking beer. “I didn’t lose. I threw it?” “You don’t like losing at anything. Even checkers when we were kids.” Richie Boy was speaking from experience “I made it look like he won.” Werthel folded his arms across his chest. “Shut up already,” Arthur sat forward on the sofa. “I saw your face. You wanted to win and thought you could beat a drunk and maybe if you hadn’t eaten your sandwich before the race you could have beaten him, but he won, because he was faster.” “I could beat him now.” Werthel was right. I had drunk 5 beers. My feet, legs, and heart were on the disabled list. “Maybe.” Arthur wasn’t letting Werthel slide. “But this afternoon who was faster? Tell the truth?” Werthel waited several seconds and grunted with an off-center smile. “He was faster.” “I have a good eye for winners.” Arthur was looking at Werthel with a sly grin. “And an even better one for losers and no one’s a big a loser as HP.” “Asshole.” We clinked glasses and drained our drinks. Werthel finished his Diet coke and turned to me. “Sorry.” “For what?” “For being the meanest man in the world.” “No reason for apologies. We love you and to be truthful HP is the meanest man in the world. Not you.” We’d get back at HP once the club opened for business. “Thanks, but I can be meaner than HP.” “As long as it’s not to us, who cares.” Arthur added, because while Werthel might be the meanest man in the world, he would always be one of us and to this Werthel had nothing to say. He could only smile.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

KICK OUT THE JAMS by Peter Nolan Smith

In the fall of 1969 my all-boys parochial school entered a chocolate-selling competition to compete with the other Catholic educational institutions in Boston. The top prize for most sales of the city-wide contest was a concert by a band from Elektra Records. Rumors abounded that the band on offer was The Doors. LIGHT MY FIRE had hit # 1 in 1967. Catholic girls loved Jim Morrison. The Lizard King couldn’t satisfy all of them, so our 1000-plus strong enrollment scoured the virgin suburbs of the South Shore with boxes of outdated chocolate bars, dreaming of teenage girls dancing to THE END. Our school had never hosted a live show in the gym and we beat our nearest rival by over $5000. On the cold morning December 1st our principal ended the morning messages by saying, “I congratulate you for selling the most chocolate bars. The cardinal also sends his thanks for the papal recruiting fund. I suppose you’re wondering who the band is.” I was sitting in English class with thirty-five other seniors. Brother Bede leaned against the blackboard. We chanted, “Doors, Doors, Doors.” The ex-boxer raised a hand to still us. My father had seen him fight as a heavyweight at Boston Arena. No one challenged his the broken-nosed brother’s commands. “I’m pleased to announce that Elektra band chosen the MC5 to be backed up by a local group, the Odyssey.” “MC5?” The school’s quarterback pounded on his desk. “Who the fuck are they?” His question stumped everyone in the room, but me. “The Motor City 5 are out of Detroit. They opened for Led Zeppelin at the Garden two months ago.” Narragansett Beer had hosted its first Tribal Rock Festival to a sell-out crowd of 17,000. “In 1968 they appeared three nights at the Boston Tea Party with the Velvet Underground.” “I w-w-wish you w-w-were as good w-w-with English as you are w-w-with rock and roll.” Brother Bede had not won that fight in Boston Arena or a few other combats. His stutter was a result of many beatings. “Yes, b-b-brother.” I shared his perchance for a stutter. “Who cares about history?” The quarterback glared in my direction, as if I had been the person in charge of deciding which band played at our school. “Are the MC5 any good? I’ve never heard of them.” The majority of the class muttered out their disappointment. The Doors meant making out with girls. “Good? They don’t play RAINDROPS KEEP FALLING ON MY HEAD.” BJ Thomas’ hit was # 1 on WBZ AM. “They can’t be the Doors.” The quarterback was from Brockton. It was a tough town. Only WBCN-FM played the MC5. “The Doors are what people want you to hear. The MC5 are the best live band in America.” I was into rock and roll. My record collection was second to none. I had seen the Turtles, Animals, Shocking Blue, the Remains, and Rocking Ramrods at the Surf Nantasket, the Modern Lovers at Cambridge Commons, the Ultimate Spinach and Beacon Street Union on Boston Commons. My hair ran over the back of my shirt. My mother called me a hippie. “Have you ever seen them?” The quarterback had won our school a state championship. He was a god in the eyes of my classmates. His favorite band was the Beatles. “No, but I have their live LP. KICK OUT THE JAMS. I can bring it to school tomorrow. We can listen to it in the audio lab during study.” I hated the Fab Four. “At least they have a record.” The quarterback wore his hair long like Paul McCartney. His girlfriend was the head cheerleader at our sister school, Our Blessed Virgin High School. “And it’s better than THE WHITE ALBUM.” My girlfriend was cheerleader at my town school. Kyla loved the Beatles and I never told her about my deep dislike for the pop sell-outs. At least she wasn’t into Paul. The quarterback rose from his desk. Brother Bede stepped between us. “Sit down. There’ll be no fighting in my class or anywhere else.” Brother Bede liked my poetry, but he was asst. coach on the football team and the quarterback was his boy. “You have that?” “Yes, brother.” We shook hands with crunching duel of grips and then took our seats. We both rubbed our knuckles on the way back to our desks. Brother Bede had us read from A SEPARATE PEACE. During lunch everyone discussed the MC5. Three other boys had heard of them; my best friend Chuckie Manzi and my two younger cousins. “Hippie girls love the MC5. They symbolize revolution. The record opens with the lead singer yelling ‘motherfucker’.” Chuckie had listened to the album in my basement. His mother would kill him, if she heard that word in her house. My mother too, only she worked during the day. “They have the balls to sing ‘motherfucker.” The quarterback’s opinion elevated the MC5 to that of the Kingsmen, who mythically shouted ‘fuck’ during LOUIE LOUIE. “They were also the only band to appear in Chicago during the Days of Rage in 1968 and they played for eight hours straight.” I learned about the band from the WBCN DJs, who worshipped their non-commercial fervor. “So they’re against the war.” The quarterback had a brother stationed in Da Nang. “Yes.” I was no liar at this point in my life. “Then that’s good enough for me.” The only out for boys in Brockton was the army or prison and the quarterback was lucky enough to have colleges interested in his arm. None of us were traitors, but at the end of the school year we were meat for the draft and even high school seniors knew that the Pentagon didn’t want to win this war. The next day I brought in the MC5 LP. Our study period was right before lunch. The quarterback and I entered the audio lab. The librarian lent us headphones. I cued up the first track and turned the volume to 10. John Sinclair introduced the band. “Brothers and sisters.” The radical from Detroit demanded from the audience at the Grande Ballroom, “Are you ready to testify? I give you a testimonial. The MC5.” The feedback guitars and falsetto lead voice caught the quarterback off guard like a safety blitz, but within seconds his head was rocking on his neck and he smiled his approval. Hearing ‘motherfucker’ on KICK OUT THE JAMS turned his smile into a grin. He pulled off the headphones and said, “They’re great, but we have a problem. The brothers will never let them say ‘motherfucker’ at the concert.” “How they going to know about that?” In my minds the brothers listened to folk songs and Georgian chants. “Some of them are young. They have contacts with the anti-war movement. We have snitches at school. They’re going to find out.” The quarterback believed in a good defense and lifted the stylus off the LP. “You never brought this to school.” “You want to borrow it?” I rarely lent out records. No one ever gave them back in good condition. “You would do that?” The quarterback slipped the record into the cover sleeve with care. “We are not the problem.” I answered quoting John Sinclair. “We are the solution.” It was 1969. This was our world. The quarterback instructed his team to squelch any mention of the MC5 and the word motherfucker. His offensive line were the biggest boys in the school. We reached the Christmas vacation without a breach in our silence. The quarterback gave back the record on the last day before break. “Sorry, but everyone in my town wanted to hear it.” “I understand.” I resisted checking for scratches and wished him a happy new year. “You too.” As soon as he was out of sight, I pulled out the LP. It was untouched. We were the high society. Tickets went on sale the first day back at school. They cost $2.50 each. I put away $10 for Chuckie, his girlfriend and Kyla. I walked into school in January and headed to the school store. Over a hundred students were lined up for tickets. The Dean of Discipline was asking them about the band. “Do they have a hit?” The Dean was fast with his hands. “No, brother,” answered a nervous sophomore. “Then why are you going?” In his US history class he preached that J. Edgar Hoover deserved our respect for fighting godless communism and now suspected something was amiss with the MC5. “They have a new album coming out BACK IN THE USA.” Charles Laquidara had mentioned its release on his 10pm shift on WBCN-FM. “So they’re ‘hip’?” The Dean of Discipline kept up with teenage slang to pretend that he wasn’t so different from us. The act didn’t fool any of us. “Yes, brother.” Conversations with the Dean was best kept to five words or less. He was a dedicated witch-hunter. “I look forward to seeing them.” The Dean of Discipline walked away from the queue with his hands in his pockets, but this first round of interrogation was not the last. The Dean was very thorough in his investigation into subversion. “Keep your mouths shut.” I wagged a warning finger at the sophomore. “About what?” “Good answer.” Our parents thought that we were meant to be seen and not heard, but those days had ended at our school after last year’s strike to abolish the dress code. White shirts and tie were now optional and we regarded anyone wearing them as stooges for the old regime. The MC5 show sold out the first day to the amazement of the school principal. The quarterback told him that the student body was charged up about the first concert at the school. His hero status convinced the principal that a rock band was no threat to our souls and said that he was looking forward to seeing the group. “They’re loud.” “As long as they don’t break the sound barrier, I’ll be fine with loud.” The quarterback and I felt confident that our deception would skate under the radar, then two nights before the show a disc jockey on WBZ reported on a secret concert by the MC5 at our high school. The second I heard his report, I knew this was trouble and the next morning the principal ended the morning messages by announcing, “It had come to the school’s attention that the group scheduled to appear this Saturday night has been involved in an obscenity controversy. School policy strictly bans any curse words by teachers, students, and visitors.” “Obviously the principal has never been to football practice.” The quarterback quipped from his desk. His coach was renown for his vitriolic outbursts of four-lettered words. “Q-q-quiet.” Brother Bede’s commands were stuttered once and only once. “Any mention of a bad words mentioned by the band before or during the show will result in my immediate termination of the concert. I have contacted the record company and warned them that any incident will incur the full wrath of the arch-diocese of Boston. That is all for today.” This heavy-handed suppression of free speech instilled rebellion into our hearts. “S-s-slow down, class.” Brother Bede sat on the edge of his desk with ON THE ROAD in his hands. We had read CATCHER IN THE RYE, 1984, and BRAVE NEW WORLD under his tutelage. He believed in an open mind. “A-a-at least the concert was not cancelled and from w-w-w-what the principal explained to the other brothers, the b-b-band only said one bad word on its record. He said nothing about their b-b-being revolutionaries.” Brother Bede’s common sense calmed our young minds and we spread his good news throughout the school. The omission of one word wasn’t the end of the world, even though the truth of the matter was that none of us would be here if our fathers weren’t motherfuckers. Even Jesus had a motherfucker and the word was bantered around the school like a badminton cock at a summer barbecue. The night of the show Chuckie drove us to school. I was wearing a fringed suede jacket and bell-bottom jeans. Kyla was a little Tibetan goddess in her lambskin coat and miniskirt. Snowflakes darted across 128. Chuckie put on WBCN. JJ Jackson was playing PINBALL WIZARD. At Woodstock Abbie Hoffman denounced the concert was bullshit while John Sinclair was in prison for marijuana. Pete Townsend had driven the Yippie leader off stage with his guitar. Woodstock was about love and peace, not the injustice of the MC5′s spokesman languishing in prison for a few joints and tonight was no different. The four of us drank a six-pack of beer in the parking lot. Kyla and I made out in the back seat. Her lips tasted of bubble gum. My hands wiggled under her sweater to glide on baby-powdered skin. The heat of our young bodies fogged the windows. Time was lost to passion, but at 8pm Kyla broke our embrace. I wiped away the condensation on the rear window. The doors to the gym were open. “Let’s go.” As we approached the gym, two hippie girls asked if I had an extra tickets. They were college age. Two more co-eds posed the same question at the door. A pair of freshmen offered to be their dates. The girls did not refuse the request. This was a big show. Inside the deejay was playing popular hits and the gathering crowd danced to Marvin Gaye and Sly. My classmates were costumed in haute Haight-Ashbury. The pungent aroma of marijuana emanated from the bathroom. Three long-haired men in colorful robes exited a minute later. None of them attended Xaverian and they smiled at Kyla with reddened eyes. She clutched my hand. Strange men scared the buxom brunette. I held her close. Her beauty was safe with me. The stage was set up under the basketball net. I recognized the Odyssey from playing at the Surf Nantasket. The quartet looked nervous about performing tonight. They were a cover band. This was a big gig for them. I didn’t see any sign of the MC5. “Where are they?” the quarterback demanded at the table serving cokes. His girlfriend introduced herself to Kyla. She was as blonde as Peggy Lipton of THE MOD SQUAD. “I heard on WBCN that they were playing an afternoon show in Detroit.” “This afternoon?” Driving in a GTO at top speed from Detroit was a six-hour trip with police lights in the rearview mirror. “Yes.” The DJ Charles Laquidara had told his listeners that the band had been playing an afternoon show in Detroit. “How will they get here.” The shoe was scheduled for 9:30. “They’re taking a flight to Logan.” I leaned over to the quarterback. He smelled of Brut. It was Joe Namath’s cologne. “They’ll be here. Just don’t tell anyone else. We wouldn’t want a riot in here.” The Odyssey opened their set with a cover of HEY JOE. I checked at my Timex watch. It was 8:30. The younger students danced to the hits. None of the hippies in the audience paid attention to the group. Some of them looked older than 20. The Dean of Discipline was keeping a close eye on them. Brother Bede had cotton stuffed in his ears. Chuckie and I went outside to finish our beers. The night sky was clear of clouds and the stars showed their power from distant positions in space. A car engine was grinding up the road to the school. A white van slid on black ice into the parking lot. The vehicle accelerated between the rear-ends of our cars and braked before the gym. Five men jumped from the van. It was the MC5. I recognized the lead singer from his Afro. He waved for me to come closer. “You go to school here?” His name was Wayne Kramer. “Yes, sir.” I had never spoken to a famous person. “I’m not a sir, brother. This is Xaverian, right?” The guitarist checked out Kyla and eyed me with admiration. The smell of bubble gum on her lips was a beautiful thing. “Yes.” I couldn’t bring myself to call him brother. I already had three. “Damn, we didn’t get lost. Good driving.” He slapped the driver on the shoulder. He was Fred Sonic Smith, the guitarist. “Let’s get set up. Brother, you want to carry an amp into the gym. The faster we set up, the faster we play for you.” “Yes, sir.” The sir thing was a hard habit to lose in less than a minute. “Cool.” He handed Chuckie and me each a large Marshall amp. The Odyssey had finished their set. Chuckie and I hauled the amps to the stage like altar boys carrying Sunday communion to the faithful. The MC5 shook hands walking through the crowd. The hippie girls abandoned the freshmen for the stars of the night. The MC5 were a live band. They performed more than twenty shows a month. The roadies assembled the equipment array within a half hour. The band climbed onto the stage, only to have the principal and Dean of Discipline to confront them. The topic of discussion was no secret to the student body and the murmur of dissent rippled through the audience. The Dean of Discipline shone his sated disapproval, but Wayne Kramer raised his hand and strode over to the microphone. “Brothers and sisters, we’re the MC5. You know who we are. You know what we stand for.” He turned to the two black-robed brothers. “Your principal had requested that we not use a word during the show. If we don’t agree to this condition, we won’t be allowed to play and we flew a thousand miles to be with you tonight.” Boos rocked the gym. “It’s just one word. You know the word. We only say it one time. We didn’t come here to walk out the door.” The lead singer waved for the band to take their places. “We are the MC5 and you are you. One two three.” They rocked the building with the MOTOR CITY IS BURNING. Rob Tyner drove the girls crazy with his strut during DOING ALL RIGHT. Mike Davis led the band with a thumping bass and the drummer drove a basic beat into our bones. The basketball floor bounced with our dancing and Kyla sang along to BABY PLEASE DON’T GO. The quarterback and I hugged each other with joy after HIGH SCHOOL. We were seventeen and free. The MC5 left us ragged after two hours of solid rock and they ended with a homage to Chuck Berry and the title track of their new LP, BACK IN THE USA. “Thank you, Xaverian.” Wayne Kramer shouted into the mike. “Peace, brothers and sisters.” The MC5 jumped off the low stage and we chanted out more. We stomped the floor to the chant of ‘more’. The band emerged from the underneath the bleachers and Wayne Kramer grabbed the mike. “We have saved the best for last and we have also kept our promise to the good brothers, but you didn’t make any promise,” I pointed the microphone into the audience. “Brothers and sisters, it’s now time to KICK OUT THE JAMS____” Our voices shouted the word as one. “Motherfucker.” There was no quieting us. The world was on fire and the MC5 drew us into the flames that evening. It was January 24, 1970 On January 25 today became yesterday and tomorrow was a long way away from testerday.  

NORTH NORTH HOLLYWOOD by Peter Nolan Smith Chapter One

Six women crowded the honeymoon suite of the Coastal Motel. The buxom 'groom' patiently lay on the bed for her 'bride', while the brutish camerawoman glanced at the director and tapped her watch. "Lena, are you ready yet?" A bead of sweat trickled down the wiry director's spine, as she knocked on the bathroom door. "One more minute," the female lead shouted from inside the tiled room. “That’s fine as long as it’s sixty seconds.” Sherri Conti signaled the camerawoman to prepare for the money shot, acutely aware that the different segments of a movie set operated at contradicting speeds within the same time frames. The technicians were habitually fast, except when they had downtime and the talent was traditionally slow, especially when they were being rushed by the producer. A director's job was to ensure the contrasting sides of the camera meshed during the actual shooting and Sherri checked the equipment for any potential miscue. Everything was in place, except for the girl in the bathroom. There was no way that Lena was suffering stage fright. The young starlet had performed sex before a camera over fifty times and had not once gone up or blown her scene. Lena was simply dropping into her persona. Sherri had undergone the identical transformation in hundreds of hotels, condos, and ranch houses over her twenty-year career in XXX films. The extra time had been worth the wait, because once Sherri had heard the word ‘action’, her body had exhibited a tangible hunger for sex and the camera had never lied in an industry with no special effects. During the 80s Sherri’s name had blazed on marquee lights in Times Square and her body had filled millions of TV screens for audiences of one. A devoted fan had amassed a list of her on-screen lovers. The number ran into the thousands. In the 90s the standouts had vanished from the Valley like animals hunted into extinction. Sherri could have easily joined the missing, except her near-miraculous rise from the dead had granted the forty-five year-old director the status of living legend. The accolades, setbacks, or sins were meaningless to Sherri, for porno was a business and time was money. She turned to the black woman on the queen-sized bed. "Josie, give us a sound check." "You got it, boss lady." Big Josie Cane had worked for Sherri ten times. The ex-actress’ production company paid better than the standard daily of $500 and the director had never blindsided the actresses with bizarre requests, so Josie saved her best performances for Sherri. These girl-on-girl scenes were especially easy with Lena, for the Spanish girl shone in a business where most actresses were mere light bulbs. Rising off the mattress Josie spoke into the overhead boom. "Testing, one, two, three." Josie cinched the belt of the strap-on dildo, which she didn't want to slip out of place during the shoot. This was going to be one long take and she meant to make the most of it. "How clean is it?” Sherri asked the soundwoman. Even with the taped windows and heavily blanketed door the microphone caught the wet sizzle of 18-wheelers on the rain-drenched Ventura Freeway. "Nothing I can't fix in the sound studio." The soundwoman had heard worst background noise. The battery of Soft Ks, 10Ks, and Mighty Mole lights around the room raised the temperature. Sherri surveyed the sheen of sweat on Josie and figured that the film’s viewers would appreciate the glistening ebony skin. "It’s a go, once the 'jig inky' is in focus." The stocky gaffer in jeans studied the bed without seeing a shadow on the sheets. "Okay, we'll deal with that when Lena is in place." This scene needed to be shot and Sherri nervously fingered back her brown shag-cut hair. “Lena, that minute is up.” “Ready or not here I come.” The raven-haired actress emerged from the bathroom and struck a provocative pose displaying the natural tautness of her girlish body. A neutral-toned blush heightened the smoothness of her olive skin, while kohl-black mascara accented her green eyes’ Oriental cant. Her coal-black hair was cut to mimic Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile and this suggestive exoticism converted into star quality, which had earned Lena a ‘best new starlet’ nomination in the upcoming XXX awards in Las Vegas. “Finally.” Sharon clapped her hands and the crew snapped to attention. Lena crossed the room to her off-screen lover. The actress was an inch shorter than Sherri and her pouting pelvis grazed the director's thigh. The older woman stiffened, wishing that she were on the bed, instead of Josie, however the director had retired from that side of the camera five years ago. "Nervous?" "Nervous? I was made for this." The younger woman glided out of reach and every woman in the room followed her nakedness. Lena wouldn't have it any other way, for she was as much an exhibitionist as a voyeur. Her character in the film was called Desiree, a runaway who had never been with a woman. Lena had fled her home at the age of 14. She lay on the bed to become a white trash virgin at the mercy of a bull dyke. The metamorphosis was simple, for young actress had lived every aspect of this role over the past six years. The market for most adult entertainment was predominantly male, however Lena’s audience was evenly split between men and women, despite purely lesbian content of her films. A good part of her appeal had to do with Lena's youth, however the invulnerability of her years hadn’t lasted long in the meat grinder of adult film industry and Sherri was determined to protect Lena from suffering her fate. The young girl deserved to be in real films and Sherri had a plan to get her on the silver screen, but now was not the time. “Everyone set?” Sherri asked the crew. “Ready, when you are, boss lady.” The gaffer retreated from the lights and Lena's hand dropped to her shaved vagina. Soon it would be replaced by that of another woman. The old Jefferson Airplane song SALLY GOES ROUND THE ROSES popped into Sherri’s head and the chorus repeated in her mind. “Saddest thing in the whole wide world is to see your baby with another girl.” “Josie, take your position.” Sherri waved the make-up woman from the bed. Filming Lena with another woman was becoming increasingly difficult, but she was a professional in the end. “Places.” Big Josie Cane assumed the 'top' position for the classic 'cowgirl reverse' shot and the Super 8mm video camera transmitted a pixilated image of Lena speaking her lines onto the monitor. The picture was a little fuzzy. “Sharpen it a little,” Sherri ordered the crouching camerawoman. “Got it.” The camerawoman crystallized the focus with the deftness of a safecracker. Sherri prayed a technical failure would halt the filming, except the words, "Lights, camera, action" transported the crew and actresses into the magic world of movie-making. While the camera wasn’t 35mm and the budget was less than $20,000, every woman in the room regarded today’s film as a magic carpet to Hollywood, that most promised of Californian lands, and no one was refusing a shot at the silver screen matter how big or small the stage. Any god or goddess would have known the truth, that only the very lucky and the very good are blessed with such opportunities, although sometimes the very bad reached the Promised Land and one look through the viewfinder was proof that Lena de Gama was destined for that heaven, for the camera never lied about the truth.