Sunday, June 30, 2013

THE LAST GO-GO BOY by Peter Nolan Smith

Americans tend to judge the nation’s fiscal well-being by the rise and fall of the Dow Jones Index, even though Wall Street’s accumulation of wealth has destroyed the spending power of the middle-class. Next month’s bonuses for the hedge fund managers will not save a single consumer buried under debt, after which the corporations will trim benefits and wages to the bone to maximize profit.

Few employees protested the low payin fear of losing their jobs with good reason.

The nation's economy was in the shitter and I asked myself what jobs are available for a 60 year-old man.

Very few was the answer.

Years before I had been lucky that Manny reserved a place for me on West 47th Street, but this year has been the exception. Times were that tough in the Diamond District.

Early in December I flogged a gay writer's family heirlooms to a gold dealer in another exchange.

Later that evening at his East Village apartment I paid Bruce $4000 minus my commission.

"Now I can pay my health insurance." The heavyweight writer sighed with gratitude and invited me an Asian fusion restaurant on Avenue B. Every seat was crammed with young people enjoying the approach of the holidays.

“I never see anyone my age on the subway.” These go-getters were my competition for a subway seat in the morning. Thankfully none of them were ruthless enough to throw me under the train.

“Most men our age are retired.” Bruce's finger darted over the menu. His thinning hair was bleached blonde, so he resembled an aging beach bum. The waiter paid attention to his every word like he was a seeing-eye dog. Bruce was generous with young men.

"Or dead."

“You're not dying anytime soon."

"I'm too healthy for that." My health care plan was never get sick.

"Do you have a retirement plan?” Bruce was a world-known novelist. Critics had recognized his genius. Sales for his last book totaled a little over 2000, but he owned his apartment and in another year he would be old enough to receive Social Security.

“When I hit 70, I'm flying to Norway." I ordered oysters with seaweed noodles, plus a glass of wine. The thin waiter had to be 35 years younger than me. He wouldn't think of a 60 year-old man as middle-aged, but neo-senior.

"Norway?"

"Yes, I'm going to rob a bank with a gun, then they'll sentence me to 20 to life for armed robbery. I've seen photos of Norway's prison for violent offenders. The rooms have computers and are furnished by IKEA.

“Ten years from now the Norwegian prison officials will have instituted euthanasia for the elderly, so robbing a bank in Oslo is not really an option."

"You have any other suggestions?" Supporting my family in Thailand had wiped out my savings.

"Ever think about taking steel pole lessons from your stripper friends?"

"What for?"

"If you lost ten pounds, you could work as a go-go boy at a queer retirement home.” Bruce’s biting wit was best suited to attack rather than self-deprecation.

“Honey, those old wrinklies aren’t so particular about the weight. They like the young flesh.”

“A scary thought.” Just yesterday my Thai wife reminded me over the phone that I wasn’t 17 anymore. Mam was 28 and my son was four years-old. I couldn’t quit working until I was 78.

"Those old fags want someone young.” Bruce had written a book on the rough trade in Times Square. His tricks had called him Papi. None of them had been under 20 and he never sunk under 250 pounds.

“Those old queens in the nursing homes haven't seen anyone young as you in decades. You could charge the homes $100 a visit, which has to be more beneficial for the old geezers than any other medicine. And you could do lap dances.”

“Thanks for the idea, but I'd rather rob a cradle than a grave."

"Times change and people like you and me have to change with them, plus graves are richer pickings than a cradle. Hell, you could franchise the go-go scheme in Florida. How many retirement homes you think are in the Sunshine State? Thousands? There has to be a demand for middle-aged men from the elderly queers.”

“Supply and demand.”

“And who knows? You might be able to sex them up for a little more money on the side.” Bruce caressed the waiter’s behind. He was a regular here and the waiter smiled with the anticipation of good tip. Bruce liked to pay for sex even if it was merely a grope.

“No way. I barely wanted to have sex with myself let alone with someone else.”

“Why, because you think you're too good to have sex with someone older than you like me.” He frowned at this unintended insult. “What about the woman you had sex with in Palm Beach?"

"Helen?" The Palm Beach heiress had been unnaturally blonde and fashionably thin. We had been introduced by my longtime mistress at the Breakers four summers ago.

"That's the one. You said she was over 70.”

“Closing on 75.” Helen published several magazines extolling the good life on the Gold Coast. She had invited me to her house on Lake Worth. The fragrance of her garden had overwhelmed by the reefer she smoked in a diamond encrusted hand.
We spoke about sex. Helen knew the world; past, present, and future.

"She didn't seem old." The elegant septuagenarian spent part of the year at a Swiss clinic rejuvenating her aged body in Botox like it was fondue cheese.

"She had your number." Bruce was fascinated by my sordid encounter.

“How?"

"As I remember it, she said that she hadn’t had cock in her mouth in ten years. She had begged for it and you gave it to her like you were remaking SUNSET BOULEVARD.”

“It was a mercy mission.” I did look a little like William Holden in the shadows of her bedroom.

With the lights off, the curtains billowing with the evening breeze, and Helen wearing sheer lingerie and satin high heels, I imagined that she was Paris Hilton in the year 2040. On her knees the mirage had performed fellatio like she was entering the Porno Hall of Fame. Thankfully she had never said, “Ready for my scene, Mr. DeMille.”

Maybe the first time, but what about the second time?” Bruce sat back, as the waiter delivered our appetizers; fried calamari for him and raw bluepoints for me. “Gore Vidal said about orgies that once is experimentation, but twice is perversity.”

“The second time was because I was drunk.” Two bottles of wine and a joint had loosened by inhibitions and she had had her way with me. “There was no third time.”

"Only because you saw her with another man at the Chesterfield.”

“She was in the Leopard Lounge.” The other man had been in his late 60s. He had once been an Elvis impersonator. I felt cheap.

“And you heard her use that ‘haven’t tasted cock' line on him, so don’t tell me you can’t go-go boy anymore. We all have a price.”

“I’d rather rob a bank in Norway.” I sucked down an oyster tasting of the Atlantic.

“And end up a stick boy in a Viking prison.” Bruce was enjoying himself. "You don't look like you'd like being a bottom."

"Never." I never would be a bottom, except with my wife Mam. She got off better that way.

“You do what you have to do to survive. Believe me. I know.” He had taught creative writing at a Wyoming dude ranch college two years ago. He was lucky to have escaped the high plains without being charged for perversion.

“I know you do.” Bruce was forever broke same as everyone in America, but maybe Bruce was right and the only one way of finding out was by a repeat performance in Palm Beach.

We clinked glasses.

“To go-go boys.”

“And Florida.” I felt lucky as would anyone with high season only a month away from December.

Gay Pride Day

Today tens of millions of Americans celebrated Gay Pride Day across the country. New York City was the epicenter of the festivities, but the police presence on the streets reminded gays and lesbians and people of color that freedom can be given and freedom can be taken away.

"No amount of disco music, nor number of scantily clad boys can render the juxtaposition of this completely commercialized Pride event within the corralling barricades of a police state "gay." Jorge Socarres posted on Facebook and further excoriated the NYPD by writing, "NYC cops are so stupid - their barricades are creating dangerous bottleneck situations around huge, wide open closed off spaces - for no practical except control. Madrid takes in 2 million people for Pride, and nowhere do you see a barricade - the city becomes one great, unbroken celebration. Leave it to people who've survived fascism to know how to stay free."

The Gay Pride Parade has always been a spectacular out event, but the holiday commemorates the Stonewall Riots of 1969 during which the gay clientele of a Mafia bar resisted a police raid on a Christopher Street dance club in the early hours of June 28. Four undercover officers shouted, "Police! We're taking the place!"

There were about 200 men in the bar. They obeyed the cops for a half-hour before realizing that they had numbers on their side. A handcuffed bull dyke fought four cops singlehandedly, as they forced her into the paddy wagon. All hell broke loose in the next minutes with police cars getting their tires slashed and officers retreating under the hail of hurled bricks and coins. The drag queens fought the hardest. They had old scores to settle with the men in blue. Gays chased the cops for blocks. The streets were theirs.

Gay power came alive those nights and nothing the police, the church, the government, the right, the bible-belters, and all those against gays, lesbians, and drag queens have failed to put the Genie back in the bottle, although that doesn't keep them from trying.

Gay Power.

Now more than ever.

Enjoy, but never forget.

WE ARE FAMILY

donnie ward

philippe krouchey

steve brown

klaus nomi

philip brook

william lively

howie

andy reese

and my baby brother michael charles smith

as long as i live, you all live

Saturday, June 29, 2013

135 IN THE SHADE by Peter Nolan Smith

In late-July of 1975 Andy K and I left California on a cool morning. Our summer vacation had come to an end. We hitchhiked east from Pomona at the end of the Valley. Leaving LA wasn’t easy for long-hairs. The locals were the sons of Okie rednecks, but a young Mormon girl stopped at the Rancho Cucamonga on-ramp and drove her Monza convertible over the pass into the high desert. She was cute and played the new Joni Mitchell 8-track on the stereo. AK and I both wondered why we were leaving California.

She dropped us in Victorville. It was barely 10Am.

We had made good time and thought ourselves lucky until reaching the eastbound ramp. A long row of hippies stood by the arid curbside. 

Hitchhiking on the Interstate was illegal. The State troopers arrested anyone attempting to break the law. The fine was $50. I had almost $40 in my pocket. California cops didn’t bargain with hippies. AK and I took our place in the queue.

There wasn't a speck of shade in sight. Sand, weeds, and a dented guardrail decorated the scenery. Across the interstate was a gas station and a diner.

“What do you think?” AK asked with a canteen in hand.

“I think it doesn’t look good.” I sipped some water. It tasted of Pomona.

“We’ll have to go easy on this.” AK put away the canteen. We only had one.

After an hour a van picked up three hippies and six more joined the ranks of the stranded travelers. I walked down the line speaking to the other hitchhikers. None of them had anything good to say about this onramp. A New Orleans-bound couple were fortieth in the line-up. They had been on the ramp for 20 hours. Both of them were in the throes of cold turkey.

"15 hours?" I checked up the sky. There wasn't a cloud from horizon to horizon. The temperature was in the high 80s. By late afternoon it would be in the 100s.

"Some of it was night." The rail-thin girl wore a wife-brimmed hat, but her skin had been torched a torrid red. A merciless sun bounced off the black asphalt. 

We were six people behind them. AK and I were #47 and 48. I had been a math major my first years at university. One ride per hour meant that we wouldn’t get out of here for another two days.

"You two should split up. No one picks up two guys." Her strung-out old man had hair to his ass. The skinny girlfriend could have passed for his twin. They made a cute lesbian couple for anyone not looking too closely. 

"Except for perverts." His girlfriend was fuming mad, hungry for a fix. She wanted out of this desert  limbo.

"Yeah, I've had a couple of offers from some sick fucks."

"Wanted me to watch." Her face screwed up with disgust. Sex was as distasteful to junkies as it was to nuns.

"Nothing wrong with being queer." I danced with gays at the 1270 Club in Boston. They pawned me off to fag hags. It was a good deal for me. "Especially if it gets us out of here."

I tried to look bisexual. Andy didn't play that game and the cowboys weren't buying my solo act. The sun was fast approaching high noon. The temperature was in the high 80s.

By noon the sun would be melting the asphalt under our feet. A Greyhound bus exited from the Interstate and pulled into the forlorn gas station.

“Bus?” The heat had stolen AK’s tongue.

“Now?”

“Now.” AK and I grabbed our bags and ran across the cloverleaf to the diner. The Greyhound was billowing diesel fumes. Its driver was exiting from the station's diner. $8.50 bought escape for both of us. The two tickets were worth every penny. We sat in the back and stared out the window at the marooned hippies. Three minutes ago we had been them.

“Good move.” AK sucked down water from the canteen. He saved me half.

“You boys look hot.” An old black woman was peeling an orange.

“We were stuck back there for a few hours.” AK Wiped the sweat off his face.

“Hitchhiking?” She passed half the orange to us.

“Yep.”

“You’da have a lot more luck, if you cut your hair. You like girls and not pretty girls either.” The old black woman laughed with a simple wickedness, because she was telling the truth. “But these peckerwoods out here ain’t too particular about pretty.”

“Thanks.” It had been a long time since I had been called ‘ugly.

AK and I pored our the map, as the bus sped down I-10. The desert was even more desert. The window was warm to the touch, but the bus interior was ACed to Alaska. A few rangy cowboys and the old black woman got off in Barstow. She gave us each an orange. They were sweet and we sucked on the fruit as if we might not taste another for a long time.

The bus pulled out of Barstow. The driver announced that the next stop was Needles. It was a 170 mile ride.

Two and a half hours later the bus pulled into the desert town. I looked at the map. Needles was on the west bank of the Colorado River.

“The Joad family's first stop in THE GRAPES OF WRATH was Needles.” AK loved John Steinbeck. “They drove through the night to avoid the oppressive Arizona heat and they arrived here.”
“The California dream.” I looked out the window. Nobody was on the sidewalks. The heat was too much for man or beast. Needles was a funny place to enter paradise and not funny ha-ha.

“The beginning or the end.” AK held his bag in both hands. He didn’t want to get off the bus. AK had the money for a ticket to Boston. His eyes asked me what to do.

"You want to go, go." In this heat it was every man for himself. My lack of funds meant that Needles was the last stop for me.

"No, I'll stick with you."

"Really?" I would have bet my last money on his ditching out on me.

"Did you ever doubt I would?"

"Not for one second."

The bus braked at the small terminal and the driver announced a thirty-minute break.

We were the last passengers to exit from the bus. I stopped at the bottom of the steps for a second. A wall of heat stuck me and I thought that I had walked into the exhaust of a thousand buses, except our Greyhound was the only one in the sweltering parking lot. The other travelers hurried into the station. AK pushed me off the bus. The sun beat on my skin, as if its rays were ironing my flesh.

Needles was much worse than Victorville. My sandals sunk into the molten asphalt. Across the street a large thermometer displayed the temperature.

135F. 

"That can't be right." AK was gasping for breath. We were from the East Coast. New Englanders wilted whenever the mercury lifted north of 85.

"No one else is outside." I felt like I was breathing off the end of a hair-dryer.

The highway was in the distance. Cars and trucks sped through a shimmering mirage. It was less than a mile away. In this heat that walk was a test of survival. 

"There's a Dairy Queen." AK headed toward the promise of cold ice cream and AC. I followed the New Yorker without question. The heat was so dry that the sweat was seared off our skin. We ran across the parched grass verge. The time was 3pm. High noon lasted long in Needles.

Our entrance into the ice cream parlor was loud. Doors opened easy.

“Shut the damn doors.” The counterman shouted from the cash register. “I’m not cooling the outdoors.”

“Yes, sir,” I answered with respect, as AK shut the glass door. The other customers appreciated the gesture. They were farmers, teenage boys and girls. Hippies were not a common sight in the Mojave, but they directed their attention to spooning sundaes and floats into their mouths. The AC was 68. Everyone looked comfortable.

"Two vanilla ice cream sodas." My mother had given the sweet slurry of cold comfort to me when I had strep throat.

"I want chocolate." Andy stepped up to the counter. "Two too."

After the 3rd ice cream soda our core temperature had dropped to 98.6. 

"Is that thermometer right?" I asked an Okie rancher.

"Sun got to it. Ain't right by 15 degrees. Makes it 120. Hot, but ain't half as hot as July 2, 1967. That was 122. The two degrees don’t sound like much until you been in 122." He spoke with pride. Not many humans can handle that heat. "Felt like the Devil was burning my bones. You boys, headed east?"

He offered a ride to Topock. Some 20 miles from here. The other side of the Colorado. Okie was driving a Ford pick-up. His dog was in the front seat. 

"He don't mind the heat. Don't like strangers though. You gotta sit in the back."

At 3:22 the temperature was hovering at 110.

"We're ready when you're ready."

Needles was the type of town to suck a day from your travels. I had $33 in my pocket. I gave the driver two of them. Gas was 40 cents a gallon. He was grateful for the donation. Twenty minutes later he pulled off the highway. The town was two miles away. We were on the wrong side of the Colorado. The sun was four hours from setting. The only shade was a bullet-holed billboard some 300 feet off the highway.

I stuck out my thumbs. Cars and trucks were coming our way. I pretended to be Jack Kerouac's illegitimate son. He had to have one somewhere.

"Look like you're harmless." AK put on his best smile. The Berkeley School of Music graduate had perfect teeth and excelled at looking harmless. He pushed me to the side and the second car stopped for us.

“We’re out of here.”

The retired couple was heading for Kingman in their Delta 88.

“Nice car.” My father had a gray version.

“Good AC.” AK was settling into the leather seat. “Where you going?”

“Lake Haves. We used to be from Chicago, but the winters got too much for my bones.”

“Isn’t Lake Havasu where they put the London Bridge?” I had read about the move in LIFE magazine.

“Yes and no.” The husband was a full head of hair. He drove with both hands on the wheel. “The developer bought the old London Bridge, thinking it was the Tower Bridge.”

“But it wasn’t.” His white-haired wife had a pleasant chuckle.

“Still they reconstructed the London Bridge and people come from all around to see it.”

“Bridge doesn’t really go anywhere.” His wife shook her head.

“No, but it’s better than no bridge.” This sounded like a regular discussion between them. “I wish I hadn’t moved down here. It's cooler up in the high country. Sometimes down here my head feels hot enough to fry an egg on."

The driver might have said the line maybe 100 times. The punch line was funny to us, because we knew it was true.

“It isn’t this hot all the time.” The desert sun had leathered his wife's skin. Her silver-blonde hair was a homage to Dinah Shore. “We have grandchildren. They come and visit sometimes. That's why we picked you up."

"They're hippies too." The old man smiled in the rearview mirror. The two complimented each other. "There's lemonade in the cooler. Drink as much as you want."

There were four glass screw-top bottles. 

"Don't be shy." “Don’t be shy.” The driver floored the pedal. The big V8 ate up the road. The old man was in a hurry to get out of the heat. “Drink as much as you want. "Drink as much as you want."

Andy and I drained one each in thirty seconds.

We were safe from dehydration. We were leaving the frying pan. We both slept in the back seat.

The old couple pulled off the road at Kingman for the night. This town was mentioned in Chuck Berry's ROUTE 66.

“We’re staying here for the night.” The motor lodge offered rooms for $20. 

“We’ll keep on going.”

“I’d pay for a room.” The old man had a kind heart.

“No, thanks, we’ll be fine now we’re out of that furnace.”

We waved good-bye and stood on the remainder of old Route 66.

“I can’t believe two hours ago it was 135 in the shade.” The air at 3000 feet was cool relief and I stuck out my thumb.

“The thermometer was broken.” AK sat on the guard railing.

“It was still as hot as I’ve ever been.”

“You can say that again.”

I didn’t bother to repeat the obvious. The sun was setting in the pines and a semi was throttling its diesel engine on its way through Kingman. Wherever we would be tomorrow morning was a night away.

Mark Frechette ZABRISKIE POINT

"As you get old, you forget. As you get older you are forgotten." James Steele

Some of us never get to be old or even older, especially those doomed by the James Dean's curse 'live fast, die, and leave a good-looking corpse'.

Few men of the counter culture were as good-looking as Mark Frechette.

In 1968 Michelangelo Antonioni was searching for the male lead of his MGM film ZABRIKSIE POINT. A year had passed without finding the right actor, but casting director finally discovered Mark Frechette in Boston, while the handsome member of the Lyman family commune was having a shouting match with a man in a 3rd floor above a Charles Street bus stop.

"Motherfucker."

The casting director wrote to the director that he was 20 and he hates.

Seeing his photo Antonioni green-lighted the new-comer. Neither Mark nor his co-star Daria Halprin had any previous acting experience, for Antonioni was looking for the raw quality of rebellious youth. The filming of a fugitive gunman took place in Los Angeles and finished in Death Valley. Mark Frechette hated the the experience. He thought the Italian director to be a phony. On THE DICK CAVITT SHOW the high school drop-out tells the TV audience not to waste their money on the film, which was later listed as one of THE WORST FIFTY FILMS OF ALL TIME.

Frechette returned to the Fort Hill commune with Daria Halprin and the $60,000. The lovely Halprin fled Boston to later marry Dennis Hopper, but Mark remained true to the guru, Mel Lyman, and attempted a bank robbery with two friends in 1972. His accomplice was shot at the scene of the crime. Mark Frechette had a gun without bullets.

"There was no way to stop what was going to happen. We just reached the point where all that the three of us really wanted to do was hold up a bank. It would be like a direct attack on everything that is choking this country to death."

He was sentenced to 6-15 years, however the movie star died in a prison weight-lifting accident according to the prison officials.

Damn, he was good-looking.

And that I don't forget.

To see how handsome please go to this URL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jyzFfrtLRk&feature=related

Death Valley Hot

A long heat wave covers the West and the weathermen are predicting that the temperature in Death Valley might hit 130 this weekend, approaching its all-time record of 134 degrees set a hundred years ago. This reading is reputed to be the highest recorded on Earth. Flat Earthers dispute the heat wave's proof of Global Warming. "It's summer in the desert." "They don't call it Death Valley for nothing." "This is a dry heat." For me hot is hot and at 134 in the shade it feels like the sun is ironing your skin. Drink liquids, don't move, and stay in the shade. I'm doing that in New York with a lovely can of 'Gansetts. It's New England's beer.

In Honor of Lassitude

Back in 2008 the BBC broadcast a story about a Bogota Museum honoring laziness with a week-long exhibition dedicated to a deeper understanding of lethargy.

At last lassitude has achieved respect by intellectuals who too often have downplayed its importance to human existence. 

Throughout the 80s and 90s my Sundays were devoted to ruminating before the TV, taking long baths, avoiding conversations, and finally watching Star Trek, while having a plate of General Tsao's Chicken from the local Chinese take-out.

My girlfriend, Ms. Carolina, called this day 'the incommunicado Shabbath'.

In fact the only person to whom I spoke was the six-fingered Chinese deliveryman.

"$4.75."

"Keep a dollar tip."

The door shut and I resumed doing nothing, while the rest of New York returned home tuckered out from a day at the museums, movies, or brunches.

As a child my father couldn't stand idle hands and scheduled a slurry of chores for the Lord's Day; mowing the lawn, sweeping out the garage, weeding the flower beds.

There was no TV, until you were finished, but he also said, "If you aren't going to do a job right, then there's no reason to do it."

I must have been 10 when I tested his saying.

One Sunday he entered the TV den to find me watching the movie SINBAD.

"Are your chores done?"

"I didn't think I could do a good job, so I stopped."

What could I have been thinking?

My argument for laziness earned a month of no TV.

I didn't get a mention at the Bogata museum and neither did the Thais, who are perennial Olympic contenders for the gold medal in lassitude in the eyes of farangs, who don't lift a finger in hard labor. Thai workers labor 6 days a week for less than $10 a day.

I work at a metal shop.

Every week I carry tons of brass and steel.

I know tired same as the Thai workers.

All you want to do after a long day is drink a beer and lay down for the count.

Today I am at rest.

It's a natural state in the universe and farangs can go fuck themselves on our off days.

Bad Grass

Stephane was cutting the red grass from his field in France and posted this photo on FB. "Countryside removing the bad grass." The picture reminded me that as a child my father had my older brother and I hand-pluck the weeds from our backyard in the Blue Hills. We were too young to use sharp implements. It was a thankless job, especially since many of the 'weeds' were wild flowers of New England. All to make more lawn, so we could mow the grass. Free the weeds.

Friday, June 28, 2013

находиться or Limbo in Moscow Aeroport

Edward Snowden fled the USA with the NSA on his tail for informing the Guardian newspaper that the clandestine agency was illegally spying on millions upon million of American citizens. This breach of constitutional rights by the government was greeted with yawns and 'so whats' by the dazed public, however the Obama administration sought to extradite the former CIA employee from China. Mr. Snowdon left Hong Kong for Moscow, hoping to catch a flight to Ecuador. The White House has threatened the South American democracy with onerous sanctions, if the fugitive is permitted to enter that nation, and revoked the young man's passport.

The man without a country has been stuck at Moscow aeroport most of this week without any indication from the Russian authorities as to a departure date or destination.

His father has asked his son to return.

Don't do it, dude.

As Don Corleone told his son in THE GODFATHER, "When they come for you, it will be someone close."

Or something like that.

Then again his son doesn't want to stay in Russia.

Those motherfuckers play tough and limbo can become hell.

Of course there's nothing wrong with living in an airport.

Tom Hanks' character in THE TERMINAL seems to have thrived at JFK, but I got stuck at the old Moscow in 1994 during an Aeroflot from Kuala Lumpur to Karachi to Dubai to Moscow. My final stop was Paris.

The flight to Moscow took about 24 hours.

None of them on the 350-seater Ilyushin Il-86 were comfortable. The seats were back-breakers, the air-conditioning produced a thick fog, the food service was cut to starvation rations, and the flight crew disappeared after each take-off.

On the Dubai stop a young Norwegian couple and I bought wine and food for the next leg.

The stewardesses ignored us and every other passenger.

Ten hours later I disembarked at Moscow to discover my connecting flight to Charles De Gaulle had been cancelled and another plane wasn't taking off until the next morning.

The two Norwegians were in a similar predicament.

It was only 10PM but nothing was open and there was no place to sleep, however the Norwegians had two bottles of wine. I had two as well. We drank them within two hours, then wandered the terminal for more alcohol. Stateless transients were huddled in makeshift cardboard villages and one Afghani sold us a bottle of homemade vodka. The liter took a long time to drink. Several Russians joined us. They had their own brew. It burnt a hole in my stomach. I started to think that I would be there forever, however the long drinking session ended with the announcement of the imminent departure of the Moscow-Paris flight.

The Norwegians carried me to the plane. I was in no condition to be near heavy equipment and bounced down the aisle. Every passenger prayed that I wouldn’t sit next to them. I found an empty row and passed out within seconds of clicking shut my seatbelt.

Several hours later at Charles De Gaulle I woke up still drunk but happy to have escape from Moscow Airport. =

We’re starting to have a relationship.

Man and airport.

I'm sure that Mr. Snowdon is feeling the same way.

Hung over in limbo.

Punch Buggy by Bryan DeBouef

New painting from the one-time Lousiana rodeo boy. I like living artists. To see his other works, please visit his website. http://www.bryanleboeuf.com/

Pablo Picasso Was Never An Asshole

Pablo Picasso’s career spanned decades, highlighted by GUERNICA depicting the fascist bombing of the Basque city.

I saw the anti-war painting once.

Maybe at the Modern Art Museum in New York.

His ‘blue’ period painting were easier to hang on a wall than his Goya knock-off, but I'd love an Picasso, for the only piece of art in my possession was a dubious drawing of Jean-Michel Basquiat, but I do have Jonathan Richman’s PABLO PICASSO on CD.

“Pablo Picasso was never an asshole.”

In 2011 ninety-nine paintings and prints went on view at Larry Gagosian gallery. The queue numbered in the hundreds. The sidewalk was slick with a cold rain. I walked up to the front door. The guest list madame asked for my name.

“James Steele. Dublin. I’m not on the list. I never am.”

She regarded my attire.

A ten year-old Calvin Klein suit and a shirt tailored in Bangkok with an English tie.

“Let him in.” She motioned to the security guard.

“Thanks.”

I entered the art hangar. People greeted each other with old embraces. I spotted LR. She saves paintings. Her brother Danny was a fisherman and we had once shared a girlfriend.

“What do you think about the paintings?” the art restorer asked looking over my shoulder at the entrance. She was expecting friends.

“Haven’t seen any yet.” I knew nothing about this exhibit, having been invited by the lustrous Adrian Dannett, interlocutor extraordinaire to the Ignorattti.

“These predate his death in 1973.” She pointed to the paintings on the wall. The style was recognizably Picasso, almost as if he had devoted the last years of his life to huffing glue.

"Nice." I wandered around the gallery without finding a single painting to hang on the walls of my Fort Green Observatory. A few of the drawings were acceptable, but I’m happier with my little Basquiat drawing, which he had done a month before his death.

Three-Ear-Cat.

I love it, then again Jean-Michel was never an asshole either.

To hear PABLO PICASSO WAS NOT AN ASSHOLE, please go to the following URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k43XjuhInkU

I’ll never understand why this song never hit it big on the Christian radio stations.

Picasso's Baby Paintings


My father and mother took their children to Pablo Picasso paintings during the 60s. My father inspected one drawing and said that I was as skilled as the Spaniard. My grammar school war paintings had won honorary mention at the diocesan art show in 1964. Picasso at that age was studying figure drawing and oil painting with his father, who believed in traditional forms of art and his son honored his father by painting, as if he were a child.

Most of those childhood paintings were lost during the Civil War, but when I moved to Europe in 2011 I decided to hunt the lost collection of childhood Picasso. They had to be worth millions. I had no luck, but a New Jersey man wandered into a San Francisco gallery and clipped a drawing off the wall. The police caught the thief thanks to a video camera.

The 1965 drawing titled "Tete de Femme" looks like it could have been done by a child on LSD, then again that was Picasso's gift. To be a man yet a child.

His baby finger-paintings have to be somewhere and somewhere was a place I usually find myself if I'm not careful.

Picasso No Sale

Over the last few years Richie Boy has sold a Mr. Dithers a few diamonds with hopes of scoring big with the Washingtonian financier. I became friends with Dithers after he learned that I knew Jean-Michel Basquiat. I recounted about having my girlfriend erase his painting from my refrigerator. "I wasn't the only one to do something stupid." An art restorer had given a Basquiat to her new boyfriend as a birthday present. They broke up shortly thereafter. I didn't tell Dithers this tale. The New York art scene is very small. Over the past three years Dithers and I have collaborated on attempted sales of an antique Roman bust and a Claudio Bravo without success. Mr. Dithers is no salesman and I doubted whether he had real control over either piece. Upon hearing this Spring that I was looking for a Picasso in the $15 million range, Dithers surprised me by coming up with a cubist painting from the 50s. "Its owner are Italian and need money." "Everyone in Italy needs money." "Same as us." The portrait's provenance had an impeccable lineage and Vonelli, my London client was eager to buy it, however Dithers had trouble producing the painting. "The couple want to see the results of the auctions," explained Dithers. "That's not good news." The hammer would only increase the price and cut into my commission. "We'll see what happens." Dithers cautioned for patience, however nothing did happen and this week I discovered the reason upon reading a BBC online article about the US government blocking the sale of a more expensive painting owned by an Italian couple who had been charged with embezzlement of millions of Euros from the city of Naples. "Is this the same couple?" "Maybe." Dithers wasn't saying yes or no over the phone. "Then it's another dead deal." I had thought the same since early May. That evening I phoned Vonelli and told him the news. "Well, that's good luck I didn't buy it." "How so?" "You'd have to get me my money and the FBI aren't into refunds." "I certainly don't want to speak with them." "None of us do." Vonelli hung up. He was on his way to his summer house in Belgium. I had hoped for the Picasso commish to buy a ticket to Thailand. My kids miss me. Something has to happen soon. It always does.

Atomic Bloom

Last Sunday I bicycled from Fort Greene to Bushwick Avenue. Jane Dickson was displaying a sparse mirrored mural of mythical rock bands at the Silent Barn Gallery. The neighborhood was hard-core without any signs of encroachment from the art phenomena farther to the north. I locked my bike to a gate and hoped for the best. Jane's work was hung on a brick wall. My favorite faux-band was THE DUH. Jane greeted friends and admirers. Her work on Times Square, Las Vegas, carnivals and commercial strip malls are well-loved by a large segment of New York and the world. Jane introduced me to people as a great writer. She is planning on using text from my unpublished punk novel MAYBE TOMORROW to add flavor to an upcoming show about Times Square. I had drank heavily the previous night and on Monday hard work was scheduled for the metal shop in Greenpoint. As I said my good-bye, Kenny Scharf showed up at the gallery. I introduced myself and he reacted as if I had been revived from the dead. I said nothing. Some people think I've died, while others are surprised by my appearance. I'm not the man I used to be. Kenny was railing against the radiation plume spreading from the damaged Fukushima reactor in Japan. "The radiation is entering the food chain of the West Coast. My daughter was told to eat sea kelp for iodine, but the seaweed comes from the Pacific. They're doomed out there." "I went through Japan after the quake. No one was traveling there." Narita had been empty. "The Japanese are safer than us, because the wind is blowing the radiation across the ocean." He was right and I thought about the gigantic plastic trash ball floating in the Northern Pacific. It was the perfect breeding ground for a Godzilla-type monster. Kenny invited Jane and me to a disco near his studio. "It starts at 12 and goes till 4." "Sounds like fun." Ten years ago I might have gone, but those hours are deep in my bedtime. I departed from the gallery and unlocked my bike. There was no sign of tampering. My ride back to Fort Greene took thirty minutes. The sky glowed with a pale blue. The color had nothing to do with radiation. At least not yet.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

THRILLS at Smart Clothes Gallery featuring Jane Dickson

THRILLS June 26 – July 28, 2013 FEATURING JANE DICKSON, LAWRENCE BERZON, CHARLES DENSON, RICHARD EAGEN, HAZEL HANKIN, MARC KEHOE, PHILOMENA MARANO, & MARIE ROBERTS Reception for the artists Wednesday June 26, 6-9pm @ Smart Clothes Gallery,154 Stanton Street, NY, NY 10002 I'm going to see Jane Dickson's work. See you there.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

THE REACH OF JOCKO by Peter Nolan Smith

Four years ago Michael Jackson was found dead in the bed of a rented mansion in LA.

Millions of Jocko's fans around the globe deposited flowers before US embassies and consulates to mourn the superstar's passing.

I was in Thailand.

I saw a Thai cop cry.

My younger friends in New York reported that on the night of his death club-goers danced to a cascade of Michael Jackson hits from the Motown years to his CDs of the 21st Century.

THRILLER was his Mount Everest and this hit-spawning monster sold over 100 million albums. Its epic success earned Michael Jackson worldwide recognition, although I never understood how deeply his influence had penetrated the masses, until I was crossing Sulawesi’s Lake Poso in 1992 in the middle of the night. Most of the passengers were Indonesian, although one German woman was traveling on her own. Her name was Ulrike.

The long prau motored close to the shore of the 1500-meter high lake.

Around midnight rising winds forced a stop at a remote village. The hamlet had no electricity. The locals cooked food by fire. They lived in wooden shacks, A young boy strummed Indonesian love songs on his guitar.

Somehow my conversation with Ulrike turned to Michael Jackson.

“I danced to Michael at many nightclubs.” The DJs at Studio 54, the Bains-Douches, and Mudd Club loved THRILLER.

“Michael Jackon is #1.” Ulrike was clearly a big fan.

“For dance music, yes, but you can’t play one of his songs around a campfire."

"What about BEN?"

"A song about a rat, no way."

A young boy picked up a guitar. He sat by the fire. His fingers plucked notes.

They came from BEN.

“Fire, Michael Jackson. Song.” Ulrike was keeping her argument simple.

"Okay. One song, but none of the others can be sung around this fire."

The young guitarist glared at me and played a slow version of BEAT IT.

We were halfway around the world from Neverland without a radio or TV. Jocko’s songs had reached these people on Lake Poso. His mother placed a log on the fire and the flames rose higher, as everyone gathered around the fire to sing the chorus.

We all knew the words.

I sang with Ulrike. We sang with everyone around the fire. The world was small. Michael Jackson was big.

"So?" asked Ulrike.

"I was wrong."

"And you were right to admit it."

Ulrike was right. The boy was right. I was right too, because it doesn't matter whether you're white or black.

Michael Jackson was the King of Pop.

Then, now, and forever.

From the North Pole to the South Pole.

BEAT IT

To hear BEAT IT please go to the following URL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6B2wtC91_0U

Photo-Shopping Ads

Somehow I get the feeling that the Belfast City Council didn't approve this ad. Poo throwing. A danger for all ages. The real message pre-photo-shopping was the following; “When we asked people why they didn't put their litter in the bin, the most common excuse was 'I can't be bothered' or 'I couldn't find a bin'. But there is no excuse for not binning your litter. For those who don't want to change their behavior, they can look forward to a £50 on-the-spot fine. Last year we issued nearly two thousand £50 fines to litterers across the city.” Personally I prefer poo-throwing.

Bad Day

The End Of Ice

Last night I came home to listen to the Bruins-Blackhawks Stanley Cup game on WBZ. My other choice was to view the sixth game at my local sports bar Mullanes, but I was exhausted after a long day of swinging a sledge hammer. Accompanied to bed by a 'Gansett beer, I heard the game seesaw from 1-0 to 1-1 and then 2-1 in the Bruins favor in the last minutes of the 3rd period. Winter seemed destined to last another day, however the Blackhawks pulled their goalie and evened up the match and 17 seconds later score the game-winner before a stunned TD Garden. Ice melted everywhere across the Western Hemisphere and summer came to me with the smell of honeysuckle in the air. It's a nice smell.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Last Nights Of Winter

Tonight the Boston Bruins face off against the Chicago Blackhawks in my old hometown. The Bs are down 3-2 against the visitors. I want a seventh game and winter to last two more days. The ice is soft at the Garden. It's not Boston Garden, but it's Stanley Cup hockey and I can only shout one thing. GO BRUINS.

BLISSFUL IGNORANCE by Peter Nolan Smith


Throughout history the husband has been the last to know and this truth holds true to course in Pattaya, the Last Babylon. Most farang men come for sex and it doesn't take long for them to fall in love with a bargirl or go-go dancer. These novices tell their friends that their girls is different from all the other girls in Sin City.

They are sadly wrong, for Thai women have histories and these stories include old boyfriends from near and far. Plan B and C and D are somewhere in the distance and infidelity are a plane or bus ride away Plan A's failure.

Sex means nothing.

Security is everything.

Unfaithfulness in Pattaya is a given. Nights out have a 100% success ratio, but Thai bargirls have an extensive spy network designed to GPS their 'man' within seconds of his contemplating sex with another woman. The NSA and MI5 are pikers in comparison to the tracking capability of a bargirl.

On the other hand farangs operate in the dark about their loving tee-lat's Thai cousins and farang 'friends'. Ignorance is so very bliss and men are better off not knowing the truth for it will not set them free.

Last year an Aussie friend of mine spotted another mate's girlfriend entering a hotel with a farang.

There was no mistaking the purpose.

"What should I do?" Alex asked me at the Welkom Inn. He was an accountant from Sydney. Numbers added up to sums. His love of math forced him to be honest.

"Do nothing." This was my standard advice for almost every situation. Doing something tends to open a can of worms.

"But he"s my mate."

"You drink with him and play golf with him every Monday. You tell him about his girlfriend and all that changes."

"I'd want someone to tell me." Alex was recovering from a bad divorce. His wife had left him for his best friend. He was the last to know, because he chose to be blind to the truth.

"No, you wouldn't. I'll ask you one question. Is your friend happy?"

"Yes, but what does that have to do with it?" Accountants have trouble being human.

"Happiness is the rarest commodity in the universe. Leave it alone. It's his business and not yours."

"I'll think about it."

"Do that." I could tell Alex had no intentions of heeding my suggestion and a week later he entered the Welkom Inn with a black eye.

"Let me guess. You told your friend about his girlfriend?"

"Yes."

"And?" I would have bet the house on what he was about to say.

"I told him what I saw and my friend confronted his girlfriend. She said that I had asked her to sleep with him and was telling a lie to get even with her. The next time we met for playing golf, he punched me on the 1st hole."

"And he never wants to see you again?"

"Something like that."

"So I was right." There is something very satisfactory in saying 'I told you so.'

"I did the right thing."

"Yeah, I can see that." I got up from my stool and went outside to speak with Fabo, who had arrived in Pattaya that afternoon after a month off-shore of Greenland. No drinking for 30 days and the young Belgian was ready for a case of Heineken. I told the seismic engineer about Alex and Fabo laughed with a sneer.

"If you see ever see my Poo with another man, ferme ta guele."

"Silence is golden." Keeping your trap shut was a blessing for all concerned parties.

Our bottles clinked together in agreement.

We were two happy fools and neither of us would have it any other way.

You Dirty Rat

James Cagney's character never sat 'you dirty rat' in BLONDE CRAZY. The actual words were "Mmm, that dirty, double-crossin' rat." Close enough for me, for I was raised to regard any fink as a rat by the Bowery Boys and gangster movies. Everyone hated a snitch, but that never stopped the class squealer from telling the nuns who was bad in their absence. We despised rats, but everyone Judases out for the right price. These past weeks infamous South Boston gangster Whitey Bulger has been on trial for nineteen murders and a major thrust of his defense has been denying the accusation of being an informant, despite a detailed testimony of an FBI agent recounting his snitching out various gangsters for murder, while killing his opponents without any interference or investigations by the Law. He was their Man and the partnership was a good for both sides until it wasn't good, then Whitey was given a phone to change his name. Aliases were second nature to Bulger and he disappeared from Boston until now. In Massachusetts there is no death penalty, but he murdered Deborah Hussey and she was family. He deserves to burn. The dirty rat.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Now World

Skateboarding never gets old.

Skateboard Zepher Vixen

Beers included.

NO FOOL LIKE AN OLD FOOL by Peter Nolan Smith


Outside the Pattaya Tai Big C Shopping Center there was a skateboard club. Some Thai kids tested out tricks on rails and ramps. Some were good. I tried a few moves to be surprised by an unintentional wheelie by putting too much weight on my back foot. The Thai kids applauded my move and I handed back the skateboard, happy not to have taken a fall.

Making contact with hard objects can be quite painful, since I was closet to 80 than 20.

But I started thinking. “I’m not that old. I can still grind.”

Royal Garden had a few boards; 600 baht and 4000 baht.

I bought the cheap version and practiced on my street. My daughter liked being pushed on the skateboard. It was harmless fun, until one day I was watching the Winter Olympics. It’s been years since I skied and I thought skateboarding down a hill might satisfy my downhill needs.

I mentioned to my ex-wife that I wanted to skateboard down Jomtien Hill.

She asked, “How old are you? I know the answer. Do you?”

“It’ll be fine. I’ll wear a helmet and go in the new park. You’ll ride behind me so no one will run me over.” Thais have a finely honed disregard for pedestrians and it’s always open season on fallen farangs.

“Bah.” She thought I was crazy, but realized it was my own life. “Som nam nah.”

We drove over to the new park and I got out of the car. The road was smooth. The high speed descent might rival the thrill of skiing. I wore a helmet for protection and flip-flops on my feet.

Sneakers would have been a better idea, but I wasn't planning on creaking the speed limit.

“Sure you want do this?” My wife wouldn’t think me any worse for backing out.

“Yes, I’m fine.” I signaled I was ready. My daughter was in the car too.

I got on the board and pushed off.

I picked up speed.

I was soon rolling at 20 kph, then 30.

I was out of control and deboarded in a panic.

My flip-flops failed the test of hitting the ground running.

Two steps and face plant.

My helmet thunked the pavement and my shoulder crumbled under the weight of a man's middle-aged body. I got up slowly. Nothing was broken, but my cellphone was squashed in my pocket.

3500 baht down the hole.

I had plenty of cuts and bruises and blood seeped from open wounds.

My daughter cried thinking that I had really hurt myself.

In fact Angie was right and for the next two weeks I felt like John Gotti’s Mafia collection agency had beaten me with a baseball bat.

Pain was a way of letting your body was not yet dead.

Then remind you of your age by not letting you heal quickly.

Snow was definitely softer than the street.

Everyone in Pattaya upon hearing this story asked the same thing, “How old are you?”

I think I’m 25 but act 15 sometimes.

My friend Jocko Weyland was a well-known skateboarder. He wrote a history of the sport THE ANSWER IS NEVER. Jocko considered my effort commendable.

“Dude.”

So I was a dude to one person in the world.

Better than none, although three months after the crash I’m still sleeping on my right side and the skateboard is gathering a fine veneer of dust.

“How old?”

VERY OLD, but still young at heart. In other words stupid too.

Tardy No More


School's out for summer. The yellow school bus has been retired for the off-season, however come the fall the American icon will serve cities, suburbs, and rural communities from Alaska to Florida.

Type C has been very popular with most school boards with its no frill seating to deliver ninety little bodies with year-round dependability.

My perfect attendance awards of 1962 through 1965 were as much a testament to the Bluebird bus as my good health.

"You're not sick unless you're bleeding." My mother liked to say whenever her children ran a temperature. There were six of us. She liked us out of the house.

Ken Kesey,author of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, painted a school bus in psychedelic color swirls for a trans-America voyage famousized by Tom Wolfe's THE ELECTRIC KOOLAID ACID TEST. Thousands of noble school bus underwent similar transformations.

Hitchhiking I was picked up by several in the early 70s.

Hippie chicks, lice-ridden mattress, weed, and a slow ride.

I might have even dropped acid on one. That would have been nice.

The 1973 Gas Crisis harpooned these LSD land cruisers into extinction, however the yellow school bus survived in the real world.

They still transport millions of school children to their destination.

A shitty school where they'll get bullied by fellow students and berated by ignorant teachers.

Evel Knievel once almost cleared 14 school buses.

Crash 101 was his first class that day.

Now a car fanatic has outfitted a school bus with a Phantom jet engine.

The top speed.

Over 300.

Really good on those cornfield straightaways in the fly-ver

For a view of a fast school bus please go to this URL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dU8zbLdUqAQ

Flying Down the Highway 1972


In the summer of 1972 my friend Peter Gore and I hitchhiked from Boston to San Francisco. Both of us were longhairs. Rides came fast and ne driver had a Super B. Lucky drove 110mph from Omaha to Reno. Lucky dropped at the foothills of the Sierras. We stood on the highway for thirty minutes.

A Riviera stopped on the shoulder.

The occupants were four elderly convicts just out of prison. They were drinking whiskey. It was noon and the temperature was 100 degrees. Peter wasn't too keen on taking this ride, but the wizened driver asked, "Can you drive us into Frisco. I got me a girl there."

"No problem." Their ride was a brand-new Riviera. V-8 metallic red with a white hardtop. I liked fast cars.

Peter sat in back and I took the wheel to drive about 110 through the mountains. The old-age convicts gulped down that first bottle and sucked down a second. The windows were open to the wind and their skin was stained with salty perspiration.

Slightly outside of San Francisco one of the reformed prisoners said that he wanted to drive.

"Fine."

I pulled into a Phillips 66 and we got out of the car.

"Ain't you coming with us?" He was in no condition to drive.

"I don't think you should drive."

"And why not?"

"Because you've been drinking." I wasn't throwing a stone. I like my drink too.

"What you know about drinking and driving?" He slipped into the car and held the steering wheel with shaking hands. "See you later, suckers."

The Riviera pulled out of the gas station.

"I'm glad to be out of that car." It had been a long ride for Peter.

""We too." I pointed to the Riviera, which was stopped before the road. The reverse taillights came on and the car backed into the gas station past us and rolled over the gas pumps. They exploded, engulfing the car with flames. The convicts were struggling to get out of the fire trap.

Peter and I pulled them out one by one, as the station attendant doused the fire with an extinguisher.

"Why you leave the car in reverse?" The driver asked with a tongue thickened by whiskey.

"Me?" I stepped up to him. He might have been a convict, but I was younger by a good 30 years. "I didn't do nothing wrong."

A state trooper pulled into the gas station.

The convict told him his side, blaming me. My version was more believable, for the cop came over to me after his radio call and said, "That car is stolen. Best you go unless you want to spend more time with your friends."

"We're going." Peter picked up his bag and we went over to the highway.

A hippie gave us a ride ten minutes later.

Our trip from coast to coast took us 47 hours hours. It could have taken a lifetime if it wasn't for the cop. We were three years late for Frisco's summer of live. Groovy times was gone, but that night we crashed in a pseudo-guru's flat.

It was very groovy to be off the road.

Safe and sound.

Danger On The Road

An old urban legend purported that in 1895 the only two automobiles in Ohio had an accident. Snopes.com investigated the story without finding any evidence of said accident, however in May 1896 a NYC motorist struck a bicyclist. According to Snopes.com the rider suffered a broken leg, the driver of the Duyrea spent a night in jail for the nation's first traffic accident. Over a century has passed since that day and people still have fatal accidents with cars. China, India, Russia, and the USA lead the way with the leading causes of accidents being texting, drinking, and road rage. In the United Arab Emirates city of Abu Dhabi, a three-day Blackberry phone outage coincided with a 40 percent drop in traffic accidents. Coming from Boston I have endured accusations from non-New Englanders that the Bean Town is the most dangerous driving city in the USA. I personally favor Williamsburg with its high Hassidic population, for the yidlocks are notorious for ignoring everything other than the Torah. Haiti is considered the most deadly nation in the Western Hemisphere, although the odds of dying in a crash in Dominican Republic is ten times worse than its western neighbor. Thailand wins that honor in Asia thanks to the truth of an old joke. "How many Thais can fit on a motorcycle? "One more." Iceland is the safest. Only because the ancestors of the Vikings get so drunk that they can't drive. A good thing for Iceland, because they have only three roads. And I have no car making the New York, the USA, and the world a much safer place.

Monday, June 17, 2013

All Ears

According to Wikipedia the National Security Agency is a cryptologic intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the collection and analysis of foreign communications and foreign signals intelligence. The NSA employs 40,000 people at various locations and its annual budget is a secret, although intelligence analysts have estimated the per annum outlay at $10 billion plus. The NSA has excelled at maintaining at low profile since its creation in 1949, although the agency's mission was expanded after 9/11 to include illegal wire taps under GW Bush and data-mining through its PRISM project. Criticism against War on Terrorism has been considered treason by most Americans and the government has vigorously punished or minimize whistle-blowers and reporters endangering the NSA's veil of secrecy. Early this month The Guardian published accusations from Edward Snowden, a Central Intelligence Agency employee who worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, that the NSA had ordered various telecommunication companies in the USA to provide data for all telephone calls within the United States, including local telephone calls” and all calls made “between the United States and abroad.” I make approximately twenty calls a day. There are over 300 million phones in America, meaning that the NSA processes six billion calls per day along with 1.7 billion e-mails. In 2012 NSA employees dealt with over trillion calls, which I have calculated to be a 2.5 billion calls each year. Massive supercomputers assist the harried intelligence operatives, but I suspect that millions of calls are dumped into delete files much like the post office employee dumped junk mail in the trash. Even worse was the report from the BBC that the billions of dollars spent on PRISM ended up revealing information on fewer than 300 phone number in 2012, meaning that the PRISM program is another cash cow for the military-industrial complex and its effectiveness is as meaningful as catapulting every elephant in the world to kill a single mouse. The NSA refutes the worthlessness of data-mining by arguing that "dozens of potential terrorist plots here in the homeland and in more than 20 countries around the world". The NSA provided no details, donning their cloak on secrecy, proving the best secrets are those that aren't really secrets. Mumble, my fellow Americans and strutters have a party. The NSA knows nothing. And Eric Snowden knew that. He has now vanished from Hong Kong. And there are plenty of

Father's Son

Franka played baseball in our hometown on the South Shore. His father worked in Boston. Franka asked our father to drive Franka to the games. My old man got him back and forth without a problem. He was a good man as was his grandson. Franka is on his way to LA to try his hand at being a TV writer. In CATCHER IN THE RYE Holden Caulfield accused his older brother DB of being a prostitute for writing in Hollywood. It was a cold thing to say. Especially from a runaway boy.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

EVERYWHERE by Peter Nolan Smith

My older brother and I went everywhere with our parents. We drove from Hingham to Maine, Watchic Pond to Boston, Falmouth Foresides to the South Shore. There were thousands of trips with my mother and father. Nowadays Frunk and I live far apart. We haven't been in a car together for over ten years, but we speak several times a month and this afternoon I phoned Frunk to wish him a Happy Father's Day. "Happy? You know what I did this weekend?" "I spoke with your son." Franka was moving from Philadelphia to Boston before hitting the road to LA. He wanted to be a TV writer. "Friday night I drove down to Phillie. I loaded the U-Haul truck with Franka's things. We left at 5. I got home around midnight." Frunka's house was on a hill above the Neponset River. The old mansion was ten times larger than my apartment in Fort Greene. "And you dropped off the truck in the morning?" I had called his son on Friday. I could have gone to help, instead last night I lay in bed listening to the Stanley Cup finals on WBZ. Their announcers painted better picture than the TV guys. "No such luck. We unloaded most of his things on the Cape. I'm just entering the U-Haul parking lot to drop off the truck and then I'm going to the house here before driving to Boston in the morning, so ask me how my weekend was?" "The Bruins won by a goal in overtime." I was deflecting his slapshot question. "I listened to it on the radio in the truck." More than likely on I95. "Did you drive alone?" It was a silly question. "My wife and son were in the Lexus." Frunka was a lawyer. He had settled a good case in April. The car was a birthday present to himself. He deserved it. "At least you had peace and quiet." Marshall McLuhan had said that driving a car was one of the few times man was alone in the modern age. "No, they called me every five minutes to ask where we were." "Nice." I was really happy I hadn't helped him. "How was your Father's Day?" "I'm drinking a beer. "Paradise." "Hope you get there soon." "Not a chance. I'm taking my son out to dinner, so all I'll get for Father's Day is another bill." "It goes with the territory." Tomorrow I was sending money to Fenway in Thailand. His teeth are rotting fast and he's only five years-old. I love my son. "I can't wait for a client to ask how was my weekend." "I bet you can't." Telling him that I was about to take a hot bath was too cruel and drink another beer while listening to acid rock from the 60s was too cruel, but Franka was with his son Frunka. I wished him a good night and hung up. I was alone in Fort Greene. Fenway was on the other side of the world. My everywheres have shrunk to one place and I'll get to that everywhere one day. Sooner hopefully more than later.

Father's Day Gift

My father came around the world to see me and Angie in Thailand. Most of the time he had no idea where he was. It was the start of his decline. He was the father a son could have. He will always be in the here-now with the love I carry for him into the here-to-come.

BACKWARD ON ICE by Peter Nolan Smith

Last night the Bruins overcame a horrible 1st period to tie the Blackhawks and force another sudden death overtime. This time the flow of time was in the Bruins' favor and Paille scored the game winner. Game 3 will be in Boston. I love hockey. Several years ago I beat my cousin Oil Can on his $15,000 table hockey game at his house on the North Shore. 4-3 with a stomping on decider. "I'd like to see you do that on ice." Oil Can wasn't a sore loser, but he had lost four games at home. His son was disappointed since Harrison had been working hard to be the first person to beat his father. "I'd be lucky to score a goal." I was useless on skates. "It'd be a four-game sweep with each one a shut-out." Oil Can wasn't bragging about his prowess with a hockey stick. He had started for our high school as a freshman. Harrison was playing basketball. "Your hockey team went 0-17 my senior year." 1970 was forty years ago. "And the next year we reached the playoffs." His team had challenged the hockey hierarchy through 1971 to 1973. "You were a good squad." I had seen them beat BC High at Boston Arena. Our home rink was Rindge Arena off 128. "We could go play a one-on-one right now on Route 1. I've got all the equipment." He had starred in his high school re-uniuon game the previous winter. He was even better in baseball. "Not a chance." I was intent on enjoying my victory at table hockey. "I can't skate backwards." "What was that about?" "My father brought us down to the pond up in Maine." My father was from Westbrook. Boys were expected to skate six months after they learned to walk. There was a pond overlooking Portland Harbor. The smell of bread from the Nissen Bakery mixed with the smell of the sea. "He told us he was going to teaching us how to skate backwards. My brother was 5 and I was 4." "A good age to learn." "We had walked down the street with skates over our shoulders. Mine were CCM." Skating backwards would help me play for the Bruins in the future. They never beat the Canadians. I was going to be a star, since I could skate forward faster than anyone in our neighborhood, except for Charleen Davis, but she was a girl and girls didn't play hockey. "The ice was clean and my father showed us how to position our feet. My brother and I got on the ice. We should like him. He pushed off and tripped over a crack. His head smacked the ice and he stood up with a smile." "Your father was a good skater." Oil Can had lived down the street from our teaberry ranch house on the South Shore of Boston. "Yeah, but blood was flowing down his face. He had cut his head and the smile was from a concussion. He had broken his leg skiing the year before and I thought that he would have to wear a cast on his head." I loved that man. "Ice is hard, but not that hard." "After that I never wanted to skate backwards." My father gave up on teaching us how to skate backwards. "So no game today?" Oil Can wanted to show his son that he wasn't a loser. Harrison loved him either way. "Not a chance, but I'll play another game to seven on the table hockey." I was happy to give him a second shot at shining for Harrison. I have a son and Fenway loved his father too. "You're on." Oil Can popped open to beers and we clinked bottles. "Here's to our fathers." Harrison toasted us with Coke. He was 11 and one day soon he would beat his father at his own game. It was only a matter of time. ps I took Oil Can in the second series 4-2, because in table hockey I didn't have to skate backwards. GO BRUINS.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Triple Overtime

THree nights ago I sat at Mullanes, my local sports bar in Fort Greene, and watched the Bruins blow a 3-1 lead in regulation. The two teams played two periods of overtime before the bartender asked, "You want the sound on?" "I don't know." I'm a firm believer in not changing anything during a game. The other watchers shrugged and Jim switched on the play-by-play. Halfway through the 3rd OT Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw caroomed a shot from the point off the stick and leg of two teammates past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. "Well, guess that's a wrap." Jim was happy for the game to end. "Yeah." I wasn't blaming him. It had been a good game, but I learned a lesson. If a tree falls in the forest, someone does hear it. No more changing anything. ps I watched the Spurs-Heat game and the NBA's liberal use of commercials fucked up the flow of play. I turned it off and wen to sleep. Fuck David Stern and fuck all those Fritos and Ford pick-up trucks ads.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

KOSHER PIG by Peter Nolan Smith

Two years ago business in the Diamond District was spotty during the high holidays of Rosh Shananah and Yom Kippur. The Hassidim disappeared to the various shetls scattered around New York and tourists entered our diamond exchange to gawk at the diamonds and jewelry. At least twice a day out-of-towners asked in complete seriousness, "Are they real?"

"Everything is real," I answered the visitors before launching into a short spiel about the value of diamonds and gold. "Years ago we told the customers that diamonds were a good investment. It was sort of true then, but now diamonds appreciate in value better than houses plus they're easier to convert into cash at times of need."

The tourists nodded with understanding. Their homes had lost value three years in a row. My boss Richie Boy doesn't have the patience for these rubes, but occasionally they were buyers.

I sold an Italian diamond bracelet to a Vermont couple celebrating their 60th anniversary. They lived a short distance from Richie Boy's ski shack and he warmed up to them. Selling turned him on like a drag racer on nitro and the Thursday after Yom Kippur he delivered a 31-inch diamond necklace set with GIA-certified .40 ct. diamonds to a hedge fund investor.

The piece was a magnificent blaze of reflected light set in platinum. His customer coined millions every day. He could have shopped at Harry Winston, but Richie Boy and he went back to the 80s. Both were loyal to each other. Richie Boy returned to the store after closing and said, "That's it. I’ve had enough of Yom Kippur. I'm headed out to my surf shack."

“What about tomorrow?” his father asked from his desk. Manny would have remained open 24/7, if the exchange didn’t close at 6.

“Fridays are dead and nothing is deader than a Yom Kippur Friday.” Richie Boy needed his rest. He had rescued the firm through a series of near-miraculous sales. I had helped with a few deals out of the blue and neither of us were broke. >

“What about trying to run this store like a business?” Manny was frustrated by his son’s laissez-faire attitude.

“There’s more to life than work.”

“Like what?” Manny lived for his work. His father had been the same. Somehow that relentless devotion to the grindstone had skipped a generation with Richie Boy.

“Surfing.” Richie Boy had a place on the beach out in Montauk. He could walk to Ditch Plains.

"What are you doing this weekend?" asked Marvin, the newly-married diamond dealer across the aisle.

"I'm having a kosher pig BBQ."

"How can pig be kosher?" The balding 50 year-old didn't follow the dictates of glatt kosher, but Marvin wasn't a bacon Jew.

“How?”

“Yes, how?” Marvin was a shrewd diamond buyer. He figured everything for a third of its value. He had been the president of the glee club of a summer camp in the Jewish Alps and was as gullible as a cheerleader on quaaludes.

Richie Boy wickedly went for the complete wind-up.

"A special rabbi consecrates the pig before killing it according to an ancient Hebrew tradition. It predates the Torah." Richie Boy is a great salesman and Marvin admired his chutzpah as well as his ability to thrive amongst the goyim.

"Really?" Marvin was swallowing the possibility of kosher bacon with a kvelling smile.

"100%. Come out to my BBQ and I'll introduce to the delight of kosher pork."

Marvin promised to show up at the beach BBQ. We laughed at his schmielism and Richie Boy prepared for his early departure from New York. His father continued to kvetch like an old yenta. At 83 the only choice were work or death. Manny and I fought every day. Our arguments flushed the blood through his body. I hoped that he lived to 103.

At 59 I had more in common with him than most of the people on the planet.

"You know the reason why pork is tref?"

"It caused people to have worms in the old days." Richie Boy checked the exchange. The religious don’t have a funny bone over pig’s feet. "And don't tell me that it's because Yahweh ordered the Jews give up pork as the ultimate sacrifice."

"Little tastes better than bacon." Richie Boy and I knew each other over 30 years. We had heard enough of our stories enough to give them numbers. I was still capable of catching him off-guard. "Pork is tref no matter what. Leviticus condemned pig for its cloven food, but there is such a thing as kosher pork chops. Not for the Hassidim, but it's cooked with pickle juice and kosher salt."

"Sounds as dry as an old shoe." Richie Boy possessed a better than average epicurean palate.

"Not something I'd eat, but maybe scientists can genetically modify a pig to have feet instead of hooves." I had eaten pigs' foot in Berlin. It was considered the city's signature dish. "Pigs with little toes."

"Stop. That's sacrilege." Manny hadn’t been to the temple in years, but once a jew always a jew.

"Sacrilege and heresy are my specialties." I set the alarm and I wished Richie boy a good weekend.

"You can come out on Saturday."

"Thanks, but I got to get ready for my trip." I was heading out to Thailand for a month. It would be the longest that I had spend with since 2008. "If there really was kosher pig I might change my mind."

"You never know."

"I know." Richie Boy and I had spent too much time together over the past years. It was time for a break.

Kosher pig or not.

Hang-Over Cure #1

This cure comes from the WORST CASE SCENARIO SURVIVAL CALENDER.

1.) Avoid pills before, during, or after drining to excess. They will fuck you up worst than the hang-over.

2.) Drink lots of fluids. OJ and Tomato Juice contain potassium which handles the wobbly feeling of a good night's drunk.

3.) Vitamins. A B-12 shot in the butt is a god send.

4.) Eat. Starchy foods break down sugar. Honey bunrs off the alcohol in your gut. Bacon and egg sandwich. Heaven. Eat slowly and in small amounts. If you're tossing your innards, then have a Coke. It won't stop the vomiting, but it will taste better.

5.) Sleep more.

Chinese Bacon

Every Saturday morning I go to the Academy Diner in Fort Greene to enjoy a breakfast of bacon and eggs. Nothing cures a hangover faster than that plate, however the corporate heads of Smithfield Foods have threatened America's ability to recover from a night of hard drinking by offering their company for sale to sate China's appetite for pork. The price is $4.7 billion. The transaction will be determined by CFIUS, which according to USA Today is headed by the Treasury secretary and includes members from the departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Energy. Few members of the American media have responded to this danger. Me? I'm heading to the Academy this weekend. Bacon, eggs, and rye toast. An American classic. ps the meaning of haired bacon is Chairman Mao's tomb. These are for bacon.