Saturday, August 31, 2013

Heads Or Tails

Koln was devastated in World War II. The US Army Air Force stated that the bombardiers avoided hitting the famous medieval cathedral. In truth they used the stone church for a point of reference and the cathedral was struck on many occasions. The massive structure only remained standing thanks to the workmanship of Middle Age masons. Since WWII America has sought to resolve conflict with bombing. Korea, Viet-Nam, the shock and awe in Iraq, and now President Obama is proposing a bombing campaign against Syria's dictatorial regime in revenge for its use of Sarin gas on its people. The UK PM was rebuffed by Parliament on any participation in this 'humanatarian' mission and now America stands with France in sharing the desire to get involved in yet another overseas war. My opinion is to wait it out. Assad's troops are at the end of their tether. But the hawks want to strike out at an enemy, even though Assad helped the CIA rendition hundreds of torture victims throughout the War on Terror. But no one is talking about that now. Only war.

The Beauty of Zatoichi

Bored with Netflix and HBO I hunted the web for another source of entertainment and luckily stumbled onto ZATOICHI, the Blind Swordsman. This Japanese TV show portrayed the traveling trials of a blind masseur and swordmaster living in the Edo period circa 1840s. The actor Shintaro Katsu masterfully breathed life into novelist Kan Shimozawa's creation throughout the twenty-six films from 1962 to 1989. Zatoichi's roguish harmlessness was a ruse for his deadly skill with a zue or cane sword. His whirlwind speed defeats any opponent and his yakuza honor resurrects the goodness in the bad man unable to atone for his murderous life. Shintaro Katsu led the life and could honestly say in character, "Kurayami nara kocchi no mon da" or "Darkness is my advantage." He was one of 'us'. According to Wikipedia Akira Kurosawa cast him for the lead role in KAGEMUSHA (1980), Katsu left before the first day of shooting was over. Though accounts differ as to the incident, the most consistent one details Katsu's clash with Kurosawa regarding bringing his own film crew to the set (to film Kurosawa in action for later exhibition to his own acting students). Kurosawa is reputed to have taken great offense at this, resulting in Katsu's termination. KAGEMUSHA sucked with Katsu. I love these Zatoichi films and everything about them. To hear Zatoichi sing, please go to this URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_jKvfRTzP8

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Nation Of Squares

Last weekend former Disney child star Miley Cyrus upset countless people who don't matter with her scantily-clad dance performance during a duet with Robin Thicke at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. The religious right reacted, as if the pert singer/dancer had shit in the Pope's mouth during a remake of THE ARISTOCRATS, and Sean Hannity of FoxNews was outraged without having seen the act. Finding the 'offensive' video was impossible, as inept talking heads of the various meaningless media sources dissected every nuance of Miley's butt twitching aka twerking. I thought that she was cute, but I'm not a square and her dancing wasn't close to horrible or obscene. That honor goes to Billy Squier's ROCK ME TONIGHT, which hit # 15 on the charts in 1984. Nothing rivals it. Check it out; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fR0j7sModCI began with Cyrus performing "We Can't Stop" in bear-themed attire. Following this, Thicke entered the stage and Cyrus stripped down to a skin-colored two-piece outfit. Cyrus subsequently touched Thicke's crotch area with a giant foam finger and twerked against his crotch.[196] An article published in The Hollywood Reporter described the performance as "crass" and "reminiscent of a bad acid trip". Media attention of the performance largely overshadowed the attention that was given to other major events of the night, such as the reunion of 'N Sync and performances by Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.[197] Cyrus' performance was described by XXL critic B. J. Steiner as a "trainwreck in the classic sense of the word as the audience reaction seemed to be a mix of confusion, dismay and horror in a cocktail of embarrassment",[198] while the BBC said she stole the show with a "raunchy performance".[199] The performance also became the most tweeted about event in history, with Twitter users generating 360,000 tweets about the event per minute; breaking the previous record held by Beyonce's Super Bowl XLVII halftime show performance six months earlier.[200] Following the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, news and social media sites featured numerous articles about parental concerns with the performance's impact on children.[201]

I WALK THE LINE leonard nimoy

To hear the genius of Leonard Nimoy, please visit this URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9NSpAdGxgU

East Berlin Immer Eis Cream

Back in 1989 one West German Mark bought a huge ice cream in East Berlin's Alexanderplatz. Two marks bought two ice creams. For good girls.

Helmut Newton Of Course

Sex for Helmut Newton was different from the Playboy's softcore offerings, however Hugh Hefner recognized the Berlin-born photographer's talent and hired Newton to shoot 'vanilla' pictorials of Natassia Kinski and Kristine DeBell.

Newton's fixated vision of sexuality will always be renowned for a departure point far beyond most people's ken of fetishism, because his models' lingerie was almost as expensive as the settings.

His ashes were buried next to Marlene Dietrich at the Städtischen Friedhof III in Berlin.

Click on this URL to see more of his photos

http://www.ocaiw.com/galleria_fotografi/index.php?author=newton

Sehr Mittel Europa and Stanley Kubrick failed to capture that spirit in EYES WIDE OPEN, mostly because neither Nicole Kidman nor Tom Cruise are sexy.

But what else can be expected from Hollywood's Barbie and Ken.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

No More Mr. Nice Guy


The short-time bars of Soi 6 and go-go bars of Walking Street are not the only tourist attractions of Pattaya. Farangs and Thais travel down from Bangkok to lounge on the beach, dine at the thousands of restaurants, shop at street markets, and take in the sights.

Several years ago Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks promoted its pseudo-museum with a new billboard on Sukhumvit. Farangs couldn’t read the words in Thai, however the giant photo of Adolf Hitler sieg heiling said a million words to foreign travelers on the busy highway.

The ad campaign was aimed at Thais, since the wordage was in the native tongue of Siam.

“Hitler is not dead.”

German and Israeli embassies complained to authorities and the Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks manager apologized for this cultural faux pas.

“We think he is an important historical figure, but in a horrible way. We apologise for causing any offense which was not at all intended. We did not realise it would make people so angry.”

Thais were unperturbed by the mistake.

‘Man kill farang. Not kill Thai. What problem?” One of my Thai friends said over the telephone. Thais aren’t too concerned with anything happening outside their borders or the present. Neither are my fellow Americans. “If he bad. Why no one kill him?”

Indeed Hitler has been rumored to have escape the Berlin bunker. George Steiner wrote THE LAST PORTAGE OF AH about an Israeli intelligence squad finding the Nazi leader in the jungles of Brazil. Several films have centered their plots of the lost empire of the Third Reich. Adolf would be a very old man if he was alive. In fact he’d be the oldest person alive on this planet.

“120 years old.” An overweight Hassidic diamond broker told this joke the other day. “Things are bad on this planet. troubles so bad that people want a strong leader. someone finds Hitler alive in Brazil. 120 years old but still mentally capable. The world leaders struggle to persuade Hitler to take over the world. He refuses time and time again, until he agrees.

“Okay, okay, I’ll do it, but this time no Mr. Nice Guy.”

Yes, Pattaya, Adolf still lives in the minds of many.

Good thing he can’t collect on his royalties.

AH 1889-1945?-2009? and beyond

Berlin Wall a la Pattaya


The Berlin Wall fell in November in 1989.

Several years ago a German expat in Pattaya tried to recreate one of many escape attempts over the infamous barrier between East and West by trying to evade police by leaping over a concrete wall topped by barbed wire in a state of nakedness. Stasi Police would have shot him dead back in the good old days of the DDR, however the Thai police responded by restraining the unclothed man and remanding the madman to his embassy.

I recall reading back in the 1970s about another mad German attempting suicide by an escape over the Berlin Wall. He ran out into the minefield without exploding a single bomb, then climbed the wall to become tangled in the wire. The guards shot at him and their errant bullets snapped the barbed wire, so the verrückter Mann fell into West Berlin. Disappointed by failures he jumped into the River Spree to drowned only to be rescue by the US Army.

He cursed them all and fled into the path of a street car.

It killed him dead and he died a happy free man.

There is no success like a suicide getting to the end at last.

Free at last. Freikeit im Der Ende.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

NICHT FUN by Peter Nolan Smith

In the autumn of 1982 Henri Flesh and I flew to Berlin. We booked rooms at the Hotel Kempenski for a three-day holiday from BSir, Hamburg's most popular club. The DJ brought two grams of China White and I had an 8-Ball of Bolivian Pink. We shared everything and that night went out to the Dschungel in Charlottesburg, where we ran into a pair of Christina F lookalikes. All the girls wanted to be the sexy junkie refugee from the Zoo Station. These two were no exception. The next day the four of us went to East Berlin. My girl's name was Chloe. The ex-ballerina from Koln was as blonde as Ilsa of the SS. We passed through Checkpoint Charlie in a nod. The squat female border guard wasn't happy about letting us into the workers' paradise, but allowed us to exchange 25 DMs into East German currency. The Stasi or secret police had ways of dealing with our kind and two bland men followed us to Karl-Marx Platz, where a thin concrete spire rose into the September sky and a troop of armed Soviet soldier marched across the plaza. "There's parking everywhere." Henri wished that we had my BMW. "Here comes a car." Ilsa pointed to where a small car whined down the street. "Wooo, ein Trabant." The girls waved to the driver and explained to us that East Germans waited for years to purchase one. It sounded like a lawn mower. We drank bier in a restaurant. One big glass cost twenty-five pfennigs. I had enough money for a hundred beers and bought a round for everyone in the restaurant. The Stasi too. Afterward we went shopping except there was nothing to buy in the shops. "Maybe we could score some drugs." Ilsa entered a pharmacy. She exited in a huff. "They were only selling steroids." "Last thing I want is to look like an East German female athlete." Henri joked to the laughter of the girls. The Communist competitor were three times the man I would ever be in real life. "Us too." The girls acted out weighing weights. The Stasi were no amused. "Wir zuruckgehen nach Ost." I had had enough of East Berlin. Communism was a failure under the Soviets as much as capitalism sold everyone's soul in the West and we gave our remaining East German DMs to a young boy. He looked at the Stasi agents and threw them on the ground, then ran down the street. Ilsa rested her head on my shoulder and the sunset "Ich bin fertig." And I knew what Ilsa was ready for and waved 'niewiedersehen' to the Stasi agents. Unlike Ilsa they were no fun at all.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gay Nyet

The 1932 Russian criminal code condemned "muzhelozhstvo" or men lying with men as a criminal act punishable by exile to Siberia for up to 5 years. The police rarely arrested men for this crime against nature, since the hunger that dare not speak its name was reserved for the upper classes of Tsarist Russia, however homophobia has been deeply engrained into the national psyche and a third of the population think that homosexuals should be executed and another third call for their exclusion from society. That draconian attitude has improved since the collapse of the USSR, but gay men or boys are regularly persecuted by their countrymen.

According to www.pinknews.co.uk a Moscow teenager escaped from a rehab clinic after his traditionalist father locked him up after he came out to him aged 16.

“I’d rather have you disabled or a vegetable than gay,” the father told the son according to local Ekho Moskvy radio.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

Back in 2009 I was in Moscow during the gay protests. Thousands of cops encircled the Kremlin to prevent any demonstrations before the palace. I retreated from the chaos and sought refuge in the baroque confines of Sandunovskye Bani.

In this famed banya naked straight men were beating each other with oak branches for their health. None of them were ashamed by this act of S&M, then again there are few more profound blindnesses than hypocrisy, then again nothing more relaxing that a good whipping.

2013 and Putin is banning gay rights demonstrations.

Nothing better than putting him to the knout, which was how the rich punished the serfs in Russia.

By breaking their bones.

Times don't change.

Na zda-ró-vye Nyet

Soviet Russia attempted three times to curtail alcohol consumption. The last temperance movement was in 1985-1987 under Mikhail Gorbachev. Vodka and other spirits were rationed throughout the USSR and public drunkenness was punished by prison time. The loss of tax revenue was in the hundreds of billions of rubles and this economic shortfall led to the collapse of the Soviet Empire. Even Josef Stalin never dared to ban vodka and ex- KGB Boris Putin has followed the Red Tsar's lead. There is only one ruler in Russia and that is the man with the bottle of vodka. Russian don't toast each other with Na Zdorov'ye! They prefer a lengthy personal toast, but I will drink no more Russian vodka. Not since Putin's government has declared homosexuality a sin. I will toast Russia with other vodka, raising my glass and shouting, "Poshel na khuy." Simply translated as 'fuck you'. And I say the same to the New York Times, for last week in the Op-Ed pages the happily married with three kids Mark Lawrence Schrad, an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University, declared that the gay boycott on Russian vodka would have no effect on the treament of gays and lesbians in Russia. Asst. Professor Schrad has a website; http://www.vodkapolitics.com/Welcome.html He does not look like a drinker, but his NY Times article argued that a vodka boycott will not help gays in Russia, since 'polls estimate that two-thirds of Russians consider homosexuality unacceptable under any circumstance'. Asst. Professor Schrad avoided this issue to launch into a lengthy treatise of his expertise; the politics of vodka before defending the continued drinking of Stolichnaya by writing 'most political scientists agree that sanctions rarely bring about desired results and can undermine the effectiveness and credibility of domestic opposition groups' and that the impact of an international boycott wouldn't effect the Russian economy. Firstly vodka sales to the West amount to hundreds of billions and Asst. Professor Schrad rightly stated that the vodka conglomerates were unhappy with Putin's decision to repress gays and lesbians, but the tax revenue from vodka helped support the Putin regime ( in Soviet times it was 25% of the tax revenue ). Secondly boycotts work. Maybe slowly, but doing nothing accomplishes nothing. So once more the New York Times gets a nice 'fuck you' from me. They only care about the rich. And the people who pay their ads like Putin likes vodka revenue. It's all the fucking same. 'Poshel na khuy' or 'fuck you'.

Monday, August 26, 2013

JFK on the March to Washington

Today the BBC News reported that JFK had attempted to block the March on Washington for fear of violence and painted a picture of a president apathetic to the plight of blacks in America, however the article ignored to mention the Justice Department descending on Birmingham after the police chief sicced dogs on peaceful Civil Rights demonstrators and focused on Martin Luther King's Statement that 'the events of the early summer had transformed the struggle for black equality from what he called a "Negro protest" into a "Negro revolution". America, he feared, had reached "explosion point". For the most part the violence was one-sided with white supremacists bombing churches and firing at SNCC volunteers, however the specter of a slave uprising scared whites and JFK was concerned about losing the South to the GOP on the issue of equal rights. Upon hearing on the March on Washington JFK called out the National Guard and the FBI spied on march organizers and radicals opposed to non-violence. Snipers were placed along the parade route. But on August 28 there was no violence. JFK listened to King's I HAVE A DREAM SPEECH. He's good - he's damned good” I thought the same thing in Boston. I hoped for a better day. And so did JFK. It was hard to stop being a white man and see all men as men, but this country was founded on the tenet that all men are created equal. JFK understood that and his brother even more. We are all family.

Thailand Is Not Egypt

On August 22 Jonathan Tepperman, managing editor of the FOREIGN NEWS, had a story entitled Can Egypt Learn From Thailand? published in the New York Times. This ill-reserached Op-Ed piece further demonstrated mainstream media's inability to tell all the news that is fit to print. Thailand is not Egypt, but neither is the Land of Smiles a country which according to Mr. Tepperman has gone from "a virtual wreck to a booming, and relatively stable, success story." Poverty remains deeply rooted in ban-nok or the countryside. Millions have gone into debt to feed their families. And the battles fought between the military, police, royalists, and politicians have split the country in two, as the entitled rich practice 'divide and conquer' to sap the people of their money and lives. Mr. Tepperman is smitten by the nak-lak of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and buys into the report from Morgan Stanley's Ruchir Sharma, that Thailand's economic outlook is the brightest in 15 years. Stock market up. As if the stock market had anything to do with real people. And Ms. Yingluck's accomplishments have solidified the stakes of the rich. Nouveau and ancien. As for the people, no one in powers cares about them as long as they work for hand-to-mouth wages. It is obvious that Mr. Tepperman has spent little time in Thailand and sad to say he probably wrote this article from his New York office. Travel expenses are first to go in austerity. As for Egypt it is no Thailand, but its government was democratically elected by the people. No matter what the media doesn't say, because they have no idea of the truth. Fuck the New York Times. Fuck me too. I know nothing or phom lu bplaao

March On DC Plus 50

August 28, 1963 hundreds of thousands of Americans assembled in Washington DC to march for Jobs and Freedom. They gathering had a good number of whites, but the marchers were predominantly black and very brave considering how the police treated any gathering of coloreds with violence. The DC police had mobilized the entire force and its chief had called in the National Guard to maintain order and went so far as to forbid liquor sales in the capitol. The sound system at the Lincoln Memorial was vandalized and organizers demanded Attorney General Robert F Kennedy for a replacement. The US Army made the necessary connections and the next day the area around the Reflecting Pool was occupied by the largest gathering of African-Americans ever held in the USA. The mainstream media expected mayhem. None expected peace from blacks. They were wrong. A moment of silence was observed for the passing of W. E. B. DuBois and according to Wikipedia Roy Wilkins told the crowd, "Regardless of the fact that in his later years Dr. Du Bois chose another path, it is incontrovertible that at the dawn of the twentieth century his was the voice that was calling you to gather here today in this cause. Speakers from the SNCC, CORE, and SCLC extolled immediate action against racism. With good reason. Martin Luther King Jr.'s took to the podium. I was eleven years old and watched his speech on a Zenith TV. I knew no black people. I lived in a suburb south of Boston. His words struck my soul. The preacher had a dream and I have shared that dream throughout my life. One day we will enter the Promised Land. To hear his words please go to the following URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smEqnnklfYs

Sunday, August 25, 2013

THE MEANING OF PURE by Peter Nolan Smith

In the summer of 1995 my baby brother died of AIDS. I sought solace for Michael's soul the Orient seeking solace for Michael's soul by visiting the holy sites of Asia. I lit candles before the Buddha in Chiang Mai. I circumnavigated Lhasa's Jokhang Temple. Despite a lifelong disbelief in religion this pilgrimage comforted my sense of loss. In November I crossed the Himalayas to fly south to Varanasi on the Ganges.

I booked a hotel room up the river from the burning ghats. Backpackers smoked ganga on the terrace. A sitarists at a nearby ashram played a raja throughout the starry evening.

In the steepening disk I wandered to the smoldering crematory pyres. Untouchables gathered bones and dumped charred remains into the Mother of India.

My brother had been buried in a grave outside of Boston.

Here life ended in ashes not dust to dust.

In the morning I ate a khichri of rice, lentils, and spices. The tea was sweet. The water came from the holy river.

I returned to the ghats reading Hindu phrases from a travel guide.

The monsoon season was over and the faithful bathed in the low Ganges. Its waters washed away sins.

Scores of mourners stacked wood for the fiery funerals of their beloved ones.

There was little weeping.

My feet were muddy from the riverbank.

I decided to wash the mud off my feet and descended to the water's edge.

The ghat fell silent.

"Mistah." A young girl in a blue sari stood before me. "You have done a bad thing. The Ganges is sacred and washing your shoes is 'varjita'."

I read the meaning of 'varjita' in the circle of accusing eyes.

A hostile murmur replaced the stillness.

The mourners were on the verge of becoming a mob.

"Kheda." My earnest apology did not penetrate the anger.

"You have to leave." The young girl shouted to a passing boatman. "My uncle will take you to safety."

"Dhan'yavāda." I hopped in the rowboat and the man pulled on the oars.

His name was Ramsi.

"You are a very silly man." Ramsi rowed to the middle of the Ganges. My disgrace had been swallowed by a surge of arriving pilgrims.

"Yes, I am very silly," I explained how I had come to Varansi to purify my body.

"It is the best place in the world to cleanse away your sin, but not your shoes, sir." Ramsi motioned to a broad sand bar. "The water on the opposite shore is cleaner and private. You want to go there?"

"How much?"

"Pay me what you think is right, sir."

"Accha." I was okay with this deal, since he had saved me from possible harm on the ghats.

I took off my clothes and swam naked into the Ganges.

The water was fine and I got out to dry myself.

A vulture was fighting a dog for something lying half in the river.

It was a dead body.

Ramsi came up to me.

"The poor don't have enough money to burn the body. They give the body to the river. See that's a river dolphin joining them. He will help the dead man to nirvana."

A dolphin joined the two combatant in the menage a trois feast.

Back at the ghats I gave Ramsi $20.

"Oh, sir, you are too good. Tonight come to my house for dinner."

There was no saying no.

The backpackers at the hotel discussed the westerner who had washed his sandals at the ghat.

I didn't give them my version and I washed off the mud in my room.

That evening I met Ramsi and accompanied the boatman to his one-room house. His wife was dressed in her finery. The meal was vegetarian and the water was fresh from the Ganges.

"It is holy water. I have drank it all my life and have never been sick once."

"Saubh'gya." Good luck was always good luck no matter if offered by a sinner.

I drank it and felt pure.

I hoped that my brother Michael felt the same.

Our sacred river was the Saco. Only last summer its waters had washed over us. It had been pure too. And that night on the Ganges I went to sleep content. Somewhere in the Here-Before my brother was pure. In some ways I was too.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

$8.75 Steak A La Danceteria

I bought a steak with three drink tickets or two with a bump 56 minutes ago · Like Henry Benavides commented that he and Ann the elevator girl made Guacamole one night with main ingredient Vodka. It sold out. Then I picked up Ann and put her butt first in the garbage can in the kitchen. Danceteria was so elegant. And I still have some drink tickets left thanks to the graciousness of Chairman John Argento.

Unlucky Someone

This evening a biker ran a light at West Broadway and Houston. He didn't make it to the other side in this life. Drive safe, bikers. The first Kawasaki Ninja came to America in 1986. We called them 'widowmakers'. They were too much speed for a man. Same as this Unlucky Someone.

Lucky Me

New Years Eve 1986. I was riding my Yamaha 650 through a snowstorm. Approaching Houston and 2nd Avenue the light changed to red. I skidded through the intersection excepting the worse. Cars crisscrossed my path. I stopped against the curb. A 9th Precinct cop said, "Damn you were lucky." "That I was." "Where you Headed?" "Home to 10th Street." "That's not a bad idea." He was right. I was lucky. But if anyone was luckier, it was Indian Larry. I bet he's having a Mr. Softee somewhere wherever and maybe with the jingle in his ears. The jingle came from a famous tune from 1915 A WHISTLER AND HIS DOG. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FDtVe04Z5I WHERE'S MY MR. SOFTEE TRUCK.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

# 17 by Peter Nolan Smith

One wintry night December of 1976 I was stumbling home from a derelict bar at the corner of the Bowery and Houston. The icy wind slashed through my thin clothing and I was about to hail a taxi, when I felt the thump of a bass emanating from a white stucco building. The accompanying music was rock and roll at its purest and I pushed open the heavy wooden door.

The leather-jacketed quartet on the stage were covering the 45rpm version of The Rivieras’ CALIFORNIA SUN. The audience was heaving up and down, as if the floor was pulsating in time to the 3-chord progression.

I stepped forward to join the frenzy.

A huge hand blocked my way.

“$5.” The monstrous bouncer wore a yellow construction.

“Who are they?” I handed over the fiver.

“The Ramones.”

The next song was I WANNA BE SEDATED.

By the end of their set I was hooked to the music and like that I became a regular at CBGBs.

The next day I bought a leather jacket and cut my hair with my own scissors.

Every night I hung out at the bar. None of the stars of the scene were my friends. They played music and my one talent was playing pinball, so I was a nobody, which was okay, since being a punk was all about not caring about being nobody.

Not everyone felt the same way.

Blondie was getting noticed by major record labels, the Talking Heads toured coast to coast to bigger and bigger crowds, and almost every girl loved Richard Hell. His BLANK GENERATION was a punk anthem and he created a look of nihilism to be emulated by hundreds and then thousands. None of us knew how to be different, but we had a good idea about how not to be 'me' anymore thanks to Richard.

Our devotion to this faith failed to translate into record sales and the Voidoids' attempts to break into the top 40 were disasters summed up by a power-pop trio mocking the iconic singer with their song RICHARD IS A FORKHEAD. My own personal lack of success gained me nothing and in 1981 I left New York to work as a bouncer at a Paris nightclub.

One night a New Wave girl band from the East Village appeared as the club's headliner. The lead singer had a crooked nose and bedraggled hair, but once the ugly duckling hit the stage, Claudia emanated a savaged beauty meant for a dark room. Her lanky body encircled the mike stand like a boa crushing its prey. In some ways she was a female version of Richard.

After the show I introduced myself and offered her a drink. We spoke about CBGBs. New York was close as her body. Claudia's husband played for Richard’s band. She laughed upon hearing about RICHARD IS A FORKHEAD. After closing the club, we ate at an African restaurant in Les Halles. At dawn she said, “I have to go to Lille.”

“Like Cinderella.”

“I don’t think Cinderella ever went to Lille.”

“I guess not.” The fairy tale never mentioned the name of Cinderella's hometown and I walked Claudia to the band's van. She kissed me on the cheek and drove off at dawn. No glass slipper marked her departure, then again I wasn't Prince Charming.

Several weeks later I met a tousled-hair French singer. Lizzie was promoting her new record. The African influenced single was climbing the charts. A friend introduced us.

"I know him." Her eyes were filled with accusation.

"You do?"

Lizzie had lived in New York during the late 70s and said that I had thrown her out of an after-hours club on 14th Street.

"Now I remember." I had a vague recollection of frog-marching a crazy French girl onto the sidewalk. "But not why?"

"Because I was having a fight with my boyfriend. You were trying to break it up. It was all our fault. "

"It was?"

"Ouais." Lizzie didn’t hold the forceful eviction against me and that evening in bed she told me about the spike-haired singer in the East Village.

“Richard?" Forkhead had a long reach.

“Yes, Richard.” She lit a cigarette and the tobacco turned her kisses into ashtrays. Lizzie loved her smoke. "Don't be jealous. Richard and I were never boyfriend and girlfriend.”

“And what about us?”

“We are a one-night stand."

"Those are the best kind of affairs." I expected her to disappear for good, but the next evening she showed up at the nightclub with her Fender Jazzmaster guitar. She had just appeared on TV. Lizzie was famous and I kept our affair a secret. We lasted until a Christmas vacation on the Isle of Wight.

I said good-bye on Boxing Day.

She flew off to Africa and I took the ferry to France.

I remained in Paris another two years before returning to the USA to write screenplays for porno films in North Hollywood. Within a month the quasi-mafia producer fired me for being too intellectual. This accomplishment would have made Lizzie proud.

Back in New York I rode motorcycles and worked at the Milk Bar.

Richard came to the door. I had never spoken to him before, but he said, “I think we have a mutual friend.”

“Who?” I knew exactly who.

“Lizzie in Paris says hello.”

"She's a great girl."

She is at that." I offered him a drink and was surprised by how friendly he was. After the second drink he said, “Lizzie told me about some American in Paris calling me Forkhead.”

“I said it, but the first person to call you that was Marky, the lead guitarist of the Ghosts.

“I know, but it’s a better story that way.” Richard no longer sported spikes. “By the way she called you ‘suedehead’, which is funny coming from someone with a hair like a crow’s nest.”

“More a bird’s nest.”

“Depends on your perspective.” Richard was taller than me. He tipped the bartender $5 before leaving the bar. She smiled at him in recognition of his legend. Punk wouldn't be punk without him.

“I’ll see you around.”

We lived in the East Village and occasionally ran into each other on the street. He invited me to poetry readings at the St. Mark’s Church. Someone said that he edited several alternative magazines. I submitted short stories to each one. He never mentioned them afterwards. I didn’t blame him. My typing, grammar, and spelling were atrocious.

I returned to France in 1989.

Lizzie was going out with an art dealer. We played squash in Les Halles. She was beating me without mercy, despite wheezing after every shot. I spoke about Richard during a break.

“Richard is so funny. I think he was jealous of you.”

“Jealous for what?”

“For you being with me.”

“You told him about that?” Our affair was still a secret on my end.

“Maybe, it isn’t important anymore.”

“No.” I had been in love several times in the interim. None of my affair had been a success.

“Then let’s not worry about the past.” Lizzie served the ball against the wall for an ace. We went to dinner in the Marais and I said, “Loser pays.”

“It wasn’t much of a game.”

“Not considering that I was once the 17th-ranked tennis player in the USA.”

“You were?”

“Yes, my friend lied to his father about my ranking.”

“So you weren’t the 17th-ranked player in America?”

“Do I look like I could have ever been the 17th ranked tennis player in America.” I said it so she wouldn’t believe me and added, “I let you win fair and square.”

“I’m not sure.”

“Up to you.”

We said good-bye in Les Halles. Neither of us suggested a nightcap. We had become just friends.

In the 90s I started taking around-the-world trips.

Richard was fascinated by my tales of opium dens on the Burmese border. I thought about writing a down-and-out travel book. I gave several chapters to a literary agent. He hated my typing and I started selling diamonds on 47th Street. It was a 9-6 job. I wore a suit and tie. The money was good. I went out at night, but not late.

One night at a party at the St. Mark's Church I spotted Claudia at the bar. I hadn’t seen her since Paris. She was happy to see me. Richard kept looking at Claudia and I asked, “Are you two a thing?”

“Richard’s no one’s thing. You have a girlfriend?”

“No, I had a Spanish girlfriend, but I thew her out for being unfaithful. My next-door neighbor loved her and she cursed me.”

“Curse you?”

“A Santeria curse and I haven’t had sex since then.”

“Really?”

“100%.” There was no other explanation for my celibacy.

“Maybe I can help you change that.”

We left for my place and he spent the night. Her divorced husband was taking care of their son. She had to leave before dawn.

“Like Cinderella.” I joked with a towel around my waist.

“Cinderella didn't have a kid.”

Claudia walked down the hallway to the stairs. Mrs. Adorno opened the door. The old bruja had witnessed more than a few women come and go in and out of my life. Her one good eye squinted in my direction. She spat something in Spanish, then mumbled, “Sex not love. Siempre.”

“Not always.” I said, but I wanted more from a woman than sex. We went to the movies, made love, took holidays, and hiked with her son, so I wasn’t prepared for her saying after two months. “This isn’t working out.”

“What isn’t?” We saw each other several times a week. The sex was good.

“You and me. I want something more from a relationship than this and someone wants to give it to me."

"Who?" I had to ask.

“Richard.”

"Oh." I was used to coming in second place.

“Yes, he called to say he really wanted to be with me. I have to give it a chance.”

“I understand.”I stood no chance against the aging rock god.

Mrs. Adorno’s curse was stronger than both of us.

I gave her my blessing and started drinking on my own. It wouldn’t take off the curse, but stopped my thinking of Claudia. Of course Richard wasn’t forever and a month later Claudia phoned to say it was over. “Can I come over?”

“The answer is yes, but I’m leaving for Thailand within a week.” I had sold a 5-carat diamond and bought a round-the-world ticket with my commission.

“All you men are alike. You leave when the going gets tough.”

She hung up before I could defend myself.

Six months later I returned to work the Christmas season on West 47th Street. I bumped into Richard at an art opening. Neither of us spoke about Claudia, but he said, “We should play tennis sometime.”

“Tennis?”

“Lizzie said you were good at squash. You must be able to play tennis. I belong to the club over on the East River. We can play whenever you want.”

“It’s wintertime.” I hadn’t been on a tennis court since 1975.

“The cold scare you?” This was a challenge.

“Not in the least.” I was from Maine. We had two seasons. Winter and preparing for winter. “Name the day.”

“Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny in the high 40s.”

“Sounds good.”

“Say noon.”

“Noon it is.”

I stopped drinking the cheap wine. Showing up sober was the only advantage I could gain by an early departure. I went to sleep dreaming about overhead lobs.

Not only Richard regarded with our match as important.

The next morning I called in sick. My boss Manny let his employees have ‘drunk days’ and I slept for another hour.

By noon the temperature warmed up to almost 50. Richard was waiting by the riverside court. He had brought an extra racket.

“Your choice.”

I selected the one more tightly strung without knowing if that was better or not. I was no Arthur Ashe and lost two sets in record time.

“You don’t play often, do you?” Richard smashed an ace to my left.

“Not for years.”

“Lizzie said you were once the 17th-ranked tennis player in America.”

“That was a joke. I was once down in the South of France during the Roland-Garros tournament in Paris. I was watching Yannick Noah's set and my friend told his father that I was once the 17th-ranked tennis player. I denied the claim, but his father thought I was being humble and scheduled an exhibition at the local tennis club. I was presented to the town’s mayor and the club president. My friend whispered that they expected me to play the provincial champion.”

“And did you?”

“No way. I said that I was under contract and couldn’t play anywhere without signed agreements. A little later his father found out the truth. He didn’t think it was funny at first, but everyone else did. I felt the same way as him. You always do when you’re the punchline of a joke.”

“Now, I feel the same way. I really thought you a good player.” This was not about Claudia, but Lizzie.

“Maybe I am. Maybe I was taking it easy on you.” I knew the truth.

“What about another match?” He wanted to know it too.

“Sorry, I’m under contract.” I handed back the racket and walked away from the court with a smile on my lips.

After that day Richard and I didn’t see each other for several years. I was either working or away in Asia writing novels no one wanted to publish. At least my typing was getting better. Finally I left the States to live in Thailand. I had a baby with my wife. Maybe it was mine. I didn’t ask too many questions.

In April 2004 I returned to New York. My Israeli subleasee had squealed to my landlord in hopes of getting my apartment. An eviction notice was issued in both our names. I threw my tenant out on the street.

Mrs. Adorno said nothing this time. My landlord paid $8000 to speed up my departure from the flat. I was 50 and New York was a tough city for the old. The day before my flight to Bangkok, I spotted Richard on 1st Avenue.

He smiled upon seeing me, then frowned, “I got bad news. Lizzie died this week. She was buried in the South of France. Her ashes floated out to sea with the flowers.”

“Did you go?”

“No, I only heard about it after the fact.” He shuffled several folders of manuscripts between hands. “That leaves only you and me.”

We had nothing else in common and his words died out like a fire left unwatched. I told him that I was leaving the city for good.

“No one leaves the city for good.” He had been living there for over 30 years.

“I am.”

“No, you’ll be back, if only to prove you’re the 17th ranked tennis player.”

“Yeah, there’s always that. See you around Forkhead.”

“You too, Suedehead.”

I waved good-bye. We would see each other another time, because none of us were leaving New York. Not even our ghosts, for the dead lived forever in the past for those stuck in the present.

Perpignan 1982


In the summer of 1982 my college friend Nick Napoli came to Paris. We were closing the Rex Club with a 24-hour marathon of new wave and ethnic bands ending Toure Lunda and Virgin Prunes. The club's manager Olivier had a family beach home on the Cote Vermillion i.e. Perpignan on the Spanish border. Nick rented a car. We greeted the next morning on the Autoroute Du Sud.

Here are fotos of my friends.

We are still good friends.

England was taking back the Falklands, Israeli was aiding massacres in Lebanon, and Roland Garros was featuring championship tennis.

It was on the TV.

Olivier told his father that I was the 17th ranked tennis player in the USA.

He believed his son.

Dodo told the entire town about his guest

To this day I am # 17 in Perpignan.

Perpignan was an old city.

Old people lived within its walls.

For drinking we drove farther down the coast to Collioure.

It was for les jeunes.

We brought two girls back to Carnet-Plage

They were good fun.

But only in a non-Biblical sense.

For some reason William Buckley, Jr. was in town. He followed us around the city. I don't think he was after me.

Oliver agreed.

When he asked about wearing espadrilles, I said, "They look good on you."

It was the South of France.

Espadrilles sucked for climbing around the Templar ruins of the Langue d'Oc.

I thought it was funny.

Olivier was less amused.

But he didn't stay angry. Olivier, Walter, Nick, and I went to Collioure. The two girls were at a harborside cafe. The six of us drank pastis till sunset and switched to wine. I don't remember those girls names or the ride home to Carnet-Plage, but I woke in bed alone.

A lucky man.

We said 'au revoir' to the Brials.

And drove north to Paris.

It was a different France than Perpignan, especially for # 17.