Monday, June 30, 2014

IMPURE AT HEART by Peter Nolan Smith

In the early 60s the nuns of Our Lady of the Foothills taught that sins were punished not in this life, but for all eternity in the burning fires of Hell, but Mother Superior submitted pain to the palms of potential heretics, religious backsliders, note-passers, and jesters with a wicked yardstick. All of her victims were boys. Sister Mary Josef had a sweet spot for girls. They were made of sugar and spice. Her god had scrapped boys together out of snails and puppy dog tails.

As the star student of my class I escaped her persecution. My grade for religion was always an A+ and no altar boy could fake the Latin of the Mass better than me. Mother Superior even spoke to my parents about a possible scholarship to a seminary. There hadn’t been a priest in my family for a generation, however my reign as the Great Catholic Hope died the day on which Sister Mary Josef had assembled the 6th, 7th, and 8th Grade Boys for a diocesan priest's lecture against the temptation of touching ourselves.

We knelt on the floor throughout his hour-long tirade.

“That whisper in your ear is the voice of Satan. Your hand becomes that of Lucifer. Eternal damnation awaits any boy succumbing to the siren song of the Devil.” The priest glared at his captive audience, as if he were seeking out young sinners of the flesh and pointed over our heads. “The Lord knows your hearts. Jesus loves the pure. An eternity of flames awaits the hands of onanists.”

The last word was unknown to the assembly. Heads turned to friends for guidance. Mother Superior caught the movements and cracked the nearest trespasser with her pointer. She showed no mercy to the 6th Grader and pinched his reddened ear with painteresque fingernails. The boy squealed in pain and the priest glowed with satisfaction.

"Masturbation."

We gasped at this word. The Boy Scout manual called ejaculation nocturnal emission. We had many names for it.

"It is the great sin."

His eyes glowed red

“Satan is everywhere.”

“Father?”

"Yes."

"I have a question."

This was the Spring of 1965 and I had prayed to Satan for the Rolling Stones SATISFACTION to vanquish the Beatles from #1. My hair ran over my collar. No one knew that I was an atheist.

“Yes, my son.” The priest had been advised about my prospects. “Do you have something to say?”

He was expecting an admission of impure thoughts.

"Something about sin."

I had plenty of them; Cher from WHERE THE ACTION IS, Julie Christie in DARLING, the French Yeh-Yeh singer Francoise Hardy, my classmate Kyla Rota, and a fantasy about a naked female guitarist were my succubii.

I had never ratted them out in confession and I wasn’t about to start.

“Father, you said ‘eternal damnation’. Forever and ever.”

“Yes.” His eyes squinted with hesitation. “Hell will not freeze over.”

“Maybe not, but after the Last Judgment won’t the universe will be reincarnated with a new heaven and a new earth meaning that eternity will come to an end.”

“St. Luke says, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! … ‘I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”

His voice shook in righteousness.

“So there will be no new heaven and no new earth?” I rose to my feet; 13 years-old and 5-10. There was no fear in my eyes. My best friend had drowned at the age of 8. The priest’s god had done nothing to save Chaney from death.

Footsteps announced the Mother Superior’s approach. She was the priest’s SS henchman. I had betrayed her faith in me, but I sought redemption with a subterfuge from the Scriptures.

“Matthew 13:40-43: Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!”

“Exactly.” The priest waved for me to join him at the podium. "Are you pure?"

"As far as I know."

"We'll see about that." He grabbed my wrists and turned my palms upward.

They were bald.

"Pure palms."

Everyone knew masturbation grew hair on your hands and the priest placed his hand on my shoulder.

“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. Revelations 20:11-12.”

“Yes, father.” I accepted his belief in his beliefs without questioning my disbelief in his.

“Then we are good?” He lifted his face to heaven.

“Yes, we are good.” I glanced over to Mother Superior.

“I’ll be watching you.” The black-robed nun was not so easily fooled by words and studied me, as if I was a triple agent between her Holy Trinity and the Prince of Darkness.

“Yes, sister.” I was neither of the above.

“Assembly back to your classes.” The lecture on masturbation had come to an end.

“Yes, sister.”

Like all good boys and girls of Our Lady of the Foothills we obeyed Mother Superior’s command, even me, because I was only a boy scared of someone evil burning his fingers and I needed my hands smooth for the better things in a young man’s life.

There was no telling when the real thing was coming in 1965 and I hoped it was the girl playing guitar.

She looked nice.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Robert Wilson's THE OLD WOMAN at BAM

THE OLD WOMAN was loosely based on the absurdist stories of Danil Kharms, an avant grade Bolshevik writer who survived a Soviet purge to retreat into safety of children literature.

His adult stories were short.

FALLING OLD LADIES is the basis of THE OLD WOMAN

Because of her excessive curiosity, an old lady fell out of the window and smashed into the ground. Another old lady looked out of the window, staring down at the one who was smashed, but out of her excessive curiosity she also fell out of the window and smashed into the ground. Then the third old lady fell out of the window, then the fourth did, then the fifth. When the sixth old lady fell out of the window, I got bored watching them and went to Maltsev market where, they say, someone gave a woven shawl to a blind.

Willem Dafoe repeats these lines to be echoed in English and Russian by the great ballet dancer Misha Baryshnikov.

Both men are dressed in black suits to be a mirror image of each other.

The play worked at straight angles to the curves of light-directed images reincarnating a pantheon of forgotten styles. The brilliant lighting telegraphed moods of yearning. The music sought our memories. The actors were silhouettes of dreams.

Willem was a good dancer. Misha was better, but only just.

The audience laughed at parts

I didn't get it, but as Robert Wilson said, "If you know what it is, then what the point of doing it."

Huh.

I guess I am a simple man.

And that is no sin.

Sleeping Swan Lake Couch Potato

Some people born graceful even in slumber.

NOTHING BETTER THAN PIZZA by Peter Nolan Smith


Back in 1995 I left the USA after the death of my younger brother. My plan was to visit the holiest places in Asia to expiate Michael's sins. I was a non-believer, but felt this pilgrimage would help his soul on the other side.

By late August I was residing in old Yunnanese city of Lijiang in Southern China. My hotel room had a view of the Jade Snow Dragon Mountain farther up the valley. Most travelers visited the old stone city with its traditional Naxhi influences and then head off to hike the Tiger Leaping Gorge on the Yangtze River.

I skipped the tramp down the swollen gorge. It was rainy season and the footing was treacherous on the dirt paths.

Returning backpackers reveled each other with the legend of a lone Israeli hiker who fell from the trail and broke his leg. His cries for help were drowned out by the rushing rapids and he died of starvation within 20 feet of the trail. It sounded like a myth to me, since the nationality, sex, age, and year changed with each telling.

Still I refused many offers from passing tourist to join their trek.

I was happy in Lijiang. The food was good, the city had cold beer, and I was friendly with two Frenchmen laying fiber optic cables between Lijiang and Dali, another tourist destination to the south. We bicycled up to the Snow Jade Dragon Mountain to see the ski slope.

20 miles up an ascending road with the wind in our faces.

The mountain to the right.

Clouds wrapped its snowy peaks. The ski slope ended up being a sled run. Skiing in Yunnan was a lie, but that came as no surprise, since the Chinese adapted many western trends to their culture without any knowledge of that field.

The Frenchmen and I rode dirt trails back to Lijiang. We passed through small villages and abandoned monasteries. Our conversation turned to food. Lijiang fare was consisted mostly of noodles and rice. Michel extolled the oysters of his native Normandy, while Jacques praised the bouillabaisse of his hometown, Nice. I backed Lobster Newburg from Durgin Park in Boston. I had been eating at that Haymarket dinery for almost 50 years.

"Oysters, bouillabaisse, Lobster Newburg." Jacques spat on the ground. "China has none of that."

"Something more simple like a baguette and cheese." Michel licked at his lips with a watery tongue.

"There's no cheese in China or baguettes, but there is a pizza shop in Kathmandu."

"Kathmandu? That is thousands of miles away." Jacques frowned at this choice. "We will not be going that way."

"But I will and I'll write to tell you all about it, because there is no better food in the world than pizza."

"Peut-etre." Michel wasn't accepting this as fact, but Jacques agreed, "J'adore le pizza."

A month later I bid fare-well to the Frenchmen, who were stuck in Lijiang for a half-year.

"Write us about the pizza. We will be waiting."

I waved good-bye from the bus and traveled north to Chengdu, where I caught a flight to Tibet.

I stayed in Lhasa two months. I lit candles at temples, circled the Jokhang every day counter-clockwise and clockwise, and spoke with rinoches, reincarnated monks. I told them about my brother. They said that they would pray for Michael. I wrote a letter to the Frenchman telling them that the food in Lhasa was even worst than that of Lijiang.

Burnt hairy yak meat and rancid butter tea loaded with salt.

"I'm heading to Kathmandu for pizza." My visa for China was at an end.

I hitchhiked across the sere high plains to the rim of the Himalayas. I ate nothing on the road. The inns were covered by dusty flies. Even the beer looked dangerous.

The snowy peaks stretched from east to west without a break. The altitude was 17,000. Higher than any mountain in Europe. By evening I passed through customs and booked a cheap room in a cheap hotel. The dining room was appalling and I drank beer from the bottle.

In the morning caught a mini-van bound for Kathmandu. I refused all food on the road. Pizza was on my mind. We reached Nepal's capitol within 5 hours. I checked into the Yeti Hotel. The cheapest room was $20. I asked about the pizza. The desk clerk gave me directions and I hired a rickshaw to drag me to Fire and Ice on Tridavi Mag.

The restaurant was located in a new building not far from the Royal Palace. The clientele was divided between Nepalis and homesick westerners. The menu offered l'Americano with pepperoni. I ordered a small with a Chinese beer. The waiter brought a glass filled with ice. I wasn't scared of amoebae. I had survived yak meat in Tibet.

A half hour later the pizza came with a knife and fork. I stared at the plate for several seconds.

"Is there anything wrong, sir?" The waiter asked, as if he had seen my expression of disappointment on other pizza lovers.

"Nothing at all." The sauce resembled ketchup, the bread was nan, and the cheese resembled clouts of goat Nepali cheese. The pepperoni was sweating on the heated pizza. I lowered my head to the plate. It smelled like pizza and I picked up a piece. My first bite told the truth. This was Nepal and there wasn't any better pizza within several thousand miles. I wrote the Frenchmen the same, declaring, "I love pizza."

And the pizza in Kathmandu certainly tasted better than yak meat, then again anything tasted good when you're hungry.

Three days later I was stricken with giardia. My intestines had been poisoned by bacteria. The source of infection couldn't have been the pizza and I accused the ice.

It was the usual suspect in the Orient.

I suffered an assortment of unpleasant effects for a week: diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, loss of appetite, passage of gas from more than one orifice, and horrible weakness. My planned trip to Annapurna was delayed by the illness. The hotel staff was very helpful. They dealt with giardia on a daily basis and knew of one cure.

Tea and toast was my diet for 7 days.

Once I was better, I put myself on the scales at the hotel.

175 pounds.

I had lost nearly 15 pounds.

And my first real meal was pizza l'Americano.

Beer.

No ice.

Nothing was better than pizza and my younger brother knew that too.

HOW TO LIFT A MOTORBIKE Video

Bikes are heavy.

They fall over.

Here's how to get one up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOCTsna2jiI

A Letter from Huey Newton

A Letter from Huey Newton to the Revolutionary Brothers and Sisters about the Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation Movements" is considered the first pro-gay, pro-woman proclamation to come out of the black civil rights movement.

During the past few years strong movements have developed among women and among homosexuals seeking their liberation. There has been some uncertainty about how to relate to these movements.

Whatever your personal opinions and your insecurities about homosexuality and the various liberation movements among homosexuals and women (and I speak of the homosexuals and women as oppressed groups), we should try to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion. I say "whatever your insecurities are" because as we very well know, sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the mouth, and want a woman to be quiet. We want to hit a homosexual in the mouth because we are afraid that we might be homosexual; and we want to hit the women or shut her up because we are afraid that she might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to start with.

We must gain security in ourselves and therefore have respect and feelings for all oppressed people. We must not use the racist attitude that the White racists use against our people because they are Black and poor. Many times the poorest White person is the most racist because he is afraid that he might lose something, or discover something that he does not have. So you're some kind of a threat to him. This kind of psychology is in operation when we view oppressed people and we are angry with them because of their particular kind of behavior, or their particular kind of deviation from the established norm.

Remember, we have not established a revolutionary value system; we are only in the process of establishing it. I do not remember our ever constituting any value that said that a revolutionary must say offensive things towards homosexuals, or that a revolutionary should make sure that women do not speak out about their own particular kind of oppression. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite: we say that we recognize the women's right to be free. We have not said much about the homosexual at all, but we must relate to the homosexual movement because it is a real thing. And I know through reading, and through my life experience and observations that homosexuals are not given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society. They might be the most oppressed people in the society.

And what made them homosexual? Perhaps it's a phenomenon that I don't understand entirely. Some people say that it is the decadence of capitalism. I don't know if that is the case; I rather doubt it. But whatever the case is, we know that homosexuality is a fact that exists, and we must understand it in its purest form: that is, a person should have the freedom to use his body in whatever way he wants.

That is not endorsing things in homosexuality that we wouldn't view as revolutionary. But there is nothing to say that a homosexual cannot also be a revolutionary. And maybe I'm now injecting some of my prejudice by saying that "even a homosexual can be a revolutionary." Quite the contrary, maybe a homosexual could be the most revolutionary.

When we have revolutionary conferences, rallies, and demonstrations, there should be full participation of the gay liberation movement and the women's liberation movement. Some groups might be more revolutionary than others. We should not use the actions of a few to say that they are all reactionary or counterrevolutionary, because they are not.

We should deal with the factions just as we deal with any other group or party that claims to be revolutionary. We should try to judge, somehow, whether they are operating in a sincere revolutionary fashion and from a really oppressed situation. (And we will grant that if they are women they are probably oppressed.) If they do things that are unrevolutionary or counterrevolutionary, then criticize that action. If we feel that the group in spirit means to be revolutionary in practice, but they make mistakes in interpretation of the revolutionary philosophy, or they do not understand the dialectics of the social forces in operation, we should criticize that and not criticize them because they are women trying to be free. And the same is true for homosexuals. We should never say a whole movement is dishonest when in fact they are trying to be honest. They are just making honest mistakes. Friends are allowed to make mistakes. The enemy is not allowed to make mistakes because his whole existence is a mistake, and we suffer from it. But the women's liberation front and gay liberation front are our friends, they are our potential allies, and we need as many allies as possible.

We should be willing to discuss the insecurities that many people have about homosexuality. When I say "insecurities," I mean the fear that they are some kind of threat to our manhood. I can understand this fear. Because of the long conditioning process which builds insecurity in the American male, homosexuality might produce certain hang-ups in us. I have hang-ups myself about male homosexuality. But on the other hand, I have no hang-up about female homosexuality. And that is a phenomenon in itself. I think it is probably because male homosexuality is a threat to me and female homosexuality is not.

We should be careful about using those terms that might turn our friends off. The terms "faggot" and "punk" should be deleted from our vocabulary, and especially we should not attach names normally designed for homosexuals to men who are enemies of the people, such as Nixon or Mitchell. Homosexuals are not enemies of the people.

We should try to form a working coalition with the gay liberation and women's liberation groups. We must always handle social forces in the most appropriate manner.

posted by Jim Fouratt, longtime revolutionary

HUNG by Peter Nolan Smith

The Village in New York had always attracted a kaleidoscope of radical, deviant, and perverse characters considered abhorrent by mainstream America. The Reds gave way to the beatniks. They evolved into the hippies, who surrendered the counterculture ghetto to the junkies, artists, punks and sexual revolutionaries of the 1970s.

In 1977 I lived on East 10th Street with Alice, my hillbilly girlfriend, and my faux-sister Pip rented an apartment off Bleecker Street. She called me Pud. We had met at CBGBs, which was our Lincoln Center. The owner couldn’t figure out how we got so drunk on one drink. It wasn’t magic. Pip and I smuggled bottles of vodka past Merv at the door.

One spring evening the Ghosts were opening for the Dictators. My girlfriend didn’t like either band, so I went alone. Pip was seated at a table near the stage. Our chairs were against the wall. She filled our glasses with vodka and coke. We had no ice. The Ghosts played a blistering set and closed out the show with RICHARD IS A FORKHEAD. There was no encore and the juvenile guitarist came over before heading to the dressing room.

“You mind.” Xcessive pointed to Pip’s glass. He had spotted our trick.

“Not at all.” My ‘sister’ was sweet on young punk rockers.

Xcessive drained the glass and coughed a little before wiping his mouth.

“Thanks.”

“Good show.”

“I tried.”

I watched the young guitarist thread through his admirers by the stage and said to Pip, “Isn’t he a little young for you?”

“He’s just a friend. Same as you.”

The cheery NYU coed had a crush on most of the men on the scene, but many of the girls at CBGBs suffered the same affliction. This was the 70s and not the 50s. None of us were going steady, although I struggled to be faithful to Alice. “Besides I have my eye on my new neighbor. He’s really cute. His name’s Marc Stevens.”

“Marc Stevens?”

“You know him?”

“I don’t know him personally, but he’s known as Mr. 10 1/2.” The well-hung actor was John Holmes’ rival in the XXX film industry.

“Mr. 10 ½?”

“Yes, 10 ½ inches.” I had seen him dancing naked covered in silver body paint at Studio 54. His penis had looked a normal size that evening.

“Oh.”

“He was the star of THE DEVIL AND MRS. JONES.”

“I don’t know that film.” Pip was studying literature at NYU. Her professors expected their students to read MADAME BOVARY and Camus’ THE PLAGUE, not stroke books.

“And I wouldn’t expect anything else.” The francophiles intellectuals had no use for pornography other than THE STORY OF O and I gave Pip a 10-minute course in XXX films from DEEP THROAT to BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR. Her eyes shined with joy. She loved celebrities.

“He’s living with this girl, Jill Monro.”

“Jill’s no girl. She had an operation to change her penis into a vagina. She’s the first tranny movie star."

“No.” Fame and weird was exciting to the young student from the suburbs of Greenwich. “I can’t believe I know a transvestite.”

“Transsexual.” They were two different creatures.

She kissed my cheek for explaining the birds and bees of a hidden sect.

“I love you, Pud.”

Not everyone held porno actors in esteem, but I haunted the Times Squares peepshows in search of arcane films. My hillbilly girlfriend had no idea about my research. It was a secret I kept close to my heart.

That May Pip decided to throw a party for several Geminis. Her apartment was decorated by an underground designer of nightclubs. She had invited a hundred people. Over 200 crammed into the duplex. I knew many of them, since I was one of the birthday boys. My hillbilly girlfriend didn’t drink and Alice wandered off to CBGBs. A curly-haired man came up to a minute later and said, “I thought she would never leave. My name is Mark.”

“Pip talked about you.” I looked through the crowd. His better half wasn’t in the room.

“She talked about you too.” Marc was wearing a white jumpsuit. He was the thinnest person in the room. His hand touched my ass. “You want to do some blow?”

“Yes.”

I was as used to gay guys hitting on me as they were accustomed to seducing straight guys.

“Not here. There are too many vultures.” His soft brown eyes darted over the crowd, as if he were looking for someone special. “Let’s go to my place.”

Two men leaving a party together was no scandal, although Pip leaned over to a notorious German singer and pointed out my departure. Klaus gave me the green light with a wink. The falsetto singer was dedicated to converting me to the other side.

“Gluck.” Klaus liked his men long and thick.

“I don’t need good luck.” I was straight or at least that’s what I told myself. Marc lived across the hall. He opened the door and pushed me inside. The one-bedroom apartment was decorated with dark brown furniture. That color was a favorite with gays in the late-70s.

“I don’t want any of the neighbors seeing me. My wife is very jealous.”

He shut the door and went into the kitchen to fetch a Pond’s cream jar from the cabinet.

It was crammed with a white powder with a pinkish glow.

“Bolivian flake from one of my admirers.”

We sat on the soft sofa. The cushion sank around me like a Venus Fly Trap. The music from Pip’s party thumped the wall. I recognized the song as UP BONDAGE UP YOURS.

“You like that music?” Marc spilled out a mound of blow. The lines were thick as rope.

“I’m a punk.” I had been since seeing the Ramones play CALIFORNIA SUN. Their speedy version of the Rivieras’ hit opened my eyes to a new world and CBGBs became my second home.

“I like leather, but not that music. I’m more into disco.”

He unzipped his jumpsuit to his bellybutton and handed me a straw.

“Enjoy.” I hit the first rail with an athletic gusto. This was not street gear and the coke burst into my nasal capillaries with the intensity of an Incan sunrise. The rush of euphoria scorched my veins and I fell back into the sofa with my bones sizzling on a Peruvian hot plate.

“Good, huh,” Marc whispered in my ear. His lips were tender on my neck. He spooned a small pile into my other nostril. “Breathe.”

I obeyed his order.

The coca renewed its assault on my senses and the universe shimmered out of focus. I was in no condition to resist Marc’s advances. He was a veteran of porno movies. Millions of men and women fantasized about lying in bed with him. I gripped his thick member with the tenderness of a butcher preparing to cut a steak. Millions of XXX viewers had seen him in MICHAEL, ANGELO, AND DAVID. The photographer Robert Mapplethorpe had immortalized this penis in a black-and-white shit titled MARK STEVENS MR. 10½, 1976.

I gave it a squeeze.

“It’s not hard.”

“Rough trade gets me hard.” Marc’s admission was not a confession and we might have gone further, if keys hadn’t been put into the lock of the front door. The actor sat up straight and zipped up his jumpsuit.

“It’s my wife. Do some more blow.”

I snapped out of my trance and turned my head.

The statuesque brunette entering the apartment had a couple inches on us in her stiletto heels. She regarded the coke and then the two of us. Her smile was displayed an awkward unease of seeing her man with another man. Marc wasn’t capable of faithfulness to man or woman and Jill sat down with the surrender of accepting Marc for what he was.

“Please to meet you.” His wife held out her hand with a tilted wrist.

I offered mine, expecting a limp handshake.

Jill crunched my knuckles in a vise.

Marc was her man.

I winced with a pained grin and ripped my fingers loose.

“Nice meeting you too. Time for me to rejoin the party.”

“So soon.” Marc was in no position to pursue his desire.

“It’s getting late.”

“Thanks for coming.” Jill smirked with the pleasure of re-establishing her dominance over my host.

“Sure, just one more thing.”

“What?” Jill straightened her posture, as if she was ready for a fight.

“A good-bye gift.” I bent over and snorted the other two lines within two seconds.

Marc laughed and Jill joined him.

“Sure you want to leave?”

“I already have a lover.”

“Lucky girl.” Jill kissed Marc on the cheek. He poured out more blow. She did the first line. They looked like such a nice couple.

I returned to the party.

Pip grabbed me and asked, “What happened?”

“His wife came home.”

I poured myself a vodka.

“And what were you doing?”

“Talking that’s all. I have a girlfriend.” Pip was a spy for my hillbilly girlfriend. They were good friends. “And I’m not gay.”

“And you’re not straight either.” Pip shrugged with disappointment. She had been all ears for some good dirt. I stayed for another hour. The coke ran its course. I left the party with Klaus. He lived in the East Village. We shared a taxi to St. Mark’s Place.

“So how big was it?” The German was a size queen.

“Have you seen his movies?” I could tell Klaus anything. He loved secrets.

“Yes.” His eyes widened with delight.

“It was that big and thick.

“Wunderbar.”

My hillbilly girlfriend was asleep in our bed. I took off my clothes and slid next to her. Alice cuddled up to me with a childish tenderness and I fell into a wired maze of dreams. None of them were XXX and that was probably better for my girlfriend. Alice was strictly GP-13 and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

At least not that night.

ROCK STANDS TALL by Peter Nolan Smith

In August 1984 ACTUEL sent a Californian-born photographer and me to cover the Deauville Film Festival. This was my second journalism gig for the French magazine and I hoped that writing a good article might open the path to another profession other than being a doorman at La Balajo. he Deauville Film Festival was not Cannes, however the organizers were honoring GIANT and I arranged an interview with Rock Hudson, whose performance opposite James Dean in the 1956 George Stevens' epic tale of Texas oil had been nominated for an Oscar, and I based the trip on the premise of whether Rock Hudson or James Dean was a better dinner companion.

"James Dean was James Dean." Randy came from Los Angeles.

"He died and left a good-looking corpse."

"Something tells me he didn't have good table manners."

"Me too, but we're going to Deauville to speak with the living about the dead." James Dean had fallen out of my favor, although I wished he had been in EASY RIDER instead of Jack Nicholson.

Randy and I took the train to the Normandy beach resort and booked into a hotel in Trouville.

We were issued passes to all the films.

After the screening of GIANT at the beachside casino the handsome movie star recounted to the Q&A audience, "You know James Dean was a wonderful actor. He had studied method acting under the legendary Lee Strasberg and had the gift of touching the pain and joy deep inside him. Every scene in GIANT confronted Dean with this conflict and I was in awe of his struggle to reach his character Jett Rink. My drama school was Universal International, where I learned all the Hollywood skills; acting, singing, dancing, fencing, and horseback riding and that riding came in handy on more than one occasion in my career."

His words were translated to the French audience and they laughed at his joke, but Rock Hudson went on to reveal doubts about his talent.

"I just showed up on set and recited my lines. George Stevens, the director, would nodded and say fine after one take, but if it was a scene between me and Dean, then he would go into conference with Dean after each take. I couldn't hear their conversation and I once went up to the director and asked, if I should do anything different like Dean. George repeated that I was doing fine and returned to Dean for what seemed like hours. I didn't understand his difficulty. Acting to me was reading your lines and acting like you're supposed to act, but what do I know? I'm just Rock Hudson. Thank you for going to my movies."

The audience rose to their feet and applauded his graciousness.

Outside in the theater's foyer I was introduced to Rock by his Paris publicist. The film star greeted Randy and me with a firm handshake. My friend mentioned his father's bar in Hollywood. It was supposed to be a dive.

"I went there once."

His blue oxford shirt helped his eyes shine with a fond memory.

"I had a good time, but it's even better to hear Americans in France." The movie actor gave us a huge smile. "There's only so much French speaking I can take in one day. Do you speak French?"

"Sort of." My Boston accent struggled with the Gallic rolling Rs.

"Then you can order lunch." He was nearing 60, which was almost twice my age, but he was better looking than any man at the festival, including Ryan O'Neal, who was promoting a new film.

"Rock, a moment." Randy stopped at the entrance to the Hotel Deauville and snapped several shots.

"You can shoot more after lunch." Rock led us into the dining room.

The maitre de sat us by the window. Sunbathers stretched out on the broad strand. A man strolling on the balcony waved to Rock.

"Doesn't look like Malibu," I said sitting at the table, surprised to find a British tabloid reporter next me.

"I supposed nothing looks like Malibu." The snarky reporter in his 40s was clinging to the polyester style of the 70s. His name was Bill. He placed a tape recorder on the table and smirked, "But then not all of us are movie stars, are we?"

"No, we're not." I was annoyed at his piggy-backing on my interview and the publicist explained in French that there had been a time conflict as well as his newspaper had a readership of one million.

"Everything hunky-dory?" Bill pushed down the 'record' button. "Mind if we get right to it?"

"Not at all." Rock lit a cigarette. He could have been a Marlboro Man in his youth.

Bill dominated the flow of talk and his course had an unmistakable destination.

Rock ordered a bottle of crisp Meursault to accompany our Sole Meunière. I admired his styled skill of avoiding the hack's trapdoors and waited for my chance to ask him about manners.

"You spent a lot of time with James Dean on the set of GIANT." The Brit reporter was setting up our host. Rumors about his sexuality had been murmured from coast to coast in the gay community. Millions of them thought that he was one of them.

"Not that much. He was getting into character, so he hated me. I knew it was Jett speaking instead of James, so I didn't let it bother me."

"Did he have any women on the film?" Bill was angling to out Rock's sexuality.

"You mean have sex? I didn't ask." Rock was no snitch and I respected his discretion about a long-dead star.

"Some people say that he didn't have sex with a woman after that Italian actress dumped him for that Tony Bennett wanna-be Vic Damone."

"I don't know anything about it and____"

Bill didn't let Rock finish his answer and asked Rock about Jim Nabors, "After all these years isn't it time you let the world know about you and Gomer Pyle?"

"Know what?"

"That you and Jim were lovers. That you shared a place in Hawaii?" The reporter spat out his queries without losing a beat.

"I don't know what you're talking about?" Rock took a sip of white wine. This rumor had been bouncing around gay clubs for ages.

"C'mon, the young boys of our readership are dying to hear the truth."

"You mind leaving the man alone?" I wasn't gay, but I had danced with a few men at 1270 and my younger brother was a queer.

"I'm just trying to write a story, so piss off." The thick-skinned reporter, then demanded to know who was king and queen in the Nabors-Hudson arrangement.

"More like tar and feather Mr. Hudson." My mother had taught her children the importance of good etiquette, but sometimes good manners aren't as useful as bad manners.

I brandished the silver knife in my hand.

"You can't threaten me like that." The reporter recognized the intent in my eyes.

"Gentlemen, no fists or knives." Rock lifted his hands.

"I'm not saying another word." I put down the knife.

"Faggots."

Randy shook his head

"You say it with a smile." I was itching for a fight. It was my forte.

"Or else what?"

"Or else he'll break your nose." Randy had seen me fight more than once. I had a good left.

"You're joking."

"Not at all."

"Fuck you both." The reporter stormed out of the dining room.

"Sorry about that."

"It's not your fault. I've been dealing with his kind for years." Rock thanked me and ordered a brilliant Riesling to complement our Atlantique Sole.

We spoke about his work with Douglas Sirk in WRITTEN ON THE WIND and his movies with Doris Day. He signaled the waiter for another bottle of wine. His publicist looked alarmed, but he patted her hand, "Darling, no one lives forever and I want to feel good. That's the true sign of a gentleman. The ability to make everyone feel comfortable."

I wrote down what he said for the lead into my article.

Lunch lasted an hour more than originally scheduled and after the publicist paid the bill, we walked out onto the terrace. The sun was strong and the wind of the sea was scented with seaweed. Rock lifted his head and then turned to me, motioning to Randy to stop taking photos. He looked like he need a nap.

"Off the record I'd like to say something about me and Jim," he whispered over my shoulder. "It's not true. Someone made a joke about us getting married and then it became the truth. Jim and I are friends. Nothing more and nothing less."

"Thanks." I hadn't asked for this admission and shook his hand.

"Nice man." Randy shot his departure.

"My feelings exactly." A real gentleman.

"So who wins? James Dean or Rock Hudson for dinner guest?"

"I loved the sole, but as Rock was a gentleman."

That evening we met Russ Meyer, the director of FASTER PUSSYCAT KILL KILL. I had seen the sexually charged film at the Neponset Drive-In and asked him about his influence of the fantasies of young boys.

"I was a young man in Hollywood in the 50s. No one was doing what I was doing. I wasn't even sure of what I was doing, but I liked women and there was no place better to like women than in Hollywood." The mustached director had hundreds of stories. We heard a few of them.

"Did you ever meet Rock Hudson?"

"Old Rock. He was a good man."

"My thoughts too."

In my hotel room overlooking the Atlantic I wrote about Rock Hudson's manners and the pleasure of dining with him.

I avoided any negative comments about James Dean.

Dead man are better left dead.

The French magazine placed my Rock Hudson article in the next issue accompanied by Randy's photos.

Actuel's editors were happy with my writing, but I didn't receive another assignment.

A London newspaper had reported on my behavior at lunch with Rock. They had complained about me and ACTUEL didn't need any trouble from the UK.

I went back to the door of La Balajo and refrained from bad behavior.

Through the autumn of 1984 I spotted Rock Hudson at restaurants and galleries opening in Paris. He seemed to enjoy the City of Light. He waved once. Everyone looked at me. He looked a little thin, but he was still the most handsome man in the room and Paris was a good place for a gentleman no matter what his age.

And it still is.

Foto by Randall Koral

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.

Friday, June 27, 2014

So High The High

Plenty of Manhattan apartments have views of Central Park, the Hudson River or the Empire State Building. But this $118.5 million penthouse has something truly unique. "You can see Colorado from here!" real estate broker Ryan Serhant said, standing on the 40th-floor terrace overlooking the New Jersey highlands. "There's nothing else like it!" Sign up for top Business news delivered direct to your inbox. He's kidding—sort of. Serhant, one of the three stars of Bravo's popular show "Million Dollar Listing New York," was a boundless marketer while giving CNBC an exclusive tour of the penthouse in The Ritz-Carlton Residences in Battery Park City.

The Blindness Of Justice

In 2003 online postings from US soldiers working at Abu Ghraib prison showed photos of torture. The Pentagon called this an isolated incident, however the CIA had established a secret empire of prisons throughout the world for terror suspects of their 'rendition' program. "This is not representative of the 150,000 soldiers that are over here. I'd say the same thing to the American people ... Don't judge your army based on the actions of a few. Americans chose to believe their leaders, despite the condemnation of Amnesty International," said Brig. Gen Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of Coalition operations in Iraq. Military commanders punished eleven soldiers and announced an end to torture. It was all lies. Especially since most of the torture was condoned by the higher ranks of the United States Army and the Central Intelligence Agency. It was not an isolated incident and neither was the News of the World's phone hacking. The British newspaper sought headlines by tapping phones with sophisticated methods gleaned from the various spy networks of the UK and USA. This week the chief editor was found guilty of phone-hacking, but then according Al Jazeera the jury failed to arrive at a verdict on whether former News of the World editor Andy Coulson and ex-royal editor Clive Goodman were guilty of paying police officers for royal phone directories. The trial cost over $3 million. Most of the other conspirators have been acquitted of all charges and the media magnate Rupert Murdock was never charged with anything. This too was only an isolated incident. His other newspapers were innocent of any wrongdoing in the eyes of the media, who are equally guilty of the same charges and worse. Once more justice has been blinded by the news. The truth will always out. Especially for Mssr. Murdoch, who was known to have said, "Bury your mistakes." The deeper the better.

Duro Olowu @ Salon 94

Nigerian Designer, Duro Olowu presented

Last evening I attended the opening of Duro Olowu, a Nigerian fashion designer. I had almost blown off the event, except I had spent the entire day writing ALMOST A DEAD MAN and needed a break from my novel about a black pimp in Hamburg.

Samantha McEwen had two pieces on the wall and I was happy to see the London painter. I was equally pleased to view Duro Olowu's new works, which harken back to the fetish costumes of West Africa, especially a towering colossus of color.

His capes were exquisite;y executed for maximum visual impact.

The event was well attended by well-attired guests. Writer Glenn O'Brien looked very summery. He introduced to his friend as 'an adventurer'. Returning to Samantha, she commented, "People in London don't dress like this anymore."

Young Camille showed up and said, "Linen from head to toe."

"It's the season."

"Tomorrow I'm leaving for London. You know anyone there fun."

"A dozen people, although most leave on the weekend." I promised to make some phone calls.

Also in attendance was a ghostly reincarnation of Winona Ryder.

She was very interested in the fashion and the people.

I said goodbye to Samantha. She had plans for dinner and I was meeting Dakota, the lead singer of WEIRD WOMB, on Canal Street.

On this way out I asked Winona's ghost, if I could take her photo.

She smiled with pleasure.

"Sure."

I went outside and got on my bike.

Canal Street was only five minutes from the Bowery.

SALON 94 BOWERY 243 Bowery New York, NY 10002 Tuesday – Saturday 11:00am – 6:00pm Sunday 1:00pm – 6:00pm T: 212.979.0001 F: 212.979.0004

BAD DRIVING by Peter Nolan Smith on KINDLE

I am not the best driver in the world. Accidents happen. I've had more than a few and BAD DRIVING is a collection of short stories about my mishaps on the road. I survived them. although in an alternative universe I died on more than one occasion.

Drink was involved in several and I swore off driving in that condition way back in the 20th Century. It was a life or death decision.

These stories date back to the 1960s.

My last accident was on a skateboard in Pattaya, when I tried to slalom down a hill. A face plant on asphalt is not a happy ending.

Drive safe and even more important drive sober.

The life you save might be someone other than yourself.

To purchase BAD DRIVING by Peter Nolan Smith on KINDLE for $1.99, please go to the following URL

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LBACXLW

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Gay Re-Education Camps

Yesterday former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) was suffering from summer media disappearance and claimed on the radio anti-gay marriage business owners were being sent to “re-education camps” for refusing to serve gay customers. “You now see situations with bakers and florists and photographers who are being forced to provide services for same-sex weddings or get fined, lose their business. In the case of Colorado, there was a Colorado case recently where someone had to go to a re-education camp if you will. And the amazing thing is that in Colorado gay marriage isn’t even legal!" According to Huffington Post Santorum appeared on the program in order to promote his new movie on the persecution of Christians in America. Personally I think that anti-gay people should be sent to gender reassignment clinics, where our beliefs can be shoved down their throats, since they loved that sexual innuendo. Cram it down, cram it down, way down.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Zrooom

Citroën DS Campaign. Helmut Newton

Sexy Car

Sexy Woman

Sexy photgrapher

Helmut Newton

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

BAD CROSSING by Peter Nolan Smith


My college tuition in 1973 was $2000 for the year. I hacked a cab for Boston Taxi to support myself. Our garage was next to the old Boston Arena. If a driver booked more than $100 a night, the payout jumped from 45/55 to 50/50. My classmate Hank Watson and I were the top earners for the company. We caught the 12am operators from the NET&T building and ended the night with a final ride for the strippers of the 2 O’Clock lounge. The drinking age was 18. Hank and I rendezvoused at 1:30am to watch the headliners finish the night.

Tuesday night was the best.

The girls got paid their commission for the drinks to the suckers.

The 3-piece band played our requests. We tipped them with our tips. IN DA GADDA DA VIDA was priceless on a stand-up Hammond organ.

One evening we stayed after hours.

Neither of us were aiming for magna cum laude.

The strippers taught us life.

My favorite DANCER was Claudia. She was a 17 year-old blonde. Marilyn Monroe could have been the mother who abandoned her to the nuns. After closing Claudia and I drank three tequila at the Hillbilly Ranch and smoked a joint with the country-western band. Hank was driving his favorite, a sister named Shaleen, to Roxbury. My first class RADICAL ECONOMICS with Barry Bluestone was scheduled for 9am.

6 hours away.

“If you want to go, then we have to go now.”

Claudia was glad to go.

She had a jealous biker boyfriend.

Ben liked showing up at the Hillbilly ranch to take his cut of her take.

I had Claudia sit in the front. Anyone sitting in the back triggered the meter. The $7 fare from Combat Zone to Forest Hills was better in my pocket than that of the greedy owner.

Claudia talked about her childhood.

Nuns. Beatings. Priests. Wandering hands.

“A-huh.” I was having trouble staying on the road. Smoking weed and tequila was a deadly combination and Claudia asked at her address, “Are you okay to drive?”

“Fine.” My head was strapped to the end of a helicopter prop.

"You want to come upstairs?"

"Another night."

I had a class in the morning and headed back to the garage ignoring the radio dispatcher. Anyone in Dudley Station was stuck in Dudley Station until the train opened at 6am. I stepped on the gas. Columbus Street was naked of traffic. My Checker cab had some tiger in its engine. I hit 70, which was too fast to stop for an Olds 88 burning the stop sign at Centre Street.

I t-boned the big car at the doors. My taxi snap-tailed across the intersection at 1000 rpm. The Checker came to a stop against a curb. The driving wheel was in my hands. The windshield had been shattered by the impact of my head. I dropped the steering wheel and touched my forehead.

No blood.

No missing parts.

The Olds 88 was bent in half.

A black man lay out the door.

I walked over to the wreck. Steam vented from the engine. People were exiting from the nearby projects. Blood was leaking from the man’s ear. This was not a good sign.

“That look like my Uncle Milton.”

“That white boy killed Milton.”

“I didn’t kill anyone.” I leaned over Milton. He was wearing a red silk suit. Wilson Pickett style. “Can you hear me?”

“White boy you done kill me.” Crimson bubbled from his lips.

The crowd was going in anger. Someone had a gun at his side. I eyed him as if I were not white. He didn’t buy the lie.

This was a Mob.

Soon it would be a riot.

I stood alone.

A Boston cab drove between us. Hank was behind the wheel. Shaleen stepped out of the back in pink hot pants splendor.

“Leave the white boy alone. He’s good people.”

The crowd's indecision was detoured by the whoop of a police car. They backed away from the crushed Olds. Shaleen had done her job. Hank drove away with Shaleen in the front seat. He didn't have a class until the afternoon.

“Get in the car.” The officer behind the wheel ordered with urgency. I obeyed his command and we escaped, as an ambulance pulled into the intersection.

“I think I killed that man.”

“Not at all. And besides he was just a nigger."

"Excuse me." I didn't think I had heard him right, but Boston was renown for its racism.

"They have thick skulls. He'll live and we’ll write it up in your favor. You’re from Boston, right?”

He could tell I was a townie from my accent.

"Jamaica Plain down near Forest Hills."

My grandmother lived there. I was from the South Shore.

"Don't worry about nothing."

The next morning I made my economics class and slept through most of it.

At the end of the semester I received a C and I was never charged with manslaughter, because Milton survived the crash. He had been drinking too. The cab company was angry. Milton was suing them for damages.

The stop sign had been turned the wrong way by vandals.

"I didn't do it," I explained to the taxi company.

"Well, someone did."

They fired me without blinking an eye.

Six months later his lawyer called my house to ask me to testify against the cab company.

"I'll give you $100."

I received a check.

No one showed for the court date, but ever since that night I’ve always thought that the state should have a drunk driving hour. No one on the road but drunks.

2am to 5am made sense to me and probably Milton too.

We were survivors.

For that night and beyond.

DRUNK DRIVING HOUR by Peter Nolan Smith

During the early 1970s my college comrades and I drank at the Hi-hat Lounge in Brighton. The girls were young, the drinks were cheap, and we sold 'ludes and mescaline at the bar. Neither of them were the best available in Boston, but we were always in supply, so the bands playing on Commonwealth Avenue visited us before and after gigs. I even sold LSD to AeroSmith and they invited us to their show. They weren't big yet, but the band attracted co-eds from every university within 25 miles.

That night my friends and I crammed into my VW Bug.

"Can you drive?" Peter Gore asked from the passenger seat. We had hitchhiked across America in 1971. A carload of drunks had begged me to drive their Riviera from Reno to San Francisco. Peter had sat in the back. We drank warm whiskey through the Sierras. He hadn't trusted me behind the wheel since.

"Of course I can drive." I had only dropped a 'lude and guzzled several whiskey cokes. Something about his question bothered me and I said I was going to run every red light to Kenmore Square.

"Don't do that." Peter buckled up his seat belt. No one in 1971 wore one. We had all seen too many films where the passengers burn in their cars, thanks to a defective seat belt. The other passengers were more enthusiastic, then again they weren't in the suicide seat.

I blew the light at the first BU dorms and then another by the Boston Club, however we were approaching the Charles River Bridge. This was a much busier intersection with cars coming all directions.

"Don't."

Everyone cried out with good reason and I braked too late to avoid slamming into the back of a Mustang.

"Asshole." Peter was pissed.

"Anyone you hurt?" I pulled over to the curb..

"No."

Everyone was fine.

"Sorry, I was an asshole." I got out of the car to examine the damage to both vehicles.

My front fender was slightly bent.

My friend at a body shop in Dorcester could fix it for maybe $200, but the Mustang bore a major dent.

Maybe $1000, which was a lot of money.

Cars were swerving around the Mustang. The driver was puking out the open door. I walked up to him and he wiped his mouth, saying, "Sorry, for running that light. Are you okay?"

"I'm good."

"I'm really sorry."

The drunken fool thought the crash was his fault.

"Don't worry about it." I was lucky.

"How much you want to fix your car?" He pulled out a wad of cash.

"Nothing." Peter pushed me back toward my car.

"Nothing isn't going to fix my fender." Five $20 bills seemed fair.

"Thanks." The Mustang driver got back in his car and drove off toward Cambridge.

Later at the Aerosmith show we laughed, when, Peter calling me, "Boston's worst driver."

"But I met my match with Mr. Mustang."

Drunk driving hour was a weekend ritual in the last century, but several years ago the Palm County police had a world-class violator in their sights. The driver refused to stop for the officers in pursuit. He ran red lights, crashed into another car, a fence, fled the scene, and when they finally stopped him, the cops cited the offender with 50 tickets.

One was not wearing a seat belt.

All sounds too familiar.

I wonder if Peter Gore wherever he is thought the same thing.

"Asshole."

I don't drive anymore.

I drink no less.

Best for everyone if I walk and I'm sure that Peter Gore feels the same way too.

Faster Than Hell


Back in 1984 a Paris friend bought a fiendishly fast KZ 1100 cc bike. One evening we were sitting at le Savanne, an African transvestite after-hour bar in Les Halles, Francois dangled the keys in front of my face, “How you like to take the monster for a ride?”

I had a Vespa. Its top speed was 120 kph downhill.

"It's a little late for a test drive." Francois' bike was out of my league.

"You can drive around the tunnels of Les Halles. There are no cars this time of the morning."

"Do it," cooed a gloriously thin slender ladyboy. "I like fast men."

"Pourqui non?" I downed a glass of tequila to quell my survival instinct and I grabbed his keys.

The bike felt big between my legs. I turned on the engine. It growled with more power than all the horses in BEN HUR's chariot race. I goosed the throttle. The bike asked for more. The pre-dawn streets were slick with winter rain.

"See you in five minutes."

I screeched down the street.

My wrist flicked through the gears and I entered the tunnel system beneath Les Halles in 3rd. Its maze of parking garages has been featured in many films. Francoise was right. An hour before dawn the subterranean passages were devoid of traffic. I leaned forward on the gas tank with the RPMs coasting at 3000. A twist of the wrist redlined the dial. I hit 160 in a second. The flesh peeled from my face. The KZ hit 200 kph on a straight-away. My death wish competed with the desire to live and I returned to the bar at a conservative 40 kph. I had been gone three minutes. Francois asked with a junkie smile, “Fast?”

“Very.” My eyes were wet wind wind tears

My assault on the Paris speed record was a good effort, however nothing in comparison to that in the film C'ETAIT UN RENDEZVOUS.

On an August morning in 1978, French filmmaker Claude Lelouch mounted a gyro-stabilized camera to the bumper of a Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9. A professional Formula 1 racer drove through the heart of Paris to meet a beautiful blonde in Montmatre. The Benz was an automatic. No streets were closed, since Lelouch was unable to obtain a permit for the film, which was limited for technical reasons to 10 minutes,

The driver ran twelve red lights, nearly hit a few delivery trucks and pedestrians, and drove the wrong way up one-way streets, and completed the course from Porte Dauphine through the Louvre to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur under nine minutes, reaching nearly 140 MPH in some stretches.

Lelouch added the sound from a Ferrari to the short movie to pump up the adrenalin.

Upon showing the film in public for the first time, Lelouch was supposedly arrested for speeding, although critics have calculated that the top speed never broke 160. The same as me underneath Les Halles.

The director has never revealed the identity of the driver, and the film went underground until a DVD release a few years ago.

I remember seeing the short film in Paris.

Damn that car was fast.

But few people drive as fast as drunk Thai boys on their little scooters. No helmets. No lights. Death wish 2011.

To see C'ETAIT UNE RENDEZVOUS, please go to this URL http://vimeo.com/88309465

JETS OVERHEAD by Peter Nolan Smith


Falmouth Foresides was a quiet neighborhood in the 50s. Ships blew their horns leaving Portland Harbor and channel buoys tolled out their passing wake. At night I listened to the Celtics game on a small transistor radio from Japan.

I set the volume to almost silence.

My older brother was a light sleeper.

My mother worried about my hearing and I pulled the earphone out of my ear before falling asleep to my brother's breathing.

None of this coastal quietude preparation me for our move in the summer of 1960 to a suburb south of Boston. The neighborhood itself was peaceful, however our split-level ranch house lay directly beneath the landing pattern for Logan airport. The jets powered down their engines sixty seconds apart, as if Boston was under attack from a bombing run.

I was eight.

Our first night in the house I lay in bed crying. My brother was dead asleep. Sobs and planes didn't disturb him, only the hoarse voice of Johnny Most calling the Celtics and they weren't playing this time of year.

Downstairs adults were laughing in the kitchen. My parents were having a house-warming party for the neighbors. Cocktails were popular in the suburbs. Their drunken conversation grew louder with each overflight and then subsided with the planes passing our house.

I covered my face with a pillow.

My Uncle Jack entered the darkened bedroom and sat on my bed.

"I thought I heard crying." Uncle Jack was the youngest of my uncles. "What the problem?"

"The planes." I whispered, as a set of jet engines whined down its speed.

"The planes." He laughed with relief. "Those planes are bringing people home from trips far away. Soldiers, sailors, mothers, fathers, and children. They're a good thing."

"But they're loud." Maybe the fireworks for the 4th of July were louder.

"Yeah, I guess you're right." Jack followed the plane with his eyes. His house was up the street. He shrugged a shoulder. "Believe me you'll get used to it. My kids did."

"They did?" Uncle Jack had three sons about my age. We were to attend the same school. They were the same as me.

"Yeah, you can get used to most everything." Jack said like he was telling a lie. "Well,not everything. I ever tell you about the time I was in the Chosin Reservoir."

"No." Uncle Jack had been a Marine lieutenant during that war. Comic books glorified these battles. He had won several medals for bravery. Everyone in my family called him a hero.

"I marched through that frozen hell with my troops. We started out two-hundred strong, but day by day we lost friends. I can remember their names. Their faces. The Chinese blowing their bugles. You want to talk about noise. Those bugles were loud and then we'd kill the men blowing them before anyone with a weapon. We mowed them down with machine guns, rifles, hand grenades, and rocks. Then it was over. The commies were either dead or so exhausted that they couldn't even breathe. Quiet. Just like now. Then there was a gasp. Not one, but by all the living, wounded, and dying. Some crying too, but none of it loud like that."

Uncle Jack pointed to the approaching roar of a jet. His eyes were wet and he wiped at them with his sleeve.

"Silent like no one was sure what they were, because we were scared. The chinks and us. No one wanted to die anymore. I went to sleep right after that. The only officer left in a command of ten men. I slept like a king surrounded by the dead and wounded. They knew how to cry, but in the end it got quiet. Now you go to sleep too." His voice had authority. Men of that era were knew how to speak like their fathers. He patted my head and then said, "Not an order. Dream if you got them."

It was a strange bed story, which probably should have kept me awake for hours, instead I slept until dawn and Uncle Jack was right. I grew accustomed to the jets that I didn't hear them anymore.

Years later I ran a cross-country track meet in East Boston. My high school against Don Bosco. The course skirted the beach across a channel from Logan. Neptune Road was so loud that the noise rattled loose your fillings.

A few of the opposing track team lived on that dead end street. None of them said that they had ever grown accustomed to the noise.

Not then and not now.

And neither will Uncle Jack to sobs at night.

For him they belonged to the dead.

APOCALYPSE NOW AND THEN by Peter Nolan Smith

I tried to enlist in the Marines soon after my 16th birthday. My mother wouldn’t sign the papers. The 1968 Tet offensive had dented her belief in the final outcome of the Vietnam Conflict. The dead were airlifted home in coffins. The wounded filled the VA hospitals. Discharged soldiers were portrayed as drug addicted monsters. A neighborhood boy came back from the Far East with nothing more than a thirst for beer.

Dennis Halley had seen action near the DMZ. The Boston Globe had mentioned his heroics during the Tet offensive. My hometown’s John Wayne was dating my next door neighbor. Addy Manzi was the prettiest girl on the South Shore. The three of us had vandalized an abandoned missile base of top of Chickatawbut Hill. The police had arrested me and I never gave up Dennis' or Addy’s name. I considered him a god and told him about my plans to join the Marines, while we were sitting by the Manzi’s swimming pool.

"Why you want to go?" He stared at the stars.

"I want to get out of here." My suburban hometown had three red lights, fifteen churches, and no bars.

“I wouldn’t do that.” Dennis had served with the Army Rangers. He had been decorated with medals and a puckered hole in his arm from shrapnel.

"Why not?" The Marines were proud.

“Marines are taking a lot of casualties. Officers are gung-ho for promotion. One West Point fuck ordered my friend to get some beer. A mine blew up his truck. My man died for warm beer. Viet-Nam is fucked and if you don’t have to go, then don’t go. The only people there are dumb fucks like me and poor white trash and blacks who can’t afford to go to college.”

“What about serving my country?” I believed in the American Way; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

“I'm done served this country enough for the both of us. I spent two tours humping around rice fields, burning villages, and shooting at an enemy I couldn’t see. But one of them saw me good enough to shoot me. If I hear you signing up for the jarheads, I’ll kick your ass.” Dennis Halley was 20. He had killed VC. His eyes squinted like he was a stand-in for Clint Eastwood in THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY. His harsh words ran against the Pentagon’s optimism.

"What if I join the Army?"

"If you want to leave this town, then join a carnival or circus."

“Okay.” I wasn’t arguing with my hero.

“Good, now give me some room.” He nodded to Addy. They wanted to be alone. I didn’t have to be told why and wandered across the lawn to my split-level house. It was painted pink.

The strength of his advice changed my life. I became a hippie instead of a Marine. I protested the war. My father considered me a ‘commie’, but he didn’t want me to go to Viet-Nam. Like Dennis said the war was someone else’s fight and I avoided the last years of the war by attending college.

By the time I graduated in 1974 our troop levels were down to 1950 numbers, but more than 50,000 Americans had died in SE Asia and hundreds of thousands more had suffered grievous wounds to body and soul. Few of soldiers spoke about their experiences and those that had not gone wondered whether they missed the glory of war.

Dennis broke up with Addy and moved to California. She and I kissed after my older brother’s wedding. I was too drunk to attempt anything more in my family’s Oldsmobile. I quit my teaching job at South Boston High School in 1976 and relocated to New York. Manhattan was heaven for a young man in his 20s. I had friends. My girlfriend from West Virginia loved me and I worked at Hurrah, a rock disco on West 62nd Street. My days were free and I spent them going to the movies.

Double bills at the St. Mark’s movie house.

STAR WARS at the Whitestone Drive-in.

ALIEN on May 25, 1979 at a Times Square theater.

None was more important than the release of APOCALYPSE NOW on 15 August 1979 at the Ziegfeld Theater, where the sound was state-of-the-art.

Several of my co-workers from Hurrah showed up an hour before noon. I arrived thirty minutes later.

The line stretched around the block. The Ziegfeld was the only theater in New York showing the film, which had won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. This was the first day, first screening. None of us had to be anywhere else in the world but here. Whenever someone asked why Anthony, Reese, and I were waiting, they disconnected from their day and bought a ticket. We had orchestra seats.

By 11:45 the show was a sell-out and disappointed film buffs were begging for tickets at any price. No one was selling. The thousand-strong audience filed into the West 54th Street theater with pride and we bullied our way to the center seats.

At noon the lights dimmed to a semi-darkness.

None of us were ready for what came next.

A jungle filled the screen and the repeating whoop of helicopters passing overhead strobed over the sound system.

Dust and fire.

The young boy next to me ducked, as if the rotor blade might slice off his head and then a byzantine strum of a guitar followed by chimes. The predominantly male audience gasped with recognition.

THE END by the Doors.

A man’s face upside down overlapped with carnage.

A hundred matches ignited throughout the theater. Marijuana smoke clouded the air. APOCALYPSE NOW was a time machine back ten years into the past.

153 minutes later I exited into the steamy afternoon with a better understanding about why Dennis Halley was so vehement about my not enlisting.

“Do you think it was really like that?” Reese asked after fending off the next sitting’s questions about the film.

“I really didn’t know, but I wish I had gone."

"To kill people?"

"No, and not to serve my country." I wanted to bear witness to the spectacle of power and glory humbled by determination and I would gladly have risked my life to have the distinction of being a Viet-Nam veteran. Many men of my age felt the same way. We had missed out on the Big Show.

I fired no M-16. I never danced with hookers at a Saigon Bar, but my hair had been shoulder-length in April 1975 and I danced in the streets of Boston with hippie girls. Our side had forced the peace on LBJ, Nixon, the silent majority, and the military. The country turned its back on the War and the aftermath.

Several years ago I flew over Viet-Nam on a flight to the States from Thailand.

The country had looked at peace from eight miles high and I stared down at the mountains thinking about grunts humping 100 pounds backpacks up and down the slopes. It was a long way from America.

Back at work in the diamond exchange I told the security guards about my trip. Andy had served one tour in 1968. Army out of the motor pool. He had had no wish to end up a dead hero.

“I’ve been writing the Pentagon for a pension.”

“For what?” Andy knew my stance of the war. He felt it was a waste too, but also that we had to stop the reds from taking over the world.

“For all the years I protested against the war. Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh, NVA is gonna win.” The chant had served as a slogan at demonstrations throughout the USA.

“Fuck that. You traitors will get nothing.” Andy spat out these words. The Brooklyn native was right-wing. His 2012 choice for president was the feisty Alaskan Sarah Palin. "We did our part." I was joking with him.

“And you deserve nothing. I landed in Saigon at the beginning of the Tet Offensive. Bullets were smacking into the charter jet and the sergeants yelled at us to take shelter. I spent the first three days in a trench praying for a truce. Mortar rounds landed ten feet from our shelter. I stayed one tour and got the fuck out. I don’t get a pension for it, so why should some long hair peace-nik.”

“Hey, the Feds give money to everyone. Why not me?”

“But you were never in Vietnam?”

“No, but I was in Cambodia.”

“You served in Cambodia?” Andy didn’t figure me for Army and he was right.

“No, I visited Phnom Penh and Laos too.” Both countries were next to Thailand. Thousands of farangs travel to the borders for a visa renewal. I thought about Dennis Halley’s dead friend. He was one of thousands that didn’t come back to the States.

“Did you have cold beer?”

“A luxury. We drank it warm with it 95 in the shade and sweat pouring from every pore."

“Something worth fighting for?” I saluted the retired cop as a fellow veteran. "Not democracy.".

“Hippie scumbag.” He gave the finger.

“Baby-killer.” I didn’t mean nothing by it and neither did Andy.

My fingers split into a vee.

The gesture had many meanings.

Fuck the French to the English archers at Agincourt, since the frogs lopped off prisoners fingers to prevent their return to the killing ranks.

Churchill had transformed the vee into a sign for victory.

I remained true to the 60s.

“Peace.”

“And love.” Andy returned the gesture, for war was a young man’s game made dead serious by the decisions of distant old men and like everyone else who lived through those times we were glad to be sucking air into our lungs.

Here there and everywhere.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Top Ten US States For Corruption

No surprise at # 1

1. Mississippi 2. Louisiana 3. Tennessee 4. Illinois 5. Pennsylvania 6. Alabama 7. Alaska 8. South Dakota 9. Kentucky 10. Florida

But where was New Jersey?

THE MAGUS Summer Reading

Everyone is planning summer holidays. People ask me where to go, since I have been many places. Camille from the diamond exchange was wavering between Morocco and Turkey.

I had been to neither, but heard Morocco was a hassle and Istanbul was a gem on the Bosphorus.

"Thanks for the info." Camilli was the queen of the plain joes in Bushwick. Most of them had beards. She would feel comfortable on the beaches off the plains of Troy.

On my way home to Fort Green I had a glass of wine at the Oyster Bar, several beers and margaritas at Solas on East 9th Street, then more beer at Frank's Lounge before arriving at my apartment around midnight to crash onto my bed almost a dead man.

The next morning I woke from my slumber with the rise of the dawn. My bedroom has no shades and day comes early these days.

I rewarded my survival with a daylong lay down during which I read John Fowles' THE MAGU, the story of an selfish Oxford graduate escaping a complicated relationship by accepting a teaching post on a remote Greek island, where he enters into a series of metaphysical games with a rich tycoon mimicking the lives of the gods and heroic humans. I fast-flittered through the pages since I had read the novel in the 70s, but immensely enjoyed visiting THE MAGUS.

After finishing the novel I remembered that it had been made into a movie with Michael Caine cast as the hero and Anthony Quinn as Maurice Conchis with Anna Karina and Candice Bergen as the love interests.

The 1968 film adaptation had been a critical box office disaster and I killed the afternoon watching it on Youtubes.

It was so bad, that Michael Caine had once said that it was one of the worst film in which he had been involved.

Woody Allen topped this critique by saying, "If I had to live my life again, I'd do everything the same, except that I wouldn't see The Magus."

THE MAGUS as a film really did suck, but the book was a nice escape on a hang-over day, especially if you didn't have to read every word, and I planned to give Camille my copy.

She'll enjoy it sunning on the beach.

I won't tell her anything about the movie.

Some things are better left in the dark.

Thai Smiles Forever

Thailand is renowned throughout the world as the Land of Smiles. Every year the country plays host to millions of tourists. These visitors for the most part return home extolling the hospitality of the Thais. Few foreigners understand that the Thais have as many smiles as the Eskimos have names for snow and the nation has been showing its best face during the current political crisis.

Red shirt supporters grinning in defiance of the government.

Yellow shirts protesting the rise of the poor.

Soldiers smiling during the coup d'etat or ga boht by the Royal Thai Army.

Nothing is what it seems and it's all thanks to the Thai library of smiles.

Here's a few of them;

- yim tak tai: The polite smile, used for strangers

- feun yim: The “I-am-forced-to-smile-even-I-do-not-want-to” smile

- yim cheuat cheuan: The winner’s smile over a rival

- yim tang nam dtah: The truly happy smile

- yim tak tan: The “sorry-you-are-wrong-again” smile

- yim sao: The smile masking sadness or unhappiness

- yim mee lay-nai: The evil smile

- yim cheun chom: The admiring smile

- yim yor: The arrogant smile

- yim mai ork: The forced smile

- yim yair-yair: The smile to apologize and take the heat out of an awkward, embarrassing situation

- yim hairng: The nervous, apologetic smile

- yim soo: The “it-cannot-get-any-worse-therefore-I-better-smile” smile

Read more: http://absolutelybangkok.com/the-thai-smile/#ixzz0fAgo08X4

I'm particularly impressed by the last offering 'yim yor' or the smile that says I'm right and you're wrong.

Anyone who has lived in Thailand has seen that last grin too many times to count, but worse probably they didn't recognize it either because they thought that they were so right that they could never be wrong.

And the Thais call that one 'yim farang kee-nok'.

It doesn't mean anything good.

Ganden Sky Burial

A mango tree shaded our old house in Sri Racha. Birds roosted on the branches. Our next-door neighbor hated the tree. Its leaves fell into their yard, even though the tree's spread of shade cooled down both houses.

My neighbor only saw the leaves and the other week she called up the electricity office to trim the tree, while we were away in the country.

Upon my return I wanted to confront her about this assault on my tree , but Mam advises to keep a jai yen on these matters, since a cool head is easier to live with than a hot heart.

The next day I smiled at my neighbor without humor. She smiled back wondering how I would right her wrong. I smiled again communicating that my revenge was only in my mind and she smiled with gratitude. The Thais have more names for a smile than a Wall Street banker has for ripping off money from the taxpayers.

This week a small bird fell from the tree in front of Fenway and me. Its mother swooped to the ground and attempted to get its baby to fly, but the little bird was grounded by a broken wing.

Fenway was almost four year-old. He grabbed the little bird and put its body in a box, promising to heal its wing.

"I want to be doctor."

"Good boy." My grandfather had been a doctor in the Great War. I hoped that his skill might have been passed down to my son, but his mother knew the truth.

"Let him dream." It had been a long time since either of us had been so young.

"Bird will die." Mam was a fatalist.

"Not up to us. Up to Buddha."

We fed the little bird rice and its mother came to visit the stricken bird. Our efforts fell short and three days ago the little bird expired in the night. In the morning Mam asked me to bury the bird.

"Is that what Thais do with dead birds?"

"I not want cat eat." The Thais buried nothing.

"Okay." I sat down at the computer and searched google for 'thai bird burial'.

Tibetan sky burials covered the first five pages and no narrowing or broadening of the search words returned a traditional Thai bird burial ceremony, so I decided to give the little bird a sky burial.

Years ago I had been trekking around the Ganden Monastery in Tibet. Tim Challen and I were accompanied by two Canadian women who had been attending the Women conference in Beijing. Scores of golden vultures were gliding to a cliff top overlooking a fog-shrouded river. A gargoyle of a man stood over a human body. He held a savage cleaver in both hands. His bald head glistened with sweat, as he hacked the corpse into smaller pieces. A monk watched from a short distance. His prayers were a mantra caught by the wind. The vultures came to his call and swallowed chunks of flesh whole.

"What are they doing?" The girl from Toronto asked with wide eyes.

"It's a sky burial. Tibetans and Zorasterians believe that putting a body in the earth defile the world, so they let the vultures take them." I had read about this rite in Francis Younghusband's journal about his invasion of Tibet.

"It's disgusting." Ann was a homeopathic nurse. She hated the sight of blood.

The burial butcher waved for us to come closer.

The two girls argued against our interference with the sanctity of this moment.

Tim and I hadn't traveled thousands of miles to miss such a sight.

"If you want to keep walking, go ahead." Tim was a young man of 18.

"You can't be serious." Ann's friend was a squat feminist who had little use for men other than cadge food off them.

"Dead serious," I said and Tim and I joined the sky burial, as the two women stomped off in anger.

The vultures hobbled over the rocks to pick at the flesh. Their skull dipped blood. The sun broke through the clouds. Tim and I looked at the dead man's face. He wasn't wearing a smile. The monk lifted his hands from prayer to indicate that this was the way of the eternal wheel. We left before the butcher chopped apart the skull. Some things were better left to the imagination.

"What are you going to do with the bird," asked Mam that evening.

"A sky burial." I wrapped the little bird in plastic.

"Nang fan?" Thais burned their dead.

"Yes." I went outside and chucked the still body onto the roof. I didn't bother to say any prayers. I didn't know any for dead birds.

"So that sky burial?" Mam asked with Fenway hugging her legs.

"Same as they do in Tibet." I didn't explain about cutting up the bodies.

"I not sure."

"I've been to Tibet. I know what to do with the dead bird."

Farang bah." The Thais thought all westerners were crazy and I know what they would do with my corpse, if given the chance.

It had nothing to do with the sky.

THE NAME IS FENWAY by Peter Nolan Smith


I was born in Boston.

My childhood, teenage, and college years were spent within the confines of New England. My heart belonged to the Celtics and Red Sox and these sports allegiances have never been challenged by my decades of living in New York or anywhere else in the world.

When the Red Sox came back to defeat the Yankees in 2004, I was sitting in a bar in Thailand, cheering on my team on the other side of the world. The other farangs at the bar were finishing off a night of go-go bars. They tried to change the channel.

I was sober and they were drunk.

I got my way and celebrated the victory by buying everyone at the bar a drink. After my explanation of the Curse of the Bambino, we toasted the the Red Sox. Few of them cared about baseball, although the Brits understood the pain, since England hasn’t won the World Cup in over a half-century.

Six years later my Thai wife Mam announced that she was pregnant with a boy and I consulted my overseas friends for a name.

Jesse James Smith sounded good, until someone informed me that the Missouri outlaw had owned slaves. Malcolm X Smith was a little too heavy a name to carry through his life. My favorite runner as a teenager had been 2OO-meter champion Tommie Smith, who had raised his fist in protest of racism at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, but Tommie Smith Smith was too much Smith for my boy.

“What about Fenway?” suggested Shannon Greer on a long distance call to Brooklyn. We were good friends, despite his status as a Yankee fan.

“Fenway Smith.” The combination had a nice ring to it.

Back home at Moo 9 I googled Fenway Smith.

No Fenways showed up through the search of Fenway Smiths, Jones, Williams, Lees, Sanchezs, Millers, or Martins.

Later that night I felt Mam's growing stomach and explained the origins of the name to her.

“Cannot name your son Fenway Park Smith.” Mam came from Sri Racha, which was a Chinese Thai city up the coast.

“Why not?”

“Everyone think he's Korean not Thai with name Park.”

She was right and four months later Mam gave birth to our loving son Fenway.

His middle name is Superstar.

Sadly my business failed in Pattaya and I had to leave Thailand and my family of four.

Now I travel as much as I can. Fenway is always in my mind as are the rest of my children; Fluke, Noi, and my dearest Angie.

My younger sister disapproved of naming my son ‘Fenway’.

Pam’s a lawyer. They have strong opinions.

“You’ll see why it’s stupid.”

My sister has a funny way of being right, but the Thais gave Fenway many names; Wey-wey, One-way, and always Superstar. I saw nothing wrong with any of them.

While in exile I live in Brooklyn. It’s more Mets territory than Yankee land. My friends at Frank’s Lounge appreciate my son's name and on many occasions I proudly tell people, “My son’s name is Fenway.”

Last week I bought a Red Sox t-shirt for Fenway.

Walking back to the Fort Greene Observatory I spotted a young man with a small dog. He was wearing a Red Sox cap. We spoke about our faith and I asked him, “What’s your dog’s name?”

“Fenway.”

I didn’t tell him about my son, but several days later I ran into another young Red Sox fan with a dog.

Once again the mutt’s name was Fenway.

"My sister Pam had been right.

Parents don’t name their kids ‘Fenway’ was that young men name their dogs after the Bosox park.

But I’m not a young man.

My father took me and my older brother to see the KC As at Fenway in 1961.

I sat on the steps of the 3rd base line for the 1975 World Series.

I survived the 6th game loss against the Mets in 1986.

I'm a Red Sox fan to the core and my son is Fenway Superstar Smith.

One day I’ll take him to the temple of baseball and that is written in the stars.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Longest Day Of The Year

37,000 people gathered at Stonehenge to celebrate the dawn of the longest day of the year. Police arrested a number of people for reefer, which the BBC referred to as 'drugs'. I stood on my roof at dusk. Naked to the sun. No one else joined me, which is a good thing. Getting arrested for public indecency would be a horrible way to end Litha, the pagan day of the sun standing still. Bain sult as or enjoy in Gaelic.