Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Sins of Helmut Newton

Helmut Newton portrayed sex differently from the Playboy magazine version. S&M tainted photos versus airbrushed farm girls, however Hugh Hefner recognized the Berlin-born photographer's talent and hired Newton to shoot soft-core pictorials for Playboy, including pictorials of Nastassia Kinski and Kristine DeBell. His true vision of sexuality will always be renowned for its departure point being far beyond most people's ken of fetishism.

Me too, but only because the lingerie looks so expensive.

He was a god and rightfully his ashes were buried next to Marlene Dietrich at the Städtischen Friedhof III in Berlin.

Schlafen gut, Helmut.

Dinah Willis - Playboy Miss December 1964

I left Barbie for her.

Mea Culpa Barbie


Barbie was a doll born of the 60s. Her original body scale if set to 5-9 would give her dimensions of a 36-inch chest, 18-inch waist and 33-inch hips. Her unearthly body was never questioned by the millions of girls, who loved the Mattel creation, and certainly not by their brothers, who undressed Barbie whenever no one was home to recreate the act of sex between Barbie and her boyfriend. Few of us were imaginative enough to realize the possibility of a menage-a-trois.

Barbie was the first women 60s boys ever loved and anyone who tells you different is a liar, unless they were into Ken.

And a lot of my friends did love Ken.

He was so cool.

Especially when watching us ply with Barbie.

Ken never squealed to my sisters.

He was a good guy and there was nothing wrong with playing with dolls. At least not my method, because rubbing Ken and Barbie together like two sticks inflamed my pubescent mind to a fever pitch.

Mea culpa Barbie.

No Black Friday For Ken

Once a year on Black Friday American consumerism outgrosses the year's gluttonous excesses, as shoppers descend on the XXXL malls to buy corporate crap at discounted prices. The hoi polloi in the millions fight over wide screen TVs, iPhones, and Barbie dolls.

Having never participated in the capitalist frenzy, I left the Fort Greene Observatory on Friday and headed down to the nearest 99 Cent store on Myrtle Avenue only to discover that the management had opted out of the post-Thanksgiving Day tradition.

"Nothing is on sale." The clerk waved me away from the counter.

"Nothing?"

"Nothing."

I accepted my defeat and exited from the store with a 99 Cent roll go toilet paper.

No one on Myrtle was carrying a shopping bag, except for a frazzled mother. Her daughter had an iPhone. She was happy, but I had to ask myself, "Why doesn't anyone fight over Ken dolls?

The answer is that it's a Barbie World.

She rocks.

Naked or not

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Testimony For A Dead Man

Darren Wilson According to the leaked testimony to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on October 22 the incident began as Wilson was driving down Canfield Drive, having just handled a call about a sick baby, when he saw Brown and Johnson walking down the middle of the street. Wilson told them to move to the sidewalk and was met with verbal abuse from the pair in response. Wilson saw that they were carrying cigarillos and he noticed that Johnson matched the description of a suspect in a strong-arm robbery where cigarillos had been stolen. Wilson parked his vehicle and called for assistance, then tried to get out of the vehicle, but was punched in the face by Brown through the open window. Wilson thought he had no choice but to draw his weapon, because Brown was "incredibly strong". He was unable to use pepper spray due to the close quarters, and his baton was out of reach. Brown grabbed Wilson's pistol while punching him repeatedly in the face. Wilson could feel Brown pushing the weapon back toward his body, and it was at one point pointed back at his hip. Wilson pulled back inside the vehicle and attempted to shoot Brown, but he failed the first time because Brown's finger was jammed in the hammer of the gun. The gun fired on the second attempt, resulting in a wound to Brown's hand, as well as scattering fragments of glass inside the vehicle. A second gunshot failed to hit Brown before Brown fled. Wilson's shoulder radio had been knocked off-setting during the struggle, and he decided to give chase. After he got out of the vehicle, Brown turned back toward him, then charged at him despite his commands to stop. Wilson fired at Brown, hitting him four times, including a final, fatal shot to the forehead, which brought Brown down. Wilson told investigators that he did not recall yelling or saying anything when he was chasing Brown, but when Brown stopped, turned and began running toward him, he yelled stop.[66] According to a source reported in The Washington Post, Wilson testified to the grand jury that he ordered Brown to stop and lower himself to the ground, but Brown instead turned and moved toward the officer.[67] Wilson said that Brown's hands were not raised at the time of the shooting.[65]

Dead men can't tell their side of the story, but eyewitnesses can tell what they saw that day.

Dorian Johnson Dorian Johnson, a friend of Brown, was walking with him in the street. Johnson said that Wilson pulled up beside them and said, "Get the fuck on the sidewalk."

The young men replied that they were "not but a minute away from their destination, and would shortly be out of the street". Wilson drove forward without saying anything further, only to abruptly back up, positioning his vehicle crosswise in their path, almost hitting the two men. "We were so close, almost inches away, that when he tried to open his door aggressively, the door ricocheted both off me and Big Mike's body and closed back on the officer."

Wilson, still in his vehicle, grabbed Brown around his neck through the open window.[39] Brown tried to pull away, but Wilson continued to pull Brown toward him "like tug of war".[73] Brown "did not reach for the officer's weapon at all", and was attempting to get free of Wilson rather than attack him or take his weapon from him.

Wilson drew his weapon and said, "I'll shoot you" or "I'm going to shoot", and almost instantaneously fired his weapon, hitting Brown.

Following the initial gunshot, Brown was able to free himself, at which point the two fled. Wilson exited the vehicle, after which he fired several rounds at the fleeing Brown, hitting him once in the back.

Brown turned around with his hands raised and said, "I don't have a gun. Stop shooting!" Wilson then shot Brown several more times, killing him.

Johnson's attorney stated that Wilson did not attempt to resuscitate Brown, did not call for medical help, and "he didn't call it in that someone had been shot."

Johnson told local TV stations shortly after the shooting that Brown had been surrendering, when Wilson opened fire without cause or warning.

Johnson's attorney, Freeman Bosley, stated that Johnson had confirmed with law enforcement his and Brown's roles in taking the cigars prior to the shooting incident

Piaget Crenshaw

Piaget Crenshaw said that, from her vantage point, it appeared that Wilson and Brown were arm wrestling before the former shot Brown from inside his vehicle. Wilson then chased Brown for about 20 feet before shooting him again. "I saw the police chase him ... down the street and shoot him down." When Brown then raised his arms, the officer shot him two more times, killing him.

Michael Brady

By the time Michael Brady got outside, Brown had turned around and was facing Wilson. Brown was "balled up" with his arms under his stomach and he was "halfway down" to the ground. As he was falling, Brown took one or two steps toward Wilson because he was presumably hit and was stumbling forward; Wilson then shot him three or four times. Brady said that the pictures he took of Brown with his arms tucked in under his body is the position he was in as he was shot three or four more times by Wilson before hitting the ground

Tiffany Mitchell Tiffany Mitchell arrived in the area to pick up coworker Piaget Crenshaw. In an August 13 televised interview with a local CBS affiliate, Mitchell said she saw Brown and Wilson struggling through the window of Wilson's vehicle. "The kid was pulling off and the cop was pulling in." She started to take out her phone to record video, but then she heard a gunshot, "so I just started getting out of the way." After the first shot was fired, Brown started to run away. "After the shot, the kid just breaks away. The cop follows him, kept shooting, the kid's body jerked as if he was hit. After his body jerked he turns around, puts his hands up, and the cop continues to walk up on him and continues to shoot until he goes all the way down."

Mitchell also appeared on CNN that evening, describing what she witnessed as follows: "As I pull onto the side, the kid, he finally gets away, he starts running. As he runs the police get out of his vehicle and he follows behind him, shooting. And the kid's body jerked as if he was hit from behind, and he turns around and puts his hands up like this, and the cop continued to fire until he just dropped down to the ground and his face just smacks the concrete. Grand jury witnesses On October 16, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an interview with a black Canfield resident who testified before the grand jury. The man, who did not want his name released, said he saw the entire event. Wilson drove past Johnson and Brown and then backed up again. A scuffle ensued in the police vehicle and Wilson's hat flew off. There was a gunshot at the vehicle, and then Brown ran down the street followed by Wilson. Wilson aimed his gun at Brown and repeatedly yelled "Stop", but did not fire until Brown turned around and stepped toward Wilson. At that point Wilson fired three shots. Brown staggered toward Wilson from 20 feet away with his hands out to his sides, when Wilson fired again. The witness said that Brown was already falling as the last shots were fired and that, in his opinion, the final shots were murder.

Tonight helicopters are hovering over the Farragut Projects on the other side of Fort Greene Park. I hear the whoop of sirens. The pigs.

White America

Saturday, November 22, 2014

When It All Went Bad

51 Years Later


Today no one in New York mentioned JFK’s bad day in Dallas.

Neither the BBC, New York Times, nor Al-Jazeera wrote a single line about the November 22, 1963 tragedy, proving the old adage that as you get old you forget and as you get older you are forgotten.

51 years might be a long time for some people, but I can remember exactly what I was wearing, as Sister Mary Honore sobbingly announced over the intercom, “The president has been shot dead in Dallas.”

The standard uniform for St. Mary’s of the Hills was a blue tie, white shirt, and navy blue slacks.

On the bus ride home 5th Grade Paul O’Conner said, “Well, I guess that settles what the Kennedys are getting for Christmas. A Jack in the Box.”

The older boys beat him up for his bad taste, because even 8th Graders understood that America had been changed forever and not necessarily for the better. School was cancelled for the rest of that week and I hung my school uniform in the closet till that next Monday.

There was nothing on TV throughout the weekend.

No cartoons.

No movies.

Only the dead president's funeral, although CBS showed NFL football on Sunday.

The upstart AFL cancelled their games, which was the turning point for their league.

In the months that followed the Warren Commission concluded that Lee Harvey acted alone. Conspiracy theorists have refuted this finding as well as the official Single Bullet Theory, attributing the assassination to the CIA, Castro, the Mafia, Cuban exile groups, and anti-communist Pentagon cliques.

Of course my theory runs counter to the mainstream in that I think RFK arranged his brother’s death for having ordered the murder of Marilyn Monroe by J. Edgar Hoover.

I wrote recently that I had only been in two movies; THE LAST SONG and a foot fetish short, however three years ago my friend Randy Koral came out from Paris to film a version of my short story THE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. We changed the setting to Thailand and the fat man was on the run to Cambodia. I played the lead and Nick Rieter starred as the black operative hitman.

My screenplay centered on a long monologue of my JFK assassination theory. The day of this scene I had a 103 fever. Every attempt to complete this three-minute piece ended in failure further proving the wisdom of my never having pursued an acting career.

Nick on the other hand was great.

Cockney accent and bad teeth.

The film was never edited to a rough cut. Randy was soon diagnosed with brain cancer. Two operations in France has him in remission. He is supposedly coming to New York next month. Maybe we can reshoot the flubbed scenes then.

I miss JFK, especially after seeing the film 13 DAYS, which shows how a real president should act in a crisis.

His last words in Dallas were in in response to Governor Connelly’s saying, “You can’t say the people of Dallas don’t love you.”

“No, I wouldn’t say that.”

Four shots proved them wrong.

Here's to you John, We barely knew you.

Bridges and Typewriters


In Jan. 1982 a french magazine ACTUEL hired me to work the work at their Paris nightclub, Le Rex. I bid good-bye to New York and flew from JFK to Heathrow with one bag of my best clothing and an Olivetti typewriter.

After a brief visit with friends in London, I boarded a train at Waterloo Station for Dover and caught a night ferry to Calais. The immigration officials stamped my passport with a six-month visa and I passed through customs without any of the smoking officials casting an eye in my direction. It was cold outside and I walked to the Calais train station.

My typewriter weighed a ton and I contemplated ditching it, while crossing a bridge. The tide was out and the river bottom was thick with mud. The world didn't need another writer or another doorman at a nightclub, then again this world doesn't need much, so I trudged into the terminal with the Olivetti and bought a ticket to Paris.

Gare Du Nord.

For me and my typewriter.

I have no idea where it is now, but me I'm in New York and my typing is as bad as ever.

The Dream Is Never Over

After spending a lovely night in Houston, JFK and his wife boarded the presidential jet for a short hop to Dallas. The crowds lining the route applauded the president and his hostess, Mrs. Connolly, commented, Dallas loved him and he replied, "That's very obvious."

The single bullet and then another struck JFK within a second of his reply.

November 22, 1963 was a bad day, however the video shows that he was having a good time in Texas.

The love was real and real now too.

Johnny Boy we miss you.

To view the lovely night in Houston, please go to this URL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQlw-U8l6YY

Who Killed the Kennedys?


The night Barack Obama was elected president, people danced in the streets of New York. Our man had won against the GOP. I looked into the eyes of a man my age and we started crying, not out of joy, but in relief of having endured the lost years since November 22 1963.

Obama was one of us. He took office two months later. The presidential limousine drove him from the inauguration stage to a series of parties. Thousands of supporters gladhanded their president and at the end of the festivities Barack Obama found himself in the White House.

He had it all.

The Oval Office.

The Red Phone to Moscow.

The Briefcase.

They were his along with two wars and a shattered economy. He must have looked at his wife and said, “What now?”

If I was Michelle, I would have said, “What about the Kennedys?”

Then again I’m from Boston.

The President has been politically wounded by Obamacare, the budget fights, and defection from his base, but he still has access to the deep, dark secrets buried by various agency; Roswell, Martin Luther King, Pearl Harbor.

We have too many questions, yet nothing new has come to light during his administration and considering the body count for asking the wrong questions, I can appreciate his patience.

It takes time to unbury the truth.

Even fifty years after the fact and it doesn't look like Obama is going to get it for us either.

THE BIRTH OF THE BOUFFANT by Peter Nolan Smith

In the late-18th Century Marie Antoinette' coiffeur sought to camouflage the queen's baldness by upsweeping her thinning tresses to cascade over her ears. The femme fatales of the ancien regime imitated 'le bouffant, until the royal coif lost its popularity with the Marie's final haircut by the guillotine.

Almost two centuries later Jackie Kennedy, JFK's wife, reincarnated the fashion during her tenure at the White House.

American women idolized the glamorous First Lady regardless of their politics.

Overnight millions of housewives hit their local hair salon to acquire the look.

Movie stars such as Audrey Hepburn and Kim Novak further popularized the rage and within months the only women rejecting the coif were Durgin Park's gang of crew-cut bull dyke waitresses and the nuns at my grammar school, Our Lady of the Foothills.

The bouffant died out with the advent of the hippie era.

Young women grew long hair and coif was once more threatened with extinction, except for brief respite from the lead singers of the B-52s and the late English singer Amy Winehouse.

Last year Jamie Parker and I were happy-houring at Solas in the East Village. We had the Irish bartender to ourselves. Moira liked a good laugh and Jamie told her stories of his go-go bar in Pattaya.

After our second margharita an attractive woman walked into a shadowy bar. Her bleached blonde hair was stacked high on her head. Stiletto heels added another five inches to her Amazonian height.

"A model." Jamie Parker smirked at the passing beauty in designer drag.

"Probably coming from a shoot." The actresses in TV show MADMEN had revitalized the early 60s, although few woman in present-day America could pull off the time-travel make-over.

"She looks like a 1960s transvestite." The lanky ex-con squinted down the bar.

"And that's a bad thing." I caught the scent of Chanel No.5. She was high-class.

The goddess sat at the end of the bar and Moira went to attend to her need. She was into girls.

"Not in this light." It was almost night that deep in Solas.

"You don't like the bouffant?"

"Not at all."

"And why not?"

"Because the Mr. Kenneth who re-invented the hair style for Jackie Kennedy was queer."

"You have something against gays?" Back in the 60s gays were feared by young men, unless they were looking for a good time. This was the modern times. Gay-bashing was not in fashion.

"Me, I love gays, but gay hairdressers used the bouffant hair style as a strategy to turn straight men gay."

"What do you mean?" I wasn't following Jamie's line of thoughtlessness.

"Just that it's not a really natural look and women refused to have sex to avoid ruining the helmet of hair on their head, so men sought release elsewhere."

"With other men?"

"The sexual revolution freed us from our chains." Jamie was a couple of years older than me, although he didn't look it.

"I had a girlfriend with a bouffant in 1965." Jo and I met in the Mattapan Oriental Theater. We were both 13.

"And you went all the way?"

"Not even close." Steel-rimmed bras safeguarded against any attempts by unschooled boys to reach 'second base'.

"See."

"It had nothing to do with the bouffant."

"You're from Boston. Men from Boston love Jackie Kennedy's bouffant. You probably went to bed jerking off to the First Lady."

"Not that I can remember." Jackie O rode horses and spoke French. Women like her were destined to marry rich regardless of their hairstyle. "Jo was my muse. I know my place."

"Don't we all." Jamie was in the States visiting his mother. She lived in the Bronx and thought that he was teaching school in Thailand, instead of running the Pigpen A Go-Go featuring fat pretty bar girls and skinny ugly pole dancers.

"My mom had a bouffant."

"Mine too."

"It had them feel like a queen."

"Better than knowing your place."

"Send the princess a drink on us," Jamie told Moira.

"Happily." Moira played for the other side.

"Do you like the bouffant?"

"It's very Kim Novak." The blonde had mesmerized Hitchcock in his film VERTIGO.

"Wasn't she gay?" Jamie asked eying me.

"I think so." Moira played for the other side. She was holding the model's hand. They looked like a nice couple.

If only for happy hour.

"Ah, here's to the bouffant." Jamie raised his glass.

"And Jackie O."

At my age I might think about her once in a while.

After all she was the mother of the modern bouffant.

Wear What November 22,1963

Not only do I know where I was 50 years ago when I heard about JFK, I know exactly what I was wearing.

The school uniform for St. Mary of the Hills.

We miss you JFK.

Always have.

Always will.

Fuck the debunkers of Camelot.

THE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH by Peter Nolan Smith

A black Suburban headed west on Route 2 at the top of Lake Michigan. The late afternoon traffic was light and no state troopers cruised the two-laner traversing the Upper Peninsula. The driver was cruising at 85, then stamped on his brakes upon spotting a white van parked in the Wonderland Diner parking lot. The SUV lumbered to the side of the road and the tall man behind the wheel reached over for his binoculars. He focused on the back of the van.

The plates matched those of the fugitive.

“Now I have you, you bastard.”

Only this morning the Assistant Field Director in Petrowsky called off the hunt for their quarry.

“The fat man has slipped through our net, but someone that size will surface sooner or later.”

The driver of the black car hadn’t imagined ‘later’ would arrive so soon and he punched a number on his cell phone. The direct line to the agency was busy. He tried the State Police without success and then 911 with the same result. Someone jamming the transmissions.

SOP recommended back-up and the agent waited for the phone service to come back on line.

The diner’s sign blinked HOME COOKING every 15 seconds. The neon enticement played to an empty house. Thirty minutes went by without a single car or truck passing the Wonderland Diner.

The sun dropped beneath the pines. The thickening darkness was all the cover that the fat man needed to escape into the Upper Peninsula’s trackless woods. The agent pressed the number for the FBI.

Nothing.

He pulled out his 9mm. It was loaded with 15 rounds.

“Fuck SOP.” The agent shifted the SUV out of park and drove right behind the van. He flicked off the safety of his automatic and exited from the Suburban. Blessing himself with the left hand he walked to the entrance.

The door opened with a creak.

Neither the cook nor the young man at the counter broke from their fixation on the food fest at table #5, where a fat man in overalls shoveled down the remains of grits and eggs.

“Where them pasties?”

The fat man pushed his stubby fingers through lank hair.

“They’re coming.”

Michigan had no law against eating yourself to death and the cook flipped the half-dozen meat-stuffed pasties onto a plate, then turned to the tall man at the door.

His suit was rumpled and his right hand was behind his back. His build was a little too athletic for a man in his forties, but the cook had seen all types during his ten years running the Wonderland.

“You comin’ or goin’? Cuz either way you gotta shut that door.”

“Business so good you can insult customers."

The newcomer shut the door.

“Sorry, mister, I don’t heat the great outdoors. Not this time of year.”

The tall man sat at the counter.

“What’s good?”

“Most everythin’.”

The fat man wiped his mouth with the back on his hand.

“Chicken pot pie was damn good. Pork Chops too. Ya should try that.”

“I’m not that hungry.”

The tall man eyed the young man at the counter. The dirt on his hands had not come from any honest labor and the leaves in his long hair indicated a night under a bridge. He was no one and the tall man whipped out his 9mm.

“Don’t shoot me.” The cook dropped the plate of pasties.

“No one’s shooting anyone.” The fat man poked a fork into the flapjacks.

“Not if I don’t have to.” The tall man produced a badge with his left hand. “I’m a duly authorized federal agent and that man is a fugitive from justice. You two stay out of the way and nobody will be hurt. Big man, keep your hands in front of you and stand away from the table very slowly.”

“I….” the hippie stammered and the agent snapped,” This doesn’t concern you.”

“Stay out of it,” the fat man mumbled through his pancakes.

“Drop that fork.”

The agent approached the booth.

“Ya goin’ to shoot me for eatin’?”

“I’m not kidding.” The agent wasn’t in a laughing mood.

“Damn, who ya’ll? The fat people police?” The big man rose with extraordinary grace for a man his size. His hands were in the air. “Yer wanna arrest me, Ah ain’t gonna fight.”

The fat man was wanted Dead or Alive and his lack of resistance surprised the agent.

“You’ve been through the drill; turn around, face the wall, and spread them wide.”

“Tell me, if Ah’m gonna be safe with ya’ll.”

The fat man stretched his elephantine arms and legs against the Formica wall.

“Safe?”

“Ah mean, the only reason Ah ain’t surrendered before was that Ah weren’t sure that yer cud keep me someplace safe.”

“Oh, we have safe places for you.” The agent dangled handcuffs to the cook. “Slap these on the man. If he moves, I’ll shoot him.”

“Shootin' a man that big like trying' to hit a bear in a vital spot.” The cook took the cuff. “No offense, big man.”

“None taken.” The fat man’s head swiveled to show a toothy smile. “Yer a good cook and Ah gots to dig yer fer that.”

“Keep your eyes straight ahead.”

“Ain’t that a laugh? Here ya'll trying’ to earn a decent livin' and this bloodhound starts mess in’ with yer customers and ordering’ ya around.”

The fat man pressed his face to the wall.

“Bet that makes ya feel real safe.”

“Shut up."

“You wanna know why they after me? Cus Ah’m privy to the truth about lies. Cookie, why don’t ya ask Bossman why he’s arresting’ me? I bet $100 he doesn’t have a clue.”

“They’re too small.” The cook fumbled with the cuffs.

“You have to open them up.” The tall man glanced at the silent longhair. His hands were over his head. The agent snatched the handcuffs from the cook and stepped closer to the fat man. “Get real tight with that wall and put your hands behind you.”

“Yeah, yer just doin’ your job, only Ah ain’t done no wrong to no one in a long time. That didn’t keep ‘em from comin’ after me.”

“Shut up.”

“I’m gonna obey your every command, bossman.”

“Cook, you have tape?” The cuffs were too small.

“Ain’t ya supposed to use government-issue tape?”

“I told you to shut your hole and I meant it. Where’s that tape?”

“Right here.” The cook offered masking tape.

“Wrap his wrists tight.”

“Hey, ya don’t wanna be cuttin’ off the blood. Ah mean Ah gotta eat with these hands.”

“Don’t worry, you’ll be stuffing your yap soon enough.”

The agent waved the cook out of his line of fire.

“I hate GI Joe grub.” The fat man spun on his heels and pushed the cook.

The agent had been expecting this move and pulled the trigger, only the shot went wide and three hundred plus pounds of sweat, fat, and bones squashed the agent into the wall like a Samoan lineman sacking a quarterback. When the fat man stepped away, the unconscious agent fell to the floor.

“You killed him,” the cook declared with horror.

“Ain’t dead, only knocked out and people will come in droves, cus ya had somethin’ happen here. And they'll all wanna to hear about what happened and not much happens this time of year or any other, right? If fact ya should be thanking’ me for savin’ yer winter.”

"Thanks."

The fat man de-ammoed the 9mm.

“Cookie, give the man his piece after I’m gone.”

“What you gonna do?” The cook looked at the payphone.

“Ah’m gonna go down the highway and yer can tell the fellas that come for this one that too.”

The fat man picked up the pasties from the floor.

“Sure, take what you want.”

“This ain’t no stick-up.” The fat man handed him several twenties and told the long hair, “You can drop yer hands.”

“I’m no trouble.” The long hair stared at the man on the floor.

“And ya ain’t gonna have none neither. I wany ya ta drive fer me.”

“Drive for you?” The hippie lowered his arms.

“They have an all-points on my van, so Ah’m takin’ the bossman’s car.”

The longhair retreated toward the bathroom.

“Maybe ya didn’t hear me right. You’re drivin’. Ah can’t fit behind the wheel and ya’ll can. Afterwards ya can say that Ah forced ya’ll, which is exactly what Ah’m doin’, ifn’t I hear the word ‘no’ agin.”

“You’re not leaving me any choices,” the longhair protested to the fat man.

“Yer exactly right.” The fat man searched the fallen agent’s pockets, finding the car keys, and then jerked the pay phone from the wall. “Sorry, Ah can’t take chances. Thanks for the lunch. It was delicious. Let’s go.”

The hippie exited first from the diner.

The fat man pointed to the SUV.

“I like big cars. They make me look thin.”

“There’s not many places to run on the Upper Peninsula.”

“That’s okay, cuz where Ah’m goin’ ain’t no one can follow me.”

“You expecting an alien abduction?”

“They already land on Earth. Sum of ‘em tubes. Funny, maybe that’s why people in the fashion businesses are so skinny and Ah’m so fat. They don’t abduct no fat men, cuz they can’t achieve orbit. Now git in the car, we have to go.” The fat man shoved the long hair behind the wheel and then sat in the rear with the SUV teetering to the right.

“Where to?”

“Head west.”

The hippie studied the rear-view mirror with a little too much interest.

“Who’s been chasing you?” The hippie backed out of the parking lot.

“The FBI, the CIA, the NSA and even NASA had a shot.”

“Was that guy one of them?”

“He mighta been after the million-dollar bounty on my head.”

“Why you worth a million?” The hippie glanced in the rearview mirror.

“Yer seen me enough at the diner.”

“I ain’t seen anyone human eat that much.”

“Yer can’t get a better disguise than a fat person.”

“So you didn’t tell me why they hunting you.”

“Ah didn’t, otherwise they’d hunt yer to the ground.”

“Heck, I’m already wanted for credit card theft, so I’m off to Canada, then I’ll head to the Eskimo nation to hunt seals or whales or carve tusks. I’m good with my hands and there’s not much call for that in the old USA, right?”

“Yer wanna hear why they’re after me?” The fat man leaned forward to whisper in the driver’s ear.

“Hell, I’d tell you I’d keep it a secret, but after two beers or a joint I’d surrender the family secrets to entertain the crowd, so if you don’t want it spread around the Eskimo nation, keep it to yourself.”

The driver’s gray eyes gleamed with a hustler’s sincerity.

“I guess I can trust you.” The fat man settled into the seat. “Ah was once young and full of life. One day Ah heard a story, which altered my life. A secret Ah wuzn’t supposed to hear and didn’t believe. Anyway this man told me the truth of this world. Oh, Ah heard why we were in Vietnam to stop communism. More like to control the heroin trade. Why we gave China to the Reds? To control one billion people under one leader. The government waved the flag and blacklisted commies in America, which was smoke fer the real drama. None of those truths got me in trouble. No, the one that endangered me is the greatest mystery in the American Century. Yer have any idea which one that might be?”

“Is Elvis alive?”

“Elvis is dead. Ah saw the body.”

“You saw the body?” the longhair demanded in disbelief.

“Ah saw plenty in my old job and heard more. Elvis’s death ain’t the greatest secret in America, unless yer an Elvis impersonator. C’mon, try a little harder.”

He squinted, as the setting sun’s golden glow filled the long corridor of pines bordering the highway.

“Biggest secret. Oh, I have it. Who killed Kennedy? You’re talking about that, right?”

The driver stepped on the gas.

“Ah’ll tell yer and it’ll take about seven minutes after which Ah’m gonna step out of the car and you drive away. Yer got that?”

“Yes.”

“Ah was alive, when Kennedy was killed. Hell, Ah can tell you what Ah was wearin’, cuz Ah went to a Catholic school. White shirt, blue tie, black pants, black shoes. Anyway Ah believed that Oswald was the killer.”

“Same as the rest of the America.”

“Ah believed that, until Ah met the assassin and he wuzn’t no CIA agent either.”

“Who was he?”

“His identity is unimportant, cuz he wuz part of the machine that killed the president.”

“Cause of the Bay of Pigs?”

“Cold.”

“Vietnam?”

“Not even warm. This story doesn’t begin with the Kennedys. Yer heard of Marilyn Monroe?”

“Yeah, the movie actress JFK was banging.”

“That proves yer an ignorant fuck buyin’ what the TV sells you.”

“Okay, okay, tell me your story then.”

The driver flicked on the headlights.

“What yer do that fer?”

“Cause it’ll be dark soon, that’s why.”

“Yeah, right, so as Ah said, the story starts with Marilyn Monroe. Not many people were aware of that she was the illegitimate daughter of a Mafia gangster. Anyway Marilyn becomes a movie star and every citizens in America believes she’s havin’ an affair with JFK, only JFK is usin’ her as a ‘beard’ to hide his womanizin’.”

“With Judith Exner Campbell.”

“Glad you watch The Learning Channel.”

The fat man dropped the southern accent.

The story went faster without the drawl.
“Anyway Marilyn becomes a real pain in the ass and JFK tells his brother, Bobby, to tell her it’s over. Bobby goes to Marilyn after the birthday bash in Madison Square Garden. Normally the sight of a crying woman had no effect on the hard-hearted bastard. Only he’s a man and she’s a beautiful woman and he comforts her broken heart.”

“So JFK never…..”

“Never is a long time, anyway Bobby falls in love with Marilyn and starts telling her his business and JFK’s too. Starts talkin’ about leavin’ his wife and the Kennedys had a hard enough time electin’ Catholic in 1960 without having a divorce in the family for the re-election in 1964. JFK orders his brother to dump Marilyn. Bobby says he’s marrying Marilyn. JFK vows to stop this union. He can’t turn to the Mafia, since he’s stiffed them on Cuba. Instead he goes to that old drag queen, Hoover, who’s pleased as punch to get more dirt on the President. The little fruitcake tells him not to worry and flies out to Los Angeles with his boyfriend and they kill Marilyn. Bobby walks in on them and beats the shit out of them. J. Edgar confesses that his brother ordered her murder.”

“Shit. A car’s following us. In fact they’re catching up.”

“Could be anyone.”

The fat man glimpsed over his shoulder.

“No, not just ‘anyone’ has flashing lights. So keep the story coming.”

“Thanks, kid, it’s comforting to have a friend in your corner. Now where was I? Oh, yeah, Bobby wants revenge. Nothing comes to him, until the brightest and the best of the White House are discussing the drop in JFK’s polls. The president asked, if anyone has an idea to boost his popularity. Bobby suggested that they stage a fake assassination attempt. The rest of the brain trust calls him crazy, except Old Man Kennedy understood street politics and mumbles nothin’ boosts a president’s re-election more than a failed assassination. JFK accepted his father’s edict and gave the CIA the go-ahead. Those university minds plotted the fake assassination in Dallas. A CIA team on the grassy knoll shoots blanks. JFK becomes a hero, the election a landslide, and a mandate assures a new era of prosperity. None of them suspected Bobby was setting up his brother for the old Mafia boss.”

“Who was Marilyn’s real father?”

“Ten points. Bobby tells the old man how JFK had killed his daughter and they planned to place another shooter on the scene.”

“The Texas Book Depository,” the driver spat like he was rushing an answer to a game show.

“No, Oswald was a fall guy. The Mafia chief put his shooter in the building across the street. November 22, 1963. Everyone’s in place. The CIA team shootin’ blanks on the grassy knoll. The fall guy's in the Depository. The Mafia hit man waiting for his shot. Anyway the limo makes the turn and the Mafia hit man bangs away, hitting the president. The CIA team is confused by the change in the plans and pulls off a round. The hit man delivers the coup de grace and Bobby has his revenge. Fratricide.”

“It fits,” the driver murmured with the car gliding to a halt.

“I figured you for a cop.”

The fat man dipped his hand into the bag of pasties.

“Sorry, big man,” the driver apologized, adding, “I’m only doing my job.”

“No problem, I understand and thanks for not shooting me.

He bit into the pastie.

"They want you alive."

Blinking lights filled the interior of the car.

“Yeah, for now. You think about what they’ll do to you, once they’re rid of me?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Officer Tippitt, Lee Harvey Oswald, Dorothy Killgallen, Jack Ruby to name a few, but we don’t have time to tally the body count. I step out of this car and I’m a dead man. You’re dead too, because I told you too much.”

“That was some crazy bullshit.”

“Okay, you talk to your boys. If they ask, if I told you anything, you say no and come back to the car and drive faster than hell. A plane is waiting at a deserted airfield five miles from here and the pilot will wait another ten minutes. Tell them I have a gun and will only surrender to you.”

“You don’t have a gun.”

“Yes, I do.” The fat man withdrew a .22 Beretta from under a fold of fat. “Now if I’m wrong, step away, because I’m not goin’ to jail and I don’t wanna kill you.”

“Why not?” The driver rested his hand on the door handle.

“Because you’re my only out.” The fat man flicked off the Beretta’s safety.

"I'll be right back."

The longhair walked to the men behind the cars. They spoke for a few seconds and the hippie returned to sit behind the wheel. The fat man tapped him on the shoulder.

“So?”

“You were right.”

“I wish I wasn’t.” The fat man had to trust the longhair. They were both dead men if he didn’t. “You ready?”

“Ready?” The driver stamped on the accelerator. The black car burned rubber to the crack of shots. Several shattered the rear window, missing the passenger and the driver. Sirens filled their ears and the cold air rushed inside the car. “That’s one way to quit your job.”

“No one in my job has ever retired, so it’s welcome to run for your life.”

“Yeah, head out of the highway, looking for adventure and whatever comes your way,” the fat man sang, imitating Steppenwolf.

“Fire your guns into space.” The driver showed they were on the same team and the fat man shifted to a chorus from Judas Priest, “Head out of the highway.” because the open road was the only world left for people like him, until the ranks of the resistance outnumbered the liars in power and that could take an eternity.

And eternity was closer than anyone knew.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

$1.19 Steak At Tad's

I ate my first steak at Tad's.

1964.

Someplace near Penn Station

$1.19

I made five times that as a newspaper boy.

We were not wage slaves in the age of Tad's Steakhouse.

Stranger Stranger

Family.

Sigh.

Maybe I remember the better moments of life.

I don't think so.

Then again I am far from a perfect person.

As anyone can judge from this missive from my cousin.

"I think of you all every day, unfavorably and with sorrow. It is, I suppose, kind of you to contact me but, sadly, too late, too little, too meaningless. I remember how I was there for you for Michael and for Angie. But you were not there for me following David's suicide. A wonderful, joyful childhood, rich in cousinly play and adventure, evaporated into nothingness. Memories betrayed and made distant. Of the lot, only Gina retains any claim to ethical conduct.

Nevertheless, I wish you happiness and prosperity, as I would any stranger."

I was her brother's friend.

The Bishop and I played B-Ball together.

I spoke to him a week before his deciding to end it all.

I think about Davie all the time.

I am not a stranger.

Not to the Bishop.

My Loved Nana

My Nana came off the boat from Ireland at the age of 14.

She broke her heel coming down the gangway.

Somehow everything turned out all right for a while.

Nana loved us more than the moon and the stars.

All of the thirteen cousins.

We were her family

All The Leaves Are Brown

Sunday morning I took this photo from the top floor of the Fort Greene Observatory. The sky was gray and the Mamas and Papas' CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' rang in my ears. I was 2900 miles from the West Coast and rain sloshed on the sidewalk. I went to work in wet gear. The streets of Manhattan swelled ankle-deep with the overflow of every deluge. Thankfully I was wearing a good boots and returned home at dark only a little wet.

My landlord and I smoked some reefer after which I fell into bed with the windows open to the cool autumn night.

Sirens sang on Fulton.

Ambulances, not fire or police.

Brooklyn was dangerous in the rain.

I watched WALKING DEAD and read PORIUS by John Cowper Powys. The Celtic fairy tale was a tough walk through the weeds of words obscuring the Arthurian legend. My eyes shut after two chapters, dreaming of my Pictish blood. I lasted two seconds as a near-sighted thane with a dull sword against the Roman shield and I wandered through the sleeplands until a whoosh of wind withered a shiver through the trees outside my window.

Golden leaves fluttered to the floor.

My breath floated on the darkness.

The temperature dropped every second.

Autumn was gone.

Winter was here.

I shut the windows and watched the wind rip away the leaves.

Mercy was out of the question for the new season's invaders.

Three layers of blankets shunned the cold, but this was only the beginning.

I was winter and winter was bound to get colder.

Earth was in Space and the temperature in Space was Absolute Zero.

To hear CALIFORNIA DREAMIN', please go to this URL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN3GbF9Bx6E

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Le Livre de Philippe Waty

The Steamin' Musselmen or les Muselmans Fumant were an artistic troupe de force in Paris through the 1980s and 1990s. Philippe Waty co-founded the group and his vibrant iconography adorned the walls of the abandoned city quarters. Philippe painted with the spirit of Chester Hines's Black America matched by his collaborators; Fabrice Langlade, Tristam de Quatremere, Franky Boy, César Maure and Dominique Gangloph.

Sadly Philippe passed into the Here-Before in September of 2012.

He was a friend.

Tristam has organized a book of Waty's work.

On December 3rd at le Favel de Chic, 18 Rue du Faubourg du Temple there will be a soiree to celebrate his life and art.

If I can get there, I will be there.

Le Etoile De Waty.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Last Of Millions

George Lawrence Price (1892 - 1918)

The last to fall in the Great War.

A Canadian from Falmouth, Nova Scotia.

11-11-1918

My grandfather and grandmother met in France. The year was 1917. They served together in a frontline hospital for the Royal Canadian Medical Expedition. They came home with German helmets, bayonets, zeppelin debris, and medals as souvenirs of that horrible conflict.

Neither had much use for God after witnessing the carnage of trench warfare.

Today I toasted the millions of sacrifices in that bloody conflict. I also thanked the stars that I’ve never had to fire a shot in anger.

Almost a hundred years ago my grandparents were sitting along the Marne for the Armistice.

The truce between the Axis and Allies was signed at 5am, but ceasefire didn't take effect, until the 11th second of the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

The guns along the Western Front unloosed their last cannonade for six hours.

The 11th second came and went without any abatement in the fury.

Soldiers on both sides had ammo and they weren't taking it home from 'over there'.

It is estimated that over 10,000 men were killed or wounded between 5am and 11am.

The last casualty was reputed to be a Canadian, Private George Lawrence Price.

He was struck in the chest by a German sniper at 10:58am.

One of the 60,000 dead from the Great North.

Pacem in Terrem.

Today I asked a number of New Yorker about Armistice Day. It's a national holiday. Out of the twenty I questioned only two could say why they had a day off from work.

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

But not by me.

I'm a true old git.

11-11-11

On the 11th minute of 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 a permanent ceasefire was declared along the Eastern and Western fronts of the Great War. Canadian George Lawrence Price was hit by the sniper's bullet at 10:58 and he is thought to be the last casualty, although troops continued to shoot at each other for several hour after the armistice ended the 4-year global conflict.

11-11-11 occurs once a century.

Someone in the armistice committee must have been heavily influenced by numerology to have chosen this powerful progression of the first prime number to magically stop soldiers from killing each other.

Of course it could have just been a coincidences like 9/11/2001.

Today the major combatant nations on World War I commemorated their fallen dead.

Over 65 million soldiers participated in the struggle.

Now the survivors of that epic holocaust down to 25. The 111-year-old Imperial Russian Mikhail Krichevsky is the oldest and Wallace Pike from Newfoundland is the youngest at 99, although Montenegro's Danilo Dajković claims to be 98.

My grandfather and grandmother served in France for the Canadian Medical expedition. They came home on an ocean liner together and married soon after their arrival in Maine. The two veterans lived together for thirty-two years. My grandfather died the year I was born and my grandmother twenty years later.

She was the last WWI vet I knew.

Monday, November 10, 2014

MY LIFE by Big Albert Harlow

MY LIFE

Sometimes I wonder what happened to my youth As I look in the mirror and see the truth My heart becomes heavy as I see the grey hair Time has marched on and it doesn’t seem fair It seemed like only yesterday I was young and life was free I had no idea what was in store for me I believed I was invincible and nothing could bring me down But somehow my life got turned around I traded my freedom for a cell of concrete and bars I spent too many years without seeing the stars My spirit was crushed and my heart turned to stone I was surrounded by killers and gangsters, yet still I was alone My love for the world slowly turned to hate Patiently I waited for the day they would open the gate That day finally came and I took my turn But not for long, I had so much to learn When they let me out my world had moved on I had nowhere to go, everything was gone The system is designed for people to fall They gave me 200 bucks and no hope at all But I was too young to give up and die Yet I felt I was too old to cry So I picked up a gun and robbed gangsters and thugs I took all their money and then took their drugs I lived my life hard and fast Letting my guard down was a thing of the past I did what I did so I could survive Right or wrong I am still alive I played with fire and many times burned Life’s lessons were hard, but finally learned I left my home and traveled around I stopped in Asia and finally settled down Married to a lovely wife who gave me a beautiful son And when he is older I will tell him about the things I have done So he may know what not to do I will teach him to be smart and always think things through And it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’ve been It’s not the tough guy, but the smart guy who knows how to win.

Albert Harlow 2014

A gentle gunman although not in his day.

Dump Bill Bratton

In 2012 police in the USA arrested over 750,000 people for marijuana with the vast majority of those detained being charged with possession. Violent crime arrests were 200,000 less than that number, revealing that law enforcement throughout the War on Crime was more interested in filling out quotas than address real crime such as murder, rape, or white-collar bank theft.

Up to 50,000 of those arrests were in New York City under the direction of then-Mayor Bloomberg, who instructed watch officers to grind out reefer arrests to supplement budget shortfalls and show the media that they weren't soft on drugs, however the Drug War has been lost for years and like Wehrmacht officers in Nazi Germany or generals in Viet-Nam certain top brass refuse to admit defeat.

NYC's top cop William Bratton is one of those fools and upon hearing of Mayor DeBlasio's retreat from prosecuting drug sales, argued that stop-and-frisk and detention for marijuana were valuable tools in the police arsenal, except the majority of arrests reflected the racist attitudes of the NYPD.

86% of the arrests were Black or Hispanic in a city where 40% of the population is white.

DeBlasio has not stopped the madness entirely, since the NYPD can still issue tickets and summons for marijuana possession for the purpose of revenue piracy of the lower class.

According to the NY Times Mayor de Blasio's police commissioner, William J. Bratton, who vowed to continue making low-level marijuana arrests.

This statement proves Bratton's incapability of being New York City's commissioner.

It is time for him to submit his resignation.

No fines, no tickets, no crime.

Make every day 4:20 until the cops wave the white flag.

They lost the War.

Fuck Bratton.

A Deluge Of Kathoeys

The mere mention of Bangkok's Nana Plaza at a New York dinner table peaked the interest of men and narrowed women's opinion of me. To the former I was a Don Juan and the latter regarded me as Gary Glitter come to life. To be honest I can't recall ever bar fining a go-go girl out of the notorious three-story sex complex on Sukhumvit Road Soi across from the ever-infamous Nana Hotel. I was more into Patpong in the 90s and by the 00s, Nana Plaza was too mercenary for my tastes.

The other night the Old Roué and I finished dinner at La Monita, a trendy Mexican restaurant. A meal with Coronas for two came to 1200 baht or nearly $40 or the price of a bar fine in Nana Plaza. It was early and the Old Roué suggested that we retire to a ground-floor bar at the wicked entreat.

"We can watch the changing of the guard."

I was glad to get out of La Monita. The clientele was too farangs for my taste. At heart I was a race traitor.

The Old Roue snaked through the parking lots and hotel garages and sidewalks to Soi Nana on his motorcycle. His nine year in Krung Thep has etched the short-cuts of Bangkok into his brain like a sailor's tattoo. He parked his Honda 250 next to a cart selling sum tam.

The owner nodded to the Old Roué.

They had a long-term relationship.

We entered the complex with flecks on rain dotting the pavement. The central cars had been moved back from the portal to provide access for fire engines. Nana Plaza and fire trap are almost synonymous, but the stars have favored the patrons and workers of the go-go bars. If a fire starts there, it will only because the property as a condo building was more profitable than the sex trade, but for the present Nana Plaza was safe since the sex entrepôt churned out more money than Belgium.

The two of us sat at the first bar. We were the only farangs in sight. It was about 7. Post time for the go-go bars was around 8.

"This is better than TV." The Old Roué ordered us beer. The doors to the go-go bars were open. The lights were blared white light, as the staff stocked the bars with beer, ice, and liquor. Mama-sans stood at the door awaiting their flocks. A few early arrivals wandered into the plaza and wai-ed the Buddha blessing their entrance. They laid flowers on the altar and proceeded to their respective place of employment.

"I like the transition." Nana was coming to life with hundreds of succubii seeking farangs.

"Newcomers are the first to arrive." The Old Roué had regarded this ritual countless times. The spectacle never tired him. He discreetly pointed to three older and dumpy farangs in shorts.

"They've left mother at home for the first time in decades to have s sex vacation with their friends. I make them for social workers or garbage men."

"I see them more as English railroad workers." The sweep-overs of these forty year-olds laid odds on my being right, except they passed us speaking an unknown foreign language.

"Serbs." The Old Roué wrinkled his nose. "Momma's boys to the man."

"Better this than becoming sex predators."

"Little danger of that from these boys. Look at how they walk."

The Old Roué was right. He was 65 and I was 60. The trio shuffled with apprehension. The two of us could have beaten any of them in a 25-yard dash.

"Ah, the first beautiful girl of the night."

"Wrong." Old Roué shook his head. "Check the way she's hurrying and fussing with her hair. That's a kathoey. Big hands too means big feet."

"Meaning big shoes." I picked up my camera. The ladyboy would have stopped traffic on 5th Avenue for blocks. Her heels were five-inch spikes. The dress revealed a goddess body. Long curls serpented down a slim back. I recognized her from a ladyboy website. Her name was Areeya.

"No photos. Not here." Old Roué admonished my absent-minded behavior.

"I know, I know." Nana Plaza had rules.

We observed the influx of wasted and aged farangs. Hope and despair mingled in their eyes.

I ordered another beer.

Girls showed up in clumps, but they were outnumbered by kathoeys.

"Where are all the girls?"

"It's a Tuesday night. Most of the best girls have been barfined for the week. They're sleeping with some old git, but they'll desert him on Thursday night. It gets busy then." The Old Roué was right and I started to count the ratio between females and ladyboys. It was about 50/50 and I mentioned the numbers to the Old Roué.

"It's all the same thing in the end. Farangs come here to answer a dream. Ladyboy or go-go girl. A young body makes them feel immortal at the gates of mortality."

The two of us turned our backs on the show. A fat heavyweight was fighting a well-muscled boxer on TV. The butterball had to weigh over 350. His reach prevented any offense from his opponent. We made a 20-baht bet with the cute bartender. She lost and actually paid me. I gave it right back. 20 baht wasn't what it used to be, but she could buy a coconut with it.

The stream of late-comers faltered and music blasted from the scores of bars lining the Nana Plaza.

"You feel like a go-go?"

I said no.

"Why?"

"I don't want to make a mistake and end up with a ladyboy."

Scores of the man ladies were thronging into Nana Plaza. Their beauty shone in the flashing lights. I had drank three rhum-cokes. Even I felt handsome.

"You have something against shims?"

"No, they're a lot of fun until your wife finds out." The Old Roué knew Junior Mint. He thought she was special.

"And how would your wife find out your transgression?"

"I don't know, but Thai women have an uncanny sense of a man's willingness to be naughty."

My cell phone rang. It was Mam.

"See."

I answered the phone.

"You at Nana?"

"Yes, have many ka-thoeys."

"Suai at night. Naki-at in morning."

They were beautiful at night.

I haven't woken with one in the morning, plus I was faithful to Junior Mint.

"Lak khun."

I hung up and the Old Roué said, "Uncanny is right."

It was time to call it a night on Tuesday night.

Maybe on Friday night it would be different.

I am not scared of ka-thoeys.

Poop Pop Art

Last week I found this small painting on South Oxford Street near the fort Greene Observatory. My landlord made a face upon seeing 'Poop' and I said, "I have a plan."

I've always loved the sublime nihilism of Duchamp's toilet seat and Piero Manzoni's 'Shit in a Can', but felt both works were missing 'je ne sues quoi' until I found 'Poop'.

My landlord's seven year-old son thought the painting was great as would any normal seven year-old boy.

Nothing gets to them better than poop jokes.

"Don't tell your mother about the painting."

"I won't," James was a good kid and went back downstairs to his room.

I shut the door, because 'Poop' needed one last touch and that was a little poop to add pop to the piece.

I sat on my porcelain throne and cranked out a dollop of # 2 brown and plucked the 'ile flottant' from the toiler with thongs.

Voila.

Perfection.

Poop Pop.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

L'Art D'Etroit

A federal judge ruled against debtors seizing paintings and sculptures from Detroit's Insitute of Art. Bankruptcy vultures were seeking $800 million from the sale of masterpieces by Brueghel, Tintoretto, Frank Stella, and Frederick Edwin Church as well as Van Gogh's PORTRAIT OF A POSTMAN, which was the first painting I saw at Boston's MFA in the early 60s.

The painting would probably get close to $100 million at auction.

The Detroit Institute of Art remains under threat.

The city has yet to settle its other woes, but I think burning the banks might be a good course of action.

BURN BABY BURN.

Friday, November 7, 2014

WALK LIKE A WOMAN by Peter Nolan Smith

Billy Wilder’s film SOME LIKE IT HOT was a funny movie, but I didn't think much about men dressing up as woman, until my next-door neighbor asked me in his basement, “Who you think is prettier? Jack Lemmon or Tony Curtis?"

“Neither.”

The year was 1964 and men in dresses weren’t pretty to twelve year-old boys on the South Shore of Boston.

"Yeah, but if you had to make a choice, who would it be?" Chuckie Manzi was my best friend and this was weird questions.

"I want Marilyn." She was the logical choice.

“Marilyn's dead and you wouldn't want to make love to a dead women, so if you were on a deserted island with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon and they were wearing dresses, who would be your wife?”

“I would kill myself before marrying either of them.”

The Catholic Church considered men dressing as woman an abomination, however the priests wore long black cassocks. They called them robes. They looked like dresses to me and I kept my distance from them.

You know they have a word for men who dress like women."

"Drag queens." I had heard that term in school.

"Some of them are supposed to be pretty."

"Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are not pretty."

"You're no fun." Chuckie gave up on getting an answer from me, but we remained friends throughout the 1960s and our knowledge of drag queens expanded with Ray Davies singing on Kinks’ hit song LOLA, “She walked like a woman and talked like a man.”

“You ever see a man walked like a woman and talk like a man?” Chuckie's interests in the bizarre was more advanced than mine.

“Once at the Greyhound Bus Station.” I had been buying Levis at Walker’s Jeans on Boylston Street. They cost $6. “But he was obviously a man."

"How could you tell?"

"He had afternoon stubble like a man and you could tell the high heels hurt his feet.”

“I tried walking in my sister’s shoes. They were murder.” Chuckie liked to try on his sisters' clothing. I thought that it was weird, but I was in love with his sister.

"Addy's too?"

"Hers fit me best. Have you ever tried on your sisters' dresses?'

"Never."

“Oh.” Chuckie sensed that this was a good time to end this discussion.

After high school we grew apart.

I attended a Catholic university on the outskirts of Boston and drove taxi to pay for an apartment near campus. My last fares of the night were out of the Combat Zone; mostly go-go dancers, drunks, and a few drag queens from the Other Side. The trannies were good tippers and several were more attractive than the strippers from the Two O'Clock Lounge.

Most of their fares were to hotels with straight men. Neither passengers asked too many questions en route and I couldn't help, but sing Lou Reed’s WALK ON THE WILD SIDE after dropping them off for a night of wicked sex in a cheap hotel.

“Candy came out from the Island, in the backroom she was everyone’s darling.”

In 1973 I didn’t know what a back room was, but my move to New York in 1976 opened my eyes, because sexual frontiers were blurred in a city where people changed their names to suit their desires.

I frequented gay bars to pick up fag hags. My queer friends told these girls that I was a homo on the line. The fag hags tried to convert me to being straight. I played hard to get and they thought they had the cure. They were right, because I was mostly straight.

One night at the Anvil I was waiting for my friends for the New York City Ballet to end their wicked pas de deux in the back room. No girls were allowed in the bar, so I was surprised to see an attractive brunette sit next to me.

She looked like a top fashion model in her pink tube top and hot pants, except she was skinnier than any cover-girl in Vogue.

A long lacquered nail touched my shoulder.

”Can you buy me a drink?”

The faux falsetto betrayed why the bouncer permitted her into the Anvil and I ignored her request.

“Do I have to beg you?” She twirled a strand of long brown hair around her finger. It was a good act and I almost laughed.

“What’s so funny?”

“Nothing, just thinking of an old song.” The Kinks' LOLA played in my head.

“Something you want to dance to, because I’m a good dancer.” She wiggled her shoulders like a Times Square go-go girl

"I bet you are." I signaled the bartender for two drinks.

“My name’s Dove. How you like to go in the back room with me? You can do anything you want.”

“No thanks."

“Why? Do you think I’m unattractive?” Her lips pouted with disappointment.

"You're every man's dream, if I were that type of man."

“I know you’re straight. That’s why I sat here.”

“I thought it was to hustle me for a drink.”

“Fresh.” She slapped my hand. “I have my own money.”

She flashed a thick roll of twenties.

"I'm a kept woman by a very important person."

"Who's your VIP?"

A US senator from the South is my sugar daddy."

"Which one?"

"If I told you, he'd have to kill you, but I went with him to Jimmy Carter's inaugural ball. Every man there was stumbling over their feet to worship at my high heels. I had only eyes for my man and my sugar daddy loved me for it, but those Republicans liked me the most. They appreciate girls like me."

After that comment the two of us conversed about politics, love, and sex.

I wasn't in a hurry.

My friends were lost angels in the Anvil's snake pit.

I waved for the bill.

"Where you going?"

"Home." I lived in a SRO room on 11th Street and 5th.

“So I guess this means you’re going alone?”

“Sorry.”

I almost kissed Dove good-night, but shook her hands instead.

“Don’t be sorry, one night you and I will get it together."

"Never," I answered too fast to be telling the truth. Dove was prettier than most of the women in New York and twice as feminine.

I’m patient.” She stood up to twitch a hip as a calling card for that future date in Never-Neverland.

Dove was not only patient.

She was persistent.

I refused her at the Mudd Club, Studio 54, CBGBs, Hurrahs, Xenon, the Kiev, and Dave’s Luncheonette.

"One night you and me."

"Never."

And I thought never was forever, then on Halloween in 1980 I attended a black tie Paloma Picasso party honoring the NY Ballet at Danceteria on 37th Street. The illegal nightclub was packed with Upper East Side slummers and after an hour of cheap champagne I went to retrieve my leather jacket from the coat check.

While waiting in line a young ballet boy stumbled into me, however his clumsiness was not from too many drinks. A brutish six-footer shook the dancer by his tuxedo lapels. The stitching of the ballet boy's evening suit gave way and I slashed my arm down on his aggressor’s wrists, breaking the bully's grasp and the gay boy fled gracefully into the crowd.

“Why you do that?” the thug demanded with red eyes. He was on something. My guess was speed.

“Because I didn’t feel like being bumped into, while you beat up on a fag.”

My brother and friends were fags and I didn’t like bullies.

“And what are you going to do about it?” His hands clenched into fists.

Boys from Boston didn’t back down from fights and I lashed a right to his mouth. The punch staggered him, then he spit a tooth in my chest. I had a fight on my hands and not a good one. I threw lefts and rights faster than his counters, but my heavy opponent weathered them without any sign of damage and backed me up to the wall.

I was in trouble, but the fight was stopped by two bouncers.

They knew me and threw the Jersey boy out of the club.

Two ballerinas praised my standing up against this gaybasher and I accompanied them into the street, where I waved down a taxi.

My hand never reached the air.

Something struck the base of my skull.

Hard.

I fell into the gutter and pulled my arms over my head.

A second blow dislodged my ego past my superego into a green emerald pulsating with lightning every second. This was not a good sign. Finally someone asked with a Jersey accent, “Have you had enough?”

"Yes."

I had had enough after the first sucker punch.

The thug stood up with a chain wrapped around his fist and strode away the victor.

I rose to my feet shaken to the bone.

"Are you all right?" asked a young handsome photographer on the scene.

His name was Marcus.

"I think so." My teeth were intact and my nose was unbroken.

"He would have killed you if I hadn't have pulled him off." Marcus was clearly horrified by the damage.

"I owe you one." I examined my face in a car mirror. Blood drooled from a dozen cuts and my skull was swollen with blossoming bruises.

I took a taxi home and stayed in bed for a few days.

Every second I plotted my revenge, for while New York was a big city, the night life in 1979 was a small scene consisting of maybe 3000 people. I would run into the thug again and I started carrying a stiletto for my payback.

Two weeks later a transvestite trapeze bar called GG Barnums opened in Times Square. Dove's lover was part-owner and she invited me for a drink at the bar.

"I heard about you're saving that gay boy at Danceteria." She signaled the bartender for drinks. "You're my hero."

She was smoking a Virginia Slim.

“Heroes don’t get the snort beaten out of them.” My facial bones slowly reproved back to their original shape.

“Well, you’re a hero to me and I’d love to show you how much.” The black Chanel dress revealed the best features of her Mia Farrow figure.

“Thanks, but I’m not really in a romantic mood.”

“I could change that in a second.”

Her hand caressed my thigh and she opened a Pond's Cream jar packed with cocaine shining with Bolivian pink.

"You, me, and an ounce of blow. How can you say no?"

"Not tonight." I rose off the stool.

“What wrong?” She was an expert judge of the mood of men.

“That guy who beat me up just walked into the bar.” I grabbed the knife in my pocket.

The handle was as cold as the blood in my veins.

“I know what you’re thinking.” Dove pushed me back down and puffed on her cigarette. “But I’ll take care of this.”

"This is something I have to do for myself."

"Believe me, it's better this way."

"This better be good."

"Silly man, this will be bad."

Dove stole through the crowded bar like a serpent seeking its prey. She sucked on her cigarette, until the ember burned a fiery red, then Dove tapped the thug on the shoulder.

When he turned around, she stuck the cigarette in his eye.

Screaming he dropped to his knees.

Dove returned to me and asked, “Will you go home with me now?”

“I don’t think I can refuse.”

Nothing happened between us that night. The cocaine was too strong, but we necked and petted and groped without intercourse. It was better that way.

In the morning Dove left my apartment, whispering that that my erection dysfunction was our little secret.

"Thanks."

"No, thank you, super-hero." Dove was a starlet of discretion.

GG Barnums lasted a half-year. Dove sold out her interest to the owners of Danceteria. West 45th provided a good venue spot for them to go legal.

Over the next months Dove dressed like a Park Avenue divorcee with nova blonde hair.

One day she told me that she was moving south.

"Palm Beach."

"Big money." It was the haunt of the rich.

"The Senator isn't running for office and he wants to make me an honest woman."

"An operation?"

"Perish the thought." Dove wasn't hung up about her mixed sexuality.

"Good luck." Being beautiful was a powerful card to play with the rich.

"Thanks, but I was born lucky." She smiled knowing the odds weren't in her favor, but they never are for girls like her.

And now everytime I hear WALK ON THE WILD SIDE I think about Dove, because she was everyone’s darling in the right mood and beat out Tony Curtis as my # 1 choice on a deserted island, although I couldn’t have foreseen that option in 1964.

Not even in my wettest dreams.

To hear WALK ON THE WILD SIDE please go to this URl

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkwD261MHsc

You Bet I Would / Chador

Voting For No One

The results of the 2014 midterm elections ran heavily in favor of the GOP.

Harvard University estimated that a little over 21.3% of the registered electorate voted on Tuesday, meaning that the control of the Senate hinged on 1-2% of the vote. Millions stayed away from the ballot. The young, the old, blacks, conservatives, radicals, single women et al refrained from making their mark at the polling booth.

I work up early and cast my vote for the Green Party.

I wished that "None of the Above' was a choice, so that I didn't have to vote Democratic.

Obviously 80% of the voters made that choice by abstaining participation in the election.

Thus stands the state of democracy in the USA.

No one votes, because voting doesn't change anything.

The rich always win in the end.

But the pigs don't look like movie stars.

They just look like pigs.

Same as everyone else.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Waking From The Dead To The GOP Dawn

In 1990 a 747 landed on Biak. Me and a missionary got off the plane. He caught an island-hopper to a large island across the bay. I crossed the street to hire a room at the Old Dutch Hotel. The teenage bellhop led me to a room facing the sea.

Its color was slate blue.

I tipped the young boy $1.

It was a day's wage.

"Saya nama Ali."

"Cold beer."

Ali understood Indonesian and I rapidly leafed a conversation book.

"Beer dinging."

Ali nodded his head.

Five minutes later he returned with a large Bintang beer. I drank it watching dusk drift from east to west across Cendarwasih Bay. Night swam with the tropics. I fell asleep and woke in the morning grateful to be in a new world.

On Wednesday I rose from bed knowing the GOP had wrangled a majority in the Senate.

My side won small.

Despair was an easy way to spent the day, but marijuana initiatives had passed in several states as well as the rights of gay to get married. The GOP was smart not to fight these battles. Voters stayed at home. There is no ignorance greater than that of those who don't care about anything.

It was dusk and it's always darkest before it gets darker.

There is no new world.

The GOP will try to reverse time.

God and I mean the Jehovah God will rule on every law.

The 10 Commandments shall replace the Constitution.

Slavery will be reintroduced to teach blacks how good they had it under the whip.

All prisons will be renamed Hell and there is no redemption from Hell.

The Bible shall be the only schoolbook regardless of creed, race, or sex.

Women will receive half the pay of men.

They will not be able to go to college.

Drinking shall be banned from coast to coast.

Pot will be napalmed by fire squads.

Homosexuals shall be thrown into a pit packed with dogs on Viagra.

Children will be whipped in public for disobeying their parents.

All wind mills and solar energy panels will be destroyed by their owners or else.

Coal mining and tracking will be expanded to every state of the Union without any restrictions.

Anyone not believing in God will go to prison.

Anyone talking with a lisp will go to prison.

Anyone found not having sex in the missionary position will go to prison.

The President of Israel will rule from the White House.

The 10 Commandments shall be tattooed on the inside of everyone's eyelids, so they see the holy words whenever they shut their eyes. There is no rest for the wicked.

We shall dig a new canal along the Mexican border and fill it with our toxic waste fluids to prevent any underaged teenagers from entering the country.

All books on science shall be burned in the town square.

The rich shall become richer and the poor shall be put into labor camps constructing the toxic waste canal.

Public transportation shall be banned throughout the country.

Trains shall be used strictly for the transport of toxic waste heading to the border canal.

All factories with union employees shall be closed and the workers sent to re-education camps to become wage slaves for the toxic waste canal.

The minimum wage shall be reduced to $1 to reinforce the value of a dollar.

Anyone speaking about Global Warming shall go to GITMO, the new mega-prison for the unconvertible.

Everyone must have a gun and use them daily.

Needless to say going back in time will take a lot of work for the GOP, but they are dedicated to changing the world to back the way it was, so God will hasten the Final Days and everyone who deserves it will get to go to heaven.

I can only hope that the Apocalypse comes soon, because then the right-minded people of America can be vacuumed into eternity by the angels.

And good riddance to every one of the bible-thumpers.

Jessie Ventura 2016

No D Obama

The white media in America has suggested that the GOP landslide was a repudiation of the President. ISIS, Ebola, teenage immigrants, gay marriage, and global warming taxed the brains of overworked and underpaid white males who only have time to watch Fox News before they crash into their beds in a Bud Lite beer haze. They were scared.

Something out there wanted to get them.

Home?

Not much safer.

Their kids belonged to an alien culture.

They never call home.

Better the NSA listening to them.

White men only understand football.

Barack Obama played basketball.

The key to good hoops is defense.

Never let the offense into the paint.

Obama had no D in this election.

His party stood away from him.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz sucked as DNC chairman.

The Florida Congressman might have earned an extension had the gubernatorial effort provided a new state governor from the Sunshine State.

My good friend, AK, a straight-up socialist, had worked for Crist in his attempt to unseat the incumbent.

60,000 votes.

Democratic voters i.e. blacks and latinos and everyone else stayed home.

In 2008 we felt him.

2012.

The same.

This year he was a zombie on defense.

Barry had lived around the world.

He can't be that soft on D, then again Obama has never been the same since aide-de-camp Reggie Camp resigned from the team in 2011.

Surrounded by mega-banking flacks, Ivy League insiders, and Pentagon babykillers Barack Obama must finally realize that Michelle had been right.

Change can only be achieved through change.

A pity.

No D.

More Of The Same No Change

Wednesday morning America woke to a political landscape dominated by the victories of the GOP. The Democratic majority in the Senate was lost with wins throughout the middle of America. The House of Representatives swelled with Tea Party congressmen. The media blamed Obama for the disaster, however despite the flipflop of seats Congress remains locked in a thrall of bipartisan death grip unable to overcome the power of Obama's veto

More threatening to progressive Americans is that 2/3rds of the state governments are controlled by the GOP.

Blue States stand apart from the red.

I was most disappointed by the Great State of Maine re-electing Paul Le Page as governor. He had insulted Portland journalist Mike Nemitz by saying that my family friend should be put on suicide watch, if he got a second term.

Maine is 98% white.

Men voted for the fat fuck.

Women voted with their husbands.

They will get what they deserve.

Massachusetts and New Hampshire rejected the clarion call of the right and in the words of the immortal Pascha Ray, "Fuck those fat white cocksuckers."

Fat men love fat politicians.

SCARED OF NOTHING By Peter Nolan Smith on Kindle Books

In 1958 my mother served canned beets for Halloween. My older brother, sister, and I had to finish them before going on our trick or treat rounds through our suburban neighborhood in Falmouth Foresides, Maine. I forced them down with difficulty. Later that evening I ate four Mars Bars. I upchucked purple, proving beets and chocolate don't mix in the stomach of a six year-old costumed as a skeleton.

Since then I have refrained from mixing beets and chocolate.

SCARED OF NOTHING is a collection of short stories and photo-romans with a Halloween theme as well as ghosts, zombies and witches set in Maine, Boston, New York, Thailand, Guatemala and Paris' Pere Lachaise cemetery.

My favorite Halloween song in HAUNTED CASTLE by the Kingsmen and while I am not scared of ghosts and witches, I believe in them.

Anyone who had seen one or more would do the same.

To purchase SCARED OF NOTHING from Kindle Books for $2.99, please go to the following URL

http://www.amazon.com/SCARED-NOTHING-Peter-Nolan-Smith-ebook/dp/B00P2RBEUG

BOO!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

TODOS SANTOS HORSE RACE by Peter Nolan Smith

In the autumn of 1992 I was working as a diamond salesman on West 47th Street for Richie Boy and his father, Manny. Business had improved under President Clinton and customers from around the USA traveled to New York for a good buy.

That Christmas Ms. Carolina bought 2-Carat diamond studs in September. The blonde southerner and I celebrated her purchase with dinner at La Bernadin. We became more than friends over that weekend.

Ms. Carolina was beautiful, but not free.

She had a loving husband below the Mason-Dixon line.

We didn't talk about him much.

Richie Boy and his father were happy for me. I hadn't had a girlfriend in years.

"Ms. Carolina is in you. Get her to buy more jewelry." Manny liked a lock into a good customer.

I didn't push her into any sales. We traveled once a season. Originally from the Adirondacks Ms. Carolina enjoyed getting away from the South.

"Some of those people have small minds," she drawled with a northern sigh.

"Same as the people up here."

New York was becoming a city of the rich.

What they said mattered, because everyone wanted to be a millionaire.

In October of 1993 Ms. Carolina and I headed up to Maine. The Red Sox were not in the World Series. I informed her of the Babe Ruth curse.

"No curse lasts forever."

1918 to 1993 seemed long to me and I said nothing more about the Bosox.

Ms. Carolina loved the lobster in Bar Harbor. I told her everything that I knew about Maine. My family had lived there for generations.

On the long ride back to the city, Ms. Carolina said, "I want to take a trip to another country?"

"What will your husband say?"

Ms. Carolina was a good person. Richie Boy had told me that her husband was a good man. I was starting to feel bad about our affair.

"He doesn't ask questions." The blonde southerner's partner was twenty years her senior. They shared some interests, but traveling to foreign countries wasn't one of them, unless it was to play golf in Scotland. Ms. Carolina touched my hand.

"It will be all right."

We were approaching Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The lobster shack on Badger Island served a wicked lobster roll. I ate mine and half of Ms. Carolina's roll.

"Do you have anyplace in mind?" It was a big world.

"Anywhere as long as it isn't Disney World." Ms. Carolina had a rare sense of adventure.

I held up the book which I had been reading.

John Lloyd Stephens' Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatán.

"What about the Yucatan?"

"What's it like?"

I've already been to the Mayan ruins of Tikal.

"Those pyramids were lost in a jungle. I slept atop one listening to the howler monkeys under a tropical moon."

"Sounds divine."

"I also have a hankering to see the volcanos above Lake Atitlan and the temples of Copan are right over the border in Honduras and there's this crazy horse race in Todos Santos on the Day of the Dead."

"Is Guatemala safe?"

The Castillo class had been waging a CIA-approved war against the indigenous Mayan population. The worst atrocities occurred in the 80s under Ríos Montt. This year's truce had halted most of the army's massacres of the Mayans.

"Safe as New York, no, but if we don't drive at night, we should be fine."

According to the NY Times ruthless right-wing militias controlled the roads after dark, but I hadn't read about any recent violence directed against tourists or gringos.

"I'll book the flights."

Later the day Ms. Carolina dropped me on East 10th Street. We kissed good-bye. The next day she was playing a golf tournament in Virginia Beach. For most people it was a fifteen-hour drive. Ms. Carolina had a heavy food. She could make it in twelve.

A month later Ms. Carolina and I flew from JFK to Guatemala City. I had packed a baseball glove, ball, and Red Sox hat.

"Why?"

"Because they like beisbol."

The United flight lasted nine hours. We landed at night and rented a car from Hertz. I told her that we were staying in Antigua, the old colonial capitol, and pointed the car north into the mountains.

"What about not driving at night?" Ms. Carolina looked like she wanted her .45. She was a good pistol shot and even better with a shotgun.

"It's only forty-five minutes on the Pan-Am Highway. I'll follow a car."

Within five minutes our caravan consisted twenty vehicles."

"Safe?"

"There's always safety in numbers, si?" I had to practice my Spanish.

We arrived in Antigua and booked into a hotel, which had once been a nunnery.

Ms. Carolina and I ate a dinner of Pepián de Indio stew and Pollo a la cerveza along with a bottle of white wine purchased at JFK's duty-free. The dining room emptied before we finished our meal and the staff looked eager for us to leave. We were the last two customers.

"Red Sox?" asked the owner seeing my hat.

"Si."

"Me gusto Los Yankees. Time to go."

We settled the bill and after we left the restaurant, the owner flicked off the lights.

The street was dark. No one was on it.

Ms. Carolina stood behind me.

"Stay close." I didn't open the flashlight and we treaded through the night to our hotel.

Once inside we bolted the heavy iron-studded door.

"Now we're safe."

Sleep came easy.

The danger of darkness was vanquished by the dawn.

Antigua was a colonial jewel unsullied by modernization. A fountain babbled in the courtyard and Ms. Carolina murmured from her pillows.

"Safe."

"Seguro."

Flowers bloomed in every corner of the old convent.

Ms. Carolina called me to bed.

I had no power to say no.

We spent the day wandering around Antigua.

The pleasant town was filled with ex-patriates and young Spanish-learning gringos.

On a back street I spotted a man getting into a classic Mercedes convertible.

"Donald Sutherland," whispered Ms. Carolina. She knew her movie stars.

I called out his name.

The star of MASH waved to us and drove down the cobblestoned street.

He seemed a happy man.

"Maybe it is safe." Ms. Carolina hooked her arm within mine and we entered a small cantina to drink Gallo beer and eat Chicharrones y carnitas.

I was fluent at saying, "Una orta cerveza."

That evening I drank more than my share of beer.

It went well with crackling pig skin.

We finished the meal with tequilas.

It was a short walk to the old nunnery.

The old prayer cell had a big bed. Neither of us were in the mood for a shower.

Ms. Carolina lay close to me. The late evening air was fragrant with jasmine.

"I like the way you smell."

I didn't have the heart to tell her it wasn't me.

Sleep was a long time coming that night.

The next morning we checked out of the hotel. Ms. Carolina called her husband from the desk. I stood at a distance. The conversation seemed friendly.

"Is everything okay?"

"Por que no?" Ms. Carolina was picking up Spanish too.

"Give me the keys."

"Bueno." Ms. Carolina liked to drive fast.

The ride to Port San Jose passed through miles of coastal sugar cane fields. Worn men trudged along the road. They carried machetes.

"Peligroso?"

"No, they're just workers." And the jefes of the sugar plantation worked the peons hard.

We reached the Pacific at noon.

"Port San Jose had seen better days." Ms. Carolina parked near the pier.

The dock was warped by decades of weather and the weight of overloaded cargo. Most of the trade had been sugar or bananas.

"It's still Guatemala's biggest Pacific port." No other coastal cities dotted on my Nelly map. A small wave swelled over a sandbar. The air was hot and I asked, "How about a swim?"

"Better you than me." Ms. Carolina liked her tropical waters crystal clear and this ocean was the color of mud.

"

While I swam, Ms. Carolina waited in a rundown seafood restaurant. I emerged from the ocean without my hangover.

I wore my Red Sox hat.

I still got a sunburn.

A plate of jumbo shrimp waited on a table with a frosty beer. She knew what I liked.

We were all smiles until she said, "I've been thinking about leaving Albert."

Albert was her husband.

"Why?" I knew the answer and she said, "I want to live with you."

"In my one-room apartment?" The East Village apartment barely fit me.

"It's more than enough space for me."

"I don't think that's a good idea." I had no intention of breaking up a marriage.

"So you don't love me?"

"I didn't say that."

"But you never say 'you love me'."

And that was the truth.

She hid her tars in a napkins. The staff regarded me as a villain. They were right in so many ways.

Leaving the coast I sat behind the wheel and put on music. Ms. Carolina stared out the window, as we climbed into the mountains.

Now even Tommy James and the Shondells' DRAGGIN' THE LINE improved her mood.

She read a Mayan-English phrasebook and I wondered if she was searching for a magic phrase to make me love her.

We traveled the back roads to Patulul and turned north toward the Pan-Am Highway. Donald Sutherland was probably having a good time.

A man in a Mercedes by himself.

I wasn't him.

Several miles on I slowed down for a crowd of people in the road.

A bus had crashed down a ravine.

I got out to help.

The Mayan faces in the crowd dated back to the greatness of Tikal and Copan.

Miraculously no one had been hurt in the accident. Another bus wasn't due till late afternoon and we loaded a single family of five into the rear of the car. They spoke very little Spanish.

Probably as much as me.

A field of sunflowers lay off the road.

"De donde?" I asked the family.

"San Lucas Toliman." The husband repeated three times. It was the next town. We reached their destination in twenty minutes. The family got out of the car, saying, "Dios bo’otik."

"De Nada," said Ms. Carolina, which was the first words she had spoken since Port San Jose. Her finger punched the reject button and she put on Bob Dylan's ON THE ROAD AGAIN.

"When are we going to get it to Atitlan?"

"Soon." The sun had already dropped behind Volcan Atitlan. There was little sunlight left in the day.

"Good. I could use a drink."

"Me too."

The view across the lake was spectacular.

"This is beautiful. Thanks for coming." Ms. Carolina reached across the console and held my hand. She wasn't giving up on us so easy.

"Thanks for inviting me."

Our bungalow was cheap and cheerful. I opened the last bottle of white wine. We drank it on the patio.

Ms. Carolina cried a little and I held her in my arms.

"No one ever broke my heart before."

She had once bragged to me about being an ice queen.

"I'm no good." Most of my girlfriends had left me.

"I know and I don't care."

At sunset we dined overlooking the lake. Ms. Carolina was done with tears. She ordered two double rhum and cokes made with Zacapa Centenario Rum. The waiter raised an eyebrow.

"Muy fuerta."

"Yo se." Ms. Carolina's Spanish was improving day by day.

The drinks arrived to the table.

"Here's to the road and just because you don't love me doesn't mean I can't love you."

"To the road."

I knocked mine down. We were done driving for the day. Ms. Carolina sipped at hers.

Later after a dinner I tried Quetzalteca Rosa de Jamaica twice. It tasted like moonshine.

The next morning I woke up naked with snoring Ms. Carolina.

My head felt like someone had smacked me with a blackjack.

"Time to get up." I nudged my bedmate.

"No way."

"Way>"

The restaurant served a Caldo de huevos broth for breakfast.

"Por le salud." We weren't the only guests dining on the consommé.

I drank every drop of the hangover cure.

After breakfast we caught the early ferry to San Pedro de Laguna with a minute to spare.

The lake was calm.

Rich people were building big houses on the shore.

"Drug money," a mestizo passenger muttered in English.

"Guatemala is a trans-shipment destination for cocaine from Columbia," I explained to Ms. Carolina.

"Looks like business is good."

"Not for everyone."

Poor people lined the lake.

The modern world was getting farther away with every spin of the propellers.

San Pedro de Laguna was on the other side of now.

We disembarked from the ferry, which was headed to Santiago Atitlan.

These were Mayan lands.

Corn loomed high over our heads.

"Let me take your picture." Ms. Carolina was wearing a smile.

I tried to join her mood. The clean air and high altitude cut through the haze of my hangover and by the time we reached the small town I was feeling 50% human.

Two boys were playing basketball.

I motioned for a shot. They passed me the ball. Ms. Carolina signaled for the rock. I bounced it to her and she scored a jump shot.

She was a good athlete.

An old man yelled at us in front of a souvenir shop.

I had no idea what he was saying in Mayan and told Ms. Carolina, "He probably doesn't like gringos. The Guatemalan Army had been very active on this side of the lake. They killed thousands of Mayans and their officers were white. On my trip from Belize to Tikal I had seen three dead man at an army outpost. They held their decapitated heads in their hands."

"How long ago?"

"1989, but the war was part of the conflict between the USA and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. The Contras were financed through the sale of crack in the US by the CIA."

"This sounds like another one of your conspiracies."Ms. Carolina loved my flights of imagination.

"It's the truth." I had no proof, but I knew it wasn't a lie.

"And the war is over now."

"Yes."

"That war was long." President Serrano had been ousted earlier in the year and the new leader de Leon had brokered a fragile peace. "But it's over now."

"La paz."

"Mejor de la guerra."

"Siempre." Both of us liked guns, but not for shooting people.

There wasn't much to see in San Pedro de Laguna. Most of its inhabitants were working the fields. Tomorrow was the Day of the Dead. It was a big holiday in Latin America.

We drank beers at the ferry landing.

The bar's serving girl had a shy smile.

Ms. Carolina gave her sunglasses, as the ferry approached the dock.

"Dios bo’otik." The girl showed her teeth.

"Mixba’al." Ms. Carolina had a southern accent in Mayan.

The mother wanted my Red Sox cap. I shook my head and wished them good luck.

"Ka xi’ik teech utsil."

I was getting good at Mayan too, but with a Boston accent.

"Why didn't you give the old lady your hat?"

"Because I still need it."

The sun was tough on gringoes in the tropics.

The ferry arrived back at Atitlan mid-afternoon.

Leaving was hard, but Quetzaltenango was two hours away and I wanted to get there before sunset.

Ms. Carolina stopped for vegetables along the highway.

"I love the color."

She snapped photos.

My attempts to hurry her were futile.

Women move at their own speed when shopping.

We passed another accident.

People were driving faster.

No one wanted to caught on the road after dark.

Around dusk a roadblock loomed ahead.

We had blown it.

Cars were stopped on the verge.

Men were kneeling on the grass.

"Who are they?" Ms. Carolina nervously pointed to men with guns.

"Militia." I slowed to a halt and rolled down my window.

A rough-looking man walked up to the car. His soiled clothes resembled a uniform in the dusk and I thought of the bandit from the movie THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE, except this outlaw had sawed-off shotgun in his hand.

His flashlight sliced into the car. Its beam fell on my face.

"Red Sox?" He pointed to my cap.

"Si, estoy un scout looking para un Secundo baseman in Quatzaltenango. Muy bueno."

"Amo Jim Rice."

I was shocked to hear this admission. The Boston media hated the black MVP outfielder.

"E Babe Ruth."

"The curse."

"Si, la maldición."

I handed the gunman my cap.

"Mucho gracias." He waved us through the roadblock.

"Safe?" Ms. Carolina smiled in the murk.

"For Red Sox fans, yes."

We arrived in Quatzaltenango after sunset.

A white Mercedes convertible was parked before the best hotel in town.

"Looks like Donald made it too." Ms. Carolina liked being on a first name basis with everyone. "How about a beer?"

"Por que no?" It was my favorite Spanish phrase.

'Seguro' was my second.

Buses were departing for distant towns.

I was glad to be going nowhere.

The autumn night was cold in the highlands and for dinner we ate Fiambre salad, a Day of the Dead speciality, Chuletas fascinante, and a hearty Pulique stew.

Between bites of the Fiambre I told Ms. Carolina a family story.

"One Halloween my mother made me eat beets before going out trick or treating. I've hated them since."

"Take a taste." She forked a beet into my mouth.

"Good, isn't it?"

"Yes."

"Which goes to show you that you can learn to love things you don't love."

"I guess it does."

I knew better than to argue with a woman when she was right.

That night I dreamed about a ghost in a graveyard. The militia were shooting men. One was wearing a Red Sox cap. I woke up in a sweat.

"What's wrong?" Ms. Carolina was 90% asleep.

"Nothing. Go back to sleep." I got out of bed and checked the locks on the door. Safe was never safe twenty-four hours a day.

A little after dawn we hit the Pan-Am Highway.

Behind the ragged ridge to the north lay Mexico.

We were far away from the USA and I turned on Wes Montgomery's IN AND OUT.

Ms. Carolina liked its swing.

Thirty minutes later the white Mercedes convertible passed us.

Donald was driving the road alone.

I tried to catch up to the Benz.

"Too much power." Ms. Carolina's tone suggested that I ease off the gas. The highway was in good condition for a bad accident.

"He's probably headed to Mexico."

"Oaxaca is ten hours away by car. "

"We're going to Todos Santos."

"Si." I remained true to our plan.

We turned off the Pan-Am highway. The dirt road rattled the rented car like King Kong in a rage.

A mudslide had taken out some of the road. We were used to these detours. Ms. Carolina posed by the debris. A massive rock tumbled down the slope. I backed up the car and she ran out of its path.

"Seguro," she huffed inside the car.

"Siempre."

Off the road it was the 14th Century before the conquest.

A stretch of paved road led to an army base. The soldiers were protecting the 20th Century from the past.

The dirt road resumed after a quarter mile.

Ms. Carolina loved the land.

"We are the only gringos in the world."

She was right again.

We descended into a valley and picked up two passengers. With them in the car we couldn't make it up the hills.

Ms. Carolina had no trouble walking with our passengers.

Everyone was headed to Todos Santos. The race was the highlight of the holiday, because it was time to speak with Cum Hau.

He was the god of the death.

The road got steeper.

Then we hit the bottom of the valley.

We were in Todos Santos.

A white Mercedes was parked by the church.

"Donald," Ms. Carolina and I said in unison.

Mayan children greeted us with 'Ba’ax ka wa’alik'.

It meant 'what do you have to say'.

Ms. Carolina gave them postcards from Virginia.

They loved her for showing them another world.

She bought woven blanket and a straw hat.

I purchased a bottle of pulque, which was the traditional drink of choice for the Day of the Dead.

And other days too.

Thunder sounded from below. The first race was on. Crowds of Mayans lined the course. Shouts spurred on the riders.

A few gringos were watching the race.

The entire scene was chaos.

"It's Donald," Ms. Carolina shouted pointing to approaching horsemen.

The blonde older man raced past us with a chicken in his hand. He wasn't Donald Sutherland, but he was happy and Ms. Carolina was happy believing that he was the movie actor.

"Go, Donald, go."

She hugged me.

"You think he won?"

"Anyone who races wins."

We drove out of Todos Santos before the last race.

Ms. Carolina moved closer to me.

On the Day after the Day of the Dead what other choice did I have.

'Wale hun' or as the Mayans say, "Maybe only one."

And one was always better than none.

Fotos by Peter Nolan Smith other than those of the Todos Santos Race from Lucy Brown.