Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Kicking Off The New Year

After New Year's Day of 2008 my 'wife' packed the car with Angie, Champoo, and her fat sister for the return drive to Chai-nat. Her week stay for Xmas had been torture. My every word was ignored with visible disdain. She told my daughter that I was a worthless drunk. My young daughter and I celebrated her birthday together. Angie refused to choose sides and cried getting in the car.

I hugged my daughter and said, "I'll see you soon."

Chai-nat was a five-hour bus ride from Pattaya. My online site for selling fake F1 merchandise required daily attention, but I had come to Thailand to be with Angie and not flog second-grade copies to brainless racing fanatics in the Occident.

"You take care?" Angie's mom spoke little to no English. The former factory worker considered farangs 'so-kapok' and only one step above Arabs. Thais have a very high opinion of themselves and their country. Their chauvinism was not misplaced, for the Thailand was the France of the Far East.

"I'll be fine." I kissed my daughter good-bye. Her mother and I had not been intimate since before her birth. Our sole connection was our daughter and she had said on more than one occasion that Angie wasn't mine. Murder constantly paced the corridors of my mind and her slightest touch could lead to a stranglehold. Accordingly we maintained a defensive distance whenever we were close.

The Toyota backed out of the driveway. Angie waved from the backseat. She had my mother's smile, crooked teeth and all. I swallowed a lump and went inside my rented house to open a can of beer. It was twenty-three minutes short of noon.

I thought about calling Angie's mom to come back, but my words had lost their magic.

They had a full tank of gas and 2500 baht. More than enough to last two days, but if I've learned one thing in Thailand, "It's never enough."

The beer tasted of irony on an empty stomach. I was once more being deserted to my own devices in Pattaya. Nu's ex-boyfriend had disappeared from Pattaya weeks ago. Pi-et was no magician and the main prop for his vanishing act had been a bus north. Chai-nat lay in the same direction.

I turned the TV onto Fox News. Bill O'Reilly was praising GW Bush for saving America after 9/11. I finished the beer and threw the empty at the TV. The cheap aluminum didn't even scratch the screen.

As I got up for another beer, my mobile phone vibrated on the coffee table. The volume of the ringing was turned down to avoid unwanted phone calls during Nu's stay. My wife suspected the worst and a woman was never wrong about a man. I answered the phone

It was Mint. 22 years old, thin as a runway model, and convinced that I could never love her.

"Is she gone?"

"Back to Chai-nat."

"And her 'feend'."

The Thai word for lover sounded very much like friend.

"Yes."

"We have to talk," she said in English. She didn't watch farang movies, so that statement must be universal in every language. The topic had few options.

"About what?" Mint and I had been lovers for over a year, but we had never spent a night in bed together. We were pure afternoon or early evening.

"I tell you when I see you." She shared an apartment on Jomtien Beach with a gay friend. Glai was very jealous of our relationship. The hustler liked it better when I had been a customer. Mint felt the opposite.

"Can't you tell me now?"

I pondered the subject of our conversation.

If Mint wanted to leave me. No problem. She was young. I was ancient. Her old 'friends' called at all times of the day. She never picked up the phone, while we making love.

"No. Not now. I see you. I tell you."

If you can't say it over the phone, then it wasn't about money, although Mint wasn't greedy, despite having two kids. They cost money. I gave what I gave. It also was never enough. I could see #2 leading right to #1.

Mint probably had another boyfriend to bankroll her life. She was an ace at pretending desire. Her faithful clientele from her years on Soi 6 and the Mona Lisa Massage in Bangkok were legion. She juggled her time with us like a crap shooter hoping for the best roll, however she had been slinging snake-eyes for the past few months.

We were more than lovers.

I drove my scooter down the back roads to Jomtien. The vanishing wetlands behind Jomtien Beach put a good distance between my house and Mint's apartment, diminishing the possibility of my wife and Mint running into each other. I hated confrontations.

Pattaya was attracting thousands of long-timers. Coconut plantations were giving way to holiday villas.

By the time I reached Thraprassit Road, the sun had burnt through the morning haze. The cold front had sputniked down from Siberia. Thai beach-goers were reveling in the sea. Russians waddled out of 7/11 with ice creams. It was a too nice a day to hear goodbye twice.

I turned off the Beach Road and rolled up to her semi-abandoned apartment building hearing the start of the Doors' 'THE END' like this scene was the beginning of APOCALYPSE II. Mint sat on a stool. She was wearing a loose dress. A bottle of beer was on the table.

The two glasses had ice in them.

"You want drink?" She averted looking in my eyes.

"Yes." Beer protected me from everything.

She poured beer into the two glasses. Neither of us took a sip. Mint had her hands folded on her lap. I sat down and asked, "What is it?"

"I'm pregnant." She lifted do-it-yourself pregnancy test. Two red lines indicated mint was carrying another life. I had thought her recent extra weight coming from beer.

"Pregnant?" I was old enough to be Mint's father, who's actually two years younger than me.

"Yes. Two months. It is yours."

"Mine." Two months ago had been Loy Krathong. I distinctly recalled a long afternoon in bed. The math worked out to 1+1=3.

"I not go with other man."

"I know." I wasn't brought up to accuse a woman of entrapment. It wasn't like I was the pick of the crop. "A baby."

"Chai." Her morning sickness and expanding belly should have been signs of impending fatherhood. I was too absorbed in my problems to notice the obvious.

"A baby."

Walking was easy in Thailand. Marriages dissolved like sugar in the rain. Men were free to come and go as the wind. Women were glad to see them go too. Mint was well aware of her position. The father of her two children had left her penniless at 18. Her beauty had saved them from starvation. I lifted her head with two fingers. Tears dotted the corners. She had been here before, but not with me.

"Two months."

"Chai." She was expecting a repeat of bad luck. Men ran from a woman in her situation. Thai and farang. Pattaya was the Last Babylon. It was every man for himself.

"What you want to do?"

"I want have baby." Mint wanted to make me happier. She was too crazy to do that all the time, but she had heard the sadness in my voice, as I told her about Angie. Her mother had signed the name of the father to Pi-et. The Thai authorities would never reverse that signature.

Mint wanted to have the baby. She wanted it to be mine.

"She be cute."

"That's the truth." Looks were the least of our problems.

"How do you know it's a girl?" She certainly had not done an ultra-sound.

"Old lady see my neck and say if blood move up and down sure to be girl." Mint indicated a pulsing vein on her neck. "Old lady say maybe I have two."

"Twins?" 30 seconds was not enough time to digest the first news let alone the second.

"Not sure. What you want do?"

Abortion was out of the question. It was illegal in Thailand and while I accepted the freedom of choice for a woman, I was old-fashioned enough to regard every life as sacred.

"If it's a boy, can I chose the name?" I was a 55 year-old American living in Thailand. Going back to the States was not in the books.

"Yes. What about your wife?"

"We were never married." Her numerous betrayals had cancelled that wedding.

"I not want be mia noi." Her smile was half-hearted. The second wife or mia noi usually ends up standing in the rain outside the house of her child's father. Thai TV soaps loved that scene.

"You won't be a mia noi." I couldn't guarantee how her countrymen would view her, but Angie and her mother were living up-country. They weren't coming back. My cash flow was threatened by the global slow-down. The big house in Pattaya was an unnecessary expense. Two families were an obligation for a real man. Jomtien had the beach. Mint and I could live small.

"You and me will be one."

"I not want much." Not much sounded good today. Much would be spoken later, because kids cost money.

"Only me." I felt good saying it. Believing it was not as easy, but Mint held my hand and said, "Only you, me, and babies."

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

You never do when there's only one choice.

For better.

Never worst.

I wasn't going anywhere, if I could help it.

Seven months later we had a child.

My son Fenway.

He's no girl.

New Year's Eve 2007 Pattaya

On the afternoon of December 31, 2007 heavy lorries, pick-up trucks and 125cc motorcycles with sidecars exited from the distributor at the end of my soi with thousands of beers every minute. Thousands of Thai and farang tourists were flocking into the city for the year's final drunk in the beach resort's countless bars, go-gos, hotels, and brothels from Jomtien to Naklua.

"What are you doing tonight?" Sam Royalle asked on my porch in the shade of a Norfolk pine. He had been out the previous night with our friends and couldn't remember coming home. His skin exuded a sheen of excess alcohol.

"Nothing." I had avoided the debauch and fallen asleep before the TV during a Star Trek ENTERPRISE marathon. The mozzies had partied with my feet during my unconscious state and I was scrubbing the red splotches with salt.

Nothing?"

"Sounds good to me." I had worked in nightclubs through the 70s, 80s, and 90s. My fellow workers referred to 12/31 as 'amateur's night' and the same stupid behavior of fights, accidents, and stupid conversations held as true for Pattaya as it did in New York, London, Paris, or LA. "I'm giving it a miss. My wife is going out with her friends though, so I get to care back of my daughter. We're going to watch the fireworks from my garden."

"Have a party." Sam was a family man and understood kids came first. He drove off my his scooter in the direction of home.

My wife left the house at 8:30 without any good-byes. Angie didn't care. She and I had KFC and played rodeo on the bed. We had a glass of Pepsi and watched some more Star Trek. It put both of us to sleep before 10. I was dead sober.

I heard the fireworks and tried to open my eyes.

Not a chance.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

What has happened to my wickedness?

Children.

They tend to rescue a bad man's soul.

Better them than the devil.

Monday, December 29, 2014

MOVEABLE XMAS by Peter Nolan Smith

Christmas 2014 belongs to the past. I was too sick to travel to visit my family in Boston. My Christmas Eve was spent hacking clear my lungs like I reincarnating the final agonies of Doc Holiday on his last legs at the Hotel Glenwood. Reputedly the tubercular gun fighter looked at his bare feet and said his last words.

"Damn, this is funny."

Doc didn't die with his boots on, but I bare-soled through Christmas with my lungs choking for precious oxygen.

My condition on December 26 mimicked Camille's demise, but on the 27th I attended a soiree with longtime comrades. Between us we knew each other for centuries. Our departed friends haunted the gathering and we drank hard liquor with the abandon of the wicked. Old Evil David lanced me with insults. I smiled back with a glass of gin in my hand.

I was too drunk to be mean, but one of our friends. Suzanne, was having an affair with a born-again reprobate. The tortured painter deserved happiness, but her beau's high-pitched dialogues were dotted with Jesus and he had bad words for us sinners.

I have been a devout atheist since the age of eight and hate Bible-thumpers, so I avoided born-again Ben throughout the evening.

After a venerable cinema professor recounted his parents' curtailing his possible baseball career with the New York Mets, we went to main table laden with deserts and bottles.

Ben stood before the unsullied chocolate cake. He was contemplating the size of his slice. His lips were moving in prayer and a knife quivered in his hand. Every sinew attached to my bones shivered a warning to shut my mouth, however the gin spoke for me.

"You look like Adam the first time he saw Eve, but a chocolate cake is not Satan." I pushed down on his hand.

The knife pierced the chocolate.

I smelled it on the air.

"I know that." Ben cut himself a miserly slice.

Amos, the cineaste, directed himself out of the scene.

I cut my hunk and raised the richness in the air in my bare hand.

"To another Christmas to come." I hoped to spent 2015 with my family in Thailand. My children meant the world to me. Every parent in the world shared the same feeling and I stuffed the chocolate cake in my mouth.

It stuck in my craw and I washed the crumbs down with gin.

"But there's one thing that bothers me about Christmas."

"Such as?" Ben shut a small pice of cake in his mouth.

"I worked every day of the holiday season and I'm not complaining since the one thing worse than too much work is too little work."

I had relearned that lesson through 2014.

"So what is the problem?"

"This year Christmas fell on a Thursday, which meant I couldn't take off Friday." My boss had cut out to Florida, the Holyland for the Chosen Tribe. "Not that I had anyplace to go, but millions of workers would have benefit, if Christmas was a moving holiday."

"Moving?"

"Yes, like Labor Day, so it creates a three-day weekend for the workers."

"Christ was born on December 25."

"Says who?"

"Says the Bible."

"I never saw that date in the New Testament, besides God knocked up Mary on August 8, which means that Jesus was probably born on May 8 as a Taurus."

"Jesus' birth was recorded by the Romans. He is God. His birthday is December 25th."

"What did you give him this year? An iPad, a tie, a blowjob?" I really hate Jesus freaks.

"Shut up, you old git." Old Evil David interfered with my fun, knowing I was about to get ugly.

"But___"

"But nothing, you wicked sinner." David swung his fingers over my head in a Picasso sign of the cross and led away, whispering, "Our friend like this guy. Leave him alone."

I turned my head.

He was right.

Suzanne was in Ben's arms. They were a happy couple in Christ. Ben gave her a bite of his cake.

"Thanks, Dave." I gave my friend a hug. He looked out for me and I looked out for a change as would any atheist on the days after Christmas.

Friday, December 26, 2014

JAI YEN MAI by Peter Nolan Smith

Several years ago on Boxing Day my daughter was playing on our soi in Pattaya. A pick-up roared down the street like the driver had murdered his wife and was bell-bent for the border. From my perspective the bumper came too close to my little precious daughter. I jumped on my scooter and chased the speeding pick-up down the street.

At the corner I slapped his door with my open palm. A clumsy move and I swerved off my bike to avoid entering the car mayhem of Soi Bongkot. The bike dropped to the ground and I struggled to right the Yamaha. My neighbor, appeared to have such a small head through the windshield, got out of the car in a football hooligan fury. The small noggin was attached to a King Kong body tattooed with Chelsea slogan. I spotted 'Strive for victory shun defeat!' a nanosecond before his first punch.

Lefts and rights gashed my eyebrow and cheek. Grappling his arms, I realized, “Shit this guy is strong and knows what he’s doing.”

Finally he was out of breath and asked, “Had enough?”

“Yeah, but you’re still a cunt for nearly hitting my daughter.”

We left it like that.

My daughter's mother regarded at my black eyes and bruised face. “What you want to do?”

“Nothing right now.” Taking a baseball bat to his windshield or slashing his tires would escalate the conflict to the point where someone would get hospitalized since Pattaya is packed with lager louts and hooligans avoiding travel in Europe now that Spain has an extradition treaty with the UK. Fascists to a man.

“Good. Better to have jai-yen.” She kissed my cheek and gave me a beer. Fights led to blood and blood led to death.

My Thai friends from the Buffalo Bar said we have to get him.

Gae-kaen or revenge.

“But not today.” They advised with a grim smile. “Wait, we get him later.”

Their list of suggestions were dominated by a beating or vandalizing his truck.
“We do. You not worry. You not call the police?”

“No.” Calling the police meant paying sin-bon or bribes without any guarantee of satisfaction.

“Good.” The Thais liked keeping the police in the dark. “Lam-Luat no know. Good.”

My farang friends asked, “What happened to you?”

I explained the situation, but changed the story to say that my assailant was an 80 year-old man.

“Really?”

“Some of these geezers are wiry and fast.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Nothing as long as he drives slower in the neighborhood.”

Doing nothing felt funny. George W Bush wouldn’t do nothing, but the Pentagon wasn’t in my back pocket. Nothing seemed wrong, especially when the skinhead lout drove by my house every day with a pit bull in the back. At least he was going slower.

I spent a week doing push-ups. It was a waste of time.

I was no longer a fighter, but I am vicious and spotted a cluster of red ants in my mango tree. Normally I would have sprayed the swarming tentacles with a pesticide since mot-daeng are wicked biters. This time I went into the kitchen and brought out a pot of honey.

“Winnie the Pooh.” My daughter called out as I coated the leaves with the sweet sticky honey.

My wife took one look and said, “Gae-kaen.”

I nodded my head and waited for the ants to gather their clan.

Red ants swarmed over the leaves to get at the honey. Within an hour the branch bent under their weight. By dark they numbered in the thousands, thanks to my attentive resupply of honey. My daughter's mother was watching a Thai soap opera. She only had eyes for the TV. I drove around the block. The pick-up truck was parked on the street.

I returned to the mango tree and coaxed the red ants into a paper bag. It actually felt heavy and then I dressed in black. Camouflage for the night. I crossed through the backyards of several abandoned house to the adjacent street. No dogs barked out a warning.

The skinhead’s truck was sheltered under a tree. I snuck up to the driver’s door. A dollop of honey on the door handle. Another under the door. I checked the street and uplifted the bag . A little too fast, because more ants fell on me than the door.

Thousands of them sought my flesh.

Hundreds of them found it.

I threw down the bag and ran into the darkness, with the ants biting bite everywhere.

My daughter's mother spotted the welts. “Gae-kaen.”

"Yeah, gae-kaen."

The next day I heard from neighbors how the football hooligan had come out his house and gotten into to his car to be attacked by thousands of fire ants.

They regarded me with approval.

I smile a 'yim-mai-loo', saying I didn't know what they were talking about, but they smiled back to say they knew, because like the Irish the Thais believe that revenge was always best served cold.

Especially with red ants on hand.

Moe-Ho Road Rage ala Thai


This Thai expression is rarely used while behind the wheel.

On Boxing Day 2005 a neighbor roared down my soi in his pick-up. He nearly hit my daughter. My wife later said he didn’t come close, but I took off after him on my motorcycle to give him a piece of my mind. At the end of the soi I slapped his door, but had to arkwardly brake to avoid entering the busier main street. The bike fell over and as I was picking it up, my neighbor, whose head appeared small behind the tinted windows emerged as a 6-3 football hooligan and he walloped my head several times. Bloodying my head, breaking my nose slightly, and blackening both eyes.

“Had enough?”

“Yeah, but your still an asshole for driving like one.”

Of course this was hardly an isolated incident.

Everyone’s temper worsens in their vehicle.

Sourette’s syndrome is pandemic.

“FFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUU.”

Up in Chiang Mai back in the 90s a German flipped a motorcyclist the finger.

A year later the Kraut was shot dead by the same motorcyclist.

Last week a Thai driver was angered by three kids on bike. They were driving in between the cars without any concern for life or limb. The driver beeped his horn and one of the bikers slowed down to shoot the driver. He was lucky.

Only wounded.

His girlfriend said, “I told him to be cool.”

And that’s what everyone should be

Cool.

Me too.

Like where we going in such a hurry?

7/11?

To get some shitty food.

Jai yen.

I’ve learned my lesson, but if anyone sees a blue Isuzu pick-up with 6522 plates, I give you the green light to slash their tires.

Beers will be on me at the Buffalo Bar in August.

BOXING DAY

Boxing Day is a strictly English holiday dating back to the Middle Ages when the lower class received hand-outs from their feudal overlords.

In early capitalist customers dropped coins for the workers into a clay pot.

On December 26 the high-class owners would dole out the year's bonus to their underpaid workers, however whenever I ask Brits about Boxing Day's origins they say it's the day after Christmas on which nothing is open.

This was a fact, which I learned traveling from Portsmouth to London on Boxing Day 1985.

The single 2nd Class train car was shared by me and five National Front lager louts. The ride had all the remaking of the Zombie film 28 DAYS LATER soundtracked by the Jam's hit DOWN IN THE TUBE AT MIDNIGHT.

Desolation. Rain. Drunks. Violence.

I first felt a fist, and then a kick
I could now smell their breath
They smelt of pubs and wormwood scrubs
And too many right wing meetings
My life swam around me
It took a look and drowned me in its own existence
The smell of brown leather
It blended in with the weather
It filled my eyes, ears, nose and mouth
It blocked all my senses
Couldnt see, hear, speak any longer
And Im down in the tube station at midnight
I said I was down in the tube station at midnight - THE JAM

Luckily the skinheads only rode two stops up the line.

Boxing Day 2006 I was less fortunate and an altercation on my soi earned me a set of Panda eyes.

This year I stayed cool.

No fights.

At least not yet.

But later I'll be headed down the 169.

It's a bar made for love, not war.

ps if you want to hear DOWN IN THE TUBE AT MIDNIGHT, please go to the following URL

www.youtube.com/watch?v=hf4EFDGP4yg

Thursday, December 25, 2014

John Lennon - Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - YouTube

LAST CALL WITH ARTHUR

After my arrest for copyright infringement in Thailand I had to stick around for my court date. Three months without any income. I called my various friends around the world for contributions to my 'stay out of jail' fund. There was a schedule to these pleas and in April it was Scottie Taylor's turn. I dialed his number in New York and the ex-owner of Milk Bar answered the phone on the first ring.

"I got bad news." His words were weighed by fatality.

"What?" I hadn't even had time to explain my plight.

"Art's bad." He was talking about Arthur Weinstein.

"How bad?" My boss from the Jefferson had been diagnosed with cancer two years earlier. Bad could only mean one thing.

"It's only matter of time." Scottie had known Arthur most of his life. "Maybe a month. Maybe two."

"I'll be there in three weeks."

The trial date was in 10 days. Deportation as a persona non grata was a possibility. So was jail. I luckily met the chief prosecutor two days before the trial. We were at a bar. He said not to worry about a thing and at court the judge fined me $100. I walked out of Pattaya court a free man and bought two bottles of Mekong whiskey for the cops. The prosecutor got Johnny Walker Black. Two days later I bid farewell to my pregnant mistress at her Jomtien apartment and stayed in Chai-nat with my wife and daughter until my flight to JFK.

The flight to New York took 36 hours. Andrew Pollack had promised a soft landing and I crashed at his Fort Greene brownstone. The bed was soft. His kids a reminder of my daughter in Thailand. My friends feted me as an escaped cyber-criminal.

"It was a misdemeanor." I protested, although not in innocence.

"Misdemeanor?" They wanted to hear the story their way and I felt more like the prodigal bum until later that week when I cashed in a life insurance policy. $2000 would last my wife and mistress a month and I could live on $10 a day. New York was my home once more. I had friends to see and visited Scottie at his office. For a 50 year-old stuck in a meaningless 9-to-5 job, he looked happy, then again his wife loved him and he loved her on his Harley.

I congratulated him on his wedding. A frown crossed his face.

"You seen Art yet?" Arthur was Scottie's best friend. They had financed their first nightclub from Scottie's glomming the bar at the Ritz. The owner had said in a newspaper article that he would have given the money, if they asked. Scottie, Arthur, and I knew better than that.

"No." I knew Arthur almost 25 years. We were almost family and a lot of people felt the same way about the nightclub owner. Arthur had hired me for the doorman at the Jefferson and Continental. He had put money in my pocket. He had never asked anything in return other than for me to be happy. "I'll go this afternoon."

"Don't go in the afternoons. That's when his medicine kicks in."

"The last time I saw him he was in good shape." Two years ago Arthur had shown me his silk-screens hanging in the hallway of the Chelsea Hotel. I liked them a lot. "He said he was going to fight the cancer."

"He fought it."

Arthur liked fights. Not fisticuffs, but fighting was in his blood. We had watched Michael Spinks versus Tyson at the World. The bout lasted less than a minute. Art's fight had been much longer.

"To be truthful Art looks better than you'd think. His hair is black as a crow wing and other than a scar on his throat he is the same old Art."

Scottie and I spoke about the first time we met at the Reggae Lounge. The year was 1979. Arthur was opening his loft over the Jefferson as an after-hours club. Arthur was 31. I was 27 and Scottie was younger. We thought that we were going to live forever. Scottie still resembled a less scruffy version of Charles Mansion and was kind enough to say, "You haven't changed much too."

"Thanks." I no longer recognized my reflection in the mirror.

The next morning I called Art's apartment in the Chelsea Hotel. Colleen his wife answered the phone. "Art would love to see you."

"I'll come over now."

"Just a second. I'll ask first." Colleen and Art had been together for years. They were a team. Their middle name was love. Not all the time, just 99% of always which was more than most people. She came back on the phone. Her voice was strong. Colleen and her daughter had been dealing with this for months.

"Sorry, he's not in a good state right now."

"Pain?" I hated the idea of Arthur suffering. We were 'my generation'. This was the youth of our old age. The clock wasn't supposed to be ticking out the seconds so fast.

"No, just a little out of it. Try tomorrow."

The next day I worked at a Chinatown art gallery, hanging paintings on the wall. I dialed Arthur's number at 6. Colleen said not tonight. I ate Chinese food in a cheap restaurant off Grand Street. I called Scottie halfway through my Moo Shu Pork.

"Remember when you said the only things you needed in life to make you happy were a joint, a video, a Chinese take-out, and a Duralog?"

"That must have been when I was living in LA." Back in the early 90s Scottie had been Billy Idol's driver. He lost the job after Billy broke his leg in a motorcycle accident. "Life was much simpler then."

"I've been trying to see Art."

"It's all a matter of timing. I saw him this morning. That's the best time."

"By the way I'm eating Chinese now."

"Then you're one-quarter of the way to paradise."

I hung up, finished my meal, and headed back to Brooklyn. My friend, Andrew, and I watched the Celtics on his wide-screen TV and smoked a joint. I fell asleep dreaming of the other 3/4s the way to heaven. One dream was Arthur and me at the Milk Bar drinking late at night. No dialogue. Only the simple exchange of glances. His eyes could say most anything.

I woke early. The dawn mist filled the windows with a filthy gray. I hadn't been this cold in years. It was May 1. I worked the next three days at the art gallery. Lifting frames was crushing my ancient spine. Andrew invited me to spend the weekend with his wife and two kids in the Hamptons. My back said 'rest' and I waved good-bye from the second-floor of the brownstone. That evening I pulled Anthony Haden-Guest's THE LAST PARTY from the bookshelf. Arthur figured heavily in the Culture of the Night. The account of the Jefferson raid brought back many memories. Most of them I had forgotten. I called Scottie to leave a message. He picked up the phone instead.

"Scottie, I just read LAST PARTY. Arthur was in it a lot." Hurrah's, the Jefferson, the Continental, the World, and a hundred other places we can't remember unless someone showed us the pictures.

"Arthur symbolized the night to Anthony." Scottie had been quoted in the book as being the only straight bartender at Studio 54.

"Me too." Speaking out of the side of his mouth at the Jefferson to make sure no one else could hear whatever he was saying. Running the lights at the Limelight. Greeting guests at the World. "He got me my last job at a nightclub job. I can't remember the name. It was trendy. I lasted two weeks. The owner said I was letting in too many normal people. I was trying for a mix. He only wanted fashion people."

"Ugh." Scottie had retired from the night a decade ago.

"I told Arthur sorry and he said, "What for? You got paid didn't you?" Arthur believed in the 1st Commandment of Yiddish. Nimmt geld or take the money.

"Go see Arthur."

"I will."

Sunday morning I called Arthur. Colleen answered the phone. She said he was good. I took the A train to 23rd Street and walked to the Chelsea Hotel. It was under new management. I didn't see the change.

"I'm here to see Arthur Weinstein." I told the clerk.

"Are they expecting you?"

"Yes." Arthur and Colleen had moved here with their daughter Dahlia back in the last century. Like many residents they deserved a plaque.

"Then go on up." Maybe it more the Chelsea than I thought. The elevator certainly was Chelsea Hotel slow. I got off on the 2nd floor and walked to 208. I knocked on the door. Colleen asked if it was me.

"Yes."

She was happy to see me. We knew each other a long time.

"Art's in the bedroom."

"How is he?"

"You'll see."

Back in the early 70s a friend on mine was in a Boston Hospital. I was told 407, but heard 406. That room had a man wrapped in bandages from head to toe. It took me several seconds to realize he wasn't my friend and walking through the Weinstein's living room, I prepared myself for the worst.

"He's in there." She pointed to the bedroom and I walked through the door.

The room smelled of medicine. Arthur was sitting up in the bed. Silver rings cluttered his fingers. His pajamas were black silk. An ascot hid the majority of the scar snaking beneath his jaw. He was very much a man of style and waved for me to sit down, then wrote a message on paper. His mouth no longer had the capacity to speak.

"How you think I look?" Like most handsome men vanity is tough to kill.

"You want the truth?"

He nodded behind white Rayban sunglasses.

"You remember CITIZEN KANE when the reporter goes to visit Joseph Cotton in the sanitarium. You look a little like him, only more handsome."

The laugh came from his chest and he wrote more.

"I loved that movie." His hand moved heavy across the paper. "So how's your family?"

"Good, you know I'm having another baby?"

His eyebrows arched indicating he was rolling his eyes.

"Good luck." He scrawled out the two words." His scholarship to Fordham had been for pitching baseballs, not penmanship.

"I think it's going to be a boy." I told him about my arrest and my mistress. I read a story about the Jefferson. He was the hero. When his head fell on his chest, I started putting away the manuscript, but he grabbed my hand. I wasn't going anywhere.

"I could have beaten this." He scrawled on the paper. "I was stupid."

"But you survived death a couple of times." I wasn't going to lie about his making it to Christmas or even Labor Day. "What about the time the cop from the 9th precinct blew a hole in the wall or that cop Bobby punched you in the Continental."

"Thanks a lot for that." He printed these words big. They were very legible.

"What else was I supposed to do?" Bobby was a killer. He asked for Arthur at the front door. I pointed to Arthur at the bar. Bobby walked across the club to Arthur and punched him once. The 20th Precinct wanted their cut. "Sorry."

"If you were sorry, you would have fingered someone else as me."

Colleen entered the room and glanced at Arthur like he had been a bad boy. They had been together more than 30 years. Back at the time of the Continental no one would have gambled on their marriage lasting this long. A diamond eternity band circled Colleen's wedding finger.

"Arthur, I remember you coming up to 47th Street to buy that for Colleen. You said you wanted something to show you loved her." I was surprised to hear him say it even knowing it was in his heart. Art was a man of a few words sometimes.

Arthur nodded and Colleen motioned for me to leave. I thanked her for letting me visit Arthur and she saw me to the door.

"I'll let you know." She wasn't talking about a dinner party.

Outside on 23rd Street I called Scottie.

"How was he?"

"Arthur was Arthur."

"Good." Scottie and I didn't have to say much.

Arthur died within two weeks. He was at the Chelsea Hotel.

Scottie, Arthur's daughter Dahlia, and Colleen mourned his departure from this earth. His friends cried at the news. The New York Times wrote a good obit saying he re-designed the night. I toasted him at Angelo's in Little Italy. Someone said it was Arthur's Last Call, but he was wrong. There was never a last call with Arthur Weinstein. Not on this Earth, only in the great beyond.

Christmas Truce

Peace on earth.

I'm declaring a Christmas Truce on all bad thoughts.

Enjoy.

The Xmas Drunk


This holiday season I had a great part-time job being invited to office parties as the Christmas Drunk. $500 an appearance and all I could drink. Bad behavior was a must. Insulting the boss was a showstopper. Punching out the hated brother-in-law was most requested extra. $100/punch. Insulting a wife's obesity was a secret request by many husbands. I refused this boon. Punching a jerk was one thing. Hurting a fat woman's feelings was bad taste.

It was a good deal and the only downside was that I had to be drunker than anyone else at the party so the family members and guests and co-workers could say the next morning, "At least I wasn't as drunk as the Christmas drunk."

Big Dave from the diamond exchange served as my back-up in case a situation spun out of hand. I knew the limits. Big Dave never had to save my ass.

None of my clients knew my real name. I was always James Steele.

"Who was that drunk guy?" Most guests asked at the end of a successful performance.

"The Xmas Drunk," the host would answered with pride. I made everyone feel good about getting drunk.

My popularity increased as the shopping days shrunk to single digits. I couldn't handle the demand. I boosted my rate to $200/hour. No one complained about my performance. By December 21st I was at the top of my game.

At a Hedge Fund soiree atop a skyscraper I ambushed the ruling CEO in the bathroom. I pointed a gun at him. Actually it was only a finger in my suit pocket. The capitalist fool was drunk enough to not question me.

Either that of very guilty.

I accused this czar of finance of impoverishing the world. He swore that he was simply doing his job.

"I'll give you a check for a million if you let me go."

"Money means nothing to the Christmas Drunk." I grabbed him by his tie and dragged him into the main office, where his fellow execs ridiculed his surrender to a besotted revolutionary. At most parties people were people. Here these investment bankers consider themselves better than anyone else. I left to applause and superglued shut the doors of the office. They didn't get out until 3am.

The next morning I received a complaint from the banker who had hired me.

"What do you expect from the Christmas Drunk? Emily Post manners. Fuck off." I had a wicked hang-over. I probably should have apologized, but he had paid me in cash. Everyone did, because there's only one person worst than the Christmas Drunk and that the guy trying to seek revenge by stiffing me, so I'm a strictly cash enterprise and the Christmas Drunk knows where these jerks live.

Being naughty and not nice all part of the Christmas Drunk's job and noohing says asshole better than the Christmas drunk.

Fenway's First Beermas


Susan Cheever entered the ranks of prohibitionism with today's NY Times DRUNKENFREUDE. Her glib mangling of the classic German term 'schadenfreude' meaning taking joy in the misery of others opens with a 10 year-old tale of a woman's heavy drinking at a Christmas party then shifts into an observation that New Yorkers no longer get drunk at festive gatherings.

While heavy drinking is sometimes a sign of alcoholism, it's more often an indication of heavy drinking leading to more heavy drinking in a time where nothing really matters.

Not your job, your life, and certainly not what any writer in a newspaper or blog have to opine about the issue of inebriation.

Several years ago at the retail basement of the Plaza Hotel I was running a jewelry store for Richie Boy. The place was a disaster. The Israeli managers played one Cd.

From opening to closing like this space was a truing ground for Shin Bet interrogators. The two Turkish-Austrian managers of the exquisite patisserie Vienese Demels, The other evening and last evening as well I was drinking wine. My friend Richie Boy scolded my drinking, but only because he wanted something left for the other guests. When they didn't show to our little gathering, we finished of the rest of the wine. It was only one bottle and went to dinner upstairs at the Oak Room at the Plaza. I got home at 10:30 and fell into bed with GHOST TOTEM, a novel about Chinese dissidents trapped in Inner Mongolia during the Cultural Revolution. The book lasted about two pages, but I awoke refreshed by a good nine hours sleep.

So am I an alcoholic or just a drinker?

I claim to be the latter, while recognizing the approach of the former at times.

At least my drinking doesn't interfere with my job as a diamantaire, mostly because there are no sales this holiday season. None. So what me worry whether Susan Cheever doesn't think it's attractive to get drunk. She's probably only attractive when I'm drunk.

I checked Google to make sure.

She's at least five drinks from being attractive, but then she is smart and that is more lasting a quality than beauty and I guess that I shouldn't be so hard on her for being a non-drinker, but let's face it the real reason she hasn't seen anyone drunk is that like all reformed sinners or children of drinkers their reproach is a buzzkill.

So happy Beermas to all my friends.Let everyone else drink tea.

ps the beer in Fenway's stroller is empty.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Warfare In America

President George W Bush rightfully understood that the attacks on 9/11 were acts of war, but the hijackers were not soldiers from a foreign land. The nineteen 'terrorists' had been organized by a shadowy cabal affiliated with Osama Bin Ladin's Al-Qaada into four separate cells, each with a different target. After the collapse of the Twin Towers, the destruction of the Pentagon and downing of the United flight into a Pennsylvania field, few Americans asked why were attacked. In fact the effect existed without cause other than the standard 'they hate us'.

If that was the case, why didn't anyone ask why?

Because we eat bacon, which is 'haram' or forbidden by the Koran?

No.

Because our women wear short skirts?

No.

In truth it didn't matter why as long as the USA exacted revenge from an Islamic victim or victims.

No Iraqis or Afghanis on the jets of 9/11 didn't prevent us from going to war with those distant countries

That nineteen of the hijackers were Saudi was no 'casus belli' for the Pentagon, although the American media backed up the war with red, white, and blue dripping from the headlines and this morning Fox News, CNN, the Daily News, the New York Post, and hundreds of news outlets whipped up the sheep into a frenzy about how the protests against the police killing unarmed black men and white men and anyone else led to a mad man's shooting of two NYPD officers.

The Head of the NYPD Union SkullBreakers 109 accused the Mayor of inciting his communist cohorts to acts of retaliation. Ex-police commissioners were fast to protect their blue bloods and the NYPD union leaders vowed to not make arrests during the coming days. In other words they are threatening to go on strike and as much as I support the unions I would cross the picket line to be a cop during the crisis.

Hire some old Black Panthers too.

The tragedy of this shooting is that no one is asking why the gunman could get a gun from a Georgia pawn shop.

Georgia has no check-up of gun purchases.

Secondly why don't cop cars have bullet proof glass?

Because cities are too cheap to protect the boys in blue.

And lastly the Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sean Bell, and Darren Wilson did not kill the two cops. the protestors didn't not shoot Officers Liu and Ramos> A crazy man pulled the trigger.

All I want is power for the people.

White, black, yellow, coffee et al, but as Chairman Mao said, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

And Mao knew what he was saying.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Kill For The Sake Of Cali

GUNGA DIN was one of my favorite movies as a child. The cinematic version of Rudyard Kipling's poem about an untouchable bisthi or water carrier had elephants, fakirs, religious fanatics, comedy, thrills, and the horror of the Thuggees, who killed the innocent for their multi-armed goddess, Cali. "Swear by our mother Kali to be thrice faithful to her and to me and to our order and to all of us. Rise, our new-made brothers. Rise and kill. Kill, lest you be killed yourselves. Kill for the love of killing. Kill for the love of Kali! Kill! Kill! Kill!"

I always found this murderous request chilling, but mankind hasn't changed a lick since the release of 1939 GUNGA DIN.

The Taliban murdered over a hundred schoolchildren in Pakistan, a Louisiana mother killed her babies, Israel's IDF slaughtered hundreds of Gazans during the summer, a madman shot two cops in NY, the cops killed more, and it keeps on going on and on and on without cessation.

The horror.

As Joseph Conrad wrote in THE EHART OF DARKNESS.

The horror.

Marlon Brando rumbled the words in APOCALYPSE NOW.

All I want is a little peace.

Is that too much to ask from the world.

One day.

And here's the end of GUNGA DIN.

The water boy has been shot and is dying.

A sergeant speaks over his body.

So I'll meet 'im later on At the place where 'e is gone -- Where it's always double drill and no canteen; 'E'll be squattin' on the coals Givin' drink to poor damned souls, An' I'll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din! Yes, Din! Din! Din! You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din! Though I've belted you and flayed you, By the livin' Gawd that made you, You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din

To watch a sequence from GUNGA DIN, please go to the following URL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEynYH-FNy8

Sunday, December 21, 2014

11:59PM


A little before midnight.

On the Friday before Christmas I stopped by the diamond exchange on 47th Street. There are no customers before the booths. Only the rich have money and the vast majority had fled south for Florida or St. Bart's. Richie Boy was working with a wealthy friend. He was asking $260,000 for a magnificent sapphire in an exquisite platinum and diamond mounting.

"Burma no heat." The best stones came from that country.

"I'll give you $150,000." The banker had squirreled away a fortune during the 2008 financial collapse. He had escaped the face-saving investigations into the multi-trillion dollar scandal and well understood that having money at a time of capital scarcity bestowed a wicked power of leverage, however Richie Boy stood firm at 260K.

The banker stood up and left the store, saying, "If you change your mind, give me a call."

"You'll be calling me before I call you."

The man's wife loved the ring.

I watched the door close.

"Bastard," Richie Boy muttered, putting the ring in the safe. "I'm making 6% on this sale. 6% and he wants to steal it."

"How do you think he got his money? From Santa Claus. No, he stole it like every banker in America stole money."

"I don't need to hear your bullshit about only three ways to be wealthy."

"Be born into it, marry it, or steal it."

His octogenarian father was snoozing in the corner. A smile was on his face. He had to be reaming of better times.

"Your father worked sixty-five years. Is he rich? No, you've worked almost thirty five and while you have a nice life, you ain't rich."

"What about you?"

"For the last two years I slaved in the steel factory cutting beams for a salary of $800/week and I was glad to have it, but now I'm working with Jeri on 3rd Avenue." Our store was close to Bloomingdales.

"How's business up there?"

"About the same as here." There wasn't a single customer in the vast exchange. "I sold a fancy yellow diamond for $40,000 and the profit was $4000."

"A luxury, although the other day i sold an emerald for 14K and made 7K on it."

Sounds like the good old days. I'll see you later."

I picked up some diamond eternity bands for a customer. I returned to the store. Jeri was sitting with her pugs, while going over her bills.

"Anything happen?" It was a stupid question.

"The dogs slept for an hour."

"Lucky them." Samson and Delilah were old pets. I liked them, but they weren't buying any jewelry this or any year and neither were the disappearing middle class. Only the rich had money for gems and they were bargaining like Gypsies with a Minnesota roll of $1 bills.

Jeri's client arrived on time and picked out the best ring. The Palm Beach blonde was in her 70s. Her husband wasn't healthy. I wished that Simon passed over the New Year, so I could marry Elaine. It was a dream too good to come true.

At 5pm we shut the store. It was already abysmally dark on 3rd Avenue. Thieves targeted stores daring to stay open in the shortest days of the year.

"I don't need another theft."

"Sorry about that."

A thief had hit me for an expensive bracelet in my first month.

I didn't trust anyone anymore.

"What's done is done."

Jeri magnetically locked the front door. The pugs work from their sleep. We gave them thin slices of apples. Their happiness had nothing to do with money.

"You close safely." Jeri put on her coat. It was fur. Warm too, but like Richie Boy and me she wasn't rich. No one who has to work is rich no matter how much money they have. The real rich don't have to work at all.

After closing the safe and locking the door I took the Q train back to Fort Greene. I bought a very good bottle of wine for $41. The staff of Green Grape applauded my escape from single-digit priced wine.

After arriving home I drank the bottle with my landlord and his wife. They had given me gave me a bottle of Jamison's for the winter's solstice. I toasted them and my staying them. It's been over five years. I babysit their kids. I don't make a mess. My bedroom has a view. My bathroom too.

After we finished the wine, AP and I retreated to my floor to listen to music. I opened the bottle of whiskey. We drank a few glasses and AP descended into domestic 'for better or worse' bliss. I readied for sleep, listening to Jefferson Airplane's SURREALISTIC PILLOW.

COMING BACK TO ME.

11:59PM

It was time for bed.

Because tomorrow I have to be to work at 10AM.

Jeri asked me to come early.

She had a customer for an emerald.

The store needed money.

Jeri needed money.

I needed money to send my kids in Thailand.

Only a minute remained in the day.

Within sixty seconds the clock would tick into Saturday.

Tomorrow was filled with twenty-hours.

One of them had to be lucky.

The Mayflower At Nanyasket

Throughout the early part of the 20th Century a fleet of side wheel steamers plied the waters of Boston harbor. The flotilla was reduced to one by a fire in 1919, but the Mayflower ran to Nantasket Beach until 1948. After its decommission its new owner hauled the white-hulled ship close to shore and opened the Showboat for business as a nightclub. An extension to the club's parking lot landlocked the ship, which became an iconic greeting sight for thousands of family intent on spending a summer day on the long stand of sand, followed by a seafood dinner along Nantasket Avenue, and the amusement rides at Paragon Park.

My father gave a quarter to the first one of his six children to spot the Mayflower. ship.

He was a Mayflower descendant and we joked that the Pilgrims came over in the Showboat.

We never stopped there.

Nightclubs were for adults.

As a teenager the Surf Nantasket superseded the attractions of Paragon Park and every Saturday night we sped down Route 228 to dance to the Techniques, the Mods, the Chosen Few, and the main band the Rockin' Ramrods, who scored a regional hit with BRIGHT LIGHTS BLUE SKIES and SHE LIED. Sometimes bigger groups like Steppenwolf and the Doors played special concerts for teenagers on the South Shore.

In the fall of 1969 I drove to the ballroom in a VW Beetle that I shared with my brother. He was in college and normally got first shot at the car, but Frunk chose Friday nights to date his girlfriend.

One evening I loaded the car with my sister, her friend, Chuckie Manzi, and a friend just back from Marine boot camp. We drank beers en route, since the Surf only served soft drinks. That evening we danced to the top hits spun by the DJ from WBZ and then watched the band, Shocking Pink. After the Surf closed, the five of us got back in the car for the ride home.

It was 11:30 and traffic was light on Route 228. I sped up to 50 around the curve by the roller coaster. The Mayflower was on the right. The parking lot was empty.

Passing the darkened ship I spotted oncoming headlights. Without any turn signal the big Olds crossed the four-lane state highway. I stamped on the brakes.

Too late.

Time was radically accelerated by the force of the head-on collision whipping the VW into a spin.

Glass shattered in my face.

impact buckled my door and flung me onto the pavement. Car wheels rolled by my head and then the speed of the present returned to normal.

I sat up.

The steering wheel was in my hand.

The front of the VW had been crumpled by the accident. I ran to the door and peered inside. My sister, her friend, Chuckie, and the marine were cut by glass, but no one was badly injured.

I turned to the Olds. A disheveled woman sat behind the wheel. She was trying to start the engine. I walked over to the car and rapped on her window. She shouted at me to go away. Her voice sounded drunk and strangely mannish.

Several cars stopped to help us.

A young man pulled open the door of the Olds and took away the woman's keys.

Rubberneckers stared out the window.

Sirens neared the scene of the crash.

"I need to go." She wobbled after the young man in high heels. They were too small for her feet.

"You're going nowhere."

"But I'm late." She was taller than the young man and me.

"There's no one in the Showboat. It's closed."

"Oh." Her voice was almost a baritone.

"So you almost killed us to meet someone who wasn't there." I had a temper.

"You're all alive." The young man pushed me away from the Olds. "That's the important thing."

"You're right." I looked back at my sister. She gave me a smile. We were alive. The ambulance took her and our friends to the South Shore hospital. The police drove us to the station. They wanted our statement.

"The woman drove into us head-on. No lights or nothing."

"She said that you drove into her." The officer was a veteran to teenage crashes on 228. Not a summer passed without a fatality on the road.

"She's lying."

"That's what another man said."

"Can I go to hospital now?" I wasn't saying anything more without a lawyer.

"Okay."

Everyone was okay, but later I told my father that there had been something strange about the woman.

"Strange how?"

"Like she was strange."

"How?"

"Like she could have been a man."

"A woman that could have been a man." My older brother laughed. "She must have been some kind of ugly."

"I guess she was."

Without a car the Surf was too far away from my hometown. That spring I graduated from high school and in the fall attended Boston College. In May my long-haired college friends and I visited Paragon Park for the seasonal opening. We rode the rides and saw the Techniques at the Surf. Both were fun on reefer. None of us went inside the SS Showboat and it burned down in 1979.

This year I searched for any information about the club on Google. There was just a few photos like the rest of my past, but I learned that the Showboat had been a tranny bar, which explained the Olds driver's strangeness, but she might have just been a mannish woman. Boston was a Navy town back in those days and those Marine nurses were very masculine.

"Strange, but the truth is always strange, when we revived the old memories of things gone by.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Long Ago The Doo-Wop

$2nd Street was synonymous with sin in the 1970s.

Fucking Rudy Guiliani closed the porno shops and XXX theaters.

Disney moved into the vacated premises.

Now 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues belongs to fat people eating fast food.

A hell of gross consumption.

The Minnesota Strip was no heaven, but I liked it fine.

1976.

Nothing like it in the modern age.

Hot pants.

Ho Ho Ho Hannukah

This evening my boss' grandson came to visit her jewelry store with her husband. The holiday season had been brutal. We had yet to make a sale. While her husband parked their Ladnrover, Jeri taught the six-year-old how to open a safe and once the handsome lad opened the steel cube she asked, "Did you get a Hannukah gift for your mother?"

"I wanted to, but I don't know if I have enough money."

"How much you think you have?"

"$2."

"That's a lot of money. Let me see what we can find."

"I like those." Matthew pointed to a pair of sliced sapphire earring rimmed by gold.

"You have a good eye." Jeri pulled out the earrings. They cost $100. "You said you had money."

"$2." Matthew proudly emptied his coins on the counter. The boy was a goy, but his father was ein bissen Juden on his paternal side and as an Irishman I have a strong respect for tradition.

"$2 and four cents for the tax."

"Tax?"

"Yes, that's what the government charges, so we have roads and TV and lights."

Her husband and I exchanged a glance. We shared another opinion about taxes, but this was Hannukah, a night for good thoughts.

"Today, they sung a new song," interjected his grandfather.

"Ho, Ho, Ho, Hannukah."

"Do you know how to sing it?" I asked from my chair.

My youngest son in Thailand was the same age as Matthew.

Six.

I hadn't seen Fenway in over two years nor Fluke, Noy, or Angie, but I knew they loved their mothers same as Matthew loved his. The six year-old looked to Jeri and his grandfather. A smile broke over his lips and he chanted, "Ho-Ho-Ho Hannukah."

Jeri sniffed back a tear. She wanted grandchildren of her own. We are life. We are light. She kissed Matthew on the cheek.

"You're a good boychek." Jeri handed him the earrings in a pouch.

"Thank you. My mommy will be so happy."

Matthew left with his grandfather. Jeri stared at me.

"What?"

"That was our first sale of the season."

This afternoon a 68 year-old man had refused his wife a fancy-yellow diamond, because he said he didn't have the money. I believed him, but Matthew gave his every penny to make his mom happy and I was happy too, because I would have done the same for my mother and so would Jeri.

Ho-Ho-Ho-Hannukah.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Kids On Bikes

I love riding with my kids.

I've only had one accident with Angie.

Nothing bad.

Only scrapped skin.

All accidents that don't kill you build character.

Viva

Viva wore band-aids over her nipples.

Andy Warhol was never sexy.

She was a goddess.

She lives in Palm Springs and paints landscapes of what she sees.

Wickedness Runs In Vain

42nd Street was paradise for sin. Satan prowled the streets surrounding the Doo-Wop. It was wickedness at its best and worst. Mayor Guiliani shut it down like Dorothy chucking a bucket of water of the Wicked Witch of the West.

"Who would have thought that some little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness?"

A pig like Rudy.

"OHHHHHHH!!! NO!!! I'm going...ohhhhhhh..ohhhhhhhhhhhhh...."

But we will be back.

Both me and Clover.

The Wall Of Unfreedom

The Berlin Wall was erected in 1961 by the East German Communist regime to prevent its citizens from fleeing the repressive Soviet-led government. The concrete barrier was constructed was constructed with 45,000 separate sections of reinforced concrete, each 3.6 metros (12 ft) high and 1.2 metros (3.9 ft) wide, and cost DDM 16,155,000 or about US$3,638,000 according to Wikipedia.

In 1982 I visited Berlin. The Wall or Antifaschistischer Schutzwall was a must-see for tourists. Henri Flesh, a Paris DJ, and I stood atop a viewing platform. A death zone lay beyond the wall brimming with mines and surveyed by assassin snipers. In 1982 one person was killed by the border guards. His name was Lothar Fritz Freie. He was shot in a restricted area.

The Berlin Wall fell with the collapse of the USSR in 1989, however in recent years the Zionist government of Israel has built a greater wall to protect themselves from the wrath of the Palestinians. The West Bank Barrier is much taller and thicker than the Berlin Wall. Its path cuts across the Occupied Territories with the express purpose of seizing more land for the creation of settlements for right-wing settlers dedicated to the expulsion or extermination of any non-Zionist population.

The British built a similar wall in the Lost Provinces on Ireland.

They failed to prevent the rise of the IRA.

Same as the wall failed for the USSR or the Border Patrol on the Mexican border.

People flow like water and freedom of movement is the way of the world.

Free Palestine. Free Ulster. Free the world.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday The 12th

From my irreverent brother, Patrick Anthony Smith.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

In Vino Veritas or Oblivio

Back in the summer of 1985 I resided on the grounds of Osbourne House, Victoria's palace on the Solent. I shared a cottage with Vonelli, a retired CIA agent.

His cover was that he was an art dealer.

No one believed the native Floridian, but the hotel was a special place and attracted special people. One of them was a Danish sailor married to a Saudi princess.

Kurt’s Harley Street doctor's had advised the elimination of vodka from his diet and the bearded Viking decided to take the cure on the Isle of Wight. It was the sunniest isle of Britain.

“I’ll only drink from dawn to dusk.”

“Good thing he didn’t pick the dead of winter for this regime,” Vonelli muttered from behind me.

The days were very long this far north of the equator.

At the hotel Kurt instructed the help to only serve him rose wine. Every day the broad-bellied sailor sat on the porch in the same kaftan. It was a warm summer for England and after a week his outfit smelled of an animal was trapped underneath it.

His presence was tough on our sense of smell, so we avoided Kurt throughout the lengthening day.

One very early June morning I descended to the dining room for a solstice breakfast. The sun was breaking through the trees. Birds were greeting the dawn. The sea captain was sitting with his lovely Saudi Princess wife. I couldn't hear thier conversation. Her words were whispers, while Kurt's elocution was already in deep distress.

“I’m celebrating the longest day of the year.” He raised a glass of Rose.

“You’ve got a good start on it.”

Four empty bottles lay at his feet.

“I might score my personal best.”

“You know when your doctor said to stop drinking. He meant everything.”

“No, he said a little wine was okay.”

His wife shrugged and Kurt quaffed his wine.

That day we finished seventeen bottles.

We had to carry him to bed.

“You’re no fun,” he said lying on his bed like a beached whale.

“He’s not wrong.” Vonelli sniffed at his jacket sleeve, as we descended to the dining room.

Our clothing smelled of him and we washed them that evening.

We drank wine till midnight. We got drunk, but not like Kurt.

And the next morning he was in the dining room with four bottles at his feet.

Drunk before his time and while Pliny the Elder said, “In vino veritas.”, Vonelli put it more simply, “In magma vino oblivio.”

Or in wine truth, but in more wine oblivion.

And that’s the truth.

Buddha's Enlightenment

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.

Welcome To Ulster 2014

Three nights ago I exited from the subway into the XXXL Mall at Atlantic Terminal. Scores of uniformed police were scattered about the shopping center. Outside on the street even more cops slunk in groups. At first I thought they were protecting the mall from any protests against years of endemic police brutality against people of color and the lower classes, however I overheard someone say, "Jay Z is hosting Prince William of England and his wife to a Nets game."

The Royals in Brooklyn.

The helicopters overhead and flatfooted men in blue were protecting the Second In Line to the Throne. Cops regarded everyone as a potential terrorist. Scorn swan in their eyes. Last week a Staten Island grand jury deemed the police innocent of murdering Eric Garner. They could kill anyone; white, black, latino, young, and old without consequence and I realized that we are living in the New Ulster.

The rich can do anything.

The poor pay with their lives.

And the cops are paid to serve and protect on class against the rest.

I hope it never comes to this.

New Ulster 2014.

No justice.

No peace.

ps the Nets suck. Go Celtics.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Keep The Rose Reading Room Alive

This summer the filthy rich came close to killing the Rose Reading Room, once one of the greatest research library. They had the trustees transfer three million books to New Jersey saying that it is cheaper to keep them on the other side of the Hudson. What these guardians of books really wanted was to build a high-rise luxury condo with a shopping plaza to replace the newly-renovated storage stacks beneath the 42nd Street Library. They were all friends of Mayor Bloomburg, a Zionist billionaire from Bermuda.

The plan was only less costly, because great minds seek knowledge in the relative present. I can remember requests for books were sent by pneumatic pipes to the subterranean stacks. 30 minutes in 1977. 30 hours in 2014 thanks to the wicked rich.

With DeBlasio's election the diabolical plan of the other 1% was forestalled by outrage, however this week they will attempt to push through their strategy to steal one more asset of people.

It is not a small thing to lose the Rose Garden.

It is like the Burning of the Library in Alexandria.

No commercial value, no sell out.

No wasteland and I like wastelands.

Da Bronx in the 70s when all that shit was going on all the time.

This is a plea to save the Library.

Fuck consumerism.

Dear lover of libraries, On December 10th at 1:00pm, the NYC Council Committee on Cultural Affairs and the Sub-Committee on Libraries will hold a hearing on capital needs in the Council Chambers in City Hall (see attached). Charles Warren has been invited to testify on behalf of the Committee to Save NYPL. New York Public Library President Anthony Marx will also be testifying and is expected to request an unprecedented increase in capital funding for projects that will have profound effects for our branches and research libraries. The hearing will be open to the public in the City Council Chamber, and we would like to encourage anyone interested in attending to join us as we demand a halt to the sale of the Science, Industry, and Business Library, the return of the three million books exiled from the 42nd Street library’s stacks, and greater accountability from NYPL leaders to the taxpayers who provide a large part of their funding. You can enter City Hall through the gate on the East side of Broadway opposite Murray Street. In order to allow time to go through security, we recommend arriving at least 20 minutes in advanced of the hearing. In addition to attending the public hearing this Wednesday, now is an excellent time to contact your local city council member and borough president and let them know that the battle to save our libraries isn’t over, and this critical public hearing will shape the future of our libraries. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer: Email: info@manhattanbp.nyc.gov Phone: (212) 669-8300 Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr: Email: webmail@bronxbp.nyc.gov General Office: (718) 590-3500 Staten Island Borough President James S. Oddo: Phone: (718) 816-2000

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Abe And Marilyn and Blackula

Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclaimation in 1863. Slaves were freed throughout the South. Their liberation awaited the arrival on the Union Army.

"Free at last, hallelujah."

The unchained darkies' paradise last a few years, as the South instituted Jim Crow laws aimed at their subjugation to sharecropper lands. The police and mobs below the Mason-Dixon Line punished any loose-tongued niggers with the noose. Lynchings occurred with frightening regularity and Africans fled the South throughout the 20th Century in hopes of better days, only to have Northern factory owners conspire to break the spirit of blacks by underpaying their worth. The 1919 Tulsa Massacre taught spades that no place safe existed for a black man, woman, or child in White America.

I taught high school in South Boston during the Bussing battles of the 1970s.

A Massachusetts state judge ordered the Boston School Committee to rectify the racial imbalances within the city without including the lily-white suburbs. Poor Irish teenagers were transported to the poorer neighborhoods of Roxbury.

Divide and conquer amongst the old slaves, for the Irish were transported to the Americas as slave as well as the Africans of the West Coast.

And nowadays the battle lines are drawn by color.

Black and their supporters versus an aging White America threatened by the rising number of Latinos and Chinese flocking to the fifty states. Riches and safety await them, because White America is only interested in keeping down the blacks.

A nigger has to know his place and that is why Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson.

He mouthed off to a white cop.

Treyvon was murdered, because he was a black boy in a hoodie.

Akai Gurley had it coming, because he was black.

Tamir Rice was shot dead by cops.

At least one a day in these United States.

And white people say these killings are no racist.

No, they are almost right. Cops kill people, because they are poor and dead men can't tell their side of the story.

Whites prefer the nice lies by the people they have entrusted to protect them from the blacks.

Murder is just another price to pay for sleeping safe and sound at night.

ZZZZZZZZZ.

In your sleep.

Blackula will come to get you, whitey.

Me too, but I'm eating tons of garlic just in case.

He looks more like Abe Lincoln than Marilyn Monroe and there is nothing I want more than Marilynula sucking my blood in bed.

I'm a sucked for a stone-cold dead blonde.

Goodbye Subway Inn

Last Friday night I had a last drink at the Subway Inn on East 60th Street. The property owners was evicting the 77-year-old Manhattan bar to erect a towering luxury condo. I first drank in the Subway back in 1977. It was a classic dive bar then and most recently my boss frowned upon hearing that I was heading there after work.

"People get killed at the Subay every weekend." Jeri comes from a good Upper East Side family. Those people don't associated with the lower classes in fear that they might be reminded of their roots.

"They do?" I quickly googled 'subway inn killings' only to find 'Yuppies Are Killing the Dive Bar'.

"It's a hellhole."

"Have you ever been in it?"

"Me?" The Suzanne Pleshette lookalike grimaced in horror.

"Then we're going after work. It's closing next week and you'll be able to thrill your friends with a slumming tale. When was the last time you slummed it?"

"A long time." Jeri was no square and she checked her Patek diamond watch. "Just one drink. Let's close."

The two of us walked the short distance from her jewelry store and she hesitated before entering.

"What if my husband sees me?"

"I know your husband. He's not a drinker. Certainly not in the Subway Inn, but I'll check first."

I stepped inside the bar. The crowd was mostly workers from Bloomingdales. Jeri's husband was not with them. I walked outside half-expecting for jerk to have cut out, but she was smoking a cigarette.

"He's not there."

"Then that's a plus." She loved her husband, but long relationship bred the urge to be alone for a few hours a day. "Drinks on me."

We sat at the bar. She ordered us gin-tonics.

With Bombay Gin.

"The glasses look clean."

"Who can tell in his light?" Night was eternal in the Subway Inn. "Here's to my first and last time at this dump."

We sipped at the gin-tonics. The first one went down smoothly. Jeri told me a story about her mother killing a diamond sale by telling the customer, "This ring isn't you."

"Your mother has a lot of character."

"That's a good word for it."

I liked Jeri's mother. The diminutive octogenarian regularly drove into the city from the Island. Ruth was a scary driver, but could find a parking space in front of our store like the space had her name on it. We talked to our drinking neighbors. Jeri had them in stitches about her performing a violin concerto at Carniege Hall in a state of shock.

"I don't remember playing a single note, but everyone applauded wildly at the end. My mother said, "Don't quit your day job."

"What was your day job? asked the young female Chinese bartender. Jeri and she and spent a good the minutes talking about men. Little of their conversation was good.

"Being my mother's daughter. Talk about working." Jeri heard a buzz. Someone was calling her. "My husband. I got to go."

She threw money on the bar.

"Keep the change." Jeri wasn't accustomed to hard liquor and I walked her several blocks home. The phone kept ringing, which she ignored,while smoking a cigarette. "Gin doesn't smell, does it?"

"Not at all."

"What about the Subway Inn?"

"A little. What dive doesn't?"

"And we didn't get killed either."

"No one gets killed at the Subway. Only a little Shitskah."

"You goys are never shitskahed."

"Not on Shabbas." The night was deep night this close to the solstice.

"It's Shabbas?" Jeri wasn't that religious.

"Until tomorrow night. Don't worry about opening the store tomorrow. I'll be your Shabbas goy." I was a good gentile to the Jews, although I preferred to think of myself as the Shabbas starker. We grew up tough on the South Shore of Boston.

"Thanks." Jeri liked to sleep in late.

Her doorman opened the door. He nodded to me. I wasn't coming up and caught the train back to Brooklyn.

I never made it back to the Subway Inn until today.

A steel gate covered the windows.

Closed for good after three-quarters of a century.

The Subway Inn opened a few years after the end of Prohibition.

The original owner, Charlie Ackerman, was reputed to be a cranky piece of work without a good word for anyone, which reminded me of Manny, my old boss man on 47th Street.

Supposedly Joe Dimaggio slummed there with Marilyn Monroe, would drop by after a dinner at the nearby restaurant Gino.

During the 1978 Blackout I took refuge at the bar after a failed attempt to break Fiorucci's front window to loot a gold lame Elvis Suit.

Gone, but not gone 100%, because the owner, Steven Salinas, will dislodge everything in the bar to a new location.; the bar stools, booths and neon sign will move two blocks east on 60th Street, to a spot near Second Avenue.

“The space will look exactly the same. Colors, floor and all! In fact, our replication architect is hard at work making sure our new home will be nearly identical.”

As for the hoity-toity residents of the Subway Inn Tower.

Feh.

The 10 Unanswerables


According to the Old Testament Moses descended from Mount Sinai with two stone tablets inscribed with 17 Commandments and although the adopted son of the pharoah was the only man in the crowd who could read, Yahweh deigned not to write in Egyptian, so there could have been a thousand commandments for all Moses or Charlton Heston knew in the DeMille's version of THE TEN COMMANDMENT.

The re-interpretation in the ensuing millenia have whittled the 17 to 10, although the late comedian George Carlin shrank the list to One Commandment 'THOU SHALT KEEP THY RELIGION TO THYSELF!!!'

I have religiously obeyed his non-divine edict, as have an increasing number of non-believers, however American education has ignored Judeo-Christian thought for the last half-century along with geography, history, math, art, PE, and any science with an -ology at the end of the word.

People know less and less. Few can complete all the Ten Commandment, however anyone can resurrect the list by going to ask.jeeves.com and the interactive website had come up with its own list called the Ten Unanswerables, which are the following.

1. What is the meaning of life?

2. Is there a God?

3. Do blondes have more fun?

4. What is the best diet?

5. Is there anybody out there?

6. Who is the most famous person in the world?

7. What is love?

8. What is the secret to happiness?

9. Did Tony Soprano die?

10. How long will I live?

Having recovered from my Friday night occupation of a bar stool at Solas on East 10th Street, I will try to provide Ten Answers for the Ten Unaswerables.

1. The meaning of life is simple. Live today for tomorrow you die.

2. There certainly isn't a bearded God wearing a muumuu in the clouds.

3. Blondes have more fun, if you like blondes.

4. The best diet is excess in moderation.

5. There are plenty of anybodies out there. They just don't know where we are.

6. The famous person in the world is Andre the Giant. To me at least.

7. Love is like pornography, I know it when I feel it.

8. The secret to happiness is loving yourself and the world around you. Even in North Philadelphia, which can be a very bad place.

9. Death on TV is cancellation. Even Tony Soprano can't escape swimming with the fish on TV.

10. Everyone lives until they die. See answer one.

Not trying to be smart, for anyone who thinks that he has heard all the answers has not heard all the questions.

The God Of Beermas

Several years back one of the guards at the diamond exchange was drinking on the job. Joe had a Bud for breakfast. He drank another two on his coffee break. His lunch consisted of six beers. According to his calculation Joe consumed 15-16 beers during the course of a day. Finally his doctor advised Joe to cut down of his beers.

"I'm not stopping nothing." Joe was stubborn and ignored the warning, as his belly bloated to an enormous size.

On his next check-up the doctor informed him that his distended stomach was from the beer carbonation seeping through his stomach lining into his body. The only remedy was a complete cessation of beer and soda and Joe bemoaned his fall from grace.

“Even after the four week abstinence I won’t be able to drink beer. Not like a man is supposed to drink beer.”

I commiserated with my friend, because I’m a lightweight in my old age.

I have no more 20-beer nights.

These days five beers are too many, although I can put down ten when the thirst is on me.

Neither Joe nor I were world-class drinkers like Andre the Giant who drank enough for 30 men according to this piece from Wikpedia.

“He has been unofficially crowned “The Greatest Drunk on Earth” for once consuming 119 12-ounce beers in 6 hours. On an episode of WWE’s Legends of Wrestling, Mike Graham claimed that André once drank 197 16-ounce beers in one sitting, which was confirmed by Dusty Rhodes. In her autobiography, The Fabulous Moolah alleges that André drank 327 beers and passed out in a hotel bar in Reading, Pennsylvania, and because the staff could not move him, they had to leave him there until he regained consciousness.”

327 beers.

I’d died after drinking a 10th of his epic feat.

Andre the Giant would rise from the ashes of his hangover and drink as if there had been no yesterday.

My next beer is to him.

The God of Beermas and his ghost wants his beers during this Oktoberfest, so lift your beers to the Giant.

To hear tales of his drinking please go to this URL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Kwyb65J_d4

Waiting For Andre

Whenever the question arises at a bar about who was the greatest athlete, I allow everyone to offer their opinions.

"Jim Thorpe."

He was a multi-talented competitor.

"Ali."

Ali was a great fighter.

Once the debate has lost steam I say, "Andre the Giant."

They argue that the Frenchman was only a wrestler, but Andre the Giant was a living legend.

I was lucky enough to shake Ali's hand on 5th Avenue back in 1978 and entered Studio 54 with Andre the Giant.

Both were memorable encounters, however I recently read on www.geekosystem.com that Andre the Giant was driven to school by Nobel Prize winner Samuel Beckett in the early 50s. The future wrestling legend was a huge twelve year-old. The author of WAITING FOR GODOT had a truck. It was the only vehicle in the village that could accommodate Andre, whose father had constructed Beckett's cottage in France.

Andre recalled that they spoke about Cricket.

Boring and Andre the Giant was never boring.

Andre The Giant Had A Posse


Andre the Giant is a legend. His presence in the WWF gave the wrestling federation credibility. This man was big. He entered Studio 54 when I was working there. I opened the ropes and said, "Right this way, Andre."

He smiled and ushered in his three guests.

No much of an entourage and I was surprised to hear that a graffiti artist from Providence RI had tagged numerous cities with the words ANDRE THE GIANT HAS A POSSE. Supposedly this phrase was everywhere in the world where there were graffiti artists and skateboarders. Neither were my crew nor Andre, although I'm sure that he approved this expansion of identity.

This story from wikpedia is why Andre might have traveled light, but he did have a posse.

'Another feud involved a man who considered himself to be "the true giant" of wrestling: Big John Studd. Throughout the early to mid-1980s, André and Studd fought all over the world, battling to try and determine who the real giant of wrestling was. In December 1984, Studd took the feud to a new level, when he and partner Ken Patera knocked out André during a televised tag team match and proceeded to cut off André's hair. André had the last laugh at the first WrestleMania on 31 March 1985 at Madison Square Garden. André conquered Studd in a $15,000 Body Slam Challenge. After slamming Studd, he attempted to give the $15,000 prize to the fans, before having the bag stolen from him by his future manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.'

We are Andre's Posse.

Torah Torah Torah by Peter Nolan Smith

TORA TORA TORA was one of my mother's favorite films. The infamy of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor burned bright in her memory. Her friends from Jamaica Plain enlisted in the Marines, Army, and Navy by the scores. Many of them failed to return to Boston. Their bodies rest on islands across the Pacific.

The 1970 film flopped at the box office. Hippies didn't want to see a war movie, but I went with my mother and father. She cried at the sinking of the Arizona. My father had joined the Army Air Force that January much like many young Americans volunteered for the armed forces after the 9/11 attacks.

The producers of MAGNUM PI and NYPD BLUE manipulated the Japanese Navy's radio command TORA TORA TORA into TORAH TORAH TORAH for episodes about stolen Torahs. It has never been used by the IDF, who have been trying to draft Yeshiva students into the army without any success, for they consider the Torah trumps any secular laws.

Last Friday I was on West 47th Street and ran into Rondell, a religious diamond dealer.

"So nu?"The heavy-set Hassidic diamond broker was happy that I had a new job. We boasted about the health of our families and after a few minutes I asked his opinion about the power of the Torah over the laws of man.

"The Torah was dictated to Moses over the forty years in the desert. The words come from a divine source." The Torah was the law for Rondell.

"What about the last eight lines? Some scholars considered that these were composed after the Death of Moses."

"They are all sacred." The youngish father of six was a true believer from a schul on Eastern Parkway and said proudly, "You know that the Torah is one of the most important school books in Korea. Its truth is taught to many of the young."

"The Torah?" I understood how the five books of Moses formed the backbone of Hassidic tradition and the Christian accepting the Pentateuch into their Old Testament as well as the Muslims regarding the ancient text to be the words of Allah, but Korea was on the other side of the world and while 22% of its people claimed to be Buddhists and almost a third profess to be Christian, almost half the country adhere to no religion. "What's the Torah have to do with Korea?"

"The Korean ambassador told Israeli TV that Talmud study is a mandatory part of the country’s school curriculum and almost every home in South Korea boasts a Korean version of the Talmud, and mothers commonly teach it to their children, who call it the "Light of Knowledge."

"I know many Koreans are Christian. I had several baptized in my youth."

My old boss shook his head. Manny had heard this schtick before.

"You were a missionary?" Rondell knew of my devotion to atheism.

"No, but as a child in Boston the nuns offered us a chance to support Korean infant orphans. $15 took care of them for the first month of their life and you got to name them." Somewhere in Korea were four men in their late-40s with my name. "Koreans are also prone to Evangelism."

"Evangelism?" Rondell was unfamiliar with Christian subsects.

"Born-Again Christians." Manny was listening to my every word.

At the mention of these words my Brazilian co-worker turned her head. Ava believed in the God of the Only Faith and she prayed for my abandoned soul, so I won't burn in Hell. I looked at her, as I said, "Yes, Born-Agains back Israel 100%, for without Israel there can be no Apocalypse and the Apocalypse bring back the Messiah to battle the forces of Satan. Ava, do you have a Torah in your house?"

"Yes, it's called the Book of Light." Ava's was guided by the Bible. To her every word was true, especially the Apocalypse. She noticed her boss glaring at her. He hated my bullshitting.

"Thanks." I respected her faith. This country the Constitution guaranteed freedom of religion and from religion. "The Talmud gets around and so does the Koran."

"Not according to the Korean Ambassador. He says no Koreans read it, because it's a book of Islam." Rondell hated the Arabs; Christians as well as Muslims.

"That's not true. I have traveled through Korea's main airport on my many trips to Thailand and seen a few Muslim Korean in Inchon Airport, but no Hassidim. They prefer to fly through Tokyo or Beijing on the way back from the Hong Kong diamond shows Jews either, but then you don't have to like pastrami to be Jewish."

"What does pastrami have to do with the Torah?"

"Nothing other than it isn't tref."

"Goyim." Rondell was ecstatic to have stumped me on this issue and said, "Call me if you get a deal we can steal."

"Will do." We had made money in the past and I hoped that we made money in the future. We hugged as men equal in love of the world and I walked him outside the exchange. I wasn't making any money on the Street today and shouted, "TORAH TORAH TORAH."

"Say the word." Rondell pumped his fist in the air. He was a good family man and loved the Torah as should any rebbi.

That evening back home in Fort Greene I searched for 'Korea, torah' and found the following;

Nearly ten years ago, the Korea Times reported: “Interestingly, there are at least two different books currently sitting on Korean best-seller shelves that purport to explain the Jewish Talmud. The popularity of these books initially came as a surprise. But Koreans aren’t converting to Judaism. They read those books because Jews have gained a reputation for hard work and success, two things Koreans relate to well.”

Reports of Korean schoolchildren reading the Talmud – or at least stories thereof – have also been known for several years. One American teacher in South Korea related that in 2005, his elementary school students told him that as children, they had all read the Talmud, which they called the "Light of Knowledge." When asked if they had also read the Koran, they burst into laughter, saying, "Of course not, that’s the Muslim book.”

TORAH TORAH TORAH, but I prefer a good pastrami sandwich from Katz' Deli.

Throw in a cream soda and I'm in heaven on earth.