Sunday, April 26, 2015

Joyous Lake 1975

The Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace; Music on Max Yasgur's 600-acre dairy farm near the hamlet of White Lake in the town of Bethel, New York has impacted American music culture for over fifty years. Richie Havens opened the festival and Jimi Hendrix closed the concert with a fiery psychedelic finesse. A half million freaks, heads, and hippies attended the outdoor show. Millions more have said that they were there in spirit.

I was one of them, becuase that August weekend I was washing dishes and walloping pots in the kitchen of the Tara Hotel in Braintree, Mass. 17 years old and trapped in a meaningless job listening to the newscasts of Woodstock over a radio. I thought that I must have done something horribly bad in a previous lifetime to have been punished so severely in the present.

Few of us knew that the summer of love was history. Teens grew their hair longer. We smoked more pot. I dropped LSD. The anti-war movement expanded into the middle-class. Woodstock was our two-syllable nirvana. Everyone wanted a piece.

In the Spring of 1975 AK was studying keyboards at Berkeley School of Music and I was teaching at South Boston High School. AK received a phone call from Rockford, whom we had met the previous summer north of San Diego. The three of us had shared an acid trip on Moonlight Beach. The Pacific roared with motorcycle waves and a seal had spoken to us in a trance. There was a girl with blonde hair. She had big breasts. It was a nude beach. None of us wore a thing. After we came down Alan announced that he was heading north to San Francisco. I would have joined him, if AK hadn't talked me into returning to Boston.

"We have no money."

Rockford had hit the road with $10, the blonde, and a guitar.

He stayed a year.

During the phone conversation Rockford explained that the Haight was overrun by junkies, speed freaks, and scammers.

"A very uncool place, but Nona said that Woodstock was cool."

AK said we should go there and the next weekend AK and I drove west from Boston in his Firebird.

4 hours to Woodstock.

Rockford's house was a renovated chicken coop by Tannery Brook. Nona was exotic with long black hair and a Balinese legong dancer's body. She spoke with a New Jersey nasal grate trumped by her beauty. We smoked hash and then walked down the wooded side street to the Joyous Lake. Joe Cocker was playing at the small bar crowded with hippie die-hards and free spirited women.

Cocker had just emerged from a de-tox clinic. His friends refused him the right to drink, while they guzzled beer. The Sheffield singer's voice retained its gritty tone and the audience hit the floor. I dance a full-breasted brunette from the town. Her dress revealed her tits down the nipples.

"You want to come to my place?" She grinded hips against my cock.

"Love to." Hippie girl, pot, sex. It might have been six years after Woodstock, but this was my Aquarius moment, because the Season of Lust was in full swing winter, spring, summer, and fall.

I had sex with Dora three times that night.

The following morning she shook me awake.

"You gotta go."

Her body was a little bigger than I remembered. And she was a little older. I didn't care. I wanted more.

"Why?" I was ready to move into her small apartment overlooking Main Street.

"Because my old man is coming back tonight." She threw my jeans and tee-shirt on the bed. "He's a biker."

"I'm going." Bikers were trouble and angry bikers even more trouble. I dressed as fast as Clark Kent turning into Superman.

Ten minutes later I was back at Rockford's place. AK and he were playing African thumb piano. Nona was swaying to the rhythmic plinking. They laughed at my story. I didn't think that it was that funny and later I saw Dora on the back of a Harley.

Her old man was a tattooed bear.

I visited Woodstock a couple more times over that summer.

Dora was always with her old man.

AK and I dropped acid in July. We rocked out in the chicken shack. I played kazoo, Rockford strummed his guitar, and AK plunked out notes on his kalimba. Nona our muse was the dancing tambourine girl.

We wanted her, as did every man in Woodstock. Nona was Rockford's for the moment. AK and I hated him for that possession. Neither of us were proud of that envy.

That autumn Rockford and Nona moved back to the coast. Neither AK nor I returned to Woodstock in the following years.

I ran into Nona in Bali in 1993. Rockford was living in Iowa. I saw him in 2009. AK taught school in Jupiter Beach, Fla. We meet each other at least once a year. The three of us remained good friends.

This past Labor Weekend I passed through Woodstock on the way to the deep Catskills. The Joyous Lake was now the Not Fade Away. The hippies were in their 60s. I walked over to Dora's old apartment and knocked on the door. No one answered and I went downstairs to the Garden Cafe.

"Does a Dora live upstairs?"

"No." The long-hair chubby teenager answered, while smearing organic butter on a bagel. It was morning. "But a lot of guys ask the same question. She must have been something."

"She was."

And so were the rest of us from that Woodstock generation and the Age of Aquarius keeps on shining with the Earth pointing at that constellation for the next 2000 years.

Rock on, Dora.

The name means golden and my memory of that night glows like stolen treasure.


Wilbur Harrison had a hit with KANSAS CITY. My schoolmate, Joe Fielder, traveled to the Paris of the Plains in 1965. The police caught him in St. Louis. He escaped through the bathroom window and my 14 year-old friend reached KC the next day, where he ordered a steak and then rode a Greyhound back to Boston. His parents were relieved by his return and asked why he had runaway to Kansas City.

"Because they got some crazy little women there and I'm going to get me some." Joe quoted from the song. His parents grounded him for the summer. Later at school Joe told me that KC had no crazy little women, but he couldn't think of anything else to tell his mother and father.

"They were no pretty women."

"It was all a lie." Joe shrugged like he knew all the answers to every question about girls.

Three years ago I drove through Kansas City with Brock Dundee. The Scot was filming a movie about a sculptor close to death. We drove through the Power and Light District at dusk.

"I don't see any pretty women." Brock was a fan of the song KANSAS CITY.

"Some things don't change." The song was as much a lie in 2009 as in 1965.

Most of the cities of the Midwest are hollow shells, but not so Iowa City. This small town on the Iowa River hosted the campus of Iowa U. My old friend James Rockford lived on a farm twenty miles to the west, on which he grew marijuana instead of corn. Brock Dundee and I rendezvoused with the elder statesman of the hippie era at the Deadwood Tavern, which was the city's premiere dive. We drank beer, rum, smoked a joint, talked with coeds, and at the 2am closing James suggested that we go to Riverside.

"Riverside?" My Scottish friend thought it was another bar. He liked his drink.

"It's not a bar. It's the future birthplace of James T Kirk." Rockford broke out a vial of 1978 Bolivian cocaine. He was a true gourmand.

"You're shitting me." I've been a devout Trekkie since episode one and poured a pile of powder on my hand. No one at the Deadwood noticed my huffing the mound.

"Nope, it's waiting for his birth." James smiled with the knowledge that nothing could stop me from where no one I knew had gone before. We bought two six-packs of Tecate and flagged down a taxi.

"No sense in getting DWI'ed on a mission of such importance." James wasn't called 'the colonel' for nothing. The taxi driver thought that we were crazy, but said it wasn't the first time drunks had given Riverside Iowa as a late night destination.

"Nobody in the world would know about Riverside if it wasn't for James T Kirk. The town holds less than thousand souls. They don't even celebrate March 22. I'm a Trekkie too." The driver lifted his hand in the Vulcan greeting. I

The taxi traced the English River to the small town park. The greeting plaque welcomed us to the future home of James T Kirk. The driver stopped by a statue. Another marker proclaimed his future birth. I breathed in the night air thinking this town made James T Kirk, the captain of the USS Enterprise, was he was. I was that drunk.

"How you feel?" James asked, as my Scottish friend drank a beer with Rockford.

"Like I went to Jerusalem." In fact this was even more holy than Jerusalem. Jesus was a myth and James t Kirk was a myth in the making.

"I thought you would, now how about going back to your hotel for some serious drinking."

"You got it." James lived out here most of the year. He didn't speak to outsiders much. His wife would hate him tomorrow, but none of that mattered because he had brought a Trekkie to the Holy Grail.

Live long and prosper.

Going Up Country - Thai Style

Back in the 60s Canned Heat had a small hit GOING UP COUNTRY.

"Going up country, baby, do you want to come along?"

After Altamont longhairs abandoned the rip-offs, bummers, and downers of the big cities to establish Aquarian communes in the hinterland offering free love, organic food, and reefer to establish a democracy on the foundations of the new age agrarian revolution, unfortunately few of these utopias lasted past the past the winter of the Moral Majority after the Summer of Love.

Why was well-portrayed in T. C. Boyle's novel DROP CITY about the collapse of a Northern Californian commune and the surviving members' exodus to Alaska, but that didn't keep hippies from coming together for another try.

Like Alan Lage in Encinitas. 1974.

The Iowan had survived cancer as a teen and was living with an LSD professor on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I dropped acid with him and his blonde girlfriend on Black's Beach. Leslie looked like Pattie Hearst, the kidnapped heiress turned bank robber. The cops raided us as SLA revolutionaries. The acid was on paper. They touched it. Within twenty minutes the officers were getting a rush. We left town that night not wanting to witness the cops' wrath in the morning. I said good-bye to Alan and his girl on the PCH.

"We're going to Marin live off the country."

I almost joined them, but knew the cops up north would be after Pattie Hurst too.

A year later he showed up in Woodstock New York. Leslie had been replaced by Nona, half-New Jersey/half-Filipino. Skinny as Olive Oyl and smelling of cinnamon. They had a commune of two in a chicken farm. Grass, organic food, and John Lennon. Nona danced to Alan's guitar. Her sinuous body weaved a trance invading my dreams. She was Alan's chick and while I might covet my friend's chick I wasn't going to steal her, because I only break one commandment at a time and this night I went home with a fat girl I met at the Joyous Lake Bar. Babs had big breasts. We had sex in her bathtub next to a babbling creek. Later in her bed we committed sodomy. I should have stayed, but had the ambition to become a writer in ?New York.

And I thought writers need to live in the city.

Not the country.

Almost 35 years in Boston, New York, LA, Paris, Hamburg, Bangkok, Pattaya.

My first Thai wife doesn't like Pattaya.

She preferred living in Ban Nam Phu west of Chai-nat.

2 hours by bus to Morchit. Another 3 hours to Chai-nat, then a 50 kilometer car ride.

Over our years together she has bought 20 rai of land and ten cows. The land was being prepared for a teakwood forest, so we can sell carbon rights to polluting factories and harvest the timber in 15 years. I went up once a month to visit my wife and daughter.

Crossing the river at Wat Sing we entered a land without farangs.

Rice paddies, egrets, buffalos, butterflies, pigs, trees, mountains, dirt roads, and early evenings drinking beer with rice farmers under a billion stars in the sky.

"Going up-country, baby, do you want to come along?"

Sometimes I think it'd be nice.

Smoke a little weed, drink a lot of beer, but what would I do for work?

Grow rice?

Only to brew lao-khao whiskey.

Teach English.

The headmaster of my daughter's school would like that.

10,000 baht/month.

Nature. Quiet. Wife. Daughter. Farm. Beer. Reefer.

But then I ask myself what would happen if civilization collapsed under the weight of global warming. No electricity. No cars. No airplanes. No way to get back to the West.

The sea would flood Pattaya and Bangkok. People would flee inland. I would head up to my wife's farm. It was on higher ground. 110 feet above sea level. My daughter would be happy to see me. My wife would view me as another mouth to feed.

"What can he do?"

Back in 1996 I was in Tibet with my friend Tim Challon. The road to Nepal had been smothered by a mudslide. We were sort of stranded in Lhasa. He asked, "If the world fell apart, what would be do to live here?"

The choices were simple in Tibet.

Become a monk or a clown.

A clown like Sean Connery and Michael Caine in A MAN WHO WOULD BE KING.

Tim liked the idea and this weekend I had everyone laughing at a family dinner telling them about getting a penis transplant from a horse and charging everyone 10 baht to see the farang with the ham ma yoow or long horse cock.

20 baht to touch it.

A hippie freak show clown.

That would be my calling after the Armageddon.

"Going up-country, baby, you want to come along?"


Last January my good friend Alan Lage passed into eternity after a long life on planet Earth.

I was listening to the Youngbloods' GET TOGETHER and thought back to meeting 'Jim Rockford' on Moonlight Beach in the summer of 1974. We remained friends all that time and beyond and I had the luck to see the old hippie weed-grower in his native state back in 2009. My travel companion, Brock Dundee, loved meeting "Jim' and his son.

"He is a real American."

And so much more.

One of his last request was that we don't eat meat.

Today is for you and hopefully tomorrow.

Rockford, wherever you are my thoughts are with you.

To hear The Youngbloods' GET TOGETHER please go to the following url:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

WHY I MISS JUNKIES by Peter Nolan Smith

(published in OPEN CITY MAGAZINE 2002)

Most New Yorkers depend on air-conditioning to survive the heat waves of summer, however AC always felt to me, as if a dirty old man from the Arctic was breathing down my neck and he wasn't Santa Claus.

Truthfully I actually liked the heat and any temperature under 92 was survivable with the aid of a fan and a couple of cold beers. Above 92 Fahrenheit required multiple baths in my kitchen tub and the drinking countless liters of water, however as July 1999 stretched into its second week of body-sapping heat I had to admit defeat.

I needed cold.

Renting a car to a drive north was not an option, since an oppressive mugginess smothered the Eastern Seaboard from Eastport to Cape Hatteras and the meteorologists were forecasting no relief till the end of the month. My bank account held enough money for a small 6000 BTU AC and I staggered out of my apartment with one purchase on my mind.

The nearest appliance store was on 14th Street, which seemed out of range and I stood dazed by the brittle sunlight of East 10th Street, until someone called my name.

Sweat stung my eyes and I blinked several times.

Crazy John was exiting from the Russian Baths. His long white hair was wet and his papery skin was flushed red from the long sit-down in the baths. The old junkie walked toward me, as if his feet had no bones.

“You weren’t schvitzing today?” I loved the baths, but not in the summer.

“Why not? It’s so hot inside the steam room that outside on the street is almost chilly.” Crazy John's blood ran cold as a snake. “You should try it.”

“No way.” I was scared of an internal heat implosion. “I need to get cool.”

“Why don’t you go swimming in the East River?” His narcotic eyes were pools the color of mercury.

“The East River?”


"You have to be joking."

Every day New Yorkers drive by, over, and under the broad flow of the East River. Lovers wandered along its banks, tourist ships cruised its waters, fishermen cast lines for blues from FDR Park and kayakers shot the outbound tide off Roosevelt Island, yet since moving to Manhattan in 1975 I couldn’t recollect anyone swimming in that river.

"Not at all." John was serious.

“Only the Dead End kids swam in the East River and that was in the movies.”

“You’re right, but there’s a peninsula of construction rubble on East 20th Street.”

Crazy John was in line to inherit millions from a family trust, but preferred to live on the Lower East Side in order to stay close to his dealers. My uncle let the junkie stay in his basement for free and Crazy John had promised to reward Carmine with a fortune for this favor.

My uncle's wife and I thought that the junkie ne'er-do-well was full of shit.

“I see where you mean.”

A spit of sand had collected debris over an abandoned sewer outlet a block south of the gas station at 21st Street and the FDR Drive.

I don't know about the water."

”Billions of gallons of sea water flush the river every day. My friends tell me it's okay for swimming."

His only friends were the dying breed of junkies haunting the avenues east of Avenue A.

"I'm not sold."

"It's closer than the Rockaways or the Hamptons. Give it a try and let me know. I might join you one day.”

Crazy John sauntered off toward shooting galleries on East 4th Street.

Bathing in the East River was a mad idea. It had served as a sewer for centuries, but I returned to my apartment and changed into shorts and reef-walkers. The purchase of an AC could wait until I checked out Crazy John’s information.

Hitting the street again, I threw a towel over my shoulder and headed toward the river.

No one was playing basketball on the asphalt frying pan of Tompkins Square Park. Old men in tank tops listlessly played dominos under the wilting trees of East 13th Street, while a pack of children scampered through the feeble spray from a fire hydrant. I resisted succumbing to its temptation and slogged past the Con Ed power station.

The river wasn’t far now.

An elevated section of the FDR Drive shaded a cluster of improvised shelters. The derelict inhabitants lay on cardboard boxes, as if they were exhausted from praying for winter. Come January they wouldn’t be so happy about their dreams coming true. Mine was across the access road and I ran to the chain-link fence guarding the river from the city.

The East River's green water separated Manhattan from Brooklyn. A tour boat steamed upstream and two jet skis skated across its foaming wake. Their drivers wore wet suits and laughed like they were having a good time. The air was scented by the evening's incoming tide and I hurried to 20th Street.

It was just like Crazy John had said.

Several old-timers basked on a narrow sand spit extending thirty feet from the stone embankment. Sea gulls perched on the waterlogged stumps of a forgotten pier. The lap of waves dampened the hush of traffic on the FDR and I climbed over a railing to a rock quay slick with algae. The water emanated a chill and I tested the temperature with my foot. It was cold and I inched into the river. My feet cautiously explored the bottom.

Anything could be stuck in the sand.

I was soon waist-deep and my body was dropping down from the heat. A head popped from the river. It was a man and he wiped the wet from his eyes. The swimmer smiled and sensed my hesitation.

“C’mon in, the water’s great.”

“Jamie?” I recognized the voice and the face.

“Way you say that makes me think you thought I was dead.”

Jamie stood up like he was tottering on an unsteady perch.

“I heard a few things.” Prison was one of them. OD was another.

“I’m too crazy to die, but I heard you died too.” His smile missed a few teeth and his beard was a grizzled gray, but he was unmistakably alive. “Something about a bike crash in Burma.”

“It was more a near-death experience than the real thing.” My bent left wrist was a reminder of that crash and I hung my shirt along with my towel on a stump.

“Hey, those are the worst kind.” Jamie was as wiry as a meth addict’s pit bull.

“Is it really okay?” A flotilla of plastic bags floated past him.

“It ain’t the Riviera, but it’s better than Coney Island with a million people pissing in it and I haven't broken out in a rash."

“It does feel good.” I meandered into the river and goose bumps popped on my flesh.

“If the water looks clean and smells clean, then there’s a good chance it won’t kill you.” Jamie swam on his back. “Don’t be a chicken.”

Those words spurred my diving underneath the water. Nothing disgusting touched my flesh and I rose from the shallows refreshed by the cool plunge.

“So what you think?” Jamie raised his arms above his head. The tracks within his arms were on the mend. He almost looked healthy and I said, “Almost as good as Jones Beach.”

“Hey, why shouldn’t it? It’s the ocean. Only don’t swallow any of it?” Jamie glided on his back and the current tugged him away from the shore. He broke free with a frantic flurry of flailing arms and kicking feet. Reaching me, Jamie said, “Damn, it’s dangerous. Exciting too.”

“I have to admit it’s nice swimming in the city.”

“‘They' forbid us from doing it.” His tone made no bones about who ‘they’ were. “A friend of mine dove off the helicopter port. The authorities decided he was a suicide. The fire department and police tried to rescue him. He kept on doing the Australian Crawl. Hah. Even the police divers were scared to enter the river, but it’s not too bad once you’re used to it.”

Pedestrians stood by the embankment and gaped at us. It might be another ten years before normal people chanced swimming in the river. They walked away shaking their heads.

“Where you been lately?”

“The Bellevue doctors diagnosed me as manic-depressive and I wasn’t in any condition to argue with their assessment. They sent me to a hospital near Binghamton, where I discovered that the State was hiding hundreds of madmen and women in these old nut houses. Most of them not really crazy. Only homeless.”

“What do you mean?” I was suspicious of conspiracy theories from such a dubious source.

“You ever wonder where those Squeegee men went? No, cause you were too happy with them off the streets."

Very few New Yorkers missed the hordes of beggars, although their near-extinction posed a very sinister mystery.

“I figured the Mayor had hired a death squad from Columbia to kill them.”

“He’s too cheap to pay more than the price of a bus ticket.”

An old man shouted from a bike.

Jamie waved to him and threaded his way through the debris-strewn bottom to the beach.

“Friend of yours?”

“I met Dynamite upstate. He was once was a fighter, but took a few of punches too many.”

Jamie picked up a torn tee-shirt.

“You want me to meet him?”

“Dynamite’s a little touchy around strangers.” Jamie motioned for me to stay in the water. “He should be getting help, but they emptied the hospitals, cause the mayor’s running for Senate and can’t piss off those upstate hicks, so you’ll be seeing lots more of my friends.”

“I’ll keep my eyes out for them.”

Jamie waved good-bye and climbed the embankment to the old man.

I saluted him with a raised fist and waded carefully to the decrepit spit of debris. The sun dried my skin in seconds and I sniffed my arm. My skin smelled clean, but I reckoned that a quick bath was in order after this adventure.

Back at my flat I scrubbed my flesh raw.

That evening the weather broke and the temperature dropped into the 70s.

The next day I told several friends about my swim. Their faces warped between disgust and disbelief. I fought off a grin, since I hadn’t witnessed such boldfaced distaste since the grammar school nuns had condemned my wearing a leather jacket to Mass.

I swam a few of more times in the East River without running into Jamie.

Summer rounded the homestretch into September and his prediction bore fruit. Legions of homeless people begged quarters and harangued passers-by with demented litanies. Most East Villager ignored them in the hopes they would disappear with the change of the season.

School was back in session and one afternoon I stood on 3rd Avenue in awe of the passing parade of NYU students. The boys wore their hair to honor boy bands and the girls groomed themselves, as if they were seeking employment as a shopping mall mannequin. The pudgy collegians watched too much MTV and drank too much Coke, yet happiness beamed from their clean faces and their joy infected the East Village with a blandness of the suburbs.

The traffic light turned green. Students disobeyed the ‘don’t walk’ signal, which I might have obeyed forever, if Jamie’s gravelly voice hadn’t hijacked me back to the present.

“Nothing stays the same.”

“No one said they do.” I turned to face him. He was wearing a rumpled suit stained with sweat.

“Remember the way it used to be.” He pointed up 3rd Avenue. “In the parking lots junkie prostitutes worked out of decrepit vans.”

“Now they’re college dorms. Johnny Thunder used to pawn his guitar at the hock shops here. Now sushi shops and beer halls for the students.”

"And William Burroughs would shamble down the sidewalk. A stick of skin in a gray suit."

"He's living out in Kansas now."

This was no longer my East Village, but my nostalgia for that past was scary, since the bad from those times was so much more memorable than the good.

“Shit, the director of TAXI DRIVER filmed a couple of scenes with Jodie Foster at that SRO hotel on 13th Street.” Yellowing bruises discolored Jamie's face. He had been in a fight. His hand deftly covered his mouth and slipped on a cap to fill the gap in his grin. “Man, this neighborhood was fucked up. Junkies, sluts, people down on their luck.”

“Not anymore.” His sidewalk preaching was attracting too much of the wrong attention and I headed to Stuyvesant Street.

Jamie followed, speaking with a belligerence better saved for the start of an argument.

“I hate these kids. They wear helmets bicycling and condoms for sex. They stare at us like we don’t belong in the East Village. It’s them that don’t belong.” Jamie snarled at two teenage punks.

"They’re kids.” I had been young once.

“If I ran a gang of thieves, pickpockets, conmen, and grifters, I rip these spoiled brats off for every last penny and send them back crying to their fat-ass parents.”

“Little angry this afternoon, Jamie?”

“Damn right, I'm angry.” His eyes twitched without focus. “I just finished a weekend bid in jail.”

“For what?” Knowing him it could have been anything.

“This film crew was tearing branches off a tree blocking their fucking shot. I told them to stop and they ignored me. I punched out the producer and was arrested for trying to save a tree.”

“That’s very green of you.” I liked saving the planet, though not enough to go to jail.

“I didn’t give a rat’s ass about the tree, but I hate film people making believe like the shit they film is the truth. Then I get out and find out they jailed Dynamite. Shit, he ain’t killing people with tobacco or brainwashing people’s minds with advertisements. Only ranting about a fight he might have lost twenty years ago and if that’s a crime, they’d throw all the assholes talking on cellphones in jail too. I wish I had a hockey stick to slapshot them off their ears. I mean who are they talking to anyway? Dynamite’s crazy talk made it safe for straights to speak on phones like they were talking with Martin Scorsese. Why they have to bust Dynamite? He’s only a drunk. The cops, they don’t care, cause they have orders to protect these fucks’ pretty little world.”

Jamie seized my arm. His fingers bit into my bicep and I pried them loose. It wasn’t easy.

“You gotta calm down.”

“Don’t tell me to calm down.” Jamie spun around, as if a sudden spurt of vertigo might shift the time twenty years into the past.

“Then don’t calm down.”

“Calm, not calm.” Jamie staggered to the fence around a weedy garden. “You gotta remember why this ain’t how it was."

"Why?" I was stumped by his question.

"Because of Hakkim."


“You remember Hakkim?”

“How could I forget?”

“And the night they shot him?”

“We were at the Horseshoe Bar on Avenue B.”

“Good, you haven’t forgotten. Sorry, I lost it, but I get a little crazy, if my blood sugar gets low. They still have egg creams at the Gem Spa?”

A family of Pakistani might have taken over the newsstand, but they honored the ancient recipe of chocolate syrup and seltzer water.

“Same as ever.”

“I drink one of those and I’ll be good. You have money?”

A warning accompanied my two dollars.

“You go crazy and you’re on your own.”

“Hey, I’m just having an egg cream.” The evaporation of his rage had left him a fragile shell. “You mind coming with me?”

“What are friends for?” I walked him to the corner of St. Mark’s.

“Good to see something’s still the same.” He turned and said, “Do me a favor.”

“What?” I hoped that he wasn’t contemplating robbing the Gem Spa.

“For once it’d be nice for someone to wait around, instead of running away.” He almost sounded like an orphan. “Can you do me that solid?”

“Hurry up.”

I couldn’t refuse this small boon and waved him inside, while I examined the street to recall what remained of the East Village from twenty years ago.

In truth very little.

The St. Mark’s Cinema was a Gap, the Orchida serving pizza and liter beers had been replaced by an Italian restaurant, the Baths were now Kim’s Video.

The people were missing too.

Steven Pines OD, Carol Smith OD, Johnny Thunders OD, Clover Nolan disappeared into East Berlin, Klaus Nomi and Steve Brown of AIDS.

Thousands returned to regular lives in the suburbs and hundreds left for LA dazed by the promise of stardom.

I had gone nowhere.

My apartment on East 10th Street had been my home since 1976.

Back then East Village resembled ancient Rome a week after the Goths had sacked the city. Apartment buildings had been let run to ruin by indebted landlords. Other tenements had been torched for insurance and the rest were rattraps overrun by cockroaches.

The Ninth Precinct had unofficially declared the streets east of 1st Avenue a ‘no-go’ zone populated by thieves, whores, chicken-hawks, hustlers, rapists, scammers, junkies and deviants.

Nowadays the politicians and cops claim responsibility for the East Village’s rebirth, however the improvement was determined by one criminal’s absence and if anyone tells you different, it’s because they never met Hakkim, for a scumbag like him came around once in a generation, but while the East Village might have been dangerous, my hillbilly girlfriend from West Virginia had fallen in love with the neighborhood and we weren’t the only ones. The rundown neighborhood was the center of the universe for punks, musicians, artists, runaways, B-grade models, painters, dancers, actors, and sculptors recolonizing the burnt-out blocks between 1st and D Avenues.

We moved there on July 1, 1976, which was an unbearably hot day. The taxi driver emphatically refused to go any farther than 1st Avenue.

“It’s only a little bit down the block,” Alice pleaded with an Appalachian accent. Speaking in tongues was one of her many gifts.

“I don’t care if it was five feet. I’m not going another inch.” The driver pulled over to the curb.

“Thanks a lot.” We unloaded our stuff onto the sidewalk and I tipped him a dollar.

“You said a good tip, when you got into the cab.”

“It is a good tip for not taking us where we wanted to go.” I slammed the door and the taxi driver cursed me in Greek before racing uptown.

“Thanks for not losing your temper.” Alice smiled her gratitude. I did have a bad temper.

“I didn’t want to start off on the wrong foot.” I looked down the block

Near-naked children played in the spray from a hydrant and their parents lounged on the steps./p>

“Guess we’re home.”

“No, home is upstairs.” She beamed and lifted a box. I tried to manage with the other four. One toppled onto the sidewalk.

“Mister, you need help?” Two scrawny kids ran up to us.

“$1 each to carry a box to that door over there.” I pointed to the third stoop on the southside of the street.

“Can we trust them?” whispered Alice. Her eyes were two different colors; green with tints of red. The latter was the color of fire.

“We let them help and no one will think we’re stuck-up white people trying to evict them from their neighborhood?”

I handed them each a dollar and the kids joked about us being Mr. And Mrs. Opie, then fell silent at the door to our new address.

A pockmarked junkie was sprawled before the door and the taller kid said, “That’s George."

"Is he dead?" asked Alice.

No, he ain’t dead, just fucked up," said the shorter of the two.

“Let me see, if I can wake him.”

I called his name several times and then climbed the stairs to lightly nudge the comatose junkie with my foot. As he slumped from the doorway, an enraged voice shouted, “Who the fuck are you to kick George?”

”Oh shit.”

The two kids dropped the boxes and ran toward 1st Avenue. The kids in the spray of the fire hydrant scurried to their parents. A bare-chested black man was crossing the street. He was wearing jean shorts too tight for his muscular build and his eyes bellowed with yellow fury.

My girlfriend stepped behind me.

"I askt you before. You kick George?

“I didn’t kick him.”

“You callin’ me a liar, you white piece of shit?” the junkie snarled from the sidewalk.

“I’m sorry.” I couldn’t look him the eyes.

“Too late for sorrys. You’re fucked.” The veins on his neck pulsed with thick throbs of blood, as he clomped up the steps in his army boots. “I’m gonna to kick your ass.”

Countless scraps with Southie gang had taught me the value of not fighting fair and I threw the boxes at his chest. Their weight knocked him off balance and his body slammed onto the sidewalk. The crack of his head on the pavement echoed off the opposite building. He didn’t move and a trickle of blood seeped from under his head.

The street grew very quiet.

George rose from his slumber and stared at his friend and then me.

“Hakkim, what you done to Hakkim? You fucked yourself good. Hakkim gonna come for you and your little girlfriend. Take your clothes, TV, jewelry and fuck her.”

Anyone stupid enough to threaten you deserved a beating and I kicked him in the head. My girlfriend stopped me before I hospitalized him.

“We better leave before the police come.”

I opened the door and carried the boxes to our third-floor flat.

That night I lay awake on the futon waiting for Hakkim’s revenge.

A little past 3AM Alice said, “Nothing is going to happen tonight.”


"Nothing bad." She slipped across the futon into the arms.

The next morning we awoke to birds singing in the alley and we made love again on a dusty futon. We took a bath in the kitchen tub. She washed me and I dried her with the sun streaming through the alley willows into the apartment.

Later I went to buy groceries and the domino players across the street greeted me with a wave.

Hakkim appeared that afternoon sporting a stained head bandage and George possessing a black eye and a swollen cheek. Their eyes followed me, but neither man tried to attack me that night or any other.

Their unexpected leniency didn’t curtail their reign of terror against the neighborhood. Two models, Valda and Mary Beth, moved into an apartment across the street. The two models heeded my warnings about Hakkim and installed theft-proof grills on the windows.

For several weeks they were spared the unwelcome wagon treatment, but only because Hakkim had been busy elsewhere.

One night they returned home to discover Hakkim had chopped through the walls, stolen their money, defecated on their beds, and threw their clothes into the street. They moved out the next morning.

A musician friend devised the unusual strategy of leaving his door unlocked.

“I have nothing worth stealing.” Kurt upped this security measure by refusing to clean the apartment. He threw pizza rinds onto the growing pyramid of trash in the corner.

“That’s all I have and, if anyone wants it, they can have it.”

A lack of cleanliness was meaningless to a criminal so far removed from godliness as Hakkim and one day I spotted him wearing a jacket which Kurt had buried under a pile of Chinese take-out boxes.

Observing my horror, Hakkim warned ominously, “I been waitin’ for you. Waitin’ real patient for a piece of your girlfriend too.”

After hearing of Hakkim’s threat, my hillbilly girlfriend thrust the Village Voice in my chest. The weekly was folded to the APARTMENT FOR RENT section and she didn’t mince words.

“Find us an apartment quick. I don’t care where as long as it’s not East 10th Street.”

I called the landlord of a one-bedroom in Gramercy Park.

It was available and my girlfriend said, “Go over and sign the lease.”

“Right away.” Our experiment with urban pioneering was nearly at an end.

No one being on 10th Street was strange and I walked to hail a taxi on 1st Avenue.

Loud shouting rang from the corner.

Hakkim and another junkie were arguing about the split of swag from their robberies of apartments. Hakkim saw me. My eyes narrowed and he laughed, “You gonna throw down on me? You a punk bitch same as the rest of ‘em. I own you all.”

Two-on-one was not fair odds and I snatched a wooden stick out of the trash. I charged after Hakkim. He scrambled between two tightly parked cars and I swung at his head. He ducked the blow and stumbled into the avenue only to have his escape cut off by a Daily News truck. Its fender sent Hakkim flying fifty feet in the air. He landed on the other side of the street, a bone audibly snapped, and his body tumbled to rest. The other junkie stared at him on the pavement.

I expected him to blame me for causing this terrible accident.

Instead he rifled through Hakkim’s pockets and cried out with joy upon discovering several glassine packets of dope, then ran east spreading the news that Hakkim was dead.

Long-time residents emerged their apartments and stood over the fallen thief.

Only the arrival of a cop car prevented their revenge and the crowd begged the police to leave the scene. The officers apologized, “Sorry, we have a job. For him as much as you.”

People swore at the cops, as an ambulance carted him off to Bellevue, but no one was afraid to pray aloud for their tormentor’s death and that evening people walked on the block with newly purchased TVs, radios, and the stereos. Stuff they wouldn’t buy as long as Hakkim controlled the streets.

“You still want to leave?” I asked my girlfriend. The sun was setting in an orange sky. Children were laughing beside an ice cream truck. She tucked her arm around my waist.

“If he’s gone, then we’re still home. You want vanilla or chocolate?”


Flowers sprouted in the beaten ground underneath the trees. Supers swept the sidewalks and music filled the street. This miracle’s lasting forever was too much to ask from a place so beyond the pale of civilization as East Village.

Two weeks later I was sitting on the stoop with my upstairs neighbor and his face went white.

“What’s wrong?”


“No way.”

Hakkim hobbled down the sidewalk on crutches. His admiring coterie toasted his resurrection by ripping the flowers out of a recently planted garden. God might have been above saving his only son, but I couldn’t make any sense of his sparing Hakkim.

“Hey, you motherfuckers.” Hakkim waved a clump of roots over his head. ”Get ready for a Christmas in the springtime, cuz I been hearin’ you bought a lot of shit for me.”

Everyone shirked his gaze and I shook my head.

When I broke the news to my girlfriend, she started crying.

“It’s not fair.” Alice believed that Hakkim was coming for her. I took out a five-shot revolver from the closet. It was hardly the most accurate weapon in the world, but if I could get within ten feet of Hakkim, he was a dead man. I said nothing to Alice, leaving the apartment.

It was night. I had someone to find.

Hakkim wasn’t at Brownie’s or the East Village Artist’s Club on 9th or at any of the shooting galleries on 4th.

I ran into Jamie Parker at the Horseshoe Bar on Avenue B.

“Have you seen Hakkim?”

He pointed to a group of passing Puerto Ricans.

“They’re gonna to find Hakkim way before you. He ripped off their bruja. This fucked with their juju, so have a drink and let them commit murder for you.”

"No, I have___"

"You don't have to do nothing. Sit down and wait." He pulled me onto a stool.

Jamie was right. I drank a few beers, but kept on imagining Hakkim on the ground before me. The gun was in my hand. My finger was on the trigger. Jamie sensed the rising tide of vengeance and ordered me a shot of whiskey. I pushed away the shot glass.

“I need air.”

“Don’t go far.”

”I’m not going anywhere.”

The night air was still and the streetlights were black. Someone had knocked them out. Running feet slapped against the pavement. It was George. No one was catching the little junkie.

“Who was that?” Jamie exited from the bar.

“Fucking George. Hakkim can’t be far behind.” My hand slipped inside my jacket to the handle of the revolver.

“Help me. Please help me.” Hakkim wobbled along the street on his crutches. “They gonna kill me. Help.”

“No one's callin' the police.” A gang of Puerto Ricans mocked him.

“Help me.”

Scores of people were on the street and many more watched from the windows.

I started to cross the street to kick him off his feet.

“This doesn’t concern you.” Jamie restrained me from joining the fray.

"It does."

"Not anymore." Jamie wouldn't release my arm and I watched, while Hakkim swung a crutch at four young barrio toughs. Six more kids ran up carrying pipes. There was no escape for the terror of the East Village.

“Help me for God’s sake,” Hakkim screamed with his head to heaven.

“Anyone want to save Hakkim’s ass?” a teenager in a black satin shirt mercilessly asked the onlookers.

The people in the windows shut them. Those on the streets walked away. The courts might accuse us of being accessories to murder, but that night we were a jury giving no other sentence than thumbs down and none of us lost a night’s sleep about our verdict.

I went back to our apartment.

"What happened?" Alice was sitting on the futon. She was wearing a white cotton shift. Everything about her said hillbilly.

"Hakkim's gone." I stashed the revolver in the closet.

"Gone?" The question bristled with hope.

"For good." I lay down next to her and pretended that I was Lil Abner. "I had nothing to do with it."

"I know." Her reward was sweet.

That night was a long time ago and I turned my head in time to catch Jamie coming out of the Gem Spa.

He finished the egg cream with one long suck.

“Damn, that was as good as it ever was.”

“Glad to hear it?” I stepped aside for a quartet of retro punks dressed in new leather. They bumped into me as if to demonstrate their toughness.

“Watch who you bump into.” Jamie’s eyes locked on them and they ran off like rats with their tails on fire. He tossed the empty egg cream into the overflowing trash bin. “Wannabes.”

“Jamie, I didn't need your help.”

“Didn’t say you did, just my way of saying thanks for not walking away while I was in the store.”

“Jamie, you be careful.” I had someplace to go.

“That might be asking too much?” Reacting to my facial expression, he added, “Don’t worry, you ain’t seen the last of me yet.”

To prove his statement, Jamie strolled across the avenue, daring the traffic to hit him. A cement truck lurched to a screeching halt and he yelled, “See, I’m invulnerable?”

Reaching the other side of the avenue, Jamie stopped to speak with a fat coed on the sidewalk. He must have told her a funny line, for she laughed with a hand covering her mouth. They vanished into the crowd of college students. Jamie was lucky with girls, although it was the kind of luck that few people wanted anymore.

In the following weeks I expected to see Jamie again, except he had slipped into the cracks of the East Village.

He might be living with the fat coed. More likely he had lost his temper and the police had thrown him in jail. If not, I hoped that he left town and whenever I stopped at the church on East 14th Street, I lit a candle for Jamie.

Maybe he’ll return, once the neighborhood reverted to its old wickedness.

In some ways I do miss junkies.

Not Hakkim, but the others.

They keep a city honest to its past and no city can have a future without its past.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Thai National Anthem or Phleng Chat Thai

I haven’t been to a Thai movie theater in ages, but like a baseball game in the States the cinemas play the Thai National Anthem before any feature film.

Here are the words.

Bring them with you to sing in English, although you probably will get arrested for lese majeste.

Thailand is the unity of Thai blood and body,
The whole country belongs to the Thai people,
Maintaining thus far for the Thai,
All Thais intend to unite together,
Thais love peace, but do not fear to fight,
They will never let anyone threaten their independence,
They will sacrifice every drop of their blood to contribute to the nation,
Will serve their country with pride and prestige-full of victory.
Chai Yo (Cheers)
I like the sacrifice every drop of their blood part

Dictator Somoza of Nicaragua had his people donate blood every year and sold it to the USA.

Needless to say he pocketed the profit.

One other comment of national anthems.

Very few people know that Zimbabwe’s national anthem is BIG BAD LEROY BROWN or that THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER comes from an old English drinking song.


To ANACREON in Heav’n, where he sat in full Glee,
A few Sons of Harmony sent a Petition,
That He their Inspirer and Patron wou’d be;
When this Answer arriv’d from the JOLLY OLD GRECIAN
“Voice, Fiddle, and Flute,
“No longer be mute,
“I’ll lend you my Name and inspire you to boot,
“And, besides, I’ll instruct you like me, to intwine
“The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS’s Vine.

The news through OLYMPUS immediately flew;
When OLD THUNDER pretended to give himself Airs_
If these Mortals are suffer’d their Scheme to pursue,
The Devil a Goddess will stay above Stairs.
“Hark! already they cry,
“In Transports of Joy
“Away to the Sons of ANACREON we’ll fly,
“And there, with good Fellows, we’ll learn to intwine
“The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS’S Vine.

“The YELLOW-HAIR’D GOD and his nine fusty Maids
“From HELICON’S Banks will incontinent flee,
“IDALIA will boast but of tenantless Shades,
“And the bi-forked Hill a mere Desart will be
“My Thunder, no fear on’t,
“Shall soon do it’s Errand,
“And, dam’me! I’ll swinge the Ringleaders I warrant,
“I’ll trim the young Dogs, for thus daring to twine
“The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS’S Vine.

APOLLO rose up; and said, “Pr’ythee ne’er quarrel,
“Good King of the Gods with my Vot’ries below:
“Your Thunder is useless_then, shewing his Laurel,
Cry’d. “Sic evitabile fulmen, you know!
“Then over each Head
“My Laurels I’ll spread
“So my Sons from your Crackers no Mischief shall dread,
“Whilst snug in their Club-Room, they Jovially twine
“The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS’S Vine.

Next MOMUS got up, with his risible Phiz,
And swore with APOLLO he’d cheerfull join_
“The full Tide of Harmony still shall be his,
“But the Song, and the Catch, & the Laugh shall bemine
“Then, JOVE, be not jealous
Of these honest Fellows,
Cry’d JOVE, “We relent, since the Truth you now tell us;
“And swear, by OLD STYX, that they long shall entwine
“The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS’S Vine.

Ye Sons of ANACREON, then, join Hand in Hand;
Preserve Unanimity, Friendship, and Love!
‘Tis your’s to support what’s so happily plann’d;
You’ve the Sanction of Gods, and the FIAT of JOVE.
While thus we agree
Our Toast let it be.
May our Club flourish happy, united and free!
And long may the Sons of ANACREON intwine
The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS’S Vine.
sic evitabile fulmen roughly translates to “this repels thunderbolts” (It was a common
Roman belief that laurel provided protection from lightning.)
fusty = close or stuffy, old-fashioned, of stale wine
phiz = facial expression
risible = pertaining to laughter
swinge = beat, flog, or chastise

I tried to sing it, but it’s even harder than THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER, which is why I only sing LOUIE LOUIE at bars.

The Thai Etiquette Of Hands

When greeting a Thai male or female, a westerner will stick out his hand. The smiling Thai will offer a wilted bundle of fingers. The farang grasping this imitation of a dead octopus will mistake the weakness of the grip as an exhibition of effeminate behavior.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

Thai men are vicious fighters.

Muay Thai or Thai boxing was originally fought with gloves sprinkled with broken glass. Even lady boys are tough. And heavens forbid you get on the wrong side of a bar girl’s high heels. One hit of a stiletto would have TKOed Ali onto the ropes.

The reason for the soft touch is that touching is considered by most Siamese as a very intimate act, which doesn’t keep farangs from pressing the flesh whenever they get a chance or the Thais from showing their smile for boch-see-dah or dirty farangs, a contemplative grin to defuse this invasion of their space.

The use of hands also pertains to which you use during eating.

The right hand should be used to pick up food.

Never the left, since Thais use that hand to scrap your bum in the WC or Hong-Nam.

Of course most Thais don’t know that farangs use their right hand to wipe their butt, unless the westerner happens to be left-handed, which brings up the question why do we shake hands at all, considering that over 99% of men at baseball games and bars don’t wash their hands after going for a pee.

For a related story go to this URL” target=”_blank”>Text Display

Paving Over Paradise

My first visit to Bangkok was in 1990. I stayed at the Malaysia Hotel on Soi Duplei, once the 60s haunt of the infamous backpacker murderer Charles Sobhraj. Lush trees bordered the basketball courts of the military school next to the Lumpini Muay-Thai stadium. I shoot hoops in the morning and evening. The sun allowed no exertion during the midday. Patpong was a twenty-minute walk away through the small sois. The city retained the charm of its past, although nothing like the Bangkok of the 1950s.

Back then prominent farangs and Thais drove 1958 Ford Fairlanes and Chevy Impalas. The other vehicles on the roads were tuk-tuk and trolley. The Hotel Royalle had an unobstructed view of the river. A beer on the veranda was 10 baht. The waitress wai-ed with a smile.

Many people traveled by the klong ferries. Kids swam off the docks and the water was drinkable. Klong Toey was the after-night destination for Thais and ex-pats. The infamous Mosquito Bar featured dim-lighting and girls. First and foremost among the Klong Toey bars was the notorious 2nd floor Mosquito Bar on Kasemrat Road.

According to old-timers this dive's seedy decor was camouflaged by a stygian darkness dispelled by the occasional flicker of a match. The gloom suited the female dok-thongs, since their age in the gloom was indecipherable to the drunken patrons. The beers were reputably cold and no one ever got killed in the frequent chair-throwing fights.

Equally disreputable was The Venus Bar, which the late David Musserie had claimed was Thailand's seminal go-go bar serviced by Klong Toey slum girls.

When asked about bar fines, he laughed with his ample belly jiggling like Jello under electro-shock.

"I think it was 10 baht. The Venus was paradise, because it was only for locals. We knew each other. Sort of CHEERS for the wicked and the little angels, until they got mad and then it was every man for himself running for the door."

Now hundreds of bars line Soi Nana. I can't say I like drinking in any of them.

If only I had a way-back machine.

Wouldn't it be nice?

For further information on these bars please go the following URL

Muay Fenway

Muay Thai is featured every Sunday on Thai TV.

As a young boy my son Fenway and his Uncle Nai watched the telecasts from Lumpini Stadium and other boxing venues in a mesmerized state. After the victors and losers weere declared for the day, Fenway is encouraged to show what he has learned from the fighters.

Elbow blows, high kicks, and a leap into the air onto his opponent's stomach, usually his prone father or uncle.

Every attack was matched by a smile, which was very endearing on a 2 year-old boy.

I called Fenway "Superstar'.

Uncle Nai named him 'Tia' or Shorty.

I told Nai that he couldn't say that word.

Not in front of me.

I didn't want 'Superstar Fenway' to acquire a complex, especially since his height is normal for his age.

Still I was a fighter during my life and I wasn't not going to stop Fenway from learning the Sweet Science. It can only do him good in the end, especially as he gets older and boys play rougher. Fenway has a good heart, but no one was born to take a beating.

In a week I will be with him again.

HIs uncle is serving time for selling ja-bah.

I shall have to teach him howq to protect himself.

I'm sure he'll be ready for his training, for a boy doesn't get to be a 'Superstar' in the "Art of Eight Limbs" without some practice on his old man.

I can take a beating from a six year-old.

A ten year-old will be tougher and at age twelve I might have to retire from being his punching bag.

At one time his ti-sok or elbow blow will really hurt and I want to be prepared to surrender after that hit.

At my age losing becomes a grace matched only by knowing when not to fight.

Monday, April 20, 2015

REEFER MADNESS was a 1936 film financed by a church group intent on informing American youth about the reputed dangers of marijuana. A ten-minute Google search failed to reveal the name of the church group, however the film's focus was hijacked by the addition of salacious scenes by an exploitation producer, Dwain Esper, supposedly a horrible director.

NORML, a pro-marijuana group rediscovered REEFER MADNESS in 1972 and bought the rights from the Library of Congress for $272 to distribute the movie across the USA. It was an instant hit and its popularity has spawned books and a Broadway show, for the only dangers of marijuana are the criminalization of grass, getting beat by a dealer, and eating the contents of your refrigerator.

It does not cause madness or death.


Tobacco 435,000
Poor Diet and Physical Inactivity 365,000
Alcohol 85,000
Microbial Agents 75,000
Toxic Agents 55,000
Motor Vehicle Crashes 26,347
Adverse Reactions to Prescription Drugs 32,000
Suicide 30,622
Incidents Involving Firearms 29,000
Homicide 20,308
Sexual Behaviors 20,000
All Illicit Drug Use, Direct and Indirect 17,000
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Such As Aspirin 7,600
Marijuana 0


Free the weed.

The 420 Bus to Hollywood

In the late spring of 1995 I was living with Scottie Taylor in a pool house.

The owner ran a strip club off West Pico Boulevard. His dancers sunbathed nude in the mornings. They were Jesus freaks and read the Bible like a choir of fallen angels. Scottie and I were sinners in their eyes. We were running a nightclub in Beverly Hills.

The Milk Bar.


Clientele; young, semi-famous, and druggy.

Every morning the naked sunbathers' prayer session interrupted my sleep and I would stuff my ears with cotton to reduce the words of the Bible to mutterings. Jesus was not saving my soul. My wake-up hour was noon, after which I ate breakfast at a diner, then played basketball at North Hollywood Park. A bicycle was my transportation. I had bought it from a junkie on Vineland. He wanted $50. I gave him $20, which was probably $10 too much.

My cousin Sherri lived on Hartsook. I spent my afternoons writing in her house, while she filmed XXX films with lesbians over in Van Nuys. Some of those girls were Jesus freaks too. None of them broke ranks, especially for a nightclub doorman without a car.

Only losers walk in LA, because walking got you nowhere.

Scottie was my ride to the Milk Bar most nights. We opened at 8.

He drove a mud-colored Pinto with questionable steering and shuttering brakes.

Riding in the passenger seat was a test of courage, however Scottie and I had another problem.

The trip from North Hollywood to Beverly Hills took twenty minute by car. The Simpson re-runs aired Sundays at 7:30. The show lasted 30 minutes. No one told jokes in LA. No one told stories either. Laughs were hard to find at the Milk Bar. Homer Simpson filled the gap.

"I can't believe you are going to be late for a cartoon show." Scottie only watched the History Channel. He liked to be serious.

"It's not a cartoon. It's the Simpsons. You could always watch it with me."

"I own the club. I have 20 people who work for me. They get there at 8. I get there before them. Otherwise they'll come in late. Like you."

"I'll take alternative transportation."

"Such as what?"

Hitchhiking was illegal and the train system was a work in progress.

"I don't mind taking the bus." The 420 ran over the Hollywoods Hills to Sunset Boulevard. I caught another bus on the corner. It went to Beverly Hills. The trip lasted 45 minutes.

Sometimes less.

Sometimes more.

I read a book and never made eye contact with the other passengers.

"Besides no one comes until 10."

"You ever think about giving a good impression." Scottie didn't shave, his clothing dated back five years, and he was driving a Pinto.

'Not out here." I wasn't trying to be in the movies. My novel was about the last man on earth.

Pornography too.

Dirty cops.



High-tech sex.

I was on chapter 23.

200 pages plus.

THE END was off in the distance.

"I'm on time the nights the Simpsons aren't on."

"What about the nights with Star Trek?" Scottie knew my schedule.

"That's VOYAGER." Seven of Nine was sexier than any of the Bible strippers. "Monday night."

"I can't believe it." Scottie left me in the pool house.

I sat before the TV with a glass of water in my hand.

The clock on the wall ticking its way to 7:30.

It was time for the Simpsons.

NO matter what, because a good laugh was a treasure in a city without any laughs.

And homer was always "Ha ha ha."

THE INHALE OF WEED by Peter Nolan Smith

Marijuana was demonized throughout my youth. The Boston police treated reefer smokers as harshly as junkies. John Sinclair, the MC5's radical spokesperson, was sentenced to ten years of prison for the crime of ‘giving’ an undercover agent two joints. The severity of his punishment did not deter the millions of marijuana smokers of the 60s from burnign the weed and the herb found more and more disciples after the Summer of Love.

Cute girls hit the bong. John Lennon was arrested for possession. Football players got high.

I remained straight.

Drugs were for someone else.

I liked beer.

My friends were converts. They smoked in my VW Beetle. In the summer of 1969 John Gilmour lit up a joint of Columbian Red on the way back from Nantasket Beach. I opened the sunroof to avoid a contact high.

"You're missing out on a good thing." He sat in the front seat.

"It's against the law."

"So is speeding, but you're ten miles over the speed limit."

"That's different." I slowed down, because the town cops on Route 3A loved busting teenagers.

"Your loss." John passed the joint to Frank Ames. He had just returned from Vietnam. Only John had long hair.

NO TIME LEFT FOR YOU by the Guess Who was playing on WMEX.

They were having a good time. I felt left out. We pulled up to a red light in Hingham and I said, “Let me have some.”


The three of them argued briefly that one of us had to be straight.


They didn’t have a good answer and I grabbed the joint from John.

I had smoked a cigarette in 1964 and coughed like I was losing a lung then.

I feared the same result from the joint, but inhaled deeply on the joint.

I was a long-distance runner. I didn’t exhale for 30 seconds. The plume of smoke from my mouth clouded up the VW.

"I don't feel anything."

“That’s normal,” John said in a dream.

"Wait. This pot creeps up on you," Frank warned from the back seat.

The light turned green.

"That color is so beautiful."

"Yeah." John agreed with me.

"Someone got high." Frank closed his eyes.

The radio played The Misunderstood' CHILDREN OF THE SUN. We didn’t move for the entire song.

A horn broke the trance. We were holding up traffic. I shifted into first and we drove to John’s house in Wollaston to smoke another joint.

I was no longer straight.

“I’m hungry,” Frank announced after listening to FREAK OUT. He had another week of furlough before returning to Vietnam. “What about fried clams?”

“Tony’s or the Clambox?” I could go either way.

“The girls in bikinis hang out at the Clambox.” Frank rolled another joint.

“Tony’s has better clams.” John was a picky eater.

“Let’s eat at both,” I suggested, since they were only a short distance apart.

It was a good choice.

And so was turning on to marijuana.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

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 and I jumped on my scooter to chase the speeding pick-up.

At the corner of main drag I slapped his passenger door with my open palm.

It was 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, who appeared to have such a small head through the windshield, got out of the car in a football hooligan fury. His 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 was packed with lager louts and hooligans avoiding travel in Europe now that Spain has an extradition treaty with the UK.

“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 that we had 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 police.” Calling the police meant paying sin-bon or bribes without any guarantee of satisfaction.

“Good.” The Thais nodded in agreement. “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.


“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, although 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 was 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 were 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.

It was time.

My daughter's mother was watching a Thai soap opera. She only had eyes for the TV. I drove my scooter 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 and slathered a thick dollop of honey on the door handle. Another was painted 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 everywhere.

My daughter's mother spotted the welts.


"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 smiled 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.

The Revenge of LBFMs

Men come to Pattaya for one reason.

It is not golf or the beach.

They come for the girls.

The Thai girls offer 'companionship'. Farang men are obliged to exchange money for this friendship, even if it's for as little as an hour. Almost everyone understand the dynamics of the exchange, however newcomers to the scene boast, "I never pay for it."

Saying it and doing it are two different things, for nothing gets Thai bar girls angrier than being stiffed by a drunk westerner. Their normal response is to sulk from the hotel room and wait to see the pride-filled short-timer drunk on walking street or soi 8. She will point out the 'Cheap Charlie' out to her friends and they will pummel his head with high heels.

Blood splatters everywhere, because 'Cheap Charlie' didn't understand the simple rules of economics in Pattaya.

A man always pays for it.

One way or another.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

169 Bar Free

The filth from the 7th Precinct attempted to close the 169 Bar for underage drinking. Their case fell apart, since the investigating officers had faked IDs to get into the bar. The judge threw them out of court and Charles Hanson and his staff are ready to serve their clientele seven days and nights a week

Let the Happy Hour roll into midnight.

I would give the address, but anyone knowing the place knows the address.

Except when you go shot-glass bowling with 'gansett beer chasers.

I was only chucking strikes.

Or gutter balls.

I wasn't taking score, because everyone is a winner and a loser at shot-glass bowling.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Yesterday I was on the subway home to Fort Greene. I edited a long short story about a softball game with pen. The 30ish woman seated next to me was slurping a big container of Dunkin' Donuts slop. The brunette fell asleep and the cup dropped from her hand. Thankfully the lid held firm and she apologized for the disturbance.

"Nice snooze."

"The lid on on."

"No, I was talking about your sleep."

"What are you doing? Are you editing a story?"

I explained about our nightclub playing a not-so friendly game against the best straight bar in the Village.

"In 1986."

"I was two."

"I was 34." I wondered how I got that old or even this old.

"Where are you come?"

Her accent mirrored mine.

"The South Shore."

"Quincy." She added that she had attended Milton Academy. She didn't know my nephew, but she was a good ten years older than FAS IV.

We laughed with familiarity about Wollaston Beach and fried clams.

"Last week I went to Tony's with my father and he had the fire clams."

"And you?"

"Fried catfish."

I didn't say anything about her choice, but said, "My father could eat fried clams and chased them down with a chocolate shake. He had a strong stomach. How was Tony's."

"They've gotten a little fancy."

"That's why I like Tony's better." My younger sister felt the same way. She and I always ate their in season.

We talked about the South Shore, Nantasket, and the Squantum Spit till my stop at Jay Street in Brooklyn.

"I'd like to read your stories."

We exchanged names and she wrote down her email address.

"I'll send you a story about the Quincy Quarries. THE HOLE OF HEAVEN."

"Please do."

I got off the train happy to have heard words of home in a city not so far from the South Shore.

By the way the fried clams at Tony's are much better than those at the Clam Box.

Not an opinion.

The truth.

Andre's 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.

The King of Beer

Joe the guard at the diamond exchange used to drink on the job.



The ex-cop drank off the job too.

His first beer was a Bud for breakfast.

According to his calculation Joe consumed 15-16 beers during the course of a day. His doctor advised his patient to cut down. Joe ignored the warning and his belly bloated to an enormous size, as gas from all the carbonation seeped from his stomach. The only remedy was a complete cessation of beer and soda.

"It isn't fair."

Joe has been bemoaning 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.

No more 20-beer nights.

5 is a lot now, but neither Joe nor I 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 alleged 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 that, however Andre the Giant rose from the ashes of his hangover and drink as if there had been no yesterday.

My next beer will be to him.

The King of Beer.

For a related article click on this URL

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 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 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.

In my eyes cricket is boring, but I've changed my mind, because Andre the Giant was never boring.

The Greatest Ever

Muhammad Ali has been long considered the Greatest.

"I am the Greatest," the heavyweight fighter shouted at many bouts.

My choice for the Greatest has always been Andre the Giant.

He was able to pick up the Boston Bruins Bobby Orr and Carol Vadnais without breaking a sweat.

No one even close to the Greatest.

Andre the Giant.


Friday, April 10, 2015

MISSILE AWAY by Peter Nolan Smith

MISSILE AWAY by Peter Nolan Smith During his youth my older brother was a a good student. He was the top of his class, but he was also a pyromaniac. On several occasions Frunk came close to burning down our house in Maine. After our family moved to a suburb south of Boston in 1960, my brother exemplied our nation’s fascination with rockets by devising missiles from our mother’s discarded hair spray cans, for the USA was not only seeking to win the race to Space. Its other goal was the nuclear domination of the godless Soviet Union and my brother conducted his experiments in a sandpit not far from our suburban development on the South Shore of Boston. Chuckie, my next-door neighbor, Frunk, and I taped the cans together and positioned the ersatz V-2 of Aquanet hair in a bonfire. Sometimes our rocket would explode in fiery, yet separate bursts of colored flames, but occasionally the strapped cans would arced into the sky at low altitudes spitting toxic fumes. None of us suffered injuries from these experiments, however we came close to setting the woods on fire and the town police warned our parents that we were a danger to the community. My father forbade any further msichief and we abandoned our emulation of NASA’s failed rocket launches. Even at my parochial high school I resisted the draw of the rocket club. They were interested in achieved height and not destruction, so I ran freshmand cross country in the fall of 1966. The five-mile course directed runners past an abandoned mansion. Our competitors were never forewarned that their runners had to leap a stone wall to cross through the estate, giving our team an edge and my school won two consecutive state championships in 1967 and 1968, however our dominance was challenged by a mysterious government agency’s purchase of the mansion in 1969. The men occupying the estate wore white shirts and black ties. They never left the building. We thought they might be aliens. Chuckie Manzi said that they were CIA scientists experimenting on apes for the War in Vietnam. That first practice the cross-country team passed the big house, listening for the shrieks of chimps. We nothing other than our panting lungs. Upon our return to the gym, our coach informed us that the grounds were off-limits to the cross-country team. “What about the wall?” “No more wall,” said Brother Jude. Two weeks later we lost our first race in years. “We want the wall.” We protested to Brother Jude. He was on our side as was the principal, who asked for special access from the men in black suits. The men in the white shirts refused their request. Every time we passed the mansion calling them ‘assholes’, then trained harder to regain our edge. Few of our fellow students cared about the track team. Our school’s football team was state champs. The cheerleaders came from the nearest Catholic girls school. They wore short skirts. Our only fans were the rocket club and their presidnet said that this matter was not over. No one from the cross-country team paid them much mind. They were nerds and the cross-country team worried that nerdiness might be contagious. We won our next race, although I barely beat out our rival’s 5th runner to score a victory. Afterward the rocket club glared at the distant mansion and the cross-country team exchanged a conspiratorial glance with them. Whatever they had planned was more than all right by us. The next day the school’s rocket club announced an exhibition of their missiles. The 60s was the time of going to the moon and the brothers proudly assembled the students in the field behind the high school. The principal instructed the collective classes to stand a good distance from the launch area, fro these rockets were not small. One of them was at least ten-feet long. After running a series of tests, the rocket club signaled that they were ready and soon missiles were soaring into the sky. Even the football team thought the rocket club was cool and the brothers beamed with satisfaction, thinking maybe one of these boys might end up at NASA. Off in the distance a few of the men in the white shirts were standing outside the mansion. The rocket club lined up this final missile, the ten-footer, with the mansion. The men at the mansion started shouting and then the president of the rocket club lit the fuse. The men in the white shirts ran for cover. The missile to cover the half-mile between the field and mansion in less than a second. The explosion was muffled by out applause. Afterwards the men in the white shirts complained to the brothers. The town police ignored the complaint, since some of their kids were on the track team and we regained permission to run through the field a week later and won the state championship for the third time in a row. No one ever said anything bad about nerds in our school. They were heroes, because they were dangerous. At least to anyone not on our side and that’s the way it should be when you’re young. ps my older brother was really pissed that he hadn’t been there.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

THE FLIGHT OF HISTORY by Peter Nolan Smith

At Xaverian High School outside of Boston Brother Phelan taught history without any deviation from the path of the textbook. I was Brother Phelan's # 1 student, since I had read the textbook from beginning to end in the first week. During class I stared out the window, thinking about my cheerleader girlfriend, Janet 'Big Tits' Stetson. Halfway though the semester the old boxer requested his students to write essays about the Magna Carta, Napoleon, and the Civil War. My classmates turned in papers of various lengths. "Smith, help me grade the papers." Brother Phelan waved for me to join him after class. "Yes, brother." He was no greasy chickenhawk. The robed teacher and I gathered up the reports and we walked down the corridor to the stairwell. I thought we were going to his office, but the broad-bellied brother stopped at the stairwell and commanded, "Toss the papers one by one up the stairs." I didn't understand the why, but like I stated earlier Brother Phelan had been a fighter. Heavyweight. They earned respect and I did as I had been told. After two minutes forty odd hand-written and typed papers were scattered up the steps. "Here." Brother Phelan handed me a small notebook and said with a Connemarra accent. "Record the name and the grade." He started at the bottom. "D-." He cleared the stairs and midway up he said, "C-." The papers were thicker. This went on until he reached the top, where he gave an A+ to a thick tome of thirty pages. "Aren't you going to read them?" "What for? I grade them by weight. The heavier ones go farther. The lighter one less so." "So everything they write is unimportant." "You could think of it that way. The Magna Carta was signed by King John and he killed all the nobles. "With the help of foreigners." "Correct." He tapped the papers into a neat pile and came back down the steps. "Napoleon lose at Waterloo." "Able I was ere I saw Elba," I repeated the fallen emperor's famous palindrome to his English doctor on the remote South Atlantic island. "You show great promise, but I didn't find your paper in the pile." "It wasn't there." "Any reason." "I didn't feel like rehashing history as we know it." I reached into my bag and pulled out a treatise on the 1848 Revolution titled UP AGAINST THE WALL. I hadn't wanted any of my classmates to see it. America was at war with the Viet Cong. My friends hated commies. I was an atheist. They hated us even worst. "Four pages?" He flicked the paper like a poker player waiting the last card on stud. "Succinct." "A C- according to my grading scale. "Better than failing." "I supposed you're right, boyo." He bid me well. I had a track meet that afternoon. I ran the 440 and relay along with doing the long jump. I finished 4th in the first, the team won the second, and I hit seventeen feet off the wood into a sawdust pit. Brother Phelan helped me to my feet. No one beat that distance. "Now that's history." "Yes, it is," I answered, because history was all about how long history flew through time. And time lasted forever for teenagers of the 1960s.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Sometimes things you never forget and one of them is falling off a bicycle.

Another is a young woman's legs.

For time immemorial.

Cat Eats Dogfish

National Geographic photo.

This bobcat was seen pulling a shark out of the waves in Vero Beach, Florida, on April 6, 2015.

I understand the dogfish cruising the shallows, but a wild bobcat prowling the beach is a little unsettling, especially for the shark.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, has forged an agreement on nuclear development with his Iranian counterpart. President Obama is seeking congressional approval for a treaty with our longtime nemesis, however Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer has announced his opposition to an agreement by lending his support to a law designed to block the nuclear accord.

“This is a very serious issue that deserves careful consideration, and I expect to have a classified briefing in the near future. I strongly believe Congress should have the right to disapprove any agreement and I support the Corker bill which would allow that to occur,” wrote Schumer in an emailed statement to POLITICO, which came as no surprise since the New York senator is one of Israel's staunch backers.

Other Democratic senators have also wavered on backing the President's plan.

2016 will be a big election year.

Politicians need money.

Israeli special interest groups are pressing politicians to reject 'peace at any cost' with Iran.

Bibi Netanyahu has condemned the treaty as a death threat to the Israeli nation and members of his cabinet have suggested that the IDF will conduct air raids against the nuclear facilities in western Iran with or without US backing.

This declaration sounded very bellicose under taking into consideration that the IDF's F-16 have a operational range of 2000 kilometers and the Iranian border is 1500 kilometers from Israel, meaning that any attack on Iran will be a suicide mission, unless the US provided refueling tankers for the raid across the air apace of Jordan, Iraq, and Iran. The first two countries would probably allow the overflights, but Iran has extensive Surface to air missile defenses as well as a large, but aging air force. Any offensive incursion would be risky, if not deadly for the attacker, so Schumer's hawkish position is strictly words in an attempt to brainwash the American public into supporting any and all attacks on Iran, as shown by this part of a speech before rightwing Jews, "The Palestinian people still don’t believe in the Jewish state, in a two-state solution. More do than before, but a majority still do not. Their fundamental view is, the Europeans treated the Jews badly and gave them our land — this is Palestinian thinking […] They don’t believe in the Torah, in David […] You have to force them to say Israel is here to stay. The boycott of Gaza to me has another purpose — obviously the first purpose is to prevent Hamas from getting weapons by which they will use to hurt Israel — but the second is actually to show the Palestinians that when there’s some moderation and cooperation, they can have an economic advancement. When there’s total war against Israel, which Hamas wages, they’re going to get nowhere. And to me, since the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, while certainly there should be humanitarian aid and people not starving to death, to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go, makes sense."

Sorry, the rattling of sabers has nothing to do with Palestine.

That conflict is a sideshow this spring.

But I will never vote for Schumer again.

He has always been a warmonger only interested in preserving Israel's right to oppress the Palestinians.