Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween in Pattaya 2007

In 2007 Pattaya celebrated the old Celtic festival of Samhain with a singularly Thai flavor. Bar girls dressed in skimpy dresses and go-go girls painted fake blood on their faces. Farangs drank more than normal nights. It's a pagan holiday and nothing says pagan better than sex go-go girls, beer, and a devilish hang-over the morning-after.

That Halloween I got no farther than the Buffalo Bar.

I was wearing my Ramones outfit.

Torn jeans, Keds sneakers, a Ramones t-shirt, and Ramones baseball cap.

None of the girls made any comment, since I had worn the same outfit to the bar on innumerable occasions.

I drank five Chang beers. 6.9 % alcohol.

I asked three lesbians to short-time with me.

They laughed at my lewd suggestions

The scary thing about Halloween 2007 was my two-minute motorcycle ride home.

Which on five Chang beers was mighty scary trip.

Cowboy Versus Batman

My friend Haoui Montauk bequeathed me a Paul Smith suit in his will. We had worked at a punk nightclub together in the late-70s. He had collected the cash and I had worked the door as a bouncer. Haoui liked to call me ‘rough trade’.

He wasn’t wrong. I liked a good fight now and then. He said it ran in my blood.

I was taller and stockier than the poet, but the suit fit my body albeit a little tight. It was not a suit for all occasions, since the material was a bright blue plaid. I wore it pride and considered any venture so attired was like taking Haoui out for a walk through the city he loved the most.

I received many compliments from women for having the courage to sport such an extravagant outfit and my bravery was rewarded with further admiration upon their hearing about my deceased friend having left it to me in his last will and testament, but New York wasn’t the same city as before.

The rich had replaced the poor and the bankers had crowded out the artists. They were very uncool and on one occasion a banker in his 20s muttered under his breath passing me in front of a Prince Street deli, “What a fucking ugly suit.”

“Same as your face,” I wasn’t taking any guff from a Wall Street stooge.

“What you say?” He wheeled around with a gym-strengthened aggression.

“My suit is ugly, but so is your face.” Haoui was gay. People like this man had bullied him as a boy. I wasn’t backing down. My friend Billy O was waiting in the middle of the block.

The young man approached me, as if he wanted to fight, but Billie O was already taking my back. Two against one wasn’t good odds and the Wall Street stooge stormed away with a parting ‘fuck you’.

“And not only are you ugly, but you only have one eyebrow.” I was good at getting in the last word.

The banker looked over his shoulder with eyes blazing with hatred. He picked up an avocado from the fruit stand and threw it at my head. I ducked to the left and it whistled past my ear. A good throw, but a miss and the Korean grocer came screaming out of the store, yelling, “You pay for avocado. You pay for avocado.”

The banker ponyed up the money. Billie O and I had a good laugh, but he said, as we entered the Mekong restaurant, “That suit draws the wrong type of attention.”

“It’s Haoui.” I explained how I got it.

“Maybe it’s haunted.” Billy was Irish. We were both superstitious and I retired the suit for a long time.

Ten Halloweens ago I was stuck for a costume and remembered Haoui’s suit. It fit a little tighter than before, but I could pass for a carnival barker in it. My left knee was sore from buckling on the basketball court and I picked a cane out of my closet. I had one with an 8-ball for a knob. One look in the mirror said ‘carney’ and I limped through the East Village to Nolita, where my friends were waiting at two tables in front of the Mekong.
It was a warm night and we watched the parade of costumes. Most people were heading over to the parade in the West Village. I sat next to our lady friend, Jane was dressed as a go-go girl from the 60s. The English model had the Swinging London look down pat. We were having a good time, until a Batman dropped into an empty chair next to her. Our friends laughed at the intrusion, but then the muscular Caped Crusader kissed Jane and then he stole my beer.

A Stella.

The cheapskate owner charged $6 for it and never bought back a round.

“Jane, you know this guy?” Women were sacred, but beer was holy.

“No.” Jane was horrified by his macho behavior.

“That’s enough.” I grabbed my beer. It was going to be in the way.

“Old man, don’t tell Batman when he’s had enough.” He was in his 20s and sounded Wall Street. His muscles came from exercising and his bravado was bolstered by a few boxing lessons.

“Old man?” I was only 49. It was the youth of old age.

“Yeah, take a look in the mirror. You’re farting dust like a mummy.” He resumed smooching Jane.

“Leave it off.” My friends’ kids were at the table. I didn’t want them to witness a fight. Still it was only Batman without Robin, so I said, “This isn’t your table. Move on.”

“Fuck off, you old git.” Batman grinned like the Joker, if the villain had perfect teeth.

The word ‘git’ ended the discussion. Git was my word. I seized Batman’s cape and threw him into street. He snatched the cane from my hands and swung it at my head. I blocked it with a forearm and caught him with a right to the jaw. I wrestled the cane from him, but he ripped off my glasses and ran away, chanting, “Nah-na-na-nah-na.”

It sounded mockingly like Stream’s hit TELL HIM GOODBYE.

My left knee was in no condition to chase him.

Shannon came out of the bar. The tall New Yorker was dressed as a cowboy. I thought he looked like Robert Duvall in TRUE GRIT. Shannon was a good decade younger and several inches taller than me. We had been friends since the Milk Bar and played basketball together in Tompkins Square Park.

“What’s wrong?” He could see scratches on my face.

“Batman stole my glasses.” I squinted and pointed to retreating Batman. He was having a good laugh.

“I’ll go get him.” Shannon loped down the street at a run.

Batman was resting at the gate to St. Patricks.

“Gimme back the glasses.” Shannon spread his stance. His fighting skills came from the street and not a gym. My money was on the Cowboy Versus Batman.

“Go fuck yourself, dude.” Batman threw a punch. Shannon blocked it with ease and KOed Batman with one punch. Batman slunk to the sidewalk like he was sleeping in Bruce Wayne’s bed. Shannon returned to Mekong and said, “Here’s your glasses.”

“Thanks.”

“I’ll be going.” Shannon didn’t need to speak with the police.

“I owe you a beer.” It was good to see again.

“You owe me nothing. That guy was a creep.” He downed his beer with an ear cocked for sirens. He knew Billie O and said, “One more thing. Don’t wear that suit anymore. It’s trouble.”

“You got that right.”

Later that night I returned Haoui’s suit to the closet. It stays there most of the time, but every once in a while I take it out for a walk. It’s getting small for me in my old age, but I can always suck in my gut.

Haoui wouldn’t expect anything else from me and neither would his ghost.

SCARED OF NOTHING By Peter Nolan Smith on Kindle Books

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

Since then I have refrained from mixing beets and chocolate.

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

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

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

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


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

BOO!!!

Sanmhar Samhain

Halloween has nothing to do with Christianity. The Romans dedicated the Harvest Holiday to Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, and the Celts celebrated the summer's end with huge bonfires to evoke the blessing of the spirit world for the dark half of the year. Walking between the fires cleansed the soul for the winter. The practice probably dated back to the Picts and further into prehistory.

The following day was the feast of the dead.

For the dead are never dead in our hearts and minds, except for the Living Dead.

In Gaelic the walking dead are called marbhán siúil.

The modern usage is zombai.

Thankfully they are creatures of myth and not reality like banshees and leprechauns.

Nothing was scarier than the LIVING DEAD.

Séanmhar Samhain.

Premature E-Jack-O-Lantern


What do you call celebrating Halloween before October 31st?

Premature E-Jack-O-Lantern

My younger brother Patrick Charles Smith told me that joke last week.

It works.

NO UP OR DOWN


The 1960s Space Race between the USSR and USA exterminated young boys' worship of westerns. Cowboy hats, vests, guns, and holsters were retired to the closet next to toy boats and teddy bears.

During the autumn of 1962 I pleaded with my parents to buy me an astronaut costume for Halloween and my father answered my request with a gleaming John Glenn space suit complete with a visored helmet. My older brother dressed up as a green-skinned Martian. Frunk had fabricated a ray gun from a broken egg-beater. After dinner we were eager to trick or treat, but before leaving the house I purloined sunglasses from my father's dresser without asking for his permission.

"You sure that's a good idea?" My brother was better at following rules than me.

"Sure I'm sure. He won't know anything."

My father was leading my younger siblings around the neighborhood.

"Why do you need sunglasses."

"They're extra protection from your death ray." I pointed to his weapon. I had seen INVASION FROM MARS ten times. The Martians' main weapon vaporized soldiers into carbon.

"I don't think this is a good idea."

"We'll be back before you know it."

"It's your funeral."

"What can happen?" We lived in the suburbs, a land of two-car garages, good schools, and beautiful babysitters.

"I guess nothing."

"Other than getting a lot of candy."

"We left our split-level ranch house. My best friend, Chuckie Manzi, joined us on the lawn. He was a young Frankenstein.

"First things first." He pointed across the street. Mr. Martini's house drove truck for Arnold's Bakery. His wife put out cake instead of candy.

The moonless night was dark. We climbed the brick stairs. There was no metal railing. My brother rang the doorbell.

Mrs. Martini acted scared and offered a selection of cakes. I chose orange spice. Chuckie and my older brother were grateful for chocolate cake. We thanked her with filled mouths. I slipped on my glasses and shut the visor, then turned around and walked off the stairs, smashing my head into the wall and mutilating my little finger.

I sat up in the flower bed. Blood all over my astronaut suit, but I was more concerned with my father's sunglasses. They had fallen off, but luck was with me. They were intact.

My brother led me back to our house, careful not to let any blood drip on his costume.

My mother admonished my dangerous behavior. She had six kids. We were always in jeopardy. A band-aid stemmed the blood and my mother refused to let me leave the house again."
the sunglasses

"One accident is more than enough for tonight."

And she was right and since that Halloween I have only worn sunglasses at night when I can't find my regular glasses and I still bear a jagged scar on my little finger from that fall, proving the Earth we fall, but no one ever fell in Space.

There was no up or down off this planet.

Especially boys from the South Shore of Boston in the fall of 1962.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Zoe Leonard - photographer - quote

I knew Zoe Leonard as a young woman in the late 70s. She was young then. I was in my twenties. The East Village was a slum. We had fun together. She became a photographer.

Well known.

Political as would anyone who lost so many friends to AIDS.

Zoe became an ardent lesbian.

I remained somewhat straight.

She was not scared of saying her mind.

“I want a dyke for president. I want a person with AIDS for president and I want a fag for vice president and I want someone with no health insurance and I want someone who grew up in a place where the earth is so saturated with toxic waste that they didn’t have a choice about getting leukemia. I want a president that had an abortion at sixteen and I want a candidate who isn’t the lesser of two evils and I want a president who lost their last lover to AIDS, who still sees that in their eyes every time they lay down to rest, who held their lover in their arms and knew they were dying. I want a president with no air-conditioning, a president who has stood in line at the clinic, at the DMV, at the welfare office, and has been unemployed and laid off and sexually harassed and gaybashed and deported. I want someone who has spent the night in the tombs and had a cross burned on their lawn and survived rape. I want someone who has been in love and been hurt, who respects sex, who has made mistakes and learned from them. I want a Black woman for president. I want someone with bad teeth and an attitude, someone who has eaten that nasty hospital food, someone who crossdresses and has done drugs and been in therapy. I want someone who has committed civil disobedience. And I want to know why this isn’t possible. I want to know why we started learning somewhere down the line that a president is always a clown. Always a john and never a hooker. Always a boss and never a worker. Always a liar, always a thief, and never caught.” ― Zoe Leonard

I've only ever been arrested for civil disobedience, although te police came up with other charges.

Zoe spent two years in Alaska during the 90s.

I love these shots and more.

SNOW

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ohio Getaway


Pot costs about $800 a pound in California and several years ago two boys from Duchess County New York decided to drive cross-country, score ten pounds, and drive back with the weed to sell OZs at $80. Neither Mike not Earl could remember a big bust in their hometown for ages. The cops were old and over-worked. Everyone wanted cheap weed and they could use the money.

The two twenty year-olds cut their hair, dressed in their Sunday suits, packed up their BMW SUV with empty bags, and headed west from the Poughkeepsie at dawn. The strain of the long haul was eased by good tunes and a few joints for the road. By the time they crossed into Ohio, the duo were high and the stash was down to a single joint. None would have been better, since the 1st Commandment of an outlaw was to only break one law at a time.

West of Cleveland a state trooper stopped them on I-90. He had a dog with him. It wasn't a poodle, but a Alsatian drug sniffer, which had probably been raised on hash cookies and was jonesing for a bag of weed.

"It's factory regulation." The trooper was almost as young as them. His hair was cut to the bone. HIs body fat zero. A gun was on his hip. He was everything they were not.

"What's the problem, officer?"

"Those windows are too dark for this state."

The trooper's dog barking meant one thing and he ordered the two boys out of their car. The dog found the last joint in three seconds. The $8000 was next to it. Things looked bad, until the trooper offered them a deal.

"Boys, you're probably heading to California to get some weed. $8000 worth. Come back to New York and make a little fortune. You tell me the truth and I'll let you go."

The two had never trusted a Duchess County cop, but decided to place their fate in this mirror image of law and order.

They admitted their guilt.

"Good, now I want you to turn around and drive back to New York. Don't come through this way again. You're getting off easy, just remember that. Cops farther west would have you in cuffs and you'd lose the car and the $8000."

"Yes, officer."

Mike and Earl were grateful for this gift. They threw out the joint and turned around on the next interchange. Both tried to figure out why they had gotten off so easy.

"Maybe Ohio is soft of weed." Mike had a cousin in Cleveland. He said that the police were only after crystal meth.

"Naw, it's because the state is broke and they don't have the money to try small-timers like us."

Their debate was cut short by the whoop of a siren. Another state trooper pulled them over for tinted windows. He had a dog. The dog found the marijuana scented cash in 5 seconds. Mike and Earl explained the story to the state trooper, who called his fellow officer on a cellphone.

"Just keep heading east."

"Yes, officer."

None of the headers in Duchess County believed Mike and Earl's story, but after a few homegrown joints they called the incident the "Ohio Getaway'.

A true miracle of the Drug Wars.

Monday, October 26, 2015

# 17 By Peter Nolan Smith

One wintry December night in 1976 I stumbled home from a derelict bar at the corner of the Bowery and Houston. The icy wind slashed through my thin clothing and I was about to hail a taxi to my SRO tenement on 11th Street, when the thump of a frantic bass emanated from a white stucco building. The accompanying music was rock and roll at its purest and I pushed open the bar's heavy wooden door.

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

A huge hand blocked my way.

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

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

“The Ramones.”

"What is this?"

Everyone wore leather jackets and the girls had colored hair.

"Punk," answered the big man.

CALIFORNIA SUN was replaced by a fast-moving song with a chorus of I WANNA BE SEDATED. I rushed up to the front of the crowd. By the end of the band's set I was hooked to the music and like that I became a punk.

The next day I bought a leather jacket on St. Mark's Place and later had my cut my hair at Manic Panic. Those girls were punk from the points of their stilettos to the teased black hair atop their heads.

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

Not everyone felt the same way.

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

Our devotion to this faith failed to translate into record sales and the Voidoids' forays into the Top 40 were mocked by an unknown power-pop trio's song RICHARD IS A FORKHEAD. My own personal lack of success gained me nothing and in 1981 I left New York to work as a bouncer at a Paris nightclub on the Grand Boulevard.

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

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

She spoke about my hometown. I was a big Bruins fan, although I admitted, "I can't play hockey for shit."

"Really?'

"really." I couldn't skate backwards.

At dawn I walked Claudia to her hotel in La Marais, where she said, “I have to go to Lille.”

“Like Cinderella.”

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

“I guess not.” The fairy tale never mentioned the name of Cinderella's hometown. She kissed me on the cheek and entered the hotel. No glass slipper marked her departure, then again I wasn't Prince Charming.

That summer I visited Perpignan with a friend. Roland Garros was on the TV. His father asked if I was interested in tennis. I said not really, but his son convinced the doctor that I had one time been the 17th ranked tennis player in the USA. I said different, but sometimes people like believing a lie.

Upon my return to Paris I met a tousled-hair French singer. Lizzie was promoting her new record and the African influenced single was climbing the charts. A friend introduced us.

"I know you." Her eyes swam with recognition.

"You do?"

"I lived in New York and you once threw me out of an after-hours club on 14th Street."

"I don't really remember that," I answered, although a vague recollection of frog-marching a crazy French girl onto the sidewalk wandered in the shadows of my memory. "But why did I ask you to leave?"

"You didn't ask. I was having a fight with my boyfriend. You tried to break it up. My boyfriend punched you. You tossed him down the stairs. I fell with him."

"The Jefferson." The renovated loft was infamous in the night of New York.

"Yes."

"Sorry."

"Don't be. It was our fault."

"It was?"

"Ouais." Lizzie didn’t hold the forceful eviction against me and that evening in bed at my hotel in La Marais the wild-haired medusa told me about her affair with a spike-haired singer in the East Village.

“Richard?" Forkhead had a long reach.

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

“And what about us?”

“We are a one-night stand."

"Those are the best kind of affairs."

In the morning I watched her leave like another Cinderella, thinking she was gone for good, but the next evening she showed up at the Rex with her Fender Jazzmaster guitar. She had just appeared on TV.

"TV."

"Yes, I am famous in France."

And it was the truth and I kept our affair a secret. French stars fared better without the other people in their life. We had a good time throughout the fall, although our affair ended on a Christmas vacation on the Isle of Wight. My good friend Vonelli was in love with her. Lizzie was in love with him. My saying 'bonne chance' was my Christmas present to them.

I said good-bye on Boxing Day and I took the ferry to France from Southhampton to Dieppe. It was a stormy passage and I was glad to stand on dry land. Three hours later I was back at the hotel in La Marais.

I remained in Paris another two years before returning to the USA to write screenplays for porno films in North Hollywood. Within a month the quasi-mafia producer fired me for being too intellectual. I never thought that I was that smart.

Back in New York I rode motorcycles and worked at the Milk Bar. I watched the Bruins on TV. They went nowhere, but everyone came to the Milk Bar. It was the place to be from 1am to 4am.

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

“Who?” I knew exactly who.

“Lizzie in Paris says hello.”

"She's a great girl."

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

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

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

“More a bird’s nest.”

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

“I’ll see you around.”

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

I returned to France in 1989.

Lizzie was dating an art dealer. Vonelli was going out with my old roommate. Paris was a small world. The singer and I played squash in Les Halles. She beat me without mercy, despite wheezing after every shot. I spoke about Richard during a break.

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

“Jealous for what?”

“For you being with me.”

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

“Maybe, it isn’t important anymore.”

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

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

“It wasn’t much of a game. Not considering that I was once the 17th-ranked tennis player in the USA.”

“You were?”

“Not really, but a friend of mine from Perpignan lied to his father about my ranking. He believe his son.”

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

My father had taught me tennis. I had him by thirty years. I couldn't ever beat him.

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

“I’m not sure.”

“Up to you.”

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

Nothing more, but friendship lasted longer than love in our world.

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

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

One autumn night at a reading of Richard's poetry at the St. Mark's Church I spotted Claudia at the bar. I hadn’t seen the singer since Paris. Richard kept looking at Claudia and I asked, “Are you two a thing?”

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

“No, but I had a Spanish girlfriend last summer."

"Didn't survive Labor Day.

"No, she more than a little unfaithful." She had slept with a few of my friends./

"And you weren't?" Women have a bad opinion of men.

"Not once." The flamenco dancer was one of a kind. "She was good friends with the old Puerto rican woman living next to me. A bruja."

Claudia didn't understand the Spanish term for sorceress.

"A witch."

"Witch?"

"Yes, Santeria." The magic was practiced by the Caribs throughout the Lower East Side." Senora loved her and the old woman cursed me.”

“Cursed you?”

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

“Really?”

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

“Maybe I can help you change that.”

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

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

“Cinderella didn't have a kid.”

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

“Not always,” I said, because I wanted more from a woman than sex. Claudia and I went to the movies, made love twice a week, took hiking holidays with her son. She fellated me during the NHL playoffs. I wore my Bruins shirt. They went nowhere, but I wasn’t prepared for her saying after they were ousted from the playoffs, “This isn’t working out.”

“What isn’t?”

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

"Who?" I had to ask.

“Richard.”

"Forkhead."

"Yes."

"Oh." I was growing to used to finishing in second place.

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

“I understand.”I stood no chance against a rock god, because Mrs. Adorno’s curse was stronger than me.

I gave Claudia my blessing and started a course of hard-drinking. Drunkenness wouldn’t lift the curse, but I stopped my thinking of Claudia. Of course an affair with Richard wasn’t destined to last forever and a month later Claudia phoned to say it was over.

“Can I come over?”

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

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

Claudia hung up before I could defend myself. She never came over to my apartment. Mrs Adorno was triumphant.

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

“Tennis?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Sounds good.”

“Say noon.”

“Noon it is.”

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

Not only Richard regarded with our match as important.

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

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

“Your choice.”

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

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

“Not for years.”

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

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

“And did you?”

“No way. I said that I was under contract and couldn’t play anywhere without signed agreements. A little later his father found out the truth. He didn’t think it was funny at first, but everyone else in Perpignan did. I didn't think it was funny either. You never do when you’re the punchline of a joke.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He smiled upon seeing me, then frowned, “I got bad news. Lizzie died this week."

"No."

"It was the cigarettes."

"Shit." I really liked Lizzie.

“Did you go to the service?”

“No, I only heard about it after the fact. They had the memorial in the South of France. Her ashes floated out to sea with the flowers.” He shuffled several folders of manuscripts between hands. “That leaves only you and me.”

"And Claudia."

We had nothing else in common than these two women, but his words burned like a fire left unwatched.

I told him that I was leaving the city for good.

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

“I am.”

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

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

“You too, Suedehead.”

I waved good-bye.

Richard was right.

I did come back to New York. We still see each other another time, because none of us were leaving New York. Not even our ghosts, for the dead lived forever in the past for those stuck in the present.

Even the 17th-ranked player in the USA.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

King Chulalongkorn Day

His Majesty King Chulalongkorn the Great or Rama V was born at the Chakri dynasty's Bangkok Grand Palace in 1853. The Phra Phuttha Chao Luang or the Royal Buddha ascended to the throne after the death of King Mongkut during a military expedition against the Malay sultanates. The young King traveled around Asia to see how the works of Dutch and British colonization might improve the lot of the Thai people, a third of whom were slaves under the elite classes of the corrupt Front Palace. The feudal aristocracy refused to relinquish their power, but the young king deftly stripped them of tax-collecting duties and without money the old system gave way to the new.

The Great Beloved King refrained from being drawn into the various wars of foreign occupation besetting Indochina, although the French invaded Siam in the 1880s to extend their hegemony over Cambodia and Laos. Their naval forces didn't withdraw from the Kingdom until 1905, which was the same year Rama V freed the slaves and ended the practice of corvee or enforced labor.

Freeing the Tad or slaves was not done overnight. The young were liberated first, then those with families, and finally to old to prevent chaos. Still King Chulalongkorn was a saint to his people and traveled amongst them in disguise to better understand the plight of common men.

Rama V died in 1910 highly revered by this people and they still celebrate his passing with King Chulalongkorn Day.

A great man and father to his nation.

May his memory live forever.

Jimmy Durante's Beer Mug

Andre the Giant was a huge man as anyone can tell from how small the beer can looks in his hand.

The champion pro wrestler was also a monstrous drinker once downing 199 beers in a sitting.

The American singer/pianist Jimmy Durante aka the Schnozzola also liked his beer.

And he loved his wife, Mrs. Calabash.

He was a man of the people.

No one remembers the Schnozz these days, but I honor all beer drinkers.

I don't think Jimmie Durante could have downed 199 beers. I can't either, but I love his 1944 hit I'LL BE SEEING YOU.

To view this song, please go to the following URL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSzmuWImK7Q

Demure Dumpster Diving

Recently the drummer from the Gang of Four wrote that he had taught his daughter how to shop at thrift stores. I congratulated Hugh on weaning her from gratuitous consumerism, but also warned about the possible future dangers of his daughter finding the pleasure of dumpster diving for clothing and more. It is not a bad thing. Unless someone sees you doing it.

Catherine Denevue

From REPULSION.

From Bunuel's BELLE DU JOUR

Chanel eternal.

Few actresses symbolize class better than Catherine Denevue.

A beauty for the ages.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

LEAVING NY by Peter Nolan Smith

Thirty summers ago I was stuck in New York waiting for a doorman job in Gemany. My pockets were empty and my rent was a month late. Many of my friends worked at Danceteria on West 21st Street. I ate at the BBQ on the roof and drank for free. The owner was a fan of my poetry and John never criticized my glomming off the bartenders.

I finally received the phone call from Germany. A one-way Lufthansa ticket awaited me at JFK. I needed a little money in my pocket to pay for taxis at both ends and hit up a number of friends for $20 each. At Danceteria I ran into John, who was speaking with the bald ex-owner of Mudd Club. John reached into his pocket for his donation.

“I’ll be saving money by getting you away from my bar.”

“I don’t drink that much.”

“7-8 drinks a night add up. Not that I mind.” John was in a good mood. The Bush Tetras were performing at midnight and they packed the club with good-looking women and men after good-looking women. “Have you ever been to Germany before?”

“No.” No one in my family had been to Germany since the Great War.

“Hamburg’s where the Beatles found their magic.” John had played bass in a garage band during the 60s. He was a Beatles fan like most of the people our age.

“That seems to be the only thing anyone knows about Hamburg.” My knowledge of Hamburg was no bigger than his, except I opined a hunch. “I think Dracula shipped out of Hamburg.”

“Dracula didn’t ship out of Hamburg.” A young drunk in a suit said loudly and added with conviction. “He left for England out of Varna.”

“I stand corrected, thanks.” I turned back to John, but he was confronted by the drunk. “Don’t I get a prize for that answer.”

“This isn’t Jeopardy.” John had little patience for annoying customers, who made up half the clientele of Danceteria.

“Yeah, but I got it right, you asshole.” The drunk pushed John hard and I stepped between them. No one laid a hand on my benefactor.

“You two queers.”

“Thanks for the compliment.” He could have called us ‘sissies', but queers was too old school for someone his age. I clenched my fist. “Now why don’t you leave us alone.”

“I know who you are, you fucking asshole.” The blonde-haired drunk pointed his finger at John. Spit flailed from his mouth and his drink slopped over the rim of his glass. The junior exec was a hang-over from the happy hour frequented by 9-5ers. “You own this bar, you wop.”

John’s eyes went steely black upon hearing the ethnic slur. The owner from the Mudd Club laughed like he had a hit a helium. John turned to me.

“You want to make $100? Smack this guy.” His offer sounded like an order from Don Corleone.

“Yo, guy, take a walk.” I said it nice.

“I ain’t a guy, you stupid Mick.”

“$100?”

John gave the nod.

A short right caught the drunk on his right temple. He never saw it coming. I grabbed his arms before he could hit the floor and tossed him to the bouncers. No one saw any of it, but John, Steve, and me.

“That was nice.” John gave me the c-note with a pleased smile.

“A lucky shot.” I stuffed the bill in my pocket and my hand ached from the impact on the drunk’s head. I was done for the night.

“What about a drink?” John dragged me to the bar. “It’s on me.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

I ordered a screwdriver. It was the fifth of many more. My bon voyage fund stood at a little over $200. I put the cash in my wallet. At the end of the Bush Tetras' show John paid my taxi home.

"It's time to call it a night."

"I have a plane tomorrow."

"You have a good trip and I'll see you when you get back." The bouncers helped me into the Checker. John waved good-bye. He knew how to make a man feel unwelcome and I left with my head against the window. It was time to head home, of only for tonight.

$8.75 Steak A La Danceteria

I bought a steak with three drink tickets or two with a bump
56 minutes ago · Like

Henry Benavides commented that he and Ann the elevator girl made Guacamole one night with main ingredient Vodka. It sold out. Then I picked up Ann and put her butt first in the garbage can in the kitchen.

Danceteria was so elegant.

And I still have some drink tickets left thanks to the graciousness of Chairman John Argento.

Anita Sarko RIP

Detroit has lost one of its best. Anita Sarko has joined our friends in the Here-Before. She will live with us endlessly through the spinning vinyl of DJs everywhere.

Detroit. Detroit.

Michael Musto's Goodbye.

Anita Sarko was a world class DJ, lively writer, and dear friend. My parents and I accepted her as family and shared years and years of holidays with her, laughing and loving over gifts and Italian food. I first knew “Auntie” Anita as a Mudd Club DJ, serving a bracing brew of highly individual music for the throngs in the late ’70s/early ‘80s club for new wave party people. Anyone who requested a particular record from Anita was greeted with the retort that she wasn’t a jukebox, otherwise you could just bend her over and put in a quarter! She went on to wear elaborate outfits and spin music (and heads) in the Mike Todd Room, the VIP room of the ultimate ‘80s megaclub, the Palladium, where she was a favorite of co-owner Steve Rubell. Around the same time, she and doorman/impresario Haoui Montaug filled Danceteria with No Entiendes cabaret revues full of fresh, whack talent that, like everything else she did, defied expectations and didn’t pander. If you asked her what “No Entiendes” meant, she said, “Exactly.” We shared head spinning experiences going on road trips with that act to places like Hong Kong, and a few years ago, Anita was sent to Russia to educate the kids about the art of club DJing, which she’d pioneered as one of its first female stars.

Detroit-born Anita (who’d studied law at the University of Miami) showed a different side as a writer for magazines like Egg, Paper, Interview, and Playboy, always coming up with a distinct and pungent point of view. She was a tough broad who didn’t like being mistreated, and was vocal about those who’d done her wrong. And she knew what she liked; I was with her at a tasting when she sent back the cassoulet five times because it wasn’t hot enough—and I guess it wasn’t! But the letter she wrote before ending her life last weekend was full of love and gratitude toward those who passed her test and were special to her. And Anita also had a “country” side--a warmth and appreciation--not to mention a wonderful ability to kick off her shoes, cook, and try to relax off the nightlife-related insecurities, which added to her unique textures.

Five years ago, Anita was diagnosed with both ovarian and uterine cancers, but she was operated on and not only survived, she was declared in the clear earlier this year. But she suffered some lingering pains and also complained of the results of the hormone depletion caused by her hysterectomy. More of an issue, though, was the fact that she couldn’t find creatively satisfying work and worried about her career, feeling that various projects had reached an absolute dead end for her. I helped her with her resume and job possibilities, but she found that nothing clicked, since employers were looking for recent college grads, not old-timers with history and personality. Rejection turned to despair and, though Anita was doing work and paying her bills, she feared for her future and felt discarded and unappreciated. The last time I talked to her, I made a point of telling her she was “legit”. She was so much more than that. A brilliant woman, and I loved her more than I can say.

Here here.

Danceteria Re-Union 2015

Last night Joe Stanich ran a Danceteria re-union at the Rumpus Room in the Lower East Side. The underground nightclub lasted from 1979 until its closure in 1986.

Twenty-nine years ago.

The old school show up in numbers.

We posed.

We connected.

We got profane.

But mostly we spoke about Anita Sarko passing from this world.

Her demise took us all by surprise.

I had seen her only last month. We didn't speak, but exchanged a smile between two comrades of the night.

We still are a legion.

And then there was John Argento.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Chrystie's Coming Out Of The Closet

Back in 2008 a nasty rumor about the Democratic candidate for president surfaced from Chicago. The mainstream media avoided publishing a report of crack, sex, and politics. Lesser outlets ran with the story of Duluth man's sordid encounter with Barack Obama in 1999. Mr. Sinclair asserted that the two men had used coke and crack in a limousine, then had oral sex. I didn't believe the claim, but I'm no quitter and said, "Everyone has to burst a little steam every once in a while."

Secondly getting fellated is not sex according to ex-President Bill Clinton.

But little this side of abortion gets the GOP faithful fired up more than gay people seeking normalcy.

New Jersey's Chris Chrystie has remained in the running for the GOP candidate for president of the USA, despite the Governor having a single-digit positive rating with Republican voters and the governor has repeatedly swung hard to the right to gain more traction for his flagging campaign.

While his stance on gay rights has earned him the anger of his constituents and he disagrees with Supreme Court on their epic decision, He admits that gay marriage is law of land in New Jersey, but counters it by saying "If my kids were gay, I'd give them a hug; but no marriage."

His comment didn't fly high with the Lesbian and Gay communities and neither did his statement "Homosexuality is not a sin; people are born that way."

Faced with no change in his popularity, stopping being straight might be more provident for the Governor, although I'm not sure he could find a partner.

But it's said there's a fish in the sea for everyone.

Maybe even me.

The Searchers - Ending Scene

Without a doubt the ending of John Ford's THE SEARCHERS is one of the best closing scenes in a western movie or any movies when John Wayne bringing his niece home from years of being a Comanche captive. She is free, but Uncle Ethan is haunted by his ghosts.

Perfection.

To view this scene, please go to the following URL

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

Scalping Jacket

In John Ford's classic western THE SEARCHERS Natalie Wood portrays a captive white girl who shows a scalp staff to her Uncle Ethan. Debbie's half-brother wants to kill Scar, the Chief on the spot, but the Texas Ranger played by John Wayne stays his hand and promises to kill her husband the next time they meet. Ethan achieves his revenge and almost kills Debbie, but remembers her as a little girl and not as a savage squaw in a teepee of the Comanche.

While scalping had long been practiced by Native Americans, white colonists excelled at taking scalps from the agricultural tribes of New England. Bounty of $60 was paid by the government and no one questioned the source of the forelocks. Woman and children's scalps were worth $20. Indians fled to the west from the ethnic cleansing of the interlopers.

Scalping has fallen on tough times in the 21st Century, but that didn't stop a young friend from constructing a coat out of human hair.

I found it more than a little creepy, but Tyler Sewell isn't scared of creepiness.

The handsome Canadian still has his forelock and his scalp must be worth at least $100 to the right customer.

Queen of Torture

Recently several newspapers have reported on Alfreda Frances Bikowsky, whose enthusiasm for harsh interrogation methods in the CIA Rendition program earned the diminutive the title the 'Queen of Torture', since the top-ranking CIA officer has been the subject of a criminal complaint for authorizing the torture of a German national seized by Black-Ops while he was on vacation in Macedonia.

Macedonian agents had mis-IDed El Masri for a 9/11 plotter. A local CIA agent had recognized the error, however Bilowsky insisted on renditioning the Kuwaiti-born car salesman to Afghanistan for questioning.

El Masri was tortured for four months with Bilowsky gleefully gloating over him on occasion and then dumped on the road in Macedonia.

She was the worst of the worst.

Even if she was connected to the presidencies of Obama enough to be invited to watch the assassination of Osama Bin-Ladin with the President. She also served with distinction during GW Bush's two terms. Torture was her speciality.

She will not be able to travel outside the USA without the threat of arrest.

She is a war criminal.

Both in America and overseas.

Saying sorry is never enough.