Saturday, April 30, 2016

15 SECONDS WITH ANDY WARHOL by Peter Nolan Smith

When I was a kid, Campbell’s Tomato Soup tasted home-made, especially if milk was added as suggested by the directions. Everyone ate it in 1964; the rich, the poor, the in-between, and twelve year-old boys like me, so I was pleased to read in LIFE Magazine that a New York artist had painted large portraits of the popular soup can. My mother thought that Andy Warhol’s works were funny. My father wasn’t as appreciative of his work.

“I bet you could do better with your crayons.” My father had said the same about Hollywood movies without ever letting me touch his Bell & Howell movie camera, but adults have a funny way of discouraging their children from pursuing the arts.

That next weekend I was mowing the lawn. My father was conversing with our next-door neighbor. He shouted to me and I shut off the mower. When I reached them, my father said, "I told Leo that you could replicate Warhol’s painting, can you?"

My father looked at me for assurance.

"Probably."

My entry to Boston Parochial Art Contest had been awarded with an honorable mention.

"Probably isn't 100%"

"I can only do my best." The sisters of our Lady of the Foothills had given me an A grade in Art.

"Your best?"

"Yes, sir." I never called my father 'dad in front of other people.

“$5 says he can’t.” Mr. Manzi shook his head with bemused conviction.

"I think I can.” The LIFE article stated that Warhol’s big soup can paintings cost $1500 and an autographed can of the real soup was priced at $6.

“Think isn’t good enough.” $5 was a tank of gas for his Delta 88. $10 was two pairs of Levis at Sawyers on Boylston Street.

“Can I bet too." I had $12 saved from my paper route. Winning $5 from this bet had me thinking that I could afford my very own Warhol. The supermarket had to sell them. The Stop and Shop at the South Shore Plaza offered all kinds of weird foods in the specialty aisle. They have to an Andy Warhol can for sale.

"Can he?"

My father looked over his shoulder.

My mother wasn't home.

"I won't say anything to Mom."

"Show mr. Manzi your money." I took out a fiver.

Then we're on, but he has to complete the drawing in one hour.” Mr. Manzi pulled out ten dollars and we walked inside the house.

“More than enough time.” My father handed me a soup can from the pantry and sat in the den with Mr. Manzi to watch the Red Sox game. “Go get your art stuff.”

I went upstairs to my bedroom to fetch my crayons, several sheets of white paper, a ruler, and a compass, then hurried back to the kitchen.

“Two minutes are gone already.” Mr. Manzi shouted from the den.

“I know.” I pulled apart the curtains. Sunlight swarmed through the windows and I examined the soup can for several minutes and then sketched its outline onto a clean sheet of paper before taking out my crayons.

Andy Warhol had used five colors to copy the soup cans; red, black, white, silver, and gold. Getting the curve of the top and bottom right required the aid of the compass. Coloring the bottom half was simplified since it was the same color as the paper. The font of the lettering was tricky and the gold fleur de lis required a glib hand, yet I copied the symbol of the Bourbon Monarchy with guillotine precision.

“Only five more minutes.” My father yelled from the TV room.

“I’m almost done.” I rushed through the gold medallion.

Rendition in hand I descended to the den with 20 seconds to spare. I showed my father the image, certain that my effort would pass their inspection.

My father shook his head and gave Mr. Manzi $5.

“Close, but not close enough.” My father was an honorable man.

“I don’t know.” Mr. Manzi reached for the paper. “Let me be the judge.”

“What for? No son of mine is going to be an artist.” My father had much more austere goals set for his second son and threw the paper into the trash. He was pushing me to be a doctor. My mother was praying for a priest. “You owe Mr. Manzi $5.”

“Yes, sir.” I handed over the finnif.

“This wasn’t so bad.” Mr. Manzi rescued the drawing from the garbage. “I'll pay you $10 for it."

"But I lost the bet."

"Yes, but I'm buying your Warhol. Maybe someday this will hang in a museum."

I thanked him and my father sternly ordered me to return to cutting the lawn. Following the mower was easy work, but it took skills to draw a Warhol, although many magazines vilified his paintings as copies of reality. Andy Warhol had laughed at this criticism and said, “Everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.”

His fame lasted longer and The Factory raged through the mid-60s. His bohemian entourage shot movies about nothing. Sometimes naked girls lounged around the loft. Other times the men. One long-haired poet wielded a whip, while dancing to electronic music. None of their films appeared at the South Shore Drive-In and I conspired to join his circus, as did many of other Catholic school students, for teenagers were rejecting the life of church-work-family-heaven.

Tough kids called Andy Warhol ‘queer’. He was queer and strange too strange too, but I knew Andy could use me for his movies. There was only one problem and it wasn’t that I was only 13.

His kingdom was in Manhattan, which was more than 200 miles to the south.

The sad truth was that Andy Warhol was never coming to the South Shore and Boston remained off Warhol’s beaten track throughout 1965, 1966, or 1967, but in May 1968 the Velvet Underground were booked to perform at the Boston Tea Party. Warhol was filming his protégés’ concert and I planned finding my share of fame.

“Let’s go see the Underground,” I suggested to my girlfriend, Kyla Rolla, who was inarguably my hometown's prettiest girl.

“I’d like to go but the Doors are playing at the Uptown Bus.” Kyla was in love with the lead singer.

“Yeah, but I really like the Velvet Underground.” I had never confessed to Kyla my ambition to be a star..

“Jim Morrison’s sexy, but if you want to see the Velvets, then I can go see the Doors with my girlfriends.” Kyla unbuttoned her shirt. She was well-developed beyond her age. The boys in town were enough competition without opening up the field to hippies in Boston and I said, “I’ll go with you.”

That night the Doors performed to about 40 girls and me. Everyone else was at the Boston Tea Party, although Warhol never showed up to film the set.

Less than a month later Valerie Solanas tried to assassinate Warhol and the Factory disbanded for security reasons.

Kyla and I broke up in 1969.

I became an anti-war college student with long hair. Beer replaced pot.

I graduated sin laude from university and taught at South Boston High School during the Busing Riots of 1975. The students fought daily, despite the presence of the State Troopers in every classroom. The purgatory of the present was mirrored by the limbo of my future, then on a trip to New York I fell in love with a young painter from Brooklyn. Our love was destined to forever.

I quit my job and drove to New York in a stolen car. Ro and I made love three times that night. The next day she flow off to Paris to study art.

My heart was shattered to shards, but not enough to force me back to Boston, so I moved into a SRO hotel on West 11th Street and applied for work as as a busboy at Serendipity 3 on East 60th Street. The restaurant was decorated with Tiffany lamps and the menu offered frozen chocolate ice cream sodas. Mr. Bruce, the owner, examined my semi-Neanderthal features and said, “You hired. Our clientele likes rough trade.”

Rough trade was not really a compliment, then again Mr. Bruce wasn’t Bruce Lee. His mustache curled upward like scimitars and his lisp hissed like an over-boiled tea pot. He was looking south of my waist.

“I’m not gay.”

“No, neither are all the boys on 53rd Street.” That block was famous for hustlers.

“I’m not that type.”

“Too bad,” Mr. Bruce sighed as if the forty year-old was used to playing a waiting game with young men. “You have trouble with famous people?”

“Famous? You mean like Andy Warhol famous?”

“Yes, we were the first to show his work in the 50s. Andy comes here from time to time. He likes our double chocolate frappes, but you’re not his type. He likes prep school boys, then again you never know. When can you start?”

"Now." I had rent to pay.

Ten minutes later I was in a white shirt, black tie, and black pants. All the waiters and busboys had female nicknames. Mine was Pebbles.

Serendipity was a fun place to work.

All the waiters knew about my things with Warhol and joked that the pop artist would make me famous as Joe Dallesandro, who played a street hustler in FLESH

"You could be his double. Bus boy by day. Trader dick by night," said Lady Bird.

I'm straight."

"That's what all the rent boys say."

"And nobody knows better than you,"countered Lorelei, the German pastry cook. The Weimar reincarnation's real name was Klaus and we had met at Max's Kansas City. He had a thing for me and said, "Lady Bird has to pay and pay."

"I don't pay them for sex. I pay them to go away, bitch."

The girls at Serendipity were catty to a fault.

I might not be Andy's type, but he wasn't mine either. I was after fame.

Only that and one afternoon Mr. Bruce caught me checking the reservation book.

“Why are you looking in the book?” Everyone had their place at Serendipity 3 and mine was not where I was at the moment.

“I was curious. Someone said that Warhol was coming today.” It was a hope-filled lie.

Mr. Bruce shut the book.

“Andy doesn’t need a reservation, Pebbles. Why you looking anyway? I told you before that Andy like preppy boys. They wear blue oxford shirts, navy blue blazer, khakis, and penny loafers. But I like black leather. Want to come in the backroom to check the pickles?"

"No, thanks."

“You want to be a bus boy the rest of your life?”

“It’s a living.” Busboy wages more than paid the weekly nut for my room.

After work the thin German singer and I would change into black leather and torn jeans to drink at the wild bars of the West Village. Unlike Candy from the Velvet Underground’s WALK ON THE WILD SIDE, Klaus was far too perverse to be anyone’s darling and he certainly wasn't Andy Warhol's type.

One night some gay-bashers tried to attack some queers on West Street. I stopped their assault with a broken beer bottle. An uptown nightclub owner heard about my intervention and came to Serendipity to offer me a doorman job at Hurrah’s, a punk disco. The pay for a bouncer was $100/night and all I could drink.

Opening night featured the Ramones and the Police.

I said yes.

I gave my notice at Serendipity and told the boys to come visit me. They liked straight boys just like Andy Warhol. Hurrahs' owner found out that Klaus sang rock like castrati and promised him a gig.

“I have to think about it.”

Hurrahs might not be Studio 54, but big names from rock and cinema come on big nights. You'll be a hit."

"Really?"

"I guarantee it." I was only one of his many friends to tell him the same thing.

Everywhere Klaus went he attracted the attention of photographers, fashion designers, and talent agents. Each contemplated on how to make money from a Josef Goebbels lookalike with a voice of Maria Callas. Few were smart enough to see the obvious.

"I'll think about it."

Later that week Klaus agreed to open for Divine at Hurrah. His repertoire was two songs; Lou Chrystie’s LIGHTNING DOESN’T STRIKE TWICE and a classic aria from Mozart. He showed up wearing in a pink suit with stark make-up on his face.

“Here’s my list.” Andy Warhol’s name was at the top.

“You really think he’ll show.”

“Divine said he would.” Divine was the most famous transvestite in America. She was fat too, but funnier in John Waters films than the Flintstones or anything on TV.

“I’ll make sure he knows you personally put him on it.”

“Viele Danke.” His Nazi salute was very discreet.

The night of the show I scrounged through the cloakroom for a blue blazer forgotten by some preppie the week before. It was a tight fit, but as close as I could get to Warhol’s ideal.

Klaus laughed at my changed appearance.

“You clean up real good. Why the change?”

I couldn’t tell him about my aspirations.

This was his night and I wished him luck.

My anxiety rose, as it appeared like Andy Warhol wasn’t going to show up at the club. Studio had a big party. Maybe Klaus and Divine weren’t enough of a draw for the King of Pop.

I helped Klaus to the stage and returned to the door with a beer. Drunkenness was my favorite cure for disappointment, but as I lifted the Heineken to my lips a Lincoln Town Car stopped at the curb. Three blonde boys got out of the back. They looked like Groton seniors on holiday. Andy emerged after the Waspish trio. His wig shone as white as a full moon on a smoky sky. People stopped on the sidewalk to gawk in awe. Cars braked on 62nd Street and I broke out of my star-struck paralysis to put down my beer.

"Welcome to Hurrah."

Everyone on the sidewalk opened a path for the White Mole of Union Square. Andy ignored them. His eyes fell on me and he said, “I’m on the list.”

“Plus three.” I opened the velvet ropes. “Klaus put you on it.”

“Thanks.” He walked inside. The three boys followed him.

The entire incident lasted 10 seconds.

After the show Klaus exited with Andy, the three boys, and Divine. Everyone at the entrance exuded raw jealousy. Andy Warhol saw none of them. I was the only person with something to say.

“Mr. Warhol, I painted your soup can as a kid. It wasn’t easy.

“Really.” He regarded me with a plastic lock of hair blocking one eye, then left the club.

Another five seconds added up to fifteen seconds, yet I remained a nobody, but I was good at being a nobody too and that skill has lasted most of my life.

I still like Campbell’s Tomato Soup too.

Without Andy Warhol’s autograph it’s less than a dollar and I can always afford that price.

Hopefully forever.

Andy Warhol quote: “What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”

Oh Andy, when you’re right you are so right.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

TV Terror

When I was young, my father called the TV the 'boob tube'. He felt that the programming made us idiots.

He was right.

I loved THE THREE STOOGES.

Later my father railed against the senseless violence on the TV.

"Only will breed violence."

He was right again.

This country is full of violence, but some of it isn't senseless.

It makes us do what 'they want us to do.

In fear of violence.

Tomb Knot

For over three thousand years Tutankhamen's tomb was secured by this intricate knot and a delicate clay seal featuring Anubis, the ancient Egyptians’ jackal god entrusted with the protection of the cemetery.

Work men discovered the tomb under debris of Ramsses' final resting place.

The knot survived thanks to the desert's aridity and the lack of oxygen in the sealed chambers as well as the infamous curse “Death will slay with his wings whoever disturbs the peace of the pharaoh”.

Ah, the wonders of antiquity.

I only know simple knots, but they work whe needed.

I'm a little better at curses.

They are tied to the mind.

Sin Bin

My friend Emily Armstrong send this list and asked, "Are you a punk?"

The video archivist scored a $110.

I hit $140.

I feel like a good boy.

The Thin Shadow

"As I got older, I rejected the mirror in favor of my thinner shadow at sunset."

Peter Nolan Smith 2016

Sunday, April 24, 2016

MISSILE AWAY by Peter Nolan Smith


During grammar school my older brother was the top of his class at Our Lady of the Hills, but he was also a pyromaniac and on several occasions Frunk came close to burning down our suburban house underneath the Blue Hills. Each time my mother punished us both with a wooden spoon and my father sternly admonished our incendiary behavior, yet my older brother was undeterred by cracks across the knuckles and hards words.

The early 1960s was the height of America's Space Race with the Soviet Union and Frunk abandoned his fiery endeavors to conduct missile experiments with discarded hair spray cans collected from garbage cans in our neighborhood. Our blast site was a secluded sandpit, where 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 research 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 freshman cross country in the fall of 1966.

The five-mile course directed runners past a gloomy mansion surrounded by a high barbed wire fence. 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 after a mysterious government agency purchased 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.

When the cross-country team passed the big house, we listened for the shrieks of chimps. We heard 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 our 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 president 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. 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 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, for the 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 in the white shirts started shouting and then the president of the rocket club lit the fuse. The men ran for cover. It was a wasted effort, for the missile covered 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.

Pursuit of Higher Education UK

My sister-in-law regards me as a ne'er-do-well. She’s not far off the mark, I've led a prodigal's life, while she’s worked for the CIA under George Bush and led a an exemplary suburban life as a working mother and wife. My brother and she have raised two good kids. Smarter than me and this Spring her son applied to the top Ivy Colleges.

With great grades, outstanding SATs, and a well-rounded extra-curricular career, my nephew seemed a lock except Harvard, Yale, and the lesser universities sent rejection notices. This blanking didn't make sense and I asked his mother, "Why didn't you call George Bush to get him into Yale?"

TRASH FIORUCCI by Peter Nolan Smith

In the late-70s the windows of Fiorucci on East 60th Street featured the latest flash fashion from Italy. These trendy threads guaranteed almost immediate entrance into Studio 54 or any exclusive disco in Manhattan.

The manager was a swishy part-time singer on the downtown scene. Joey ran the store with an iron glove. One afternoon I came to him with a simple question.

“How much for the suit?” A gold lame Elvis suit adorned the front window. I wanted it bad.

“You can’t afford it.” Joey sneered at my question. His store catered to the rich. This was the Upper East Side.

“I know that.” The price tag read $300, which was about twice my wages at Serendipity 3 where I worked as a busboy. “What about 50% off?”

“And why would I do that?” The haughty manager earned a healthy commission on every sale.

“Maybe I could get you a gig at CBGB’s.” I hung out at the Bowery bar every night.

“You’re not the booker.” Joey wasn’t falling for my spiel and walked off to get an espresso.

“I might be able to help you.” Joey’s assistant manager caressed my shoulder and eyed the changing rooms. “I like boys from Boston. You’re so so so tough.”

“No thanks, I’m no hustler on the corner of 53rd and 3rd.”

“No?” I was testing my nerve.

“I have a girlfriend.” Clara was a beautiful actress from Georgia.

“She wouldn’t have to know and I could get the suit for an employee price.”

“I don’t play that game.” She wasn’t really a girlfriend, but we slept together more than once a week.

“That’s what all you boys say, but my side know different.” Matt smiled, for that Serendipity 3’s waiter staff was pronouncedly gay.

“Forget it.” I resigned myself to torn jeans and a black t-shirt, then left the store and cut through Bloomingdales to 60th Street. The July afternoon was sullenly hot and the sun was melting the pavement to a sticky goo.

The owners of the precious ice cream parlor offered me ice tea. It was a quenching treat and I had the day off. Liza Minnelli was sitting underneath a Tiffany Lamp. She laughed with her friends.

“Good luck with your acting class.” The mustached owner knew everyone’s business.

“I’ll sprain an ankle.” Clara and I studied acting improvising at Hunter College.

I climbed the stairs to the apartment of my friends living above Serendipity 3. The two southerners laughed upon hearing about Joey’s refusal to discount the Elvis suit.

“That queen is so mean.” Andy danced with the ballet. His older boyfriend liked him in nice clothing. Fiorucci was the handsome Virginian’s Chanel.

“He’s just doing his job.” I wasn’t saying what I felt, because Andy and his roommate were loose-lipped with gossip.

“And why would you want to be Elvis anyway?” Tim was stumped by this desire. “He’s so declasse.”

“It’s not that I want to be Elvis, but I just like the way it looks.” Elvis was the King.

“Straight men. I can’t figure you out.” Tim returned to pinning together the dress.

“You should have stolen it.” Tim quipped from the corner. The graduate of North Carolina School of Fashion was cutting a dress for his autumn collection.

“And go to jail.” I passed a lit joint to the elegant designer.

“Jail.” Tim shivered at the thought. He liked sleeping in his own bed. “Heavens forbid.”

“Not to worry. I’m a law-abiding citizen.”

“Except for a little weed.” Andy took the joint. “And other things like adultery.”

“My affair with Carla isn’t adultery. I’m not married.”

“But she is.” Tim sniped at my sin. “But no one is going to throw you in jail for breaking that Commandment.”

“Not this far north of the Mason-Dixon Line.”

I hung around listening to the boys talked about their love lives.

At 6:30pm I left the apartment to head up to Hunter College at which I was taking acting classes.

The early evening sky was thick with moist clouds. Lighting and thunder were scheduled for tonight, but it was too hot for any relief from rain. I reached Hunter on time and climbing the stairs to the fourth-floor classroom.

Sweat dripped from my every pore.

The windows were open for an errant breeze and fans stirred the humid air. Eric, the overweight experimental drama teacher, wiped his face with a towel. Carla was sitting at a table with her estranged husband Chuck. The other students were across the room, almost as if they were an audience for the couple’s reunion.

“Glad everyone could make it.” Eric put down the towel and resumed his instructions for A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. Thunder rippled over the Hudson like tin sheets falling down stairs.

“Carla, you’ll be Stella, Chuck will be Stanley, and you’ll be Mitch, except we’re going to detour from the usual course of the play and have it so both Stanley and Mitch are after Stella.”

“Wasn’t that implied by Tennessee Williams?” Carla asked from her seat. The attractive brunette displayed no signs of discomfort from the heat or the proximity of her husband, the heir to a Wisconsin butter fortune.

“This will be overt.” The teacher handed out copies of the new scene to the class. “Forget everything. Read this, act this, be this.”

Eric was renowned for his distortion of plays. He was gambling on the inner tension between Carla, Chuck, and me to dredge a new meaning to the classic theater piece. She and I had spend the previous night together at her studio flat on East 23rd Street.

Flashes of sheet lightening stripped the dusky sky, as we reciting the lines word for word. Sunset passed with our struggle to find the new direction. Night fell on our failure to connect the characters. I was planning on taking Clara to the Plaza Hotel for drinks. The bartender at the Oak Room was a friend.

“No, no, no, I want fire. Read the words, but speak your own. There’s no copyright on creativity.”

I became a punk rock Mitch, Chuck revived Stanley as a man of the people, and Carla sold Stella as a woman whose madness was in the wrong time.

“That’s it, people.” Eric clapped his hand together and out went the lights, as if the Tennessee Williams’ future ghost had cancelled our mutation of his famous work.

The room went pitch black. The windows of the school were dark and the evening sky was devoid of city’s glow.

“Is everyone okay?” Eric asked, lighting a match.

“Yes, what happened?” One of our fellow student lit his lighter.

“We might have had a blackout.” Chuck suggested, as if he didn’t want it to be the truth.

“I think you might be right.” It was the first time he and I had ever agreed on anything.

“Then we had better leave the building. You with the lighter. Lead the way.” Eric was good at giving orders. He wanted to be a director.

Escaping the darkened building took the better part of a half-hour. The chaos of Lexington Avenue revealed the extent of the outage. Cars were stalled at the traffic lights. Several people were directing traffic.

“You think the lights will go on soon?” the student with the lighter lived in Brooklyn.

“No one knows.” I was glad to be living in a SRO hotel on East 11th Street. No electricity meant no trains and I asked Carla, “You want to come home with me?”

“No.” She wasn’t walking to Park Slope and looked over to her good-looking husband. “Chuck’s place is closer.”

They linked arms and strolled toward Central Park. He had a penthouse on West End Avenue. She had told me about the view from the terrace many times. They were a couple again.

“Win some, lose some,” Eric commented on the sidewalk.

“Mitch knows all about losing some.” I shook his hand and walked back toward Serendipity 3.

I found my friends upstairs at their apartment. They had run out of ice for their vodka tonics.

“There’s no ice anywhere,” Tim complained bitterly with crossed arms. He was already drunk. “I want ice.”

“Stop bitching, bitch.” Andy had been keeping pace with his tipsy roommate, Frank.

“Maybe the Plaza has some.” I suggested since the hotel was the epitome of elegance. It had to have an emergency generator. Ice was less than five blocks away.

“Let’s go.” Andy, Frank, a young boy from North Carolina, Kurt, and I hurried through the darkened streets.

Passers-by spoke about looting in Harlem. They looked to the North. A radio reported that Flatbush was under siege. There were no police in sight. City dwellers were marching home. Some said they had been in the subway for hours. The light canyon of Park Avenue was without illumination and Andy pointed to the sky.

“I can see stars.”

“Orion.” I spotted the constellation most nights.

“Also the Big Dipper and the Bear.” Andy drew the lines between the points of Ursa Major.

“Looks more like a pig to me.”

“It’s a bear.” Frank had gone to art school.

We stopped arguing soon as we turned the corner at 59th and 5th.

The three of us stopped in shock.

“It’s the end of the world.” Andy stared at Plaza Hotel without lights.

“Or we’re back in the Stone Age.” Frank was excited by the chaos.

“When ice only came in season.” Andy shook his fists at the Plaza, angered by its failure to preserve civilization.

For some reason this new truth angered me and I said to Andy, “Let’s go to Fiorucci.”

“They won’t have ice.”

“No, but they do have a gold Elvis suit.”

That

“No one will be working there now.” It was past 11.

“Exactly.” Kurt picked up a cinder block from a work site. “I’m shopping the old-fashioned way.”

“That’s looting.” Andy was wild, but never violent.

“Just like the Huns. Go for it.” I had Pictish blood in me. We were an old tribe well before the 10th Commandments were etched in stone by a bearded god.

We strode up to Fiorucci.

The gold lame suit shone even in the blackness of the surrounding anarchy. Studio 54 was at my fingertips. I would win back Clara. I wouldn’t be Mitch in the next acting class. I’d be a star.

“Stand back.” Kurt warned Andy and Frank and then heaved the cinder block at the window. The missile struck the plate glass and bounced right back, narrowly missing Frank's and my skull.

Several guards pointed at us. I hadn’t seen them in the murk. We ran fast. Kurt not so fast. Frank, Andy and I hid in a doorway. We watched Kurt hobble past us. Andy lifted his finger to his lips.

Ssssh."

The guards and Kurt faced into the murk. Andy, Frank, and I stepped out of the alcove chased us past Bloomingdales.

"Where should we go?"

“In here.” Andy dragged us into the Subway Inn.

The dive was packed with stranded workers. The bar didn’t have any ice, but there were cold beers. Andy, Frank, and I blended into the sweaty crowd

“God bless Mickey Mantle.” Andy raised his glass and nudged me in the side. “Join the toast.”

“Fucking Yankees.”

Several beers later we arrived to the apartment above Serendipity 3. The radio was telling tales of the black-out. It was city-wide and Andy recounted a breathless telling of our attempted theft at Fiorucci.

"You could have gone to jail."

"Not a chance," said Andy. "Kurt was slow as shit and I won the gold medal."

"I took the silver," crowed Frank.

"And Kurt?" I asked wondering why he wasn't here, knowing fully well why.

A gold lame Elvis suit.

“Anyone can run faster than Kurt.”

“But I didn’t get the suit.” I was slightly shamed by my exploit, especially for not having helped Kurt.

“Yes, but we did get away and not going to jail is a good thing.” Frank liked the comfort of his own bed.

“Especially tonight.” The Tombs in Lower Manhattan would be packed with looters according to the radio.

“But you tried to answer the call of the wild and that deserves a shot of lukewarm vodka.”

Tim handed me a shot glass filled to the brim.

“To outlaws.” I downed the shot. It was one of many. I fell asleep on the floor and woke up in the monring with Kurt.

"are you okay?"

"The police caught me, but I cried."

"Tears work when lies fail."

"Sorry about the suit."

"No worries> You did a good job." I kissed him on the forehead and we went to sleep.

Later that afternoon I tried to enter Fiorucci, but Joey blocked me entry at the door.

“We don’t need thieves as customers.” The sometimes singer snapped his fingers three times. The guards stepped closer to me.

“At these prices I don’t know who’s the real thief.” It was the best riposte I could come up with hung-over.

I didn’t have to be told to leave by them and strode out of Fiorucci, knowing that the boys above Serendipity 3 had snitched out my failed trashing of Fiorucci’s window. They did have big mouths. Clara went back to her husband. The teacher suggested that I study acting at a different school.

“I think I’ll try something else.”

“Hopefully not more burning and looting.”

“No, not anymore of that.” That night have given me a reputation. It lasted a long time.
Fiorucci closed several years later.

I bought the dusty Elvis suit through Matt. I tried it on at home.

“That really doesn’t fit you.” My girlfriend at the time was a tall model from Baltimore.

“No, maybe it never did.” It was a size L.

“What are you talking about?” Laura was about my height without the extra weight.

“It’s a long story. If it fits, it's yours."

Laura tried on the suit, which clung her lanky body like a dream.

The gold lame suit got her into everywhere. I was not so lucky, but I only went places where I knew the door. That was everywhere too, but I really wished I could have been wearing the Elvis suit, but some things just aren’t meant to be, especially Elvis Suits for men who are not Elvis.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL OF PASSAICH by Peter Nolan Smith


When Cecil B. DeMille's THE TEN COMMANDMENTS was released in 1956 and its box office success earned the cinematic retelling of Exodus over $180 million dollars. In 1962 Paramount Pictures re-released the film for screenings at drive-ins across the nation and my father loaded my brothers and sisters into our Ford station wagon to view the epic with a cast of thousands at the South Shore Drive-In.

After paying for our entry my father cruised the left-handed lane looking for a good vantage spot. He was an ace at parking. My mother spotted an open slot, but before my father could turn a rock hit our car.

My father's head spun to the left and he spotted a teenager scrambling up the grassy slope. My father jammed the column shift into P and jumped out of the car. He had played football in college and caught the young man within seconds. It was too dark to tell if he had punched the stone-thrower, although he returned to the station wagon rubbing his knuckles.

"Damned kids today."

"That language." My mother never used a bad word in her life. She thought that swearing was a sign of mental depravity.

"Sorry." My father loved my mother almost as much as he loved his six children.

After finding the perfect spot, he gave my older brother and me money to get popcorn from the concession stand. Frunk was eleven and I was ten. This was the first time that we didn't have to wear pajamas to the drive-in and we walked over to the refreshment stand. Teens loitered under the neon lights. They looked so cool.

Returning to the station wagon my older brother and I handed the popcorn and soft drinks to our parents. We set up lawn chair before the family car and watched the movie in the warm summer air.

It was a great film.

Charlton Heston was awed by the burning bush under the starry skies of the South Shore. His voice was echoed by hundreds of tiny speakers across the drive-in. The cruelty of the Egyptians was monstrous. Moses heroically faced down the pharoah's magicians, yet the Pharaoh played by the bald Yul Brenner refused to let the Hebrews leave his land.

Moses warned of plagues.

His childhood friend laughed in his face, then the Nile turned into blood, frogs overran the land, gnats infested the dead frogs, wild beasts were driven crazy by the gnats, livestock died from the diseased wild beasts, a pestilence of boils spread on the skin of the Egyptians, a hailstorm destroyed the remaining crops and locust clouded the sky.

The worst was saved for last.

A darkness fell over Egypt and the first-born of every Egyptian died with the passage of the angel of death.

"Why would God kill innocent babies?" I had been a non-believer since the age of 6 and this depiction of God's ruthlessness rehardened my heart against the faith of America.

"God acts in strange ways." My older brother had possession of the popcorn. This wasn't the place for an argument about God and at the end of the movie the Hebrews reach the Promised Land, although without Moses who doubted God's promise.

"God doesn't act in strange ways. He acts like a creep." My best friend Chaney had drowned in Lake Sebago and he had been a first born.

"Sssh, you want Mom to hear you?"

I shut up, since my youthful atheism would have deeply hurt my mother, but over the following years I would question my Jewsih friends about celebrating Passover as a commemoration of the ancient decimation of the Egyptian young.

Passaich was late this year and this April afternoon I wandered to 47th Street to pick up a diamond before everyone went home for the high holiday.

Richie Boy greeted me with a shrug.

"When are you leaving?"

Everyone else in the exchange was closing shop.

“Ask the old man.” Richie Boy pointed to my former boss. Manny was staying to the bitter end of the day.

“Manny, it’s Passover.”

“And what’s that to you? You're a goy.” Manny shared my anti-religious beliefs. “When you pay my rent, then you can tell me what time I close my business.”

Manny’s desk was cluttered with the usual piles of paperwork. In all the years I had worked for their firm, the pyramid of papers rose and fell without ever disappearing in entirety.

“Close now and I’ll buy you a martini.”

“I’m busy.” This office was the octogenarian's home away from home.

“Manny thinks he might make a sale.” Hlove commented under his breath. He had replaced me when I left for thailand two years ago.

"No one is buying nothing today."His son shook his head and signaled his two employee to pack up the merchandise. Hlove and Deisy didn't have to be told twice.

”That’s it. We’re going home.”

This decision started a fight between father and son.

I went outside to wait for Richie Boy.

“Damien, you have something to give for Passiach?” Lenny the Mum shambled up to the window. His bloated face shined with sweat and strands of hair were plastered across his balding skull. He was dressed in his usual attire of a tee shirt and shabby trousers.

“For you, I always have something.” I dug into my pocket for a dollar. “Where are you celebrating Passaich?”

“I’m working the street.” Lenny was a workaholic like Manny. “I have to earn money to take care of my sister.”

“You’re a good brother, Lenny.”

“Plus I don’t really celebrate Passaich.” Lenny didn’t look healthy, but he had disproven many rumors of his demise.

“Why not?” Lenny was no atheist.

“What does Passaich celebrate?” Lenny leaned over to whisper what he had to say, as if it were a secret.

“Passover commemorates the Angel of God passing over the Jewish houses in Egypt, but I agree with you. How can anyone in their right mind celebrate the death of innocents?"

"Damian, I didn't kill any Egyptians and I didn't kill Jesus either. I'm just a harmless Jews," Lenny whined with a shrug. "But the Pharaoh was a bad man."

"Or so the Bible says."

"Please." Lenny lifted both his hands in defense. He was a religious bum. His head was always covered by a yarmulke. "Don't think bad of us. We have had a hard time over the centuries. You know that there was no angel of death. The young probably died from infected food, since the first-born always got the food first. Who knows, but it was a sad scene when Yul Brenner carried his dead son in his palace."

"Yes, it was." I bid Lenny a good Passaich.

His god and the god of my rejected religion was a cruel god. He let his son die on a cross. As a father I could never sacrifice my son, but then I'm human and gods are divine. They can get away with everything.

"You know I saw THE TEN COMMANDMENTS at the South Shore Drive-In. A drunk teenager threw a rock at our station wagon. My father chased him into the brush. He came back red in the face.”

“It was a good movie, but Charlton Heston was no Jew.” Lenny rocked back and forth on the heels of his busted shoes. "Plus there was nothing good about the Ten Plagues. Especially the death of the first-born of all Egyptian humans and animals. Yahweh instructed the Hebrews to sprinkle lamb’s blood on this doors, so his spirit would skip their houses in his search for the first-born males of the Egyptians.”

“I was taught that god was all-knowing and all-seeing, so why couldn’t he see which houses were Jewish?”

“Damien, Yahweh moves in strange ways.” Lenny accepted some profane thought, but he glared at my apostasy.

“Most people think the killer of the male first-borns was an angel, but it was actually Yahweh blundering through the night killing young boys. Do you think there was any collateral damage like how our smart bombs hit schools in Afghanistan?”

“How should I know? I wasn’t there, but enough of this narishkait, because Passaich is a celebration of death. Death of the guilty, but also the innocent. This I can not celebrate. Freedom, yes. Extermination,no.”

Several people had gathered around our discussion and a religious diamond dealer angrily demanded of Lenny, “You really think Yahweh was a murderer?”

“It wasn’t the first time.” Lenny depended on the kindness of this street to support his sister and didn't need this attention.

“Actually I think that the second-sons of Egypt plotted to kill all the first-borns to destroy the rules of primogeniture and then blamed the Hebrews.” I was talking nonsense to deflect the flak aimed at Lenny.

“Primogeniture?” The diamond dealer had a yeshiva education.

“Primogeniture is where the first born inherits everything from the father. Like Cain and Abel.”

“Cain killed Abel.” Lenny nodded in agreement.

“The second son plot. Maybe all the second sons killed the first sons in Egypt."

“Es iz nit geshtoygen un nit gefloygen.” The diamond dealer muttered in Yiddish.

“What’s that mean?”

“It never rose and it never flew.” Lenny smiled with the pleasure of hearing Yiddish, whihc had been abandoned by the Hassidim in favor of Hebrew. “In plain speaking ‘bullshit’.”

“It’s not foolishness,” I protested with the fervor of a devotee to the untruth. “Worshipping murder is an abomination."

“God does not murder. He takes revenge.” The diamond dealer spoke with words with conviction. “And in this case it was his killing angel doing the killing.”

“Isn’t that the same name used by Josef Mengele?”

"Feh." The diamond dealer was feed up with us and headed to the subway.

“That fucking Nazi was called the Angel of Death.” Lenny soured on the mention of his name. He had lost family in the camps. “Passaich was over 3000 years ago and the apotropaic rite actually predates Exodus."

"Apotropaic?" I had never heard the word.

"Something to ward off evil."

"Magic, feh." The diamond dealer spat the two words."

Not magic, just a ritual of daubing the door lintel with a blood-soaked hyssop to prevent demonic forces from entering the house."

"Hyssop?"

"Yes, a mountain flower."

"Magic. Devils. Double feh." The diamond dealer looked at his Rolex watch and stormed down the sidewalk.

"I shouldn't be so smart. People don't like smart, especially when you challenge their religious beliefs and my people love a good book."

"The Torah?"

"It's the only book to them and they would be even more disapproving if I told them that Passaich was a combination of a Canaanite and Mesopotamian. The Exodus connection came later, but what do I know?"

"More than me."

"I'm still a bum."

"A smart one."

That an $3 dollars and I can get a little bottle of brandy. You have something to give?"

"For you, Lenny? Always."

“I love you Damian and pray you see your children soon.”

“And a Happy Bunny Day to you, Lenny.

The slumpy bum wandered off pestering another diamond dealer for a dollar. He was a hard worker.

“What was that all about?” Richie Boy exited from the exchange.

“The origins of Passaich.”

“Passover?” He looked into the exchange. His father was still at his papers. “You hungry?”

“Yeah.” The shoot was low-budget and the production had cheaped out on lunch.

“Me too. What about getting something to eat at the Oyster Bar?”

Shellfish were very tref, but Richie Boy was a bacon Jew, “Sounds delightful.”

Richie Boy and I headed for Grand Central Terminal, passing Lenny.

“Happy Easter.” He offered us.

"I only celebrate the bunnies."

"And chocolate."

"I love chocolate."

I gave him another dollar.

"Enjoy." As a sinner I was willing to forgive almost everyone for everything, since to err is human, but to forgive is a divine trait.

Only forgetting is more human.

Just ask Lenny.

Until then I wish everyone had a good sedah.

Hag kasher vesame`ah, for the only exterminating angels I ever see are the bartenders at the 169 Lounge in Chinatown.

Dakota and Johnny are murder the next day, but I lived through this Passover.

After all I'm a goy.

Jacob Wirth - Boston's Bratwurst Himmel


A group of 40-year old Boston College alumni discuss where they should meet for dinner.

Finally they agree upon meeting at Jacob Wirth on Boylston Street restaurant where some of the patrons at the bar have low cut blouses and nice breasts.

10 years later, at 50 years of age, the group meets again and once again they discuss and discuss where they should meet. Finally they agree that they should meet at the Jacob Wirth because the food there is very good and the wine selection is good also.

10 years later at 60 years of age, the group meets again and once again they discuss and discuss where they should meet. Finally they agree that they should meet at the Jacob Wirth, because they can eat there in peace and quiet and the restaurant is smoke free.

10 years later, at 70 years of age, the group meets again and once more they discuss and discuss where they should meet. Finally they agree that they should meet at Jacob Wirth because the restaurant is wheel chair accessible and they even have an elevator.

10 years later, at 80 years of age, the group meets again and once more they discuss and discuss where they should meet. Finally they agree that they should meet at the Jacob Wirth's because that would be a great idea because they have never been there before.

Last month I ate at Jacob Wirth's.

They offered a great selection of draft beers and their bratwurst nibbler was the perfect meal before the train or bus from Boston to New York. I also recalled going there with feminists in the early 70s who would get pissed by the bartenders refusing their orders at the bar.

No women allowed.

Those were the days.

But I do believe in equality for women.

100%.

It's only right.

The Meaning Of Life In 13 Words

The meaning of life.

Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the fuck happened.

I know what happened.

63 years under gravity.

45 years of sex.

50 years of drinking.

43 years of drugs.

51 years of work.

Time has taken its toll and I feel like Merlin who has lost all his powers, but for several good reasons and all of them women.

All trouble and I'm happy to have live through it.

Every second.

Mia Noi DNA Test

Thailand is a surprisingly puritan country.

The nation's Buddhist tenets demand propriety on all levels of life.

Most people succeed in keeping the straight and narrow, however many men lose interest in their first wives and take up with mia nois or small wives.

When my wife left to go up country, ostensively to care for an ailing brother-in-law (He actually had a serious motorcycle accident while going to help his brother with a sick buffalo), I was left alone in Pattaya, the last Babylon. A month passed without her return. Then two and three. My friends, Thai and farang, said she had left me for another man.

I drove up there unannounced to see for myself.

No man in sight and I checked the house for any signs of another man.

There were none, but my wife wasn't coming back to Pattaya.

She hated the town.

The go-gos, the crime, and the dust.

Ban Nok was her home and she said, "You can live here."

"And do what?"

My business of selling counterfeit Ferrari shirts only worked in Pattaya and I bid my daughter's mother good-bye and returned to the tawdry beach town of the Gulf of Siam.

Within a week I met Mint. She was 22. Skinny and willing to have a boyfriend full-time. I was old enough to be her father and wise enough to realize that everything she was telling me was a lie. I never asked questions and my wife stayed up country.

Everyone was happy until Mint got pregnant.

"It's yours."

"Mine."

"Yours."

Nine months later we had a child. Fenway looks like me with two arms and two legs and I was willing to support him as my son, but Mint said I want you do DNA test.

"Why?" I didn't care about his genes.

"Because everyone always asking me why he not look like farang. I know he yours. Only you. I have sex only with you." She was crying and explained that her family thought she had betrayed me. "Not true."

I told her that we would do a DNA test, if it would make her feel better.

"I not like to be mia noi, but worst not like someone think your son no good."

I don't like that either, but I have to admit I never heard any Thai girl using this tact to regain your trust.

Cleverer than us by half.

ps I never took that DNA test and Fenway is mine.

100% always.

Angles of Angels


Steve Tyler of the group Arrowsmith once said that during the early part of his career he chose groupies asking them to put their legs together and if he could put his hand between their upper thighs then he was on.

This blonde might have passed his scrutiny.

But just.

Beware Of The No-Goat Zone

Back in 2006 a Swiss man was caught speeding on a Canadian highway.

The cop radared the violator going 161 km/h (100mph) in a 100 km/h (60mph) zone 1.

The foreign driver apologized for his transgression and explained to the traffic officer that he was taking advantage "of the ability to go faster without risking hitting a goat".

Canadian police spokesman Joel Doiron said he had never found a goat on the highways of eastern Ontario in his 20 years of service, but also added, "Nobody's ever used the lack of goats here as an excuse for speeding. I've never been to Switzerland, but I guess there must be a lot of goats there," he said.

The Swiss driver was ordered to pay a fine of C$360 ($330; £175) for speeding.

ps the above photo is of a mountain goat on a road running through Banff Park in Alberta, Canada.

And I see goats.

ps there are about 70,000 goats in Switzerland and the same number in Canada.

But of course the goat density in Switzerland is greater.

And they are everywhere.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Crime Does Pay

I loved this story from 2007.

After catching his 15-year-old smoking pot, a father sold the hard-to-get "Guitar Hero III" video game he bought his son for 90 dollars for Christmas at an online auction, fetching 9,000 dollars.

The sale took place after the father spent two weeks searching for the video game for the Nintendo Wii gameboard.

"So I was so relieved in that I had finally got the Holy Grail of Christmas presents pretty much just in the nick of time. I couldn't wait to spread the jubilance to my son," the father wrote on the eBay website.

"Then, yesterday, I came home from work early and what do I find? My innocent little boy smoking pot in the back yard with two of his delinquent friends."

The man, a school teacher, who kept his identity private, said he sold the coveted video game to punish his son for smoking dope.

The sale proved a boon for the family's bank account, since the game, which the father had purchased for 90 dollars (US) was sold to an Australian for 9,100 dollars .

The naughty son, however, will not go without a present on Christmas.

"I am still considering getting him a game for his Nintendo. Maybe something like Barbie as the Island Princess or Dancing with the Stars ... I know he will just love them," the father said, tongue-in-cheek.

Happy 4/23.

The World Mourns A Prince

Paris

Harlem.

LA

Minneapolis.

New York.

Throw on your purple.

Prince lives in the path of the stars.

In The Purple Rain Nebula

To hear PURPLE RAIN, please go to this URL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8BMm6Jn6oU

PRINCE RIP

Prince's first show was at the Minneapolis' Capri Theater on January 5, 1979.

Throughout his long career the rock star performed his music at 1,332 concerts.

I was lucky enough to catch his Palladium gig in December 1981.

Richie Boy, my coke connection, and I was walking down West 14th Street and the concert hall's big security guard, Benji, shouted to me, "Man, you gotta see this show."

"Who?"

"Prince." The giant Jamaican grabbed my arm. "Don't say no or you got someplace to go. You going to see this show."

"I know who Prince is."

He had scored two surprise hits with "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?" and "I Wanna Be Your Lover" in 1979 and another Billboard bullet with UPTOWN in 1980.

Then you in for a teat."

Benji led us inside the Palladium and got us beers.

A minute later Prince hit the stage with his band.

We danced to every song.

Richie Boy sold out his stash.

I thank Benji to dragging me to one of the best shows I have ever seen and thank Prince for all he gave us.

Rest in the stars.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

4:20 4/20 2016


Police and parents demonized Marijuana during my youth. Reefer smokers were condemned by the courts. John Sinclair, the MC5 radical, 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 becoming disciples after the Summer of Love.

I remained straight.

Drugs were for someone else.

I liked beer. It was almost legal, if the police ignored the drinking age. My friends drank beer too, but they were also converts to marijuana. We had met two years ago at the Surf Nantasket, a dance club on the beach. That evening we had just seen the Rockin’ Ramrods, the South Shore’s #1 band. My three friends wanted to smoke marijuana on the way home. I told them no.

“I don’t want to get a contact high.” My drugs of choice was beer, wine, and any other form of alcohol. Marijuana was against the laws of the state. No one in my family had ever gone to jail.

"Pot is better than alcohol and safer than cigarettes." John was a head. He smoked every day. His grade average at high school was a straight D.

"You smoke both." The radio in my VW Beetle was tuned to WMEX. The DJ was playing the Zombies SEASON OF THE WITCH. It was a groovy song.

"Girls like smoking weed." Frank E had been in the Marines for six months. A broken leg had earned him an honorable discharge. He brandished a joint between his fingers. "It makes them horny."

My girlfriend was straight. Kyla was a cheerleader with a divorced mom. We had come close more than a dozen times that summer.

“Smoke it.” John lit up a reefer. He attended Catholic Memorial. It was my school’s arch rival. “You’ll feel good.”

“Smoke it.” Thommie Gordon played hockey for Archbishop Williams. He had long hair. His sister was cute. “It won’t hurt you.”

I opened the sunroof of the VW. My window too.

“Smoke it.” Frank E sucked on the joint. “Girls like it, especially that hippie girl from Weymouth you like. Susan Finn.”

“She does?” I had spent the entire afternoon trying to get the petite brunette out to the beach. She had a reputation for being 'easy'. I was frustrated from Kyla's refusals. She wanted me to wait until after college. Four more years was an eternity for a teenage boy.

“Yes, she does.” A match flared before John’s face. He inhaled off the joint and then passed it to the front. I grabbed the joint from John. I inhaled like a cigarette. I had smoked one of those in 1964. I suspected the same result from the joint. Harsh fumes and coughing.

I was wrong.

I was a long-distance runner. My lungs sucked in a big hit of smoke. I didn’t exhale for 30 seconds. The plume exiting my mouth filled the VW with a cloud. At first I didn’t feel anything. The light turned green. I watched the color. It was so beautiful. I said the same to John. He agreed. Frank did too. The Misunderstood played CHILDREN OF THE SUN. We didn’t move for the entire song. A horn finally 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. My life was different from before.

My friends laughed hysterically.

I joined them.

I was ruined for society and have remained FTW, especially on 4/20, National Smoke Day.

420 wasn’t the original choice for this holiday, however 4:20 was the mythical time that these pothead from San Rafael High School in California would meet at Louis Pasteur Statue to get high.

Hence 420.

Not much else to say other than I’m going out to break the law.

It’s time to free the weed.

If you got it, smoke it. I will.

Monday, April 18, 2016

HANG ON SLOOPY by David Porter

In my younger years of my life I knew girls known Sandie, Samantha, Suzanne, Sara, but never a Sloopy.

Doctor Nick and I went to college with a girl whose name sounded by Sloopy.

The slight brunette came from Roxbury. Her major was in nursing, but she danced weekends at the Two O'Clock Lounge in the Combat Zone to pay her tuition. Sort of Sloopy was the first person in her family to attend university. Nick and I drove taxi at night. We sometimes picked up Sort of Sloopy at closing time. Neither of us received more than the fare at the end of the ride.

At a party one Friday night I told our friends about the Rockport quarries. Everyone wanted to swim in the spring-fed granite pits. The next day we left Boston in a car caravan headed to Rock port. Sort of Sloopy went with Nick. He had a red MG convertible.

We smoked weed on the cliffs. Nick and Sort of Sloopy leaped off the cliff together.

I decided to dive to impress her.

I misjudged the drop and hit the water at the wrong angle.

Bones crackled along my spine. I swan to the shore and slowly hauled myself from the quarry waters.

Sort of Sloopy hadn't seen my dive. She had been kissing Nick

He looked at my face and asked if I was all right.

He was pre-med at BC.

"I'm okay."

I recovered from the dive, but ever since then I've avoided girls with names sounding like Sloopy, I love David Porter's cover of the McCoy's hit song. Henri Flash introduced me to the HANG ON SLOOPY at BSIR's, a Hamburg nightclub, in 1982. The French disc jockey would play Porter's long version at the end of the night.

The last lingerers slow danced for about two minutes and then lost the groove. Henri called the lengthy recording the best music for emptying a nightclub nearing dawn. David Porter's HANG ON SLOOPY was a long song. Henri would leave the DJ booth and I would join the Frenchman at the bar.

"A last drink."

"To HANG ON SLOOPY."

We never lost the groove.

And neither does this song.

"C'mon Sloopy."

From the Stax hit man.

Sam & Dave's "Soul Man" (1968 Grammy Winner)
Mariah Carey "Dreamlover" (1993 Grammy Winner)
Will Smith's "Get Jiggy Wit It" (1999 Grammy Winner)
Sam and Dave's "Hold On, I'm Comin'"
Biggie Smalls "Who Shot Ya?"

To hear HANG ON SLOOPY by David Porter, please go the following URL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yMBpxyXuLw

ON THE SOUTH SHORE by Peter Nolan Smith KINDLE VERSION

I was lucky enough to live through the 1960s as a teenager on the South Shore of Boston.

Home was still home to us.

My friends and I led charmed lives at the Quincy Quarries, Surf Nantasket, and Wollaston Beach

ON THE SOUTH SHORE recounts those lives.

The time was short, but retelling these tales brings back those years, if only for a moment.

They were good ones.

Here’s an excerpt from THE HOLE OF HEAVEN

According to the Old Testament God banished Adam and Eve from Eden for eating apples and this Original Sin condemned future generations to this mortal coil, however humans have defied this divine decree with repeated attempts to recreate Heaven on Earth. Most of these utopias have been short-lived, for nothing irked the true believers more than people enjoying the rewards of a good life in the present and in 1965 the teenagers of Boston’s South Shore celebrated the pursuit of earthly happiness at the infamous Quincy Quarries.

The spring-fed pits offered pleasure without any parental supervision and the passage from boys to men was achieved by a leap off the craggy cliffs into the rock-bound pools. The sun never shined so bright as on the rims of The Hole Of Heaven and Josephine’s, but Brewster’s Quarry was the favorite haunt for the thousands of teenagers devoting their youth to the life of a fallen angel. An anonymous teenager had named the vast abyss the Hole of Heaven back in the 40s, however these summer swimming holes were not natural to the glacier-carved Blue Hills.

Stonecutters had carved granite from steep ledges to build the Bunker Hill monument and the first train in America had hauled these gigantic slabs from the ever-deepening pits. These indestructible blocks had provided the building material for countless courthouses, wharves, and lighthouses on the Eastern Seaboard, but in coming of steel and glass skyscrapers exiled the construction of granite monuments to the history books.

Stone ceased to serve the living and only undertakers could feed their children from the tombs of the dead, so in 1963 the stonecutters turned off the water pumps and the quarries were flooded by the springs running deep under the earth.

The aquifer held generations of pure water. Its color was emerald green and every April teenagers from South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy, and my hometown flocked to the quarries like Celtics fans to the Boston Garden.

In December of 1963 Arnie Ginsburg declared that the Kingsmen’s song was the worst record he had ever spun on his NIGHT TRAIN show. The WMEX DJ was no teenager. LOUIE LOUIE hit #1 in the winter of 1964 and every garage band in Boston covered the A-major standard. The drummer saying ‘fuck’ had nothing to do with its success. America was leaving the 1950s for good.

Boys and girls made out at the Mattapan Oriental Theater during Saturday matinees. Hair crept over ears and shirt collars like uncut lawns. Our parents battled this rebellion with edicts against kissing, drinking beer, rock music, long hair, dancing too close, and certain friendships. Whole towns were declared off-limits and no forbidden destination proved more irresistible to young boys than the Quincy Quarries south of Boston.

These teenage oases were only accessible by foot. LOUIE LOUIE played on transistor radios, while boys and girls basked in the summer sun. The Kingsmen’s song had legs.

Jumping off a cliff worked better to a dirty sax than the Beatles’ saccharine harmonies of I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND. The feuds between towns and gangs were put on hold at the quarries. Teenagers came for fun, a swim, the thrills, and refuge from parents, priests, teachers, and police. The authorities tried their best to shut down this paradise, for unfortunately the quarries were a magnet for accidental drownings and drunken mishaps. Joyriders drove cars into The Hole Of Heaven to imitate James Dean’s chicken run in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. One or two of these daring acts ended in misadventure.

Many of the stories about the bottomless pits were urban legends. The most famous was that of a kid jumping off Shipwreck’s craggy prow and landing on a submerged car. An antenna pierced his arm. This gruesome tale was retold each summer, as if the accident had occurred recently, although its origins were lost in the haze of myths.

Parents vigorously petitioned the Quincy mayor to shut down these threats to their children’s well being and his police and town workers responded with uncharacteristic vigor.

The Quincy garbage men dumped old telephone poles into the water. Teenagers used them for logrolling contests or wired them together for sunning rafts. Police raided the quarries. They were too out of shape to catch young legs.

The town was accused of ignoring its civic duty and in August 1965 a selectman from the shipyard suggested pouring refuse oil from ships into the quarries. Three tankers were parked overnight by the edge of Brewster’s to unleash their foul black liquid into the main pool with the dawn.

That evening I sat on a lawn chair to observe a meteor shower. Bats flapped their wings through the soft summer air and a light wind hushed through the trees. A whooshing boom shattered this suburban calm. My eyes widened as a flaming mushroom cloud roiled over the woods.

Seconds later two more fireballs scorched the night sky.

I jumped to my feet, fearing that the Russians had nuked Boston, and crouched under the picnic table in anticipation of the shock wave. Several minutes later my mother came out of the house and ordered me inside.

As a 13 year-old boy I obeyed her 99% of the time.

The morning’s newspapers reported vandals had torched the trucks at the quarry. The police had no suspects, although the teenage grapevine introduced a trio of heroes to the South Shore.

Donnie, Lee, and Eddie.TO CONTINUE READING

Please go to this URL

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CA51TA8/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

Hillary Not At Her Best

I have always felt that if someone takes a good photo of you or paints you in a flattering light likes you or has been paid enough money to alter your image to bless you with good light.

Sarah Sole painted an uncomplimentary portrait of Hillary Clinton, which the painter defended by saying of MY PRIVATE HILLARY, “This started with a stock news photo of Hillary from the press conference she gave in March, addressing for the first time her choice on email server. I watched from a far, literally from outside the country, and I remember thinking, ‘She looks like a deer in the headlights.’ I then found tons of photos displaying just that. But they also contained a look of resignation, not that she was resigned to leave the race but resigned to the headlights. Here she is as her most private self, in a Motor Inn in Iowa on a particularly exhausting day to come on the campaign trail, and the headlights are still on.”

I have to admit I know that feeling.

Finishing a day and thinking tomorrow will be the same.

Sarah Sole was kinder to the presidential hopeful in EASY RIDER and said of the painting, “This is how my Hillary odyssey will end. She will ride off into the sunset, leaving the storm clouds behind. And like all the women I’ve ever been with, she will leave better off than me.”

And who wouldn't be after getting paid over $300,000 for a corporate speech.

To see more renditions of Hillary by Sarah Sole please go to the following URL

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sarah-sole-hillary-clinton-paintings_us_564130dfe4b0411d30724467

Sex Quotes

"There are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal, particularly in women. Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz SL500." - Lynn Lavner

"Sex at age 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a rope." - Camille Paglia

"Women might be able to fake orgasms. But men can fake a whole relationship." - Sharon Stone

"Hockey is a sport for white men. Basketball is a sport for black men. Golf is a sport for white men dressed like black pimps." - Tiger Woods

"My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son-of-a-bitch." - Jack Nicholson

"Clinton lied. A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is." - Barbara Bush (Former US First Lady)

"Ah, yes, divorce, from the Latin word meaning to rip out a man's genitals through his wallet." Robin Williams

"Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place" - Billy Crystal

"According to a new survey, women say they feel more comfortable undressing in front of men than they do undressing in front of other women. They say that women are too judgmental, where, of course, men are just grateful." Robert De Niro

"There's a new medical crisis. Doctors are reporting that many men are having allergic reactions to latex condoms. They say they cause severe swelling. So what's the problem?" - Dustin Hoffman

"There's very little advice in men's magazines, because men think, 'I know what I'm doing. Just show me somebody naked !" - Jerry Seinfeld

"See, the problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time." - Robin Williams

"It's been so long since I've had sex, I've forgotten who ties up whom." - Joan Rivers

Sex is one of the most wholesome, beautiful and natural experiences money can buy. - Steve Martin

You don't appreciate a lot of stuff in school until you get older. Little things like being spanked every day by a middle-..aged woman. Stuff you pay good money for later in life. Elmo Phillips

" Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same." - Oscar Wilde

"It isn't premarital sex if you have no intention of getting married." - George Burns

Photo by Jerry Brendt's COMBAT ZONE series.

Also check out his AMERICA SUBURBS X

http://www.americansuburbx.com/2015/08/jerry-brendt-scene-from-1960s-boston-the-combat-zone.html

The man's a genius.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Small Hands On Canvas - Mr. Donald Trump

Illma Gore's infamous nude of Donald Trump has been on display at the Maddox Gallery in Mayfair and the GOP presidential candidate has threatened to sue the artist for either depicting Donald Trump with very small penis.

Bids have reached 100,000 pounds sterling, although the gallery is seeking a million quid for the small nude.

The real estate billionaire might be better servedby purchasing the painting to get it off the market.

Small hands.

Illma Gore is young.

This self-photo shows her in a bathtub.

I wonder if the names written on her skin are those of her boyfriends.

Only for a few seconds.

And then there's this troubling nude of Hillary Clinton.

I never saw her as a beer-drinker.

But what do I know.

BACK AND FORTH Chapter 1 A Novel About Hitchhiking

CHAPTER 1 - THE FIRST TEN MILES

The morning sky stretched a cloudless blue from east to west over Boston. Two long-haired men and a young blonde woman stood on the sidewalk, as the trees wavered with the warm spring wind. May 24, 1974 was a good day to begin a trip and the three travelers boarded a Centre Street trolley.

The trolley driver clanged a bell and the orange streetcar rocked on Arborway tracks toward Forest Hills. When the twenty-one year-old Bostonian unfolded a map of America, Sean’s friend pointed to the West Coast and said, “I can’t believe we’re driving cross-country in a station wagon.”

“A ride’s a ride, plus we can sleep in the back.” Sean defended the station wagon, since his father had bought a new Ford every three years until his six kids were old enough to drive their own cars.

“We could have waited for a Cadillac,” argued AK.

“It’s all the Drive-Away company had going to Northern California and I’m all about CALIFORNIA DREAMIN, instead of DIRTY WATER.”

“I second the motion.” The blonde nursing student was dead set on leaving today. “Boston to Sacramento. Today.”

“Boston to LA would have worked for me.” The pianist was visiting a friend north of San Diego.

“No cars were going there for another week.” Drive-Away cars were in high demand from college students heading west after the end of the Spring Semester.

“What if the owner says no.” Pam was eager to get to Mendocino.

“It’s too nice a day for him to say anything other than ‘yes’, plus we already signed a contract with the DriveAway company. Here’s our stop.”

The three of them got off the trolley and proceeded down Boynton Street. Sean knew this neighborhood well. Everyone was Irish and he said, “Let me do the talking.”

166 Boynton was a three-story family wooden dwelling. A middle-aged man in a startlingly white tee shirt stood on the sidewalk. A porcupine crew cut topped an erect posture and the crease of his chino trousers had been ironed to a razor sharpness.

“Shit, he looks like a Marine.” AK pushed back his long hair.

“A career Marine too.” Sean respected the Corps. They fought hard.

“He won’t be happy to see hippies.” Pam’s blonde hair flowed over her shoulders and her peasant dress swayed with the twenty year-old’s easy gait.

“Just smile and make nice.”

Seeing the three of them the older man tapped his watch and said, “It’s 9:10. You’re ten minutes late.”

“Sorry,” said Sean.

Men the car owner's age and conviction preferred an apology to an excuse.

“I suppose ten minutes is better than twenty. The name’s Jake Moore.” The forty year-old seized Sean’s hand.

“Please to meet you.” Sean met the firm grip with strength and his knuckles did not buckle under the pressure.

“That’s my wife.”

An older woman sat on the porch. Her black dress testified to a period of mourning. Sean bowed his head in respect for her loss. She bit her lower lip and gazed at her folded hands.

“My condolences.” Sean wasn’t asking who had died, but the deceased had most certainly been a family member.

“Thanks.” Jake’s steely eyes studied Sean’s shoulder-length hair, regarded AK’s ponytail, and then warmed to Pam’s free-flowing blonde locks. “So you’re my driving team.”

“That’s us.” Sean released his hand and introduced them by name.

“You from Boston?”

“My grandmother lived on St. Joseph’s Street.” It was only a few blocks away.

“Irish?”

“Half. The Yankee side came over on the Mayflower and my Nana sailed over from Galway at the age of 14 in the year of the Crow. She came off the ship and broke her shoe. Nana said she arrived in America like Cinderella, but worked as a maid in a Marblehead mansion.”

“Which is much better than slaving in a Connemara potato patch. My grandmother came over in the Year of the Pig. What about yours?”

“The Year of the Crow.”

Their shared heritage and accents shortened the generation gap.

“We thought the year had something to do with Chinese Astrology, but my grand never told us yes or no.”

“Those women from the West of Ireland carried a secret to the grave.”

“What’s your family’s name?”

Sean told him.

“There were four daughters. Older than you, but my uncle served with in Korea,” he said Uncle Jack’s name.

My uncle’s platoon had fought off hundreds of Chinese Communists to save the retreat column from Chosen Reservoir. He was the only officer to see the dawn.

“I heard about Captain Jack. Never had the honor of meeting him.” Jake glanced over to the driveway. “That’s the car.”

His car was no normal family station wagon. Its chrome details had been polished to a high sheen and the fake wooden paneling was unblemished by dings. The spacious back would sleep two with the passenger seats folded down.

“Nice ride.”

“Better than nice.” Jake strolled over to the station wagon and popped the hood. “This 1967 Ford Torino has a 428 FE V8 with a three-speed automatic transmission. I was lucky to buy one with a Cobra-Jet engine.”

“Wasn’t the same engine in Steve McQueen’s ride in BULLITT?” AK stepped closer to admire the V-8.

“Ford stuck a 390 into that Mustang GT, which had a lighter chassis than the Torino.” Jake launched into a minute-long monologue extolling his car’s speed. “This baby can do a quarter-mile in 14 seconds.”

“Cool.” Sean nodded his head with appreciation. “My only car was a 1964 VW bug and its top speed was 85.”

“85?” Jake scoffed at his claim.

“Downhill with a tailwind in the White Mountains.”

“You know telling someone about speeding isn’t the best way to persuade them to give you a car.”

“I’ll make sure that he keeps the speed down,” Pam assured the owner.

“I had hoped for someone more like me to drive the car, but there’s not many of me around Boston these years.” Jake inspected their eyes.

“More than you think.” AK and Sean had smoked a joint this morning and he wished he was wearing his sunglasses. “South Boston still supplies the Marines with warm bodies.”

“Sounds like you protested against the War.” His statement was an accusation more than a question.

“Yes, but when I was 17, I tried to enlist in the Marines, but my mother wouldn’t sign the papers.”

“She was against the War?”

“No, my mother is a devout commie-hating Catholic, but she loved me too much to allow my fighting overseas in a war and threw the papers in the trash.”

“After which you became a hippie?”

“Something like that.”

Sean spared him the story of how an older friend had returned from Viet Nam in 1968, preaching Muhammad Ali’s creed that no VC had killed anyone in the USA.

“There’s a lot of ‘something like that’ going around.” Sadness tinged every word and Jake’s fingers twitched a request.

“Let me see your driver’s licenses.”

AK and Pam handed over their out-of-state driving permits. Sean’s had been issued from the Boston DMV.

“Any outstanding warrants or violations?”

“None.” Sean answered, although last autumn he had been arrested after a high-speed chase in a VW from Pam’s college. His Uncle Jack had gotten all the charges thrown out at court. He knew the judge.

“Well, the faces match the photos.” Jake returned the IDs. “We drove out here for a family visit. Normally I’d drive back, but my wife can’t bear driving through those cornfields again.”

“It is a long ride.” The distance from coast to coast was almost 3000 miles.

“You ever gone cross-country before?”

“I haven’t driven it, but I hitchhiked back and forth twice. The first time was in 1972. A Super Bee picked us up in Iowa and the driver drove 100 or better most of the way to Reno. My friend and I completed the trip from Boston to San Francisco in about fifty hours.”

Pam and AK dismissed this claim with matching smirks.

“Fifty hours sounds fast, but it averages out to about 60mph.” Jake stepped away from his car.

“The driver was in a hurry to reach LA, so we didn’t stop much.”

“People have been hitchhiking since Jonah rode in the whale. When I was stationed in Key West I hitchhiked to Boston every long leave. Everyone who picked me up told a different story, almost like they were trying to change their lives, if only for the time I was in their car and that’s the beauty of the open road. You become someone different with a new name and a new past. You get out of the car and you go back to who you are. There is no escaping the future of you.”

Jake’s unexpected insight constructed a connection between college students, hoboes, tramps, soldiers, beatniks, runaways, and hippies traveling the highways of America.

“No one believes my story about making the trip in fifty hours.”

“All stories are true, if interesting.” Jake clapped Sean’s shoulder. The War in Vietnam was coming to an end and they had lost their hatchets instead of burying them. “As for driving cross country in fifty hours, I’d appreciate if you take it a little easy on my car.”

“Driving fast in America is against the law now.” Pam opened the station wagon’s rear door and examined the car, which seemed to pass her inspection.

“These idiots in Congress think driving 55 will save gas and free us from the Arabs. There’s no shortage of gas.” Jake’s face turned red with anger.

“I don’t think so either.” Sean had seen the tankers riding low on the outer roads of Boston Harbor.

“How you planning to go out West?”

“We’re driving straight from here to the Rockies. I’ve always wanted to see them.”

“They’re beautiful this time of year with the snow up high.” His voice became dreamy, then he said, “You be careful on the road. Nothing the state troopers like better than arresting hippies for speeding.”

“Thanks for the warning. The station wagon should provide good camouflage for a passage through the Midwest.”

“Why are you driving cross country?” Jake stared Pam. She wasn’t wearing a bra under her paisley dress.

“Going to visit my fiancée.” Pam added credibility to her portrayal of the girl next door by saying, “He’s an internship at a hospital north of San Francisco and I’ll be working at the same hospital as a nurse in training this summer. Harry and I met in high school.”

“You and he are high school sweethearts like my wife and me.” Jake glanced to at woman in black. “Somerville High School. Class of 1950.”

“What about you?” Jake directed the question to Sean.

“Xaverian 1970. My high school sweetheart and I broke up senior year. I just graduated from BC with a degree in economics.” Sean volunteered this information to change the subject from young love.

“What about a job?” Jake asked, as if he had served in the military without counting days or years.

“I drove taxi to pay for college. I probably spent too many hours behind the wheel and graduated at the bottom of my class.”

“His diploma read ‘sin laude’.” AK had told the same joke at Sean’s graduation party and his father hadn’t appreciated the Long Islander’s humor, yet his mother had beamed with pride after the graduation ceremony. Her mother had not finished grammar school back in the Connemara.

“You graduated, but what about getting a real job?”

“I’ll be a substitute teacher at South Boston High School come the fall.” Sean had taken no education classes in college, but his older brother’s friend had been elected onto the Boston School Committee and his position had been a reward for having working on his campaign.

“I’d rather face a banzai charge than a room filled with teenagers.”

“Yeah, I feel the same way, so when AK’s friend invited us out to Encinitas, I figured to take one long last beach vacation. 65 is mandatory retirement age for a teacher, so I will be working well into the next century.”

“Yes, they don’t have a twenty and out.”

“No, they don’t.” Jake continued to hold onto the \ the keys and Sean said, “We appreciate your letting us take your car.”

“And I guess I appreciate your driving it. It has a big engine and guzzles gas, so I’m giving you an extra $100 for the trip, but I want you to fill the tank up every time the gas gauge hits half and use the highest octane from Sunoco.” He gave Sean out the keys.

“Yes, sir.” Sean smiled to Pam and AK. They were minutes away from hitting the road. “We’ll see you in six days.”

“Make it seven and you’re in for a treat; the Great Plains, the Rockies, the high deserts, the Sierras, and finally the Golden State of California.” Jake had driven the road more than once.

“And don’t forget the Mississippi.” Pam beamed a smile revealing her happiness to be heading West.

“It’s a big country.”

Jake and Sean signed the matching contracts from the drive-away company and he told Pam, “Make sure they drive my car safe.”

“You have my word” The blonde stored her bags in the car and sat in the rear.

“You do that, Pam.” Jake studied her face for a few seconds, as she rolled down the window. “She reminds me of someone.”

“To me she looked like the singer from The Band Named Smith.”

“They had a hit with BABY IT’S YOU.”

“Yes, they did.” Sean was surprised that he knew the group, but Gayle McCormick was very attractive. “See you in Lodi.”

He tossed his canvas bag in the station wagon, sat behind the wheel, started the engine, and reversed out of the driveway. Sean beeped the horn and then headed onto the Jamaica Way. This engine ran smooth and strong.

“For a second I didn’t think Jake would give us the car.” AK unfolded the map of the USA.

“Why?”

“Because of your admission to being a traitor.”

“I was telling him the truth, besides Pam had him wrapped around her little finger.”

Sean drove around Jamaica Pond in the slow lane.

“The power of feminine wile.” The blonde smiled at Sean in the rearview mirror.

“Something never to be underestimated.”

“Only a fool would do that.”

Pam breathed in deeply.

“This car even smells new.”

As a child of the suburbs Pam liked things clean.

“And why wouldn’t it be? Jake’s in love with his car.” Sean rolled down his window. The morning was getting warm

“Car love is a man thing. Sometimes I think my boyfriend loves his car more than me.” Pam tied a scarf around her head to keep her hair from getting snarled in the wind.

“What kind of car does he drive?” asked AK.

“A 1974 Mustang II.” She sounded disappointed. “It’s red.” “Nice.”

Sean didn’t mean it, because Ford had dumped a Pinto engine into the classic Mustang to sacrifice power for fuel efficiency. “He drive it cross country?”

“No, he sent the car out on a train and flew to pick it up in San Francisco.”

“That’s one way of crossing the country.” AK rolled his eyes. His Pontiac Firebird was fast, but its low gas mileage and bald tires were two reasons that they were driving Jake’s Torino.

“I wish we were that smart.” Sean didn’t like her fiancée and his choice of a car reinforced his disdain.

“Are you making fun of Harry?”

“Not at all. My VW is on its last legs and I don’t have a girlfriend to love.” Sean steered past the hospitals of the Fenway.

“Funny.” She didn’t mean it.

Sean cringed at stepping on her toes this early on a long trip.

“Wonder what Jake listened to on the radio.” AK pushed a button to hear Wildman Steve cuing up America’s surprising # 1 hit ROCK THE BOAT by The Hues Corporation. His fingers played an imaginary keyboard. For a longhaired white boy from Levittown Long Island he had a lot of soul.

Sean obeyed the traffic lights through Boston and he smiled upon seeing the sun flashing off the Charles River, as they turned off Storrow Drive.

A bearded hitchhiker stood at the Brighton Mass Pike exit. His leather jacket was a patchwork of different colors and his jeans were torn at the knee. Sean veered over to the breakdown lane and braked a hundred feet before the tollbooth.

“What are you doing?” Pam asked with alarm.

“Stopping to give him a ride.”

“He could be an ax murderer.”

“I’ve hitchhiked everywhere in the States and never ran into an ax murderer.”

“There’s always a first time.”

The ragged longhair waited by the rear passenger door. Closer up he was older and rougher, but karma overruled Sean’s apprehension.

“Next week I’ll be hitchhiking down the coast of California. If I don’t pick up hitchhikers now, then I might be stranded in Big Sur for days. Let him in.”

“Okay, but I’m not happy about this.” Pam slid over to the driver’s side. “If he starts anything, I expect you to take care of it.”

“I promise I will.” Sean reached back to unlock the rear door.

“Thanks for stopping. The name is Bill.” A thick Southern accent slithered from his chapped lips.

“Where you going?”

“California.” Sean had friends from Dixie. Not all of them were rednecks.

“Damn, I always wanted to see the fuckin’ weirdos out in Cally.”

“Weirdos?” asked AK.

“Yeah, Satanists, drag queen, queers and fags.” Bill was no hippie.

“Where you going?” Sean hoped only a few miles.

“I’m joinin’ a fuckin’ carnival for the summer. We travel from Biloxi to Texas and up into the wheat fields. I specialize in bumper cars. How ‘rubes’ drive them says a lot about them.”

“How so?” AK turned around to face Bill

“Cautious ‘straights’ play it safe. Aggressive ‘squares’ go for fucking head-ons. You look like in-between.”

“Meaning what?”

“In-betweeners get sandwiched by aggressive ‘squares’. They don’t stand a fucking chance in life.” Bill had been in the car for less than two minutes and Sean already regretted having stopped for him.

“Where you coming from?”

“I spent the winter in a fuckin’ loggin’ town up north in Northeast Kingdom.”

“Vermont.” Sean was a native New Englander.

“That’s right. Them damned Yankees don’t give a rat’s ass for crackers like me. Last night I was in a bar on a river. They had a live band.” His hands draped over the seat. The knuckles were scuffed with scabs. “The pansy-assed guitarist wouldn’t play FREEBIRD. Fuckin’ Yankees.”


Pam sighed in disapproval of his favorite adjective.

“Sorry, Sunshine, if I offend you, but I was brought up twenty miles past the fuckin’ wrong side of the tracks.” He slid closer to her, as the radio station segued to HOLLYWOOD SWINGING.

“Why you listening to this fuckin’ disco shine crap?” Bill barked over his shoulder.

“Fucking disco shine crap?” Sean regarded their passenger in the rearview mirror. His face was swollen from hard drinking and well-aimed lefts and rights had flattened his nose.

“Yeah, I hate fuckin’ disco.”

“This isn’t disco.” Kool and the Gang’s song had been a big hit at the 1270, where gay boys loved dancing with straight boys and the deejay spun the best dance records in Boston. “This disco shine crap is climbing the R&B charts and the band is a thousand times more hip than that BAND ON THE RUN bullshit by that loser Paul McCarthy.”

“Loser? The Beatles are the fuckin’ best band in the world.”

“Yeah, HEY JUDE sucks.”

“Does not, you Mick sword-swallower.”

“What’d you say?”

“You heard me good, you fuckin’ potato-eatin’ fag.”

Sean seethed behind the wheel.

“I’ll handle this.” AK possessed a much cooler head and Sean shut his mouth.

“You’ll handle what, Jew Boy? What? You’re not a Jew? I can spot a yid as soon I see fuckin’ one. Sorry, you can love this music all you want, but queers and niggers play this fuckin’ music and you’re just a sand nigger.” he spat the words fag and nigger with a long-seeded hatred.

“That’s it.” Sean stomped on the brakes and the station wagon stopped in the breakdown lane The Charles River bridge was another hundred yards ahead and whizzed past switching lanes for 128 North or South.

“Why you stoppin’ here?” Bill leaned forward with menace.

Sean turned around in the bucket seat and revved the big V8. The Torino was still in drive.

“I’ll tell you why. Jack Kerouac wrote in ON THE ROAD that the biggest challenge for a hitchhiker was proving to the driver that he didn’t make a mistake picking him up and I have to admit I made a mistake picking up you. Now get out of the car.”

“Get out of the car?”

“He really means it.” AK was of the same mind about Bill.

“This isn’t the fuckin’ end of the road.” Bill hesitated opening the door.

“It is for you and us. I don’t like queer bashers or racists.”

“I fuckin’ knew it the second I got in the car.”

“Knew what?”

“That you two were fuckin’ queers.” Bill opened the door and sneered, “Girlie, you know your boyfriends are fudge packers.” “Even if I was, I wouldn’t fuck you with an elephant’s dick.” “You fuckin’ fag.” Bill started for Sean. He blocked the drifter’s hands from encircling his neck, as

AK leaped out of the car to grab Jim’s leather jacket.

The pianist mightn’t have been a fighter, but he manhandled the roustabout out of the car and flung Bill across the breakdown lane.
The vagrant tumbled down the embankment and AK chucked the his bag after him. A lucky toss hit Bill’s shoulder and he completed his descent down the gully.

“Go.” AK jumped in the front.

Pam shut the back door Sean’s right foot hit the gas. The Torino accelerated from a standing stop.

“Nothing’s broken.” Pam leaned over to examine AK’s knuckles.

“I’m not much of a fighter.”

“Unlike some people we know.”

“I didn’t do anything.”

No, you just stopped for a crazy ax-murderer. I hope you learned your lesson. He had his hands all over me.”

“Sorry.” Sean turned his head.

Pam’s eyes looked into his.

“Let’s pretend it didn’t happen.” She tilted her head to the side. Blonde hair covered one side of her face and the twenty-year old nursing student pushed the strands behind her ears. “No more hitchhikers. This isn’t ON THE ROAD. And one more thing. Could we keep the use of ‘fucking’ to a minimum?”

“Your wish is my command.” Sean gripped the wheel and AK turned up the volume of the radio playing James Brown’s PAYBACK PART 2. The Godfather of Soul had a wicked rhythm section.

Pam was right about hitchhikers, but then women were right about everything and men were always wrong.

They crossed the Charles River and Sean slowed to pick up a ticket at the tollbooth. He thanked the attendant and laid a light foot on the gas.

“Now we’re on our way.”

The traffic on the Interstate rolled at 60. The Torino had a full tank of High Test and easily passed a procession of slower cars.

Five days from now would be his 22th birthday.

Sean stepped on the accelerator. The needle on the speedometer hit 100. The other cars on the road stood still, but none of other cars were going to California and at this speed the Golden State was only thirty hours away.