Friday, March 31, 2017

GHOUL OF PARIS by Peter Nolan Smith

The 1980s were thirty years in the past from the 2010s and when I told stories, my listeners suspected that I was lying about jumping off the Quincy Quarries cliffs or nearly making love with Darryl Hannah in Jamaica or watching bears eat garbage at a dump in Maine.

Sometimes I wondered if they are right, but my memory was spot on about many things like how a Paris friend and his girlfriend would leave the Bains-Douches nightclub high on heroin to sleep in the cemetery of Pere Lachaise.

Guilhomme was a cold-wave musician. His lead singer Eric was squeamish at the sight of blood and tolerated Guilhomme for his talent at the keyboards. Their crow-black band never possessed a name. A model/friend from LA suggested Les Mortes D'Aube.

"I love The Dead of Dawn," Guilhomme trilled, since he resembled an unburied cadaver. His chubby copine was a Pigalle dancer with orange hair and skin as white as chalk. She dressed like an overfed cadaver, her dress in tatters. Sex had nothing to do with their relationship. He was gay and Claudine was asexual. Their love was drugs.

Neither junkie had money for a room, so every night they scaled the high stone walls of the Pere LaChaise Cemetery to squat in a tomb not far from Jim Morrison's grave.

"It's even closer to the plinth of Jean-François Champollion," Guilhomme told me one night, as if the name meant something.

"Who?"

“Champollion was the man who deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphics.” Guilhomme was enthralled by anything dead. His favorite band was Black Sabbath. “The Khedive of Egypt gave him the obelisks standing in Place de Concorde. It came from the Luxor Temple.”

“A smaller version is on his grave.” Claudine had dropped out of school at age 14. She admired Guilhomme for his brains. He was her tutor in all things good and bad.

“It's a nice tomb, but Mssr. Les Doors attracts too much of the wrong crowd." Guilhomme's snobbery was based on LA WOMAN than French pride.

"They wake us in the morning with their crying. Boohoo, Jim.

"And he isn't even dead. The cemetery workers tell me that the grave is empty."

"Ouais, Jim Le Grosse is eating cheeseburgers in Marbella." Claudine didn't like American pop stars either. She was in love with Jacques Dutronc.

"So who's the famous Frog buried in your crypt?" I asked with anger, since I loved the Doors' CRYSTAL SHIP.

"Frog?" Guilhomme looked blankly to Claudine. The French haven't a clue that we call them 'Frogs'.

"The dead person."

"There are a lot of bodies buried there. It's a family crypt, but none since 1919," answered Claudine.

"They must have been wiped out with the Spanish Flu." Guilhomme was making up a story and I was listening since it was almost the end of the night. "Their remains are cared for by neglect and that obscurity allows us to live in splendor."

"It's quiet in our crypt at night." Claudine was ready to leave.

"But not the cemetery." Guilhomme was waiting for his man. "We have to keep an eye open for grave robbers. They hunt for the bodies of the newly dead. Normally they only take the head, since it’s easier to hide in a bag than a corpse."

"Plus heads are 3000 new francs, while bodies are 5000 francs," Claudine said, then stop seeing Guilhomme's glare.

"We only go there to sleep."

"Like Dracula."

"No, more like the dead.” Guilhomme obviously loved the macabre atmosphere of the ancient graveyard and painted his fingernails black to hint at a frantic clawing from the depths of the dirt. "I love my sleep."

“The grave robbers are quieter than the devil worshippers on the full moons.”

"Ssssh."

"Sssssh what? It's true."

“They hold rites in the clear of the moon. They gather at special graves and dance to a music from another time. They ask us to join them. Naked. Sweating. Pagan. A knife slipping into a dog. I don't like them.” Guilhomme painted a tapestry of horror, tainted by the French people's love for their dogs.

“They scare me.” Claudine's breasts slipped in and out of her ragged attire. She sometimes worked the streets of Pigalle. Guilhomme liked to think of himself as her pimp.

“Do not worry.” He brandished a long stiletto. A cutlery shop sold them near Notre-Dame. “I will cut them first.”

“They are no fools.” Claudine knew the limits of Guilhomme’s protection. "The devil worshippers are many and the ghouls are even more."

"Let's go." Guilhomme spotted his Moroccan dealer. Ali worked all hours. "Come visit us and we'll show you the sights."

"Thanks." I had no interest in joining them. The stone walls of Pere Lachaise were fifteen feet high.

Guilhomme's sojourn in Pere Lachaise lasted a summer. The crypt offered cool comfort during the hot season. Autumn brought the damp and junkies hate the wet. The two broke up and Guilhomme went back to live with his parents in Versailles. Claudine disappeared completely. No one wanted to say where.

They were haute-class. His eccentricities were a family trait. He quit drugs and became a businessman, although Guilhomme disappeared over the weekends. Eric, his singer, said, "He still frequents Pere Lachise with the ghouls.

“I hope he grows out of it. It is so perverse.”

My 90s and 00s were spent in Asia, but in 2011 I hadn’t been in Paris my benefactor invited me to come down from my writing residence in Luxembourg to act as a translator for his trip to City of Lights.

We stayed at a four-star hotel on the Rue de Rivoli. Our meals were epicurean adventures. Our days were spent in galleries and museums. I called on old friends. Most of them were busy with work. A few met us for dinner. My benefactor made them very welcome. He ordered vintage wines and picked up the check. I had very little time to myself, but one morning I escaped to wander through the Marais.

The old Jewish quarter had changed in my absence. Stores were boutiques and my old hotel particular had become a townhouse. By midday I wanted a drink and headed over to Rue Vielle du Temple, hoping that the Le Petit Fer à Cheval was in business.

I was in luck. The small bar was a monument to the unchanging character of Paris. The bartender was old enough to have been serving ‘pression‘ thirty years ago and he greeted me with a nod, saying I was not a stranger.

Neither was the man in the black suit across the bar.

It was Guilhomme.

He hadn’t aged a day in thirty years and I checked for a reflection in the mirror before calling out his name.

He lifted off his sunglasses to grin with green teeth.

“L’Américain.”

“Good to see you.”

We exchanged fingernail bio of the last decades. He worked for a bank. He laughed to hear that I was writer in residence in Luxembourg.

“A boring town.”

“Boring is good at my age.” I had stolen too many people's share of excitement over the years.

“Tu a raison.” Guilhomme wore his years with a studied heaviness.

He ordered an absinthe.

I asked for a demi.

The other patrons of the bar sniffed the air.

Guilhomme’s dirty black suit smelled of the grave.

“Did you go to work today?”

“Are you with the tax man?” Nothing frightened a Frenchman more that an audit.

“No, just that you seem a little dusty.”

“Ah.” He lifted his sleeve to his nose. “You know it wasn’t me that liked the tomb. It was Claudine. She liked sleeping with the dead. She would take off their clothes and lie with them. She liked nothing better than to fondle their cold flesh. I think she even made love to some of them, but I never watched. Sex was not my thing.”

“And what happened to her.” I feared the worst.

“Claudine” He touched a tooth like he was searching for a morsel of yesterday’s meal stuck in a gap.

“She turned out like all women. She married a lesbian transvestite farmer and moved to the Haute Savoy to be a peasant. They had three enfants. I send them Christmas cards.”

“And you?” I didn't question any of the oddities of his last statement. Everything was within the bounds of normal with Guilhomme.

“Moi, I don’t sleep in Pere Lachaise anymore, but I like to lay on the ground before closing to remind me that we will all sleep in the dirt one of these days.”

“But not today.” I toasted the truth of his prediction, but Guilhomme had too much of the fragrance of death on him to be healthy and I drank down my beer fast. I didn't bother to say 'plus tard' and walked out of the cafe, my heart beating with life.

Later that evening at dinner I entertained my benefactor with a tale of the walking dead. My friends were thrilled by my encounter, but I neglected to mention Claudine’s love of the dead.

Some secrets are better left to the grave.

Especially about those about the living, because those secrets never die.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Johnny Rotten Separated At Birth

This week Johnny Rotten lost all his credibility by describing Brexit asshole Nigel Farage as “fantastic” and said that President Trump might be a “possible friend”.

The Sex Pistols singer later upped his ante on Virgin Radio by stating that the media was “trying to smear the bloke as a racist, and that’s completely not true. I didn’t expect to be misunderstood, I think I speak very clearly. America now has a new President and whether you like him or not you have to support him or you will destroy the country. You got to make things work.”

Rotten also asserted, “Trump’s got some serious money issues and business concerns that deeply fascinate all of us but to be smearing him as a racist, this isn’t right, there’s no evidence or proof to that and until there is, I’ll stand up and say that I think that’s wrong."

Strangely the two men have the different versions of the same asshole haircut.

I still love ANARCHY IN THE UK.

But Johnny Rotten is a bigger wanker than Sting.

And no one says it better than Uncyclopedia.com

http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Sex_Pistols

Fuckin' Wanker.

You were always a poseur.

Unlike Sid.

He is in Hell with his friends.

Fuck Heaven.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Heading To Virginia

Last Thursday I headed south to Virginia.

I was marrying Paige and Stephen.

In Richmond.

The bus ran at 70 through New Jersey.

It was a boring ride.

I hate Bruce.

I hate THE SOPRANOS.

I hate the Jersey Shore.

I fell asleep.

I woke up at the Delaware River.

I went back to sleep on the southern bank.

I-95 existed for ten miles in Delaware.

I skipped the rest stop.

The shitty pizza was $6.99

The Susquehanna sourced to the north.

It was the longest river on the East Coast.

The Latter-Day Saints performed their first rituals in its waters.

According to family legend I was related to Joseph Smith.

I never saw the resemblance.

Others including Mormons disagreed.

We were both New England born, but now I was entering the south.

Baltimore.

Home of Divine.

She was a slut.

We miss her so.

The Salt alps of Baltimore.

More sleep.

I rose from the dead in the South.

In Peterburg, VA.

In front of a rim shop.

I said nothing. There was no one to say anything to near midnight.

Only more rims.

Thanks For 1,000,000 Page Views

Over a million pageviews.

Probably most by robots or lost internet surfers.

But the 1-6-9 thanks you.

Fire thanks you.

The Chelsea Fire was better.

More fire thanks you.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Last Gasp

The American Civil War was fought for four long years. Someone should have negotiated a truce to spare the slaughter of Gettysburg and all the battles in a lost cause, but The Southerners fought to the bloody end and on March 25, 1865 the Rebels launched a final offensive against the siege lines facing Petersburg. The assault carried Fort Stedman in the darkness before the dawn.

According to Wikipedia Brevet Brig. Gen. Napoleon B. McLaughlen, the officer responsible for the Fort Stedman sector, heard the sounds of the attack, dressed quickly and rode to Fort Haskell, just to the south of Battery XII, which he found to be ready to defend itself.

As he moved north, McLaughlen ordered Battery XII to open fire on Battery XI and ordered a reserve infantry regiment, the 59th Massachusetts, to counterattack, which they did with fixed bayonets, briefly re-capturing Battery XI. Assuming that he had sealed the only breach in the line, McLaughlen rode into Fort Stedman. He recalled, "I crossed the parapet and meeting some men coming over the curtains, whom in the darkness I supposed to be part of the picket, I established them inside the work, giving directions with regard to position and firing, all of which were instantly obeyed."

He suddenly realized that the men he was ordering were Confederates and they realized he was a Union general, capturing him. He was taken back across no man's land and surrendered his sword personally to Gordon.

Within four hours the early triumph turned to a ghastly defeat.

Last Saturday morning I walked on the battlefield.

The dead, maimed, and unwounded last buried elsewhere.

Grass covered the ground.

Not the blood of 4,000 men.

Several days later the Federals broke into Petersburg.

General Robert E. Lee telegraphed President Jefferson Davis to flee and then retreated west in hopes of escape.

There was none.

Only Appomattox.

The Whites Of Mayberry

Several years ago Andy Griffith, star of stage and screen, passed away. The North Carolina native debuted as a hick comedian from the wrong side of the tracks and Griffith parlayed this success into a film career with critical hits in A FACE IN THE CROWD and NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS. A 1960 cameo role as a southern sheriff in Danny Thomas' MAKE ROOM FOR DADDY led to creation of THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, where his rural Solomon in Mayberry NC played straight man to his friend Don Knotts' portrayal of the hapless deputy Barney Fife. Ronny Howard was cast as his son Opie and for many black Americans no white boy could be whiter than Opie.

From 1961 to 1968 American sat in front of their TVs on Tuesday night to watch the rubes in action introduced by the song THE FISHIN' HOLE.

While THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW was filmed in black and white, not a single African-American character was shown in the series other than the rare background appearance of a passing Negro, for Mayberry was the South the way the South envisioned the South, if the South rose again and reinstated Dixie. There were no blacks on PETTICOAT JUNCTION, GREEN ACRES, or THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, since these shows were aired at the height of the Civil Rights Movement and offered the comfort of security to a White America.

One episode of THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW had a vignette in which none of the townspeople could explain what The Emancipation Proclamation might be, then again segregation in the South meant that blacks and whites kept to their own areas thanks to such welcome signs as NIGGER DON'T LET THE SUN LET ON YOUR ASS IN MAYBERRY.

At least the producers never featured a KKK segment.

Unless a viewer reads between the lines.

No matter what THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW was a classic and spun off GOMER PYLE.

They were funny in their own way and the wrinklies loved Griffith in MATLOCK.

He continues to be missed by his people.

ps there were no blacks on THE JETSONS or THE FLINTSTONES either.

To view Barney Fife Explaining The Emancipation Proclamation please go to the following URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yupu8DE6vzw\

The Debt Of A Nation

In 2011 Madame Ambassador phoned with the offer to be her 'unofficial writer in residence' at her posting in Mittel Europa and she asked, "Do you have an evening suit?"

"Of course," I replied without hesitation from my apartment in Fort Greene.

"Good, because you'll be needing it. There will be plenty of balls and galas," her aristocratic intonations painted a 'pas encore vu' vision of black ties and satin gowns.

"I'll be ready."

I was looking forward to formal affairs.

In America tuxedos are dragged out of the closet only for weddings.

No one wears them to funerals.

After hanging up on Madame Ambassador, I tried on my fifteen year-old evening suit and discovered my waist wedged into the trousers and the jacket was loose on my upper body. As I stood at the mirror, my roommate/landlord entered the top-floor apartment with a bong and asked, "Where are you going?"

"To Europe."

"Europe?"

I explained about my appointment. AP knew Madame Ambassador. He eyed my trousers.

"Does that hurt?"

"No," I wasn't giving him the pleasure of the truth, but the next day my tailor let out the waist an inch. The fit felt much better.

A month later I flew to Europe and unpacked my clothing into a closet atop the residence.

"Where's the evening suit?" Madame Ambassador smiled upon seeing my formal wear. "You clean up good. Next week is the military ball. I expect you to look your best."

The evening of the RAF gala I freshly showered, shaved, and shined my shoes to a gleam.

"You clean up good."

Madame Ambassador was pleased to have a well-attired escort. She was no longer with her husband. The civilian guests conjectured about our relationship. It has been purely platonic for thirty years. The military were more circumspect with their assumptions and I drank with colonels, captains, and naval commanders. The head general of the host nation sat at our table. His glorious dress uniform shamed me, but he was a man used to the admiration of his troops and we spoke about the Civil War and Joshua Chamberlain's bayonet charge at Gettysburg.

The gala had a raffle to benefit its charity. I bought several tickets. The general discreetly tapped my shoulder and asked for 20 Euros. I slipped a blue bill under the table and he winked his thanks.

Generals like the very wealthy, royalty, and poor people don't carry money.

None of our tickets were winners and later I told to the UK military attache of my loan to the general.

"How much was it?" The commander pulled out his wallet.

"20 euros." About $27 and I waved my hand in refusal. "But that's fine. I like the idea of a general owing me money. Especially the head of the army."

Madame Ambassador and I joked about this debt and the story became funnier over the next months, for I ran into the general on several occasions without his reaching into his pocket. Once at a military ball, we spoke for several seconds and he held out his hand. I thought that he might be cuffing 20 euros in secret, but his hand was empty.

After he walked away, I scratched my head. I owed money to my friends for a long time. If I have it in my pocket, I pay them. Obviously the military have a different set of rules, then again I never asked for the 20, because I hold the debt of his nation in the palm of my hand.

The missing 20 Euros felt like good luck.

I hope the EEU feels the same about their debt.

SOUTH OF THE POTOMAC by Peter Nolan Smith


My St. Patrick's Day of 2011 ended at Frank's Lounge on Fulton Street. Everyone at the bar knew my name and well they should, because I was the token white just like that Paul Benedict's character in nearly all-black TV show THE JEFFERSONS.

Audience laughed hard whenever Mr. Jefferson slammed the door in the kindly Englishman's face. Harry Bentley never showed any rancor and neither do I at Frank's Lounge.

Since Day One I haven't heard any of the regulars speaking badly behind my back, for they have the courage to speak their mind to my face.

Around 8pm I bought a round for the bar. It was the right thing to do.

"I knew Old Irish would show up here on St. Patrick's Day," Homer crowed in his thick Delta accent.

"This is my home away from home." My apartment was only two blocks distant from my favorite stool. I wasn't working the next day and I told Homer about traveling to Virginia in the morning to visit a sick friend. "Ms. Carolina lives on the Northern neck of Virginia."

"Where's that at?" Homer hailed from Philadelphia, Mississippi. He left that town after the police telling his momma that they wanted to speak to him. The year of that midnight departure was 1953. I was one year old at the time.

"Someplace east of I-95." My geography of that region was limited to a teenage trip to Virginia Beach with my parents in 1966. "The Tidewater."

"Cracker and peckerwood territory." Homer shook his head. He swore that he had no trouble with white folks in the Delta, but said, "You be careful how you speak. They don't have the same ideas as you do."

Two white boys had been murdered with James Chaney, a black man from Meridian, Mississippi in 1964.

It wasn't far from Philadelphia.

"Thanks for the warning." I lifted my hand and ordered another round.

I got home at midnight and set the alarm for 7AM.

A southbound bus was leaving from Chinatown at 8. My bag was already packed with two days of clothing and I fell into bed like a bag of mashed potatoes. It had been a good St. Padraic's Day and I slept like the dead.

But not for long.

6:54AM I opened my eyes. It was dark outside my window. Dawn was another hour away. Sweet sleep beckoned from the softness of my pillows. I resisted the siren call and left the house within minutes.

I made the 8AM bus with enough time to buy a bacon sandwich from the Chinese bakery. The bus departed on time for Washington DC, the nation's capitol.

We arrived on time.

I rented a car at Ronald Reagan Airport. The drive to North Cape Point was 120 miles. The speed limit was 55. The traffic inched along the highway. I was stuck in the belly of the Fairfax County traffic monster.

Once off 95 there were no stoplights. I visited the Fredericksburg battlefield for a half-hour. The day was getting late. I had been on the road almost ten hours. I drove a little over the limit. County troopers manned speed traps. They weren't catching me for nothing.

North Point Cape was 20 miles from the main road. Fallow fields were blue with ragweed. Winter weed was a thick carpet of green. The land dropped under my wheels and I entered the tidewater.

A land of marshy inlets and crooked tidal flows.

My phone service died two miles from my destination. Ms. Carolina and her husband waited at the door. She was as blonde as the first night I met her in New York. If I took off my glasses, she would be as young too. Her husband was a tall gentleman for whom looks had never been a problem even at 80. Ms. Carolina and Hal had been together 35 years. It showed with their every gesture.

Dinner was on the table.

My last food had been that Chinese croissant.

Hal put a drink in my hand.

>Dewar's Scotch.

Ms. Carolina served a plate of corned beef and cabbage.

"I know it isn't St Patrick's day, but who's counting."

Not me."

The meal was delicious. Hal and I conversed about hitchhiking, fathers, the death of our brothers, and his career as a gynecologist in the Bible Belt.

"Two people I can't stand are Catholics and Jehovah Witnesses. Both are idiots when it comes to the matter of birth control and a woman's health."

"I'm a Catholic and I agree with you too." My faith had been abandoned in my teens.

After dinner we walked onto the dock extending a hundred feet into the river. The air was soft as summer. No mosquitoes buzzed in our ears. Ms. Carolina hadn't spoken much during the evening. Hal had dominated the conversation. She seemed to favor her right side. I blamed it on her last chemo session.

"That's the last of winter, I think." I was forever optimistic. "If it's this warm tomorrow I'll jump into the river."

"Crazy-ass Northerner." Ms. Carolina's husband had met a caravan of his wife's friends. Most were a little eccentric. I was rumored to be the most of the lot. She and I had traveled the world; Maine, Peru, Guatemala, and the Far West. People said we were lovers. They knew nothing. Friends for the road. Ms. Carolina was a good companion on the road.

'Only in a good way. My people fought at St. Mary's Heights." The battle lasted most of the winter afternoon. 20,000 Union soldiers had been killed during the assault on a fortified ridge. Pure suicide. "I stood there today. They were lucky crazy ass-Northerners."

"Not like Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg." The Civil War was far from over in the South.

"No, the 20th Maine stopped the Texas and Alabama from taking Little Big Rock." My recollection of that fateful day's history depended on a faulty memory. "Joshua Chamberlain ordered a "right-wheel forward" maneuver. The ensuing bayonet charge saved the day and the Union."

Hal muttered a curse under his breath. He was a serious church-goer. A doctor for women too. He supported a woman's right for choice and birth control. A man of contradictions. I liked him fine. He was a true Man of the South.

I believed in no god. Ms. Carolina was in the hands of fate. I could tell by the way that she favored her right side.

On the walk back to the river house Ms. Carolina told me the worst. She had six months to a year to live.

It was something that I didn't want to believe.

Back on the unlit porch Hal, Ms. Carolina, and I watched the rising of the moon over the Potomac River. A silver disc spread a scalloped path of light into heaven. We retired into the house for a last drink or two. Hal and I discussed our president. He used the n-word more than an entire CD-rack of ghetto rap hits.

"You think Obama is a Muslim?" I had voted for the president twice in 2008. Once in the East Village and another time on an absentee ballot from Thailand, following the venerable Tammany Hall adage, "Vote early, vote often.'

"100%." Hal was a die-hard GOP supporter.

"And he is a member of Al-Quada."

"I don't know about that."

"Well, what if he change his first name to Al for Al-Quada."

"And why would he do that?" Ms. Carolina fell for my trap.

"Because then he would be Alobama and the state of Alabama would vote for him."

"He won enough southern states thanks to the black vote." Hal conceded 2008 without a recount. The contest for 2012 was still in the air.

"You know what Ford's agricultural secretary gave as the reason for why Lincoln's party didn't get the black vote?"

"Earl Butz?" asked Hal.

Yes, he came from Indiana. The Hoosiers backed the KKK big in the 1920s and Earl said, "I'll tell you what the coloreds want. It's three things: first, a tight pussy; second, loose shoes; and third, a warm place to shit. I understood the comments about sex and the outhouse, but he lost me on the loose shoes."

"Me too." Hal and I had more than Ms. Carolina in common. He was only 80. I was 58. The generation gap meant less now than it did in 1975. "Still like his saying about the Pope's opposition to contraception."

""He no playa the game, he no maka the rules." Hal proved his memory was as good as mine. We toasted the past and bid each other goodnight. Ms. Carolina went to her first-floor room. Hal had his room on the other side of the house.

"Hal snores like an out-of-control jack hammer."

"I'm like a truck stuck on ice." I took after my dearly departed father.

"The you two will snore in harmony."

Only the living room separated us.

"Sleep well, dream better." Ms. Carolina smiled with warmth. She was with her husband and an old traveling companion. Not many people came this far off the track to see her. Hal and I sat up watching NCAA basketball. I switched to wine and killed half a bottle. At 10 we called it a night.

"Thanks for coming down. She can use some cheering up." Hal intoned that he didn't want to discuss her health and I respected his feelings on that matter. We retreated to our bedrooms. It was very quiet and remained that way for the rest of the night

My telephone was out of range. My computer had no signal. This was the end of the world. All roads to somewhere other than here and I lay on the mattress with a heavy head. Ms. Carolina looked okay. Fenway's mom knew that I was in the hicks or ban-nok as the Thais called the boondocks. I read two pages of A SAVAGE CITY.

A history of racist courts, police corruption, and black power revolution on the late-60s. The true explanation of the Summer of Love. My reincarnated youth existed for a couple of minutes. The full moon burned through my curtains. I felt like the Wolfman without a demon inside me. The book fell on my chest. Sleep was my paradise and I drifted into the clouds. There was no other place to go at this time of night in North Point Cape.

The morning started late. I woke and went back to sleep. Everyone else in the house was on a similar wavelength. I finally got out of bed and walked to the end of the dock. The warmth had departed from the wind. The temperature was below 50. Hal joined me with his dog.

"Cruiser's bigger than I recall."

"A cross between a wolf-hound and a mastiff."

"Nice puppy." I recounted the tale of my taking care of a crackhouse Airedale in Palm Beach. Pom Pom had weighed 95 pounds. She was on the hit list for bad dogs. I cured her insanity with beer on her Kibbles. Drunk dogs don't pick fights. Hal wasn't impressed with my story and asked, "You still thinking about going in the Potomac?"

"Not this instant."

"Thought so."

Ms. Carolina called us to the table.

Blueberry pancakes and bacon.

Corn syrup instead of maple.

I said nothing.

North Point was 600 miles from Vermont.

After breakfast Hal drove us on a tour of the area. Beaches, houses, fields for hunting, new forests, a cousin's estate on the shore, the burial ground of Lee's family, he never stopped talking. Manny liked to say that he had never met anyone who could speak more than me, but I had to admit Hal had me beat.

I heard about his Navy career in Key West and Norfolk, playing sports during high school, his father's work as a car dealer.

"He had no cars. Only a book. People would come to his office and order a new car. A week later it was there. Daddy worked hard."

Hal had read a book on mine. NORTH NORTH HOLLYWOOD. A tale about a New York hustler forced into a contract hit by two dirty cops. He fakes the murder and escapes into Death Valley with two lesbians making a movie about the last man of Earth. I thought that novel was going to make me famous.

"Porno. That's what I remember about that book."

"I gave the book to an agent. Her husband read it in a day. They had sex three times in a row. "Great." I said, but the agent told me that she was divorcing her husband. End of NORTH NORTH HOLLYWOOD."

Ms. Carolina promoted my writing. I'm beyond that task. After a lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches I looked at the dock.

"If not now, never."

"You are going in the river?"

"In three minutes." I changed into my shorts and white tee-shirt. I met Hal and Ms. Carolina on the dock. The wind was stiff from the north. The water looked cold. There was only one way of doing this and I handed my camera to Ms. Carolina.

"Record this."

After several words I leaped off the dock. A ten-foot drop into the river. It wasn't cold. It was freezing. I swam to the ladder like a survivor from the Titanic. The distance was only twenty feet. My feet lost feeling. My fingers grew numb. Ms. Carolina waited at the top of the steps with a towel.

"You are one crazy ass northerner." Hal shook his head.

"That is right."

Ms. Carolina laughter and her laughter was tonic to my ears, for laughter is the magic of life. Back in the house she reminded me about the doctor's prognosis.

"Six months." She lifted her shirt. The cancer had erupted on her skin. Tumors covered the right side of her chest. She dropped the shirt and I gave her a soft hug.

"You will always be beautiful to me."

Hal stood in the doorway.

"And me too." He was playing it tough.

Both of us were.

Tears were for a year away from now.

"Let's have a drink."

Whiskey and wine.

A good talk about life.

We were friends.

Until the end.

And for friends there was no place else to go on the North Point that evening.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Battle of the Crater

On July 30, 1864 Union miners lit a massive bomb underneath Confederate lines defending the transportation center, Petersburg. The mine of 320 kegs of gunpowder comprised of 8,000 pounds and were buried twenty feet below the trenches. The explosion killed several hundred Southern troops and wounded many more, however the Union attack was delayed, giving the survivors of the blast time to rally their forces and throughout the morning the Rebels shoot pointblank down into the crater at the heaving mass of Federal soldiers, black and white. The attack was called off, but not before Mars had reaped his crop of death.

So much slaughter over such a small piece of ground.

170 feet (52 m) long, 100 to 120 feet (30 to 37 m) wide, and at least 30 feet (9 m) deep.

Over 5000 casualties, mostly Northern.

Grant wrote to Chief of Staff Henry W. Halleck, "It was the saddest affair I have witnessed in this war."

The killing ground is now covered by grass.

And the dead are at rest.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Siege Of 45

The Trump White House has portrayed the first two month's of 45's presidency as a complete success. 220,000 jobs have been added, $100 billion have been shaved from the national debt, and Trump has claimed progress in the war against the Islamic fundamentalists, ISIS.

The President has replaced his old phone to broaden the reach of his executive missive.

The Mainstream Media has earned his wrath.

"Just heard Fake News CNN is doing polls again despite the fact that their election polls were a WAY OFF disaster. Much higher ratings at Fox."

His accusations of leaks are aimed at the other branches of the government.

"The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!"

His grasp of diplomacy flipflops with his attention span.

"Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!"

And let's not forget his No Health Care Plan.

"Great progress on healthcare. Improvements being made - Republicans coming together!"

Needless to say Trump triumphs over all.

What a man.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Johnny Rotten Lives

In the winter of 1977 GOD SAVE THE QUEEN hit the jukebox of CBGB's. Punk had gone international. The song was #1 on the UK charts without getting airplay and the Sex Pistols further immortalized the hit by playing the nihilistic anthem on a Thames River cruise. The band never performed in New York, but the words to ANARCHY IN THE UK were an anthem for us all.

"I wanna be anarchy."

31 years later Johnny Rotten came out of seclusion to call Sting a "soggy old dead carcass".

This on-the-mark outburst came as the Sex Pistols prepared for a one-off gig to mark the 30th anniversary of their album NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS and he continued to lambastE Sting as saying: "You know listening to Stink try to squeak through Roxanne one more time, that's not fun. It's like letting air out of a balloon."

Johnny 'Old' Rotten also commented that drug-taking was "a bit old fart".

I had snorted a line of blow with him and Judy Nylon at the Mudd Club.

One line.

Not an old fart then, because in 1980 cocaine was cocaine and not the industrial powder of today.

From his approaching senior citizenship perch Johnny Lydon also commented of Amy Winehouse's and Pete Doherty's drug problems, he said: "You know you can use drugs for entertainment, but you should be quiet about it. That shouldn't be your centre showpiece. There's not much going on in their head with them. They're not thinking. They're not doing this for the right reasons. They obviously don't enjoy what they're doing. And that's why you turn to drugs. And that's what happened with Sid Vicious, he wasn't happy about what he couldn't do."

A lot of people say that Johnny abandoned Sid, but the movie THE FILTH AND THE FURY reveals the friendship and love between the two band members. The Sex Pistols existed for a short time, but their influence can be measured by how many Thai kids wear Sid tee-shirts and it's only because they're black. They know exactly who he was.

To hear the Sex Pistols - God Save the Queen - YouTube, please go to the following URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvMxqcgBhWQ

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

EVES IN THE FLESH

In the winter of 1995 I was sitting at my desk in the diamond exchange, when Scottie Taylor phoned from LA.
"How you doing?"
"Great, I'm opening a Milk Bar in Beverly Hills. How'd you like to be the doorman?" The ex-lightweight mentioned the numbers. The salary was on par with what I earned selling diamonds for Manny on West 47th Street.
"What's the weather like?" Gray snow covered the sidewalks of the Diamond District and icy slush filled the gutters. The temperature hovered well below freezing. Business was dead this time of year and I calculated that I could double my salary on tips at an LA nightclub.
"Sunny."
"Any rain?" This time of year Pacific monsoons splashed the Santa Monica Mountains and transformed the yellow slopes to gold.
"Sometimes, but not enough to cause any floods."
"We got a place to live?" I had never lived in California.
"A pool house in North Hollywood. My friend Dennis owns it and a go-go club too."
"Go-Go bar?" I had been a big supporter of the exotic arts ever since frequenting Boston's Naked I in 1970 and honestly preferred stripping to ballet.
"Best in LA. Every morning the girls come over to touch up their tan."
"Naked?"

Who?

Several years ago Dannatt and I attended a party for Interview Magazine in hopes of speaking with their managing editor. Glenn was an old timer like myself. I had once threw him out of a nightclub.

This evening's soiree was held at an unfinished hotel.

Very unfinished.

The crowd before the entrance of the construction site was 10 deep. I slid through the expectant entrees and said I was on the list as Johnny Justice.

"We were wondering who you were." The black-clad press secretary pointed me out to her friends.

"That's me. International man of mystery."

Two steps into the work site I was forgotten. My friend Dannatt and I whisked up to the top floor for sushi, champagne, and conversation. Glenn was surrounded by his coterie. I got a wave and went to the bar. After an hour I heard the call of my pumpkin truck.

I shared the service elevator down with a beautiful blonde in jeans. She was in a panic about claustrophobia.

"I hate elevators."

"They were very terrifying in TOWERING INFERNO." I had sat in the second row of the Ziegfield Theater for that film. The inferno was very towering at that distance from the screen.

"I hate that film." She rushed into the corner elevator, face buried in the padding.

"This one is okay."

"How do you know?"

"Because empty elevator never crash>"

She shddered upon hearing my say 'crash, but on the ground floor she regained her composure. I held the door open with my hand. Afterwards Adrian said, "That's Stephanie Seymour."

"Who?" The name meant something.

"The Victoria Secrets model." Dannatt rolled his eyes at my ignorance.

Five years out of the country does wonders to your celebrity antennae.

"Her boyfriend is building the hotel."

"Fabulous." It sounded like the right thing to say.

I shook hands with Dannatt and took the subway to Brooklyn. No top models on my arm. No limo. No penthouse. Just the A train heading to Lafayette Street.

Cross Country 1996

In the late summer of 1996 I left Bali for America. My good friend Slim met me at LAX in her Studebaker Lark. On the way to Hollywood the native Californian told me that she had fallen in love with an artist in New York."

"That's good news, except it's 3000 miles from here."

"I know and that's why I'm driving there in two days."

"In this car?" The '61 Lark was a classic with a V8 engine.

"Yes, you want to be co-pilot?"

"I have nothing keeping me in LA."

My funds were running low and agreed to join her, but asked, “Are we in a hurry?”

“Not really. I've never driven cross country.

"Then maybe we might a few detours."

I had a hankering to see Monument Valley in person rather than in a John Wayne movie.

"Short detours.When was the last time you cross the country?"

"1975." America had been a different country.

"You old hippie." Slim smiled and stepped on the gas. The 289 was tuned for speed and we headed into the Malibu Hills

"You got that right." And I still was a hippie in many ways. I believed in love and asked, "So what about this guy in New York?"

Slim navigated the traffic on the Ventura Freeway.

"When are we leaving?"

"Tomorrow I'm having a good-bye party. We'll leave when all the beer is gone."

"Then you're behind the wheel first." I liked my drink.

"I wouldn't have it any other way."

Slim and I spoke about Paris on the drive to her bungalow off Melrose.

The summer of 1984 we had met at the Bains-Douches.

The ex-model and I were simply friends.

In my 40s I had long come to appreciate women as friends instead of lovers.

Even in the City of Light.

The next morning I surfed with her brothers in Ventura. Joe and Pat were two of Slim's seven siblings and the they had known the Pacific since they were children.

"Watch out for the shore break," shouted Joe.

A wave thunked me to the sand and I crawled onto the beach.

My Surf City day was over quick.

The waves at Little Rincon were bigger, thicker, and colder than Bali, but the brothers didn't let me drown.

That evening Slim and I drove to the bon-voyage party in Hollywood.

The Hills above Malibu was Slim's spiritual home.

Just not now.

She was in a New York State of mind.

The surf waved good-bye from the Pacific.

Friends and family came to say good-bye. Slim said that she wasn't leaving forever, "Only a real long time."

For love and I said, "Don't worry, Meg will always be a Californian."

"Why?" asked her brother Joe.

"Because no one born outside the five boroughs will ever be a New Yorker."

"I've been there over twenty years and I remain a New Englander."

My accent said Down East or South Shore and that would never change."

"I lived in shack on a wooden pier jutting into Gloucester Harbor. It smelled of fish. Always. Nothing like that in New York."

"Cobb lives on the North Shore."

She mentioned the town and Cobb's last name. His people didn't speak to people from the South Shore, but Slim extolled the sculptor's virtue. Cobb sounded like a good guy and I toasted her good luck.

Better her than me.

Around midnight Slim kissed, embraced, and hugged the guests, then called her beau once more. I sat in the passenger seat and Slim got behind the wheel. She waved to everyone and five minutes later we were on the highway.

Heading east.

Night traffic through the valley was light and I asked, "You mind if I sleep for a little?"

"Not at all." Slim turned on the radio. A Mexican station from the desert played Selena's NO ME QUEDA MAS.

I laid my head against the glass and closed my eyes on LA to dream about lands south of the border.

By dawn we were in the desert. The radio was playing Reba's THE HEART IF A LONELY HUNTER.

Only a few cars and trucks were on the highway.

Slim drove the Lark at 80.

"I thought we weren't in a hurry."

"You really want to go slow through this?"

We were surrounded by sand, brushes, and rocks.

"No, I guess not. Where are we anyway?"

"South of Victorville."

"Damn, I got stuck there hitchhiking in 1974. My friend and I took a bus and ended up in Needles. It was 117 in the shade."

"It gets like that out here."

"Then step on it."

Slim did just that and the Lark kept pace with her desire to be in New York with her man.

We avoided Las Vegas and headed over to Zion Canyon.

There was nothing like the sandstone canyon back East.

Steep cliffs climbed into the heavens. I wanted to take a hike up the trail and Slim argued for moving on.

"We might never come this way again."

"You're right. A small hike on the canyon floor."

"Thanks."

We walked into a narrow defile. A stream trickled through the stone. Slim took photos.

The wind washed over the sandstone.

Meg looked at her watch.

I turned to leave rather than her say we had to go.

That night we stayed on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The room had twin beds. It had been a long day and after dinner we walked out to the edge of the expanse.

"I was on the South Rim in 1972."

"A hippie?"

I thought I looked like Jimmy Page. No one else did.

"That's me, although I cut my hair in 1975. Some girl said my head looked like a thatched roof."

"Not an attractive look."

"You got that right."

We returned to the motel and fell asleep fast.

In the morning we continued east through the badlands and I posed as Rodin's 'The Thinker'.

"Don't show that to your beau?"

"Not a chance."

We were friends, but most men hate their girlfriends' and wives' male friends.

I liked the weird rock formations.

They were everywhere.

At noon we approached the Vermillion Cliffs and stopped at a historical marker, stating that the Spanish explorer Francisco Coronado's expedition had come this way in the 1500s.

"I wonder what they did for water."

"Sucked stones until they reached the Colorado."

"Only an hour behind us."

It was getting hot and there was no water in sight.

"By car. By horse or on foot three days. We could be in New York in three days."

She got back behind the wheel. I sat with the map, plotting the route.

The Lark ran smooth and the road was smoother. Slim drove faster. She was deeply in love and wanted to be with Cobb.

I thought about her desire to be with someone. I had just circled the globe. I had seen millions of people. None of them were for me.

The evening sky was going purple, as we arrived in Kayenta, Arizona, capitol of the Navaho nation. The windblown town looked like Mars 100 years after a failed terra-forming experiment. Slim wanted to stop at the hotel. I said that we could get a room nearer Monument Valley.

"It'll be great waking there in the morning."

After the sunset darkness dropped like a stone.

"Are you sure there's room up ahead?"

"Monument Valley is a destination. The motel there has to have rooms."

I was wrong. Everything was booked for miles.

We returned to Kayenta for gas and food. Slim was not happy. She got out at the pump and call Cobb from a phone booth. We barely spoke during our meal.

"So what's the plan?"

"We sleep in the car."

"Where?"

"Out in the desert or we keep driving until we find a motel."

"I'm done driving and I want to see the valley in the morning."

"Okay." I paid for our meals and we got back in the Lark.

After dinner Slim handed me the keys.

"Find us someplace."

I drove out into the valley and pulled off the road on hard-packed sand.

"Do you think this is safe?"

Safe as anywhere else." Even I was spooked by the high plains blackness.

"Please don't ask if I think we're the only ones out there? I'm not in the mood for a talk about ETs."

"Sure." I hadn't seen any aliens since living New York.

Slim folded down the driver's seat. I followed her lead. There was only one blanket. She wasn't sharing it with me. The temperature dropped into the 50s.

"Thanks for this." Slim broke her silence.

"You think I wanted this? I'm coming for Asia. There are motels everywhere. Here there's none."

"You got that right."

She pulled up the blanket and I shivered myself to sleep, but I woke in the middle of the night and got out of the Studebaker. I needed to pee.

A billion stars spread across the heaven and I went back to the car, happy to be alive. Slim was sleeping. I tried to do the same, but nights were cold in the desert.

The Valley was even more desolate with the dawn and Slim said, "You're up."

I made good time on 163.

To the San Juan River.

We ate breakfast at Mexican Hat.

Slim was not talkative and went to the telephone to call Cobb.

She returned with a smile.

"All good?"

"It will be, " Meg explained how she was stealing Cobb away from wicked girlfriend.

"My money's on you."

"Then start driving like you were in love."

"Yes, M'am."

I hit 100 on 191 and we joined 161 and head east towards the Rockies.

A Mercedes had been totaled outside Bluff.

I slowed down to asked, if the driver needed help.

"No, the tow truck is coming." He was a middle aged man with a cowboy hat.

"Suit yourself." I couldn't see what he had hit or how.

A half-mile down the road Slim asked, "How you think that happen?"

"Certainly not another, so I'm guessing driver error." Nothing else made any sense.

"Please try not to do the same."

Slim loved her Lark, although not as much as Chris.

You got it." I hadn't had an accident in over ten years.

And that had been in Paris.

Before noon we stopped at the Ananazi cliffside ruins. This site had supported over two thousand inhabitants. The city had been abandoned the site a century before Coronado's expedition. Now there were only tourists.

"Where they all go?"

"No one knows. There are no native legends about the tribe. Modern historian theorize that there was a long drought and the people migrated to a river." I felt no ghosts. After an hour we were ready to go. Slim wanted to drive. "I'm hearing something in the engine."

"I didn't hear a thing."

"It's not your car.

Heading into the Rockies it was obvious something was wrong with the Hawk's carborator. A mechanic fixed it in Durango. Slim called Cobb. They spoke on the phone for a long time.

"I wish we were on the highway."

New York was about 2000 miles from here.

"We'll be on one as soon as we're out of the mountains."

"Tomorrow?"

"Yes."

My trip around the world was coming to an end.

We stayed the night in Durango.

The snow pack had lasted through the summer.

The next day we cross the Continental Divide.

Rivers flowed to the Atlantic from here.

We passed old mines.

I thought about swimming in a stream. The water seemed clean, but a sign warned of toxic chemicals from the mine tailings.

Mining had been its life blood.

Now the quaint town struck gold with tourists.

We kept going.

We reached I-80 outside of Vail. Slim was ready to make time and we were in the Great Plains within the hour. Everything from here on in was basically downhill.

People honked at us. They loved seeing the Studebaker. We waved back.

Slim's foot remained heavy on the accelerator.

"No stops."

"What about food and gas."

"That's all we need." Slim was living strictly on love.

I fought to take the back roads.

Slim was having none of it.

You want to see the country. Hitchhike."

I've done it before."

"You want to do it today?"

"No."

I wanted to be in New York too.

We listened to radio and she asked about my trip to the Orient. I told her about London, Paris, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Bali.

"All around the world." I took a photo of a drive-in. No one went to them anymore.

"My fourth time."

You think you will ever settle down?"

"I guess this is just my way of settling down."

"The Wanderer?"

Truck stops were the only civilization off the Interstates.

Long-distance trucks were driven by kings of the road.

We crossed the Mississippi stopping only to put our feet in the Father of All Waters for good luck. Slim's mind was set on 'go'.

Meg wanted to see the Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana. It was out of our way.

I convinced her to skip it and instead we swam in Lake Michigan.

The Ojibwa considered Mishigami as great water. They had no word for the ocean.

Slim and I didn't have one either.

We had no reason to stop in Detroit and continued across Ontario to Niagara Falls.

We would have kept driving, except the Studebaker had a flat. The mechanic told us to wait in the diner. Slim entered first.

The patrons had never seen someone as tall as her and their eyes followed her every steps of her flipflops slapping against the floor on her way to the Ladies room. We slept that night in a hotel on the Canadian side of the Falls.

Twin beds.

New York was across the river. We had run out of states.

The Lark had done its job.

We were in the Catskills.

New York was less than one-hundred miles away.

We arrived in Soho at sunset.

I retrieved my bag from the trunk.

"Happy?"

"I will be soon."

Cobb met us at Lucky Strike. He took one look at me and figured the worst. He was wrong. Slim and I were just friends, but the two were in love.

I thanked Slim for the ride and left the restaurant to go to my apartment on East Tenth Street.

My key turned the lock.

I sat in my living room and shuffled through six months of mail.

None of it was important and I turned on the TV.

Sometimes this place was home and tonight was one of them.