Wednesday, May 24, 2017

FREE THE WORLD

In 2011 gold soared to record prices and every day a steady flow of customers entered our diamond exchange on West 47th Street to sell their precious jewelry and family heirlooms. They were of all ages, nationalities, and races. Most of them were honest, but buying stolen merchandise or swag was a crime. Richie Boy, his father Manny, and I didn't care who they are as long as they possess a valid ID for our police records. None of us were young men and we had too little to gain from doing the wrong thing, when we could churn out a 5% profit.

Our first question to these sellers was, “Who much do you want?”

Most of them said that they don’t know, but they all had a final price.

"Let me check it out." I ignored their feigned ignorance and tested the gold for karat and weight.

We calculated everything in pennyweights or 1/20th of an ounce. The Middle Age measurement confused the buyer, but we always handed them a slip of paper from a adding machine. Everything was in black and white.

The final price was determined by the market value of an ounce of gold, which fluctuated day to day.

In 2011 the price soared toward $2000/oz.

Weight and carat determined the scrap worth of gold.

We paid nothing for sentimental value.

Our firm had a good reputation for paying the most on the street.

"We only make 5% on this."

It was the truth, but some pieces could be flipped for more, especially diamond rings.

Late in the summer a young man of Semitic descent approached my counter. He had a few diamond ring in a bag. They were relics of a ruined romance.

After settling on a price of $1500, I advised the young man to buy something for himself.

“Paying off bills does not soothe a broken heart.”

“Yes, but for $1500 you can buy a good used motorcycle. Let me see your ID.” I took his driver’s license.

His name was Arab andI entered it in the police book.

“Are you from Iraq?”

“No, Palestine.” Mohammed spoke flawless English. His father had grocery stores in Queens. He was running three of them.

“Palestine is a forbidden name on this street.” 47th Street was predominantly Jewish.

They backed Israel right or wrong and Israel could do no wrong in their eyes. I was a goy. I had my own beliefs.

"It's my country"

"I'm half-Irish. My people lived under the British for four hundred years. “I can only say one thing.”

“Which is?” He was used to America’s prejudice against Palestine.

The movie EXODUS had blue-eyed Paul Newman as a member of the Zionist terrorist gang and a young blonde Jill Haworth as a kibbutz farmer. There were no Hassidim in the film.

Only tough white-skinned fighters.

“Free Palestine.” I had a tee-shirt in my closet stating the same slogan.

I raised my fist, the accepted sign of world revolution.

“Good, but it is better to free the world.” Mohammed smiled and accepted his money.

“I’ll think about that bike and you think about the world.”

“I’ll do that.” I leaned away from the counter slightly stunned.

I had been taught an important lesson by this young man.

A simple lesson.

All politics that are local are also global.

They effect everyone.

Everywhere.

Free Palestine.

Free the World.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hypocrisy Of The Endless War

A bomber struck a Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Over twenty young people were killed by the explosion.

The destruction was horrific.

Young innocents.

Dead.

Why?

Israel attacking a Palestine beach.

Yemeni children killed by a drone missile strike ordered by Obama.

Bloody Sunday by the Brits.

When will there be peace.

28-3 / Go Celtics

I am a die-hard Boston Celtics fan.

I listened on the radio to their games in the late 1950s.

I watched the Green on TV in the 1960s.

I still consider Bill Russell the greatest player ever in the NBA.

I was lucky enough to see their battles at Boston Garden in the 70s.

Hondo, Cowens, Silas, Jo-Jo, Don Nelson.

I loved that team and they beat the Bucks to win a 12th Championship for the Celtics.

The Bird years.

The Big Three.

And now the new team.

Blown out twice by the Cavs.

Isiah Thomas out for game 3.

Then they fuck Cleveland at home.

An LA friend asked for my prediction.

"Celts in 6."

"How?"

"28-3."

"28-3?"

I can't even remember who the Patriots beat in the Superbowl other than they blew out their lungs and had nothing left for the 4th quarter.

28-3.

Go Green.

Monday, May 22, 2017

NIGHT ON THE TOWN


Back in 2012 I was in Thailand. I no longer resided in Pattaya. Too many Russians, retirees, and I preferred Sriracha up the coast, where I lived with my son Fenway and his beautiful Mom. Sriracha was a totally Thai town and I was comfortable drinking beer with Mam and playing with my son, but Mam understood my need to see old friends and one night I received a phone call from Ed. The Hollywood real estate broker had just divorced his wife in LA and needed a guide to the go-go bars of Pattaya.

"Go see your friend. But not see any women." Mam kissed me good-night at the bus stop on Sukhumvit. Fenway eyed his father with suspicion. The two year-old had no reason to worry. My body and soul belonged to his mother.

"I'll be back early." The sun was setting in the Gulf of Siam. I would be at the Buffalo Bar by 7. Ed couldn't be fussy after 25 years with the same woman. "Before midnight."

"Ha." Mam knew men better than me. "Come home when you want."

"Pai." Fenway waved me onto the bus. I blew him a kiss and he wiped his cheek with a smile. He was a good jokester.

The ride to Pattaya Klang took 30 minutes. The motorsai taxi was another five minutes to the Buffalo Bar. Ed sat with the owner, Eddy. She was my age and looked older. Jamie Parker was by his side. We all knew each other from New York in the 80s.

“Ed thought I was dead.”

“I heard more than one version of your death.” Ed and Jamie had been bad boys at Max's Kansas City.

“None close to true.” Jamie had been a good boy in Pattaya. Most of the time. He excused himself to speak with the owner. We ordered beer. The first was good the second cold. Used to Manhattan prices, Ed laughed at the bill. “The girls in here seem friendly.”

“Friendly as Fereghinis.” Thais bore no physical resemblance to most venal of Star Trek races. They were more beautiful than any woman on Melrose and twice as thin.

“I thought we were farangs.” Ed ordered two drinks for the bar girls who had appeared to massage our necks.

“It’s what they call all of us.” The word’s meaning depended on how it was said.

“Not me. I’m a farang lao.” Jamie returned to the bar.

"Only because you eat insects.” The CIA called his kind 'snake-eaters'.

“And speak a little Lao.” Jamie paid the bill and asked, “Are we taking Ed on a Black Diamond run?”

Jamie’s no-hold’s barred pilgrimage to Pattaya’s night spots included most hellholes not of the regular visitor’s radar screen.

“Let’s stay with intermediate slopes.” Ed was no stranger to Jamie’s taste for danger.

We got on motorsai taxis and headed down to Walking Street. 8pm was early and Jamie suggested the Tiger Lounge. “It has great AC, they’ll play anything we want, and the two early girls are the best-looking on the street. If we're lucky neither has been barfined yet.”

Ed was a happy man. Both girls were in the bar. Their combined age didn't add up to that of his ex-wife.

Beer, AC, The Ramones, plus Wan and Fah stereo-massaging his back.

No man could ask for more and Ed recounted the damages of the divorce from his wife. “Malibu house gone. My firm considered me a pussy for not fighting the divorce and axed me from the board.”

“And that was bad?” Jamie’s history was nightlife and prison. He only worried about parole boards and that was a long time ago.

"From where I sit now it was a good thing.”

“And it’s only going to get better.” Jamie dragged us to Living Doll 2, where he harangued the manager about an erotic hot dog eating contest coupled with the most hot dogs you can eat contest. The manager deemed the idea a little too 'lo-so' for his clientele. Ed disagreed. “A bunch of fat guys sucking down dogs followed by go-go girls eating hot dog. Nothing could be sexier.”

“Really?” I asked, since Ed was seated with twin sisters. The skimpy bikinis revealed that some farang had their silken skin tattooed with the same craven images front to back. Thankfully none showed his name.

“Maybe I’m wrong.” Ed had supported the arts. None more than exotic dance.

“I show you wrong.” Jamie signaled for the chek-bin and we were off to Heaven Above. The white interior reminded Ed of Clockwork Orange and my old club off 7th Avenue. 1986. “The Milk Bar.”

“Except these girls are real.” Jamie had been saving the best for last. Ed rang the bell. The 49 year-old was avalanched by beauties and for the first time in a long time he was happy. An hour later he disappeared. No one had seen his departure. Jamie and I wandered off Walking Street and he dropped me at a taxi stand. The fee to Sriracha was 1000 baht or $30.

I made it home at midnight.

Mam and Fenway sat on the couch watching Ultraman.

My son sniffed at me.

"No perfume." I was ever faithful to my wife. We fought over that fact and made love once little Fenway was asleep. We held each other as if neither of us wanted to let go.

In the morning Ed called me and explained the rest of his night.

“I went back to the Tiger and barfined Wan for the week. I'm taking them to some island not so far away. I’ll call you when I get back.”

“Sure.” Koh Samet was an hour down the coast. I didn't warn him about not falling in love. He had been alone with a woman that didn't love him too long. His holiday might stretch to a week, because time goes fast when you’re having fun. I know, because I've been there too.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Mishistory of STAR TREK


Hollywood has no respect for history. Writers redraft the flow of time according to filmgoers' demographics. I don't really mind these idiots placing the discovery of America at the same year as Mel Gibson's APOCALYSO or the non-existence of emperors in GLADIATOR, however the heresy of the most recent STAR TREKs should be considered heresy by Trekkies everywhere.

Firstly they have James T. Kirk born in space rather than Riverside Iowa.

Secondly they destroy the planet Vulcan and kill off Spock's mother because she falls to her death just out of reach of her son.

Spock also has a relationship with Uhuru.

Lastly the Romulan war criminal more resembled a speedfreak skateboarder than an alien from another planet.

But what can you expect from Hollywood?

Of course I watched the movie online.

I hate sitting with fat soda-slurping popcorn eaters.

Back To Star Trek

According to the intro to the original STAR TREK TV series 'Space is the final frontier'.

Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise voyaged through the Cosmos from 1966 to 1969

Several Star Trek series followed the original, but in 2005 ENTERPRISE was not renewed, despite fans raising $32 million to finance another season, and for the last twelve years there hasn't been a Star Trek series ion TV.

Only movies.

This year CBS will broadcast a new Star Trek series; STAR TREK: DISCOVERY set ten years before the original STAR TREK.

Trekkies rejoice.

Live long and prosper.

To see the CBS trailer please go to this URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRVD32rnzOw

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Leonard Nimoy hailed from Boston’s West End shtel. His Russian father cut hair in Mattapan Square. Tired of giving us a buzz-cut my father drove my older brother and me to the Terminal Barber Shop next to the terminus of the trolley line. I can’t recall any other barber along Blue Hill Avenue.

A native of Maine m father believed in high and tight.

His instructions to the barber were the same.

Once my old man left the establishment on River Street the barber asked, “How you want it?”

“Like Bob Dylan.”

The singer had ended the 1950s with his hit BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND.

“Gotcha.”

The year was 1963.

The barber knew his clientele.

He never mentioned having a son in the theater.

In 1966 he starred in STAR TREK as the Vulcan science officer to James T Kirk.

Leonard Nimoy never had a Boston accent.

His Vulcan gesture for ‘live long and prosper’ was based on how the kohanim or Jewish priests holding their hand when giving blessings.

Dif Tor Heh Smusma

Spock was our hero.

Logic over emotion.

When he died, I broke into tears.

Like my mossaich had passed into the other world.

Trekkies loved Spock.

He transcended TV and made us believe in Space.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Closing The Go Go Bars

I liked old go-go bars.

My first was the 2 O'Clock Lounge in Boston's Combat Zone.

1971.

Drums, bass organ, sax, stripper.

Paradise.

I hate gentlemen clubs.

They have no class. Not like the old school.

Peace on Mother's Day

According to Wikipedia the First Mother's Day was established as a "Mother's Day for Peace" by Anna Jarvis from Virginia in honor of her mother, Ann, who had been a pacifist during the Civil War.

According to the Anna Jarvis Museum in Webster the daughter received her inspiration after a Sunday service when her mother shut the New Testament and said, "I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mothers day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it."

After her mother's demise in 1905 Anna Jarvis petitioned the government to grant a holiday to all mothers and President Woodrow Wilson in 1914 just before the advent of the Great War.

Anna Jarvis was appalled by the instant commercialization of the holiday now promoting the sale of flowers, cards, and candies.

"A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment."

Jarvis fought to honor her mother by protesting at1925 confectioners convention in Philadelphia, where the police arrested her for disturbing the peace.

Anna Jarvis gave her all to protect her mother's ideals.

She was rewarded with ridicule, destitution,and incarceration for the final four years of her life at the Marshall Square Sanitarium in Chester PA.

Her medical bills were shared by the cardmakers and candy purveyors of America, who now earn $22 billion from the holiday

Personally I believe Jarvis' version of undying love for one's mother.

Love to all mothers.

Love is all.

Mothers.

And daughters too.

Like Anna Jarvis.

Beloved of Ann Reeves Jarvis.

IRISH TWINS by Peter Nolan Smith

In the summer of 2010 my father drove into the town cemetery to visit my mother's grave. A squirrel had run across his path and he veered off the road. The town police had found his Mercedes and none of the officers could figure how he had gotten that far without hitting a single headstone.

“I never get in accidents," he protested to my older brother who had come to take my father home.

A tow truck hauled his Benz from the graveyard and the next month we moved him from his assisted-living apartment to an Alzheimer hospice south of Boston.

Once a month I rode the Fung Wah bus from New York to South Station and then took the commuter train to Norwood. It was a ten-minute walk to his rest home. Each visit he became less and less him by Labor Day my father lived completely in the present without any remembrance of the past and little hope for the future.He was better off without an explanation.

My brothers and sisters warned that he didn’t recognize them and I approached the converted doctor’s house with a heavy heart. His room was on the second floor. The door was open. My father sat in his old rocking chair by the window and smiled, as if shaking off the grip of senility.

“Do I know you.” One of his teeth gleamed in the afternoon sun. It was gold.

This was the man who carried me as a child.

“You do.”

He had driven me on my paper route on many stormy mornings.

"Just a second. It will come to me."

Only five years ago he had come to see my family in Thailand.

"Do you want a hint?"

"No, you're my son." He greeted me by name. I still existed as an atom within his brain.

"That's right."

His second born.

“Are you still in New York?” He was two for two.

“Yes.” There was no way that he could go three for three.

“I know what you’re thinking?” He frowned with a well-known sternness dating back to my youth.

“That I’m happy to see you?” I had disappointed him on more than one occasion.

“No, you’re wondering how I recognized you.” His eyes shone with alacrity.

“That too.” It was better to go with the flow.

“These people come here. I don’t know who they are.”

“The nurses?” I sat on the clean bed. This was a good rest home.

“No other people.” He picked at a dry patch on his forehead. I had inherited the same habit.

“Probably my brothers and sisters. They come to see you all the time.” At least 2-4 times a week.

“Maybe it’s them, but they don’t look anything like my children.” He had six, although my youngest brother had died in 1995 a year before my mother. My father had sat with him every day of the end. There was no sense in mentioning Michael now.

“They’re grown up.”

"We've been grown up for a long time."

“They don’t look like they did when they were young.”

“And I do?”
At 58 I had my teeth and hair, but the reflection in the mirror belonged to someone else than his son at age 15.

“No, you look like a stranger too, but something about you reminds me about your mother, so when I see you, I think about Angie.” He shuddered at the connection. My mother and he had been married over forty years. She was the only love in his life.

”I’m half her.” My father and I weren’t friends until my mother’s passage from this world. I talked a lot. She spoke more.

“And half me too.” My father looked out the window. His memory lost the path. “The leaves look ready to change color. They do that this time of year.”

My father had seen that New Englander phenomena over 88 times. I hoped for him to see more.

“It’s autumn.”

“September. I can’t remember what comes next.”

“You remember your son Frank?” The doctors had cautioned against any tests of the past.

“Frank is my # 1 son.” He was having a good day. “You two were Irish twins. Your mother dressed you alike to prevent you fighting over pants and shirts, but she also loved that people thought we were twins.

“We weren’t really Irish twins.” My older brother and I were separated by 13 months, so we were not really Irish Twins, but my mother’s family came from west of Galway and time beyond the Connemarra Pins was not measured by a watch.

Frank had been born on April 1 and I arrived a year and fifty-nine days later on the morning of May 29.

“60 days seemed like a week back then.” He was talking about the 1950s, when TV was black and white, Eisenhower was the president, and America was the leader of the Free World.

“You were never on time.” My father pointed to the clock on his desk. Time meant nothing to most to Alzheimer patients, but on time for my father meant to the second.

“I was never really late.” My punctuality ran 15-30 minutes behind the clock, although I had achieved perfect attendance throughout five grades in grammar school. My mother had saved those awards. The one from 5th Grade hangs on the wall of my apartment in Brooklyn.

“Oh, yes, you were and late by more than a half-hour.” My father’s Downeast blood worshipped order. Nothing was ever broken as along as you could fix it.

“I stayed out at my girlfriend’s house.”

“Past midnight and her mother wasn’t home.”

“That’s an old story.” Kyla and I had been alone. WBCN had been playing THE VELVET UNDERGROUND. We had come close to losing our souls to ROCK AND ROLL and I had kept telling myself that I would leave after the next song. Each one had been better than the one before.

“If it was so old I would have forgotten it.”

“Forty years is a long time.” Kyla had been wearing her cheerleader outfit. It was football season. She had been the first girl to say the love word to me.

“Forty-five years to be exact.” My father had been an electrical engineer. He had studied at MIT. Numbers and math were his expertise.

“You’re right on the money.” The year had been 1967. I was 15. My hair was over my ears. I liked the Rolling Stones. The Beatles were a girl group.

Kyla’s mother had come home at 1:30. I had left through the backdoor with my clothes in hand. I had dressed in the backyard and watched the lights go out in Kyla’s house. There had been no yelling, but I waited for a minute to see if she came to the bedroom window. It was a waste of time. Kyla was a cheerleader and not Juliet and the only breaking light was a harvest moon.

I walked out the backyard onto the street lined by dark houses. Everyone was asleep. The buses stopped running at 9. My neighborhood in the Blue Hills was a good four-mile hike. I heard a car coming from the opposite direction. It was my Uncle Dave. The Olds stopped at the curb.

Uncle Dave had served in the Pacific. Three years on a destroyer had left him with shakes in his right hand. Smoking Camels helped calm whatever he had left behind in the Pacific.

“You want a ride home?” He was coming from the VFW bar.

“No, I’ll walk it.” I was in no rush to get home.

“Your mother and father know where you are?” Uncle Dave made no judgment of other people’s kids, even if they were family.

“Sort of?” It was a teenage answer.

“I was a teenager once. Your dad’s going to be pissed at you, if you haven’t called.”

“I didn’t call.” You sure, you don’t want me to drive you home?”

“I’m good.” I thought about sleeping in the woods. It wasn’t that cold, but that would make it even worse. “Thanks for the offer.”

The Olds drove off in the direction of Quincy. Uncle Dave would be home in five minutes. I figured that I had another hour to go.

I was wrong.

My father pulled up to me at the crossroads before the parish church. He flung open the door of the Delta 88. It hit me in the thigh.

“Where have you been?” He demanded with a voice that I had never heard from him.

“At a girl’s house.” I hadn’t told my parents about Kyla. My mother wanted me to be a priest. Kyla's mother was a divorcee. The pastor at our church regarded such women as a temptation to married men.

“At a girl’s house?” My father knew what that meant. He had six kids. “You have any idea about what your mother thought happened to you?”

“None.” I hadn’t been worrying about my mother or father or school, while lying next to Kyla’s hot flesh.

His right hand left the steering wheel in the blink of an eye. His wrist smacked my face and blood dripped from my nose.

“I didn’t want to do that.” Tears wet his eyes. “I thought something bad happened to you.”

“Nothing bad happened, Dad.” I rubbed my face and tasted metal in my teeth. All of them remained intact.

“Next time call and let us know where you are.”

He had never hit me before.

“Yes, sir.”

“Let’s go home. I’ll handle your mother." he sighed with regret.

The next morning my eyes were shadowed black and blue. My mother was horrified as was my father. Kyla cried upon seeing my face. She said that she loved me. In some ways I felt like she had become Juliet, although I was no Romeo. My father and I maintained a cautious distance throughout the remainder of my teenage years.

Hitting me had scared him and at the nursing home I held his hand. I had kids now and said, “Now I understand why you did what you did that night.”

“What night?” The memory had sunk back into the fog.

And I left it in the grave.

Because my father loved our mother.

He loved his family.

And I was a little more like him than I wanted to admit as a young man, so I said, “The night you drove me home after midnight."

You were always a good father.” I kissed his bald head, as my older brother walked into the room. My father looked at him with doubting eyes and I said, “It’s Frank, your oldest son.”

“That’s not Frank. He didn’t look like that.” He squinted, as if he was trying to see through time.

I thought that my older brother’s wearing a suit might have thrown off my father and I stood next to Frank.

“See the resemblance.” My brother and I had matching smiles.

Our crooked teeth were a gift from our mother.

“We were Irish twins,” My brother took off his glasses.

In this light we had to resemble one another.

“Irish twins are born eleven months apart. You two were never Irish twins, except to your mother.” He smiled with the memory vanishing on the tide.

“It was good enough for her, Dad.” She had loved her children with all her heart as had my father.

“Then it’s good enough for me, whoever you are.” He offered a hand to both of both.

That visit we repeated our discussion about Irish twins three times in succession without my father retaining a single word. His mind had been swept clean of the good and the bad and I was lucky enough to possess a memory of both good and bad for him. My mother wouldn’t have it any other way, for my brother and I were her Irish twin and what was good enough for my mother was good enough for my father too.

YELLOW BIRD - WINSTON GROOVY

According to wikipedia Choucoune is a 19th-century Haitian song composed by Michel Mauléart Monton with lyrics from a poem by Oswald Durand. It was rewritten with English lyrics in the 20th century as Yellow Bird.

One of Oswald Durand's most famous works, the 1883 Choucoune is a lyrical poem that praises the beauty of a Haitian woman of that nickname. Michel Mauléart Monton, an American-born pianist with a Haitian father and American mother composed music for the poem in 1893, appropriating some French and Caribbean fragments to create his tune.

The song Choucoune was first performed in Port-au-Prince on 14 May 14, 1893. It became a popular méringue lente (slow méringue) in Haiti, and was played prominently during the bicentennial celebrations in Port-au-Prince in 1949. Choucoune was recorded by "Katherine Dunham and her Ensemble" for the Decca album "Afro-Caribbean Songs and Rhythms" released in 1946 (with the title spelled as Choucounne), and was first recorded in Haiti by Emerante (Emy) de Pradines for her "Voodoo - Authentic Music of Haiti" album (Remington R-199-151) released in the USA in 1953.

The song also appeared in the 1957 Calypso-exploitation film Calypso Heat Wave, performed by The Tarriers, sung by the group's lead singer, Alan Arkin.

My mother loved this song and sang it often to the delight of my loving father.

To hear YELLOW BIRD - WINSTON GROOVY please go to the following URL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfJXxZ1JBDU

Happy Mother's Day 2016


I wish the bests to all the mother's in the world.

I love you all and nothing says I love my mother like the Intruders I'LL ALWAYS LOVE MY MOMMA.

Go to this URL to feel the love.

To hear the Intruders' I ALWAYS LOVED MY MOMMA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GjxlguPYo0

NORTH END MIRACLE by Peter Nolan Smith

Throughout my childhood my mother cooked dinner for six kids and every Friday evening she drove our station wagon into Boston. We picked up my father at 50 Milk Street, where he worked for Ma Bell as an electrical engineer. He took the wheel and headed to a restaurant.

My father loved my mother and they loved dining out even with us in tow.

One evening my father strode from the NET&T headquarters like a man in a mission.

"Where to tonight?" asked my mother.

She always dressed for the occasion.

"A little restaurant in the North End." He pulled out into the street. "A co-worker said George's was cheap and cheerful.

Feeding six hungry kids was a struggle even on a white-collar salary.

"Parking's horrible there," complained my mother

"I always find a parking spot." My father crossed Atlantic Avenue and weaved through the traffic on Hanover Street to turn onto a crooked lane.

"There it is and look. There's a parking spot." My father pulled into the space.

The two burly men outside the eatery frowned at my father, but said nothing, as our tribe trooped into George's.

The restaurant had no customers. The men at the bar glanced over their shoulders and then returned to muttered conversations. The tuxedoed waiter approached our family, as if we were lost.

"You really wanna eat here?" He waved his hand at the empty tables.

"I have six hungry kids and you have food. Where else you want me to go?" My father came from Maine. There was only one Italian restaurant in Portland. Every Sunday night of my early years he traveled across the Martin Point Bridge from Falmouth Foresides to pick up pizza and antipasto, which we ate while watching THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW on our Zenith TV. We were no strangers to Italian cuisine.

"Nowhere, but here. I give you da best table." He led us to a big booth underneath a painting of Naples. My father ordered meatball and spaghetti for us. My mother had a plate of pasta reeking of garlic and they shared a small carafe of red wine.

A few more men entered the bar.

They narrowed their gaze upon seeing us.

One of them pointed at my father and I ate with my head down to avoid his black eyes. My brother did the same, but my mother and father ordered another carafe of wine. The waiter put a coin into the jukebox and played YELLOW BIRD. The men in the bar spoke louder, until my mother started singing along with Harry Belafonte.

I had seen her quiet a cathedral choir with her voice and my father beamed with pride as she wrenched every emotion from the Jamaican song. I was embarrassed by her singing so loud. In many ways I never understood her gift, however when she finished the men at the bar applauded my mother.

The toughest man crossed the floor to our table. A scar bisected his forehead. He bowed to my mother.

"Lady, you have the voice of an angel. My name is George. This is my place. Anytime you want to come, you call and we'll have a table ready for you and yours." He gave my father his card and waved for the waiter to bring another carafe of wine and ice cream for us.

"On me, but mind if you song some more."

"I'll be my pleasure."

My mother sang Dean Martin's THAT'S AMORE and VOLARE. Her rendition of those two songs sealed the eternal gratitude of the gruff clientele and her version of I'LL TAKE YOU HOME AGAIN, KATHLEEN brought tears to every man's eyes.

After that evening we returned to George's at least once a month. My father parked in front of the restaurant and his kids marveled at this driving feat. We never strayed from the meatballs and spaghetti and my mother always sang a few songs for the bar, as my father beamed with love. She was the one woman in his life and his kids were his pride and joy, even as I rebelled against his way of life.

One night in the Spring of 1971 I decided to take my hippie friends down to George's.

Hank Watson, two co-eds from BU, and I took the T to Haymarket. We walked under the Artery into the North End. The parking space in front of the restaurant was filled by a big Cadillac. The two men on the sidewalk blocked our entrance. Hank had hair down to the back of his ass. Mine was shoulder-length. Hippies l weren't welcome in the North End.

"Youse ain't coming in." One of them placed a hand in my chest.

I looked over his shoulder.

George sat at the bar. His eyes glared at me with a puzzled recognition and then he snapped his fingers.

"Hey, Louie, let them in, the good-looking one's the son of the songbird," George shouted from the bar.

"Thanks," I politely said at the bar.

"How's your mother and father?"

"Good." The bartender served us wine.

"Come here. I wanna talk to you a second." George led me into the back and spoke with his arm around my shoulder, "Listen, I don't got no problem with longhairs, but my people they don't like hippies. You coming here is no problem, but you bring other hippies and people will start talking, you understand?"

"You want me to leave?"

"No, I can't do that to you, but next time dress a little better and only come with a girl. No friends. Out of respect for your mother."

"Whatever you want." I was a good boy when it came to family. "Can I ask you one question?"

"Maybe."

"That first time we came to your restaurant and my father parked in front. He wasn't supposed to do that, was he?" THE GODFATHER had come out the previous year. Any questions about George's business were answered in that film. He was one of those guys about whom no one talked if they knew what was good for them.

"That's my spot. Everyone in the neighborhood knows that, but after your mother sang it became her spot. Still is. Enjoy your meal and give your best to your mother." He started to walk to the bar, then stopped, "One more thing, don't ever tell your father that. He's a good man. Name's Frank, right?"

"I call him 'Dad' and my lips are sealed."

"Good boy, one more thing."

"What?"

"Cut your hair. You look like your mother with that thatched roof."

"My mother?" Like most teenagers in the 60s I had told myself that I would never grow up to be my father. Nobody had warned me about my mother. The hair had to go.

"Yes, your mother."

I never mentioned this incident to my father or mother, but every time they went to the North End I call George and the parking spot would be waiting for them. It was a miracle, but then again so was my mother's voice.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Paris In The Springtime

In 1982 I spent my first spring in Paris.

I fell in love that season.

Not with a woman, but a city.

The Seine at dawn.

Le Louvre.

Pigalle.

Croissants and crepes.

My friends.

And I still love Paris

Pour toujours.

You Can Get There From Here

I love the Maine.

It's the largest state in New England.

The northern border is the Allagash River. South the Piscataway separates the Pine State from the New Hampshire Grants along with thick forests, lakes, and mountains to the west. I've driven from Kittery to Fort Kent in the dead of winter.

Mostly on the back roads guided by a map, but this road sign in South China is all the directions a driver needs to get around the world fast.

But not North China, but there isn't one in Maine.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

May Day For Green Acres Tavern

Above Albany the land has greened with spring. I traveled north with Kilmer on the weekend, transporting a U-haul filled with antiques. It was a five-day process and this morning we slept in late, re-charging our batteries for the return trip to the city.

This afternoon Kilmer looked for a new car. I begged off this excursion. Most of the time I was strictly a passenger. Driving on the Interstates was purgatory. Kilmer believed in speed. I preferred obeying the speed limit, so when we reached Greenwich, New York, I asked to be let out of the Ford SUV. I wanted to walk back to Middle Falls.

Kilmer understood and said, "Call me when you are close to home."

I got out at the Batten Kill River. The sun was strong. Small flowers sprouted from the grass. I walked to a railroad bridge rusted by the seasons. The still river poured over the old mill dam with the overflow of a rainy week. Cars rolled on Route 29.

I walked through town past the post office and closed stores. Several buildings had taken on the ghost of ruin. It was hot. A cold beer was a good idea and I and searched for a bar. There were none. stopped to take a photo of a Civil War statue. The soldier faced south, although after Trump's triumph the Deep North felt more like Dixie.

I

I strolled along the sidewalk. This side of town was better off than the mill side. Several houses had been refuges for escaped slaves fleeing on the Underground Railroad to Canada. There were no blacks in Greenwich now.

No Mexicans too.

But the few other pedestrians looked like junkies or meth freaks.

Everyone else was in a SUV or pick-up truck.

At least none were sporting a Confederate flag.

The commercial section of town had expanded since my last visit. Tech firms were opening in Saratoga. Property prices were soaring for old milk farms. Gleaming tractors crowded the parking lot of the farm equipment dealer and brand new trucks shone in the car lot. A lot had changed, but the Green Acres Tavern remained a destination for early afternoon drinkers. I texted Malinda to meet me there. I entered the bar. One man sat at the bar. The TV was on a sports channel. I ordered a Labatt Blue from the bartender. Canada was only 110 miles from Greenwich.

The other drinker was slightly younger than me. His head was razor-cut and skin tanned by outdoor work. A bearded friend entered the bar. He was younger than me too. I was the old man at the bar. They said hello and spoke about the Giants. Big Blue reached far north from the Meadowlands. Malinda hated this bar. To her the Green Acres was filled with racists. She wasn't wrong, especially after I heard buzz-cut say, "Why do people celebrate May Day?"

"I don't know."

"Probably commies dance around a maypole."

I could only tolerate so much ignorance and I said, "No, May Day commemorates the Haymarket Riots in Chicago. The workers were striking for an eight-hour work day. The police charged the rally. A bomb exploded in the ranks. The violence as always was initiated by the police."

"Well, if the cops shot in Ferguson, there wouldn't be any marches." "Don't get me wrong. I believe in the right to carry. And the right to protect yourself. Machine guns too. Especially to kill the bankers who are the real criminals and the politicians. bomb at the anarchists. It blew up in their ranks. As for deporting people. I say let's get rid of the Russians. They're all commies. At least the Mexicans are Americans. What will you have to drink?"

"They ordered Bud Lite.

It was the fascists' beer of choice. "Sounds like paradise."

"It was."

"Was?"

"Bank bought it. Shut it down."

I raised my glass.

"Death to all bankers."

We drank our bottles dry.

A horn beeped outside.

"It's my wife or as I call her my 'designated driver'."

We high-fived and I stepped outside into Spring.

Malinda gave me a dirty look.

Like I said she hated this tavern, but I can drink with anyone as long as they're willing to listen to my bullshit.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Kent State 1970


Forty-seven years ago John Filo snapped an iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, a fourteen-year-old runaway, kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller after he was shot dead by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970.

I was 17.

Richard Nixon had been elected President in 1968 by promising to end the Vietnam War.

Two years later the war showed no signs of going away as the Pentagon instituted a draft lottery and American troops massacred My Lai. In Late-April of 1970 President Nixon gave to go-ahead to an invasion of Cambodia after staging a coup in that neutral country with the blessing of Henry Kissinger.

Thousands of protesters hit the streets across America and then it was hundreds of thousands.

My all-boys Catholic high school shut down, so that its students could demonstrate in Boston Commons.

Washington was under siege and protests spread to campuses across the nation.

At Kent State hundreds of students gathered to witness one student burn his draft card.

That evening after a bar shut for the night, bikers, students, and transient people broke the glass windows of a bank. Police confronted the mob, but were driven off by the protestors. The town mayor ordered the closure of all the bars leading to an escalation of violence, but tear gas drove the mob to into the campus.

The next day after hearing of threats to destroy the college and town Governor Jim Rhodes ordered in the National Guard. The protesters responded to the escalation by burning down the ROTC office and preventing firemen from saving the building.

Governor Rhodes was furious.

""We've seen here at the city of Kent especially, probably the most vicious form of campus oriented violence yet perpetrated by dissident groups. They make definite plans of burning, destroying, and throwing rocks at police, and at the National Guard and the Highway Patrol. This is when we're going to use every part of the law enforcement agency of Ohio to drive them out of Kent. We are going to eradicate the problem. We're not going to treat the symptoms. And these people just move from one campus to the other and terrorize the community. They're worse than the brown shirts and the communist element and also the night riders and the vigilantes. They're the worst type of people that we harbor in America. Now I want to say this. They are not going to take over the campus. I think that we're up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America."

On May 4 the bloody carnage of Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos came home to America.

Companies A and C, 1/145th Infantry and Troop G of the 2/107th Armored Cavalry, Ohio National Guard lowered their M-1 rifles and shot into the rock-throwing crowd. Only 29 of the 79 discharged their weapons, but four students lay dead and nine were wounded.

The war continued another five years.

Even with four dead in Ohio.

Fuck Henry Kissinger.

Bring the war criminal to justice.

To hear FOUR DEAD IN OHIO, please go to the following URL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnOoNM0U6oc

Cinco De Mayo

Two years ago my brother-in-law and I put the dock in the lake. The water temperature hovered around 62 and the sunny air was a warm 72 for Southern Maine. David and I waddled into the water with trepidation, but it wasn't so bad once we passed our waists.

Coming out was another thing.

Both of us shook from the long immersion in the cold water. My sister ordered us to take hot showers and we obeyed her command.

When we returned to the kitchen two margaritas were waiting on the table.

"Happy Cinco de Mayo." My sister was a big believer in national and international holidays.

"Viva Juarez." I raised my salt-rimmed glass to clink a toast.

"Why Juarez?" My brother-in-law smacked his lips. The rims of margaritas were tangy with lemon.

"Juarez led a revolt against the Catholic conservatives and in 1861 declared a moratorium on debt payments to Britain, Spain, and France, which had supposedly loaned the previous government over $52 million, but only had issued $1.2 million in actual money. Juarez protested that firstly the loan was made to a deposed government and secondly that the amount was wrong. The family of the French Emperor owned the paper on this debt and Napoleon III convinced England and Spain to defend its claims."

"How do you know this?" David was always suspect of my stories.

"I was a history minor in college." Those courses had been my only As.

"Sounds like that could happen to America now." My sister taught finance at a college in Boston. Sovereign debt was crushing countries across Europe and her students were buried under credit card bills and student loans.

"England tried to force Iceland to pay the debt of its banks and the Icelanders kicked out the government. The banks punished Iceland by closing all the McDonalds. In 1862 France showed up with an invading army, which pursued Juarez forces toward Mexico City. On May 5th the Mexicans stopped running at Puebla and fought French forces twice their force under the command of their 33-year-old Mexican Commander General, Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. They achieved a great victory and thereafter have celebrated Cinco de Mayo."

"Let me guess." David was enjoying his margarita. "The French sought revenge for this defeat."

"How well you know the French. They installed a Habsburg emperor protected by an imperial army."

"Second guess. It ended badly."

"Maximilian I was executed by the Mexicans. End of the foreign intervention and Cinco de Mayo was important to the USA, since the Mexicans stopped the French from supplying the Confederates with arms."

"Cinco de Mayo." We clinked glasses again and my sister began to fix another batch of drinks.

I liked mine with salt.

We weren't going anywhere.

E me gusto en ninguna parte."

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Day 2017

're lucky you have a job."

"He was right in some ways, only because everyone around the world was a wage slave grinding out a subsistent living.

Years ago unions protected the workers. The bosses fought the 40-hour week, the end to child labor, and other workers’s rights as was to expected from the filthy rich, since they represent the haves, who don’t want to spit to the have-nots. I hung up saying to Patrick, "See you when you get back." then muttered, "Fuck the rich."

I have belonged to three unions; IBEW for the telephone company, IBT driving taxi in Boston, and the union of drifters. I believe in the power of labor and every May 1 workers of the world march in many countries.

Originally the day was a pagan holiday for the first day of spring, although in a different month than the present Julian calendar. Peasants adherents to the old religions danced around the Maypole. The Catholic Church suppressed the practice by naming May the month of Mary.

As a child at parochial school the nuns would parade us around the church with the girls wearing white dresses and flowers in their hair. The boys had white jackets and slacks. Parents would take snapshots of their angelic children.

Years later we abandoned this pious procession to march in the May Day protests against the Cambodian Bombings.

1969-1970.

Washington, Kent State, Kissinger, Nixon talking to the protesters.

May Day for the Left honors seven Haymarket anarchists executed for participation in Chicago’s Haymarket Riot of 1886 in Chicago.

May 1 1886 was the start date for the 8-hour day. Big business wasn’t happy with this new law and workers staged a series of protests. Anarchists met in Haymarket Square. The gathering was peaceful until someone threw a bomb into the police ranks, killing one officer. In the ensuing violence more died on both sides.

Hence ‘bombing-throwing anarchist’ entered the American lexicon.

The subsequent trial of eight anarchists based the accusations on hearsay. Evidence revealing the involvement of the Pinkerton Detective Agency in the bombing didn’t prevent the death sentence for seven of the accused.

Public pressure for leniency forced the governor of Illinois to commute the capital charges against two ‘conspirators’.

On the eve of the execution Louis Lingg offed himself by exploding a dynamite cap in his mouth.

The remaining four, Spies, Parsons, Fischer, and Engel were publicly hung, but not before they sang the Marseillaise, the anthem of the international revolutionary movement.

All eight were exonerated in 1893 and May 1 became a rally day for labor throughout the world, although in the USA it is called Loyalty Day.

Thailand gives the day off to workers, 70% who have decent jobs say they are happy with their present situation. Others are less so.

In honor of the Haymarket martyrs I’m taking the day off too.

Power to the people.

One more thing.

Fuck the rich.

May Day

May Day 2015 I was sitting at my desk in the Fort Greene observatory. I knew today was an important labor holiday, but I wish that I was working and said so yesterday to my old boss from the Diamond District.

"I wish I could give you a job, but there's no business," apologized the 82 year-old diamond dealer and he was right. No one was walking into the exchange. Without sales there was no money for wages.

"The rich have taken all the money and don't know how to spend it.." I had been a economic major in college and believe money was better spent by many than saved for a few.

"I guess you have to blame it on someone." Manny was an old curmudgeon, but I had counted on him for a job since 1989.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"That you worked all your life and never prepared for a moment like this."

"Who could prepare for the the Greater Recession?" People my age were out of work in the millions.

"You were was lucky to have had a job all those years."

"And now I'm not lucky." I had worked for Manny as a salesman on and off since 1990. There had been some good years. None of those were recent.

"And you can't find another job."

"I only know diamonds and writing."

"And you have never made any money on your books."

"You have that right and now everyone around the world are grinding out a subsistent living. Workers have no rights."

"And neither do I."

"It wasn't always that way. Once there was a marriage between labor and capital. Years ago unions protected the workers. Union instituted the 40-hour week, the end to child labor, and other workers’s rights, but since Reagan broke up the Air Controllers Union the GOP has tried to destroy every advance in workers' rights."

"The Democrats aren't much better."

"We're on our own." I shrugged and made to leave.

"Where are you going?"

"To the 169 Bar in Chinatown. They have $2 beers."

"Have a good May Day."

I showed him the clenched fist and headed to the subway, thinking that I had belonged to three unions; IBEW for the telephone company, IBT driving taxi in Boston, and the union of drifters.

I believe in the power of labor and every May 1 the workers of the world march to show their solidarity.

Originally the day was a pagan holiday for the first day of spring, although in a different month than the present Julian calendar. Peasants adherents to the old religions danced around the Maypole and the Catholic Church suppressed the practice by naming May the month of Mary.

As a child at parochial school the nuns paraded us around the church with the girls wearing white dresses and flowers in their hair. The boys were dressed in white jackets and slacks. Parents snap snapshots of their angelic children with Kodak Brownie cameras.

Years later we abandoned this pious procession to march in the May Day protests against the Cambodian Bombings.

1969-1970.

Washington, Kent State, and Nixon talking to the protesters.

To combat the rising anger of the workers, the government supported an eight-hour day in 1886.

Big business wasn’t happy with this new law and workers across the country staged a series of protests. Anarchists congregated in Chicago's Haymarket Square. The gathering was peaceful until someone threw a bomb into the police ranks, killing one officer. In the ensuing violence more died on both sides.

The subsequent trial of eight anarchists was a farce, but evidence revealing the involvement of the Pinkerton Detective Agency in the bombing didn’t prevent the death sentence for seven of the accused.

Public pressure for leniency forced the governor of Illinois to commute the capital charges against two ‘conspirators’.

On the eve of the execution Louis Lingg supposedly offed himself by exploding a dynamite cap in his mouth.

The remaining four, Spies, Parsons, Fischer, and Engel were publicly hung, but not before they sang the Marseillaise, the anthem of the international revolutionary movement.

All eight were exonerated in 1893 and May 1 became a rally day for labor throughout the world, although the USA government called it Loyalty Day.

Thailand gives the day off to workers, 70% who have decent jobs say they are happy with their present situation. Others are less so.

In honor of the Haymarket martyrs I’m taking the day off too.

Sadly it's not by choice.

Power to the people.