Thursday, July 02, 2009

A New York City Tale

[Finally, a clean newly edited version!!!!!]
Plights Around Us We Know Nothing About
I live in an apartment building in the Herald Square area of Manhattan that was called Little Korea. When I moved in the building, I was a struggling musician with a fairly good day gig, a gig I'd been forced to find after my girlfriend kicked me out of her house one ice-cold winter's morn, a February winter's morn...and I remember it so clearly--so clearly I remember it photographically when I recall it: I'm standing on that lonely platform at that lonely train station...I'm the only person on the platform...there is no one on the platform on the other side of the's four in the morning...and it's fucking freezing. I'm wearing my only winter coat, a surplus Hungarian Army jacket I'd bought for $5 from a "priced to leave the house" table at Canal Street was one weird-looking jacket...two too-oddly-big lapels...its color a shitty olive was, to be bluntly looking! And it wasn't warm at all even though it was heavy and it was wool...but the frozen winds easily sailed right through its shields. Soon I was on the verge of extinction. My teeth were tap-dance chattering; my skin was crawling and swarming with shivers and goosebumps; my legs were jitterbugging in time to the castanets of my chattering teeth under the thinness of my Calvin Klein jeans (made with Hungarian denim I bet). I was about to collapse I was so fucking cold, and I have to use that expletive, folks, just like I was shouting it out loudly against the frosted echo-bearing air that night. And then the train came and the conductor took my last $4.25 and I got a seat and soon I was warm as toast headed toward Grand Central Station back to Manhattan where my adventure had begun 12 years before with a rich wife, over on Sutton Place and East 56th.

That trip back into Manhattan that night was my train trip from one twilight zone into another twilight zone--a futureless twilight zone. Headed toward Grand Central Station that morning, I really had no where to go. It was possible I might have to sleep in Grand Central the rest of the morning until I could find some friendly soul awake enough to be asked if I could perhaps disrupt his or her normal life for a "few days" "until I can get back on my feet, please, pretty please." I got to Grand Central, around 5:00. I walked up the ramp from the train and then out into the lower level waiting room. I was looking over the available benches for a place to catch a couple a'winks of shuteye when I became hooked on a bank of pay phones opposite the benches. Miraculously I found a thin dime in my Hungarian Army jacket and I took a wild out-of-thin-air chance and called this guy who owed me a favor from a few years back. As luck would have it (I once wrote a whole story using only cliches), he was still up partying after partying all night with the publisher of a porn magazine, a porn queen herself, and they were still up getting sloppy.

I shot over there post haste and soon I was partying heartily with my friend, his wife, and the porn queen. By that evening, I was resident on his livingroom couch. It turned out to be hell but at that moment in time it was Heaven.

I stayed on through that summer on this guy's livingroom couch. I had to again soon abruptly pack up and get out off that couch after one night during "The Johnny Carson Show," after my friend had passed out after drinking a gallon of cheap red wine by himself, I stupidly got involved with my friend's wife, always a problem with me since I was a kid. "Hide your wife and your daughters when he's around," applies to me same as it did in the old blues lyrics that gave you that advice if you heard a particular famous blues man was coming to town. My friend didn't hide his wife and as a result, I had to get the hell out of his house...and as a result, I had to impose myself on another friend, a musician friend. He let me sleep on the floor in his recording studio, for which he said he was sorry but he was going to have to charge me $400-a-week. I thought he was joking but while I was giving out a huge guffaw and saying, "You're crazy as a bedbug, of course, really, how much?" "No, man, I'm serious, $400-a-week. That's the deal." The deal meant I had to take the first employment I could find if I was to avoid being tossed out into the gutter this time as a homeless bum. My bank account was down to around a grand, so I got so desperate for a job I went to the NY State Employment Agency looking for leads. Those bastards treated me like I was an illegal immigrant since I wasn't a native New Yorker. They talked condescendingly to me as though I was a hick from the distant plains of the distant legendary State of Texas, cowboys, Indians, Bonnie & Clyde...what the hell did New Yorkers know of Texans except that shit? Of course I went off on 'em and walked out without even waiting to see what jobs they had in their little card files.

Here's a funny one: I went to Bloomingdale's, you know, the hotsy-totsy overpriced department store on New York's East Side. I went up to their personnel department. Bloomie's was known among musicians as an easy-to-hit day gig so I went there expecting to get a job pretty easy and quickly.

I was interviewed by this young Black chick and she asked me all of these questions that I thought were silly and I reacted to them sillily because I felt like a fuckin' fool. There I sat being interviewed by a young woman who couldn't have been much older than 21, with a high school diploma, I elitestly assumed, interviewing me who had a Master's degree with credits toward my PhD., who was a published writer... and here I was begging for a job selling shoes or who-knows-what at Bloomingdale's for $5 a hour--I was on the verge of saying, "I made a mistake coming here, m'am, sorry to have bothered you," when this chick asked me if I'd ever been in jail. I quickly said "Yes." She said, "Excuse me?" "You asked me had I been in jail and I said, 'Yes,' and I'm wondering what difference it makes?--I paid for my crime, three days in a Deep South jailhouse for praying with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Have you ever heard of him? And does this mean you couldn't hire Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., because he has been in jail?" I suddenly realized a realist asshole like me had no business working at Bloomingdale's--I wouldn't have lasted one hour there. That's when I learned that a Big 8 accounting firm was hiring proofreaders in their Printing and Design Department in the Exxon Building (remember an oil company named Exxon?) in Rockefeller Center, see Miss So and So between 10 and 5 weekdays, blah, blah, blah. So I went to Rockefeller Center, up to the 2oth floor in the Exxon Building, to this accounting firm...and when I came back down to street level about an hour later, I was an employed proofreader making $11, 500 a year. Whoooopeee!

And then I happened across this singer chick who I knew from an earlier life and she told me she was giving up her apartment and was I interested in taking it over from her? It was CHEAP rent. Perfect for a workingman making $11,500 a year--so I took it.

The building in those days was a scary place. Dirty looking stone on the outside. The sign running up the facade of the building was a faded blue background with black handpainted letters giving name to the place--a sign lighted by a 100-watt regular light bulb burning 24/7 in a light fixture hooked out over the sign. The building was an evil-looking place. Smelly. Mildewed bad. I moved in in January, a cold day. The old building was like an ice box. It felt pathetically damp and smelled so moldy it made you gag.

My first full night in the joint somebody tried my doorknob three times. The third time I jumped up grabbed my piano leg steel pipe and hit the hallway just in time to see a pajama-clad dude skimming down the stairwell just off my hallway. I hollered after him and threatened him beyond death the next time he tried that shit.

The elevators were always filled with half-dressed women, Asian women. It was easy to know these were Asian women, all with similar physical features, dark black hair, same sort of facial structures, same body types...except after awhile I began to tell differences, a difference in hair textures and how Chinese women the older they get all have prominent bald spots up on the very tops of their skulls; and I got familiar with facial differences: Koreans have flatter faces more moony faces than Chinese who have narrow faces or Vietnamese who have sweet faces, more Western faces than either Koreans or Chinese.

Though it was a Korean neighborhood, the Chinese ruled the building. I got to know this red-headed Chinese woman, in her fifties I'd guess, who had very beautiful and appealing twin daughters always with her, all of whom, including mom, were easy to flirt with.

One day Mamasan asked me what kind of rent I was paying. I told her it was none of her business. She replied, "I say you pay two hundred month tops. I pay you six hundred dollar for your apartment." "Get out a'here!" "You heard me. I pay you six hundred month for your apartment. You get other apartment. Make extra buck." I told her no thanks but I got to know her better and better and later found out she was warehousing apartments in the building, controlling at least seven apartments at the time. She also ran these Mah Jong games--it wasn't Mah Jong but a Chinese game based on Mah Jong with tiles that these players shuffled loudly and then slammed down on the tables as they played their hands--same as old-time domino players do during a hot game of 42 or cutthroat. This woman had connections in Chinatown with the illegal immigrant agents--the guys who found places for boat people coming into New York City by the droves to live and this woman would rent her apartments in this building to these immigrant Chinese, most of them from Fukian Province, and most of them having paid tens of thousands of US dollars and putting up their Chinese families as collateral to people smugglers called Snakeheads who bring them in freighter hulls or in cargo containers into the USA, a nation they call "the mountain of gold" in Chinese. The women end up as sex slaves while the boys and men get jobs as what I call bicycle boys with Asian restaurants. They deliver Chinese food all over the neighborhoods of Manhattan but also thick as hops in the other boroughs--bicycle boys thick on the streets of Manhattan in those days--I've personally seen two bicycle boys run over by cars and surely killed--a risky occupation but one that paid damn good since these dudes made big tips and though they had to share their tips with the restaurant owners and pay back their loans to the Snakeheads, they still came out with maybe 50 bucks a day. This woman would pack these boys by multiples into one room. There were seven of them in a two-room apartment she rented bicycle boys directly across from me. Some said she got $600-a-month from each boy!

These bike boys were horribly afraid of White Americans. They expressed this fear by acting gangster tough around Whites and liberally throwing out the phrase "Fuck You," an English phrase they all know and can spew in perfect English, at you in defiance and then dominating your environment, like always being in it some way and pushing their lifestyles in your face, like wearing different new leather jackets every time you saw them or talking loudly on their cell phones right in your face. Some of them, though only the bolder ones who knew a little English, might be friendly with you, like return a greeting or nod or even a smile, but most of them remained banded together in defiance. One retaliatory defense they used was by coming into the hallway and getting up by your door and talking really loudly on their cell phones--or two or three of them might try and jam themselves into an elevator with their bicycles and if you tried and stop them by saying, "No, too full, no bicycles," they would fight back, say, "No full," and push on in. If you got physical with them, like try and push them back out of the elevator, they would continue and push back against you.

At the height of the Chinese domination of the building there were over 100 of these bicycle boys in and out of the building night and day. The front of the building was lined with their bikes, very expensive mountain-type-road bikes--one of the friendly ones told me he paid $1400 for his bike--and also they brought bikes into the building. In their apartments, they would drive pegs into the walls and hang their bikes on them. The room across from me, one time I went in there, had seven bikes hanging on one wall. When they repaired their bikes, they did it in the hallways--right in front of your door if they didn't like you--you open your door and you stumble over a disassembled bicycle and a bicycle boy who's perhaps putting a new tire on a wheel. You got to where you knew their schedules: one bunch of them tumbling out of their rooms at 10 every morning to make it to work to handle the lunch business; that bunch returning to the building late in the afternoons at about the time the late-night bike boys were heading out to handle the evening business, this bunch then returning like clockwork around 1 in the morning. Once the boys were home it didn't mean they went right to bed and the action in their room stopped. The bike boys who lived directly across the hall from me for an unbelievable five years never closed their door. Many a time I've closed it myself. I'd get maybe 15 minutes of peace only for it to be opened again a bit later. When the redheaded Mamasan held one of her floating Mah Jong games in their room, they never closed the door. Those games could go on non-stop for three days.

Whatever the Chinese, bicycle boy or restaurant owner, and they were both in my building, they talk loud--holy Christ can they talk loud--chatter loudly, too, amongst themselves, as though they are arguing when in fact they are simply having a friendly conversation. They also spit a lot. Many a time I've been on the elevator with a fairly nice-looking Chinese lady and she's suddenly out of nowhere hocked up a big loogie and spat it out onto the elevator floor as nonchalantly as can be. Also, when they sneeze, they never cover their mouths. The men chain smoke cigarettes--the bicycle boys all smoked. And, the men love Budweiser beer. Except during Mah Jong games--then there was no drinking, but steady heavy cigarette smoking.

I became a White man embedded among Chinese who spoke no English, who were mostly in this country illegal as hell. They were people, old and young, who had grown up under the bootheel of the Commie Chinese and in the urban centers under the bootheel of both the Commie soldiers and cops but also the urban gangs, like the Snakeheads. Most of them were scared shitless in a nervous sort of way around the White Man, but around their own people they were tough as fucking nails, most of the old ones full of tales of tremendous poverty, of hopeless futures, of constantly being controlled, or suffering through traumatic life experiences.

Due to all of these illegal young Chinese men in this building and due to the many young Chinese girls in the building (this building has 300 apartments--some of them occupied by hardworking families resulting in a lot of babies and preteens and teens, especially young teen girls). It wasn't uncommon at one time to hear girls screaming in the hallways at night--girls being chased by these hall-prowling boys--they roamed the hallways at night--they would waylay teenage girls and young women as they exited the elevators, then drag them into the stairwells and rape them then rob them--one time throwing a girl down the stairs after they raped her. These were the pajama-clad dudes who were twirling my doorknob the first few nights I lived here.

I'm not a gunman, though I am from Texas where gunmen are noble characters, but I am into knives and I learned how to knife fight back on Texas schoolgrounds when I was a kid. For years, up into high school, I faithfully carried a switchblade on me. Then when switchblades were made illegal, I carried a single-six-inch-blade stiletto-type knife we called a frogsticker on into college. When I thought of defending myself should somebody try and invade my apartment, I reverted back to my familiarity with knives and using them in defending myself and purchased a couple of really nice stainless-steel butcher knives and sharpened 'em down to a really keen cutting edges and with serious points. I keep them on a table by my door. For extra protection, I took the solid-steel leg off one of my Rhodes pianos, a weapon that would certainly deal a deadly blow were it to hit an invading skull just right--and those were my defenses--and still are to this day. I love knives. There are two pocket knives by my bedside. There's a pocket knife I use as a letter and package opener. There's a pearl-handled frogsticker from a Texas oil company, a beautiful knife, over on a table by my 78 rpm record collection. Would I use a knife on an intruder? I would. Would I club an intruder with my Rhodes piano leg? Yes, I would. Would I intentionally kill an intruder with knife or piano leg? No, I would not. I have the ability to kill in me. I know that. But I've never felt like letting that ability go all the, except for that time I was beating that kid in the middle of the street in college....

Since this is a Korean neighborhood (it originally was a Lebanese neighborhood), Koreans are the next most numerous Asians in my building. Though the Koreans are very shy people, I've come to the conclusion they are the toughest people on earth, especially the men, fierce fighters, but good and gentle husbands and fathers and hardworking types and the women are very, very shy--some Korean girls will put their faces into the corners of the elevator when a White man gets on the elevator. I was told to never look a Korean woman in the eyes. Koreans have large broods of kids. Korean mothers are very stern mothers. As a result, Korean kids are never very happy looking. Even the babies are so serious looking.

There is also a small but prominent group of Vietnamese in the building. I find them really cool people, really interesting, and the women flat dab beautiful. The Vietnamese in my building are very hard workers; all the maintenance workers in the building are Vietnamese. They are carpenters, sheetrockers, plumbers, repairmen, electricians, working their asses off for chickenshit wages--nonunionized, of course.

[The Power Elite in this country has just about driven our unions cowardly into corners they're trapped in. Our unions have no spunk in them anymore--they have no power--strikes are shut down by the cops and the Feds. Besides, when unions strike now it turns the people against them rather than their getting behind them. "Workers unite!" in this country means "We Are Communists!"--now called Socialists. Without strong unions in the past, we wouldn't have a five-day workweek. Employers would never have offered health insurance or life insurance as incentive benefits; they would never have had to keep their workplaces safe places in which to work. I have nonunion construction workers building a building next to me as I type this. They work from 7 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon (or until 9 pm sometimes) with a couple of breaks--they work in unsafe conditions--they've worked in blizzards, in pouring rains, in lightning storms--they've poured Mafia concrete in the pouring rains--they've now started showing up on Saturdays and Sundays. The amount of wood they are using to build this structure is awesome. The hammering they do with common old carpenter's claw hammers is phenomenal. They are hammering continuously, hammering nails into wood, big pieces of plywood they are roller-rinking all around this building, or 2 x 4-constructed structural walls--hammering away today in a rush to finish these wood frames so they can pour concrete all day one day this week before the July 4th holiday, which officially is Saturday, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of them don't show up on the Fourth looking for work. The developer is rushing them. In the rush to complete this unnecessary hotel they are also cutting corners in terms of supplies, structural characteristics, even their workforce. They cut corners in things like concrete mixes; in things like the strength of the steel rods they're using within the concrete walls, columns, and floors. They reuse wood. The netting they're putting up may not be the strongest kind available. I know the machine that blows the concrete from the street to the back of the site is blowing that concrete out at such a rate there has to be air pockets developing in it--plus it's super fast-setting concrete. And for sure they're cutting labor costs by using illegal South Americans mostly or itinerant construction cowboys who tour the country looking for nonunion construction sites. These guys will work for half down to one-fifth what union guys work for. Plus you don't have to give these workers any benefits, just straight every-Friday cash payoffs or quickly struck checks if they're legit licensed construction workers and not illegal immigrants. Most of the foreman-type hardhats hammering away nextdoor seem to me to be from New Jersey--one from South Carolina--so they're itinerants. Most of the sites around me are union sites. They shut down every day at 3 or 3:30 and they never work on Saturdays or Sundays. 26 construction workers already this year have been killed on nonunion sites. I personally saw Latino workers when demolishing the beautiful old buildings this goofy looking hotel's replacing working tearing out asbestos with their hands without face masks or contamination suits. One of them told me the boss didn't furnish masks, you had to buy your own, and he said he couldn't afford one. I mean, come on, folks, that's just down right criminal. The big shot developers who are abusing these workers are safely tucked away in their hi-floor suites-with-fantastic-views offices...I mean, it's such a god-damn criminal shame how human beings are treated by the controllers of our land and wealth; hell these overrich bastards control everything, even the air and water we so desperately need to survive! Our government is putting millions into how to convert our own piss into drinkable water--you see, you can piss into the water system thereby refilling the water tanks with the water you drank from them! Won't you eventually be drinking pure piss?]

Which brings me back to my long-ago forgotten point, how while there is drastic disruptive corrupting change taking place in my neighborhood, and, yes, while the White Power Elite is intent on driving the Asians out of this neighborhood, there is a neighborhood up in the Bronx that when you learn about it, and I only recently learned of it, the hairs on your neck stand up and you get mad enough to go for the throats of the avaricious motherfuckers who are crushing the poor and helpless in this land of the free and the home of the brave. There are these Southeast Asians up in the's fucking disgusting, folks, fucking disgusting. How dare White people complain about anything. How dare they! And I'm talking White; I'm White! Even hillbillies living in run-down trailer houses, how dare they complain! How dare this billionaire mayor we New York Citians seem to be stuck with for life totally turn his nose up at what's taking place in the impoverished and ruined neighborhoods in this fucking city, this once great mixing-pot city, this once great opportunity city, a city where you could try out your skills whatever they were, a chance to test your skills against the others who were striving to be the finest in what they did competing or working in cahoots with the finest already in their fields--a city with a broad range of chances for people of all sorts--a city of affordable neighborhoods, low-level building neighborhoods now being devastated by hi-rise luxury condos and hotels--a city from whence once came our finest fashions, our finest jewelry makers, our finest milliners, our finest architects, our finest writers, reporters, publishers, editors, artists, orchestras, jazz, ballet, and yes some of the wealthiest sons of bitches who ever built skyscraper monuments to themselves--real estate tycoons--software-developer billionaire mayors--high priced lawyers and on-special-call-from-celebrities doctors and, of course, all the Hollywood, entertainment, and superrich athletes conspicuously spending fools are infiltrating us--and those continuing to hard-live twentiesh stock brokers and stock analyzers and the Baby Boomer children who wander the streets with plenty of daddy's money looking for thrills no matter the cost--like going to a party at the Ganesvoort Hotel--in what used to be the huge New York City meat-packing district--now our meat comes from Mexico, South Vietnam, Brazil, and God knows where. I saw we still import that shit that comes in a can from Argentina! I used to love it. Corned beef. God knows what cow parts are in that shit. God knows what animal parts were used in it--like how do you know it's beef? Oh, yeah, the Argentinian meat packers are honest as the day is long, I forgot.

You see how cynical and bitter I'm getting. I'm growling better than ever these days--I'm in tune with this symphony of hammering I'm bouncing along to, like Gertrude Stein's dog Basket lapping up his water, I'm writing like that, like a machinegun spewing out words--an enfilade of words, fired in sentences across this blank page of virtual paper called a blog--short for Web Log, or did you know that?...I'm so fucking cynical and rude. My ex-wife is absolutely right in saying I'm a charming blowhard. "If you're as smart as you say you are, how come you're still living in this dump?"

And my apartment is a dump, though my new Jewish (he's a Persian Jew) landlord is assuring me he's going to make it nice for me to live here. And he's assured me I've got nothing to worry about in terms of staying living here until I die and free up my apartment so he can get $2,000-a-month for it. He also has assured me, in confidence, that he's gotten most of the Chinese out of the building, especially the bicycle boys--and, yes, I haven't seen a bicycle boy in this building in several months now. Today there are no bicycles of scooters chained up in front of the building--plus, he added, he'd gotten the Chinese whores and gamblers out of the building--and the Chinese guy who used to sell beer and wine and marijuana cigarettes out of his apartment. Of course he still rents to Chinese--and there are young Chinese people, students and such, who can afford $2,000-a-month rents, so those are OK with my landlord. And, don't get me wrong, I'm a veteran New York City tenant. I always get acquainted with my landlords. Stay on their good terms. I let 'em know, as long as I pay my rent on time, you don't bother me and I don't bother you. It's worked fine so far--I mean, I'm paying today less rent than I paid when I moved to New York City. That's phenomenal really, though I call that the luck of being White--and I don't believe in luck and what I mean is privilege just because I'm White.

I'm especially privileged around Asians. Old Asian women will not get off the elevator before me--and, yes, I understand, Chinese women are born second-rate subjects and are especially submissive to Chinese men--like walking behind them--getting off the elevator after them. But the young more Americanized girls do it, too--not, however, the supersnob Chinese young things that are thick in my building now, long tall beautiful Chinese girls, all dressed immaculately and smelling attractive with subtle male-enticing perfumes.

However, recently on WBAI radio (NYC), I was clued into the situation in the Bronx that disgusted me. It's in the Fordham Road (Valentine Avenue) section of the Bronx [see photo at beginning of post], and its the area where the Southeast Asian refugees from Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos were placed after they arrived here in the early 80s when Jimmah "Peanut Farmer and Rocket Scientist" Cah-tah signed into being his SE Asian Refugee Resettlement Act --that which resettled millions of displaced persons from those SE Asian countries after we'd (the USA) tried to "bomb them back to the Stone Age" (Air Force General Curtis LeMay) to come to America where they were to be given housing, a chance to learn English, and a jumpstart to a new life in this Land of the Free and Home of the Brave where the great Constitution, written by a slaveholder, guarantees you the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

What I heard on WBAI recently was a well-done radio documentary on the current condition of this SE Asian community in the Bronx--a documentary called "The Mekong in the Bronx"--about what has happened now for tw0 generations of these people being in this country. I mean I listened intently as a Cambodian (?) woman walked around this neighborhood, her neighborhood, with a tape recorder, recording what was going on around her. Becoming more and more disgusting as this woman entered the original building set aside for these refugees driven from their homelands by the VietNam War, by the Khymer Rouge in Cambodia, by the Laotian princes, all of the old ones with horrifying stories of life before they escaped it and were resettled in the Bronx back in 1982.

The woman with the tape recorder comes up to a huge gate guarding this building's entrance. She says this is the original building used to house these SE Asian refugees when they got here. The woman with the tape recorder says she's looking up to a seventh floor window of the building. An old woman is looking out and down at the woman with the tape recorder. The old woman throws the key wrapped in a towel to the big gate from her window down to the woman with the tape recorder who then opens the gate and enters the building.

The building's lobby is in a destroyed state. The building's elevators haven't worked in years. The woman with the tape recorder said the old woman who threw the gate key down was an old Cambodian woman in her late 70s who had lived on the 7th floor since 1982. She had been stranded in her apartment for years now because due to a hip injury she can only walk with a cane and it was impossible for her to go down and then come back up 7 flights of stairs so she had people like this woman with the tape recorder bring her groceries and visit her and check on her. I mean, how horrible is this tale so far?

As the woman with the tape recorder's climbing up the 7 flights of stairs to get to the old Cambodian woman she starts panting heavily and has to stop and rest. Then she explains that she's 7-months pregnant. Jesus. Already I'm ready to lead an army of humanitarians to throw our billionaire mayor in jail where he belongs allowing such conditions to exist in this great metropolis that used to be a city of such opportunity and collectively working neighborhoods.

After reaching the old Cambodian woman's apartment, the old Cambodian woman comes and sits down and starts blabbing. I mean this woman starts telling her story. How she had been married to a good man with thirteen children when the Khymer Rouge came to her village. They killed her husband. She ran with the children, hiding them in the ground she said while she waited scared to death while the Khymer Rouge searched for her. Then she was on the run, and kept running until she tramped into a refugee camp finally out of exhaustion, a refugee camp where conditions were so bad 10 of her children died of starvation--one she said from diarrhea--and then one day the Khymer Rouge were overthrown and she and her three remaining kids went to a refugee camp where she got into Jimmy Carter's SE Resettlement program and was sent to the Bronx where she had lived for 27 years. She said when she came here she was scared to death; she spoke no English and still doesn't. She said as a result of getting free medical examinations as part of Carter's program, doctors removed her ovaries and handed her a handful of prescriptions and told her to take those--she said she assumed she'd probably had ovarian cancer, but she said, she was still alive and that she had persevered on her determination to beat the odds and survive even though she was a prisoner now in this 7th-floor room of a landlord-neglected, city-neglected building! She said she still suffered anxieties from her experiences during the Cambodian War--Richard Nixon, that murdering asshole, bombed the bejesus out of Cambodia--criminally--under the good advice of old Henry Kissingassinger, that big phony piece of shit, who is still living the good life, fat and sporty in his 80s, still wining and dining all over New York, with offices even in Communist China. I can still hear Nixon saying, "Come on, Henry, even though you're a Kike, Henry, I want you to kneel down here with me and pray your Jewish ass off to Jesus with me"--yeah, that's according to Henry's autobiography I think--I know it's in some book on Tricky Dick. And here was this poor old Cambodian woman living still as though in a refugee camp, who ironically now could probably go back to Cambodia and live her life on out in her homeland with her dead husband and 10 children in relative peace.

And then you hear sirens out in the street and the woman with the tape recorder goes to the window and reports that the NYPD, eight strong, were leading two Asian young men in handcuffs to a paddy wagon. The old woman says it happens every day. There's gunfire, too, every night all over the neighborhood, she adds. The woman with the tape recorder agrees and says that there is a constant police presence in the area. We all know the Police Commish, Shanty Irish Ray Kelly, and the NYPD hate foreigners who aren't white, especially those who to the non-war-vet cops are cowering coward SE Asians from a place where the chickenshit anti-Vietnam War hippies and yippies caused us to lose a war--these hippy bastards, calling the cops Pigs--and NYPD cops know these cowards and the hippies and long-haired bums that love them caused us to lose the Vietnam War even though in their traditionalized ways of turning lies into truth they don't see us as having lost the war--we lost on several fronts but especially the rights to all that offshore oil Michael Rockefeller the geologist told his father Nellie Rockefeller was thick as hops under the Indo-China reef--Michael was later eaten by cannibals while searching for oil for daddy in Papua New Guinea. "Him was plenty nutritious Long Pig, yum-yum, chief now happy, want to dance with young gals!"

I was bitterly pissed off at the end of this "Mekong in the Bronx" documentary. Very well done--like cinema verite radio. How dare such inhumanitarian shit is going on while all over Manhattan the rich and famous are partying hearty, wasting time and money searching the penthouses for thrills and drugs and drink and dancing and fucking, while up in the Bronx this near-80-year-old Cambodian woman sits a prisoner in her rundown and uncared for home dependent on friends and compassionate neighbors for her survival. The woman with the tape recorder said this lady was famous as the best cook in the neighborhood, her papaya salad and chicken wings being especially praised. All the while Mayor Bloomberg is wasting 22 million bucks of his pocket change running for an illegal third term as mayor. With whatever's in his billfold at the moment he could save this old woman's life, but hell no, he wants to be reelected so he can "Keep the Middle Class in New York City" (from one of his ads), which means he kicks scumbags like this poor old Cambodian woman into the gutter--she's worthless to Bloomie--hell she can't even get out of her apartment to vote! Fuck her. If he's elected, women like that Cambodian grandmother don't have a future here--she'll become a displaced person again, especially when a Chinese Communist developer sees an opportunity of taking over her building using the city's right of eminent domain to get it, then driving her into the street, tearing the building down, and replacing it with a hi-rise condominium. "Fuck you, foreign bitch, pull yourself up by your bootstraps or die!"

This docu so angered me I'm feeling like Che Guevara felt when as a doctor in the jungles of South America where he saw such inhumanity--such robbery of the wealth of annihilating of the indigenous people of South America, sights that unleashed his humanitarian passions and turned him into a rebel with a cause, a revolutionary doctor sworn to save lives not take them! And then I hear the woman with the tape recorder say the community is buying the building and they are intending to fix it up and turn it into a SE Asian community center--already, she proudly talks about a mural being painted on the new walls of this building, a mural depicting war and its tragedies and displaced persons and then the moving of these people to America, the cause of their displacement in the first place. I'm reminded, we've recently caused the displacement of millions and millions of Iraqis and Afghanistanis--what will we do with them?

I'm still pissed off--and I'm now experiencing it in my building, the driving off of poor Asians, the ethnic cleansing of my building--my landlord openly without shame bitterly hates Chinese people--and using Vietnamese people to build apartments that he's going to rent for $2000-a-month and after they've rebuilt his building and turned it luxury, he'll kick their asses out....

I pisses me so off.

In the meantime, don't worry, we've got our hands in this Honduran mess that's going on now. That's where John Negreponte (a criminal who is still with the Obama administration) did his most evil organizing of the Honduran Army into terrorist killing units that went around wiping out Honduran indigenous rebels back in those glorious Reagan and Pappy Bush days of New World Order. Yeah, these same generals who just drove the democratically elected "leftwinger" President Zalayas off into exile in Nicaragua, were trained at OUR infamous School of the Americas. Where do you think the Honduran Army gets its arms? Why does Honduras need an army in the first place? Who formed the Honduran Army? Yes, We the People of the USA. Honduras needed an army because of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara who were spreading the word of nationalization around the Caribbean--Communism--and since we prefer our own dictators to democratically elected leftwinger presidents....

And how about Israel towing that Human Rights for Palestinian boat into one of their ports where they've put the whole lot of these humanitarian rebels (read in Hebrew "terrorists") in the Israel hoosegow?--which includes 4 Americans, including Cynthia McKinney the former Congresswoman who was gerrymandered out of her seat by the Newtie Gingrich racist Repugnican redistricters in the great state of Gawjah--lawsy lawsy. Gawjah, where they're trying to kill a Black man for murdering a White somebody when in fact he had nothing to do with the murder and is totally innocent--yet the great White State of Gawjah is determined to lynch his worthless coon ass! We love death in this country. We worship it. Is it not, Herr Doktor Freud, our collective death wish infesting us and driving us silly?

for The Daily Growler

Here's an audio of "Mekong in the Bronx" from the Free Speech Radio Network:


Marybeth said...

Beautiful painting of a slice of life in NYC. I went to engineering school with Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees whose life stories were stupefying. I don't know anything about suffering compared to these people who've seen their families killed, have walked through fields of rotting human corpses to escape their own deaths, have starved in refugee camps, etc.

July 3rd was also Franz Kafka's b'day and the Writer's Almanac had this delicious Kafka quote:

"The books we need are of the kind that act upon us like a misfortune, that make us suffer like the death of someone we love more than ourselves, that make us feel as though we are on the brink of suicide or lost in a forest remote from all human habitation. A book should serve as the axe for the frozen sea within us."

The Daily Growler said...


Wow, great Kafka quote! Remember R.D. Laing and being lost in forests?

By the way, if you're still in NYC, thedailygrowlerhousepianist said he would love to meet you.

for the Growler

Marybeth said...

Hello F&Z,

Ah, I've been back on the west coast since July the twoth. Too bad about thehousepianisto. I would love to meet him too. Some day I'll be back in NYC. Home is home, you know, even after everyone is dead. Maybe next spring I'll sneak back out there. I love my silly islands, Staten, Manhattan, and Long. I miss them when I'm not there, and then I miss the SF Bay area when I'm not here. I wish there weren't a whole continent in between my two favorite places.

I'll have to look up R. D. Laing and being lost in forests. I have some vague memory about that.

Maybe some day even the big growly one will stop being afraid of me and we'll all meet. Ha! Dream on, dream on.