Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Living in New York City With Pop Up Stories From the Past

This is The Daily Growler post 1,001
Foto by tgw, "My Pet Crow," NYC, 2007 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bulletin: As predicted by The Daily Growler a few posts back when we warned that after New York City's Billionaire Mayor, "Independent" Mikey Bloomberg who spent 100 million dollars to get himself elected to an illegal third term (unprecedented in NYC mayoral history) got back in office he'd start sticking it to our asses--and so Mike did today. TODAY THIS LITTLE PRICK RAISED NEW YORK CITY PROPERTY TAXES! ALREADY, TOO, BEFORE THE REAL ESTATE BOARD IS A PROPOSED 12.9% RENT INCREASE ON RENT-CONTROLLED APARTMENTS (AFFORDABLE APARTMENTS WHERE THE WORKINGCLASS AND SENIOR CITIZENS LIVE). How arrogant is it for a broke city government to raise taxes on the poor? How arrogant is it for a mayor worth 60 billion dollars to meanly raise property taxes at a time when people are threatened daily with losing their homes. You know the City of New York can literally confiscate the deed to your home and property should you find yourself unable to pay your property taxes. Raising property taxes also means landlords will be demanding higher rents--driving people out of their homes and small business owners out of business. Driving poor Whites, Seniors of all races, Blacks, Latinos, Asians out of Manhattan first and all the boroughs eventually. Too, the City of New York is fixing to give Coney Island away to a private equity development group.
Now back to our story...in progress:
From Out of the Past: One Night in a Juarez Betting Parlor: Good Luck and Bad Luck Running Side by Side

I fly by the seat of my pants. I never realize how far I've flown. Like suddenly remembering winning every race at the Juarez Greyhound Track one night way back when I was foolish, young, and invincible, in that order. Four of us were sitting in a betting parlor on Avenida Central in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. A friend I'll simply call my betting partner and his wife and my wife, sitting in this betting parlor drinking Cruz Blanca beers, eating nachos and Mexi-pickled vegetables. This was the night my betting partner and I won every race at the dog track, the first race through the 1oth race, the last race. I even remember the dog who won us the last race. His name was LBJ. And LBJ the dog won by a tight squeezing of his ass muscles, same as the human LBJ just barely squeaked by in most of his races. "They juiced that son of a bitch," my partner said, "did you see him pissing like a god-damn cow before the race? He was juiced. Thank God, they juiced that motherfucker. What did we win?" Our wives were keeping the books. My wife announced we had won $1000 for the whole night, $250 on LBJ alone. The four of us left out of that betting parlor kings and queens of La Frontera, vociferous in jabber about our success. The parlor crowd cheered us and the guys in the windows played "Guadalajara" over the parlor PA. We bought the whole joint a round of beers to much applause, whoopla, honest appreciation, and exaggerated gritos.

"Well, gang, we're fuckin' rich, what do we do?" I said walking right out into the middle of Avenida Central. "By all means let's blow it!" my partner's wife suggested. All of us at once got it! "We're right here by Cafe Central...so why not?" And that's what we did. We marched into at that time Juarez's finest restaurant, Cafe Central, got a big round table, and began jabbering about what we were hungry for and how we needed drinks much to the delight of the joint's waiters. When they saw us come in, they understood we were Gringos with money, so they politely stopped waiting on the other customers and immediately ran over to cadge around our table. They started professionally kowtowing to our every need and request, several of them pouring us water (Gringo rule #1 in traveling to Mexico in those days: Never drink the water and if you do, expect a visit from Moctezuma's Revenge, the amoebic dysentery that used to attack all weak-stomached Gringos who dared drink the native Mexican waters). One waiter was heating up damp towels for us to wipe our hands on before we dined. Several waiters were already bringing out appetizers, one guy brought a napkin full of hot tortillas, followed by a guy with a big sack of chicirones, and one guy bringing out bowls of salsa verde y salsa colorado. Even one waiter started brushing me down with a whisk broom. Oh the attention we were getting.

We ordered a round of frozen daiquiris. I tipped the waiter that took our drink order a solid US dollar after he took my order and he immediately took the dollar and started rubbing it back and forth over his forehead. That was the way a Mexican waiter mocked the flamboyant money-throwing-away Gringo in those ancient but not-so-long-ago times--rubbing it on his forehead and saying "Ohhhhh, muchos gracias, Senor Patron, del mi y mi esposa y mi ninos...."

Our waiter gang brought out a big crystal pitcher of frozen daiquiris and while we toasted ourselves, all the waiters and all the rest of the people in the joint, who assumed we were Gringo celebrities the way they'd been abandoned by the waiter force in favor of us, started applauding and whistling and stomping and again with the gritos.

We started our dog-track-winnings feast off with 4 dozen oysters on the halfshell. My partner and I had two more dozen. Then we got a tureen of black bean soup--with pork and plantains in it--the soup was accompanied by a crock of guacamole, another huge paper sack of greasy chicirones, another round of salsa verde y salsa colorado, a platter of real nachos (tortilla chips covered in refried red beans, the beans covered in queso raton (the Gringos call it Longhorn cheese), and all topped with sliced jalapenos--baked in a brick oven. After the nachos came a huge bowl of ensalada mixta, a bowl of pickled veggies, a bowl of sugared cucumbers, then the steaks, 4 huge Mexican porterhouses flopped all over huge china platters, the steaks followed by platter of two dozen grilled quail, all washed down with bottles of Cruz Blanca beer, then followed by sopapillas and raw honey and then all the flan any human being could stand to eat--all of this followed by a round of Hennessey 5-star Cognac on the house--personally served by one of the owners of the Central--it all followed by a version of "Guadalajara" served up just for us by the house mariachi band, during which I got up with my wife and joined the boyz in the last chorus, the one that ends way up in the rafters and brings huge tears to all patriotic Mexicans's eyes.

We left Cafe Central around 2 in the morning and got back over to our hotel in El Paso around 3. We still had tons of money left. My partner got on the phone and asked what it would take to get some beer and food up to our room. "Hey, I know it's 3 o'clock in the morning, but, come on, how 'bout you get us some beer and food up here and we give you a 50-buck tip, fucking US dollars, no pesos? That's what I thought. We want Superior beers, two six packs, and...what do you think you could come up with in terms of food...uh-huh, OK, that'll earn you another $25 if you can do that...uh-huh, alright, my man, Viva Usted."

About thirty minutes later here came our beer and food, two cold six packs of Superior and a cart loaded down with a big silver tray with a silver lid over it. When the hotel waiter lifted the silver lid, WOW, he uncovered a platter of fried steak fingers! Oh my God. Such gluttony. Those were the best pieces of steak I've ever had in my life. "It cost us $175, but what do you think?" All of us were too busy scarfing steak fingers and washing them down with cold Superiors.

I woke up the next morning with somebody banging on our door. It was a guy from the hotel desk. We had slept past check-out time. They had the room booked. The room was wrecked.

"That cost us another $100," I said coming back in the room after negotiating with the hotel guy in the hallway. "C'est la vie. We still have a couple of hundred left," my wife added.

We got back home up to Santa Fe late the next night. The next night after we got back to Santa Fe, my betting partner called me and told me his wife had just told him she wanted a divorce. Huh? "Yeah," he said, "she said she saw the light down in Juarez. She said I had not only a drinking habit but now she knew I had a gambling habit, too." I told my wife about it and she said, "Yeah, I could tell she was getting disgusted with him--I could just tell the way we women know each other--I could tell she was pissed off at the way he was drinking and spending money." "She's the one who suggested we blow the money, remember, out in the middle of Central there?...." "I suppose she was testing him." "Jesus, I missed all of that. I thought she was having a great time. She certainly seemed like it." "Well, you can never tell; women are better actors than men." "So, what did you feel about me?" "Oh, I was proud of you. You were great. Even she said how cool you were." "But I drank more than he did; and I gambled just as heartily as he did." "Then you're lucky you married me, aren't you?" I couldn't deny that one, except I wanted to tell her I didn't believe in luck, but I couldn't. Two nights later I met my partner's wife at a bar out on the Albuquerque Highway. I never told anybody about that meeting. I found out first hand why my partner's wife had just suddenly up and split from him, but I never have told anybody why and certainly not him.

I know one of those characters in that night's drama has lost her race with life, my wife of that time; however, the other two? My wife and I left Santa Fe soon after this little trip. I never heard of either my betting partner or his wife again. I did read in the L.A. Times, while my wife and I were in L.A. several months later, where a man with my betting partner's same name was shot and killed in an Oceanside poker house, but his was a fairly common name and besides I don't know why he would have ended up in California, except his wife was originally from Hawaii so maybe it was him trying to get enough money gambling to get to Hawaii and reclaim his wife.

This night at the Juarez Dog Track just popped up in my memory this morning while I was thinking of what to write. "I got a'million of 'em," as Jimmy Durante used to brag.

for The Daily Growler

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