Monday, April 30, 2012

Existing in New York City: Waking Up in the Still of the Night With Nothing to Write About

Foto by tgw, New York City, 2012
In the Still of the Night

I'm up at 3 am after sleeping all day Sunday--due to the meds I take for my damaged heart--and I'm sitting here empty. Usually I'm full of words that have to spill out onto something, like a notebook page or these blog pages. But not this morning. I'm sitting here instead shuddering. It's cold, still cold, like chilly cold, as if I'm sitting on an iceberg. In the cold I'm trying to fire myself up with just writing...writing nonsense...writing gibberish. I've never forgotten reading a William Saroyan collection of short stories where he advises writers to get up every morning and put a sheet of paper in their typewriters and just start writing...even if it's nonsense. The idea is to write...and soon the words will coagulate into something readable. If a writer writes just one page a day for a year, at the end of that year he'll have 365 pages of something. Why not a book of gibberish? Or a book of conversation, which is what I feel like I'm writing right now. This is keeping me warm.

I could write some anti-Mayor Bloomberg diatribe. That little jerk is openly showing his despite for those of us who aren't rich by denying New York City service workers currently making $8.00-plus an hour a $2 and some-odd cents raise. One of his cry-baby rich-boy sentiments is that workers's pensions and Social Security and Medicare are breaking the cities of the USA. His solution to everything is fire 'em: school teachers, firemen, police, etc. Fire 'em and replace them with his rich buddies who are into privatizing the world--especially the Mayor's great backing of charter schools, a couple of which he's doled out to a couple of his rich investor buddies. But I don't feel like bashing Bloomberg today (Monday morning, April 30th).

Today, our check clears on the new Mac computer we've bought, though today may also be the day Blogspot does away with this interface we love so dearly and puts their new interface into effect, an interface which we can't use due to our browser (Mozilla Firefox 2.1) being so out-of-date Blogger's new interface doesn't recognize it. So I think this will be the last post we write until we get the new computer--in 3 days maybe--when we can work out of the new interface--that is unless Blogger trashes our old posts--over 1,200 posts compiled over the past 6 years. We are staying optimistic. [We're also looking at Word Press's blog offering.]

Hard times are ahead for writers, especially journalists...hell, hard times are ahead for all of us. Hard times are certainly ahead for me, the heart patient without pay-or-die health insurance. Obama is running for president but he isn't mentioning the hard times that are ahead for all of us. He's ignoring the Occupy movement; in fact he's supporting the FBI's and the local police departments's criminalization of this movement. He's for criminalizing all protesters. Protesters now are considered terrorists because Obama refuses to end this stupid War on Terrorism started by that little pig-rat G.W. Bush, a man who Obama still refuses to repudiate his policies. To end his phony War on Terrorists. As usual we have a choice of presidential candidates who aren't really that far apart on bashing poor people and unions and still kowtowing to the wealthiest crooks in the world, like Warren Buffett, Little Billy Gates, all the CEOs of these bailed-out pirate banks--Bank of America, the biggest crooks of all, running ads on television talking about how civically responsible they are and how they are rebuilding America via their "fair" and "liberal" banking policies. Or how 'bout those Exxon-Mobil ads where they say these crooked bastards are working to bring our kids's math scores up. Which means to me, Exxon-Mobil is investing big time in charter schools. Or how about British Petroleum's ads talking about how they've miraculously cleaned up the Gulf of Mexico to a pristine state using local people to promote these lies--reading just yesterday how the Gulf Coast shrimp industry is still not finding safe shrimp--I mean so your seafood tastes a little oily, so what?

I just returned from spending Saturday over in Allentown, Pennsylvania, at the Great Eastern Paper Show with two of my collector (and musician) friends, good friends, too, I might add, searching this large show full of dealers for things we can sell to make a little extra money during these hard-ass times. We spent most of the time talking about the hard times--one of those friends also a heart patient survivor like myself--and how hard it is trying to sell collectibles that used to fly off our shelves they were so desired by the serious collectors.

One thing I noticed about being in Allentown, which is in the heart of the Amish Country, is that the Amish seem to be doing just fine--I mean in the Allentown Farmer's Market you see the most beautiful vegetables and fruits for sale cheap; and the market also has tons of food stands selling everything from Amish barbecued meats to a great Mediterranean food stand to an authentic Vietnamese food stand--and candy makers galore and a stand selling fruit drinks sweetened with honey (I had a most delicious strawberry drink)...and the market was packed with shoppers. And I'm thinking, what the hell am I doing staying in New York City when there's this little paradise over here just a few miles due west of me? At least it looks like a paradise to a man who's lived in New York City for as long as I have, though I'm sure there are horror stories over there if I lived there.

Things in general don't look so hot for the average American citizen. I watched an old PBS documentary on the Stock Market Crash of 1929 earlier this morning and oh the similarities galore between those days and today. The stock market set up to where its crooked controllers had convinced stupid Americans that this rigged gambling device was going up forever and ever more, a handful of rich men manipulating the stock market, keeping it going up then selling off with profits while their selling off caused the stock market to plumet leaving those investors who they charmed into buying into it holding the bag full of losses. Then these charming crooks developed all these easy credit schemes. Right before the 1929 crash, credit mania had hit us. Furniture stores and clothing stores, department stores, all stores were offering easy credit--$5.00 down and $5.00 a month--and the stock market was offering margin buying--where you put up $1,000 and you got in return $10,000 worth of stock. And all the while the wealthiest bastards in the world were pooling their monies and thereby manipulating stock prices. The same as is going on today; and President Obama is still considering these crooked bastards as his heroes.

I'm entering a time in my life, or what little life I've got left, where money is going to rule my freedom. I already owe hospitals and doctors a month more money than I make a month. I'm having to dispose of all my possessions, selling a lot of my finer things at big losses in terms of value. Like an ancient coin collection of coins I paid thousands of dollars for now selling in some cases for less than $100 a piece. I'm not quite desperate yet, but I can see a future where I will be. My medicine expenses alone could send me into bankruptcy once I'm off these generic drugs I'm getting cheap from the hospital through their co-pay plan.

Well, there you go. It's now an hour later after I started this post where I worried about what to write about. Writers have to write and being a writer is no fun, folks, trust me. Writers living off their writing in this country are rare. The lucky writers are the ones that land college jobs. You know, selling a hit book and then getting a college writing class usually at your alma mater--or unless you're lucky like the Harry Potter woman or Judy Blume and make your living off filling children with imaginational hypes. Me, I can only write sarcastic children's stories and there's no money in that.

for The Last Daily Growler (for awhile)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Existing in New York City: The Mets Are 50 Years Old...Amazin'!

Foto by tgw, New York City, March 2012
Say Goodbye to: Bill "Moose" Skowron,
one of the great of the old-time tobacco-chewing rough and ready ballplayers, with the Cardinals, with the Yankees, and ending his lusty career with the White Sox. Bill Skowron, 81, American baseball player (New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox), congestive heart failure.
50 Years Ago
1962. It's hard to believe that is 50 years ago. In 1962, I was single, young, looking good, a woman chaser, sports car lover, driving all cars fast as Hades, with a youthful sparkle in my eye, a wearer of fine clothes that I couldn't pay for--in those days even a kid could get credit at a clothing store, a lover of the New York Yankees, and as such crazy about Casey Stengel and the Mick and Rajah Maris--what a life I was entering! As a pompous Yankee fan, how laughable was it that some rich boys in New York City were thinking about starting a second city baseball team to compete in the newly expanding National League. I mean, come on. The Yankees were the pennant-winningest and World-Series-winningest team ever, the mighty Bronx Bombers, the mighty men who played in the sacred House That Ruth Built, a stadium I would have never believed would be torn down and replaced with one now called the House That George Built.

In 1962, the Yankees started their 61st season in the American League; their 39th season of playing in Yankee Stadium. Yes, Casey Stengel had retired and was replaced with The Major, Ralph Houk. The team was loaded, with the Mick, Rajah, Yogi, Bobby Richardson, Whitey Ford, Ralph Terry, Elston Howard, Clete Boyer, Tony Kubek, Moose Skowron, Bob Turley, Luis Arroyo, Johnny Blanchard, Bob Cerv, Joe Pepitone. I mean, Yankees fans were looking forward to another successful season, another American League pennant, another World Series championship.

Also in 1962, thanks to the efforts of a man named Shea, a new baseball team entered the expanded National League, the newly formed East Division, a team it was decided would be called the New York Metropolitans, or the Mets for short, Metropolitans a hard logo to fit across the front of those 1962 uniforms. Their colors were red, white, and blue, the same as Old Glory. And their logo featured a baseball encompassing the skyline of New York City:
At the beginning of the 1962 season, the Mets had no stadium of their own. They were in the process of building one, the ground broken in 1961 for a stadium that was going to be called the William Shea Municipal Stadium, built out in Flushing Meadow Queens on the landfill made from a former garbage dump and right under the La Guardia Airport take-off flight paths. In the meantime, their opening season was going to be played in the decrepit old Polo Grounds in uptown Manhattan, the stadium abandoned by the New York Giants and that old asshole Horace Stoneham when he pulled up stakes and moved to San Francisco where the New York Giants became the San Francisco Giants, who, by the way, began that 1962 season as one of the favorites to win the National League with a great star-packed team that included Willy Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, Billy Pierce, Felipe and Matty Alou, Harvey Kuehn, Jose Pagan, Jim Davenport, and Willie McCovey.

What hope did these new kids (that's a joke, son), the New York Mets, have? Well, they had Casey Stengel out of retirement as their manager. Yeah, Casey was an old man by then, but he was still Casey Stengel, one of the winningest managers in baseball--old Casey, calling his new team, "Amazin', Amazin', Amazin'," thus beginning the story of the Amazin' Mets.

And the 1962 Mets, well, they didn't look like losers really--I mean check out the team they took the field with to start that Amazin' season:
1962 New York Mets

1962 New York Mets Official Logo

Complete Roster

20 Craig Anderson 6-02 205 Right Right 1938-07-01
26 Galen Cisco 5-11 215 Right Right 1936-03-07
38 Roger Craig 6-04 191 Right Right 1930-02-17
35 Ray Daviault 6-01 170 Right Right 1934-05-27
27 Larry Foss 6-02 187 Right Right 1936-04-18
27, 34 Dave Hillman 5-11 168 Right Right 1927-09-14
47 Jay Hook 6-02 182 Right Left 1936-11-18
29 Willard Hunter 6-02 180 Left Right 1934-03-08
15 Al Jackson 5-10 169 Left Left 1935-12-25
36 Sherman Jones 6-04 205 Right Left 1935-02-10
41 Clem Labine 6-00 180 Right Right 1926-08-06
19 Ken MacKenzie 6-00 185 Left Right 1934-03-10
36 Bob Miller 6-01 185 Left Right 1935-07-15
24 Bob Miller 6-01 182 Right Right 1939-02-18
26 Vinegar Bend Mizell 6-03½ 205 Left Right 1930-08-13
26 Herb Moford 6-01 175 Right Right 1928-08-06
22 Bob Moorhead 6-01 208 Right Right 1938-01-23
8 Chris Cannizzaro 6-00 190 Right Right 1938-05-03
44 Harry Chiti 6-03 225 Right Right 1932-11-16
17 Choo Choo Coleman 5-09 165 Right Left 1937-08-25
12 Joe Ginsberg 5-11 180 Right Left 1926-10-11
5 Hobie Landrith 5-10 170 Right Left 1930-03-16
5 Joe Pignatano 5-10 180 Right Right 1929-08-04
16 Sammy Taylor 6-02 185 Right Left 1933-02-27
3, 11 Ed Bouchee 6-01 205 Left Left 1933-03-07
2, 7 Elio Chacon 5-09 160 Right Right 1936-10-26
6 Cliff Cook 6-00 188 Right Right 1936-08-20
12 Sammy Drake 5-11 175 Right Both 1934-10-07
6 Rick Herrscher 6-02½ 187 Right Right 1936-11-03
14 Gil Hodges 6-01½ 200 Right Right 1924-04-04
10 Rod Kanehl 6-01 180 Right Right 1934-04-01
21 Ed Kranepool 6-03 215 Left Left 1944-11-08
18 Felix Mantilla 6-00 160 Right Right 1934-07-29
6 Jim Marshall 6-01 190 Left Left 1931-05-25
4 Charlie Neal 5-10 165 Right Right 1931-01-30
2 Marv Throneberry 6-00 197 Left Left 1933-09-02
17 Don Zimmer 5-09 177 Right Right 1931-01-17
1 Richie Ashburn 5-10 170 Right Left 1927-03-19
3 Gus Bell 6-02 196 Right Left 1928-11-15
23 Joe Christopher 5-10 176 Right Right 1935-12-13
29 John DeMerit 6-01½ 195 Right Right 1936-01-08
9 Jim Hickman 6-04 205 Right Right 1937-05-10
16 Bobby Gene Smith 5-11 185 Right Right 1934-05-28
25 Frank Thomas 6-03 205 Right Right 1929-06-11
11 Gene Woodling 5-09½ 195 Right Left 1922-08-16

I mean they had pitchers like Galon Cisco, Clem Labine, Roger Craig, Vinegar Bend Mizell. And in the infield they had Felix Mantilla, Gil Hodges, Ed Kranepool, Charlie Neal. And in the outfield they had the great Richie Ashburn (one of my heroes as a Philadelphia Phillie--consistently leading the National League in batting), Big Frank Thomas, ex-Yankee great Gene Woodling, and Gus Bell. I mean, come on, surely, OK so these guys were getting a little long in the tooth, but surely these guys could maybe pull a break-even season out of Casey's hat.

They opened the season in Saint Louis on April 10th. It was sort of promising of what was to come: the game was rained out. So their season really began the next day, April 11th--and, yep, they began the season just like they would finish the season. Don Zimmer, yep, the old veteran with a steel plate in his head, made an error on the very first defensive play of the game--and then starting pitcher Roger Craig balked in the first run of the game. The Cardinals ended up winning the game 11-4 and thus started a 9-game losing streak for the Metropolitans.

In the meantime, the World Champion New York Yankees (they had won everything in 1961) were off and running full speed in 1962 on their way to winning 96 games while only losing 66, coming in 5 games better than the Minnesota Twins and 35 1/2 games ahead of the lowly Washington Senators, who ended the season with a 60-101 win-loss record. Surely no team could be lousier than that year's Senators!

The Yankees had a phenom season, with Ralph Terry posting a 23-12 record and Whitey Ford a 17-8 record. With the Mick winning the MVP Award for the year, hitting .330 and knocking 30 HRs and driving in 89 runs and Roger Maris hitting under .300, but hitting 3 more HRs than the Mick and driving in 100 runs (Roger was intentionally walked 4 times in one game). And Bobby Richardson leading the team in fielding and also hitting .302. And Elston Howard and Moose Skowron hit 23 and 22 home runs and driving in 161 runs between them. And a guy named Tommy Tresh having a phenomenal season driving in 93 runs.

Then these 1962 Yankees went on to beat the San Francisco Giants in one of the most exciting World Series in baseball up to that time, beating the Giants in 7 games, winning the last game 1-0.

I mean, who the hell was following the New York Metropolitans that year? Well, over 900,000 people sweated out the Mets that year out at the Polo Grounds. And, ironically, this was a year the two former New York teams, the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers both broke 100 in terms of winning games, the Giants winning 103 to the Dodgers 102--clobbering all opponents, the champion by 1 game Giants beating the lowly Cubs that year by 42 1/2 games--the Cubbies at 59-103 the worse team in baseball...well, no, because you see the Giants beat the worst team in baseball that year by 60 1/2 games...WHO! Yep, the Amazin' Mets. Last place their first year in baseball with a ghastly 40-120 record-setting record.

I mean, what the hell happened? Richie Ashburn hit over .300. And Big Frank Thomas hit 34 home runs, 3 more than Roger Maris, and drove in 94 runs, 5 more than the Mick. But that was it. The pitching was terrible. The Mets best pitcher, Roger Craig, ended with a disastrous 10-24 record and Al Jackson did even worse with an 8-20 record.

And Then There Was 1969
My young wife and I came to New York City in the spring of 1969. Just as baseball season was getting underway. The Yankees were coming off a lousy 5th place finish in 1968. The Mick, beat up, unable to run, playing first base, had finally retired. The team had no hitters and though they had some pretty good pitchers, led by Mel Stottlemeyer, they still weren't predicted to do much.

The Mets had done worse than the Yankees in 1968, ending up in 9th place under Manager Gil Hodges. Though they were drawing good attendances at Shea Municipal Stadium, still nobody was expecting anything Amazin' out of them in '69.

I as a Yankees fan was totally pissed at the Yankees ownership and Manager Ralph Houk. I mean The Major looked like a Buck Private to me, so I had little or no interest in baseball at the beginning of this season. I concentrated on getting a job mostly, working around town as a free-lance typist first before landing a free-lance job as a part-time copywriter for a New Jersey discount department store whose headquarters were on the far West Side in an all-concrete building that sat over the Penn-Central rail yards and boasted of an ice-skating rink on its top floor.

It was while working as that copywriter and having an affair with my boss that I suddenly began to notice the Mets. Remember, the Mets had never finished above 9th place since their inaugural year. And '69 had started off like maybe they were again going to stick to their losing ways with the Cubbies going wild and leading the newly divisioned-up league most of the early season until in the heat of summer when they suddenly started nose-diving and who was that coming on strong, winning more than they were losing? Why it was the Amazin' Mets. And suddenly by August the Mets were Amazin'! Amazin'! Amazin'! It was their pitching that was doing it, with the great Tom Seaver headed toward a 25-7 season, backed up by Jerry Koosman who went 17-9, both pitchers with under .300 ERAs. With the late Tug McGraw coming out of the bullpen. The pitchers being the reason for their great winning and not necessarily the hitters, Cleon Jones hitting .344. Tommy Agee hit 26 homers followed by Art Shamsky had an Amazin' year hitting .300 and 14 homers. Though as fielders the Mets were the best, Bud Harrelson, Wayne Garrett, Cleon Jones, and Don Clendennon on the infield and Tommy Agee staring in the outfield. The Amazin' Mets winning the new Eastern division over the Cubs by 8 games, finishing the season 100-62 under Gil Hodges managerial leadership, with Yogi Berra as his first-base coach. Then Amazin'ly going on to beat the Atlanta Braves in the first National League playoffs 3 straight games...and THEN, that September after Woodstock--yes, 1969, that Summer was Woodstock up near Maggie's Farm--and it rained like a pissed-off rain god was angry over something--maybe the brown acid being dropped by the Hipster culture--and my lover and I made it to Harrison, New York, that day in her Volkswagen bug (Hitler's car) and we checked in to a motel instead of making it to Woodstock--the cars were backed up all the way back to Harrison--just off the NY Thruway--and that was also the year the Jets beat Baltimore in the Super Bowl under Broadway Joe Namath--and that was the year the Knicks won the NBA championship under Willis Reed--and after the Mets won the National League title, folks predicted they didn't have a chance in hell against the Baltimore Orioles under Earl Weaver, with Jim Palmer pitching for them, and Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson, I mean, it would be impossible, but it was the year for the impossible and after 5 games, it was over when Koosman got Davy Johnson (who ironically would manage the Mets to their next championship in 1986) to fly out--and the Mets were the World Champions--and Casey Stengel was right all along, they were Amazin', Amazin', Amazin'. And names like Al Weis would go down in the baseball history books...and Don Clendennon would be the MVP, and Gil Hodges would be the Manager of the Year.

And now the Mets are 50 years old. And they haven't been so hot in quite a few years. And they've suffered under back general management and choosing bad managers since the heyday of Davy Johnson and Hojo and Dwight Gooden and Darrell Strawberry and Ron Darling or the year they had a chance again but lost to the Yankees in short order. This year, well they started off like they were serious but now they've settled back down to being a 50-5o-looking club under this former nobody manager who wasn't that good of a manager in the minors but, hey, the Mets were managed badly from the top down--the team almost bankrupted by Bernie Madoff--but they did get a new stadium, named after one of the crookedest of the bailed-out super bankrupt banks. Will we ever see them Amazin' again? Maybe so many years from now...maybe so. Will they be around another 50 years? Who knows. Maybe the Shadow knows.

for The Daily Growler

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Existing in New York City: An Unfinished Story From the Past

Foto by tgw, New York City 2009
As Found on wood s lot:

A Very Personal Message To The Poetry Community On Behalf Of Diane Di Prima.

By Amber Tamblyn

Earlier this month, my spirit animal and close family friend poet Michael McClure sent me an email regarding San Francisco Poet Laureate Diane Di Prima who is now 78 years old. Michael knows that Diane has had a particularly important impact on my life. Her memoir, Recollections of My Life As A Woman changed me on a fundamental level. Her very existence, even prior to reading her memoir, shaped the way I viewed myself as an emerging woman and as a writer. Upon reading Recollections, I knew I could never go back to the way I viewed myself again. I could not NOT define myself as, above all things, a poet and a feminist, titles I had always struggled with.

Michael McClure wrote me:

Diane is suffering with several painful and even life-threatening illnesses, including removal of all teeth, arthritis from her earlier back operation, extreme problems with glaucoma and a needed operation; but that’s just the top of the list. Despite all, she is in unexpectedly fine spirits. If you know of any way to help her, she would appreciate it and I would also.
So here I am, asking you—the poetry community—to support one of the most important poets in our lifetime. I have set up a donations page for Diane at Give Forward which will help to cover her rehabilitation and costs from several surgeries over the next couple of months. Please donate, even if it’s just a dollar or a message expressing love and warm wishes. (But if you don’t give a dollar… to quote a Di Prima poem, I say to you: ”Get Your Neck Off My Knife”.)
I spoke to Diane today by phone and when I told her about the fundraiser I would launch today on Harriet, she said to me, toothless and ruthless as ever: “That’s all great and we need the money… but more importantly, how are your poems coming along these days?”

Posted in Group Blog on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012 by Amber Tamblyn.


Note: We have purchased a MacBook, a rare black one with Snow Leopard (10.6) as its operating system on an Intel processor hard drive. We are now waiting for it to be delivered--by next week we hope--in time we also hope to avoid Blogger leaving The Daily Growler abandoned on the old blog highway--all who love and adore us, keep your fingers crossed--if we get this machine in time, we won't miss a beat--but, as the great Fats Waller said, "One never knows, do one?"

Art Pepper

Adjusting Parallel Lines to Track Correctly, A Story of a Jazz Man Inspired By the Late Art Pepper's Life
You're Wantin' to Live When You're Body's Wantin' to Die [from May 10, 2010]
I lay up in my bed most of the time I'm home. And most of the time I am home these days. I'm an aging musician. I work nights when I work. That's the problem: when I work. If I sleep I sleep after my wife goes to work. My wife works a day gig. I hear her in the kitchen cookin ' eggs and sausages. She works hard to please me. I smell the coffee brewing. On the stove. In an old coffee pot I had when I was in college. I'm particular. My wife bears it. This wife. I've had two other wives. But this wife...this wife is the chick who's saving my ass.

I lay up in my bed with pillows piled up behind me. I have a set of earphones hanging off a peg head-high on the wall behind my bed. The earphones are plugged into a stereo that is set up on a shelf in the book shelves on the wall to the left side of my bed. On those shelves I keep my books and my clippings and my souvenirs and memorabilia. Like that poster over there of that pig in a top hat carrying a cane and wearing a tux. That's the only band I was ever in that got a poster. That's my only poster. My past. I can pack it all up fast in a couple of suitcases and get the hell out of here if I have to. And I have had to many times before.

Like I said, I'm a musician. I'm a piano player. Not really a good piano player. Well, I'm very good for me, but I can't compete with the established names in my field no way. What I've got going for me is that I can play the piano AND I can also sing. When I first moved to New York City in late 1968, that was a big advantage in getting a gig.

There was a bar on every corner in downtown Manhattan where I ended up living--actually camping out in musician friends's living rooms or spare rooms, one time in a guy's attic--and in every other one of these bars they had live music. Some of these bars were low-life wino bars but there were some swankier places, usually called lounges, where they had live jazz. Another advantage I had at that time was I could crossover from jazz to blues to standards to
r and b to rock. Why, due to where I came from, the plains of West Texas, I could even do C&W. Like I could with ease go from a medley of Harold Arlen tunes into a medley of B.B. King's latest hits then into a medley of Hank Williams favorites. I even could do some Wayne Raney tunes. I could be Tony Bennett or I could be Sleepy LaBeef. Another advantage I had was I was a good showman. I had a stage charm. Even my patter was entertaining.

I got in with a whole host of downtown Manhattan musicians and soon I was using my advantages and getting a steady bunch of steady gigs. Soon I was playing, in the Players sense of the term, smack-dab in the middle of one angle of the New York City downtown music scene. Playing steady with a drummer and bass player at one joint--making 50 a night--and whatever tips I could hustle. I even did a steady solo thing at a pizza parlor that had a piano in the far back room where as the owner told me they liked to keep "a jazz thing" going for the atmosphere.

That was then; this is now. Now I have a lot of time between gigs. Gigs? The kids have taken the gigs away from me. As a kid, I suppose I took gigs away from the old cats, too. I never thought about it then and I'm sure these kids never consider it either. Fuck the old fogies. Give 'em a sort of a shrugged shoulders respect but at the same time advocated an "it's time for them to move on" attitude. And now having to accept these attitudes and give the stage over to these, to me, children, it pains a musician like me to see what's taking my place up there on those stages I used to make my living on. I go in a club where I used to work. They've changed the name of the club but the club's still the same, same bar, same tables and chairs, same crappy stage, new Klieg lights, they only had one spot when I worked there. But the music. That has changed. On stage were two White boys, with their shirts-off to show their many disfiguring tattoos, playing low-hanging electric guitars backed by an older White boy, a rather porky boy wearing a guinea tee shirt--tattoos blaring off his chubby lily white arms--and then they started--and one White boy leaps at the mic and screams something unintelligible to me but the audience responds by screaming whatever he said back at him. The fairly large music room is packed, at least 50 of what looked to me like underage teens trying to look trendy hip and older than they are--the club management not obviously checking IDs, nor do they seem to give a shit as long as this band was packin ' 'em in, though I did notice a lot of Shirley-Temple-looking drinks in front of some of the obviously moppet girls laced among the "drinking" studs--the boys all ratherfreakily resembling the guys on stage. I ask a girl who's the band. "Wow, man, the Social Loogies dance old man?" "I dance right out of your way, sweetheart," I suavely replied. "I like you, old man, you're cool." She shot me the peace sign and floated off into the mix of tables. The Social Loogies were now both screaming into their mics, leaping in the air, windmilling their guitars, hurling out their vocals with vile grievance on their faces. And, yes, it did look like they were hocking up loogies. But what they were hocking their loogies at, I couldn't understand. After about 15 minutes, the song the Social Loogies were singing BAM just ended. The crowd went wild. Absurdly so. I'd never in my performing career had a crowd go that wild. I don't remember ever really expecting a crowd to go that wild even after I did one of my specialty numbers (something I'd worked on to perfection in terms of how I played and delivered it).

Soon the Loogies just left the stage. That was it for them? I spotted the guy, I swear, the guy who owned the joint when I worked here. "Billy? Billy is that you?" "Yeah, I don't need no help if you're lookin' for work." "Naw , Billy, how 'bout giving me a gig in here." "Give your demo to that British jack off over there by the bandstand." "Billy, you don't remember me, The Wolf Boy...or how about Wolf on the Mantle and the Ordinaries?" "Wolf?" Billy finally looked up at me. "Wolf...god-damn, boy, you ain't no boy anymore. Is that really you? God-damn, good to see ya. What the fuck you up to?" "Just checkin' out the old scene. Gettin ' nostalgic." "It's changed, Wolf. It's changed. Did you check out that piece-of-shit band that just played? I won't let 'em play but one set. They get the birdies in and then I bring on the soapy set...she's coming on in 5...with big promises that those little prick assholes will do another set. It works. I'm not gettin' rich...." "Billy, you were pleadin' poverty when I worked here." If a girl, she's playing a tamborine or if talented an acoustic guitar. If she sings, she sings like she's sucking dick. All playing the same 3-change tunes rock and rollers have been playing since the overplaying Brits came over here and claimed our music as their own--playing like that guy in the Who who did the windmill thing on his electric guitar while holding down the reverb pedal while wanking the wah-wah pedal with his other foot. And we jazz and blues guys all horse laughed at these guys. We jived about how much these "tape recorder" types had copied from Jimi , a true hero to us. Whatever sarcastic opinions we older cats had of these 3-change (C to A-flat to B-flat back to C) monaural creatures and their monotonous music, they and their music were getting the gigs.

Or, and here's another problem I'm facing: even if there is a venue where my kind of music is still accepted, when I get there to promote myself and try and get a gig, I have to wait in a long line of better recognized has beens than me. Why look, ain't that Chubby Checker up there behind Neil Sedaka? Yep, these has beens get the gig based on their past fame. Like this one joint I spotted with a sign "Live Jazz Nightly" in its window. I had a demo with me, so I decided to go in and see if I could drop it off for the music booker to listen to--a chance for maybe at least a Monday night gig. As I walked in the door I saw a bill posted in the vestibule and on the bill I saw that an old jazz pianist hero of mine was doing a single there. Inside I was told this old dude was pretty much a permanent fixture there now. Very popular.

Then through my charm, I got this great gig in the heart of Greenwich Village; playing a sort of jazz-blues-free-form fusion; the owner lady with twinkles in her loving eyes told me not to worry, she liked me, and sure I had the gig pretty much forever. It looked good for me; a chance to get back in the public eye again. And then one night after I'd knocked a packed house's socks off, I went up to the boss lady to get my money and she starts hem-hawing around, acting shy, not looking me in the eye. Then she told me she was sorry, so deeply sorry, her eyes tearing up on cue, but she was giving my gig to this guitarist dude. I recognized his name. His fame was he'd worked briefly with Miles Davis. Plus he had a wife who supposedly could sing just like some so and so girl singer. So that was that for me and that gig.

So I had a lot of time between gigs. So I had my bed rigged up where I could lay back, listen to music, or watch teevee. The teevee was straight in front of the bed. Big screen. With a video player attached.

And when my wife went to work and I was left alone in the apartment, that's when I just lay in bed, got high, reefer, drank strong coffee, and either listened to music or watched teevee. I had a big notebook always by my side on the bed, too. While digging music I wrote poetry. While watching teevee I wrote music. I wrote songs. I had started writing my autobiography. I thought I had a wild fascinating past. I'd done some stupid things in my life. Like alcohol. Wow, I used to be such a bad drunk. Like I got into such an alcoholic rage one night in a San Francisco club when a customer came up and requested I play something recognizable I leaped off the stage to attack him and cracked my jaw when I fell on the edge of a table.

So I'm watching television this morning. My wife's cooking me breakfast. She's just brought me a steaming mug of Joe, Bean, Mocha Java, whatever you call coffee. Musicians I know never just say coffee. The Bean was what we called it in my crowd. "You're eggs and sausage are comin' soon. You ready?"

I'd lucked out on this my third wife.

[THIRD WIFE: "The first time I met him? I didn't remember. He said I did. He said he caught my eye...that was in downtown Manhattan dump...damn, it's unbelievable to me how long ago that was...but, anyway, he claimed he caught me adoring him while he was playing this certain tune a certain way. You know, like he was playing at me as though I was a cobra in a basket. [She laughs a bright laughter.] He claimed, 'I was playin' right at you, baby. I could tell you were diggin' me solid. I was sendin' you, baby.' I guess he's right. I don't remember how it happened. But I did end up bookin' into the Terminal Hotel with him. And do remember shackin' up with him there for 2 days in some friend of his's room. And I do remember telling him yes I would marry him. I found out later, the bastard, I looked almost exactly like his first wife. The wife he had a kid with. No, he told me straight off about this wife and the kid, but he never mentioned she looked just like me."]

Yeah, she does look like my first wife, Janine. God, with Janine I was so sure it was true love. It wasn't. It was sex. She had a smokin ' little body and she was grabby and easily grabbed in return, and she was warm and foxy, and she was expertly passionate, and easy, so easy. I just snapped my fingers and she was taking her clothes off and prodding me on. I thought things were great. Champagne by the jeroboams. Weed by the pound. Hell, we even grew it in our pot plants. Then one day she just said, 'What if I quit fucking you?' Damn. I thought about that. It was a powerful question. I looked her up and down. I thought, Jesus, I don't know anything about this woman. All I know is I look at her and want to fuck her. She's right. I don't know her desires. I don't know her hopes. And then the truth hit me right between the eyes. I don't know these things because I don't care about them. I don't love her. That's it. I don't love her.

Then when I was at my lowest--I sat day and night with a bottle of vodka between my legs. When I sobered up I got the willies so bad, I got to banging down uppers. To stabilize me, I rationalized. I was stumble down drunk and on a buzzsaw high at the same time. Sleeping awake half of the time. Swilling. I became a drunk.

[And there this story suddenly ended.]
picking 'em from the past for The Daily Growler

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A The Daily Growler 6th Anniversary Rerun: With a thegrowlingwolf Preface

Foto by tgw, New York City, 2008
NOTE: The Daily Growler has been warned by Blogspot that the old interface we are now using WILL BE WITHDRAWN in the coming month [The Blogspot message:
The old Blogger interface will be removed in the coming month.]--which means, if we don't get a new computer in the meantime, the Growler will be unable to publish and will go dark, as they used to say in the newspaper business. We have been publishing for 6 years this month--but now it looks like we're gonna have to SAY GOODBYE to ourselves. Our Toshiba laptop that had the latest Firefox browser on it and could handle Blogspot's new interface bit the dust a couple of days ago--c'est la vie--so be prepared all you faithful Growlers for there one day to be no more The Daily Growler--at least until more prosperous times come along.

Say Goodbye to: Charles Colson:
Ye were punked in prison; may ye now roast in Holy Hell, you sorry bastard. Charles Colson, 80, American White House Counsel and evangelist, involved in the Watergate scandal, founder of Prison Fellowship, brain hemorrhage.
Death is always a part of life. It is always with us. Some of us make our livings challenging it. Some of us make our livings rebuking it. Some of us deny it until it strikes a blow against us and then we wake up to its presence.

Some of us are not afraid of death. Or at least that's the pose we take. We show this bravery by continuing to smoke or drink heavy after death has struck us a blow. Some of us show this bravery by working out in gyms at ferocious paces. Vigorous exercise keeps some of us alive seemingly forever, i.e., Jack LaLanne. Some of us never exercise and live seemingly forever, i.e., George Burns. While Jack was juicing, Burns was smoking cigars and drinking martinis; yet Burns outlived Jack by several years. As Fats Waller famously said, "One never knows, do one?"

Since I had a heart attack two months ago, I now see death in every thing I look at, like my apartment. My apartment is decadently falling apart daily, though it is over one hundred and fifty years old. The paintings on my walls are deteriorating, fading, one coming unglued from its mat and hanging odd-ball in its frame, the part of it hidden from sunlight turning darker to distort that part that has dropped into that hidden position. Even my treasured keyboard is dying, already three keys going dead on it. Even a pile of old manuscripts I wrote back in the days when all I had was a typewriter to write on are yellowing, deteriorating, crumbling. And this is certainly true of the older books in my library.

Since I had a heart attack two months ago, every time I have a chest pain I immediately think "Oh shit, is this another heart attack coming on? Is this the Reaper still hovering around me? What do I do, run to the Bellevue Emergency Room and check it out?" Before my heart attack if I had chest pains I simply belched them off and went skipping on down the line.

Death is one of our lifelong companions.

"A dying man needs to die, as a sleepy man needs to sleep, and there comes a time when it is wrong, as well as useless, to resist."
Stewart Alsop

"A man who won't die for something is not fit to live."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Any man who has $10,000 left when he dies is a failure."
Errol Flynn

"Death is a very dull, dreary affair, and my advice to you is to have nothing whatsoever to do with it."
W. Somerset Maugham

"Dying is easy, it's living that scares me to death."
Annie Lennox

"From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity."
Edvard Munch

Whew, I finally got death off my chest. Like Munch, I've instructed the beneficiary of my ashes to dig a hole and plant a hearty tree in it and then feed those roots my ashes. I'll betcha soon that tree will be singing.

for The Daily Growler

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Striking Oil With Ezra Pound

“Criminals have no intellectual interest”

Ezra Pound said that. That, I would assume, means there is no art in crime. Can a criminal then be an artist (I would submit Francois Villon as a true criminal artist)? Not much great art has come out of prison! That’s probably a pretty honest statement. Poetry and prose, now that’s another matter; plenty of books have been written in prison. Ironic, isn't it, that Ezra was considered a criminal by the United States military and wrote a lot of poetry in prison. Ezra's prison in Italy after WWII was an outdoor pen made out of chicken wire with only a piece of wood for a roof.

Adolph Hitler wrote his masterpiece in prison, but then Hitler would prove Ez’s statement true; therefore, writing a book in prison does not mean you have an intellectual interest in it. Ez would then predict that O.J.’s coming literary masterpiece is probably not going to be intellectual at all.

Our politicians are mostly all criminals, even the good ones, so there ya go; Ez’s statement still
holds water.

Aren’t we all criminals? “Something reprehensible, foolish, or disgraceful” is one of the definitions of a crime. I’ve certainly been reprehensible before; foolish; and, yes, disgraceful, but I don’t think of myself as a criminal. I have intellectual interests, dammit. See, I’m with Ez on this one. You gotta be pretty dumb to be a criminal. Who’s the very dumbest Amurican at the moment? You know my favorite: the “president” [G.W. Bush]—and by God, we damn sure know he’s a criminal.

Something About Freud I Found Striking
According to Hilda Doolittle, Freud used the phrase “striking oil” when his analysis unearthed something in a patient. “Eureka!” comes from striking oil. “Thar she blows!” comes from striking oil in a whale

Speaking Spock Again: A Fantastic Thought
I heard a biologist say that killer bees were simply regular bees evolving an attitude regarding being attacked:

--by being burnt out of their natural environment
--driven by their ferocious instinct to build a queendom so their life cycles can be fulfilled.

You know why we have killer bees (African bees) in this hemisphere? They were brought in by beekeepers in Brazil to increase honey production. For profits! Capitalism is responsible for the spreading migrations of killer bees, that are as I type this already invading the outskirts of San Francisco.

for The Daily Growler

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A The Daily Growler 6th Anniversary Rerun: With a Preface by thegrowlingwolf

Foto by tgw, "Up Fifth Avenue," New York City, 2003
Say Goodbye to: Levon Helm,
a good-ole-boy drummer from Marvell, Arkansas, the only American member of the Band (known as the Hawks before Dylan used them)--also in that famous paternity battle with old Dr. John the Nighttripper. Levon Helm, 71, American musician (The Band) and actor (Coal Miner's Daughter), throat cancer.
Note: We've been told by some viewers that The Daily Growler isn't visible on their computers any longer. Blogspot on which we've posted for 6 years has recently upgraded and says due to our out-of-date browser, it no longer recognizes the Growler--what we have to do on that occasion is click on a box that reverts us back to the "old interface" and then the Growler Growls back at us all merry and bright and alive in its past glory. We are being forced by the Internet hierarchy to buy a new computer--one with an up-to-date Mac operating system. Though we can use a Toshiba laptop running Windows XP that does have the latest Firefox upgrade on it though using that computer means we no longer have access to our vast photo and image files. However, we can download new photos into that system--but we don't like it--and prefer using this old Mac G4 running the wonderful Panther 10.3.9 system. Apple of China is upgrading its operating systems every six months or so it seems--it is up to Lion now--zooming quickly on through Leopard and Snow Leopard--they'll soon be running out of wild cats--though they haven't used Sabre Tooth Tiger yet. Progress in this sense is stupid--one should be able to use a universally standard operating system but then branding is so important to these greedy computer geeks--geeks who are working 24/7 tweaking (we used to call it fine tuning) operating systems and apps and shit just to get more money out of we goofy customers. This is all generational bullshit when you stop and analyze it--it's all to sucker in young people coming of age who will buy any damn gadget you promote as the latest and hippest and fastest and coolest.
Famous Last Words
I thought there would be tons of "Famous Last Words" if I Googled that phrase, BUT, and yes I gave up quickly on disappointment, I could only find a bunch of references to music clips (especially one for a song called "Chemical Response") or sites that simply listed famous last words, like "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh," or "Why is your light getting so blue?", imaginary last words, not the actual ones (they are probably there, but I got frustrated and gave up looking for them).

My grandmother on my mother's side, the poet/librarian, kept a small schoolboy notebook in her bookcase. One day out of curiosity, I sneaked a peak at it. In it was a small inked list of the famous last words of some of her favorite people. The only one I remember was Thomas Paine. By his name she had written of this famous agnostic who wrote a great book that roamed the Christian Bible to show its many unscientific nonsenses, contradictory time lines, and absolute idiocies entitled The Age of Reason, "On his death bed, Thomas Paine, admitted he DID believe in God and he renounced his statements of heresy he had made in The Age of Reason."

These are those words my grandmother was referring to:

"I would give worlds if I had them, that the Age of Reason had never been published. O, Lord, help me! Christ, help me! No, don't leave; stay with me! Send even a child to stay with me; for I am on the edge of Hell here alone. If ever the Devil had an agent, I have been that one."

But on a site under "What were the last words of Thomas Paine?" I found this:

"Witnessed by Amasa Woodsworth, and reported by Dr. Philip Graves, Dr. Manley asked Paine: 'Do you wish to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?' After a pause of some minutes, Paine replied, 'I have no wish to believe on that subject.'"

In my family's passed-on history, I heard a similar last-words tale. The last words of that same grandmother's husband, my grandfather on my mother's side. He had been a very intelligent man who read a lot but supposedly had never read the Christian Bible. He was a man who loved adventure. He was present, along with my grandmother and their first-born son, my Uncle Uncle, at the famous Galveston Flood disaster. After that flood, he with some unexpected money he got, bought an EMF racer, a yellow car that was especially built for car racing back in the early 1900s. And he loved racing that car on the primitive dirt race tracks down in the South Texas area from Galveston and Houston back over to Beaumont, where he and my grandmother made their home after they left Galveston. He certainly didn't get rich racing his EMF so he made his main living as a "fancy" sign painter and when that work was thin, he worked as a house painter. As a result of working with those early-day lead paints, in 1919 he contracted what was called "the house painters disease" that was medically called catarrh.

Definition of CATARRH

: inflammation of a mucous membrane; especially : one chronically affecting the human nose and air passages

Due to the recent Spanish influenza epidemic that killed millions of people around the world, my grandmother thought that perhaps her husband's disease was contagious, so the summer he got the sickest, he was coughing constantly, coughing up phlegm, and finding it difficult to breathe in the stuffy house, she moved him to a small bed out on the house's screened-in back porch.

At his sickest point, when the doctor told my grandmother he didn't have long to live, my grandmother called in her church's preacher and asked him to have a talk with her dying husband about his soul. The preacher dutifully went out on the back porch and pulled up a chair beside my grandfather's bed and after a brief moment put the question directly to this dying man: "Mr. C___, have you found Jesus during this ordeal?" To which my grandfather replied, "Why? Have you lost him?"

Years later when I was a very young kid, this man's only son lay dying in a McKinney, Texas, Veteran's Hospital. On a visit to my Uncle Uncle's bedside after his lung cancer had traveled up through his lymph nodes and had entered his brain, I heard him asked that inevitable question devout Christians must ask the dying, especially the dying who have for all of their lives rebuked the holy message of the Christian Bible, the path to what Christians call "Eternal Life," "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?" After this man had raved about wanting to die, asking over and over for a gun so he could blow his degenerating brains out, in the process calling his mother a "fucking bitch" for trying to make his dying easier (a mother's want), when asked this vital Christian question, he became momentarily his old belligerent self and with his steel blue eyes looked around at all of us and said, "You've got to be fucking want me to believe on a son of a bitch who would put me through this? I'll gladly go to Hell to get out of this fucking misery."

I've never forgot that spiel from my Uncle Uncle, who though a man who hated everybody no matter their race and only highly respected the finer creations of life, he's the man who introduced me to Beethoven, he was still my favorite uncle whose finely put words of wisdom and his sense of independence have stuck with me until this day. Though those weren't his last words, they were the last words he spoke to his family. For after he spouted those words out, he shut up to us, turned over and showed his backside to us and said not one more word.

I got into this thinking wondering suddenly while watching a PBS television nature show what my last words would be. Having had a recent heart attack, one that I just barely survived, I have become well aware that my final moment on this coil may be sooner than I ever expected. If I were asked that Christian question, how would I answer it? First of all, I know of no one of my friends or family who would asked me such a question since they all know I have no concept of any god and also that I have since my age of reason been unable to even partially believe the Jesus Christ tale as real--why I don't even believe Jesus Christ as portrayed in the Christian Bible ever existed, he's a fictional (legendary) character the same as Paul Bunyan or John Henry the Steel-Drivin' Man, much more believable characters to me since they come from my cultural roots. One of my favorite junior-high quips was, "Do you know the difference between God and Santa Claus?" The answer to which was, "Santa Claus is real."

So what will my last words be? "What are my chances, Doc?" Or if I know for sure I'm "flying away," maybe it will be, "Don't throw all my shit in the garbage when I'm gone, dammit!" Or if a certain woman is at my bedside, it will certainly be to give her my final love--no words necessary for that, just a look deep into her eyes followed with a loving smile. Yes, that sounds to me like what I would want my final words to be--a deep look into someone I love's eyes captioned with a loving all-telling smile.

for The Daily Growler

Friday, September 15, 2006


Italian Food
I just returned from dinner at a restaurant on Fifth Avenue. I had veal parmigiana and spaghetti covered in a rich wonderful tomato sauce. Except, now that I'm home I have heartburn bad and I never have heartburn...unless I eat Italian food. Why is that? Why just Italian food? Is it the salt in it? Is it the cheese? The rich, thick tomato sauce?

I was reading recently these psychiatrists who say a lot of our fears are caused by suggestions we got hypnotically pounded into us by our parents, guardians, teachers, etc., when we were young and susceptible to such nonsense. I think someone put the suggestion in my head somewhere in the long-gone past that all Italian food causes heartburn and for that reason, I don't eat much Italian food at all anymore--and I love it--I love garlic, I love tomato sauce, I love Parmesan cheese...I love the thing that gives me heartburn...and that goes for my loves over the years, too, though I never dated or married an Italian girl, though my second wife could speak Italian.

And speaking of getting heartburn, I don't why, but I'm getting worried about the coming elections. Just as it looks like the Dumbocrats are going to run rampant over the Repug candidates in November, signs begin to point back toward Georgie Porgie, our first faux "president," to the point his ratings are going back up, not high, but at 40% approval now. My question is why? Why would this idiot's ratings be going up when everything points to total failure in all of his political adventures, which are all his wars, his spying, his taking away our rights and freedoms?--it's as if the American people themselves are guilty of something--and we are guilty of fear if that's the suggestion this booby is trying to put in our heads, going on the theory that if you say something long enough and sincere enough even if it's a baldface lie it will be taken for an honest-to-God fact. Suggestions again. Every time this "president" makes a speech, I laugh out loud at his asinine statements where he talks about God and prayer and "a battle between good and evil" and how this country due to this terrorism is coming back to the faith this country was created on--all spewed out the corner of his mouth. The snide little b...... I'm sorry, but I have heartburn.

More Disbelief
The big telecoms are still determine to wreck the Internet. Amazing. These bastards never give up. They are determined to take the Internet away from the public and make it a private communications network that we will all have to pay tolls to use and then, it will only let you go where it wants you to go, like before you can get to your site you'll have to endure maybe five commercial pop-ups that you can't delete or continue through and will have to suffer through to get to where you're going.... Hell, I'm tired of barking. My growl is spinning down to a flat halt. I have heartburn--do wolves have heartburn?...and if they do, you'd never know it from living among them and talking BS with them. I've never heard one of my wolf brothers or sisters complain about heartburn--and what they eat; talk about Italian food.

More Disbelief
How about that Pope? Such a pious man, isn't he? So close to God--oh, hell, here we go again with God--yes, the Pope believes in his version of the imaginary Jehovah god--oh, again I'm sorry because I know enough hypnotic-type suggestions were made in favor of this Jehovah dude in Catholic churches and families so that this Jehovah is to most Catholics a real BIG HUMAN BEING who lives in an invisible heaven in an invisible part of the invisible universe. It's OK if the Good Fathers like to have sex with young boys occasionally--in olden Rome, catamites were quite common in the chambers of the religious leaders, senators, and emperors and their sidekicks. The Pope says Islam is just god-damn bent on violence. Oh, shit, was Mussolini a Catholic? Was Pope Pius VI a Nazi supporter? You mean, Catholicism isn't bent on violence and the threat of violence, more violence, and rumors of violence? You mean this Big Daddy Jehovah wasn't a mean M-f-er if you crossed him? Old Jehovah could be a violent son of a bitch; I mean this kindhearted bastard caused a flood that killed every living being on the earth only to save an old Hebrew and his worthless family and two of every beast. Already, your imagination should be telling you, holy crap, who could believe such shit? Millions of people do. More millions of Islamics believe in their violent Allah--Well, hell, Allah means the same as Jehovah, doesn't it? Such easily decipherable BULLSHIT to me; yet, I'm outnumbered by millions who see all of this as the SUPERNATURAL; to me, BULLSHIT is what it is, a form of SHIT, waste, evacuated crap.

I wrote a diatribe a few weeks ago, people don't understand me, that's for sure--I see the world as a cartoon, you have to remember that; remember, too, I'm an anthropomorphic character--I'm not real.

ibid, NASCAR
I said this sport was started by some Piedmont-area bootleggers who needed souped up regular-looking cars in order to outfox or outrun the revenuers--old two-door 30s and 40s cars, old business coupes--we called 'em koo-peys when we drag raced 'em on the old airstrips out in the wild gypsum plains of our neck of the woods. There were a lot of abandoned airstrips all over Texas at the end of the war, you know, where there had been training fields, supply strips, and such. Old Chevys were sometimes the best because of their motors--not really old cars, but cars we could afford to chop up, retool, and soup up.

Right after WWII, a lot of our brothers came home with mechanic skills they'd learned in the military. Some of these guys became first-class machinists, tool-and-die dudes, and a lot of these guys were rather bold in what they thought they could do in these areas, having had to improvise during the war in building replacement parts for some of the heaviest machinery in the world. One of our neighbors in far East Dallas was a young man they called Stu though his real name was Sandy and Sandy was a tool-and-die man for the Texas Company (remember Texaco gasoline and Havoline motor oil?). He'd been cut through his middle by machine-gun fire in the Pacific--he didn't talk about that much, but he was always talking cars and how he was going to build his own car come hell or high water. And he meant to build his own car from detailed plans he gotten from Detroit where they didn't build automobiles during the war; so he got these plans for a 1941 Ford sedan, and son of a bitch, he worked night and day out in his garage for many moons and we would go and watch him working on his car and he'd tell us all about what he was doing with all these machines he had out there and downtown at the Texas Company's metal shop where he worked.

We drank Kool Aid his wife made us and watched Sandy build this car. And by golly, one day he called all the folks in the neighborhood down to his place and we all gathered in the driveway in front of his garage and he pulled up the overhead door and there sat a brand new Ford car, except it was a 1941 model and it was like 1947, but it was a brand new car, all waxed shiny to glistening perfection; it looked Detroit-made to us--I mean this guy had made the fenders, the bumpers, the hood, the roof, put in the windshields, gas cap, mudflaps with red rhinestone blinkers, and, damn, a whip antennae rising high off the back of the car just like the old cop cars had. The big moment came. He fired it up. Its starter turned it over and after a puff or two of fetid exhaust, the motor caught, idled, and then started purring like a contented kitten.

A few days later, he was backing his pride and joy automobile out his driveway, and he hit something, he felt a bump and thought he heard what sounded like a blowout, a hissing sort of steamy screech. He stopped the car, figuring he'd blown a tire, got out, went around to the back tire, looked, nope, no blowout. He looked on around back further... and then he saw, first just a pair of little legs wearing new white buckle-on shoes... and he looked further, stooping down to look under the bumper...and then he saw what he had backed his handmade car, his pride and joy automobile over--he had accidentally backed it over his other pride and joy, his young daughter--2 years old, a beautiful little girl who had just learned how to walk and had the beauty of her parents twinkling in her big brown eyes.

"I didn't see her...God Almighty, I didn't see her...God-damn, I DIDN'T SEE HER!"... and he kept yelling that over and over as he went wildly walk-racing around his backyard with my father following him around trying to calm him down, trying to get him to drank some brandy, but Sandy was a religious man and wouldn't touch the stuff.

Sandy sold his pride and joy handmade Ford. He sold it to my friend G-man's father. G-man's father was a race car driver--he drove professionally. He bought fairly new sedans and rebuilt them, put roll bars in them, stripped the interiors down to the interior metal--he didn't want pieces of the car falling off and flying at him if he were diggin' in the high sides of a dirt track, half skidding sideways in the turns, sliding out wide so he'd be in alignment with the straightaway so he could put the pedal-to-the-metal maybe up to 60 mph to race to the next turn, hitting that turn as fast as he could hoping he didn't roll--all metal--pedal-to-the-metal meaning you push the gas pedal down hard against the metal of the car's floorboard, which old dirt track racers took out of the koo-peys and to replace it with sheet metal.

G-man's father chopped up Sandy's pride-and-joy handmade car--made it look like an old jalopy, but after he got it up to his specifications, he took it out and won the first trial race he entered it in over in Dallas at the Devil's Bowl race track. Next day, G-man was all thrills and said he'd never seen his dad so happy; why he hadn't beaten his mother in over a week now. G-man's dad was feeling powerful; hell, he'd won 25 bucks in that trial. He could get a 100 bucks if he could win all his heats in that next Sunday afternoon's feature races.

The Flying Playboy, G-man's dad's nickname, stayed up all night working on what was now his pride-and-joy Ford's motor; he even cleaned the dirt off the car and had it shining before he loaded it on his trailer and took off towing it toward the Devil's Bowl for his big moment.

He took his wife and G-man along with him--he was so confident--he was tooting about taking 'em all out to Red Bryan's Smokehouse and treatin' 'em to some barbecued ham steaks, the best in the southwest, dammit, full speed ahead.

G-man said he saw his father when he was decapitated in the fourth lap, in the far turn of his final heat, which if he won it he would yes have won a 100 bucks but also qualify for the big feature race that next Sunday.

"He was doin' 60 god-dammit, I swear he was, and that was too fast but that was his dad. He said he had to go sixty on the straightaway to win against that Fort Worth guy who calls himself the Sheriff. He was doin' it, dammit; he was ahead of 'em all, pulling away enough he could come out of the final turn and coast through the checkered flag. But, dammit, man, suddenly that Ford just blew up, caught fire, man, in the motor, and I saw dad fighting the wheel and the fire was flashing out of the motor area, coming up right in his face, man, I could see it clearly, man, my dad on fire." He gasped. "Then I saw the car do a rolled once then turned straightup balanced on its front end..." He couldn't finish the sentence. His father had been his hero. The man loved speed; he loved grease and dirt and beer and working on motors and souping up cars and chopping them down. "You know the saddest thing about watching that?" G-man said. "It was when the left front tire popped off the rim of dad's car and rolled like a jackrabbit straight across the finish line just ahead of the Sheriff. My dad's car tire won the damn race." G-man then broke into wild hyena-like laughter. He was crazy man, pure crazy.

The last time I heard from the G-man was a postcard from Niagara Falls. All it said was, "Fell in love--got married here--she works at the Shredded Wheat factory, always smells good. Trouble is I'm running tonight over at a dirt track in Canada so we'll spend our honeymoon at the track. Maybe we'll cross paths again one day, old buddy. G-man forever."

I guess I'm kind of apologizing to the commentor who told me I shouldn't write about something I know nothing about, like NASCAR racing. He's absolutely right about that and I promise, I'll only write diatribe from now on about things I know something about.

for The Daily Growler