Sunday, December 30, 2007
"I Growl Therefore I Am"
1. Jeers to the politicians. What a bunch of yawing jackasses. All of 'em; warped Mormon through bedeviled VietNam vet through hillybilly huckster through Chicago black do-gooder through Billy Jeff Clinton's wife and John "Up From Poverty" Edwards! I won't even mention Rudolf "Mussolini" Guiliani or Fred "What's His Name?" Thompson. I still can't figure out how John McCain like Jesus is suddenly performing miracles of poll climbing while Ron Paul who has made himself at least 25 million off his hopeless campaign--pretty good for a Libertarian's long day's night work, ain't it--has no rating whatsover though somebody must love his two-faced ass.
2. Cheers to The Daily Growler for saying things over a year ago that are coming true right before our eyes today--remember our lesson on "How to Goosestep Properly"--or how to duck and cover when you see a red glow in one of your townhouse windows. Also to The Daily Growler's cracked staff--they suffer a crack up a day--those who bear the burden of waking certain wolfmen up and kicking them in their lazy rumps and getting them downstairs and into the fantastic The Daily Growler editorial offices, shoo off the mice, and prepare a sermon or else look over the over-the-transom shit to see if there's anything worth posting from that crack staff--yeah verily--thedailygrowlerhousepianist is back in Michigan celebrating the holidays with his parents and wrote an interesting email on Ives and listening to John Kirkpatrick's 1945 recording, the original LP, which blew his top--but I trashed that email--then he's doing three gigs New Year's Eve--congrats to the lad--he's workin' his ass off--he's becoming a household word around New York City--cheers to him.
3. Stack up the dead: Mr. Wizard, Jack Valenti, Rostropovich, Ike Turner, Oscar Peterson, Arthur Schlessenger Jr., the dude who invented the laser, Bobby Short, Evel Knievel, David Halberstram (ever read Best and the Brightest?), Norman Mailer, Cecil Payne, Max Roach,
the Little Jewish Lady, the big tall redhead; damn, where's my mojo bone; I need some protection. And Madame Bhutto and several men who had been saved up on the Texas Penitentiary Death Row for some ritual killing ceremonies--more than any state in the old union by a long shot. Cheers to Texas for still being back in the Dark Ages politically and humanely.
4. Jeers on the Pope. Why does anybody pay any attention to his worthless words? And the Dali Lama, I don't get him either, except as a flim-flammer, and he's good at that--he lives well. I wonder if people still follow him around to make sure his shit doesn't hit the ground? In fact, how about a stadium-full of jeers for all religious nuts?--and I forgot, De Lawd took old fat-jowled Jerry "Homophobe" Fall-well home to glory--"Wow, Jerry, look at all that damn burgoo over on that groanin' board--praise the lard and pass those biscuits and that ham-fat gravy over here." When does Brother Pat Robertson get his special invite to enter the Pearly Gate before his time?--"Take him home, Jehovah. In fact, take all your 'soldiers' home--except for Pastor Melissa Scott--please leave her behind, Lard! I will even give a half-nod to your son's actuality if you leave Melissa behind."
5. Jeers to all crazed-sleazy celebrities; what a pack of hollow-head fools. And jeers to that Lipton dude who is keeping the Actor's Studio going off the rich--F him and his saying actors are the most important cogs in stage productions and films. He says the Actor's Studio has produced the greatest actors of our time then names Marlon--Jesus, Marlon could play Marlon better than anybody else, but come on! And James Dean. And James Dean could play James Dean better than anybody else. And Paul Newman. Was Paul Newman ever considered a great actor? Yes, in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof maybe, which was a wonderful sleazy pure-dee Tennessee Williams movie--and yee gawds, what great actors to play Tennessee Williams's roles--Pretty Paul and "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall" Liz Taylor, a complete neurotic--pilled up and perfect for the role of Maggie the Cat in that movie; and Liz didn't go to no Actor's Studio and she acted just as real as Paul did in that movie. And what about Burl Ives kicking acting ass as Big Daddy? Whew, now that's acting. And then I watched The Longest Day (in history--Paul Anka wrote the music) last night and let me tell you, that's a hell of a movie--I mean, so full of Hollywood war cliches and war hyperbole via the screenwriting of Cornelius Ryan yet played so superbly by a bunch of Hollywood all-stars like the Duke, Mel Ferrer, Robert Mitchum, Red Buttons, Eddie Albert (yep, Green Acres Eddie)--and poor ole Eddie gets it when he's only a few feet away from safety--he takes a round right in the back of the head--and Robert Mitchum, chewing on a cigar stub, looks back and sees Eddie's dead and he simply shrugs his shoulders and waves his hand signaling all to follow him and he shouts in his effeminate voice, "Come on, men! Let's go," and wow, that's how the Longest Day in History ended, with the Duke pulling a fresh cigar (tobacco killed the Duke) out of his jacket pocket (amazing how that damn stogy survived without getting crushed as Robert Mitchum came ashore on D Day on the Normandy beach and crawled his way up the beach toward the Nazi bulkhead--and that cigar came through as though it had just come fresh from a fresh box), sliding his ass in a Jeep, and sayin', "Soldier, take me up that hill." And off the Duke went. The end. And, hell, I enjoyed it. Actors acting--which is good--actors playing soldiers in uniform in a real-like setting--shit yeah, that's when actors are good--even Richard Burton has a great scene in this movie and he pulls it off without a hitch, though his timing is off in one place there--hell, nobody's perfect, especially an actor.
Sorry, I don't think Dusty Hoffman's a great actor either. Another Actor's Studio grad.
6. Jeers to myself for growling too much. But then why is it called "The Daily Growler"? I mean, growling is natural with me--don't touch my space, dig? I'm for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and when I'm blocked from enjoying those things, then I growl, same as a dog will growl when you threaten to take his bone away from him or a wolf will bite your ass if you bother his grub. And cheers to those wolves who live in Yellowstone Park; amazing creatures they are.
7. And cheers to Dennis Kucinich.
8. And cheers to Gunther Schuller for writing this amazin'-amazin'-amazin' book I'm currently reading, a 900-page history of The Swing Era in jazz. What a work of art. What energy this dude put into this book. Said he listened to over 100,000 recordings (I may exaggerate but I don't think so) in researching it. I love great tomes, true writing art--like Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom that explains all about the Middle-East mess and how the Brits started it all over undiscovered-yet oil but they knew it was there and the Balfour Agreement--how the Arabs got huckstered by the snotty Brits--the Palestinians, too; when the Brits took Jerusalem. I remember when the Brits still occupied that part of the world, bombs going off all the time around where the Brits were barracked, like at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem--remember The Suez War? The battle over the Red Sea and all its oil ports? Remember, all those countries used to be under British Occupation--Aden, the Arab Emirates, Dubai, Palestine, Iraq (formed by the Brits), Egypt, the Sudan, Afghanistan (remember Doctor Watson of Sherlock Holmes fame fought for the Brits in the Afghanistan War--"It's a desolate place, Holmes, totally desolate"), India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and on and on and on, always the Brits and the British Imperial Forces--imposing their will upon the worlds's SAVAGES!
9. Cheers to the Brits, however, for pulling their troops out of Iraq. What a foolish war. What a wasteful war. I say there are currently way over 4,000 American dead--way more than 7,000 if you include the contractors and those kind of workers who've been killed--forget the million or so Iraqis who lost their hope at a future due to We the People--yep, it's our collective fault--trying to impose our brand of "dumbocracy" on these "other culture" people who our government and its gettin'-rich-quick stooges and dickboys and puppets know absolutely nothing about--does Bush speak Arabic? Persian? Does he know that Persians aren't Arabs? I'll bet not. I'll bet he and his crooked family don't consider their Saudi Arabian brothers Arabs, of the militant Islamic kind to boot--I can't believe Prince Bandar Bush is a militant Islamic, is he? How wonderful life is when you're filthy rich--you don't have to worry about the mess you've gotten this world into--Fuck 'em all, like Bush said, "I ain't gonna worry about any of this after I leave office--hell, I'm gettin' on that lecture tour--like old Slick Willie and my old halfwit hero Ronnie Raygun, who the boys tell me started all this Neo-conning of Amurica--what's that, Helen, am I an Amurican? How the hell do I know, Helen."
10. Cheers as always to our fake, phony, fabulous, crooked, unelected, "chosen" "president"-- we at The Daily Growler have never recognized this jerk as a legitimate anything except a total failure--a disaster of a man--he devalues everything he's given charge of. But we cheer him because as crooked and prone to impeachment this prick is he still glides by without a scratch; he's still ruining the economy; his programs are all disasters; and he lied us into an illegal war that is ruining our economy and ruining our morale and ruining our country ruining the reputation of us as a great collective cauldron of diversified people--but no, now the world sees us as a big bunch of crooked white men who want their way or they're threatening annihilation of mankind (the Armageddon Syndrome)--yet he keeps on fumble-bumbling us into disastrous straits with total impunity--he's captained this nation right into the middle of a political and economic Bermuda Triangle and there we are stalled and our nation's compass is spinning like a beer can tossed out of a speeding car spins in the middle of the highway when it hits the macadam (McAdam) and yet he's still fumble-bumbling along merrily as fornicating cats on a rooftop. I love the way the Dumbass Dumbocrats argue about experience and Obama doesn't have enough and absentee-prone Senator Hillary "Hot Rod Ham" Clinton has no real experience either (check her god-damn record--proof enough there she ain't no progressive)--I notice everyone of these million-dollar-trickbag "running" goons missed the vote on some really big issue in Washington, District of Corruption, the other day--an important vote but these buffoons were too busy campaigning and living like lushes on these huge money coffers they've suddenly got their greedy mitts on instead--all We the People's money by the way--We the People even pay for those big campaign contributions from the elite--how come they have enough excess money to give it to these handjive politicians?--maybe big tax breaks?, maybe straightening up the books by washing a lot of money through their charitable and political contributions--all with strings attached. So cheers to Georgie Porgie Bush--ruin the fucking country, nobody seems to give a shit. I don't give a shit; I believe in the inevitability of chaos, the great God Chaos. [Doth I growl too much, womantrumpetplayer?]
11. Cheers to Thelonious Monk live at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival--currently I'm jivin' to Blue Monk, the very Blue Monk that is featured in that film Jazz on a Summer's Afternoon--a great shot of Eric Dolphy in that film, too. I first saw that movie in my hometown in 1959 on the same bill with Russ Meyers's The Immoral Mister Teas--the first time I'd ever seen a woman's "naked titties" on the wide screen--and the first girl in that movie to take her top off is this gorgeous blonde with big vanilla ice cream cone breasts. Holey Moley, the seats on my aisle were jerking back and forth like crazy--could it have been all those jack-off friends of mine who'd ganged up and cummed with me to that immoral movie--though made spirtually uplifting by Jazz on a Summer's Afternoon, which only me and my best pal stayed for--all the other jack-offs had shot their wads on The Immoral Mister Teas.
Not her, but I remember this one, too (1959).
Happy New Year to all and all and all of you and you and you and especially YOU.
for The Daily Growler
Saturday, December 29, 2007
A Day Off
For a head like me, a discombobulated head like me, a fountainhead head like me, a speed head like me, there is no day off. What the hell is a day? A day-O. And so far my day off, which isn't a day off at all, started with having to listen to Simon Loekle reading 11 pages of Finnegan's Wake, where the pub owner is closing his Dublin pub and he's thrown the guzzlers out in the street in front of the bar where they are blabbingly talking about him; that was on WBAI-FM this morning at the break o'day, remember Anita O'Day and Daddy-O Daley (Daddio on the Raddio), and Dennis O'Day?--okay, I don't expect anybody to remember Dennis O'Day, except it's good to tax your memory on long lost subjects like Dennis O'Day, who shortened it to Dennis Day--you need to constantly test yourself to keep the dopamine flowing across the thresholds of your brain's memory side, the good old brain--to keep the seratonin flowing and the dopamine shooting across the breach and making it to the left side or right side whichever side, needed to keep your brain from drying up and leaving you as viable as Ronnie Raygun Reagan was during the last term of his legendary presidency when he was totally working under the influence of Alzheimer's disease and of his astrology-believing wife and her guru the late fake Jeanne Dixon who visited the White House regularly--isn't that unbelievable? But it's true and truth is stranger than fiction, by jesus, it is now, except it's hard to believe truth can top Finnegan's Wake for strangeness. And Simon Loekle grand thinking declaimer that he is read this 11 pages from Finnegan's Wake almost perfectly--he stumbled once that I caught--and he read it with a thick Irish brogue, too. Amazin' dude this Loekle kid.
There he is: Dennis Day. I told you you wouldn't remember him.
Confession: I've never even attempted to read Finnegan's Wake and Wakers who do read this grand farce of a book are as weird as the book (old myth-nut Joe Campbell was one of them). I then think of Nabokov--see www.languagehat.com today for a little conversation concerning Nabokov's use of a Russian word--L Hat's the man for such conversation, too, like me, thinking Nabokov's Lolita is one of the best damn books ever written and I've read it many a time but not Finnegan's Wake, which to Wakers is a hilariously funny book. Hey, I've read Ulysses 1 and 1/2 times and I think it's a god-damn funny book, too; oh those Irish scoundrels! In fact, I'll put Ulysses above Lolita in the all 'round genius of the writing, but, hey, writers write to be famous, according to Tom Wolfe (Right Stuff Tom and not the great American writer of long sentences that turn into long books, Thomas Wolfe), who I also had to endure this morning during his being interviewed on old right-wing goombah Ben Wattenburg's usually boring and right-wing nutjob opinionated PBS show--Ben won't let anybody get a word in edgewise without a tooting of his right-wing nutjob horn--and good ole Tom Wolfe, still wearing his old Deep South plantation white shit, definitely Tom had a Miss Anne for a mother, agreed with Ben all the way to the right-wing bank--oh how fucking boring. I put a DVD of Oscar Peterson and his trio backing up Little Jazz in Montreux in 1977 on and turned whacko Ben off; and this Montreux video was made thirty fucking years ago, folks, that time of huge wide shirt collars you left tieless and outside the lapels of your loud suit coat, in Oscar's case during this filming, a baby blue suit with matching wide-collared baby blue shirt and matching baby blue silk handkerchief in the coat pocket, with the baby blue suit pants tailing off over Oscar's big size-14 Bally half boots. In the meantime the noise of progress is wrecking my day off's sweet air; they are beginning the demolishing of a small building right down the airshaft alley from my east window, and a dude with a metal-cutting saw, all by himself, is sawing the roof off this building today. They are going to build a hotel there. Oh, just what we need in this neighborhood, another god-damn hotel--a cheap-ass Indian-owned-and-run small hotel--who gives a shit that there are two other Indian-owned-and-run hotels in front of this one and to the east of this one--yeah, these Indians learned a lot from being under British rule--at least they learned how to be a perfect servant class, especially good at running hotels that cater to white people. And white people are taking over my neighborhood, formerly a Little Korea, though gradually these foreign developers are buying the Koreans out and moving in the rich whites and the Euro tourists, whose Euro dollars are now worth more than the US dollar, which Bush and the Milton Friedman-ass-kissing Neo-Nuts encourage since driving down the dollar is one of the goals of the old-Trotskyite Neo-Cons--read Leo Strauss if you want to know what these nutjobs are up to.
I got so sick of trying to take a day off I came down to my computer and started venting my spleen on these old tried and true Growler pages where I can growl away sensing how bland and boring the future is going to be as I endure two developments now on either side of my open-to-the-south windows--the 2,000-room monstrosity hotel to the west of me--it will one day block out the setting sun from my view--and now the construction of this dinky Indian hotel, 11 floors I think it's gonna be--NOISE, the music of progress, or what the developers call progress; I call it ripping New Yorkers off--selling Manhattan to the foreigners--the Saudis, the Dubai Royal Family, the Commie Chinese (now the most successful Capitalist economy in the world--isn't irony so wonderful? it's one of the great senses we've developed as overreasoning animals--just goes to show you that Capitalism isn't synonymous with "democracy" but rather more synonymous with a controlled state--why Germany took to Captialism whole hog after WWII), the Israelis, the Brits, and now the French and the Spaniards are rolling into town with fistfuls of Euro bucks and buying up buildings right and left.
Fuck 'em all. My day off is ruined, so theoretically I've decided to forgo even expecting a day off--nobody gets a day off really, I decide. So it's business as usual today, a Saturday, a Sabbath, and all the Jewish businesses are closed--on my way to get coffee on Fifth Avenue, I saw a German tourist in front of the Jewish-run camera store up there and he asked me in broken English when the store opened and I told him "Just stand there, dude, they'll open any minute now." Ah, I felt like an old grumpy New Yorker of the past when asked directions by tourists. I hate tourists. I don't even like being a tourist, why I don't travel like most Amuricans do--I like to live in countries when I "visit" them--that's why I married a Tex-Mex chick when I was young and fantasizing about living in Cuidad Mexico--and I "visited" Mexico to live there--and I did live there for over a year, and still I was called mockingly "un turista norteamericano"--"Hey, Gringo, you want shoeshine?" Damn, I hate tourists.
And the idiot is still sawing the roof off this building down the alley from me. Foreigners are putting up a hotel right next to a Con-Ed dioxin-and-mercury-spewing power plant--and there is a hotel right in front of it--and there is another hotel on its east side and behind it is an apartment house. Con-Ed doesn't give a shit that they are fouling up the air of a neighborhood peopled with people and children and invalids and such. This power station was first supposed to be built in Chelsea (over on the west side of Manhattan) but they have a strong neighborhood association over there so they ran Con-Ed off from over there and our billionaire mayor gave Con-Ed permission to build its shit-spewing substation in this neighborhood--it's vital to his big Bloomberg Mall project over on the west side and the proposed 72-story monster of a building that is soon going up on the corner of 32nd and Sixth Avenue and a new Madison Square Garden--oh the mayor is leaving his monument, the Bloomberg Mall--totally unnecessary--like Ed Koch's monument to himself, the Jacob Javitts Center--what a waste of space, time, and city money. Koch, now an old wheezing geezer, still believes he was NYC's best-ever mayor, and this old once-Village Democratic lefty--and gay to boot--is now trumpeting his love of the right-wing, especially Rude Boy Rudi "Mussolini" Guiliani--I wonder if Rudi and Ed ever had an affair? Remember when Ed Krotch tried to hide his gayness by dating true nutjob Bess Meyerson, the first Jewish Miss America, by the way? And she did used to be a talented beauty, played the flute really well, and I once was in love with a classical flute player, from Oregon, named Bess, too.
Memory. Most people I know don't use their memories for nostalgia. I agree but then I'm a writer, I have to write, so hell I use nostalgia as a garden for gathering stories--I don't have a memory of Shakespeare for instance--but I can remember conversations I had at 3 years of age. You heard me. As a band singer I had to have a good memory. I had to learn the lyrics to over 25 or 30 tunes for one band I was in. Plus, as a songwriter I've written way over 1000 tunes and most of them I can remember fairly well. I still remember clearly what my mother looked like and sounded like and how she drove her car and how she did her washing and how she cooked chicken-fried steaks pretty good and how from her job she brought home big tin drums of Morton's Potato Chips and left over pizza slices...but...my friends think I dwell too much in the past. Maybe I do. Right now I'm listening to a Thelonious Monk recording made in 1954--53 years ago, and yet, it's, to me, as up-to-date as anything I hear that's supposedly modern and innovative today. And really I don't hear much music today that impresses me--none; I don't give a shit who you pitch at me; they all sound like robots to me--nothing challenging in anything they do. White boys mostly--using black drummers--white boys--using Latin deejays--and the Latinos are taking over rap and hip-hop--I mean these mothers can rap--and in Spanish. Motor mouths. But I do very much like a Mexican chick singer these days--I don't know her name--she wears the same clothes in both videos of hers I've seen--she plays an accordion, too.
Just listened to 5 and 1/2 minutes of Duke Ellington's band playing the unbelievably great Rockin' in Rhythm--what a pleasure.
for The Daily Growler--I'm takin' meself to me favorite Irish pub--adios.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Did you know the Bush administration sent John "Death Squad" Negroponte to Madame Bhutto to "talk" her into joining forces with our dictator-in-chief, Musharraf--a big mistake? Bhutto and her family weren't angels. She certainly, too, had reason to hate the USA--and she certainly despised Musharraf--hating the USA due to back in the late 70s when the USA backed a military coup against her democratically elected father, a progressive populist except when he became president he became terribly autocratic, so the USA and the Pakistan Army brought a totally false charge against Father Bhutto and threw him in the slammer to wait trial. As a result of the insistence of the USA, Bhutto's father was found guilty by the new military dictator the USA put in power and was summarily hanged by the neck till he was dead. [We hanged old Saddam in Iraq by his neck, too. I keep forgetting we genuinely love hanging people--especially hangin' 'em high against their will--in this country.]
Then after her father's death, Madame Bhutto's mother took over the family party and then the mother and her sons began to clash for party control, and Bhutto's husband seemed to be a murderous dick of a dude, too, and then there is some evidence that when Madame Bhutto was president--during her first term--her own brother was murdered--and some cynical bastards still claim she had to have known something about it. She was president at the time and her brother was killed by her police. Pure politics. Pakistan is controlled by its military, a strange highly trained and well-tooled military that has been trained to viciously hate Hindus or Indians. Actually, the USA made the Pakistan Army as big and bad as it is back when we spent billions of bucks building that army up (and building up the forces of the Taliban, Bin Laden, and the Mujaheddin, too) as we decided to drive the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan. It all goes back to our disruptive shenanigans.
The impotent media in this country is hinting that the infamous Al Queda may have been behind this assassination. That is total nonsense, though the "correct" coverup; it will spur Bush into taking away some more of OUR freedoms perhaps. Bhutto was assassinated right next door to the Pakistan Army Headquarters in Islamabad--Al Queda do not get near Pakistan Army Headquarters--nobody does. Nope, it looks more like the USA set Madame Bhutto up--looks like We the People of the US are to blame for her death. DEATH. And how we love DEATH.
DEATH, DEATH, and more DEATH is happening and going to happen. And Pakistan is unstable as hell right this minute. And there are nuclear weapons there in that Army Headquarters compound somewhere. Oh, heck yeah, we all should be worried--look at the dick and his dick forces who we have leading us into the middle of this mess. Bush and his cronies seem to truly desire a World War III somewhere on this globe at this particular moment; preferably they like for it to happen in the Middle-East, but on the other hand, why not let it happen in Pakistan and in Afghanistan--hey, it's beginning to look a lot like the draft's coming back, boys and girls. More DEATH is a coming! Will humankind be eliminated from the animal world? Will the only human animals left one day be found in the zoos of whatever the miscreant human-animal-hybrids the nuclear holocaust will create?
for The Daily Growler
Thursday, December 27, 2007
A Piece on Peace by Oscar Peterson
by Oscar Peterson
It is not unlike the state of good health. Something that we all seem to take for granted, and wait too long to do something about, until we are in dire pain; WAR. We expect it to be with us at all times whilst doing nothing to constructively insure this. We try our best to ignore others that may be suffering with bad health and seemingly only intercede when it is blatantly to our advantage.
For all of us to participate locally in the quest for peace it would seem to me, forestalls the chance of a world wide epidemic; WORLD WAR.
My vision of peace encompasses an awareness of the rights of our fellow man irrespective of race, color or creed. Words spoken and repeated many times on many occasions, political or otherwise, and by many individuals; but so often only used to fill spaces on paper. I believe that if mankind could honestly embrace the true embodiment of those misused words, the world would be much farther along the road to good health.
Over the last years, I have followed with extreme interest, man’s (and women’s) struggle to expand the frontiers of our world to include the unknown and voluminous reaches of space. During this time there have of course been varied speculations about what type of life possibly exists out there, and whether we could comprehend them and their mode of life. My own concern has always been slanted more towards what they would think of we humanoids and our warring ways. Should any visitors emanating from a peaceful society enter our galaxy, they must certainly diagnose us as a terminal species.
We can stem the tide of the epidemic by taking the time to recognize our brothers and sisters as humans that have been willed the right to exist anywhere in this world that they should so choose. That they also have the right to work and earn a fair and equitable wage. They must have the opportunity to raise their families without fear of the hate squads and the purveyors of bigotry and oppression. They must retain the right to choose their own system of government so long as all people remain free and equally represented. They must have the right to worship in their own private way without forcing their own religious beliefs on their neighbors.
We can look on these inalienable human rights as the vitamins and antibiotics that keep our present day civilization healthy and productive. They are at times to some of us bitter pills to take especially when we have prospered on our brothers and sister’s illness. However, it has been proven beyond all shadow of a doubt that we can only have a healthy world if we are able to throw off that perennial yoke of selfishness and oppressive decadence.
We are the primary architects of our future destiny, and as such, can also be the physicians that are capable of initiating the healing process that our world so desperately is in need of. To myself as a citizen of the same world, I look forward to the time when the medication of brotherly understanding and respect begins to make its effect felt, and the world is on the road to good health!
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
"So Long It's Been Good to Know You" (5th Cont'd)
Death. Death. Death. Death. Hot damn, bring on DEATH. I'm not afraid to die, are you?
In a way, I love viewing things from back over the dead bodies that line the road of my past, and I'm not really punning when I say "road of my past" since a lot of my favorite people have died on the long highway. Death. Death. All along all roads are signs of death. Road kill. Car wrecks. Roadside bombs. Death. Death. Death. Death in schools. Death in a Christian church. Death both coming from without and within; the Death coming from within the church, too. BANG. Death in a Christian church with a security guard who had a weapon and who opened fired on the Death that had entered the church from the outside to kill or be killed, which is what it is, military reasoning--and our country is full of military reasoning now--we obey--we are lemmings--and DEATH loves us lemmings. But then DEATH loves nonconformists, too. Death solves so many problems. Death makes heroes of macabre nutjobs. Death makes gods out of peasants. Death makes fools out of intellectuals.
And two days ago DEATH took one of my heroes since I was 8 years old, Oscar Peterson, the greatest-ever jazz pianist--greatest-ever pianist in my case, jazz, blues, rag, classical, swing, stride, jump, boogie, slow drag, and Death took a big deadly bite out of Oscar's kidneys. Death comes in kidney failure. Death rings once--and if you answer you die and if you don't answer you still die. Death. Death. Death.
And I grew up a little tyke attending death services often, especially in the springs and summers when the WWII soldiers who'd DIED on the battlefields would come home in body bags with US flags draped around them--the US flag being a DEATH flag, flying in spite of WAR; flying in spite of BOMBS bursting on air. Even our flag stands for KILL or BE KILLED. For so proudly it waves. And I remember as a kid the little US flags they put on the veterans's graves, little weatherproofed US flags that fluttered like red-white-and-blue butterflies over their graves--stationary butterflies fluttering as a symbol of DEATH. The soldiers on whose graves these little flags fluttered were DEAD. They were killed in war.
Out at my parents's grave on a cold fall morning, looking down at their graves, which are marked with their names and ages--nothing about who they were when they were alive--nope, once you're dead you're dead, buried, and sometimes totally forgotten, whether you died a war hero or a couple on vacation who just happened to get in the way of an 18-wheeler asphalt hauler doing 80 miles a fucking hour down a big fine wide Texas highway--and splat, one minute you're alive, laughing, dancing, jigging, hoping on the morrow, and then you look up while alive and the next SPLAT second you are flying 30 feet in the air to come down SPLAT on that highway, DEAD, to SPLAT down, explode, your clothes evaporating leaving you NAKED in DEATH, totally exposed in DEATH. The NAKED and the DEAD. And soldiers are buried with flags covering their coffins. Each DEAD soldier is worth $10,000. Hot damn! We're rich--all five of our sons were killed in IRAQ! And DEATH is a billion-dollar industry in this country. And things that cause death are also billion-dollar industries. DEATH is stronger than LIFE.
And one day at this pharma advertising agency in which I worked and in which I recommended to hire and then lived side-by-side with for almost two years, this Little Jewish Lady, and that one day, then she was no more. She was gone. Her office was empty--for a while--until they hired another editor and put him in her office.
And she called me one day and said she wanted me to meet her at Muldoon's and I did. I saw her first at a corner headed toward Muldoon's but she was having trouble getting up on a curb--her arthritis had her in several binds and it was very painful for her to walk. I ran dangerously across busy wild 42nd Street to lift her up on the curb; nobody was offering her any aid. At Muldoon's she told me of her plans. She was leaving her husband and her sons and moving to Florida. She'd bought a car, she said, with the cashing out of some of her stocks and bonds her grandmother had left her, and she was moving to just outside Fort Lauderdale and when she got a phone down there she'd send me her phone number, blah, blah, blah, and who knew, perhaps I could find it in my travelin' nature to fly down to Florida and trip the light fantastic with her some weekend.
"You know, Mr. Wolf, I owe you a lot." "No you don't." "Yes, I do. I don't know what I'd'a done without your help, advice, I mean, Mr. Wolf, you saved my ass here over and over; you tolerated my little Jewish lady attitude and my whacked out friends and my husband--it's like you're a member of my family." Argggggg! I choked back my disgust.
She didn't look all that healthy during that lunch, that last lunch as a matter of fact, though she was happy and had had a lot of stress lifted from her but she was still ravaged by arthritis, to the point she was getting some kind of shots at $1,000 bucks a pop to try and contain it. The agency's superdrug, the arthritis drug, did nothing for her arthritis. Only ibuprofen helped her but even it became helpless against her vicious arthritis most of the time. And, yes, she was still smoking; still had her little cigarette purse and lighter, though by now she wasn't allowed to smoke in Muldoon's, so she tripped out into the December cold a couple of times to light one up--"You wanna go out with me?" "No, I'll stay here and drink beer."
Her skin was more pallid than ever. It was powdery; white powdery; like the dead-skin signaling the approach of Mr. Death, and she still stunk of death, too; you know that sick odor some old people develop when they're almost slipping into the grave?
"This is the best move I ever made. I can't wait to get to Florida and leave my woes behind. And I owe it all to you, Wolfie, so here, I want you to have this to remember me by." She handed me a heavy silver chain bracelet, heavy silver, yes, and nice, too, and she knew as part wolf and part man I worshipped silver--the silver moon! Native Americans call silver the "tears of the moon" and damn I love the tears of the moon. "Geez, LJL, you didn't have to do this," I said as I attached the bracelet around my wrist. "Oh but I did have to do this. I'll never forget you and I don't want you to forget me either."
I'm still wearing this silver bracelet as I type this. L Hat used to say to me, "I never knew you to wear jewelry, now you're decked out in jewelry like a bling freak." (OK, L Hat doesn't talk that way--yes, I'm putting my words into his lingo-packed mouth.) And he was right, I had never in my life worn much jewelry--watches, I always had a nice watch, but not rings or earrings or belly rings or bracelets--you know.
So the Little Jewish Lady moved to Florida. She moved to Florida around X-mas time of 2003 and in February of 2004, I called her on the phone number she'd had the Puerto Rican lady send me via email. Things weren't going so well, she said after I called her. She'd totalled her new car driving on US Highway 1; she hadn't driven in so long, she panicked when a car cut in front of her and she jerked her wheel too hard to the right to avoid hitting the fool and as a result her car spun out, flipped, and became an encompassing ball of twisted tin. They had to cut the Little Jewish Lady out of her car with the jaws of life--and she came out of the wreck whole, unharmed, except, my God, she said, I had to smoke three cartons of cigs down fast to get over the anxiety and trauma of the wreck. Also, her landlord was telling her he was going to have to raise her rent. "Social Security isn't covering my expenses. I'm looking for work. Proofreading, anything, but so far there's nothing." Her Florida adventure was turning into Holy Hell and not DisneyWorld, and, too, Little Rocky and Stupid Sidney had found their ways down there and were fucking up royally wherever they tried to establish themselves down there and LJL was ending up having to shell out thousands of bucks to get them back to New York and out of her hair.
And then, I lost track of her.
I kept her number by my phone. I started to call her any number of times but I didn't; I just didn't. I was lazy. I saw the number all the time but I just never called her.
It was a couple of years later, 2006, when I heard the big, tall redhead was in the hospital, in bad shape, with Irritable Bowel Syndrome--she got worse; they changed their diagnosis; the big, tall redhead was fucked; she had terminal stomach cancer. Soon the big, tall redhead, once the cat's meow of medical editing, was hospitalized with cancer; soon she was undergoing chemo--then radiation--but her cancer had already rock 'n rolled big time through her big, tall body; it had already infested her big, tall body, and was headed for her brain and its final feed. And late one afternoon in the summer of 2006 I got an email from a friend at the agency saying the big, tall redhead was DEAD. GONE. Who the hell would have guessed such a thing just a few years before? I was fired in 2004 from the agency; "fired"--well, they called it "outplacing"; and when I left the agency the big, tall redhead was flaring red and vicious, having turned paranoidally fooltish against me--the bitch, and it was her big, tall paranoia freaking out that helped get me fired. Yeah, sure; I was fired. The Little Jewish Lady had quit by X-mas 2003 and in 2004 I was fired and then 2005 went by fast and furiously. I had the Madwoman of Chaillot living with me for most of 2005, and all that while I thought LJL was in Florida living as well as she could and that she was in Florida when she heard the big, tall redhead was dead. That's what I thought.
It was X-mas 2006 when I got an email from my friend still at the old agency. The Little Jewish Lady, he wrote, is back in New York City, back with her husband in their old apartment in the Bronx. Why was she back with her husband? She'd been diagnosed with lung cancer and though doing fairy well she was going to start chemo soon and doctors were giving her high hopes of recovery. Cold bastard that I can be sometimes, I wasn't surprised to hear she had finally developed the cancer that had surely been eating away at her even while I was trying to get her to stop smoking cigs and go on a diet and lose all that baby fat she still carried around and then maybe her arthritis would be pushed back into a controllable state and then she'd go on living happily ever after. I ignored the fact that my old "friend" the Little Jewish Lady was right here in New York City, at her old apartment, and I had the phone number to that apartment but I never called it. Cold hearted; I was in one of my "I told you so" attitudes about LJL. "Served her right." I was pissed at her really. How stupid she'd been all along...but then I down deep was feeling great feelings for her, this silver bracelet keeping me reminded of her all the time I wore it and I'd been wearing it steadily since she'd given it to me that day in Muldoon's back near X-mas in 2003.
One day I got another email. The Little Jewish Lady was starting chemo and was home and was sort of doing OK. Then in 2006 when the big, tall redhead died, I started to go to that one's funeral but I didn't; did the Little Jewish Lady go to the funeral? NO, they said, she was too sick. X-mas 2006 came and went and then in the summer of 2007 another email came from my pal at the agency, the Little Jewish Lady had taken a turn for the worst and was starting her cobalt treatments, her radiation treatments that week; I assumed her Ronald-Reagan hair was burnt off her head leaving her fat, round, and bald after that. Damn, it was mean of me to think of her that way. How piously above-it-all I was; yet, this silver bracelet I'm still wearing was yelling at me; the least you could do is find out what hospital she's in and call her or, hey, sombitch, how about going to see this woman who idolized you, who said she loved you over and over, and who you did your best to help with advice and encouragement--BUT, I ignored her. I mean, come on, in the span of 4 years, my best friend ever from my youth on (the college professor) died of cancer in January 2002. Later that spring, my brother died of cancer. Later that fall, my ex-wife died of lung cancer in Santa Fe, New Mexico (she'd been a stone Salem smoker since she was a teenager--dead at 59). Then the next year around X-mas, my retarded nephew died while undergoing a throat operation in a Los Angeles hospital--he died in November, just before X-mas of 2003. That was the time the Little Jewish Lady retired and moved to Florida. The next year, 2004, in the fall, I was fired from my agency job. 2005 was my Madwoman of Chaillot year. Ugh! And in 2005, also, I found out the big, tall redhead had cancer and then in 2006 she died of cancer. And then in November of 2006, another nephew of mine, my brother's second-born son, went into a California state park out in the Mojave Desert, took single-barrel shotgun, cocked it, put it between his legs to steady it, put the barrel up against the roof of his mouth, and pulled the trigger. He was found headless and very much dead by the California Highway Patrol. And in that same year, a little after my nephew blew his brains out, 2006, I found out the Little Jewish Lady had cancer.
Just a few weeks ago (December 17), it's 2007 now, I got an email from the Puerto Rican woman who was still at the agency--really the only one left there from those old golden days in that office--and she was telling a bunch of us that the Little Jewish Lady had been moved to a hospice and was recovering better than expected. I knew better. I knew when the HMOs moved you into a hospice, you were stamped "NO HOPE" and left to die in the arms of the little nuns of sorrow at a hospital in the Bronx called Calvary--the very same hospice in which my best friend-ever in NYC (the photographer) had died from esophagus cancer in 1991 at 43. "We ask for your prayers so that our dear friend will recover fully," the very Catholic Puerto Rican lady said in her email. I knew better. Being sent to a hospice meant several things--sometimes it meant your insurance had run dry and you were being evicted from the hospital and sent to the hospice as an indigent--or even if you still had some piddling bucks left in your HMO cancer account, the insurance gang knew you were a goner and really didn't have enough money for one more major operation or more radiation--no, hell, no, that's it, case closed, ship her off to the hospice to DIE. And that's exactly what happened.
One whole afternoon later after I received the email from the Puerto Rican lady about LJL being in a hospice and doing nicely, I got a very short email from my old friend in the agency. All it said was, "LJL passed away early this morning." And I immediately started to trying to write this tribute--it's taken me this long to write about it. She's gone. She's silenced. Her troubles are over. Her arthritis no longer makes her body so wracked with pain she couldn't even stand having to turn and twist in bed so she slept in an old easy chair. And finally, she can now smoke celestial cigarettes--except, I know the Little Jewish Lady had no religion at all; one thing she and I really had in common, we despised religious types of any brand. Plus being Jewish and naturally born wise she was in my political boat, too; a ribald progressive Jewish liberal who called our phony president G.W. Bush "a Nazi-sympathizin' menace"--yes, LJL saw the world pretty much like it was--except, she truly believed she really didn't smoke that many cigarettes and she truly believed she didn't smoke enough to worry about cancer--why, she worried most about her arthritis as she lit up another Marlboro Light (they killed the Marlboro man, remember?).
So the Little Jewish Lady is no more. I hear a sudden silence all around me when I remember her now. I don't see her as I've depicted her in these 5 editions--nope, I'm over my abuse of her. I can now render her a Jewish saint; yep, that's what she really was, a little imp of a Jewish saint--crass, vulgar, rude, sloppily dressed, sloppily built, a waddling little Jewish duck of a woman who could spot a quack from a mile away; NOW a saint.
The silver bracelet on my arm just pinched my wrist. "There she is now," I thought. "She gave me this damn silver bracelet so her spirit would have a place to reside--and, hey, there she goes again, tweaking my wrist as a reminder of who she was and who she'll always be as long as I keep wearing this bracelet. And when I die, I assume they'll bury me with this bracelet still on my arm. It's kind'a ironic to think the Little Jewish Lady's saintly spirit will be buried with me when I eventually DIE.
Death. Death. Death. Always death. Even being born is entering the highway that leads to the DEAD END, the cul-de-sac we all must face. "NO MORE ROAD! DEAD END!" DEAD. DEAD. and Finally DEAD.
"alas, poor Little Jewish Lady, I knew her well"
for The Daily Growler
Monday, December 24, 2007
Oscar Peterson Is Dead at 82
I had passed out in my loft bed just after returning from a fervid X-mas Eve night over at "my babe's" swanky million-buck apartment where I ate smoked ham, sweet potatoes, green beans, topped off with chocolate cake and sherbet and then I had a Yuenling's Pale Ale and a couple'a shots of high-powered eggnog. I cabbed home, came in, went to bed, watched a CSI-Miami, they get more and more unbelievable every one I watch now--getting superhypey, fantastic for me--jive ass surreal shit--but anyway, after that show, I passed out, BAM. Dead in the bed. Then, I woke up suddenly. The teevee was on and I'll be damn, it was one of those blonde talking heads doing a substitute sit-in for a big regular talking head star who was out in her 10-million-dollar condo celebrating big-time X-mas shindigging and phonying "peace on earth and good will toward men" up all to shit--anyway, this substitute talking head blonde woke my ass wide awake as the first story I awoke to was that Oscar Peterson, hell, I'll say, the world's greatest jazz pianist ever--sorry, I'm telling ya the gospel truth about this man--I awoke to this damn woman saying the greatest pianist who ever lived was DEAD! No! I shouted. Oscar, you can't leave us, man; come on back, man; you've got another set to play, man. And there is no answer. So it's true, Oscar Peterson is dead--at 82 this woman said, dead at 82 of kidney failure--oh shit, man, what's that, diabetes? shit, uremia? Oscar? Come on, man, say something in your defense against what this blonde talking head who doesn't know you're the greatest jazz pianist who ever lived is warbling--get her in key, Oscar--oh I know--Monk's a great pianist but he's more of a great original whole of a music; and Bud Powell, yes, ding dong great, but of a new school; Oscar came out of the old school, the classical trained prodigy from Montreal, Canada, discovered by Norman Granz who hired Oscar as his Jazz at the Philharmonic series as house pianist, organizing while within the JATP touring, the original Oscar Peterson Trio, of Ray Brown on bass, and Barney Kessell on guitar. Oscar made his debut with the JATP when he was 19, in 1944, and played with the JATP on into the 50s when he then began his fabulous career with his first trio issuing many Norman Granz-produced albums in the 50s with all the jazz giants of that era--Oscar recorded with Prez; with Diz; with Hamp; with Little Jazz; with Louis Armstrong; with Ella; with Benny Carter; with Buddy Rich--and then he started recording those unforgettable albums own his own--too many to list--and at the height of the progressive jazz era in the late fifties and early sixties on down to just a decade ago, Oscar P. and Ella Fitzgerald became the highest paid-ever jazz performers--both getting at one time, 15,000-bucks a gig--that's big-time in jazz, folks. Oscar had his career jeopardized in the late 90s when he had a stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side and with limited use of his left hand--that wild left hand had been stilled a bit though he was still able to use his right hand with the same blistering degree he could before the stroke--so he adjusted and kept on concertizing up into the 2000s--I don't know, sorry Oscar, it was cool, but it just wasn't the same after that, which Oscar admitted and retired with his wife and kids to Toronto where his life ended. Oscar was a proud Canadian all his life; he was honored by the Canadian people with his own government-provided Website and he was honored by being admitted to the Canadian Hall of Fame along with ex-Prime Ministers and Industrialists.
I had several chances to see Oscar live, once when the JATP was doing a concert in Austin, Texas, when I was in college--I was going, but it was canceled at the last minute when Ella and some fellas were busted for shooting dice backstage at the first concert--then here in New York City, several times, though he was always at a high-end venue--his last gigs here were at the Carlyle Hotel, keiko-muckity-muck joint--75-buck cover charge, two-drink minimum, and forget it if you eat--and I just couldn't afford to go. So I never got to see Oscar in person, but I did hear him from--well, the first album of his I ever bought I had no idea who he was--it was an RCA-Victor 10" LP, recorded in Montreal, with a couple of bushleaguer sidemen (Montreal radio studio dudes), and Oscar playing all-out, amazin'-amazin'-amazin', virtuosic boogie-woogie. And on the cover of that LP was the doll-like (youthful) face of under-20 Oscar Peterson, the phenom from Montreal, classically trained until he heard Art Tatum and Nat "King" Cole, also the greatest piano players who ever lived--you understand? What a world Oscar got to perform in. And what a grand performer he was, tireless, a constant streaming of unbelievable weavings and unravelings and then swoopings and divings and then crashing thunders and hard-slamming right hand triple-stepping in 32nd-note gallops so fast sometimes they made you head spin. And then Herb Ellis joined the trio and one of the greatest jazz trios ever was formed--and my God listen to these three wizards on that phony At the Concertgebouw album--it was actually recorded in Los Angeles--Granz had planned an actual O.P. concert at the Concertgebouw but it was cancelled--but the album covers were already printed up, so, what the hell, let it go. It was years before anybody discovered the album really wasn't Oscar, Ray, and Herb live at the Concertgebouw. What did I care? I first heard that album one afternoon over at my hometown best pal's apartment--his family had released him to live on his own even though he was still under 18. He had a hi-fi and he started buying albums before I started buying albums and one afternoon he slipped that phony-titled LP on his hi-fi and from that afternoon for the rest of that summer, I would go over there and put that LP on the turntable and put my ear up against that big speaker box and then let Oscar, Ray, and Herb wail, and wail they do on that album. The energy. The flamboyance. The tightness. The ability to do note-for-note tricking--guitar and bass playing piano notes, piano notes that sometimes flurried or sometimes smeared down like a bolt of zigzag lightning out of a threatening sky--and Oscar Peterson's way of playing the piano stunned me and I was trying to be a piano player but after hearing Oscar, I wasn't for sure any more the rest of my life about my piano playing.
No, come on, Oscar, say you ain't dead, man--I have the DVD of you live as hell in Montreaux back in, Jesus, back in '81, and now on that DVD you're dead as well as your bass-playing, hard-drinking Nils Orstead-Pederson--another Peterson--and Little Jazz is now gone--Holy Jesus. I sometimes think I wish I hadn't lived this long myself to see all of my heroes dead and gone, so many of them--and like when my brother died it surprised me because I never thought he would die, same thing with Oscar P. I never thought he would die, but then I said that when Miles died...and when Diz died...and just a year ago when Jay McShann died...time rolls on and rolls right over us no matter how great while living we were. Damn you, DEATH, you killed Oscar, you bastard!
The great Oscar Peterson Trio--Ray Brown, Oscar, and Herb Ellis.
Young Oscar at home with his mother and his brother, Charles.
Oscar at Montreux in 2006.
I love ya, O.P. I still don't believe you're dead. I know damn well you ain't gone.
thegrowlingwolf (in humble respect)
for The Daily Growler
Saturday, December 22, 2007
"So Long It's Been Good to Know You" (Cont'd #4)
Now the question stuck in my rapid-fire-wordy mind is "How the hell can you ever love so disgusting and crass a person as LJL?" Nope, not a confession of love for her, not at all. Maybe a hint at developing a compassion for her as an American character, which is what she truly was, last of a New York City character, too, though her traits will continue on in new-arrival little fat Jewish girls who lose their defending fathers when they're young and left in the arms of a loveless mother--those do continue on, though not with the flair of this lady, the gaudy flair, the disturbing flair, but a character who once you'd hung around her every day for a ton of years you couldn't forget her--you couldn't wipe her off your many pages of notes taken on her all those years.
One day she decided she was going to hire me to counsel her son, the "mommy's boy," I'll call him Loser, 'cause that's exactly what he was, a loser Jewish kid--and he didn't even look Jewish, another thing against him. He looked like a goombah--a gullible goombah, a wannabe street dude, though he was so gullible in the street that soon any number of true street people were ripping him off of everything from money to cell phones to girlfriends.
LJL had a fascination for Florida. She definitely was headed for the Sunshine State the minute she retired, which she planned on doing the minute she hit 62 on the advice of her accountant who was her sister's husband who LJL liked but didn't like--she didn't trust him but she did; she was very Jewish lady in that respect--she didn't trust anybody except herself and she didn't really have a good hold on that trust either. She had a bunch of friends and relatives in Florida. While she was down there one summer when she worked for the cardiology journal and her son was pestering the hell out of her for support, refusing to get a job, though she said he had learned a lot about cars from his father who was a Jewish failure though he had learned the wholesale auto parts business that he and LJL invested in, in the Bronx, and soon, as she put, "He couldn't tell a gyp from a kick in his ass he was that business dumb--and I was just a young woman--I tried to keep that business going but, shit, soon the IRS nailed us and that was it for two stupid Bronx Jews trying to make it in the business world." Except the son had grown up helping them in the business and he became a great car detailer--you know, he cleaned 'em out and sprayed them full of "new car" smell, that sort of shit, and then he got into customizing too, so when LJL was in Florida she got Loser a job detailing cars for an uncle of hers in Tampa. It didn't work. Soon she got a call; her firstborn was in jail; doing hard time in Dade County; he'd gotten involved with cocaine and robbery or something like that and then fled to Miami to try and hide out--I think he may have stolen a car to make his getaway, but, no luck, Loser got caught, and was in jail when LJL came to work at the agency--she and her husband were just getting him bailed out--and he came back from Florida the first week she worked there. He was back and so dumb he'd already got caught driving without a driver's license in New York, which meant if he got a violation Florida could bring him back to Florida and throw him in the slammer for many moons. LJL got a lawyer; she corresponded back and forth with the Florida courts and after a ton of money and bribes she got the boy released from his Florida charges on the grounds he never came back to Florida again.
"You talk to the boy. You're brilliant in that sense; hell, it's what you're good at. I give you credit for giving me the score here--for saving my job. Did I tell you the tall redhead chewed me out yesterday? Boy was she mad." "What did you do?" "I went in and got all the jobs off her desk the other morning when she didn't get in until 11..." (the tall redhead was notorious at coming to work late--with every excuse in the book--one morning she called to say she couldn't find her house keys--that she thought the dog had hidden them) "...hell, I thought I was doing her a favor. I think she should let me manage this office, dammit, since she won't make me an editor, but she told me in no uncertain terms I was never to take over her duties ever. She's a vice president--ohhhh, I'm so scared." "She was pissed right?" "God was she. I'll buy her some flowers...." "No, no, she hates flowers." "See what I mean. You're the best at analyzing these people and I appreciate that."
One thing that amazed me about this woman; at the same time she was eating at her desk, smoking tons of cigarettes on abundant cigarette breaks, working, she was also reading books. She would always say at some time during the day, "If they ask where I'm at, I've gone out to read my book." She read book after book after book--she was a member of a book club and was constantly calling them and bitching that they sent the wrong book or had overcharged. Now, don't get me wrong, she wasn't reading at a much higher level than Dick, Jane, and Spot--I remember her reading The Bridges of Madison County. She also liked going to the movies with her girlfriends and eating barrels of popcorn and drinking tons of diet soda, which she knew were worse for her than regular old colas, but she stuck to her habit of drinking them. She also liked eating in restaurants and once a month at least she'd go out to dinner with her girlfriends. She also joined Weight Watchers over and over, always breaking down and reverting back to her high-cholesterol foods after several days of sticking to boring salads and those unsatisfying looking Weight Watchers frozen meals.
Finally she brought Loser to work with her, and golly gee golly, you talk about a poor soul of a human being. He was slumped over bad. He had two earrings. I assumed he had nipple rings. He had a prison tattoo on one arm and was about as confused and mommy-dependent man as I'd ever crossed thoughts with. I talked to him but ended up just jiving with him, music talk, tough times talk, rebellion talk--he'd a made a great Anarchist stooge. Soon I gave up on the lad and then he found the free food in one of the conference rooms, pizza by the tons and pastas and salads and he went in there during a meeting and excused himself and then helped himself to a couple'a whole pizzas. Soon one of the account execs came out and was asking who the young man was who interrupted their conference to help himself to their food--"Two pizzas this guy took. Does he work in the mailroom?" And the next day LJL got another cussing out from the tall redhead--they had a huge brawl of fervid words--"God-dammit, big tall redhead, I could run this office and you could take it easy--make me the office manager!" "Over my big tall redhead dead body I'll make you office manager. You're a proofreader and that's it, case closed." Shape up or ship out, LJL. And LJL came back to the office and she slammed things around, opened her desk drawers and slammed them shut. "That's it. I'm outta here." And with that she put her coat on, grabbed her purse and cigarettes, and was gone. When the big tall redhead found out about it she came in the office and talked to me for over an hour about how LJL was getting on her nerves and how dare her--and I calmed Big Red down--she was putty in my hands--and soon she was saying she'd better call LJL at home and apologize to her.
That was the luck of LJL. She could defy the CEO or the CFO of the agency and get away with it. She was amazin' in that brash way she barged into affairs, was rebuffed, then when she went into her temper tantrum was forgiven and not only forgiven but sanctified. Yes, after awhile, LJL became the office saint. How she had that effect over people puzzled me always. Why, if I had done the things she did in that office, I'd'a been out on my ass mucho pronto, gentes--and that's one of the special charms all Little Jewish Ladies used to be born with.
It wasn't long before I became LJL's spiritual and reality advisor. It wasn't long either before I got to meet Little Rocky and his dumbass fool brother Sidney, her "other" sons, her incestuous sons. First I met Little Rocky. He weighed at least 400 pounds--solid blubber--and he waddled--he wasn't very old either, maybe 25 or 6, and he believed he was very cool and he was also smarmy and the first time she let him come up to the office he sat there and whined and baby-talked and then he discovered there was free food in a conference room and soon he was sitting in our office scarfing down some lasagna and gulping down a couple of Pepsis, which LJL, I discovered at that point, had been hoarding in her desk--she had what looked like a case of Pepsis in the deep-well drawer of that desk.
Then Sidney showed up. Sidney was the opposite of Little Rocky. Sidney was skinny, wore his Yankee baseball cap backwards a la Dah Bronx, and had no teeth.
LJL loved gambling; she loved Atlantic City; she and "her other" sons were always going down there--she'd take days off when she went down there--and she'd come back always a loser, though she said Little Rocky was a finagler down there and knew a couple of the dealers and he played blackjack and she said he was a winner at the blackjack table. That turned out to be a legend when one day she came in the office and said, "Little Rocky lost $4,000 dollars in AC Saturday night and I had to cover 2 grand of that."
From then on, the more money LJL made, the more her Loser son and her "other" sons robbed her blind. First her son talked her into to buying him a Mustang--a custom one, too, a babe rod, with red leather interior--LJL made the down payment on it--several thousand bucks. How long was it until Loser fucked that up?--about a day and a half--and she came in and said Loser had either wrecked his car or it was stolen, he didn't remember; hell, he didn't even remember where or when he and his Mustang had parted company. They finally found the car--it was wrecked--and it was impounded and then LJL found out he was driving without a valid license--and she had paid a couple'a grand to get a lawyer to get him a New York driver's license, which he'd almost immediately lost or had stolen. God--he was a loser.
LJL suffered really badly from arthritis, especially in her legs but also in her hands; plus she soon claimed she had developed Carpel-Tunnel syndrome--so her arthritis got so bad she couldn't walk very well and couldn't take the bus into the city because the walk from the bus stop was too many blocks for her to walk, so Sidney started bringing her to work and he would stay and eat an egg feast with her for breakfast--and one morning after he left, she looked at me and said, "Tell me, Mr. Psychiatrist, why do I love that boy so? He's stupid as an ox. I've known him since he was a baby. I know what those boys suffered; their mother was a whore and they never knew their father. Their mother, that bitch, I knew her; she was no good; a whore, a doper, and she abandoned those boys when they were teenagers--my husband and I have tried to help those boys over the years and in the process I fell in love with Sidney." "OK, that's understandable." "Oh yeah, then explain it to me." "You're looking for a replacement for Loser; I mean your own natural-born son you've given up on so you're looking to project your motherhood onto Little Rocky and you mother love onto Sidney." "I took him to Vegas one time and tried to shack up with him at the Aladdin but he couldn't get it up. I worked on him all night and he just couldn't get it up. All he could do was wimper and cower and cry and talk about how scared he was. The son of a bitch."
And one day, after the superdrug was launched and selling like hotcakes, and the agency was boistrous and blooming with buds of more and more millions of bucks and more launches coming--I mean it was top of the world for the agency and they got so prosperous, the tall redhead announced one day we were getting some new editors and that she was also going to get me MY OWN OFFICE, to myself--and I began to dance about like Pan--like a goat-boy--did you ever read Giles Goat Boy by the wonderful American writer John Barth--I mean, come on, folks, Sotweed Factor is a great book--or is it? I loved it. Anyway, a date was set and soon an era was going to be over--almost 2 years of working in the same office with the Little Jewish Lady--holy shit, I couldn't believe it.
"The Little Jewish Lady" [12/24/07]
The holiday season has suddenly rolled into town on me, caught me unawares, off-guard, resisting all sorts of loves being thrown at me in the names of old friends, world travelers, relatives, and even cheers from a woman who once told me I was the dumbest, sorriest, lowest, most warped person she'd ever met in her life--and now she's rolled into my life again and has invited me to spend this Eve with her--"eating crow" I assume--and turkey that I am, I'll probably go.
For the past 4 days, I have done nothing but raise glasses of beer and rare whisky in toasts--at the Irish Pub I've frequented for 25 years--at my relative's uptown apartment--with a friend of mine, themountainmanfromNew Mexico, who I hadn't seen in two years--an ex-Manhattan friend--on his way (maybe) to Antarctica to live for six months--and then I hit the subway with themountainman and "my babe" of many moons and we partied hearty until 4 a.m. Sunday morning, and then yesterday it was down to the Broome Street Bar, in chic-y-chic-y SoHo, for tons of toasts with my Michigander friends, the bigguitarplayer (who's a bartender there), and the segolendrummer--both former bandleaders for whom I worked and who I hadn't seen in many a moon and who out of a full-mooned sky got in touch with me, invited me down, and down I went and now it's 7 a.m. on X-mas Eve and here I sit able to write again, though, like I said earlier, I'm going out partying tonight, too, with the witchy woman from love's lost past--I'm liable to be wasted, that I am, by the time Saint Nick drops down my chimney in the morning and gets his ass blown off--I'm not used to grown overweight men wearing weird red suits breaking into my apartment, I don't give a shit if it is X-mas, Oh Holy Night, or not. I'm kidding, of course; I wouldn't shoot Saint Nick--I might stab him, or hit over the head with this Lloyd Mangrum signature golf club I keep by the door, but I wouldn't shoot the old legend.
As to this continuing story of the Little Jewish Lady (LJL)--well, let me see, I'm the writer, the storyteller, so I can like say "To make a LONG story short...." and get the hell out of this blog-writing trap I'm in--I'd love to write this while drunk on Yule liquor but, nope, I'm sober as Judge Clarence Thomas with a cunt hair on his can of Coke at the moment, so I'll bang out something tidily Yuletide Eve in this continuing story of a little Jewish woman I encountered on my trip through my life in the advertising industry.
So, to make a long story short, soon after the office was pompously self-satisfied with itself, having moved from out of the pharma advertising nowhere to become #25 in the USA...USA, hell, let's say the WORLD--todo el mundo. So the emails started flying around the office that I was getting an office of my own. By now, another unbelievable thing happened, the big tall redhead up and quit the firm--Whaaaaa! Yes. We found out she'd become extremely jealous of the money we freelancers were knocking down there, several thousand more than she was and she was a vice president of the company and she figured if jolts like me and the other freelancers were cashing in big time freelancing, she could surely top us all if she started freelancing, too. She was always bragging about how many editorial directors she knew, some who had worked with her, and that she'd be working freelance almost immediately, blah, blah, blah, "Sure!," we all replied.
One day, our new boss--guess who? Remember the other resume I picked when I picked LBJ's resume, the raised Christian Jewish chick who'd gotten coffee for her graphic artist boss at another pharma agency, remember her? Well, guess who talked her into to taking the big tall redhead's place? You guessed right if you guessed me...
[The construction noises over on 6th Avenue are firing up their heavy machinery that are digging the huge hell hole that is going to be the underground floors of the 2000-room hotel their building overthere--hell no, construction doesn't stop just because it's a holiday--we must build more buildings, more and more buildings, glutting the market with overpriced hotel rooms and very overpriced apartments, changing the whole nature of New York City, but especially Manhattan, for the worst of course though we're told this is just normal change that happens all the time in NYC's history. Never like this, I say, a 38-year-resident of this burg. The noise if ferocious today since no-one is working today and the city is almost dumb quiet.]
So yes, the Christian-Jewish woman became our boss. And, yes, I talked her into it though I knew she could never handle the pressure, and sure 'nuff that's how it turned out. What a wimp she turned out to be; not Jewish bitch at all, but rather too indoctrinated in Christianity and its master/slave bullshit--Jesus the Master/Thou the Slave--and this woman was still a Christian slavegirl rather than a tough-ass Jewish bitch.
The first bullshit this dipstick fed me was, "Wolfie, your new office is back here, come on, I'll show you." She took me further back into the back of the office and showed me a cool corner office, nice big desk, computer, telephone, the works. "Wow, thanks, Christian Lady, cool, when can I occupy it?" "Immediately, Wolfie, it's yours, so immediately." I rushed back to the office I was sharing with LJL, boxed up my stuff, flipped some BS with LJL, then trundled my kit back to this office only to start to move into it when, oops, there was a chick setting up in there. "Excuse me, but this is my office," I said. "The hell it is," she replied. OK, bitch, I'll show you, so I up and go to the Christian Lady and I say, "What the hell's going on." She checked. "Oh, it seems I was wrong. The office manager says she never told me I could have that office. I'm sorry." She was sorry, too, and I was getting sorry I'd talked her into taking the job; she'd not wanted it, that she'd told me, but, hey, I thought I saw a person I could easily work under without the same BS pressure that the tall redhead put on us with her wimpy VP stance.
The next bad news to hit me was when the agency LOST the big bad arthritis drug that we had launched so successfully--it had been the fastest selling NEW drug in the history of NEW drugs--a COX 2 inhibitor--you know what that is? Yes, the stupid agency dickheads lost that account and with that account gone--whoops, they suddenly found their rank plummeting and soon the umbrella company was sending snoops around running checks on us and running downsizing estimates on the full-blown staff. Some cuts were gonna be made. First cut! NO MORE FREELANCE WORK. You either came on staff, at quiet a bit less than what I was making as a freelancer, or you hit the door. If they used freelancers from now on, they said, they'd have to come through a legitimate agency--one that took taxes out and Medicare and shit out of your checks. The Christian Lady said she wanted me on staff--by then, too, she had an opening for an editor so I recommended one of my workers from my boss days at the accounting firm, a brilliant dude, one of the great men of world languages--he knew about 12 languages--and an editor first-class as far as I was concerned, except of course he had no medical editing experience and that bothered the Christian Lady until I reminded her she'd had no medical editing experience either, so she hired my pal. When she hired him, then she announced, "Wolfie, I'm sorry, but I'm gonna have to renig on my promising you a private office--so how about you and L Hat sharing an office?" I hit the ceiling. L Hat hit the ceiling; she had promised him a private office to lure him into the fold. So, in the end, I took the full-time job. The CEO and the CFO both came to me and insisted I stay on staff--and they made me a more generous offer than the Christian Lady had spun out at me--much higher; in fact, when I did come on staff, the rest of the freelancers who'd come on staff with me were pissed like hell when they found out they'd offered me about 10,000 more a year than they got--and this pissed off attitude was also suddenly trumpeted by L Hat, too, because he was making even less than the old freelancers.
So I became a regular staff member at this pharma ad agency. And soon L Hat and I were sharing an office. Hell, it was fun, but we were all getting more and more pissed as the agency kept swinging towards a more rigid and ruled routine--turning those routines into hell routines since the agency was sliding into the pits of the unknown, disaster for an advertising agency that depends on high-paying top-brand name clients for its big bucks. On losing the arthritis drug account, their name became mud. So they went into this reimagining stage, so proud when one of their big-shot copywriters came up with "disruptive advertisement," a concept developed by a Frenchman and which I thought was kind'a stupid when we were advertising pharmaceuitcals--what kind of disruptive advertisements could you use to sell drugs? "Hey, folks, you look like you've got ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE, already! Holy Smokes, you look ready for the mortician! You need AgriVate (placebo/salt solution), the reversing drug that solves EVERYTHING that is wrong with you and your physical being." This disruptive genius then was made head of all the writers and then all the editors. One day he called a staff meeting and in it he explained the new rules of the editing department--I didn't like the new rules one bit and said so and this jerk--I'd worked with him closely on a lot of drugs and especially the arthritis superdrug, but he was like he'd never seen me before in his life, the bastard, and he just up and told me, "You know, Wolfie, if you can't follow these new rules then you'd better look for another agency"--haughty asshole. That's when I started losing it. That's when I became a thorn in the side of the editing TEAM.
Next they cut out meal allowances. Then they up and said, they were no longer going to pay overtime pay--nope, overtime was going to be simply a part of your job description--if you had to work late, and we always did, then it would simply be included in your yearly salary--aha, compulsory overtime--that didn't settle well with anybody at that firm but especially me who had been a freelancer and had come on staff because these now-acting-like-jackasses big shots had begged me to.
The Little Jewish Lady had stayed in "our" old office. One day, though, L Hat and I were bitching and moaning but also getting into computers--we had new iMacs and we soon were going on line and staying on line all day long--learning all about computers and then emailing and then PhotoShop and then blogs and I also discovered eBay--the big worldwide on-line flea market, and then ONE DAY, we heard a commotion in the office adjacent to ours on the left--and then we heard the wheezing bitching and moaning of the Little Jewish Lady--she was given a private office next to ours. L Hat and I both got our hackles up and went to the Christian Lady--you promised us a private office and then shaft us and now you give a private office to her--why her? The Christian Lady was falling in behind LJL's total bullshit--my first screwing from the new boss.
My relationship with LJL was now less involved, though she was still in the office next to us and we could hear her talking on the phone and playing her F-ing music through the wall. Yes, I still went in and had long conversations with her. They ban her from bringing her sons up, though they still came around quite often. Her son was getting into constant trouble--he got caught in a motel room with a weapon--they were threatening to throw him back in the hoosegow and LJL had to put up his bail and then had to talk long talks with his parole officer--and she finally got him cleared from that shit--and then he got right back into another fuck up, he knocked up a chick who was a street ho, and LJL had to either get the girl to have an abortion or else what a mess would happen. Little Rocky, her nonson son, got diabetes and they had to cut his foot off and then he was relegated to a motorized wheelchair, which LJL bought him--she also paid for all his hospital bills. Her other son, numbskull Sidney, was also so fucking prone to fucking up and always LJL picked up the tab that bailed him. She also found out he was cheating on her with an older woman than she was--a woman she knew from the neighborhood--and then she got in a big brawl with stupid Sidney and this broad and then Sidney came back to LJL and then he'd go back to this other broad, back and forth...ugh, too much for me.
Soon LJL started talking to me about what should she do? She had to get away from her real son and her other sons and her dumbass husband, too. What to do? She was approaching 62 at the time so I suggested why didn't she retire when she was 62. "Oh no, I can't do that; you have to work 'till your 70 now to make any money on SS." "I don't think so, LJL; I think it's not worth waiting till you're 70." Then, like I've already said, she talked to her accountant (her brother-in-law) and he told her definitely to retire at 62, that waiting until she was 70 didn't mean that much more money, maybe a hundred bucks so LJL began to think about retiring--she got real excited about it. On retirement, she'd get SS, plus she had a 401K and a pension with the company, and she was already talking about moving to Florida and leaving New York for good.
And that's exactly what happened. LJL retired--and it was in the fall of the year. They gave her a big farewell party--there were tears in everybody's eyes, including especially the big tall redhead who one day surprised us by showing up again after they'd hired her back as an editor--and, dammit, then I found out they'd hired her back at a higher salary than I was making, and then she got a private office. God-dammit, I was beginning to not like the turn of events that was taking place in this office. I was really getting beligerent and cocky and talking loud and bitching often; yet working my ass off and doing good work--or at least I thought they thought I was doing good work--but I did get very cocky--and they started to hate me and turn on me, especially the Christian Jewish Woman the the big tall redhead, the bitches. Plus the umbrella company that owned the agency then sent some snoops in to qualify us all--you know, they passed around self-evaluations, then they had meetings with us to interview us. I felt like an innocent schoolboy when I was interviewed by my snooping stooge. I mean here I was with beaucoup years in the advertising business and I was being interviewed by a scumbag stooge as though I had just entered the game. I was boiling mad when I emerged from such a juvenile interview. After that I simply became boiling mad all the time. I was mad. I was mean. I became cynical. I began bitching at every bit of work given me--bastards! Also, the Christian Lady seemed to suddenly turn on me and blame me for taking her job and how the job was really getting her down and then she said, "I'm so discouraged, I'm thinking of resigning."
In the meantime, the Little Jewish Lady was gone. We couldn't believe it the day we came in and her office was stone empty.
To be continued--AFTER X-MAS--we are too tired and hungry to continue with this saga now--God-damn, and it has turned into a SAGA.
Note: We will soon be announcing the publication of a new book languagehat coauthored. Cheers to languagehat. His book is a book of insults. No wonder we love that guy here at The Daily Growler.
Raise a Growler of Ale to Olde Saint Nick himself, Siegheil! Merry Nick's Day from The
Daily Growler STAFF and thegrowlingwolf! Huzzahs all around!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
"So Long It's Been Good to Know You" (3nd Cont'd)
Jesus, I keep hoping I'm not on another episodic journey here--I don't wanna be. My intention was to jot out a quick piece on this woman, a quick tribute, but then I realized once I got into it this woman couldn't be described in one piece--Yikes! there were more pieces to this woman than met the eye. Yes, she was stereotypical, you couldn't help but give her that, and she played the role to the hilt, too, especially when it came to her continuing lifestyle, but that wasn't all of it. She played the stereotypical role beyond her capacity--her acting out her childhood fantasies as a 60-year-old woman was certainly ludicrous while certainly "touching" at the same time to a person so steeped in human observation as myself.
[This morning while reading Jane Bowles, I came across this very telling passage: "I want you to know the whole truth about me. But don't imagine that I wouldn't be capable of concealing my ignorance from you if I wanted to. I am so wily and feminine that I could live by your side for a lifetime and deceive you afresh each day. But I will have no truck with feminine wiles. I know how they can absorb the hours of the day. Many women are delighted to sit around spinning their webs. It is an absorbing occupation, and the women feel they ar getting somewhere. And so they are, but only for as long as the man is there to be deceived. And a wily woman alone is a pitiful sight to behold. Naturally." That's from Jane's brief Emmy Moore's Journal, which was to be a portion of a larger novel Jane was calling Out in the World; I'm reading her work in The Portable Paul and Jane Bowles put out by Penguin in 1994 as part of their inherited Viking Portable Library. I love reading Jane Bowles even though Paul is the much better and cleverer writer--it's hard to top The Sheltering Sky plus I'm also getting a big stunned kick out of reading his Let It Come Down--a book that has a fascinating long scene in which the protagonist is supposed to be high as holy hell on Paul Bowles's favorite Moroccan weed, what he calls majoun --he actually Anglicizes it as just majoun--no itals--which in essence is the highest grade hashish possible--and Paul Bowles is such a skillful writer that soon you begin to believe the whole novel may be a majoun trip--hallucinations galore; subtle gore galore--to me he and Jane are teasing writers. (Remember hashish? The Lebanese kind used to have flakes of opium in it. The Jamaican Bad Boys came up with liquid hashish. The best hash ever, though, supposedly was this majoun Paul became so hooked on while living in Tangiers and Morocco--I have a film of Paul getting high on majoun while his Moroccan poet friend takes great Thai sticks of some awesome-looking pot which he then begins chopping up into the silky ground herbal-looking substance needed to then cook it down into the majoun state, which comes out as a sticky licoricey looking substance that you then smoke in a hookah or a long hash pipe. Remember the Firesign Theater's accusation that our white forefathers ("Never Tell a Lie" George Washington, Ben Franklin, etc.) were hashheads? I recall Phil Proctor, one of the Firesign actors, reading from Ben Franklin's diary, "And I took meself down to the Hashfire Inn..." Damn, I love those old Firesign Theater things--cleverest bunch of dudes I've encountered in my looking for the most satirical shit the world has to offer to guffaw at--and I love guffawing--these guys nailed a lot of shit dead on the head in those many Firesign Theater episodes--arghhhhhhh! and I am getting episodically epileptic here....]
Back to being episodically epileptic: After we were embroiled at the agency in this superdrug launch, work became for sure "late" every night, and late meant up into the wee hours of those gruesome mornings. Why I've left work at like 7:30 am, come home, showered, shaved, you know, and then been right back at the job by 9, ready to do another long haul. As a result of this late night work, the Little Jewish Lady and her smoker pals decided, shit, after the bosses left, especially the big tall red head, fuck going out into the stairwell to cop some smokes, why not just smoke right there in the office--you know, smoke up a storm and then shoot this gaseous deodorizer into the already putridly stale air thereby covering up the illegal sin of smoking in the offices. I called them the Smokers Circle. There was the Puerto Rican woman; the Staten Island Italian chick whose favorite word was "fuck"--"Fuck that fuckin' shit. I'll be fuckin' damned if I fuckin' put up with that fuckin' shit" and I joked about how she must have been a crusty sailor in one of her other lives 'cause boy could she cuss just like the proverbial sailor of cursing legend. This cussin' Staten Island babe had a boy friend who worked there, too--she later married him to detrimental effects--but the boy friend was a kind'a dull pugnacious little Irish kid, a graphic artist making better bucks than she was--and he, too, smoked and he would join the Circle at times. And there were always unexpected guests dropping in, "Ohhhhh, I hear you guys are lightin' 'em up in here, may I?" Then there was the Puerto Rican woman's young cousin--a really nice woman who really didn't smoke but she liked to bring cookies and cakes and shit in there and eat those while participating in the incessant jabber that eventually turned into whispered gossip, "Did you hear that Big Snell is getting the axe?" "Get outta heah, him, I thought he was an agency hotshot?" "Yeah, looks like only he thought he was a hot shot." "How 'bout have you all heard that Kerry the Stud is banging Cheri the married account exec?" "Or how 'bout that Melissa bitch bangin' that goofy Otis guy?" Gossip; oh how these women--and men--loved their gossip--and speaking of men, the last regular member of the Smokers Circle was a guy I called Uncle Teddy Boy, a totally neurotic dude who while smoking his one cigarette after another loved to broadcast his various ills and give us a detailed count of all the insane asylums he'd been instituted into and then one night out of the clear blue sky he up and reveals with a darling little innocence that he was HIV-positive. "Does that mean he has the AIDS?" the Little Jewish Lady asked me after Uncle Teddy Boy had left the office to go back to his PowerPoint work. "Not necessarily. Magic Johnson has been HIV-positive for years--in fact, by now, nobody even remembers Magic Johnson is HIV-positive--and he's healthier than a horse. But Uncle Teddy Boy--hey, I'll give you 4-5 odds he's got the AIDS." "Shit, wow," LJL said, "but then, hell, he's gay isn't he, or if he isn't he'd better be?" Uncle Teddy Boy was thin, bony, sad looking, yellowy at times, limp wristed (oh yes!), and constantly dancing with his personal death wish of which the cigarette smoking was his chance to confess his many warps, and he had more warps than just the AIDS.
And every evening during these long hauls, and they lasted for more than a year and a half--the Smokers Circle would pile into the office after the bosses were gone and they smoked and jived and then went over ordering dinner--and then all of them got the hots for food and we ordered dinner and then everybody went back to work. The Little Jewish Lady, however, decided, shit, as long as the Smokers Circle was getting away with smoking up a storm in the office, why couldn't she just keep on puffing away the rest of the night as long as she kept the door closed and the can of deordorizer handy, and she did. Did I complain? No. What I did was start telling her about everybody I knew who had died from cigarette-related cancers--my best friend in NYC, the photographer, a chain-Kools-smoker (Kools for many years was the favorite brand of good-looking black dudes)--his father, also a chain-Kools-smoker had died a few years earlier of esophageal cancer; my mother's brother had died of lung cancer and as a kid I'd visited him as he lay dying in a Vet's hospital in McKinney, Texas, and he was constantly begging all of us to please get him a pistol so he could blow his diseased brains out--"Please, god-dammit, the pain, please, son of a bitch, get me a gun, a pistol, that's all I want, god-dammit, the fucking pain, god-dammit, please just kill me, mother, kill me, put a pillow over my face--please mother." His mother was my grandmother and she was more concerned about his soul, she was a poet, than she was his pain. I think perhaps she believed if her son would confess his sins and accept Christ as his personal savior he might not get the cancer cured but at least she'd feel he was going to Heaven when he did eventually die. Unfortunately he never accepted Christ as his personal savior--in fact, the last time I saw the poor bugger he was cursing God to high heaven--his mother included--cursing his own mother because she wouldn't put a pillow over his face and do him in. And I started describing sitting by my photographer friend's bedside at Sloane-Kettering Hospital (the last stop of hope for terminal cancer folks) while he was radiated to a cobalt-blue black--especially describing in detail the ordeal he went through, blah, blah, blah. You catch my drift. I had some feminine wiles up my sleeve, too. Yes, I soon figured out--and this is why I included that passage from Jane Bowles in this episode (YIKES! My writing is imprisoning me!)--yes, the Little Jewish Lady was using those feminine tricks on me. But the irony here is, I was using them on her, too. I wasn't like her father at all. Soon for me it became a psychiatric trip as I flipped through my Smokers Circle Roll-a-Dex and studied each patient--I was the sane one in the room when the Smokers Circle met. To be honest, I loved putting myself in such situations. I feel it makes me a stronger character in my own imagination--makes me a better writer--HELL, look at the words that are coming into my brain as I relive this past! Jesus, I can't shut 'em off; I'm like old Thomas Wolfe, the real writer, I just can't edit my own work! No cuttin' in me when it comes to my holy writ.
So that's what I started doing when the Little Jewish Lady lit up. And by God it actually got her to quit lighting up after the Smokers Circle left the room. Yes, she admitted, smoking was bad, she'd been smoking since she was a teenager--all her pals smoked, too, heavy. Her husband smoked. Her son smoked. Her other "sons" smoked. The whole world smoked in her world. Me, no, I never smoked cigarettes. I always thought them foul. I sold cigarettes for my brother's magazine stand and tobacco shop as a high schooler--instead of stealing cigs and smoking them, I stole cigs and took them to high school and sold 'em black-market style to make a little extra spending money for myself. I never wanted to smoke cigarettes--well, at least not tailormades--nope, if I smoked cigarettes I smoked those special Jamaican and Mexican brands you had to roll yourself.
Still the Little Jewish Lady puffed on on her smoke breaks all day long and with the Smokers Circle on the long-haul nights and early dawnings.
As a working musician I had gotten used to second-hand smoke. I've played in dives so full of cigarette smoke it made my eyes steadily water, getting so bad it blinded me and irritated so much I would have to excuse myself after a tune and run into the men's room and wash my eyes out in order to return and whack out another tune for the drunken gang that surrounded the little stage above the bar in this joint. And, yes, we used to smoke in the offices, too, yes we did--there were no bans against smoking then and every desk was issued an ashtray and at one time when I first went to work at the Big Eight accounting (executive management and financial counseling--they hate the term "accounting") firm I got into cigars and my reading partner in those days smoked cigars, too, and we puffed away heartily to the great consternation of the cigarette smokers, mostly women, and women who hated cigar smokers--all women hate cigars--it must have something to do with oral and anal conflicts within their lives--yes, maybe a cigar looks like a penis to them, and it reduces a man's masculinity in their sight to see him puffing away on a hard penis (why not a turd?)--remember Bill Clinton and his illegal Cuban cigar stash he sometimes substituted for his penis when Monica Lewinsky--a Little Jewish Lady--was giving him many happy endings there in the Oral Orifice (the Oval Office), so he returned the pleasure by giving her an illegal Cuban cigar fuck? Bill Clinton, what a joke, but, hey, I'm told American women love the man--think he's hot shit! And all he got was Hillary--no wonder he diddled around all over the place with semi-ugly women. And didn't we all at one time or another.
And the Little Jewish Lady closed the door one night and confronted me with the following trick attempt: "I know you are beginning to want to sleep with me, Mr. Wolf." Whaaaaa! "What?" "You. I can tell by the way you look at me." Now, folks, let me try to describe what this woman looked like. I called her The Empress because she bore a striking resemblance to Queen Victoria, the English-Prussian fop queen who ruled HER British Empire and her role as Empress of India with a calcified vagina for over 75 years. One reason the Little Jewish Lady resembled Queen Victoria was in her reddish-pasty flesh--a highly powdered, rouged, and perfumed flesh. Also, they had similar hair--a thin, scraggly burnt-out hair that looked henia orangey in its finest hours and like a bowl of molded spaghetti at other times. I never saw Queen Victoria's body but I assume it was probably in the same baggy shape as the Little Jewish Lady's body, which I got frightening views of all day and night long since this little squatty roo woman who was totally pear-shaped, tiny upperstructure with a big huge wide-load ass, because of the clothes she wore--very tight cheap clothes--none of her clothes fit her loose--it was as if she were still buying misses or petite sizes when she should have been in the "big gals" section when she bought her wardrobe--mainly pants suits--and oh what a bulbous, flour-sack ass she had, all overflowing and cobbly fatty sloppy. So, no, I had no sexual desires for this woman. None whatsoever. But, she insisted I did. Going so far as to tell me once while pretending to be suffering from the sexual hots, you know, opening her blouse down too low and fanning herself like a women getting hot flashes, which they may have been, too--I was dealing with a menopausal Little Jewish Lady, "You know you don't know what you're missing, Wolfowitz." "Sorry?" I said, feigning inattention.. "You don't know what you're missing by not going to bed with me." "And what would I be missing?" I asked while thinking of my girlfriend at the time--there was no comparison--my girlfriend at the time was 5' 2", much younger than I was, with a figure to die for and a pretty face to match, with burning-deep brown eyes, and a skin so smooth and inviting it made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck and all around my constantly erect penis when I was with her. So, no, I didn't know what the hell I was missing by not boffing the Little Jewish Lady.
Like I say, this situation went on for nearly two years. After a year, I was totally seasoned, totally adjusted, totally acclimated to it--I paid it no mind, went along with it when it was fun, and as an extra torture I even got to taking her to lunch at her favorite restaurant, not a restaurant at all but an Irish bar (Muldoon's) that sold food in the back--with a pigeon hole kitchen and a couple of sweating-like-crazy short-order cooks back there--hamburgers were their speciality and the Little Jewish Lady loved her hamburgers, with the works, too, the cheese, the bacon, the lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and dill pickles and tons of French fries and catsup, "Dahlink, may I have some more catsup...and dammit, the salt shaker's empty, too"--all of which she chawed and lugged on down--dribbling a lot of food out the corners of her mouth--why she wore her gold-lame bibs--and she always put a bib on when she ate. "When you get my age you start having more food falling out of your mouth than you can shovel in it, thus the bib--and I can only get these bibs, my favorites, in Florida, down near Fort Lauderdale where my cousin on my father's side lives." No one else in the office, and that included all those people who swore they "loved" this woman and they thought she was so clever and so typically a "Little Jewish Lady"--"And you know she's pretty damn wise, too, when you get right down to it"--yes, so even with all that love and admiration for her no one else in the office wanted to go to lunch with her. It wasn't pleasant watching her eat--the drooling and dribbling and hawking up lugies while she ate--and at that time you could smoke in restaurants so she had her cig going while she ate--ashes dribbling along with the food--"Ah, fuck, I burnt a hole in this bib--and I just got this one, too."
Still being continued as a Cont'd thing--I never intended to relive this level of my Inferno this long--merely a passing glance at a passing figure--but no--God, as a writer, I am cursed.