Eddie had moved into a downtown condo sublet right out of an eleven month stay at an institute for patients with dual-diagnosed psychiatric problems, because he was making some bucks and the state decided they needed the bed so they could get another commitment for another twelve month dole out from the feds. They accused him of making the place a free hotel for the last two months, forgetting that the treatment plan was for three to four months working in the outside world before being unleashed on them. He tried to get into a cheaper garden apartment style place, but that required references and a credit check. Eddie could get over the first, a few close friends stuck by him through his fuck-ups, but the credit couldn’t be covered by any such like financial institutions.
So Eddie took this sublet from a very enticing Cubana woman, reminding him of calmer days in the tropics years ago, who was about to marry Eddie’s mirror image, if Eddie had walked the straight and narrow and listened to his elders rather than his elder’s teachers, such as James Joyce, Bernard Malmud, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others. They also didn’t want to start off their marriage hovering nine stories atop, unknown to Eddie, of the coming two-year relentless pounding of pile-drivers and jackhammers that would accompany the re-building and expansion of the decaying downtown into one of those Disney versions of the ideal mix of old-time charm and modern convenience, all facade and no heart and soul.
As it developed, that didn’t bother Eddie much, a little city noise was welcome after an almost year sojourn amidst deer and birds and fellow travelers of self-induced inactivity. It even provided a bit of serendipitous joy as the city used the empty pit below him for their after Hootie & the Blowfish Memorial Day concert fireworks. The bombs burst in thin air but fifty yards flat across his glass enclosed half hexagon shaped balcony room one story higher and rained on him sights and sounds not seen nor heard since the days of Jimi and a tab.
It being Memorial Day, with a good meal and the intoxicating display over, Eddie decided to make his first visit to F. Scott and Zelda’s grave a few blocks away a midnight one. The grave was in an old, small churchyard, now closed to new dearly or not so dearly departed, for lack of space. It was situated in a vee formed by the angled crossing of the two major six-lane roads in the town that Eddie likened to Stern’s Oakland. It once had been part of one of the generations held gracious estates that since the sixties were slashed up and sold to developers for the mind-numbing sameness of modern utility. The institute Eddie was just released from also rested on one of these plots, the state wisely keeping the fair citizens and the guests of the state safely buffered from each other by woods and a little used city golf course.
No one else was there at such a day and hour, the beers safely in their bellies to compete for elimination the next morning with the hot sausages and burnt steaks. Eddie wanted the gratification of the company of another boat against the current, dead or alive. The graves seemed to be in disrepair, decaying a bit with time, the ships quote that was inscribed still being borne back ceaselessly into the past. The missing sounds of rude traffic and the whooshing of the few tall century old trees’ leaves in a stiff spring breeze further bore Eddie back to when time mattered here.
Upon his return, his neighbor’s head emerged from the next door as he said night to some well-dressed guests. He saw Eddie walking the hall in deep thought, and invited Eddie in for a nightcap. Not really in the mood, he figured he has to live next to the guy and isn’t this what his re-entry into the world of nowhere was all about?
The neighbor was jovial, and recapped his day with gusto. When it was Eddie’s turn he figured he would tell it backward, and wanted to tell someone, anyone, of his last hour of introspection.
The neighbor looked up with surprise when he heard the location. He asked Eddie if it was St. Mary’s.
“Yes it is, just down the street.”
“Oh! I am a priest there, part time for the last two years, in the new church right next to the old one.. F. Scott Fitzgerald is really buried there?”
Eddie later found out that there had been a large flap over the interment of Zelda in the family plot, and after reburials and threatened lawsuits, she was quietly allowed to be laid to rest next to F. Scott, left to disappear with the faded letters of their names on the cold stones, boats slowly disappearing into the void of the horizon.
[From a collection scheduled out Jan 2011]
In a Brooklyn bar, in late August of 1971, Sid had troubles. He was soaking up the suds with two friends. “Guys, I pulled 117 in the draft lottery, they’re gonna call me up in a few days, I’m dead.”
Fred, who always lucked out, had drawn 364, next to last, safe. “Man, too bad buddy.”
Mitch, exempt as a Conscientious Objector, commiserated. “Yeah, sucks.”
The three sat there, not knowing what else to say, Sid couldn’t do the Canada thing, too many reasons to stay.
“Effin system” Sid moaned.
“Yeh, effin’ system” from Fred.
Then the light bulb. “Work within the system – use bureaucracy!” from Mitch. “Move!” “Legit!” “To our bud Eddie out in California!”
They worked out that Sid flies out there immediately, walks into the draftboard and tells them that he has moved.
“Then, when Eddie gets your notice, you mosey into the draftboard here and tell them ‘No work in California, I moved back’.” Mitch always had ideas.
“Yeah, then each time they gotta ship your records back and forth. By the time they get back, Bingo, its ’72, they’re saying the cut will be around 80 next year, and you’re safe!”
Maybe the combined twelve years of college and student deferrments weren’t wasted, it sounded fool-proof on paper, but this was beer-soaked bar napkin paper, so things couldn’t be all that easy.
The ’69 Chevy Impala, grey-black smoke pouring out of its tailpipe, came to a crunching stop on the top of a hill fifty miles to go on the road to Portland, the smoke mixing with the fog and remnant’s of brush fires that, with the burnt rubber, gave the air the smell of Secaucus if it had farms. Sooz looked over her shoulder from the driver’s seat to the two shadows she passed about 200 feet back.
“What’cha think Gertie? Should we go back for them?”
“Ehh, Sooz, think they’re like freaks, wasn’t sure if they even were guys at first. Thought we were goin’ into the city for some big studs, not skinny freaky gawd knows what. ”
“Ever do one, Gertie?”
“Do one what?”
“A hippie. I did one once, everyday for a week.”
“No way – eccch, was he dirty and smelly, they don’t wear Brut, or any after-shave, or even deodorant, I heard. And where’dja meet him? Down by the roadhouse, you didn’t go down there, didja?”
“Naw, you know my brother knows a few, for the pot, I mean Richie’s not a freak, but he likes to get stoned. Anyway, this guy, he actually was good, I mean it wasn’t just slam, bam; he went down on me.”
“Sheesh! Sooz, that only happened once for me, ‘member Chuck? His first time, I tole him he hadda, he never did it again.”
“Well, this guy liked to do it, didn’t wanna stop. But he hadda go back to Arizona, or someplace. Never saw him again.”
Gertie stopped to think. “Alright, let’s take ‘em, as a backup. If we can’t find any real guys before we dump these off, I’ll give it a go, if they’re not too freaky.”
Sooz gunned the Impala into reverse and screeched back to Sid and Eddie, who had just about given up hope for a ride and were about to snooze down in the ditch at the side of the road.
“Hop in fellas”, Sooz and Gertie’s voices mixed with “you would cry too if this happened to you” coming out of the AM oldies station.
Sid and Eddie got in the back, Sooz popping into forward just as Sid got his foot in the door, shutting it as they tore off.
“Where ya goin’ guys?” Gertie asked as blasé as she could be while picturing swirling tongues.
“Uh, Sid here is headed back east, and I’m going back down south of San Fran, but thought we’d take in Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies on the out of the way.”
“We’re goin’ ta Portland for the night, lookin’ for some fellas to hook up with, so wese can take ya that far” Sooz took command, snapping her gum. “You guys ok with oldies, I could change it to FM if you want, look like you’re FM guys.”
“Anything is fine with us” Sid replied, trying to see Sooz over Gertie’s puffed up, teased hair.
Eddie and Sid looked at each other, saw the dice from the mirror, hula girl on the dash, capri pants and shiny dacron tops on the bodies, bee-hives, smelled the gum. Sid leaned over to Rich and whispered “What are we, in a 10 year time-warp?”
Sooz switched the channel anyway. After a commercial to the Pepsi Generation, “I remember holding you while you sleep . . . bring it home baby make it soon.” That was a little better, although it was pop-rock, not the blues or underground stuff Sid and Eddie were into. Harrison and Ham traded some good slide work though, and maybe it was telling them something.
Now, Sid and Eddie were not averse to doing some time-sex traveling, after all it was four years earlier that they popped their cherries in Chattanooga, along with Fred, on the same night, with the same woman. She had a bouffant and leopard-skin patterned bra and panties, but it wasn’t so far removed in time then, and she was older, from that time. She also charged, this could be a freebie. Had to be – Sid and Eddie were as poor as their torn jeans.
As the asphalt ribbon became the main strip leading into Portland, bars and clubs started to appear at the side of the road. At each one, Sooz would turn into the parking lot, drive around and she and Gertie would size up the guys hanging outside.
“Ehh. Bikers, they’re just hippies with only half their teeth and beer guts. Sheeeet, real hippies, we got two in the back.” Gertie wasn’t reticent to assess the attributes loud enough for Sid and Eddie to hear. “Look, some nervous kids, we could break ‘em in Gertie, but they might go cryin’ home to mama.”
After about a half-dozen of these, with no success, they reached downtown.
“Alright guys, we’re going to a club we know. Got any money?” Sooz kinda made it sound like the only way they were gonna hang was if the guys would pay the way, their last shot.
“Naw, that’s why we’re hitchin’. But, hey – there’s the City Forest we heard about. Allowed to sleep overnight, where we’re gonna stay.” Sid leaned over and put his hand on Sooz’s shoulder. “You gals wanna join us, why bother fishin’ all night when we got the goods right here ?” Sid couldn’t believe what he just said, it must’ve been the hairspray fumes.
“OUT!! GETTA OUTTA HERE RIGHT NOW YOU CHEAPASS FREAKIN’ HIPPIES, SCREW IN THE WOODS? WITH YOUSE? THINK WE EVEN WANNA TOUCH YOUSE?” Gertie was apoplectic at the thought of bugs nesting in her beehive, swirling tongues nothwithstanding.
Both Sooz and Gertie started pushing the guys out as best they could with one arm, whacking them with the other, giggling all the time. Sid and Eddie tumbled out of each door, but as Sooz burnt rubber, Sid’s leg got caught up in the door and he got pulled along the ground for about twenty feet, wrenching his knee socket in every direction.
Sid spent the night in the hospital, Eddie ordered take-out for them from a Sambo’s nearby then fell asleep in the chair next to the bed. The next day they had to drain the knee and pull out a few tiny cartilage fragments.
The bureaucratic ruse didn’t work. Sid had to report for his physical on December 20th, they missed by 12 days.
The induction letter arrived on Christmas Eve. It stated that due to the temporary injury to Sid’s knee, he was to wait two months for it to heal, and report his status to the draft board at that time.
Free and clear. Turned out Sid did score with Sooz afterall.
Hey! Where? Georgie Girl!
The Decade of Myth didn’t start
with the year six-oh
nor did it stop with the one
ending in six-nine
It started in sixty-three
with the death of Young John the Debaucher
and ended in seventy-four,
with Sir Dickie the Trickie’s departure
we all got that straight? – solid, man!
[In The Beginning And In The End]
I met the Fair Maiden Georgie Girl
on an Ivoryton Sixty-Nine summer night
my Boys of Summer campin’ cross the lake
as were your hippie-chicks
[Original Boys of Summer, Fantasy Hippie Chicks]
Welfare and rich, mixin’ & matchin’
in each other’s sleeping bags
thirteen year old Elke Sommer’s kid shackin’
up with the Gypsy Queen’s daughter
so we figured why not us too
[Elke Sommer, one of my kid's Mom, Gypsy Queen, one of yours]
While my tongue was in your nethers
on that misty-meadowed night
and yours on my fair lance
I felt another on my foot
thought “How can she do that?”
I had to give a glance
In the heat of a passion
I look back and see
that a goat of the pastures
decided to make the scene
[Three's a Crowd on My Cloud]
“Man, you know what yew got there, compadre?”
said old Ed the cook – “just one word, man
you’ll understand, she goes to the same
school as Jackie O’s kid!”
[Did Caroline Ever Eat Camp Slop?]
Your name was Georgette, your brother’s Carroll
I should’a got the clue
but we talked not of backgrounds
we just wanted to screw
That mescalined night in the pond
skinny-dippin with three others
in front of the Ivoryton post office
doin’ it in the road
an early train-spotting with cars
none came, we did
[Ivoryton Post Office, No Worry, it was after midnight]
Man – we got two days off – where we gonna’ go?
it’s the weekend of a gig on Yasgur’s Farm -
but we had not enough time for the show
Off instead to my poor man’s heaven
on the other side of the LI Sound
meeting those children of god
all going the other way
Starry, Starry Night
we slept, talked and did the nasty
where I, in innocence once
built a raft of driftwood
to take me twenty miles across
to the shore from which we ferried
escaping my Father’s demise
[Yasgur's Farm and Sound Beach
We were only two at the beach, wonder how many made it to the farm?]
“Wake up! Wake up!”
roust the commie, preppie, philosopher, hippie and jock
I had one of each sort in my troop
Neil the Man’s about to take his midnight walk!
we herded them into the mess tent to see
the moon violated by mankind’s knee
[It Takes All Kinds watching Armstrong]
Back in the City, you One East End Ave
me from across the Gowanus
riding the subway to the stars
wondering what I was doin’
your nanny plopped with a death thud
to the floor above us
in your private-elevator duplex
as we were loving in full window view
of the 59th Street Bridge – that wasn’t groovy
[The Gowanus - Bridge Over Dirty Waters, 59th St Bridge - Feelin' Groovy]
You off to bucolic Pine Manor in Brookline
with your mama’s Standard Oil money
me back to CCNY turmoil
in Harlem on my night cabbie’s pay
visits on weekends, further apart -
we did start to grow away
[Protected in Brookline, Protesting in Harlem]
One last stab – I your debutante escort
at your coming out debut
for the Grosvenor Ball in the Plaza
you were both loathe and loving to attend
four months after you first came with a man
or rather this boy from across the facts
Dine with a Kennedy here, a Lindsay there
under a blanket in a horse carraige ride
in Central Park, thereafter
you sneak into my room
for our last bedding
[The Poor Got Richer, if just for a day]
Remember back when we got kicked out
of that snooty Boston Common’s hotel
for me refusing to wear a tie?
you laughed all the way with me
to the cheap shack up the block
Time driftwooded on, we left each other
my only contact with your world
became the green of the bluebloods
as I ferried them around the town
We met again in seventy-four on Mass Ave
just up from the Coop
me with my Nancy girl, you with
a Japanese artist, your Yoko
spurning your parent’s wealth
he hair down to his calves
Maybe we had an effect on each other,
maybe the Sixties mattered
or maybe we were all just
Fools on the Hill
This time Gary the Beekeeper decided he was gonna listen to his customer. His last shipment of raw Eucalyptus honey from Santa Cruz to the Bronx didn’t work out so well, because he didn’t listen to his customer. It was packed shabbily because he didn’t listen to his customer, put in the big 5 gallon glass jar that said “fragile” right there etched into it. Wrapped in a shabby carboard box that had no corrugation, left devoid of packing peanuts because he didn’t listen to the customer, tied with no twine, because he didn’t listen to the customer. The 60 lb container rose to the top of the carousel in the baggage area at JFK last, alone, uncushioned by the underwear and inflatable party dolls packed in the suitcases that now circled below, waiting for the Sad Men on Vacation Society of Kamloops to retrieve. It took a plunge down the ramp, smashed rather unsweetly into the overpacked suitcase of Barry Breathholder, Grand HooHaa of the Society, burst open and spilled its gooey insides over all the bags. As they continued to go round, the honey acted like a paste, until they all came together in a pile that looked like a beehive, because Gary didn’t listen to his customer.
Gary the Beekeeper grew up in a home where he had to listen to and do whatever anyone else told him to do, and throughout his childhood and adolescence, he complied, not wanting to upset his one-armed Momsy, who threatened him by saying “If I only had two arms, I’d crush your head in them like a vise until your brains oozed out your ears”. As a result, as an adult he developed an averse reaction to doing whatever any one else told him to do. The shrinks never saw such an extreme case before, publishing their work in the psychiatry journals with the diagnosis of “bupkisitis”, so named because they could do nothing about it.
Gary the Beekeper learned to adapt. When he opened his one man beekeeping business he put up signs all over the place “Do not tell proprietor to wash hands after using” in the bathroom; “Do not tell proprietor what you want, point” over the counter; “Do not tell proprietor how you want your change” on the cash register. This worked out well for the most part, and since his was a local business, and people got to know him, he did pretty good.
But then this New York Man came in and bossed him around, pack it good, put it in a sturdy box with plenty of packing, tie it tight. Bupkisitis kicked in, and he didn’t do any of it. Now look at the mess he was in, probably have to pay to replace all the damaged suitcases, the New York Man might sue him, he would have to replace the lost honey, all because he didn’t listen to the customer.
Momsy was right, Gary the Beekeeper concluded. The sweet dreams at night of him crushing her head in his two arms until her brains came out her ears were inverted to the nightmare of her crushing his head in her legs, her one arm waving in the air like a bronco buster as she screamed “The customer is always right”.
So when the New Man came in, Gary the Beekeeper fought all his instincts to do the opposite. The New Man had with a him a hive of bees of his own, placed them on the counter and said “Two months”. “Pardon me, Mr. New Man, what do you mean?” “Two months. I want you to keep them for me for two months.” “I don’t do that, this is a shop where I sell honey.” “What do you mean? The sign out front says ‘Gary the Beekeeper’, so I fully expect you to keep my bees for me for two months. But whatever you do, don’t let them out to collect pollen and produce honey, it will be too heavy when I pick it up.”
Gary the Beekeeper fought all his instincts, and in a return to the womb, complied. Besides, his old bees had been taken from him by the Sacramento Bee police as a result of the JFK incident, he was running out of honey to sell, and maybe Momsy was right, after all. Letting the bees produce honey sent him onto a huge guilt trip, but he had no choice if he were to eat, oh I am such a baddie afterall, he thought over and over.
Two months came and went, the New Man never returned. Officer Opium came by that day and told Gary the Beekeeper that the New Man crashed on the winding Santa Cruz Hills road on his way back, tumbling into the ocean. As they couldn’t find him, no way of identifying him, Gary the Beekeeper might as well keep the bees.
Then the letter, and the check, came in the mail. Pan Cram decided they were at fault for the JFK incident, settled with the Kamloops Sad Men on Vacation Society for the damages to their possesions, and are enclosing a check for $10,000 for Gary the Beekeeper’s pain and suffering. With this, Gary the Beekeeper expanded his enterprise, it took off from there, and today he is known as “The Bee King of the West”.
Momsy was wrong, Gary the Beekeeper was free at last.
Originally seen on metazen, October 29, 2009
Newsletter 15-June 2010 from the desk of the editors
Recent VOICES posts are a host from our newest members, plus some recurring characters. Stop by for your reading pleasures.
The Lodge – by Tara Larkin
“I could not see the big picture. I knew only that I wished I could spend the rest of my life here.”
The Hunter – by Beate Sigriddaughter
“Yes, women are weak. They ought to be lovely. Yet here’s this Q’An ordering me to kill a little girl for no good reason.”
I am the voice inside your head – by Ajay Nair
“I am the one who tells you that it is alright to laugh at that sad, pathetic little girl, eating lunch . . .”
hello grace – by Coleen Shin
“the purest white ever known, the sludge on a stiletto heel, a mystery
to be solved by curious test.”
Breaktime – by Linda Simoni-Wastila
“Damn. I didn’t think the crash would come so fast. I grip the sink, wait for the bathroom to clear but the door keeps opening.”
I don’t have a gun and I don’t have you – by Marcelle Heath
“At my last job, I was accused of intimidation, of provoking the elderly clients. All I wanted was their stories.”
The Wind Itself – by Darryl Price
“I want you to / know this place because / I think it / would like to know you.”
Introducing Mabel Honeycutt (V) – by Michelle McEwen
“Sadie stays up under Ike / like he’s gon’ up and disappear. / I wonder if she’s like that / with him when I’m not here.”
Lady of the Night (Redlight Series) – by Jodine Derena Butler
“Your wish is my command / ill push back and pull forward / fronting your senses while tearing apart my own”
Take No Prisoners – Chapter One – by Jodine Derena Butler
“Muzz wanted to avoid a beating if he could possibly help it, making every effort not to offend Charlie any more than he already had.”
I Remember (for my Grandparents) – by Jodine Derena Butler
“I remember the bright orange berries beside the house before the steps. I was always warned they were poisonous but I still used to pick them . . .”
Introducing Stella and Humphrey – by Carol Novack
“I recently read your article, “The Sex Lives of Starfish,” and viewed the accompanying video with your photograph on its cover. I found it all most elucidating.”
Tante Margrit was getting used to this. It was late, and her husband Ivar was not home yet, working again into the night, digging the foundations for the Levittown Housing Projects in Long Island, just over the border from Queens. Margrit couldn’t object too much. After the depression and WW II, when it was mostly the women taking cleaning and cooking jobs to support the family, it was good to see their still not old men back at it, instead of drinking beers on the stoop or in the parks, bemoaning their lack of work. It was also good to get them out of their hair for a bit.
Levittown was the first ever planned suburbia, and there was a need for it. As the economy took off after the war, the educated professionals thrived, and wanted to spend their money on a place with a little greenery for their families, away from the swelter of the city. The prosperity spilled down to the immigrants such as Ivar and his sister Klara’s husband Axel, providing as much work as they wanted. The pay wasn’t great, but with the double shifts the wives could finally stay at home to see to their families.
Margrit was a bit flighty, to use a kind word, but in a sometimes calculated way. A few years later when they got a phone, she would call up Klara, and if either of her very young nephews answered, would ask how the weather was where they were, just four miles away. If it was August, and the boy would say “Hot, Tante Margrit” she would tell them “Oh – we just had six inches of snow here.” In January, the reverse – “It snowed six inches yesterday, kindygarden is closed” was followed by “Oh – its so hot here, I have my bathing suit on.” The nephews believed every word.
She also was the one who played Santa all those years, none of the kids ever knew, she was that well disguised and an actress, deepening her voice so well, her belly laugh shaking the walls and putting the requisite awe and fear in the kiddies.
This made her a perfect fit for Ivar, well known for antics of his own.
After a while, having her husband gone so much, Margrit got bored, so she went looking for a pet. But, it couldn’t be any pet, this was Margrit. She chose a myna bird, with her ever-skewed logic that she could have conversations with it, even though it would just repeat what she said.
Now, to tell the truth, those nights Ivar didn’t show up weren’t always because he worked a double shift. He liked to toddle every now and then, stopping in every two weeks or so at The 19th Hole, a bar a few blocks from the house, near the Dyker Beach golf course. He could cover the pay issue, for math was not Margrit’s strong point, and he was good at coming up with reasons – extra union dues, work clothes, etc. They didn’t have a phone yet, so he couldn’t call.
But Ivar knew Margrit was pretty shrewd in life matters, behind the ditzy facade, so he came up with an elaborite ruse for those nights. He didn’t want to be on the town in his mussy workclothes or cart them around; there were women at the bar, and even though he never strayed, he did like to flirt. So he would change at work, and he kept extra dirty clothes in a sack that he snuck to outside the back door in the morning, to don when he got back home, Margrit safely asleep upstairs. If she awoke upon his entering, there he was in the mud of the soon to be suburbanites.
One Thursday, the night Ivar would use to dally, Friday being payday was too obvious, Margrit needed to do laundry again. Mondays and Fridays were the normal days, but it had rained all week and she couldn’t finish on Wednesday. As she went out to the clotheslines in the backyard, she saw the sack and thought to herself “Oh, that Ivar, so silly, why didn’t he just tell me he had more laundry.” So she washed them and hung them out to dry.
That evening, Ivar ran into an old friend, and the usual four or five short beers turned into six or seven tall ones. The result was that he stayed out a few hours later, and his head was a few turns dizzier. As he came home, he searched for the sack of dirty clothes, but they were nowhere to be found. “I musha lef dem in the foyer by mistake” he thought. Ivar slurred his thought-words as well when tipsy.
As he entered the foyer, still in his glad-rags, he heard Margrit stir through the creaky floorboards above. “Uh-oh, gosta hide, cant gosh back out, she’ll hear the door close.” So he started to crawl to the kitchen table, which had a long cloth over it, down to the floor. Through the moonlight from the window, he saw Petey – Margrit gave the myna a parrot’s name, and Ivar thought fuzz-headed again, “Oops, better cover my bases.”
He lifted a finger to his lips and whispered to Petey “Shhhhhhh – don’t tell Margrit Ivar’s under the table.”
Margrit came down the stairs sleepy-eyed, looked around, saw nothing, and started to head back upstairs. “Good!” Ivar thought, peeping out from the cloth, “It worked!”
Margrit gave a turn before heading upstairs and called “Ivar, is that you?”
“Sqwaaaaaaaakk!! Don’t tell Maaaaagrit Ivar’s under the taaaaaaaaable!”
Sid & Eddie Reminsce at 46 of being 36 & Reminiscing of Being 26 & Reminiscing of Being 18 – by Walter Bjorkman
“Hey Eddie, tune into a replay of Nova in an hour, Gwendlyn Bacon is being featured, its on here right now, but you should see it from the start.” Sid was calling from deep in the bowels of the SuperCaliFragile Istic Expealidotious Laboratory in the mountains of western Pennsylvania.
“Yes! Get offa your ass, splash on the water and have a cuppa, then turn on PBS.”
“Oh, you mean Rock Lobster Gwendlyn Bacon.”
“Yes, you remember!”
“Sure, she was this semi-hot astronomy gal that was at a party for some distinguished retiring Astro-physicist great that you dragged me to and we hit it off so we start dancin’ an the kids of all these old profs are there and so they put on Rock Lobster an when they all went ‘down, down, down’ an fell to the floor I did too an Gwen is standin there lookin at me like I’m an Alien! Me E.T.! We kinda drifted apart the rest of the night.”
“YES! That Gwendlyn Bacon.”
“So what’s that got to do with NOVA?”
“Well, alright, you never could wait. She’s now the head of MI NASA SUI NASA’s Search for Alien Life Program, and she’s doing a special. Man, if you just kept your cool you could be living on easy street right now, she makes buko, and get me a job with her, instead of me hanging in these caves! And – get this, when showing an image of a lobster shaped galaxy, they played the song!”
“What can I say, guess I was an Alien Ahead of My Time.”
“Hey , Sid! That reminds me, remember the time I called you up way back when about doin’ the same with The Gong Show? Only you were at CalTech then, and I was in Brooklyn, so you just waited til when it came on there?”
“Gonnng Showww! Yeah! I remember. Rita.”
“Rita Brandyalexandria, you remember!”
“Yep, on our coming of age trip to n’orlans. bout 4 days after we chatanooga-ed our chew-chews for the first time with the hooker, Fred too and then we go to the Showoff-Boat strip club an out comes Rita Brandyalexandria with a filled champagne glass balanced on top of eacha her boobs stickin so straight out she could do it without leanin back, drinks them without using her hands and puts em back then puts one plastic one at the foota the bar which you swoop up cause it touched her nipples an then she went on and did a fantasy fuck with James Bond all alone up there makin all those sounds on a big round bed, gyratin’ stark nakkers.”
“Yeah, that Rita Brandyalexandria.”
“And so I says, what that’s got to do with the Gong Show, Eddie?, an you says shes on there now! doin’ her act! but not the fantasy fuck just the balancin an sippin’ and she got on a skimpy bra not nothin like back then, and that she says she’s from Stormsville, Maryland and she’s only 24 but this is eight years after an’ she was no way 16 back then, we woulda got arrested.”
“Yep, Sid you got it the way I remember. But I forgot what you said to that.”
“I said, ‘well if she really was just sixteen, she came ahead of her time, if you know what I mean, nudge nudge.’”
PS – Rita won The Gong Show that day – so far no alien life found . . .
College roommates, Bill (later to be Strangefellow, Strange for short), Bill (later to be Arizona, Zona for short) & Eddie (later to be no nickname, Ed for short) – yes tripled up, about first month in, first doobie for Arizona & me, not Strange.
Bill (soon to be Arizona): What’s with the bracelet, Bill?
Bill (soon to be Strangefellow): This?
Eddie: Yeah that
Bill (soon to be Strangefellow): Oh I got it growing up in Nairobi.
Bill (soon to be Arizona): Nairobi? Kenya? Africa?
Bill (soon to be Strangefellow): yeah, my dad was over there working on research & treatments for cattle disease for the UN when I was 2 through10.
Bill (soon to be Arizona): Wow
Pause for run to lobby to get pizza delivered
Bill (soon to be Arizona): What’s it made of?
Bill (soon to be Strangefellow): You ordered it. peppers & mushroom.
Eddie: I think he means the bracelet, but that was cool the pizza guy messin’ up your last name Arabuena, yelling through the lobby, “Pizza for Arizona!! Pizza for Arizona!!” I don’t think its big enough for the whole state . .
All: giggle, giggle, guffaw, guffaw, cough, cough
Bill (soon to be Strangefellow): Its elephant hair
Arizona (now named officially, Bill no more, later Zona for brevity): The crust?
Bill (soon to be Strangefellow): Yeah the crust, tastes good (munching his) – the bracelet, Dumbo
Arizona: What bracelet?
Eddie: The one you asked him about before the pizza came, and just now
Arizona: Oh, that bracelet
All: giggle, giggle, guffaw, guffaw, cough, cough
Bill (soon to be Strangefellow): Yeah its one strand of elephant tail hair
Eddie: Yeah, right that coarse.
Bill (soon to be Strangefellow): True, elephants are big man
Eddie: hafta be to feed all of Arizona
Arizona: Where’d you get it?
Bill (soon to be Strangefellow): Outside Nairobi about 30 kilometers
Arizona: You were in Africa?
Eddie & Bill (soon to be Strangefellow): Seeeeesh!
Arizona: Oh, yeah – Nairobi, so how?
Bill (soon to be Strangefellow): when I was 8, they found me running in a herd of them, I pulled on a tail and it came off.
Arizona: Really? wow, the whole tail?
Bill (soon to be Strangefellow): Yeah, Zona, the whole tail (eyes rolling)
Eddie: Wow, didnt you get stomped on?
Bill (soon to be Strangefellow): Naw, the adults were dozing, the calfs curious, like you guys
Arizona: My calfs, curious?
All: Bwaaaaaa, curious calfs, indifferent insoles, answering armpits, etc etc etc for 10 minutes
Later, at the home of the doobie provider Stephan Potkin, later to be known as Son of Pot:
Potkin: Spider (dark, mysterious beauty), like you to meet William, he’s a strange fellow
Spider: Huh? What’s the name? William Strangefellow? What a cool name!!
All, except Spider: Bwaaaaaaaa!! giggle, giggle, cough, cough
Arizona: Yeah and he runs with elephants.
Strangefellow: My name isn’t really Strangefellow its . . . .
All, including Spider: Bwaaaaaaaa!! giggle, giggle, cough, cough
Talkin’ to Myself ’bout Beets
by Walter Bjorkman
Someone brought up Harvard Beets yesterday,
kinda like Carlin sez
Jumbo Shrimp or Military Intelligence,
the lowly pedestrian source of sustenance to the poor
dressed up for a wedding
sugar to the non-tropical peons,
rough-skinned root, trying to be a flowering ivy
probably got in on a grant
He met up with others in the same situation . . .
they formed an underground covel
and using their contacts in high places
the tubers & roots that had arrived
who had took on proper names
& esteemed positions
The Dartmouth Shallot
The Wellesly Chive
they would secretly meet and put on some music
“Green Onions” by the MGs & Booker T.
plot against the leafy, above-ground powers that be
The esteemed and secretive
So they took over the Bean’s office
and held out for open emissions
which was finally adopted
and caused the need
for college level classes in
The group disbanded and went back underground
The Harvard Beet was found ten years after
In northern New York
On a local committee for better irrigation
The Cornell Carrot went on
to a moderately successful career
as filler for Campbell’s Soups
We all know about Spud’s
humiliating association with Mattel
The others spend the rest of their freshness dates
hangin’ around gumbo joints
listening to Zydeco
There is talk of re-uniting on a concert tour
“Veggies Against Irradiation Degradation”
Parsnip plays a mean gourd on their one hit
“The Root Of The Matter”
The Invite & Reply
To: Miss Nettie as she told me later.
“Dear Miss or Mrs or Ms Nettie and kin I never know what to be called these days,
Eddie says he talked to some friend of yours why I don’t know and she said you got stories about ya an that ya should come over to Granma’s and with friends and something about a table.
The address is Brooklyn we are up the street from where I work 236 31st Street Qwik-Bake not that its at that address its where I live not work.
Sunday is good for us there might be some saturday pie left over if Eddie and his friend Sid dont get to it first but they wont because they are not comin over unless they do.
Marzy, Eddie’s Gal
Dear Marzy, Eddie’s gal (you should git that tattooed on your hipbone or back if you haven’t already):
I would loooove to come over and tell stories as long as y’all got stories to tell, too — like a swap meet. Stories and Saturday pie on Sunday — yum.
Miss Nettie (Miss is fine because it’s too late for me now to become a Mrs.)
Marzy Bakes, Nettie Awakes
Marzy Bakes a Saturday Pie
“Yep, Saturday.” Granny had also.
Nettie Awakes in the Back Seat
When Nettie wakes up it is dark out and Zee is behind the wheel. Snow is in the passenger seat knocked out. Zee hears Nettie stirring in the backseat and says, “Good you woke; now I got somebody to talk to.”
Nettie thinks about pretending to be still asleep, but she is wide awake. “Turn on the radio.”
She forgot that Snow’s radio doesn’t work and Zee tells her so.
Nettie yawns on purpose just to make a sound.
“We in Virginia somewhere,” Zee says as if Nettie asked a question.
“Virginia,” Nettie says to herself and puts her purse on her lap for warmth. Even though it is almost June, Virginia air is nippy to Nettie. She is used to Alabama heat. “I always said if I had a daughter, I’d name her Virginia. Either that or Andalusia.” Nettie seems to be talking to herself and not to Zee.
Still Zee says, “Virginia’s all right, but I don’t know about Andalusia.”
“Andalusia’s my birth place,” Nettie says as if to herself and she digs in her purse. She pulls out a map and a flashlight. “Up north there ain’t no towns or cities with names you could give a baby. In the south you got, uh, Tallahassee, you got Memphis, you got Florida, you got Alabama, even, you got Georgia, and Pensacola, can call him ‘Cola. But up north, there ain’t nothing but,” she turns on the flashlight, points the light on the map toward the northeast. “You can’t name a child Connecticut or Simsbury or Poughkeepsie. Maybe Brooklyn, that’s where we headed, but not Manhattan, especially not Springfield or Boston.”
Then there is silence again and Nettie rummages through her purse and pulls out a radio and batteries. “I forgot I had this radio in here.” She puts in the batteries, fusses with the antenna and switches the dial until she finds a station with a song that sounds good. Then she turns to look out the window.
While she is currently soaking up in the self-congratulatory
“Love, Fest”, for lo these past 40 years The Fan has been
immortalized on a poster that was seen in every head shop in the World That Matters, “Humbead’s Revised Map of the World”, with the only 1,000 People that Matter. Here you can see his “Name up in lights” amongst luminaries such as John Lennon and Soupy Sales. Oh, and The Fan was not aware until the new Millenium that he was even on there, so much for wanting to be as Vain as Fuddy.
Most Sincerely Yours,
* * *
Hello Ms or is that Mrs or Miss Fuddy-Duddy I never can tell when to use what because an can I call you Minnie like The Fan(s) says some people call ya? not that he says he calls ya that. I was tryin to be polite because that fucker, oh excuse me, Minnie if I may says that you are a stilickler for semi colons an whatnot but I dont know from that so please forgive me.
The Fan(s) says you an me might have some god damn good talk that you got something to say to me about my manners and stuff and all I got is the dirt on his buddies Eddie an Sid and his characters all even the triplet’s real story.
Look forward to hearin from ya but you’ve been silent so I’ll shut my damn trap an start listenin now specially bout the The Show-Boat an maybe you can get me a job there but I don’t do dirty stuff just lap dances. Eddies takin me out for a special dinner at The Rainbow Cafe real ritzy ya’ know?