Archive for December, 2009

Sunday the Cat vs. Hannah the Stripper

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

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In my late 20’s, I met a woman named Hannah.  Hannah was a dancer – an exotic dancer. All right, Hannah was a stripper.

“Dancer?” as an old drunk at her club once said, “These girls aren’t exactly Ginger Rogers. Hell, most of ‘em can’t even dance as well as Roy Rogers!”

Anyway, Hannah and I went out on a few dates and enjoyed each other’s company. I asked her to my apartment and invited her to sit on the couch as I went to the kitchen to make some drinks. She smiled, crossed her incredibly long legs, and elegantly lit a cigarette. After a few minutes I heard,

“What is it with this cat? Why is it staring at me?”

Damn! Sunday the Cat was on the coffee table, intensively eyeing this possible rival.  Hannah grew up on a farm. Cats lived in her family’s barn only to keep down the mice and rat population. Having one as an indoor pet was like making a pet of a chicken.

“Oh.” I lied, “That means she likes you.” Hannah looked at me skeptically through her cigarette smoke. It seemed men may have lied to her before.

I shooed Sunday away and Hannah and I became even more friendly. When it got warmer, she began to remove her clothes. When I complimented her on how sensuously she did that, she said, “It’s my job – remember?”

When it was time, we walked into my bedroom; Hannah, me……… and Sunday. Hannah and I laid down on the bed……and so did Sunday.

“Get rid of the cat, OK?”

“It’s only a cat, Hannah, forget about it,” I said as I tried to start kissing her again.

“Well if you won’t get rid her, “ she said pulling away, “I will!” Then she gracefully hopped off the bed, picked up a squawking Sunday, tossed her out, and closed the door.

After a few pleasant hours, Hannah had to leave. As we walked into the living room, we both expressed our desire to see each other again.  I watched as the beautiful dancer began to pick up her clothes and was surprised when she looked puzzled.

“How did my clothes get wet?” she said as she brought them up to her unforgettable face. “And they smell. THEY SMELL! Your goddamn cat peed all over my clothes! Goddamnit! That bitch pissed on my clothes!”

I can’t remember exactly what I said next but it really didn’t matter – Hannah was in a rage. Somehow I knew we’d never date again; somehow, I was right.

When I returned to our apartment, my furry roommate was eating her top-shelf dry food from a bowl on her Chinese red tray.

“You little bitch……..”, I snarled.

Sunday continued to eat and never even looked up.



No, It’s Not O-Tay!

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

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Remember Buckwheat – the Black child on the ‘Our Gang’ comedies? In the series, he was almost as popular as Spanky and Alfalfa and was famous for his phrase, “O-tay!” What became of him?

Many little rascals grew up to be big rascals. Trouble seemed to plague the players from strange deaths to suicides – even to murder. Carl Switzer, who played Alfalfa, was shot to death over a $50 debt – he was 31. As a matter of fact, he was shot once before but survived. Strange? How many people can say they were shot on two different occasions?

But what happened to William Thomas, the young actor who played Buckwheat and then took a dive into oblivion? The respected investigative reporting show, 20/20 of ABC, decided to find out. In October, 1990, the show claimed it had tracked down Buckwheat to Tempe, Arizona where, sadly, he worked as a grocery bagger. In the televised interview. ‘Buckwheat’ told his sad tale and many viewers felt sorry for him. It was a great ‘riches-to-rags’ story except for one thing: the real Buckwheat, William Thomas, died over 10-years before the 20/20 show. His impostor, Bill English, pretended to be Buckwheat for over 30-years! Uh, oh.

Within a week, a red-faced ABC admitted its mistake, fired the producer of the piece – and was sued by the child star’s son.

William Thomas wouldn’t have liked any of this. He was a quiet, modest man, who worked for many years in Hollywood as a film lab technician. And he never could understand the nostalgia that was making famous, once again, the ‘Our Gang’ series which made him a fleeting star.

Nonetheless, in 1980, Mr. Thomas graciously accepted an invitation to a ‘Nostalgia TV’ convention. He doubted many people would even remember ‘Our Gang’ – much less what he considered his minor contribution. He was wrong. Even before his introduction was finished, the audience burst into a spontaneous, loud and long, standing ovation which moved him to tears.

It was Buckwheat’s last shining moment. Just three months later, Mr. William Thomas dropped dead of a heart attack. He was 49.

Forever Young

Monday, December 28th, 2009

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Sometimes I like to look at vintage erotica. Of course the pictures really aren’t erotic, the photography isn’t very good, and the poses are silly by today’s standards. But they’re still fascinating to me.

Who were these women? Obviously they’re all dead now – unless they lived to be older than a hundred. But imagine how scandalous and shameful these pictures were at the turn of the century – even in Europe. Were the women prostitutes? Unwed mothers in need  of money? Drug addicts?

The most compelling parts of the images are the womens’ faces. Rarely do they look into the camera. Are they hiding from us their most vulnerable features – their eyes?

I hope many years after they posed, when they lived in old lady bodies, they had a chance to again see themselves in these pictures. By that time, the shame would be gone and they knew they would also die soon. And they would leave to this world forever – a beautiful image of themselves.

I hope that made them smile.

Tie Died

Friday, December 25th, 2009

tiesManhattan, 1972. Retail shopping CRUSH-week between Christmas and New Years and every New Yorker thought it his Constitutional Right to exchange every doofus clothing item he got for Christmas – or thought he got for Christmas – or got for Christmas around 1965.

I worked in Barneys, the World’s Largest Mens’ store and the cacophony of customer craziness was mind numbing. “Sir!”, “Sir!”, “Sir!”, “Pardon me, Sir!” “Sir!”, “Excuse me. May I get some service here?” “Sir!”,“Sir!”, “Sir!”,”Hey, Sir!” “Sir!”,“Sir!”,“Sir!”.

I think I can speak for the majority of the 1st Floor Sales Team when I say we hated them – hated every goddamn one of them who waved a crumbled Barney’s sales receipt at us. There were thousands of them – pushing, pleading, whining, yelling, DEMANDING!

The 1st Floor Team had a little pool going to see which one of us would snap first. I was the odds-on favorite and for good reason. The week before, I was demoted from sweaters to ties because I refused to take a return on a smelly sweater the guy must have worked out in. Supposedly, I had embarrassed the guy by announcing my suspicion in front of other customers who, supposedly, gave a damn.

Working in the tie department was a nightmare! Barneys advertised that they had 100,000 different ties. I never counted them but I must have folded that many at least once a day. There were racks of ties – tables of ties – walls of ties – cases of ties – ties everywhere you looked!

It was about 9:40 pm – 20-minutes until closing – and the crowd had gone. I was exhausted and not exactly in a chipper Barneys mood. I was just mindlessly folding ties on the counter – minding my own business – when this businessman walks over.

“Uh, Sir,” he says, “I don’t see the tie I want here.” SNN…..

I slowly and painfully looked up. “Mister, we carry over 100,000 ties. I’m sure it’s here somewhere.”

“Nope. I looked.” SNNNA….

“Well, Sir, if you looked and didn’t find it, we must not have it. I’m sorry.” And then I started refolding my pile of ties. “Would you GO AWAY,” I thought, “JUST GO AWAY!”

“Well do you have any more ties in the back?” SNNNAAAAAPPPPPPP!

“The ties in the back? No – those are our really good ties. We save those for ourselves. We don’t even have to pay for them – and they’re great ties – but you can’t buy one. Sorry.”

“Are you being smart with me? I pay your salary, you know!”

“Really? Great. Can I have a raise?”

“I’d like to see your manager. NOW!”

“Oh sure, I’ll get him. He’s in the back with the good ties.”

I walked to the back of the store and kept on walking. The A-train stop was only half a block away. I never even bothered to go back for my paycheck.

The NYS Legislature . . .

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

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called the “most dysfunctional in the United States”, adjourned for a working lunch.

The Majesty of an Iceberg

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

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1 Abortion Alternative

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

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About four years ago in Rochester, New York, a drug-addicted, homeless couple who previously had a number of children now in foster homes, decided they wanted another child.  A local judge said ‘no’ but that decision was overturned by a higher court.

I would not like the government to make those choices for us either.  So I came up with what I consider a better idea – strictly voluntary – and wrote a Letter-to-the-Editor.  Here’s most of it:

“I suggest we pay a one-time $5,000 cash benefit to anyone older than 21 who voluntarily has a free, non reversible tubule legation or vasectomy. The savings in future welfare costs would be staggering. And, one suspects, the couple cited might well be first in line.”

“Over 30 years ago, I was told I was one of the first men in my county to have a vasectomy before ever having children. I have never once regretted that decision.”

“Until this society recognizes that “child-free” is a respectable option for many people, we will be paying for unwanted and unloved children. Kids deserve so much more than that.”

I am a strong Pro-Choice advocate but like most on my side, consider abortion a terrible solution to an unwanted pregnancy.  And, like most rational people, I consider it better to PREVENT a problem, rather than try to solve it.

Still unconvinced this is a good idea?  Just watch one episode of the Maury Povitch show.

The Short Way Down

Monday, December 21st, 2009

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Can you tell I’m coasting?  Just resting after my hospital stay and hiding from the holidays.  No weather here.

This is the view from my last apartment on the 15th floor.  I now live on the 18th floor in a different building.  I like to be high.  I lived on the 41st floor in Manhattan and people were amazed.  It really doesn’t matter much after the 7th floor.

If you take the short way down from the 7th floor or the 107th floor, no one should expect you for Christmas dinner.

Sylvia. 1979.

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

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I never took a photography class – but I always liked taking pictures of people.  I learned right away how to please myself (and usually the people I shot). I’d focus on the eyes – get as close as I could until they got out of focus – pull back an inch – and push the button.

I wonder where Sylvia is today?

Merry Christmyths

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

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Christmyth #1: DECEMBER 25TH WAS THE BIRTHDAY OF JESUS.

Nah. Although I’m sure His reps on earth are happy to take gifts that day, no one actually knows when Christ was born – neither the date nor the year. Late December wasn’t even a contender until the 4th Century when holy men hooked it up with the Winter Solstice. The year? Many theologians put it between 4 and 6 – “BC”!

Christmyth #2: EATING POINSETTIA LEAVES WILL KILL YOUR PETS.

No. Nor you, your kids, nor your spouse. Poison centers are so overwhelmed with frantic calls around Christmas, many have ‘They’re Safe!’ ads on their web sites.

Christmyth #3: SUICIDES RISE AROUND CHRISTMAS.

You may have felt you WANTED to kill yourself to escape holiday stress – but few people do. A 35-year study from a research group in Minnesota conclusively determined that there is no correlation between suicides and holidays.

Christmyth #4: THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS.

This one’s TRUE. Don’t let anyone tell you different.