Saturday, October 18, 2014

Somewhere Between Axel's Bar and Vietnam

When I was eighteen in 1969 the Army selected me to go by troop transport from Kansas City to Washington D.C. for a meeting of AUSA, the Association of the United States Army, I was in ROTC.

I had been attending military school in Missouri since the ripe age of 13. There were rules against booze and dope at the school and the ordinance was strictly enforced. Any fellow cadet or instructor could rat on you if they smelt liquor on your breath or ganja on your person. Since I was of draft age at the time getting busted meant immediate induction in the Army and trip to Viet Nam most likely. I was against the war and was scared to death of getting my nuts shot of or worse. As cadets we heard stories how guys in Hueys on their way to combat sat on their helmets to protect their family jewels from stray flack or bullets.

I was slated to go in the Army as a Second Lieutenant in the Ifantry upon graduation. I would have made the worst platoon leader in Army history. I hated guns and couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with one, having little idea how the sights worked as well as no knowledge of maps or compasses. I would have been what they called 'fracked'or shot by my own soldiers in the back for sure. 

As for any interest in the war on my part, it was limited to how soldiers in combat used a M1 rifle like a bong or hooka to smoke opium and ganja, as well as a fascination with hairless Asian pussy. 

Terms such as, 'honor', 'serving ones country', and the jingoistic grap of the day meant nothing to me. And the Viet Cong where much better versed in the arts of warfare and better soldiers than us. They were true soldiers who had something to fight for. 

Mostly I felt hated and despised by other young people of the time and when on leave I could see the looks of distain on the long hair's faces when they saw our military haircuts. It felt like a outcast, and all I wanted to do was to stop shaving and having to get haircuts. I wanted to  buy a van and go on a spiritual journey out west somewhere, to New Mexico or California maybe. 

Why the Army selected me to go to Washington as a representative of whatever it was they perceived me to be was a enigma. I saw the week long trip to attend military meetings as a booze, dope and fuck holiday. I had no plans to go to any of the meetings because no body really gave a shit back then and I wouldn't be missed. 

The trip on the troop transport plane would be my first and last thank God, because I never made it into the Army anyways. Thanks to the Quakers who helped me get out of the Army all together, not on moral grounds, but by helping me get a Section Eight, in that I was way too crazy to visit a country that wasn't mine and cut off body parts and set a glow it's inhabitants with a flame thrower. Proving I was nuts was no chore because I was and still am mad as piss. 

I bought some acid from a fellow cadet and took a few doses before getting on the plane to D.C. I spent the hours in flight listening to the Grateful Dead and the Doors on a tape player with batteries, tripping my brains out. 

On arrival in DC we where transported by military buses to Myer-Henderson Hall, Fort Myer. I was still tripping my brains out and didn't even know what country I was in. When we reached the barracks I was assigned a bunk. I immediately stripped off my uniform and put on some jeans and a tie-die t-shirt with a Dead Head logos of a skull with dread locks on it, still wearing my military issue combat boots, I hitched a ride to Georgetown. 

I got a ride from a couple of red neck chicks in their 40s, who thought they where hippies, but were only impersonating hippies for the day, wearing moccasins and bell bottoms with funny floppy leather hats. I offered them some acid, but they didn't want any because they were basically boozers not head. They had a ice bucket of beer in the trunk of their old Chevy station wagon and.

They proceeded to give me a tour of such hot spots as the Washington Monument, calling it huge cement phallic symbol. Then going on to explain that it was a metaphor for the monumental ego of all the male politicians in Washington.

They dropped me off in Georgetown thank God because after I saw the big cock (Washington Monument) and got my cock sucked I wanted to ditch the dogs ASAP. 

I entered the first bar I could find in G-Town, the bar was the type of place that no self respecting frat member would go to drink. It was called 'Axels'. They served up shots of cheap whiskey and beer in mugs. Patrons where served peanuts, shelling them and throwing the shells on the floor.

Axel's was filled with bikers, clergymen, professors and poets. The conversation was something from another planet to me, jaded subject matter, speaking of Nietzsche as though they were in a lunatic asylum, nothing seemed to mean anything, and being nowhere on acid was where I was at, it was a good fit.

I was just another lunatic in Axels, lost in a jungle of existential superlatives as time seemed to disappear while "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Astral Week' flowed in color out of the Juke Box in rainbow waves. 

Axels in Georgetown was a far cry from Missouri, it was as though I 
was in Dorothy's house swirling in a tornado cloud as it landed on the planet OZ. I could hardly speak a word amongst the nothingness wizards, I felt as though I had eaten a bucket of Thorazine and could only stutter, spit and babble. 

I realized that Axels was beyond anything that I had ever experienced so I made my way back to Fort Meyers somehow, I missed the entire week of U.S. Army seminars. The education I got in Axels was something you couldn't pin down on a military map. I had plenty to take back with me to the academy and it had nothing to do with war or reality really. 

It was one of those intrinsic experiences that cant be explained or translated in words. It took me weeks to get back to earth, and the earth seemed like a new horizon full of potential. 

Years later I realized the experience could be summed up as 'when you are ready for the teacher the teacher will appear and then you will disappear for awhile'.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Moan Disguised as a Story

Henry beat not beatific in awe of the stuff of the world.... himself lifeless in the face of life. 

Suspended in air on sharp hooks piercing his breast. Painful electrical current flowing through his body, no relief in sight.   

Writing a cheap hobby that filled the days for him. At time thinking his stuff was good, great maybe, or perhaps dumb and thick. Henry ashamed from time to time.   

Rereading his stories— editing them a source of shame and prostration— rewriting sentences, retooling ideas quickly, wanting to look smart and literary to the world, not wanting to look stupid.  

Henry wondered what his author followers on Twitter: The award winning, seamless and grammatically perfect queens and kings of  twenty-first century romance, horror and spy novels thought of his stuff?

His most recent stories  “Indian Corn” and “ Bukowski had it” with 150 hits each in a few hours because of mentions by Christina Harding on Twitter. People believed her.  

Henry writing and rewriting the ending to “Indian Corn” over and over, trying to put out a bush fire before it spread, trying this and that, nothing working. Wondering what the 150 readers thought? Maybe they made allowances for him, Henry playing handicapped, only half a brain, the rest rotted by cocaine and alcohol.

Writing about his condition and the writing process, no longer a story writer or poet,  just an old man complaining about aches and pains.

In youth Henry a creature of heroic hallucination, chasing magic butterflies and dragons as he tripped the light fantastic.  In old age  his life reduced to chronicling his aches and pains. 

Sad Henry inspired  by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Raymond Carver,  just a chronic complainer creaking and moaning, making a sorrowful sound, wilted lettuce in the junk heap.   

At the end of this story searching for a title for his moan disguised as a story, how about “Moan Disguised as a Story?”


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Indian Corn

In front of the bathroom mirror, Henry cut himself shaving, motionless, in a stupor, he let the wound bleed for a while, too lazy and not knowing for sure what to do, then tearing off a piece of tissue, placing it on the wound, much the same as he had always done.

Wrapped in a towel, out of the bathroom into his bedroom, Henry old, shedding vanity and hair, oddly shaped, avoiding mirrors at all cost, the pay off for the fabulous mental life of old age.  

At the closet, as usual chinos, no socks, no underwear, choosing the shirt of the day was the only decision to be made here. He picked a Hawaiian shirt, sky blue and white, and would wear his leather slippers that were in a pile of shoes at his door step.

On the computer  watching  a bit on You Tube about the most decorated war hero in U.S. History, Robert Howard, a country boy from Alabama. 

Mannish pluck, a soldier in Viet Nam, a Medal of Honor recipient, comments on YouTube like —Semper Fi and God bless the American hero— jingoistic raves from veterans, empty dispatches to Henry's ears. 

Henry wondering about the other-side of the coin? Wondering how many Asians Howard had killed? What suffering he caused the "enemy"? Under a different more universal system of judgement, would he be a hero or a pitiless killer?

As Henry left his apartment he checked his mail box, it had been empty a few years. Henry living in Akron, in the heart of the dead city that tires built, walking down Main-Street on a golden summer day, just walking, with a straw hat on and Ray Bans. 

Up ahead on the sidewalk, he could see May's Dinner and a newspaper stand, regular stops and conversations for Henry. Buying a newspaper from Blind Al who had lost his eyes somewhere,  asking him what he thought of the war hero Robert Howard? Blind Al saying…

"Who the fuck is he, man?"

At Mays ordering waffles and tea, siting at the counter reading the Akron Beacon Journal, talking with May, wearing an apron on a flower dress,  white hair up in braids. Henry could see the outline of her hairy push through the thin material of her dress.  Henry asked her what she thought the war hero Robert Howard and the Viet Nam war? May quick to say…

"Why Henry you know I was against that war and all wars, I believe in peace and the inner light of love, staying focused on it, simply, without much fuss, avoiding churches and institutions of any kind"

"Does someone like a Robert Howard have an inner light May?" 

Henry asked

" Henry we all have the light shining in us, but some of us just choose to ignore it and take the deadly path, sweetie."

"May, when a  person's inner light is shinning inside will they kill?"

"Oh no Henry, they would be protected and shielded from darkness, joined together in radiance with others, in the high pine darling, avoiding violence and loud talk, flying in the clouds, hero angels, invisible, brimming over.

Henry ordering a second waffle and a raisin donut, more tea, thinking he could walk off the extra servings. Having a plan, to walk south out of Akron till he reached the Indian cornfield 12 kilometers out of town, believing a few ears of dried Indian corn could ward away ghost and evil spirits, cleanse his apartment, keep his inner light shining.

Once out of town, Henry ducked into an old barn with a Redman chewing tobacco logo painted on the side, he loved the smell of hay, flopping down on the hay, lighting a joint, careful not to set the barn on fire. 

Laying in the hay, in reverie some, thankful for the moment of serendipity, thinking he would like to fuck May in the hay, May's inner light sending signal to Henry, he, thinking about her tits, the zaftig, corn-fed rounded shape, imagining her sizable brown nipples, flaccid on an oval patch of skin, surging to the touch. Thinking of her long legs thrusted upwards towards the clouds, Henry's cock pounding out a rhythm inside her, wondering if she would keep things at a low moan and progress to a high pitched, repetitive scream?

After day dreaming in the old barn for an hour or so, Henry walked outside, going down the road, reaching the Indian Corn field and walking down the rows of corn, getting lost some, feeling the stuff that nature was made of through and through. Finally, picking two ears of Indian corn, pappy, new born, it would have to dry some before the cleansing power could be released.

The walk back never seems to take as long as the walk there, but it is more of a struggle. Henry walked back to his apartment on the back roads of Cuyahoga County, ten miles maybe. He thought of the character, Travis, in the film "Paris, Texas," played by Harry Dean Stanton, wondering aimlessly, walking for days at a time through the Chihuahuan Desert. Wanting to forget something, haunted by love gone wrong, or the tragic death of someone he loved. Sleeping in patches of fury bush, lighting mesquite at night to keep warm, his soul detached from his body, oblivious to the harshness of the desert.

Erotic fantasies of May in the hay, exhorting him, Henry calls May around 5 PM, asking her if she had supper yet? May says…

"Why no Henry doll I haven't eaten yet, are you asking me out? Are you feeling aroused baby?" 

Henry choking on the biscuit, goaded by May, lying throw his teeth…

"Oh not ah… not at all May… why I just would enjoy your company over a good bottle of red wine and a steak at the Emerald City Grill"

"Why Henry darling wouldn't that be sweet?  We can meet at 8:30 baby." 

(The Emerald City Grill was in the center of downtown  Akron,  under a freeway overpass that urban development had passed by, walking distance for booth Henry and May) 

Henry shaving again after a long hot shower, doing the stuff that men do to make themselves attractive to women —male birds fanning out their feathers, boy lizards turning orange, blushing red, aroused, sending signal— virility moon-struck by lady hummingbirds, glands engendering the fetching scent of honey. The yin & the yang of passing the message of life on, love and sex.

Henry sat in a booth at the Emerald City Grill, talking to his friend Teddy, the owner, waiting for May to show. The Grill was famous for steaks, where they bought the meat a protected secret. The interior hadn't changed in 60 years, retro, run-down, once gentrified, light green banded wallpaper, fumes of cigarettes smoked past still permeating the now of the no smoking place. Teddy like a Chinaman, waiting for the property to appreciate, not spending a penny to renovate. The prosaic and aloof decor saying....  "fuck you and who cares."

Teddy had one arm, Henry once asked Teddy how he lost his arm?

"Oh, somebody hacked if off with a meat cleaver by mistake" 

Teddy never one for giving straight answers, enjoying diversion, he had nicknames for everyone, he called his brother Ponda, my brother Patrick was Patta, a waitress, Stephanie was Rodney, a Greek friend Nick, Cudots and so on.

Teddy the restauranteur, who loved to play, prudent, never grim, not as gone as Travis wondering the desert, but gone as much as he wanted to be. Hilarious, full of stories with odd twist of humor and fate, a character himself and a lover of characters. He made thousands of dollars a night at the Emerald City Grill, not caring really, spending allot on cocaine, calling it toot, to be snorted at after-bar parties. 

May arrived at the Emerald City Grill a half hour late, Henry half in the bag already, drinking M 16s  and snorting some toot in the boys room with Teddy. Henry happy to see May, she was grand, fabulous, palatial everywhere and on the spot. Ultra hip, wearing a red Chinese dress, slit at the leg, with a high buttoned collar, fuck me pumps, fish net hose, guys in the restaurant rubber-necking her, eye-balls popping.

"Why May what a surprise sweetie, I have never seen you without an apron on or out from behind the counter of your cafe babe" Henry says

"Oh you will Henry trust me, you will, be patient darling, you will see allot of things in the future baby" May winking at Henry

Henry very turned on sitting across from May in the booth, turgid, sliding his foot out of his leather slipper and running it up Mays leg toward her crotch, May ordered a Flaming Mexican Flag, apropos. Henry gave May a small vile of cocaine to snort in the ladies room.

May back at the booth, after snorting, stars in her eyes, feeling fabulous, ordering Lobster, Henry ordering a T-Bone the meal toothsome, succulent, drinking Mescal Flame Throwers, on fire, blue-flame rising from goblets, going outside into the parking lot to snort, Mays inner light scintillating, consuming Henry, the moment boiling hot. 

It was a highly charged summer night in Akron, Henry borrowed Teddy's Cadillac Convertible parked in the back lot of the Emerald City Grill, taking May for a ride to the Indian cornfield. Henry put the canvas top down, May leaning back and looking at the moon, her hair blowing about, she put her legs up on the dash, satisfied. 

At the Indian cornfield, Henry parked on the road, it was dark and there were no streetlights, the moon lit things up some. "Sure Enough I Do" by Elmore James was playing on the Radio. 

May and Henry took their shoes off, not caring much, wasted, running into the dim field, down the rows of corn, falling at times, laughing out loud, forgetting allot, falling on each other, striping down, balling, the two realizing they had been in love forever and for the moment, that was enough.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bukowski had the Stuff

Henry waking from a dream, a dream of essence, bad and Godless essence. Not believing in God but realising God or the pure light of reason was the source of it all. 

On Sunday morning Henry would stuff as much cocaine in his nose as he could and wash it down with tequila, happy as a pig in shit— happy  he didn’t have to go to church— not missing the  rooms full of phoneys that even God avoided like the plague, God preferring the real stuff of the world, the mensch, the short-bread, the down and dirty.    

Henry would walk alone in nature sucking up and exhaling the deep cool air, quick gulps again and again,  enjoying the smell and feel of it, the wet leaf smell, the smell of clean air, the smell of old rotting bark and wild animal musk.  It was all good he thought and this was his church, nature… getting the nod from Whitman long gone.

Henry had done it all, he didn’t need anymore, it was hard for him to write, no encouragement or feedback good or bad, he hadn’t sold one book. He felt his work was part of the tradition of hip writers, very different from the boring and unoriginal writing of the day, so he kept at it. 

He started writing late in life and he was born to write, he didn’t need to take any courses or classes, he simply wrote. Early in life he had read the Beats… all the cutting edge and hip stuff out there, starting with Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell and  so on,  he knew what he wanted and ultimately it made little difference what others thought about his work, it was as though it had to be done. 

More than anything he regretted not being a part of a scene of writers, most his pals were retired cons who had never read a book by a beatnik, who if they did read, read the cheesy spy novels and thrillers of the day. Henry feeling like Sylvia Plath must have felt, hip in a square world. 

Henry back at it again, after two weeks of mind fucking himself over and over, hard pressed to find a reason to write.  

The night before while watching Bukowski read poetry on You Tube, he wondered what this man had? Buk’s stuff simple and straightforward, resolute, irreverent, solitary and rare. 

If nothing else Buk kept at it because it was all he had, Buk way out there on the edge looking in at it all, spying on the Jackals and laying them to waste, a foray, spraying bullets at the predatory and thirsting dunderheads late at night, listening to Brahms and as always drinking more and more by the minute, this was his fuel alright.   

Henry needed some of that, what the Buk had, so now you see it, Henry back at it, writing in a vacuum God knows why? Henry a lazy writer, writing to himself out of habit,  it was sad and lamentable all right.     

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Lenny Bruce

This  story is an attempt to have some fun with the character of Lenny Bruce, it is historically correct some, fictionalised in parts. It's a short story and there is not enough space to chronicle and detail all Lenny's arrest.       

Figaro Lucowski 

Jived to the moon on junk, you shlemiel, schemata, putz…  give me a rim shot, a sleazy drum roll as Cherry Soup takes it all off... real slow, live tits and ass, bang rat ta bing... slassssh. Baby did you cum? Did you cum good now? Lenny on stage a comic, schtick shocking everybody, the fat mayors, cops, the censors, the self righteous, God himself, the sleepers in their easy chairs, white-bread America dead by 9pm every night. Lenny the shark on the prowl looking for a fix at 2 am, brilliant performer and philosopher, the gad-fly bored shitless, poles-apart, scaring the be-Jesus out of middle America in the 50s, 60s, 70s, with off the chart shtick. Non-violent physically with a mouth like a time bomb that could go off any second. Saying things he wasn't supposed to say, pushing it, pressing taboo buttons, trying to get at the silly anal fuckers who controlled the script, the ones that decided what or what-not could be said in public on stage.
Lenny Bruce born Leonard Alfred Schneider, 1925 in Mineola, Long Island, he would become a Socratic one man revolution pouring pepper by the bottle on American white-bread.
From a fucked up family, sure, normality and business as usual never could have made a Lenny Bruce. By 5 Lenny was abandoned by his paternal family and passed around like a piece of meat from relative to relative.
 ….symbol clash schmaltz
AUTHOR'S ASIDE: It's 2 am, Hindemith on the radio is cranking me up, excuse the hyperbole. How many billionares, would give up everything they had to fight for the right of free speech? The right to say something dirty on stage or in a book or sing a dirty little song like "Louie Louie", " My Ding-a-Ling " or " Cock Sucker Blues ". Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler Magazine, is the only one who has spent millions fighting for free speech, as Lenny Bruce did. Lenny ended up broke and shattered in the end, fighting.
Lenny at 13 stayed on the Dengler family farm on Long Island, four years with a surrogate family that gave him some stable white-bread home spun chutzpah, he had of balls by 17 and he joined the United States Navy in 1942. Lenny saw action and once he was out he became hip fast, hanging at strip clubs, the village and Times Square. Lenny never came close to a American Legion Hall or Memorial Day parade the rest of his life. 
Chew on this… Lenny was in the Navy for four years, he was HONORABLY DISCHARGED in 1946, for homosexuality. The Navy, the gayest place in the world, take the Neptune parties as they cross the Tropic of Cancer. Wearing coconut shell bras, put-on ladies' tits or Fijian grass skirts, wigs even. Sleeping in hammocks hung close together on long voyages. OH….any port in a storm hey sailor? Tokhes hanging out of hammocks, over-head swinging back and forth in rough waters at 2am..ahoy there matey?
Lenny served through World War Two, in the heat of  battle. The homosexual stamp on Bruce's discharge was a concession of Navy cluelessness, "This boy is a freak of nature, he doesn't think like the other good ole flag waving boys in the US Navy, we can't pigeon-hole him, he is odd, out there, so we will simply stamp his discharge papers, HOMOSEXUAL." The only category on the list that was odd enough to describe Lenny at the time.
When Lenny got out of the Navy in 1946 he was HIP, a radical concept for many at the time, particular for the Dengler family that raised him through high school. He showed at the family farm dressed in a Wave's uniform. He just got a little freaked out that's all. Lenny had a little taste of junk, fixed it, he started shooting up on Victory Day in New York City. The wholesome Dengler's wondering what happened to Lenny in the Navy? THIS ISN'T THE SWEET BOYCHIK LEO SCHNEIDER WE KNEW?
Lenny was living in New York in 1947. He started to spend time with his real mother Sadi Kitchenberg a comic, who had been on the road during his early life on the borscht belt. Away all the time she couldn't take care of him when he was young, throwing infant Lenny out like schemata in the bath water. Sadi was borscht belt comic royalty and off the chart. Lenny was born to be what he was, he and Sadie would sit in the kitchen at their apartment in Brooklyn and add lib, do comic routines for hours, Sadi recognised that Lenny was a comic genius and had talent.

There is a scene in the film "Lenny", Dustin Hoffman plays Bruce, not bad, not bad at all for a cowboy. Lenny and Sadi, Sadi playing straight, Lenny so fucking funny that he moves Sadi to tears, his Ma has to shut the comic monster down for a few minutes and locks him in the closet some, as a joke, to catch a breath.
By the 50s Lenny stood in as MC at the Victory Club on Ocean Parkway, a nightclub where his mother did gigs, his  first taste of show business. Later, performing in clubs such as Squires on Long Island, Clay Theater in Jersey and George's Corner in Greenwich Village for $2 an hour and cab fare home.
After doing bits performing comedy for the square weekend beats, suits during the week, Lenny became bored with yuk yuk green headed folk music lovers. Lenny was a junky, hip all the time, not just on the weekends. He started performing in east coast night clubs and strip joints. Lenny loved doing strip clubs because he was freer to improvise and could use language with less censorship.
Lenny met his first wife Honey Harlowe at a burlesque theater, a stripper who wore mama-san stiletto heals, asian style silk skirts with leg slits and button up collars. He really fell head over heals for Honey, both outcast by the late fifties! It was co-dependent love at first bite. Two adrift, out of place mentsh falling for each other out of desperation on junky strip club desolation row. Yes, Honey was a shekse (not Jewish), which made her more alluring to Lenny, he was bored by women he could control. Honey would cause Lenny allot of headaches in his life.
Lenny didn't like Honey stripping after they were married. She was curious when Lenny would fix, so Lenny fixed Honey one day wanting to stop her from stripping, to get control over her. It worked, Honey stopped stripping, but the couple needed to come up with more money to support their habits.
One of Lenny's early bust, which got him publicity was the Brother Mathias Foundation bit, a scam for junk money. Lenny put on a clergy collar and went door to door collecting money for lepers. He made a whopping eight grand in a 3 weeks. Eventually he got busted and gave two grand to lepers to get off the hook.
Lenny and Honey moved to LA in the sixties, his comedy bits were becoming known and Hollywood people were starting to go to his shows, narcs and the obscenity police were starting to attend his gigs on a regular basis too. Lenny began to move away from doing bits at strip joints and play more "straight clubs". He got his first big break Ann's Club in San Francisco performing  for $750 a week, allot was spent on junk, , but they were staying at first rate hotels after years on the burlesque belt living in dumps.
Hugh Hefner gave Lenny the introductions that would make him famous in 1959. Hefner was hip literati, Playboy  published the work of the the most gifted authors of the time. On the Playboy band-wagon Lenny was contracted to write comedy and do comedic albums for Twentieth Century Fox. The poker game of life and fame is only won by a hand-few, Lenny was on his way. His LIVE performances in clubs were now being recorded and sold on vinyl. He went on TV, the Steve Allen show, Playboy After Hours and the Arthur Godfrey show. 
(Lenny and Arthur Godfrey two people who couldn't have had less in common, like Hunter S. Thompson meeting Nixon, much more toxic and rattlesnake-like, unpredictable and funny). 
Lenny wowed and blew the minds of TV viewers. FOR FUCK SAKE,  heroin flowing in his blood stream and juicing out through speech patterns and movement while on TV. Lenny and Ray Charles, White-bread Americas first 'taste' of jazzed and jones freak-hood on TV.  Sixties junkies on the TV scene held in check by Ed Sullivan and network suits. Scenes like Jamie Fox playing Ray in Atlantic Studios weaving from side to side and itching his shoulders every 30 seconds could hardly be played out on sixties TV. Lenny never kicked and never tried too, Ray kicked, Lenny the rugged individualist, the rodeo clown with a mouth like a raging bull that resonated across the globe, he loved it on the edge, that's what kept him junked and on stage.
Lenny's obsenity bust were what counted historically and were the crux of his insurrection. His bits in clubs, his poetic on the edge use of humor as provocateur, philosophic self dialogue, tweaking and pushing the buttons of obscenity laws of the sixties, seventies and even today are what made Lenny Bruce the revolutionary he was. 
Joe Schlock of the late 60s, doing the trendy thing going to a club to watch Lenny Bruce do his bits, wondering what the fuck? Unable to understand the political references to his court cases for obscenity, the historical  relevance going over their heads. Lenny not pandering, junked up on stage, fixed on the political bits, which were humorless, not giving a shit. 
The film about Lenny's life with Dustin Hoffman was full of watered down bits so movie goers didn't have to work to hard mentally to get the drift of the genius pontificating. But if you have access to his last work in the library or record, wherever and take the time to listen, you will see, Lenny Bruce, Socrates doing his job.
"In March of 1962 his first obscenity trial in San Francisco is held. He is charged with violating Section 311.6 of the Penal code of the state of California, which provides: Every person who knowingly sings or speaks any obscene song, ballad, or any other words in a public place is guilty of a misdemeanor."
October 6, 1962, he is arrested for possession of junk.
Later that October, Lenny is banned from Australia, FOR SAYING FUCK? What the fuck? ( OZZY puritans, maven motha fuckers who fed cyanide to the Aborigine killing them by the thousands, shocked to hear the word FUCK, go figure?)

In December Lenny is arrested at the Gate of Horn club in Chicago for obscenity. The language dicks, you know, the fat square heads with no necks in trench coats, wearing size 12 Wingtips were there waiting for the bad boy to say ,fuck, cunt, pussy. LENNY WITH THE BIGGEST PAIR OF BALLS IN THE 20TH CENTURY OBLIGES AND OF COURSE COULDN'T RESIST, HE WAS ARRESTED.
"Seventy prominent American figures including Gore Vidal, Elizabeth Taylor, Arthur Miller, Woody Allen and Paul Newman sign a petition in support of Lenny Bruce".
Lenny had a number of court cases going on for dope and obscenity in Illinois, New York and California. He continued to perform in clubs, dodging  hard time by appealing and jumping bail from state to state. His legal fees caused him to file for bankruptcy in October 1962. Hugh Hefner and Playboy continued to back Lenny and published his book 'How to Win Friends and Talk Dirty' on Playboy Press.
Lenny the fucking giant bull, you gotta love him for never giving up and selling out his principles, his passion for freedom of speech and freedom to do dope if he wanted to. Always pushing it to the limits, with little regards for his personal health or lifestyle.
On July 25, 1966, Lenny did a show with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention at the Fillmore East in San Francisco. It was as though the times had finally caught up with him, maybe. Sick, overweight, broke and facing jail time on a shit load of court cases. Lenny siting back stage on an old sofa next to an antique bedroom light on a small table, draped by a red curtain, smoking menthol cigarettes, bored by it all, seeing through the hippies, many who didn't know who he was, most dosing on LSD, somewhere else. Lenny Bruce  wanting to go home to fix and lay in bed, listen to jazz.  
Only a week later Lenny was back in LA, alone in his suburban spa style modern house. Even with the heart of a rodeo bull, Lenny's body finally gave in to heroin and cigarettes, he died of an overdose.

Friday, September 12, 2014

South Milwaukee Outcast

Life, Christ almighty, like Frank Sinatra singing "That's Life, sometimes you're up and sometimes your down." Jesus pure spirited, the king of the world, he liked to party, drink wine. The Evangelous have no ideal what Jesus is about unless they take psychedelic drugs and open up, then Jesus will truly open up......

Wednesday was a grind for Frank Brickhousky at the Riverside Leather and Dye Company. A Nasty smelling place on the Milwaukee River that processed dyed cow and cattle skin sent smack  from the killing floors and slaughter houses all over the Midwest, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Chicago, Omaha. All kinds of skin, Hereford, Brahman, Texas Long Horn, Holsteins, Jersey Reds.
The leather plant was in the middle of town, you couldn't miss it, the die and chemicals running into the Milwaukee River gave off a precise oder, a certain smell, a mix of  cowshit, cement, oil paint, and sulfur.
 On Wednesdays Frank's job was dying the skins that arrived on semi-trucks, all Holstein skins, cows who stopped giving milk, used for dog food and to make leather accessories. Holsteins were a particular bitch for Frank to dye, neutralising the black and white color to make lighter pastels skins used in ladies wear. Dying black skin for bikers chaps and jackets was no problem. To make the pastel colors Frank would drop the black and white Holstein skins into a alkaline and acid mix, fading the skin color, then running them through a large spinning barrow like a cement mixer with sand in it fading the colors further.
Frank Brickhousky was brought up on the South-side of Milwaukee. His old man, Stan, a polish house painter and drinker told Frank the fumes from the oil paint caused him to drink. They would buy Schlitz and Pabst beer by the cases, wooden cases in those days, straight from the brewers, returned with the bottles and replaced with more terrible Milwaukee Beer. 
Milwaukee had a church and a bar on every block in those days and still might today, everyone was working back then. Working men, factory workers could afford to go north to the Dells in the summer, go deer hunting,  fishing. Jobs were past on from father to son,  the women were housewives, playing stupid but aware, laughing at everything, bee-hive hair-dos, making donuts all the time, Paczki.
Frank's best friend was Crazy Kurt, he was a greaser, with long sideburns , acne scares, a brillant mechanic, a misfit. He worked at Harley-Davidson and would ride his Harleys all year long, putting chain-spikes on the wheels when it snowed. Kurt was a machinist at Harley, the go to guy. Kurt had 3 Harleys, all Road Kings. He was married to them, walking into his living room, you had to be careful not to trip over Kurt's broken down bike, totally broken down, to the piston springs.
Some nights Crazy Kurt and Frank would drink with their friends. They would drink boiler makers, a shot of whiskey dropped in a large stein of beer, eat pickled eggs, stored in gallon containers on the selves, smoke filter-less Lucky Strikes and Camels. The Tuxedo, home for gonzo bowlers, non compos mantis, tough south side working class Polish dudes that didn't give a shit about n, allot of the guys were World War II veterans. Crazy Kurt was a demolition specialist during the big one, his motto... 
" Point it out and I will blow it to bits  "
 The regular guys at the Tuxedo were all bowlers, and guys from other bars bowled too,  they had teams with names like...

"The Ballbusters",
 "Piston Fuckers"
 "12 Inches of Joy"
 " The Bozos"
 " The Dip Shits"

Saturday night was the bowling league finals, it was " The Dip Shits" vs "The Bozos"

Crazy Kurt and Frank played for the Dip Shits, The Bozo's were no clowns, and were favoured,  the Dip Shits needed Crazy Kurt  to win, he was a psycho bowler.  The tournament began after the playing of  the "Polish Nation Anthem" followed by "Louie, Louie."
Frank and  the Dip Shits had to start without Crazy Kurt, he was late, way late, they were behind by 350 points in the 10th frame of the last round. Out of nowhere you could hear the clear-cut sound of Harley pipes in the bowling alley, it was Crazy Kurt, wasted, he wheeled his Road King around on the carpet and on the lanes, bringing it to a stop and parking it behind the tournament area,  revving the pipes to show he meant business.  Crazy Kurt took one look at the score, seeing the Dip Shits were losing bad,  pulled a hand grenade out of his saddle bag, pulling the pin and throwing the grenade at the upright pins blowing them to bits, a loud noise echoing through the halls, saying to the Bozos….

"Well clowns, who wins?"

Crazy Kurt and Frank would go up north to the Dells in the summer time, Kurt was absolutely mad, he would lay home-made land mind type bombs underground to hunt deer, getting a kick out of blowing the creatures to bits, when they went fishing Kurt would throw a hand grenade in the water,  collecting all the dead garp and bass that floated to the surface.
On the way home Kurt and Frank stopped at the infamous Ed Gein's house, the serial killer from La Crosse who would murder and skin his victims, they busted the door down and it smelt like death inside. There was a meat hook on the wall,  Kurt took it down, taking it as a souvenir to remember his vacation up north. The friends pulled out a bottle of schnapps, sitting down at Ed Gein's nasty kitchen table, a dark wooden table, drinking shot after shot on the very table Gein had feasted on: grilled human flesh and giblets, the two laughing, wondering how Gein seasoned the meat, if he needed tenderiser, salt, pepper, steak sauce?Kurt telling Frank he was going to hang him on the meat hook, skin him alive and make a pair of bowling shoes out his skin.
Living in the winter climate of the north, on hot summer nights you felt extra horny,  a hooker in a bee-hive with a chop-stick in the doo, walked in the bar wearing a asian style dress and striper pumps. Kurt, Frank, Frank's old man Stan and the rest of the Dip Shits were falling all over themselves. She was ready to take them all on, Chico the bartender locked the  front door, the hooker, Cherry, pulling their chains hustling them, she was a pro, lubing herself with Vaseline first and passing out condoms saying...

" Come on you maggots lets see what you can do?"

Intimidating them to get the upper hand, saying while taking them...
"Have you cum yet? Yawn"
" Is that all the meat you got?"
" Is this your first piece of ass?"
What could have been an ugly gang bang turned into a big nothing, Cherry taking the wind out of the Dip Shit's sails, only Kurt got off, the rest freaked. Cherry walked out of the Tuxedo with a grand, feeling nothing much, in good shape.
Crazy Kurt took a short road trip to the dog track on the Wisconsin-Illinois border on his Harley. He won big time, just luck he didn't know shit about greyhounds, he spent his winnings on a machine gun.
The Dip Shits were having a barbecue at Polaski park on the south-side, it was memorial day, potato salad, brats, coleslaw, a keg of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, at 9 pm it was getting dark,  Mexican teenagers,in leather coats, approached the Dip Shit picnic, menacingly,  waving zip guns, twirling knifes, Crazy Kurt cooly walked to the trunk of his car, not giving a shit, calmly opening the trunk, pulling a grenade out and his newly purchased AK 47, walking towards the latin rebels, holding his machine gun in one hand and a grenade in the others, he says...
"OK you wanna fuck? Let's go dudes, bring it on,"
Crazy Kurt the bad of the bad, rebels, teenage wimps, eyes like rabbits caught in head-lights, just getting the fuck out and going somewhere else.
Later that Summer at the Tuxedo, Cherry showed up again looking hot, she wasn't there to hook, she was hot for Kurt. They sat at the bar and drank for a long time, both outcast, they had strong feelings for each other, Kurt took Cherry home on his Road King.
A month later Cherry and Kurt had the wildest Polish wedding in the history of South-Side Milwaukee at Polski Hall, the Dip Shits were the best men. Shots of schnapps lined up on a long table with a paper table clothe, 10 year olds kids under the table, sneaking shots, nobody gave a shit, kids and adults wasted. 

Cherry and Kurt lived together the rest of their lives, they had 5 kids, feral little freaks who they never layed a hand on, untamable, wild in the streets, Kurt and Cherry not carrying if they to grew up to be wild child's like their parents, as long as they had fun.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Art Pepper, the Junk's Junk

Art Pepper was born in 1925. Pep's Grandparents were hard drinking, hard workin, hard fuckers in general. 
His grandfather Arthur ---Peppers Name-sack-- would beat his wife and Art's dad Richard when he was drunk.  At 15 Richard left home and became a merchant seaman to escape his drunk old man. 
One night ashore in San Pedro, California, Peps dad  felt instant karma as his eyes turned on a beguiling, 15 year old girl with  jasmine skin. 15 year old Milli Betranadini. The scene was straight out of a Fellini film. 15 year old Italian broad like the Virgin Mary in spotlight, sepia on flour. 
Peppers old man was tired of going to sea and wanted to settle. This is how Art explains in his urban hipesse;"THEY MET AND HE BALLED HER, AND I GUESS HE FELT THE OBLIGATION, AND I GUESS HE CARED FOR HER TOO, SO HE MARRIED HER, SHIT HAPPENS MAN." 
Peppers mother got bored with Richard quickly and just wanted to meet guys, ball and booze. And a Goddamn kid would just get in the way. She did everything she could to try to kill poor Art as Fetus in the womb. 
Art was born with rickets and jaundice as a up-shoot of the shit Mulli took to try to kill him. But by by four----Milli & Richard ( who flipped over what she did) were latter divorce---. Richard brought Art back to life with love and lotza protein, garlic, and anchovies olive oil, when he came home from sea. 
Richard and Milli would constantly get drunk and fight. Richard broke her nose four times. Art was a precocious kid who knew what the score was in spades. He felt no body wanted him or cared about him, and he just wanted to die. 
Art Pepper a progenitor  of urban cool hated the country. He felt the silence and lack of his kind of distractions made him  come face to face with his terrified inner being. Peps was no Johnny Cash. 
By 10 Art was living with his Grandmother and Dad, attending school in San Pedro, California. Richard was a union leader on the docks, a tall good man, a leader, Art called him Moses. Milli, wild little shit she that she was, running with a besotted country western singer, AND,  after trying to kill Art as a foetus,  was now in love with him wanted little Pep back back. Milli was one toasted bi-polar) 

By the time Art was 11 he was totally preoccupied with sex. He would was keenly as chicks crossed and uncrossed their legs, what he didn't see he could imagine like a X-Ray machine. Art's family would never touch one another. It is amazing they fucked enough to procreate, and if they did they would try to kill their babies, would it be a stretch to say this was animalistic or primitive behavior? 

Moses ( Dad) bought a used alto sax for Art at a pawn shop when Art was 11. Pep was such a detached kid. Art was the inverse jock, detached, deflecting attention, hated sports. The only thing Pep had in common with jocks getting turned on looking up cheerleaders skirts. Arts early life is similar to Bukowski in allot of ways. BOTH,  outsiders lacking self confidence hating the straight and square world, the 20s to the 60s. AND, for some like ~FL~, even still,  if Buk & Pep were alive, THE WORLD WOULD BE AS UNIFORM AS EVER  TODAY IN THIER EYES. 

Peps mother-side of the family was musical. I could play, being from the mother land, they played zithers. accordions and gypsy violas. Art loved music from the start, even the old world shit of Millis family did a thing on him. Everyday Art would pass Old's music shop , eyeballing and perusing the  shine on the horns. he would go inside and touch them, wondering how you could key em and blow em to get music. Finally Pep told his old man he had to have a horn. Moses felt a horn for the for the misanthropic Peps would be a boon. 

Art really wanted to play a trumpet, but when the music teacher saw Art's chipped teeth, he felt a clarinet would suit him bette. Larry Parks the music teacher was a lousy musician, bu he had a kind beardless Santa Claus look about him, cherubic with a lotza love. So maybe for Pep with all his self doubt and fears, he needed a grand dad to get him started playing, not a Coleman Hawkins. 

Parks became like a grandfather to young Art, and many there was many nights Art would go eat dinner at the Parks who were childless. The lessons were so effortless for the wunderkind that he never had to practice the previous weeks assignments. Pepper would just play over them once before class, they were in his heart and mind. When he played for his teacher, he never read the exercises and could just play the full songs instead of the bits you get as a starter. Art just played what he felt. It's like Art Pepper could just play, born to, without lessons. 

Soon after Art started playing clarinet, Moses would take him to a bar to play for the his pals from the docks. All the tough guys from the docks were Mose's friends so no one said shit when the old-man would put Art on a bar, sit him on a stool, to play his clarinet. 
Art was blooding staggering and mind-boggling. He ran through a played a exercise of a song,  through it once, and he had it. The old man made him play songs Art hated for the square dockworkers shit:"Auld Lang Syne ",  "Nola", "The Music Goes Round & Round". 
Arts old man would stand right next to Pep as he played with a look on his face like---- this is my boy, he plays music and you better like it or? The dock workers crapulous sods brawling, Pep would keep on playing right thru it, maybe, " The Church in the Wildwood". By the end of the night Art would take home 20 bucks or so, and ole Moses let him keep the whole some. Pep mostly would spend it in the local bagnio (cathouse). 
By 16 Art was playing at night clubs in LA, living with his Grandmother. Peps was going on and off to Fredmont High, but playing gigs till 2am & get-tin up to go school was tough. Art had no friends at High School, he gave a grand shit about all the hoop la.  
When Peps transferred to San Pedro High as a bandleader he became popular. In the 30s there were allot of gangs in San Pedro. Art joined the COBRAS, thinking it would make him look tough to his dad.
He wore a black silk Chinese jacket with a COBRA on the back. 
It was like West Side Story or James Dean shit in the 50s.  the COBRAS would get challenged to rumble and pile into 'hotrods" go to a remote place, beat the shit out of each-other till they got tired and totter back into the rods and speed off. 

Music soon cut Peppers gang calling short, the accord he found with his musician pals was more euphonic. Most the guys in the high school bands were playing out of tune, with little knowledge of scales, they would look over in the corner, dumb fucked, and there was a little 16 year old kid going through pentatonic scales with key signatures. Allot guys at Sand Pedro High gave up music because of Pepper. 
Art was listening to Basie, Ellington, Charlie Bennett, Benny Goodman. But the first time Art heard  Django Rienheart it blew his mind. He would also go out to see T-Bone Walker and Coleman Hawkins play when they came to LA. He was good enough to play after gigs with them.  
At 17 Pep said fuck high school to go pro. He was playing Alto Sax. He left San Pedro to play with a conventional weekend dance hall band in San Diego  Gus Arnhiem the No Star Band. Of course Art thought it sucked, Gus might as well hung a banner in the ballroom---NO IMPROVISING, KEEP TO THE SHEETS, CHECK YOUR FEELIN WITH THE HAT CHECK GIRL.--- 
After a week of the Gus Method,  Art was back in LA playing in Central Ave. This was a extraordinary  period for West Coast Jazz  at the clubs on Central Ave in LA. Central 40s was like Halem 30s. But the morping of WEST VS  EAST, Davis vs Baker didn't happen till latter much later in the 60s. 
Pep was already  known in the world of jazz at the time, a 18 year old kid. Dextor Gordon Lee Young were looking to put together a quartet to play at the new club Alabam. Art auditioned and got the job. Art was fucking tingled.  The Central Ave, LA , Club Alabam scene was real hot. Dexter Gorden, Mingus, Gerald Wiggins, Slick Jones and now Art.  
Art Pepper was 18 years old playin with the few elite master east coast jazzmen, ( such as Dextor Gorden) using, getting blow jobs between sets, things couldn't have been much better.  
He was hanging allot with  his idle, Dextor Gordon. Dex ( pun intended) introduced white crosses to Peps (pun intended)  it help the guys stay up for late gigs.  
Aside: Keith Richards once said that smells the smells of diesel fuel and horse shit after WWII got him "thinkin" about junk. 
In 46 Art got a call from  Stan Kenton,  Kenton spoke with a German accent and reminded Peps of this Dad. It was a dream come true for Art, through the haze of bennies and booze, he had established a reputation as a virtuoso, inventive and ground-breaking jazz man. Kenton was formidable and puissant.  He had a snoot and eyes like a eagle and would look right through you. Kenton could relate and ally with all kinds of audience: Middle Americans, East and West coast Jazz purest, drunks, chained, zuit suited pimps white and black in Harlem.  
The Stan Kenton Band as a White Band, was a fat and kinky band compared to mainstream traveling big bands of the 50s, such as the Benny Goodmans and Tommy Dorsey types, who were in the majority at the time. Of course Black Bands were on big time by the 50s, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and of course Thelonius Monk. 
Art was playing with Shelly Mann, Bud Shank was in the sax section with Peps, June Christy as scatter, Laurindo Almeida on Guitar. Of course there were chicks following the band.  
In 48 the band was playing a 17 week gig at the Paramount in NYC, backing Vick Damone, it was packed every night.  Arts  libido was in over drive because of all the booze and pills he took, and 19 yr old testosterone.  
Pep was staying in a Hotel on 48 and broadway. One morning a mad knocked on the door and asked if she could clean the room. She was a hot Mexican chick, with long curly black hair and tits and ass to die for. Pep told her to go ahead. Art was sitting in a chair across from the toilette, drinking his usual hangover topper, a Bloody Mary. The loo door was a full mirror. Pep could see the Mexican broad in the mirror bending over cleaning the toilette  He couldn't believe his eyes, she was bent over and he could see her purple lace panties. She had a great ass and legs, Pep was getting really hot. Then he went to the loo door and just stood and looked, Chica just keep on cleaning shaking that awesome ass. Then when it came time to clean the floor, Art still watching, his heart pumping. Chica on all fours with top unbuttoned, exposed her tits to him,  through her purple half-brassiere. Peps still stand at the door on his second bloody marry watched as Chica began to rub her pussy. So Art had a nice wank. 
Circa 50, Art was with the Kenton band in Chicago doing a gig at the Civic Opera House. He was staying at the Croydon Hotel. He was rooming with one of the guys in the band, Stanley Curtis, a charming and talented Trombone player.  Art was now the featured artist in the band, got all the applause, and in his words---it was great while it was happening, but when the gig was over I was still all alone---. Notwithstanding a full blown alcoholic. But his desolation would gravitate to a new dominion as synthesis, he was about to meet his maker, muse-lover and greatest tormentor.  
After the show they kicked Art out of the bars at 4am. No liquor stores were open so he went back to his room with a sick feeling. It wasn't the first time, at the hotel room, roomy, sammy was having a trifling junk party with a few guys in the band. Roy King and the Singer Sheila Harris and some piano player. Art asked them if they had anything other than the China White, and they said no. Pep was feeling crestfallen, disenchanted and flat that night. This wan't the first time he had been around the shit but he knew the minute he did it, it would be over for him. 
Sheila who was a legend in those days both as a artist and nymph,  she had a rep for sucking cock ultra ultra fine.  She came upon Art. She had natural corkscrew hair, and was wearing a moo-moo with fuck me pumps.  Art did have a hard on for her though she was pleasantly plump but real sexy. Sheila could see that Art was hang dog . She said---Art doll, why don't you hang up that jive ass shit and get in a cooler groove---  come in the bathroom with me and I will show you a new way to go---PEP SAYS--- I was at my wits end and the only other thing I could do was jump out the 14th floor window of the hotel. 
Aside: you know junk stuff  seems very gripping and dramatic, but while writing, my ITune began playing a classic piece,  Mahler 5 piece you might associate with Bukowski who, during the pensive moment at midnight in "Barfly" regrouped,  the shit he had garnered after Stalones brother beat the shit out him in the alley. Most my tunes are blues or jazz and it seems natural to shoot up China White for the first time with this sound. But when the Mahler cut in, Man o Man, I felt the inconsolable, sorry, grief stricken rosary stuff that goes with the junk life, for real man.
Art for fuck sack knew god damn well, the "new groove" was a 3000 lb. monkey.
Sammy (Peps' roomy) saw what Sheila was about to do to Art and threw a shit fit.  (Mahler 5 just came back again, hip life, for all it's magic can be a low down life.) Sammy told Sheila not to get Art started. Then Roy said, ---nothing could be as godawful as the booze head shit Pep is into---. So Roy and Sheila cooled Sammy down and Sheila took the virgin sacrificial lamb, Art Pepper into the loo. 
The first thing the nymph Sheila did to Art in the loo was grab his cock. Then Pep said---wait a minute let's get to that other thing then we can get back to this. I was all excited about something new, the heroin, I had made up my mind---.

Peps and Sheila didn't shoot up, they just snorted the shit like coke with dollar bills. Pep felt the sting in his nose and the burning in his throat. Then as though jesus had touched our boy with his own hand Pep felt, quote---as though all the wondering and wondering and the frustration had vanished and he finally found peace----.
                                        {END OF PART 1 ART PEPPER}  ~FL~