Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Landlord: A Lost Satire That’s Socially Honest and Ironically Prophetic

Time’s a funny thing. It contains a lot of things, but doesn’t always keep track of everything. Moments fall in the cracks. Some moments are forgettable; others shouldn’t be. One of the moments is a movie called “The Landlord,” an adept, racially-charged and thoughtful satire that makes “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” looks like “Enchanted April”.

Wanting to leave his family’s affluent Long Island abode, breezy, twenty-nine-year-old, blue blood Elgar Enders (Beau Bridges of “The Fabulous Baker Boys” and “Jerry Maguire”) buys a tenement building in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn and hopes to convert into a rich hippie pad. However, the residents, all poor and African-American, won’t (unsurprisingly) abide being relocated, using comical scare tactics or hermetic indifference. Elgar counters by the film’s title, earning admiration (Pearl Bailey’s delightful as a fortune teller); seduction (Diana Sands’s a frustrated housewife/hairdresser; Marki Bey’s a strong yet out of place mulatto artist and go-go dance at a nearby nightclub) and scorn (a pre-Oscar winning Louis Gossett Jr. as Sands’s militant yet derelict husband; Mel Stewart of “All In The Family” is an unlicensed teacher, who guides the neighborhood children) in the ghetto while infuriating his parents (Walter Brooke and Lee Grant, who earned an Oscar nomination for this gig) to high hell and a half. This is what happens when you put too much cream in your coffee.

Armed with a smart, sharp, funny and poignant script by actor-scribe Bill Gunn (the avant-garde horror film, “Ganja & Hess”) that adapted from a now-scarce novel by Kristin Hunter, Hal Ashby (“Shampoo”, “Being There”, “Harold & Maude”, “The Last Detail”) made an impressive debut as a maverick director, after editing films for Norman Jewison, who supervised the film’s production. With his skills and d.p. Gordon Willis (the Godfather saga, mentored Mike Chapman of “Taxi Driver”), Ashby gives “The Landlord” a funky, gritty, kaleidoscope narrative, complimenting the tale’s consciousness. Soliloquies, flashbacks, visual thought balloons are here and cool. It’s fascinating and ironic that a white director (despite being middle-age at the time, Ashby was quite the hippie) and a black screenwriter (Gunn was a writer of all trades) worked in sync to examine the racial, social and economical gaps between their ethic camps. There’s a flashback scene of Elgar’s all-white grade school class; “Children, how do we live?” the teacher asks. It cuts to a black man having the inability to hail a cab. How do we live? How indeed.   

None of the cast makes a false step, no matter how big or small their roles. Bridges, obviously scarred by his father being blacklisted in the 1950s, is pitch-perfect as the title character, a naïve, overgrown Little Lord Fauntleroy, thinking racial strife can be achieved by common courtesy without learning why there is in the first place. Ms. Sands, (“A Raisin In The Sun”) who sadly passed away three years after the film’s release, finds Elgar fascinating (and sexy!) as sassy but delicate Franny, who wallows in the memories of her beauty pageant days. Not because he’s rich and white but “socially pure”, unlike Gossett (“An Officer and A Gentleman”, “Roots”), as Copee, a rightfully angry black man who wants to fight back against the system that broke him but neglects Franny and their son. No wonder the kid smokes and Franny…well, cream and coffee…

Singer Pearl Bailey’s a wise hoot as fortune teller Marge, who accepts Elgar’s attempts to redeem the building’s derelict conditions. Lee Grant (who worked again with Ashby on “Shampoo” and was also blacklisted) is quite the hypocrite as Joyce Elders. She accepts black people…but not too close. When she and Bailey get high and drunk, you’ll know why. There’s also Marki Bey (the black zombie grindhouse yarn “Sugar Hill”) as Elgar’s second girl, Lainie, the mixed daughter of divorced parents, who feels the “heat” when she’s with Elgar. Unlike Gossett’s Copee, Mr. Stewart’s more subtle in his animosity toward his landlord. He lays the final blow that makes the rich kid grow up. Straight-forward comical elements are handled by Mr. Brooke as Elgar’s father; future sitcom director Will McKenzie as Elgar’s brother; Robert Klein (“The Pursuit of Happiness”) as Elgar’s brother-in-law and Susan Anspach as Elgar’s pot-head sister. Through it all, there are neither good nor bad people in the film, just victims of social prejudice and expectations….okay, Joe Madden as Elgar’s grandfather, silent, senile and wheelchair, is probably one, a relic of old, good white boy prestige gone to pot. Look out for future Garry Marshall figure Hector Elizondo.

Lively and funky is the music by Al Kooper, the co-founder of the white R&B group, Blood, Sweat & Tears, bookended by two hard, soulful tracks by the Staple Singers.   

Ignored by the public upon its release, “The Landlord” has become a holy grail to filmmakers and movie fans. It’s also a prophecy; once derelict Park Slope is now a haven for the high-pocketed crowd. Sadly, the social problems still exist, making the film, like the sitcoms of Norman Lear, timeless. It deserves a proper DVD release. Maybe a limited double-bill showing with the recent “Django Unchained”; they both deal with “how we live.”  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Gira Gira

Want to see and hear the Italian version of "I'll Be There" (Gira Gira) by Lola Falana and Rocky Roberts, the man who sung the Django theme? Here it is!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Another Cool Mural

Another mural I took a picture while in Jamaica, Queens.

Cool Mural

A cool mural I took a picture of at the Metropolitan Avenue subway station in Brooklyn.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rules A Black Man Shouldn’t Break

I’m guilty.

What’s the crime?

I’m a black man who doesn’t see the world like everyone else, specifically like you average, grade-A, African American male. Since I was born, I purposely defecated and urinated on the galactic stage called life by being my own person and offending the sheep. Suck. I really suck at being part of the sheep. I really do. So, after some soul searching, I decided to list some directives I broke. You blerds out there reading this should take these rules to heart and give it to anyone who’s like you.


You reach a certain age when you’re a black man and you don’t have a criminal record, you’re really not that much. Being a straight-arrow won’t give you much street cred. If you want to be appreciated by your “brothers” (I would have used “soul brothers”, but I didn’t want to date myself. Excuse me.), you have to commit a crime. Jaywalk in front of a cop, and mouth out to him, if he gives you shit about it. Urinate in public. Grope a fairly attractive nun…emphasis on fairly attractive. Just do something that will get in you in handcuffs, fingerprinted, photographed, a lousy public defender and a prison sentence.


What’s the point of being smart if the world doesn’t respect you in the first place? Excelling in sports, music, fucking, and the art of verbal bullshit is a no-no. Sure, George Washington Carver discovered that sweet potatoes, soybeans and peanuts can be alternative crops to cotton. Sure, Benjamin Banneker invented the wooden clock, write the 1792 Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia Almanac and Ephemeris and assisted in the survey of the original borders of the District of Columbia. Otis Boykon invented the artificial heart pacemaker control.  Charles Drew invented the process of blood transfusion. Jerry Lawson designed the Fairchild Channel F, the first programmable ROM cartridge-based video game console. And so on and so forth.

Why did I mention these names? They’re not coo, interesting or hip, like Kayne West, Lebron James and Tyler Perry. They were square, acting white and proper. Don’t get me started with the forty-fourth President of the United States. Just don’t.  So, don’t have any big ideas. They’ll only make you lonely and lame.


Sexually conquering a woman’s one thing, but that’s just it. One thing. How can you be taken seriously as an African-American male if you don’t have a lot of “hoes” on your contact list in your cell phone (Make sure Latisha’s phone number doesn’t get mixed with Maxine’s icon, or your ass will end us on Jerry Springer). If you don’t believe that, just take off your clothes, guys, and look at yourself in the mirror. With a dick like yours, you should be knocking down buildings, let alone laying hotties. If one of them gets pregnant, hit the road before they get you into the marriage trap and find another squeeze. If the second girl gets pregnant too, do the same. Wash and rinse. Repeat when the time comes.


There’s really something wrong with you, if you’ve rented “Annie Hall”, “Manhattan”, “Radio Days” or “Broadway Danny Rose” from Netflix. Why would you want to watch the film of a nebbish Hebrew from Brooklyn? There’s no black people in his films (Chiwetel Ejiofor doesn’t count because he’s African-British), so why bother to. Do you  really care about a smart guy who worries about almost everything while trying to get a girl that brother could get without any trouble or effort?

Hell, no!

Stick with Tyler Perry films when you’re with your second, third or fourth baby mama. The man may love like the black Norman bates, without the blood, dead bodies and knives, but he’s worth it and you’ll thank yourself.

I could go on, but you guys are feeling what I’m saying. Just follow these rules, and you’ll become a proud, upstanding blight on society and not a geeky Uncle Tom like me.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Electra Luxx A Gonzo Comedy Sequel With a Heart. . .and Boobies.

Being a fan of “Women In Trouble”, the first chapter of the “Women” trilogy by filmmaker Sebastian Guitterez (“Rise: Blood Hunter”, co-wrote “Snakes On A Plane”), I looked forward to see the follow-up, “Elektra Luxx”. Why? It’s just nice to see an indie sequel, and I survived the “Transformers” saga.
 The story reintroduces the title character from “WIT”, played by the lovely Carla Gugino (“Watchmen”, “Frank Miller’s Sin City”, “Sucker Punch” and Mr. Guitterez’s old lady). Retired from the adult film industry to her being knocked up by a now-late rock star, Elektra makes a living as (what else) a seduction teacher for the ladies at a community center.

Things seem easygoing, until shaky flight stewardess Cora (Marley Shelton, another “WIT” alum, “Grindhouse”), the reason of said rock star’s passing (they had Mile High sex), appears with a forgiveness plea, a plethora of songs about the ex-skin flick starlet, penned by the rock star, and a proposition to seduce her fiancée. However, hunky shamus Dell (Emmy-nominee Timothy Olyphant of “Deadwood” and “Justified”), hunting for the songs, gets mistaken, for the real fiancée (Justin Kirk of “Animal Practice”), putting Elektra in a self-reflective funk.

There are two sidebar plots here. Elektra’s old porn compeer, dim-bulb Holly Rocket (Adrianne Palicki of “Friday Night Lights: The Series”) deals with her growing sexual feelings for her gal pal, harlot Bambi Lindberg (spunky Emmanuelle Chriqui of “Entourage” and “Thundercats 2.0”) .Sex blogger/fanboy Bert Rodriguez (a daffy Joseph Gordon-Levitt of “Inception”) bemoans over the retirement of his favorite skin film thespian (is there such a thing?) while    clueless of the feelings towards him from drug store clerk Trixie (sunny Malin Akerman of “Watchmen” and “Wanderlust”). Isn’t love grand.

Like “WIT”, “Luxx” is a Skinamax film meets a Lifetime film meets a Kevin Smith film. It’s doesn’t have the right to be good with its sexual frankness (never be trapped in an elevator with a naked guy, ladies!) and minuscule production values, but it does, due to Mr. Guitterez’s gonzo, breezy and inventive script and direction and the actors he has.

Echoing Rita Hayworth without Production Code rules, Ms. Gugino’s so inventive here (she even plays an incarcerated twin sister with a lisp), it’s bizarre she’s not an A-list thespian. Ms. Palicki twists the dumb beauty stereotype to hilarious and thoughtful heights to combat Ms. Chriqui’s to the letter practicality. It’s weird and funny, as Rodriguez, who still lives his mom, that Mr. Levitt would elevate an exploitative medium to an art form while Mr. Olyphant, like in “Catch & Release”, is a stud with a soul. Ms. Akerman will probably get more room to breathe in the upcoming third chapter “Women In Ecstasy”. Who knew drug store clerks can be so damn cute?                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Other cast members add to the proceedings: Kathleen Quinlain (“Breakdown”, “Apollo 13”) is a Jackie Collins-like scribe; Isabella Guitterez (the filmmaker’s niece) reprises her old soul kid role from “WIT”; Amy Rosoff is Bert’s spitfire sister who wants to be an Internet pin-up girl; Vincent Kartheiser is the naked schmuck in the elevator (!) and Oscar nominee Julianne Moore (“The Big Lebowski”) has an uncredited part as the Virgin Mary (!). If you get the DVD, you’ll notice Eric Stoltz (“Pulp Fiction”, “Modern Love”) gets a “Back to the Future” treatment in the deleted scenes section as he plays the hubby of one of Elektra’s students. The faux trailer of Elektra’s last film (Sergio Leone meets Russ Meyer) is a hoot as it follows the end credits scroll.

It’s not Oscar material, but “Luxx” has enough heart to be better than an average sexploitation romp.

Monday, January 14, 2013

My old grade school

St. Clare Roman Catholic School. I attended there from 1982-1991...I had no real friends, except for the teachers!!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


            Raymond Delgado looked at Albert Gibbs, and vice versa. Actually, they looked at each other above the red leather boxing gloves they each wore. “Pug Hall #86” was the gym’s name, set in the East Harlem section of Manhattan, and the two men were of the gym’s seven, blue carpeted rings. All were 20-foot-by-20-foot, elevated over a smooth, concrete floor with orange and yellow stripes. Raymond and Albert moved, avoided and threw punches at each other, their bodies curved through it all.
            Like a rifle, Raymond shot his right fist, direct and fast. It met Albert’s linked gloves; they protected his face. Albert replied with a left uppercut. It didn’t get Raymond, one of the gym’s trainers, who got paid $250 per sparring session. He backed away and held up his hands. Both men breathed heavily and hugged each other. Albert took off his face guard and shook his head, discouraged.
            Raymond smiled, “If you’re gonna make mistakes, make them with balls.”
            Albert nodded, “Thanks, Mr. Del. . .Ray,”
            “See you tomorrow.”
            “Yeah,” Albert crossed between the ring’s ropes behind him and left, leaving Raymond, who bent over and exhaled. He loved to box, not for sport, but for discipline and redemption.  Standing up straight, Raymond looked around. Leather slapped against leather. Human sweat flowed. His fellow trainers were coaching the usual clients. Police officers. Lawyers. Army vets. Hedge fund managers. There were some second-class models too. The usual, and Raymond found it an oasis. He eased his body against the ropes behind him, closed his eyes.
            “Yo, Ray!”
            The trainer opened his eyes, and Ray looked right and down. Marvin Cheswick was quite a character. Old, lean and stiff, Marvin was an amateur pug. He won some Golden Gloves awards and other small, local prizes in his heyday. Marvin could have been in the big leagues, if he didn’t lose his right eye during a bout. The eye patch was awkward at first; some of his friends gave him shit, telling him he was a reject from the Pequod, but Marvin still knew how to fight. He ran with a half-friendly, half-bulldog nature.   
            “What’s up, Marv?” Raymond rubbed his head.
            “Two bulls wanna gab. Locker room,” Marvin went away as Raymond sighed.

            “Guys,” Raymond faked a smile as he came in. NYPD detectives, second class and working vice, Gregory McKenna and Spencer Avary were a sour, “Odd Couple” pair. McKenna was a dapper, GQ type, looking like more like a lawyer while Avary was a squash with unkempt hair and a two o’clock shadow.
            “Keeping clean, Delgado?” he asked with spite in his tone.
            “Should I be otherwise so you two won’t be so bored?” Raymond folded his arms.
            “Funny. Real funny.”
            “I try. What’s the occasion?”
            “What’s the rush?”
            “I have another sparring session in an hour, and I need to shower.”
            “Hope you have a play--”
            “Shut the fuck up, Spence,” McKenna faced Raymond, “Eighteen kilos of heroin was stolen from one of our safe houses in Westchester. Three cops who were guarding it got popped.”
            “Read it in the News, except for the heroin,” Raymond said. 
            “So you’re smart enough to keep your mouth shut,” Avary said.
            “Not like you when you gulp and blow on a dog’s dick, sir.”
            “Real funny, convict.”
            “Ex-convict, and the shitheads who tried to fuck me are still picking metal out of their assholes.”
            Avary moved closer to Raymond, “Is that a threat, Delgado? Because if that’s what you’re saying--”
            McKenna got between the two, “Stand down, Spence. Now.”
            Avary, despite giving Raymond a dirty look, walked away and left the room.
            “Just find out what you know, Raymond. Okay? We don’t want to make things difficult for you.”
            Raymond unfolded his arms, “Deal.”
            “After seven days, you give us the info.”
            “You don’t have to be kind, Greg.”
            “You should be glad I am. How’s Vincent, by the way? Heard he’s the valedictorian of his graduating class.”
            “He’s all right.”
            McKenna nods, “Good for him. And Frank?”
            Raymond scoffed, “I’ll find out.”
            McKenna patted Raymond’s right shoulder and left the locker room.

            Drab, dying gray was the color on the walls. Some “No Smoking” signs decorated them. The smell of pine cleaner liquid barely and pathetically hid the reeks of shit and piss and blood. Raymond hated it here, the visiting room of Ryker’s Island Correction Facility.
            Sitting alone at a table, Raymond looked at his wristwatch on his left arm. 11: 25 p.m., the watch told him. He then looked at the other visitors who were conversing with the inmates they were visiting. Some corrections were watching over them. Pain and happiness were mixed here, and Raymond hated it.
            A loud buzz cut the air, and a door opened from nearby. Two more c.o.’s came into the room, flanking a tough, but graying, paunchy and balding man, who probably was handsome when he was young, but was now aging badly. Handcuffed and dressed a mandatory, bright orange jumpsuit, the prisoner looked like a basset hound, with a “fuck you and everything and everyone else” demeanor.
            The c.o. sat the inmate in the chair across from Raymond, “Twenty minutes,” one of them said, before the two went to a wall and watched Raymond and the inmate, who were silent for a minute.
            The inmate broke the silence, “You look good, Ray.”
            “You’re being nice for once,” Raymond said.
            “Give me more than that. I’m trying to be a good man, hijo.”
            “Don’t call me that, Frank.”
            “It’s the truth.”
            “Yeah. And I fucking hate it. I fucking hate it more than piss and shit. And I really hate--”
            “Same old shit. What do you want me to do? Drop fucking dead? Even if I did, it changes nada. It’s always there, and I don’t give a shit if you fucking hate me.”
            “I’m. . .I’m not surprised. You never gave a shit about me or Vincent.”
            “Bullshit. I gave--”
            “You were a fucking drug dealer, and I was your fucking errand boy.”
            “My mistake.”
            “Right.  Damn right. Yours. And I lost five years of my life. Five fucking years.”
“You should have had more.”
“And you should be lucky you’re still in prison, asshole.”
Silence and stares of hatred were exchanged between the two. Frank broke the moment, “You want something from me or what? This must be some fucking trouble for you.”
Raymond sighed, “You know about the three dead cops in Westchester? They were in a house. It had heroin. Eighteen kilos.”
Frank smirked, “Someone has balls. Reminds me of my glory days.”
“Don’t start. Just ask around and call me in seven days.”
“Why?  The bulls are on your ass?”
Raymond said nothing, but looked anxious to leave.
“Okay. I know where you stand. . . but I need something from you.”
“Tell. . .” Frank got sad all of a sudden, “Tell Vinnie I love him.”
“Excuse me?”
“You heard me. Just tell him, comprendes?”
“If you really ‘loved’ him, you--”
“Tell him. Or you’ll get nothing. Nada. Promise me, Raymond. I don’t know how much I have.”
Raymond scowled. He then saw the c.o.s approach the table, “Fine.”
“Thank you,” Frank stood up, and he and the c.o.s left the table and Raymond.

“Nervous, hermanito?” Raymond asked as he drove SUV on the Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn-bound.
“A little,” Vincent was seventeen but still baby-faced. Sitting in the back seat of the vehicle, he was clothed in a blue graduation gown and cap. Vincent twiddled his thumbs.
“You should be damn proud, nino,” Xavier Ramos was a salt-and pepper haired man, gruff but good-hearted like a teddy bear. He sat in the passenger seat, next to Raymond. A retired mailman, Ramos was born a happy man. If he wasn’t, he would look for happiness. Taking care of his grandsons, the sons of his daughter, Nicolette, who died of leukemia, was a bittersweet moment, and Xavier looked at the sweetness.
However, Frankie Delgado came along, and Xavier saw him lower than shit. Both brothers were minors at the time, and Frank took custody, but he had Raymond peddle drugs. Xavier tried to get the boys, but Frank had money and lawyers. He almost had Vincent as a drug courier, if Raymond didn’t get caught and spill the beans to the cops. Xavier and his now-late wife, Annabella, did a great job raising Vincent, who became quite the bookworm. Neighborhood knuckleheads gave him trouble, but Raymond, after spending a nickel in the joint (could have been more, if he didn’t testify against Frank), taught him how to fight, and all those knuckleheads went running.
“Abuelito’s right, Vin,” Raymond agreed, “You’re gettin’ your diploma. Top honors. A scholarship. Goin’ to NYU to be a professor.”
Maybe a professor, Ray,” Vincent corrected.
“Okay. Maybe, but I’m jealous of you, man. You’re my hermanito, the first one of our family to go to college, and I’m jealous of you, man. You’re tough.”
“Are you trying to make me cry, Ray?”
“Is it working?”
Xavier’s eyes watered up. The brothers noticed and chuckled.
“Shut the hell up! I’m…I’m just happy!”
The brothers still chuckled.

“The wife of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the thirty-second president of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt said that the future belongs to those who believe in their dreams,” Vincent said as he stood in front of a dais on a stage in the auditorium of Brooklyn Technical High School. The audience was made up of his fellow graduates, their relatives, Xavier and Raymond.
“When I was younger, I dreamed, read and wrote. I look to the sky and floated on a cloud, despite where I live. Not of people understood me, but the ones who did-the ones who still do-they’re the ones I love and respect because they kept me on the road that leads here.”
As Vincent went on, Raymond pondered over what to do. He pondered more when Vincent finished his speech, the audience applauded and the moment of camaraderie among graduates who exchanged autographs and happy but somber and tearful farewells. This was his brother’s moment; neither Raymond nor Frank had any right to ruin it.
If you're going to visit your friend in the hospital, don't bring him or her hard-boiled eggs and nuts.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Messy desk that has a cool art book.
 One of my favorite photos of the 5 Pointz Area in Long Island City. It's going to be teared down soon.
I have to see this...
I have a Twitter account:

Sixty fun slogans to share. Got paid $350 by this company, a while ago:

1. Be quiet, if you have nothing to say.
2. Ladies, look down.
             3. Thinking brings you everything. Not thinking brings you nothing.
4. Sir, you're full of it, including the "s" and the "h"
5. What kind of fool are you: regular on unleaded?
6. A dollar spent is great.. .when it's not yours.
7. You're not a man, son, when you have college loans.
            8.  I want to know the name of the asylum that let you out last Christmas.
9. Beer: It's your friend and enemy.
10. Man + Woman=A whole lot of trouble.
11. Don't do anything, if you don't have a brain.
12. When I grow old, remind me why I don't like you.
13. Heaven on Earth is knowing you'll outlive your in-laws.
14. Who needs Hell...My job sucks!!!
15. If you want to be happy, don't have kids.
16. Being a nerd is being your own prophylactic.
17. When playing baseball, make a home run, but don't run home.
18. "I Love You": the three words men have trouble saying.
19. If your family hates you, you know you're adopted.
20. Kiss the cook when "he" cooks something.
21. The worst discount is paying full price.
22. People become lawyers so they won't be close to God.
23. Football's fun to watch. . .when your wife's not around.
24. Being smart and crazy makes you a perfect shrink.
25. Every newborn child should have a "Handle With Care" tag.
         26. Have your best pal say, "I Protest" when you're getting married at the altar.
27. There's a right way.. .and a guy's way.
28. Divorce.. .they should rename it Purgatory.
29. Life's good.. .when you're not working.
30. Give a person 7.5 minutes of fame, if they want more than 15.
31. If I want to be miserable, I'd join the priesthood.
32. Pay me $10 million, if you want to know my thoughts.
33. If you want to make sense, don't make dollars.
34. A politician's only honest when they're nude.
35. A dog beats a man in the loyalty department.
36. Love is the biggest crime in war.
37. Three sure things: death, taxes and no reality TV.
38. A bad joke is a good reason for getting punched.
39. "I'm pregnant" is the worst thing a parent could hear.
40. If you're an idiot, a village needs you.
41. Smile before you tell your boss where to go.
42. Politics and Religion is a marriage that won't last long.
43. Fooling a fool is too easy to outsmart.
44. A man's sexy when he cries. . .and he's not yours.
45. If you're being silly, be professional about it.
46. "Tough cookies" aren't just cookies.
47. I'd get a goat, if I wanted to be nagged at.
48. Heaven to a guy is looking up a lady's dress.
49. A woman wears the pants when she's not "in the mood".
50. A man playing with a football is really playing with his brain.
51. Disappoint your parents by picking Philosophy as a major.
52. Enlist in the army, if you want to be on a list.
53. You're doing great.. .if you're a klutz.
54. If you see the audience holding guns, get off the stage!!!
55. The only "left" conservatives like are the turns NASCAR drivers make.
56. WWW.GEEKTOPIA.COM: the official site of social rejects.
57. Getting high doesn't mean getting on top of a ladder.                                                                          
58. A six-pack of beer is mandatory when your child asks you about sex..
59. Don't wave the white flag, if you don't want a war to end.
60. A coward is useful.. .when everyone's brave.

If you're ever in Manhattan by Times Square, go by the Shake Shack.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Box

When I woke up last Saturday morning, I thank God that I could wake up with a roof over my head.

I went to my little bathroom that’s part of my little apartment on Elizabeth St., in the Bowery section of Manhattan. I turned on the faucet in the tub, hoping to take a warm bath, but the fixture burst water out of the wall.

“Fucking shit,” I muttered before I went to my bedroom. I went under my bed, pulled out my toolbox, opened it and got out my monkey wrench. With it, I fixed the fissure.

What I didn’t know was there was another one.

It was spraying water behind the wall and flowing into the hallways and apartments below mine. The tenants were fucking pissed. Five firefighters—one was a lieutenant—came knocking.

“These old buildings,” the lieu said, shaking his head, “Damn these old buildings.”

He ordered his men to shut down the water main for the whole building. They did. Bob Garcia, a bloated pear of a landlord, caught hell from the tenants and firefighters for being an asshole of a landlord. Me? I got a little homesick for my box.

Before I went to the local public bath house, I went by my box, my home on the street. It was still there on Broome St, long and low like a frontier coffin. Had four, small wheels. A heavy chain attached it, through a hole on the side, to a “No Standing” sign. No one in the area gave a shit about it. No one except me.

I took out a key out of my jeans, leaned over and worked the padlock on the chain. I opened an end of the box on its’ hinges and looked inside. A bag of underwear was the only item in there. It was for emergencies. I took it out, closed the box and sighed. I missed it. The box.

How I got into it was pretty shitty, if you think about it. I was the middle child of seven children, raised by Greg Moynihan. He used to own Pally’s, an old school Irish bar before he died. My mom, Sarah, used to be a secretary, working at St. Clare Roman Catholic School. She’s in a retirement home in Florida. We all used to live in Rosedale, Queens in the 1950s and 1960s. I attended Springfield Gardens while working on the side as the assistant of a local exterminator. Stan Ellison was an old friend of my dad. He looked like a science teacher. He never got married, and the collection of comic books and smut magazines he had in his basement made sure he couldn’t. I remember one job, in St. Clare Church, which was part of the elementary school I used to attend, the rats there were big as shoes. Stan and I used baseball bats to kill them. Those were good times.

So good I didn’t go to college and took over Stan’s business when he retired to Florida. I was in the Yellow Pages: Peter W. Moynihan, Licensed Professional Technician. I took down water bugs, rats, roaches, mice, maggots, termites and any pest.

Business was good. Shoeboxes filled with money were under my bed.

Then, I got a little addicted to the chemicals I used. Sure, they were dangerous. Dangerous and fun. I needed something better. I got reacquainted with some old pals from high school, and we did some drugs. I had a love for heroin. At first, I didn’t think I couldn’t get hooked. I thought I could quit anytime I wanted, but I was so fucking high, right was left and left was right to me.

When I turned twenty-four in 1979, I celebrated with a bit of a hit before getting on my Harley Davidson bike and visit a strip club in the Bronx. I was so high on my Harley; I barely avoided an oncoming car by my right. I swerved, landed near the Van Wyck Expressway, fell unconscious and woke up in the hospital with a cast on my right leg. The cast was on for over two months. I now limp a bit, and there’s a scar below the knee.

But back then, I couldn’t take the pain. Painkillers helped, but they made me dull, sleepy and lazy. I had a lot of drug runs in Manhattan. Not renewing my license got me in trouble with the city, and my habit got me kicked out from my family, let alone my parent’s home. I moved to the Bowery in 1984, specifically the Providence Hotel. It used to be a SRO (Single-Room Occupancy) building for people down on their luck. Now, it’s a home for high-pocketed assholes. While I was there, I kept to myself. Misery loves company, they say, but I had enough shit on my end, and I didn’t want someone else’s shit being stacked on me.

If I wasn’t at Providence, I was spending time in Ryker’s for possession of drugs or drug gear. Eighteen times out of twenty-five. The rest were for some street brawls. Some asshole, who thought they were a big, bad boss, either lost an eye or an ear, if they were fucking stupid to fuck with me. My Irish blood keeps me alive.

Then, one Friday morning in 1995, after being in the slam for a night, I ate some half-eaten hamburger I took from the ground. My money ran out, and I started sleeping in alleyways. I saw a guy, moving his head like a cobra as he walked. I went to him and gave him a piece of my food. Dodge was his name, like the automobile line. I thought he was trouble, at first, but he had a smooth voice and attitude. With those qualities, he got free stuff from local stores if he did some odd jobs, like cleaning up the windows or the sidewalk. Many times, we shared a bottle of $10 bourbon, when Dodge got paid. He was from North Carolina. When he turned sixteen and got fucking tired of his father beating the shit out of him for being “a queer”, he came here. Dodge was no queer when it came down to a fight with suburb kids harassed us. No sir, he wasn’t. He knew how to handle a broken bottle.

One day, I found him with the box. He dragged it behind him all over the Bowery, like a kid with a toy wagon. He was going to live in it, but he also found out that a cousin he had was living in Brooklyn. Of all the bums he met, he trusted me with the box.

With a discarded black marker, I wrote my name with a phony address on the side of the box and chained it to the pole on Broome St. The cops gave me no grief as long as I behaved myself. I did. I then found a battery-powered nightlight and slept between two sleeping bags. They were old and fucking smelly. My feet always hung out the open end, and I would drape a tarp over that end. Somebody could have bashed my head with anything hard and solid, if I slept the other way. The box was okay for the first three weeks, reading old copies of Swank, the Village Voice inside. When it got dark, I spend the time asleep and awake. Friday nights, Saturday nights and some holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve were hell. Drunks went by, teasing me by banging on the box and pouring some liquor. Assholes. Every single one of them.

Then I remembered I was six feet and two inches. I had to move around to sleep comfortably. When it rained or snowed, I snuggled tight to the bad. I could have died, but I didn’t want to. Hot nights were shitty too; the box became a sweatbox. One time, Billy, a street acquaintance, thought no one was in the box. The fuck didn’t bother to knock when he took a rock and unchained the box, while I slept in it. It rolled off the curb. A car horn woke me up, and I got sideswiped. Like a grizzly bear, I stumbled off the box, cursing up a storm. Billy ran away when he saw me. A woman with her son—probably five years old— went quickly back inside a newsstand. I knew I had enough of this shit and did something I’ve never did since I was thirteen.

I prayed. Inside the box, I prayed.

Two days later, Abe Fogell, a home improvement contractor, went up to me. He saw what happened to me with the box and offered two things: a job working for him and sharing his apartment, that’s around the corner from the box. $300 was my rent price. I took it.

Being a home improvement contractor nowadays isn’t so bad. It reminds me of the good old days, without the drugs. Alcohol’s out of my life, too. When I’m not working, I usually head to a methadone clinic on Cooper Square to stop my opiate cravings. I’m getting a lot better. Life’s getting a lot better. I do miss the box, though. It saved my life, even when I didn’t deserved to be saved, from life on a public bench or a shelter. I’ve heard bad things about shelter. You might as well be naked if you want to be in a shelter. Not me.

As I closed the box, I saw a homeless man—dirty, unshaven and lost—on the corner, going through a garbage bin. I looked at the box. I then walked over to the homeless man.