Monthly Archives: May 2011

It’s Chapter 11, and we hear the wino whine: “Why no wine?!”

And I tell him: “Duh, because I didn’t order any. Um…because I know next-to bubkes from wine.”
“At your age?” he persists.
“Yeah, sad, ain’t it.” I tell him. “Enjoy your Doctor Pepper.”

Now actually I do know a couple factoids about wine. I suppose I ought to list them here, in case anyone is conceivably more in the dark than moi.
1) Wine comes in two colours, ok, one colour (red) plus what they call ‘white’, which isn’t, it’s clear. Milk is white. Wine-folks lie a lot. As in:

2) Wet or dry? first off, ‘dry’ wine is just as wet as its opposite, which the vino-grads insist on calling ‘sweet’. Sorry, monsieur, the opposite of ‘sweet’ is ‘sour’. Get it together. Plus, you spill a half-bottle of ‘dry’ {sic} wine in your lap, you know it right away. Ok, maybe later, when you wake up, but still…
3) Wines each have their own un-pronounceable name, usually French or Italian. Like, there’s Chablis, for example (pron ‘CHAB-less’) and Cabernet (as in ‘cabinet’, but with an ‘er’) On second thought, don’t bother. You’ll only embarrass your illiterate ass. Personally, I’d rather be filmed ‘having my way’ with my rubber chicken entree at the head table than to be over-heard murdering a dying language. And finally:
4) Wines have dates attached. Kinda like automobiles, so you can tell if you got a nice fresh recent one. And like cars, I usually go with the oldest one on the shelf. Figure, it probably costs a lot less.
So there ya go. Oh, some of the Italian wines come in a jug-thingy, with a thumb-hole so you can pour it down your throat easier. But now we’re beyond the scope of this article, not to mention the woven straw baskets some of the wines come in. When I find out more, I’ll post it here. I’m only 62, remember.

Wu: Sounds to me like you’re expecting an elegant visitor and you’re panicking, afraid you’ll reveal your class-less sorry self.
Me: Hmm…you little spy, you! And anyway,not just ‘elegant’, no, this is the woman they freaking named elegance after. Like ‘Hellenistic’, after what’s her name, Helen somebody from Troy, NY. A rocket engineer, she worked in the control room at Vandenburg for like decades. ‘The face that launched a thousand space-ships’.
Wu: Yer babbling, guy. Get a hold of yourself. Do a dry-run somewhere. Practice.
Me: No funds, Wu. This is chapter 11, you read the title? Plus steaks, that’s just more problems..
Wu: What’s to worry? There’s ‘Rare’, you don’t encounter them often so no problem there, then ‘Medium’, they’re the steaks which channel your ancestors’ spirits from underneath the table; you need that like another nose, so pass, and finally, my expert advice, ‘Well Done’. Like, duh, the name sez it all, Johnny…
Me: How come now I’m even more nervous?

A chicken egg? “Oh, about a hunnderd-dollar…”

   Ok, it doesn’t take a Rain-man savant to figure I might have paid a bit more than market price for my first ‘free’ breakfast omelet. The cage including lathe frame, full chicken-wire around and above, the nesting stand, feed dishes, feed at 70 shekels for 30 kilos, yeah, the numbers add up.
Seven (7) days I waited patiently after their arrival, until the pleasant surprise just a few minutes ago. Admirably non-judgemental t’was I. No scolding sign screaming “Eggs or Schnitzel, you-uns decide!”, no standing near the coop demonstratively looking at my watch muttering under my breath “Time is money, pigeons.”
Kinda reminds me of my style with customers. I always prefer to let them pay on their own volition, even if I have to mingle with ’em near the frozen fish at the supermarket without commenting on the debt. I’m thought of in these parts, for my kindness, as a total sucker; a ‘freier’ is our word for it, presumably from yiddish. Yet the warm feeling of allowing someone, some fellow ‘there but for fortune go I’ to pay when he gets the cash is as rewarding for me as it is for him. I hope.
Anyway, the egg pictured works out to about 350 shekels, not including labour. Here, eggs are less than a shekel apiece, not to mention that the little egg  from the proud Arabian hen weighs less than I can jism on a good hair day if I like you.
Oh well. I’ll get back to ya’all in about a year with a further business report.

On a sadder note, I wasn’t just sitting around licking paper plates this week. Helped out with a video-shoot for a local winery. Even finessed a gig for a buddy of mine, Murphy, as a stage-hand. He’s short, real short; in fact one leg is shorter than the other; possibly un-diagnosed childhood polio.
Anyway, he was happily carrying grapes onto the stage when a couple of the owners arrogantly decided to roughly remove him from the scene, squashing produce in the process. I’m assuming they feared the ‘runt’ might be caught on-camera, damaging their image and product-placement.  Sad. I really debated calling the local rag-sheet,
the ‘Netanya Tattler’ to do an expose on their thoughtlessness.
If they had an English edition, they could have run with the headline:
Group of loco locals gripe; grope ‘grupsich‘ grip’s grapes.”
Oh well, me’n Murph will never drink Shabby Bros Chablis ever again. Serves ’em right.
 Now back to breakfast…

Wu: File under ‘shoulda happened’.
Me: Fair enough, but the egg is real, guy. I’m not that good in Photoshop.

From Russia with Love… kinda

     Svetlana was right, looking back…and down. The roof collapsed about 3 AM. But first:
“Johnny, lets just ditch this douche-bag of a dacha.” was her heavily-accented reaction when we first saw the storm damage. I wasn’t swayed, having sold my only gold to buy the place, from a fly-by-night outfit, B-C-A Ltd. “B near the C of A-zov!” they boasted, luring me in for the kill.
“Dear, we can weekend in the weakened structure, at least.” I suggested,looking for a compromise.

The grounds were full of junk when we arrived the following Thursday evening; tin cans, tuna tins, canteens, scraps of roofing flashing. We hadn’t seen it earlier, on the first visit after the storm. I started to put the stuff in a box, for recycling by weight. She frowned: “All that glitters is not gold.” Svetya pronounced smugly.
“But all that litter’s not that old.” I ‘corrected’ her. “Gee,just think of the pennies we’ll get for this treasure trove.”
Svetlana was already at the front door, hanging on one hinge with its window smeared in Black Sea mud. She wrote with her finger, the letters looking oddly Cyrilic: “YRUNYMI Here?” I struggled with the ‘Russian’ until I sounded it out.
“To take a leak, I guess.” I tossed off as I walked to the corner of the yard to piss. When I came back my ‘partner in Crimea’ was still there, this time writing, in the space available “CCCP”. “Now that’s Russian.” she scolded me. “Means ‘a failed little hut where we urinate in public’.”
    And so some time later that night the sounds started; the tentative screeches of cheap-steel nails pulling out of their positions. Having vouched for the structure’s integrity, I put my hands over her ears as she fell back asleep.
Svetya was lucky. The main beam missed her, instead falling squarely across my neck. I never had a chance. I hear she’s since restored the place, turned it into a ‘zula’ Oh well.

(taken mostly verbatim from last night’s dream)

Flowers for OBL

Don’t panic; ‘OBL’ is, and was, (long before the current infamous Slain Beast who usurped her name),
‘Ordinaria been Louden’, aka Ordinary-but Loud,  an always captivating writer and positive presence on
I’d asked publicly here ‘for whom the cacti bloom?” a few days ago, and now the mystery seems to
have been solved! OBL’s birthday is tomorrow, 5 May, and my fervent succulents must’ve sensed it
hanging in the air.
Gaze at the photo, y’all. Prettier than any Pentagon exit/entrance wounds by a wide margin. God kinda knows what he’s doing, in the long run, it turns out.
But how did the eye-less ear-less prickly guys know it was her birthday? Probably thru spy-satelite
intercepts, but I’ll get our own spooks on it right away. We’re not too shabby on remote ops ourselves,
if I may boast a bit.

John and Paul Beat-ified? Beats me

    I get my news from an iffy WIFI/Google-News connection. Yesterday I could load only the headlines, so I’ll have to extrapolate a bit on my own I guess.
First question: So what about George and Ringo? I mean, Ringo even kept the beat in the Beatles, kind of.
Oops, maybe it said beautified’. Ok, I can see doing a make-over for Paul and Ringo on a modest budget. John and George might indeed need the 1.5 million bucks the Vatican donated to the cause, if I read the news right.
Maybe I underestimate the relious depth of the whole process; after all, I got just this little blurb to go on. Alan Watts talked about ‘Be here now’ in his famous book. Probably the latest thinking is that man needs to like, ‘Be somewhere, whatevah’ and we’re starting with the stars, role-models for today’s nowhere men?
Wait. No comma between John and Paul, I just noticed. I may be like embarrassingly all wet.

Forget everything up to here. It’s Pope John Paul, duh! And they’re taking his You-tube clips, and adding a modern beat, drums and bass… maybe touching up his hair and nails in the process? Now if I can ever get videos to load I’ll have something to say on the subject. Something a little smarter.

Hmm, could be. Then again maybe not. Beats me. I gotta ‘be-at’ work in ten minutes.

Discretion and Secrets: (from the training manual)

Nothing incriminating to reveal here, although I do kinda blow Rules 1 and 2 below.
Feels like almost since birth I have been counted on to keep secrets. Maybe everyone has. Hard to tell; the best of ’em never let on.
Whether it’s a lifetime of private romantic affairs, or watching a million dollars of contraband being cut up, weighed and bagged in your bedroom, or digging tunnels underground at night to circumvent OSHA,  constructing bullet-proof aliases for assets, or, hell, lets even add going to second grade with your cereal-box Ped-ometerĀ® hot-wired, to silence that tell-tale ‘click’, fearing its confiscation or theft by bullies, keeping secrets… yeah, it’s who I am. Without further ado:

Rule One: Never, ever, divulge the Truth. A kind of ‘duh’ foundation-premise. The devil, though is in the details, as usual.

Rule Two: Don’t even let on that you ‘have’ a secret. We could call this ‘Poker-face 101’. Prepare, in advance, diversionary talking-points for when you feel threatened. Both to lead the adversary astray, and equally, to keep your own mind and facial expression off the subject.

Rule Three: The toughest one. Learn to portray yourself widely as a simple-minded dumb-fuck, to whom no one in his or her right mind would share anything worthy of confidence.

And therein we have The Problem. I am nothing if not a machine on two legs which thrives emotionally on his public image as a quick-witted, over-endowed thinker. ‘Smart enough to pretend convincingly to be stoopid’; sounds easy on paper; I cain’t seem to pull it off well these days.

I could go on about Technique: Dirtying ones hands believably before using the ‘flat-tire’ excuse for lateness, the standard Scotch-tape on the door-frame, raking the sand smooth, ready for footprints, behind yourself on every exit, carefully checking sight-lines, work-habits, plate numbers…
One small agricultural test-plot here might raise questions; I’m undecided between using
A) “Hmm.. looks like whoever farmed here before had some monkey-business on the side.”

“Yeah, that’s a rare Purple Aster, it’s called ‘Mock-cannabis’, whatever that means.”

Or C) “I’ve never seen Okra come up looking like that. Think I oughta ask for my money back?”

I’ll decide, when the time comes, in extremis I guess. The truth, ‘not for me, for a friend’, only makes things worse, I hear. And greenery is only a small side-show among my challenges.
One could say that eternal vigilance keeps you on your toes. Pins and needles is perhaps more accurate. The little pricks and wounds sometimes become infected.
But the newly-understood down-side, and why I chose to write this, is that ceaseless fabrication relentlessly drives out true memory, especially at my advanced age. I am currently working over-time trying to remember and reconstruct every possible detail of my life with the dear girl pictured in the last post, and I find myself repeatedly ‘remembering’ vignettes, only to realize that they are/were, in fact, tactical cover-stories, useful at the time and then not cleanly erased.
‘JB’, a dear friend and successful ‘merchant’ in his day, once revealed one of his tricks: ‘Tell a guy three things he already knows, in ‘confidence’, so to speak, and he’ll almost always knee-jerk tell you something you didn’t know.’ It worked well for him.
He also told me once : “You couldn’t do what I do.”, without explaining exactly why not. Hurt my feelings at the time, but I may now be starting to understand. Nothing, no earthly reward, is, for me, worth the price of presenting myself as a clue-less out-of-the-loop player. It goes against my grain, and he sensed that.

Wu: Readers are lining up as we speak to play against you in poker, knowing  now that they’ll see your current hand reflected in your eyes.
Me: Aw, I’m working on it, Wuzie. Practicing once again in a mirror.
Wu: But your heart’s not in it anymore, right?
Me: What heart?