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Book 4. Paradise to Paradise Portals, A Music Business Q and A, Seagulls In The Snow…

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Book 4. Paradise to Paradise Portals, A Music Business Q and A, Seagulls In The Snow…

 We are here this fine evening, Tuts, Mary, myself and approximately three hundred others, for a concert.at Christ Church Methodist Church in Market Square. A genuinely beautiful two hundred plus year old,  “old-time House Of God” polished Mahogany rafters and pews, hanging lamps, elevated preacher boxes and discreet iconic Methodist symbols methodically placed to maximize the opportunity for methodological salvation..

 The last time I was in this Church, it was dark and very late at night. I was a  fifteen year old teenage boy, on my knees, and begging God for a miracle intervention in the  just reported pregnancy of my teenage girl friend. A Solomonic miracle was delivered, no pregnancy, but a (our) child would come anyway, only a few years later.

So, I feel an unusual reverence for and a strong personal connection to this church, and to the direct connect “paradise to paradise” portal that may still be floating from pious to pew in this magical place.

 The concert presents a brass ensemble from UVI (The University Of The Virgin Islands) along with a few young (and quite good) singers (Junior High School) and various combinations of older singers (duets, trios) from various schools and Churches around the Island.

There is some mighty fine and sincere singing and the brass ensemble fills the Church with wonderful harmony. The Church in turn, creates and returns some extraordinary harmonics. We are awash, bathed in a sea of beautiful sound, coming and going and swirling all around us, up our noses in our ears, in side and out side, from head to toe. I leave vibrating like a polytonal pitchfork, porked and done, it was wonderful.

A desperate gent from New Zealand came by “Shaky Acres” recently, asking for help. His wife is relapsing on crack. She sent him out to sell her ring and he came here instead. We spoke with him, got him some NA Numbers and sent him back to see the MD that had been successful in leveraging his wife into treatment in the first place. I gave him my number. Later, I led a ninth tradition meeting, it’s unbelievable how flipsos and dipsos and dopes, actually developed and sustain a program as radically effective as 12 step process, one that actually saves lives all day and night all over the place, all over the world. A process that  actually works if you work it.

A Music Business Q and A.  

I recently went to the UVI library and the car broke down in one of the parking lots (this one is on the very top of the hill just behind the library), while waiting for repair, I sang “standards” into the wind, for three hours. “Answer Me My Love” “This Love Of Mine’ “Mona Lisa” “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” “You Belong To Me” “Smile” “The Way You Look Tonight” “Some One To Watch Over Me” and four or five others. It was great fun. I just love to sing and I just love these songs.

I need to find a way to record some of these tunes they are timeless and wonderful..  

However, that is so much easier said (sung) than done. The whole freakin’ crazy business of making music for fun and profit, is like a  toxic mudball of megalo-maxi-maniacs, divvied up into starry eyed Tinker Pans and hook fingered Captain Crooks.” Unfortunately, it seems like the solution to dealing with these folks is buried smack dab and dribble, in the middle of the always elusive swiss cheese riddled Executive Center of the even more elusive grilled ham and swiss cheese pickled and riddled brain.

 In fairness tho, my problems with the music business is just part of my across the board problem with authority. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that I’m an anarchist, I truly do understand the value of organization and the need for empathy and practicality in governance, but I am a child of chaos (generations of active, often violent alcoholism) “blessed” with hyper-vigilance, meaning the ability to sense and see danger, duplicity and dishonesty.

Consequently while I acknowledge, appreciate and embrace the real need for an organized cooperative effort to plan for, develop and sustain any career in the arts, and fully realize (from long personal experience) that artists can’t do it all by them selves, I deplore the fact that so many of the people who have stepped in to manage and market musical artists, and the businesses around them, have been so God-awfully hypocritical, self-seeking and dishonest.

The answers to the multifaceted question of how and why the music business “collapsed” are long and multifaceted themselves. Within the larger question, are a number of less general, more specific questions, the answers to which, when added together (but not counting serendipity) provide some thing close to  the sum total of what happened.

Among them this..

The question of how many singers (and other musical artists) with great and potentially wide appeal, became pigeonholed or typecast (meaning “locked” into one type of song, one type of music) is interesting, the answer to this “secondary” question, I think provides some insight into the larger one.

 Here’s an attempt to illustrate how this sort of thing occurred..

Singers are one thing, audiences are another. If a singer sings a song that is particularly moving or satisfying or rewarding for an audience member, the audience member is likely to want the singer to “do that again”. What could be more natural?

 If the audience member actually had some control over the singer they might be tempted to use that control to try to recreate the satisfying reward experience for themselves. That’s fairly natural also,

However, while a singer might  do a few “requests” the singer wouldn’t turn the control over what he or she sings to an audience member for long, as that would be silly and potentially self destructive. Simply because the audience member will naturally try to create a series of reward experiences primarily for them selves.

If the musical judgement of the singer is permanently superceded by the subjective reward seeking judgment of an individual audience member, chances are good, the outcome will be bad.

If the audience member is in fact a record executive (generally, a group of people with no more musical talent or taste or knowledge than any other group of lawyers or accountants). and the reward that the executive gets from the singer singing a particular song or type of song is money and job security, then it’s easy to understand why they would want (and if they had the control, make) the singer do the same type of thing over and over until the reward response is exhausted.  At that point an audience member (or executive) might say I don’t like him as much as I used to, he’s not as good, he’s just not that interesting anymore,…and move on to the next singer, to repeat the same cycle all over again.

 Of course, It isn’t smart for any artist/singer to allow that to happen to him or her however, once you signed with a record company, the contract specified, (for most of us), that they had the control over every thing..including selection of material, producer, arranger, musicians,  when, where and what you would record. And,..releases. Who, what when and which recordings to release and to promote and when and what to spend on the promotion of the recording, and finally, when and what to give the artist as payment,

And remember,  for the most part (with the exception of the break out up and coming “new guy” who was quickly absorbed by the established biz) the  music business executives were a small, relatively closed fraternity made up of men who knew, agreed with, were protective of and supported one another.

 So while it wasn’t smart or creative or satisfying, you didn’t protest or resist it, or you might wind up as a sixty four year old “broke to the bone” singer, fighting mano a mano with sixty pounds of angry mosquitoes over a vienna sausage, down in the steaming hot bongo isles. Theirs was the only game in town, and the great majority of singers (and musical artists of every kind) have had their lives, their art, and their careers compromised and all too often, seriously damaged by it…not to mention how cheated the real audience was and is,  of all that music, that they never and will never have the opportunity to enjoy.

 I think any one can see, that it’s not good business for an executive to have that sort of control over a musical artist because..

1.     That kind of constrictive thinking immediately narrows the potential and appeal of the artist, and then it’s only a matter of time before the audience gets tired of the same old thing over and over again.

 2.     The singer or musical artist is by nature (or performance experience), more musically in tune with the broad spectrum of audience likes and dislikes than any individual audience member would be. Therefore, the musical artist is the one most appropriate to make the musical choices. Their job is to “take their audiences with them” for as long and as far as they can go. If a artist were free to  give their audiences diversified  interesting offerings, it could mean life long interest and product sales. Ah..kinda like the Beatles.

 3.     The old paradigm approach was short-sighted, exploitive and destructive to the Art of music, the Artists that made it, and the audiances who loved the music. Destructive to the very things that the business of the music business depended on.

 And now that the short-sighted have blown their paradigm, without laying the ground work for a new one, they have left themselves, their artists and their larger audiences up crits squeek with out a paddle.

 Other “so called” smart people have literally stolen the music business away from the music business, and while the new “smart guys” haul in the digits hand over fist, Artists are in an even more vulnerable situation than before.

 I hope that Artists will be able find a way to organize themselves (and their multigenerational audiences) to take control of the entire chain from creation to collection, because it is painfully clear that these new raptors, ah I mean business men, care even less (if possible) about the Art of Music, the Artists that make music, and the people that they make it for, than the previous raptors, ah..business men did. We shall see. I will try.

Seagulls In The Snow

I looked out my window in the states this morning, and by God there were seagulls in the snow. They were diving and dipping and flying in crazy circles, and who knows why. I am presently a hundred miles from the Sea, but one block from the Susquehanna. I’m not surprised that these guys go where they wanna go and do what they wanna do, they are fantastical.

I see them as romantic flying herds of diminutive, ravenous, omnivorous Dinobirds, singing a wacked out song-a-lingo that stirs the heart and has stood the test of (millions of universal “circle the sun” units of) time.

What a pleasure to see and hear them here, I hope our song lives as long, I like ‘em.

 

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BOOK 4. A Nip of Nepotism

February 26, 2010 Leave a comment

BOOK 4. A Nip of Nepotism  

I was talking with Tuts at Shaky Acres recently, when something in my pocket started to attack me. Rather than a noxious, notorious tropical pocket skink, it turned out to be my trusty telephone, vibrating like a lusty electric jumping bean.

“Allo? Allo?” sez me, and within two words of the response, I’d recognized a voice I hadn’t heard in fourteen years or more, as belonging to one of my favorite people in the world “Jon Mayer, The Jive talking, Piano Playing, Be Bop King of the 13th Galaxy and the world” (I call him that, he makes no such claim, except for the be bop piano player part.)

 He is much more humble about himself than I am about himself, (which may play a part in why he enjoys talking with me) Jon and I have traveled through more than one world of woe together and shared the dramatics of traversing the seemingly endless grey quicksand between the dark and the light in the far in and far out Californias.

He is a very funny fellow and is kind enough to pretend to be amused by the products of my own pitiful wit and my efforts to keep up with him in conversation. After a number of laughs he got my email address and said he was sending me a link to his newest and first video. After viewing it (a beautiful rendition of the classic “On Green Dolphin Street”) I felt an obligation to be frank in my email response, which is copied here.

 “Dear Sir,

I must say I became quite anxious for you while watching the video, I would have thought that in preparation for such an important engagement as one in an official concert hall in a far away and foreign country, you would have learned the whole song all the way through, and practiced it at least enough times to be able to play the blasted melody. 

Why, at one point or another, you must have played every friggin’ note on the piano looking for the melody. And then just when it looked like you’d found it you forgot it all over again, and the guy playing that big “ukulele on a stick” had to take over for you while you tried to find your place.

I was so relieved when it ended and the people seemed not to notice what had happened and gave you a nice round of applause and (because I know that you take a certain pride in your looks)  it was very nice that some of them even whistled at you.

 I’ve been told that the longer one stays away from  food additives and other naughty chemistry the better ones memory gets, however that hasn’t happened for me, because it seems the longer I stay away form the bad stuff, the older I get. And the older I get, the less I can remember. So my advice is that you’d better be real nice to the guy who plays that “ukulele on a stick thingy”, because you’re going to have to rely on him more and more and more.

Your friend and #1 or 2 (depending on how your current wifey feels about you) fan,

Scott  

 Jon is a real beauty; we were together in California when the “new John Mayer” started to become known. What an experience, it was for him; you work all of your life to get your name out there and bouf! It was really disorienting.

I must say, he responded like the Be Bop Maestro that he is.

I have a little “kinda likea” experience when I google myself or am confused with or accused of imitating some of the folks that imitate me, but dang!

In Mayer’s case because the other lad is fairly gifted too it ultimately reflected well on the name…but can you imagine?

Anyway, I love my friend, Jon Mayer, and if you like Be Bop you will too. I’m delighted to have heard from him. Here’s his link

www.youtube.com/mrjazzjon

 Back on the “confused with trail,” some folks get me mixed up with my son “little Scott” who is a writer, a former producer for Dr. Wiel, A Chef and a Caterer in New York City. When that occurs I get demands for more information about “Butch Australia” or natural remedies for Hammer Toe or for my super secret recipe for soup for sixty (I always start by saying “Well…first you gotta scoop ten gallons of Hudson River water into a Zabar’s brown paper shopping bag and”..) (I tell ‘em the same thing for both Hammer Toe AND secret soup)

 I get calls from “Mothers in Laws to be”, insisting that they should come right over to my pad to taste my recipe for “Caribbean Gefilte Fish” or “Langousta de La Sahara” or something else equally intriguing, like Belgian Guacamole over frozen Alaskan truffle fish, (My beautiful Bix makes the most extraordinary (and super delisioso) cultural culinary combos probably because of his family’s Virgin Islands background combined with my own), The boy is a major cris-cross of culture combos himself)

  These “Mothers In Laws to be” ladies, do this in anticipation of hiring me (actually him but they’re confused, Capeche?) to cater their daughters and “sons in laws to be’s” “Weddings Of The Century”. When that happens I always say “Yes yes of course my dear flower plum, but first I’ll have to run over to my fish traps at Hells Gate to see if we’ve managed to catch any Caribbean Gefilte Fish amongst all the funny little Hudson River White Fish in there” That usually gets them off the line in a hurry! 

 The Bix’s mother, the beautiful “Annalee” ah.. I mean Patricia, (here she is telling her story “Betty Crocker and The Mango Tree”)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5pTKr321yk

calls from time to time complaining that the Bix’s business has fallen off, I listen and cluck along with her…”Yes yes, he’s such a smart boy, yes yes, he’s such a handsome fellow, yes yes, he’s such a wonderful Chef.. (I hope it never occurs to her that the problem may begin when people try to contact him and wind up talking recipes with me instead) After all it’s her fault, she’s the one that insisted on naming him Scott, I was going to name him “Little Maxie Whatchamacallya”)

Ah well…I promise you the Bix is a much much much better cook than I am, here’s his link http://www.tipofthetonguenyc.com/

 (As a matter of fact almost anyone who doesn’t start with ten gallons of Hudson River water is a much better cook than I am)

 And while we are, or rather while I am, practicing nepotism, here’s a link to my beautiful boy Archie’s (no, not Little Archie’s) online comic book. http://skullforcecomics.blogspot.com/

 and a LINK to my long lost but recently found, beautiful son Stephin’s site  http://www.houseoftomorrow.com/

 My little girls have better sense than to let their Dada know any thing about how to find THEIR websites, let alone what the heck is on them. You’ll just hafta google ‘em to find out.

Incidentally, on that Hudson River soup, I just want you to know that you won’t need to salt or season it in any way. That soup base is so fraught with exotic seasonings of every kind that it bubbles before it boils…it’s really quite exciting.

I would say you ought to try it, but there’s no way that I’m going to be responsible for that. It’s kinda like that Japanese Blowfish thing, except I hear there’s an eight in ten chance you’ll survive the blowfish, but if you get a Hudson River White Fish stuck in your throat,  brother you’re gonna have an irresistible urge to hang or shoot yourself within seconds.

 Well, that’s just about all I know about soup, weddings, natural remedies and baked Alaskan ice cubes…

 P.S.

Here is a link to MAAC the collective that I’m hooked up with in the states http://www.middletownarts.com

And the collective’s performance space, AKA Union Street Blues http://unionstreetblues.net

 

Book 4. and Book 1. The Boy Who Stowed-away, all the way to Baltimore.

February 22, 2010 Leave a comment

 Book 4. and Book 1. The Boy Who Stowed-away, all the way to Baltimore.

I’m heading back to the states today and I am somewhat anxious. I Know that I’m singing well, and I know that the individual songs and spoken word pieces included in the one man presentation of the “Virgin islands Songs” are good, and further that the presentation (or show) itself is good. However, I have never been able to successfully manage the management of the business of any or all of, this, that, them, or those things.

 I have made a commitment to do better (to do what better? to do everything better) and I am committed to the bitter or, lets say, better end. Why? Because as my hero Popeye sez, “I yam whats I yam” And, if it’s yams we gots, then it’s yams we gets to bring to market. We shall see what we shall see.

My comrades from the MAAC collective ah..ah.. I mean friends from the MAAC (Middletown Area Arts Collective). Have said that they will be meeting me, I hope that there is no last minute email change of plans because there is no email in the present configuration of things, as all systems are go and our electricals have fallen away…the next number in the countdown is “giddyup!

And giddyup we did, over to the airport, where all Airlines computers were down…and every untrained trainee was called in to do things they knew not how. I will leave the clever caustics to the 1000 or so other folks who swore vengeance and worse and simply say “Oy vey Caraho!”

As the soup (or mess) tumbled, I surfaced for a moment and found myself in the airport terminal at Isla Verde, Puerto Rico for the first time in many years. I began to think back on how it used to be.

Me mind seized on one transiting in particular, one fine early evening where in I arrived at Isla Verde, as a 16 year old stowaway from St. Thomas.

Like everyone else I was required to change planes here if I wished to continue on beyond… There were a number of things about that trip that were out of the ordinary among them the fact, the happy fact that I was not weighed down by any luggage whatsoever, or required to stand in any lines and interact with overwhelmed airlines personnel. Instead, I spent my time in a warm and hilarious conversation (en espaniol) with a wonderful “Jibaro” gentleman with a bottle of Don Q in his hand.

He was on his way to “New York” for the very first time, and was happy to have someone to talk and share his rum with, and I was happy to listen and refuel.

I was 16,  fully ignited, and had been burning incandescently forty-five minutes earlier, when I had walked off Lindbergh beach, jumped the airport fence in St. Thomas, and stepped on to Caribair flight number “who the heck knows”. I sat down next to a beautiful teenage tourista girl, let her know that I was stowing away and that she was now a co-conspirator to high adventure down in the Bongo Isles.

 In her defense, I will say that I was quite a pretty fellow in those days, and the process of reconciling such a pretty young man-child with bizarre behavior in the extreme, generally takes more than the thirty minutes required to fly from St. Thomas to Puerto Rico.

It is likely, even probable, that at precisely thirty one minutes she would have leapt up from her seat screaming and imploring all the other passengers and crew to “For Gods sakes grab this kid and tie him up for his own safety, American Civilization and the future of Rock and Roll” but fortunately for me, American Civilization and Rock and Roll, we had a good tailwind.

Once in Puerto Rico (in spite of the strong and dangerous environmental toxins continually kabooming in my brain) I had the gentlemanly good sense to bow graciously and step aside allowing her to run to the waiting arms of her family, out of my teenage reality and back into her own.

I of course now had to improvise and implement my next action, but first I had to figger out what it would be.

When I realized that I had successfully stowed away to Puerto Rico (Something that every pair of eyes that ever watched a beautiful DC 3 sweeping up up up into the air banking over the sea bound for where ever they wished to be, had wished to do) I heard the stillest smallest voice say “Hey, What the heck is the que pasa that’s goin on?” I answered it saying “Don’t worry about a thing, I’m going to the states to see my father and make Rock And Roll records”

But, first how to do it and first, first, the Don Q.

In those days the terminal was a wonderfully open-air tropical affair that I was very familiar with. There was one long main “ticketing floor” running east to west, where all the airlines had their counters. I was partial to Pan American, having flown with “the world’s most experienced Airline” many times, but was no stranger to Eastern either, in any case, I sussed out the sitch, and discovered that there was a stairway out to the tarmac where the big transcontinental boys were being prepared for their next hop. When I got out there, one of them was all lit up and appeared to be more ready than the others,  I walked up the loading stairs through the empty interior and to the lavatory  (coming down the aisle) on the left. In ten minutes they began to load the plane and twenty minutes after that, we started rolling.

I was congratulating my self on arranging my own trip to Miami, when the overhead cheerfully welcomed everyone aboard Eastern Airlines flight number “who the heck knows” to Baltimore and Philadelphia,

After takeoff, I stepped out of my private compartment and took a seat next to a grown up gent that I knew (by sight only) from St. Thomas. I told him what I was up to, and he seemed somewhat shocked and frightened. I dismissed him as square and unadventurous even though he did buy me a drink.

I closed my eyes and before you know it we were landing in Baltimore. An interesting element that I hadn’t considered was that it was winter, and I was wearing white dungarees and a bright flowery Island shirt open to my belt buckle, the elementary element came to my consciousness when I got a blast of winter wind upon disembarking at Friendship Airport.

By now I had decided that, I would tell the good folks at travelers aid (in Spanglish) that I had gotten on the wrong plane in San Juan, and would they be kind enough to redirect me to Miami which was after all, as anyone could see by my clothing, my intended destination. I felt confident that my idea was working until I was nabbed by the Baltimore Police who happened to be at the airport  looking high and low for a teenage boy, who had escaped from a local “Juvie” facility.

In any case, or rather to avoid serving out his sentence for Lord knows what and how long I was able to convince them that I actually wasn’t from these parts and didn’t know a thing about zip guns, rumbles and hotrods. Unfortunately, to prove it, the clever devils insisted I give them the name and phone number of my poor dear put upon, poor dear Mudder dear.

Ah my poor dear Mudder dear, good lord awmighty I burdened her aplenty…and though she would often look directly at me and say “Bonehead, I want you to know that I have ESP” for some reason  she wasn’t quite able (from only two thousand five hundred miles away) to pick up on and grok my whole convoluted spanglish confabulations with out the benefit of having spoken to me, and consequently, inadvertently let slip that No, I wasn’t the son of a wealthy Castiliano, traveling unaccompanied for the first time to “La Florida” unaccustomed to attending to trifles beneath him, including such things as  airline tickets, identification and the sundry mundane like.

Ah well, Travelers Aid was kind enough to put me up in the YMCA over night, where I was able to jive a gent into getting me a six pack of beer and a newspaper which was full of advertisements for Rock and Roll Shows all over the Baltimore, Washington D.C. Area. Loud Beautiful ads jam packed with excitement. Ads that I read and looked at over and over all night long.

In the Morning, before I could do even a single interview with LIFE or LOOK magazine about my adventure and to launch my career, the Baltimore Police and Travelers Aid put me on a plane back to the Islands. 

Ah well I’d just have to settle for the attention and admiration generated by my peers for “The boy who stowed away. Not once but twice, all the way to Baltimore”

Ah my poor Mudder Dear…  

Book 1 and 4. Captian Hookfoot

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Book 1 And 4.  Captain Hookfoot

(A Piece of Spoken Calypso Comedy from my new Musical “The Virgin Islands Songs”. I Hope that you are able to understand and enjoy it)

It came to pass that one day dem boy an me was warm up to go ana expedition way doung doung doung in de wes to Bordeaux Bay to fine de gol lef dare in de days of ol by de pirates of ol dat somebody say dey kno fo sure, was hide up in de top of a tamon tree.

We had quite a long ways to go an many a place to see before we would return home dat evening. Fus, on de way to Bordeaux we plan to stop by de ol Plantations at Filamingo Pon an de ol Plantation in Fortuna to pick up whatever treasure we could fine along de way den continue on to Botney Bay an clean out de treasure doung dere befo we dig up de big one at Bordeaux an bring it home.

 My secret hope was dat we would only fine a likkle bit of treasure along de way, quick quick so dat we would’n fine ourself all de way doung Bordeaux after de night fall in de ol winswep an abandoned ruins doung dere in de in de pitch black dark night.

 Now, I kno how tu preten tu be brave when people watchin jus like anybody else, but lemme tell yu sumting, I have seen almost grown man bawlout fo de muddah when dey tink a Jumbie hol dem or see a Jumbie commin. An boy don tink fo a minute dat doung dae ain de home a Jumbie, hundreds a dem an more. (Jumbie like sanfly) De minute de sun go down an shadows fall on dem, de Jumbie dem come pourin up out de groun an dropping doung ou de tree to see wha goin on… Laad meboy, yu don’t wan to be de ting dey fine. Jumbie frum all part a de worl me boy every one a dem wan to climb up in yu brains an take ovah de driving.

 Jumbie fighting Jumbie all jumble up an top a one annudah, Carib Jumbie, trying to eat up de Arawak Jumbie wha fighting wid de Spaniard Jumbie who fighting wid de Cha Cha Jumbie who fightin wid de English Jumbie who clashin wid de Dane man and de wild eye African Jumbie an all a dem fighting wid Black tooth de Pirate Jumbie excepin if somebody who ain dead fall in wid dem, den every las one a dem Jumbie gon jump on he to see who could suck out he eye an climb in he coconut tu come back to life.

 Das wha de Jumbie wan tu do yuh kno, take ovah yu coconut, an jump on yu donkey and go back town an preten like he is you, an take away yu wife an yu girlfrien, Yes man dat happens all de time.

 Well like ah sae, we was ready fo de high adventure, Bucky an Brudsie an Boomie an Tutie and Tutsie an Papoon an de res a dem boy, de only problem was who gon be who, everybody wan to be Roy Rogers an ride in de front ah de donkey. Not me dough, I is Gene Autry de singing cowboy an nobody cain argu wid dat, I could be who I wan to be because is my donkey an I gon ride in de front. All de same, de Laad ha sen a bunch a donkey, man we had bou tree o fo a dem. Among dem is de one wha ah have to keep me eye on de mos because he is nuttin but a schupid jackass wha broke me bowstick when ah was protekkin me lil jenny gurl Madras, I wouldda stay behine ahe exceppin Gene Autry got to lead de geang, so ah wa goin tu have tu go doung de road kina sideways.

All de same alla dem Roy Rogers an Lash Larue an de Long Rangeah an Jungle Jim (wid de inscruchable Fu Man Chu thro in in dey) every one a dem tink dey should be leadin de ban, an das ok wid me becausin de only time I acktually really got tu be in front is when de Jumbie dem cumin frum behine.

 If yu wan tu kno de trut, when Jumbie cum, I gon jump off de donkey an run fo me life on me own two foot. I done keaar wha yu say.. de ain a donkey in de worl gon run faser dan me when a Jumbie cumin behine.

Jeesumbred what a ting dat would be..news flash tonight meboy, man dead doung Bordeaux, donkey bawlin blood, Jumbie biteup man head befo dey could climb in in de driver seat, but not me me boy, I gane like a  “flash of white in de night”. Dem boy could stan de wid dey schupidness how yu gon fight a Jumbie? Wha yu gon hol an tu when yu tryin tu thro im doung? How yu gon thro him doung when yu fraid tu touch him? Who gon touch a Jumbie? Not me meboy. I jamming de ol gol in me pocket, an I gan. Who wan tu be in front a me den bettah cum good because when dem Jumbie cum pourin up ou de groun, I jumpin off de donkey an I gan.

 Wall we moseyed on down de trail headin out wes singin de “yippi kai yi yoo get along little dougie sang” an up an ovah de officers quarters hill and doung in de valley where de green grass grows an up again to de top a de hill by Jahnbruisebay where upon we stopped to survey all dat lay before us.

 As we moseyed on doung to de bay, dem boy tinkin bou all de goobers an rasinetts dey gon buy wid de pirate treashah. I tinkin Jumbie,. when jus den, de closes ting to a Jumbie jump ou de bush an grabbon to me donkey head. It was de notorious “hookfoot” one a dem very ol an very crazy “ol crazy man”  wha live doung Jahnbruise, bunnin coal an drinking rum. Hookfoot was raving an wavin a cutlash.

 In an instant I fell back on me yankin “Isn’t she.. Isn’t she a pretty donkey? I said in a quakey timid voice, “Oh Yeah? yo lil red arm muddah skunk yu”, he thunderd, “I’ll kill yu muddah skunk hare today, a pretty donkey? A pretty donkey? Yu donkey teeffin Muddah $%^%$ yu!  I katch yu, yu f*&^ah yu, Dis donkey is MINE. Get aff me donkey oh ah sweaa I’ll kill yu muddah sk#$% rite here today”!  All dis time he slashin de cutlash back an fort gains de street an de sparks dem flyin up like de fort of July.

 Well ah had tu catch me self quick when ah realize all a dem boy watchin an ah cain let meself be embarrass like dat in front a dem, at de same time ah kina glad tu realize what evah gon happen here, I ain goin have tu deal wid de Jumbie dem doung Bordeaux tonight.

 “Well Mr. Hook Sah” I said, as I jumped doung off de donkey,  “I am glad to be de one who was able to fine an secure an return dis fine animal to you, my name is Gene Autry de singing Cowboy, an my game is mekin everyting have a happy endin. An wid dat I’ll bid yu a good day sah, I have tu be getting back to de movies”. An wid dat I turn aroung ana came rite home savin’ de treasah fo annudah day, sometime early in de mawnin. Yep, das de whole trut..

Book 1. The Catch.

February 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Book 1. The Catch.

I was talking with Tuts the other night about times and friends and places that are no more, we were talking specifically about our “Doun De Road” Alma Mater, the notorious Nisky elementary school. Nisky was located in an (even then) old one story military barracks, in the world war one submarine base on St. Thomas, and was known far and wide for having what were thought to be some of the hardest headed children in captivity, ah…ah… I mean the public school system, in it’s oh so unruly student body.

  The sub base was located on land originally owned by the Nisky Moravian Church, bordering on Gregorie Channel and including Little Crumb Bay, the site of the earliest (five thousand years ago) Cibonay settlement in the lesser Antilles.

Under Danish Rule, the Moravians had been put in charge of educating the people of the Danish West Indies, and  after the transfer, although there was an effort (mostly unsuccessful)  made to bring some of the more salutary elements of American education into the picture, at Nisky, Dick and Jane and Sally and Spot mostly elicited laughter. In any case, that’s a little of how a double gaggle of dusty knobby noggined, wildly willful, rough and unruly children came to be occupying a “one room school” in a dilapidated military barracks (complete with jail cells) named after a Moravian Church, in a submarine base, down in the bongo isles.

 So, on my way back from doing a radio interview with “Brownie” on WSTA (which is now also located in the old sub base) I stopped at the old school grounds to soak up some of the “vibes” and to relive and remember how it was.

The first thing that one notices is that the school and building are no more, they have been replaced by a frigging concrete parking lot, the lot is full of cars and trucks and there is not a trace of the place, (unless you know how and where to look.) If you do know how and where to look, then you will find everything exactly, (in fact even more exactly) as it was, than it was.

That place is of course the so called “wind..rather sugar cane mills of your mind, mentis and memory”.”The place of course where the reds are so much redder, and the blues are downright azure.

 One of the most striking similarities bridging now and then is the fact that this little unshaded frying pan of a half-acre was and is among the hottest habitable places on the planet earth.

We, the knobby noggined, would stand right where I stood, in our raggedy lines and bake-fry three times a day, waiting for the odd collection of teacher ladies (young and old) to get us lined up properly and to the satisfaction of our strict  disciplinarian principal, Mrs. Ulla Muller.

 Once we were lined up, we prayed the “Our Father” and (in the after noon) sang “Now The Day Is Over) to the tune of “Onward Christian Soldiers” Sula says that when she was a teacher, they did the very same thing up in the country. (Interesting to note that my friend Sula taught our principal Ulla Muller, how to read in the little one room school-house called “Bonne Resolution” up in the cool mountain air just down the road from Nelteburg.

I’ve since learned that the  content and  process was the same at all the public schools, but it must have been very much more pleasant under the tall shade trees and in the cool mountain breeze at Bonne Resolution, No wonder she was grumpy down in the hot frying pan flat land, who wouldn’t be.

Additionally interesting, is the fact that Mrs. Ulla Muller is now a very sweet, pretty and gentle, ninety year old lady and friend of ours,) but that is also another story.

 This one has to do with what I consider to be the best decision that I ever made. It happened at Nisky School early one morning just before the school bell rang.

At that time (September, 1951) Gale and I were the only white children in the public school system, certainly the only white children at Nisky School. The “big boys” fifth and sixth graders (some of whom were teenagers already) were not inclined to the gentle and kind, and especially not to a little white boy. On the morning in question a ball game was in process in the narrow area behind the old Navy heavy equipment shop and the School. The playing field was a long rectangular area between the shop, the school and the chain link fence protecting the Moravian Ministers “yard” (an area planted with Mango and Coconut trees) from the depredations of unruly and hungry children. 

The “big boys” were playing and all the rest of the children (including my sister Gale and I) were standing on the sidelines watching.  One of the sides needed someone to play the deepest part of the outfield and somehow I was push pulled forward to be the one. I was in the very beginning of the first grade and was certainly one of the smallest children there, however, I suspect this was about discovering what kind of man the little white boy was, so it would be clear to all where in the hierarchy he belonged”

The first test was; would I play at all, or would I back out of playing when we had to take the field, did I, would I have the moxie to try. (I of course didn’t know all about all this stuff; I just knew that if I didn’t step up, the teasing would be merciless)

When the sides changed, someone on the incoming team threw me a glove, actually some kind of a  “mitt” (which means to me a glove with fingers splayed in every direction and no rawhide string connecting any of them) The mitt flew through the air and  fell in the dust at my feet, eliciting the first of what many anticipated would be a whole string of laughs (at my expense) that morning. The truth is I didn’t know how to not participate in what was developing and so I automatically but reluctantly, moved into the game.

 I put the enormous mitt-glove on my little hand  and went out, out, out, until they signaled me to stop. When I turned around and looked back at the paint can that was home plate it looked like a  miniature thimble. The first batter swacked something on the ground to third and I felt pretty good about that. I knew that I had scored some points just by accepting the challenge of playing, and I hoped that this would be “one two-three” and game over. The second batter also swacked it on the ground, and my team was getting very excited  now, because we had the lead with one out to go and the school bell about to end the game at any moment.

 The next thing I know, up steps a really big tough guy, and the second base guy and every body else are signaling me to go even further and further out…then blam-o the the really big fellow hits the friggin ball up up up and out out out, a monstrous “bataso largo” a moon shot and my good god awmighty the blasted thing has passed up and over everyone else and is heading straight for me.

That was the moment of the best decision I think I ever made. I was just a little kid, in fact I’d never even been in a real ball game before, and I had certainly never caught a ball that someone had hit, let alone launched into outer space. We were playing with what is (for reasons unknown to me) called a “soft ball” which means that the friggin thing coming down at me was every bit as big and hard as the moon.

 The question in question,  was never consciously put, I just ran forward to meet the falling sky. Not eagerly and confidently, rather scared to death, but determined to try. I stuck my two hands out palms up before me as I ran and the enormous orb hit the mitt-glove with what seemed like the force and weight of a cannon ball. There it was wobbling back and forth in the center of the wobbling mitt thing (which was too cockamamie to close) with my left hand trembling under the weight of it.

I could not believe that, 1, I had caught it, and 2, I was now about to drop the blasted thing. My right hand flew over to help steady the ball and by God,  seconds later, the catch was caught. And caught too, forever in the hearts and minds of every single kid in Nisky School. My credibility and basic worth in terms of character, and cohones was established forever.  The celebration began immediately the shouting and cheering was almost universal, and felt so good..and welcoming to me. It was beautiful, de lil’ Nisky School white boy had proved himself to be someone they could be proud of,  had established his credibility, and though it would be tested many times again, the foundation for friendships based on admiration  and respect, relationships that have lasted a life time, was created that fine morning by the best decision I ever made, which was simply, “Don’t run away Scott, run forward… and try”

Book 4. Who Sez Huh? Who Sez? Book 3. Popeye and The Crystal Cathedral

February 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Book 4. Who Sez Huh? Who Sez?

 While I haven’t gotten “The Virgin Islands Songs” completed as a full cast recording, I have written it and can perform a one man version of it… so it does exist, and it does contain the silliness and emotion, the feelings and the fun that I wanted an audience to experience as “The Virgin Islands Songs”

 It looks as though the full cast recording may have to be done in another place, in another time. Too many things are getting backed up. Having finally attained “the age of reason” I am able to “reasonize” that I don’t have any time to waste.

One way or the other, I have to keep moving.

 There is a certain freedom around this question of creating so-called product now that one has next to no expectation of being paid for it. I confess that I (having been in the music business for forty-five years now) have developed a sort of built-in automatic “Biz Monitor” an “adult music business voice” that pops (uninvited) into many if not all internal creative dialogs, to say almost always “Scott, you can’t do that, nobody wants that, it’ll never sell” (I further confess that while there are a few things to which I’ve said “Yeah, you’re probably right” there are many more to which my response is “Oh yeah! Who sez, huh? Who sez?”  and “so what” This is one of those occasions.

I think that “my audience” will understand, if I can ever find them, they are the most elusive non group I’ve ever never known, I do have a few or perhaps multiples of a few solid “committables” although I’ve noticed a curious phenomenon of late. In those instances where I’ve come down from Olympus to answer “fan email” personally, I’ve some how managed to turn enthusiastic fans (some committible since South Atlantic Blues) into people I’ve never heard from again.

 Perhaps I’ve been too effusive, and their responses something like “Nah, a big time handsome mysterioso (did I say handsome?) recording artist dude like Scott Fagan wouldn’t, couldn’t, really write all that nice stuff to me all by himself could he?, it must be some kind of crazy psychedelico algorithmico generated form letter” Heck no, I’m not gonna put up with this on top of his obscurity, it too much hard work to be a big fan of somebody you’ve never even seen or never even heard (and if you did probably confused him with Lou Rawls or Lou Christy or Monty Rock the Third, heck no, it’s too much work. So I’m not gonna like him any more, cause after all I put up with for him.. HE SENT ME A FORM LETTER!.

 Anyway, as I said, there are (or were) perhaps fourteen or fifteen of them (my audience) scattered across the globe (in the most AMAZING places) there were an important few (including the head of the world-wide Scott Fagan Forever Fan club) in the Woman’s Detention Center in Greenwich Village, but unfortunately I don’t know where that “all important list of addresses” has gone, so now I’m going to have to wait for “The Fabulous Fourteen or Fifteen” to re-discover me all over again.

The fact is I’m a sixty-four year old singer whose train has left the station. Fortunately, I’ve got some fans, followers and friends who are still true believers, still willing to run alongside the tracks with me, in an attempt to flag the blood dragon down when “she’s comin’ round the mountain when she comes”, or shooting and raining sparks on the huffy puffel trail up the Big Rock Candy Mountain or somethin’

 So, with their help we will begin. (what the heck is it that’s beginning?)  It is the next phase of “The Virgin Islands Songs” more specifically, the beginning of promoting and performing the one man version, which began  very appropriately at the Cultural Institute, in the J. Antonio Jarvis Museum, on Polyberg Hill..just across from the Alton Adams Home. In St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

 Chico (Gus Edwards, Tutsie’s brother, the pre-eminent Afro-decended Playwright in America) said some important things..he said that trying to do it all (Write it, Fund it, Rewrite it, Cast it, Arrange it, Sing it, Rehearse it, Record it, Direct it, Produce it, and Promote it,) is too much for anyone to have on their plate. He suggested that it made sense to simplify the process by lessening the requirements for a production by doing it as a one man show.

This makes a lot of sense where moving it forward as a performance and production is concerned, however it confuses me at depth because I am inclined to think in musical terms. Towards enhancing the musicality of a thing as an automatic response. and always always, towards creating musical recordings.

 Additionally, there is the fact that I’m going to have to do different content for most stateside audiences because they probably are not going to get the spoken calypso humor of the Buckra De Paehae pieces. But we shall do and we shall see and it will be a fun and exciting element of the “Second Coming”.

 Once upon a time in the music business, if you were an artist armies of smarmies would swarm ya trying to steal you away from the oh so honest upstanding trustworthy and upright personal manager or agent you were already signed and committed to. It was awful. They would try to get at you through your wife or girl friend, promising them this that and the next thing. It was really anxiety producing, unpleasant and depressing.The truth is I would rather be rejected than smarmed  because ultimately, it’s up to me to find my way. I just hope me poor bent cogi-tater organ doesn’t snap crackle and pop under the strain! This is probably what that danged missing “executive center” in the brain is supposed to solve and resolve clickty clackity, lickty splito. We shall see…yes we shall.

 Book 3.  Popeye and The Crystal Cathedral

 In the context of all the above, the various difficulties of my life, are the consequences of my failure, this is a line of information that keeps coming to mind and with it, the opportunity to get more clear about the causes of my failure, and what to do about them.

I am getting mighty clear about the consequences of my failure, they are all around me all day and all night, they are everything I have and don’t have, everything I do and don’t do and they are debilitating and contributory to more and more and more failure.

 Well I ain’t a gonna take it!.. now effen ah kin jus figger out which button to punch which rock to roll up what hill, which road to take home.

I know that it’s drastically more subtle than that, rolling boulders up Everest is easy compared to getting a grip on these slippery invisibilities, many of which I’m confident, are comfortably anchored high above and behind me in the far confluence where cobweb, corner and ceiling gently conspire and quietly collude to collide.

Yep, an effen ah keep talking lak thet..it’s gonna be a cold day on rocky top before my blue moon turns to gold again. Yep, and If I keep talking like that, good ol’ Rocky top will be  sweetly tinkling sand on the bottom of the sea, by the time I make any sense to me.

 A while back I thought to my self “You’ve got to do better!” and I wondered “yeah but do what better?” and my answer was “everything.” And THAT made sense to me. Everything that I’m timid about, everything that I’m afraid of and try to avoid, everything that I dismiss as unimportant or beneath me, or square or… everything.

 This idea of accepting the term “failure” as useful and accurate is fairly new for me. I have absolutely failed at accomplishing what I set out to accomplish, and though I have accomplished other important things (which may after all be all that I get to accomplish) I have failed at what I set out to do.

 My father used to say “Fidel, I want you to watch Robert Schuller from the Crystal Cathedral, in fact we have a pane of glass there in our name, he’s positive and great, I watch him every Sunday” And I would feel a wave of pity and compassion for my father dear, living down in the friggin’ okeefeenokeeglades in an all but collapsed trailer. Breeding mosquitoes the size of humming birds and singing to his thirty or sixty or so leaping, barking, nonstop copulating Chihuahuas, having himself failed at what he set out to do. I would say not on your friggin’ life, thinking that the Robert Shuller Okeedooky was what allowed him to tolerate living the way he did, not realizing that it was the alcohol and likely his own dose of fetal alcohol effects that had melted his lofty dreams and burning ambitions into a warmish pool of Schlitzy piss.

Ah dear my fadder dear, your boy Fidel had a lot to learn… and is trying like hell to learn it.

Anyway, so last, (not this but last) January up in the states, I was watching Robert Shuller..when he mentioned one of my very favorite characters of all “New World” mythology “Popeye The Sailor Man”

 The Reverend Robert Shuller came on and introduced his guest speaker Bill Hybels, and Mr. Hybels introduced his Popeye inspired approach to changing one’s life.

Mr. Hybels launched right into his premise, which is that we all have an “I jus can’t stands it no more” and if we can identify it then we can change our lives. He asked the viewers to think about that and he asked.” What is your “I Just Can’t Stands It No More”?

I leapt to my feet and confessed aloud that my “I Just Can’t Stands it No More” is my failure.

 Now I know that some of you folks think that one of the more endearing things about me is my utter absence from the check out stand publications, and my quaint habit of laying so low that nobody knows a thing about me or my scandalous behaviors. Some of you have even gone so far as to track me down to ask for my obscurity formulae so that you can model your own business and life plans upon it, and while I don’t mind being able to come and go as I please with out the complications that so many others complain about, The fact and the truth, is I failed at what I set out to do. Which was/is to make a difference in the world and to provide financial freedom and security for my family and myself while doing it

 I thought that I could and would do it through my ability to sing and write and make records… I have been at it since July 2nd  1964 and although I am not a failure at singing and writing,or a number of other things, I have failed miserably at managing and promoting my abilities and the products of my abilities to produce financial freedom and security for my family and myself.

 Consequently, I have been materially “poor” and my Children have been materially “poor” all of our lives. Both parents, my sister and two of my three brothers have died materially “poor”. I was not successful at providing a breakthrough for any of them. Or any of the four mothers of my five children.

My Daughters Lelia and Holiday are still most vulnerable and the reality that I am not able to help them in spite of the fact that I am bright, inventive and more talented than many AND have given the past forty-five years to trying and trying and failing and failing,, brings me to where..  “I JUS CAN’T STANDS IT NO MORE!”

 So, with the help of the Higher Power I am going to change it. Here are elements of my Action Plan. I will assess my assets and my deficits and identify what I have to learn and do to reverse my failure and at long last… well, ahh …reverse my failure.

  1. I will keep a diary of the process. The diary will be helpful to folks and a valuable creative product in its own right…
  2. I will make an entry each morning (2 minutes) and each evening (4 minutes), the first stating what I intend to achieve that day, and the second, what I got done and did not get done and what I learned as a result and the remedy.

 January 25, 2009 AM

I intend to hold on to Popeye’s saying, “I Jus Can’t Stands It No More” write it down and see what if anything I can learn and do from that process. I intend to find a way or at least the beginning of a way to turn my failure into success, and to follow consistently the process that I outline or discover.

 January 25, 2009 PM

I have started the process of turning my failure into success. I have written my intentions down and have begun. I spent an hour and a half rehearsing songs from “South Atlantic Blues”. I will  out line the many ideas for potentially revenue producing projects, I will do the outlines in the morning.

 January 31, 2009

Listing the many projects that I started this week

 JULY 12, 2009 AM

Gosh, I had completely forgotten all about the daily diary entry aspect of this daily diary entry exercise, and have just rediscovered what I had written back in January! I am in St. Thomas recording “The Virgin Island Songs”. It has been interesting. but..good Lord.

 February 12, 2010

Gosh, I’d forgotten what I rediscovered I’d forgotten and rediscovered, in July! Good  Good  God  Amighty…

Book 4. Little Ellie… Book 2. Nelteburg Bay, Book 1. Saved By The Belle

February 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Book 4. Little Ellie…

It’s Sunday again and after a Sunday morning meeting, I will go up and over Crown Mountain to see m’ lady Sula.

Tuts made a special batch of the Kalaloo for her (aside from the batch that he made for the concert) and we took it up to her this past Monday, I also gave her the “Sweet t’ing” that I brought for her, two bags of Hershey’s kisses, (actually one of kisses and one of kisses and hugs).

 I say “Ah bring sum sweet ting fo yo Sula, ah bring sum sweet ting fo yo” and she says “Oh yeah? Wha ee tis eh? wha ee tis? I say “Silvah tops” and she says Oh Yeah? Tank yu man, tank yu Scott”. And if it were sixty years ago, she would have bent over, picked me up and put me on her lap (she would have been forty eight and I would have been four) and given me a big hug and perhaps a kiss on the golden haired noggin. As it is, I bend over and give her a kiss on her silver snowy plaits.

 It’s sort of an odd line of thought about one’s girlfriend, however it does relate to why every one including her sons call her “Aunt Sula” She has perhaps raised as many children as the old woman in the shoe, and treated them better by far. She is loved near and wide for that part of her history, rather, herstory.

Sula was the “abso perfecto” beautiful dusky mountain maiden, fleet of foot and as elusive as a midnight shadow. She was as “slight” as a willow fawn and every bit as wild as the wind. Still, she gave birth to two sons, and survived typhoid Fever and super toxemia and Lord only knows what other Latin lingo conditions responsible for two still births.

 Sula has always loved having little ones to hug and hold and she has hugged and held a lot. However, “bucu” years ago,  long before we met, (when Sula may have been a lassie in her sixties,) I came upon a lonesome little grave  in the tangled vines and old ruins of Nelteburg Bay, and wondered sadly who had lost their little sweetheart in the realm of the why, once so long ago.

 It turned out that the little grave was well known to Sula, it was that of a little one left in the care of Sula’s mother “Mama Tally.”  Sula says that Eleanor, (called Ellie) was the most well behaved and beautiful little girl any of them  had ever seen. Ellie’s mother (Sula’s sister, and Mama Tally’s daughter Lenore) sent her back to Nelteburg from New York when she was two years old, for Mama Tally and Tan Tan and Sula to look after. (In those days, that “sending back” kind of thing happened all the time.)

 One day little Ellie running happily through the kitchen, tripped and tipped a huge tin of boiling water off a coal pot, scalding herself. Mama Tally ran with the little one in her arms all the way to town, but Little Ellie died two days later. They buried her there by the bay in 1932…though it was seventy eight years ago,  I still feel the incomprehensible sadness of it  as she speaks.  Sula will never get over how beautiful and joyful she was and the God awful hurt she suffered..and the missing of her.

Another odd line of thought perhaps but these lines are all part of a portrait of Sula..she IS all that and more. God willing she will be one hundred and eight in April and I will be able to come back home and sing for her at her Birthday Party, as I did last year.

 Sula and I will be talking about the fact that I need to turn right around and go back to the states within the next week or two. I have to finish recording the spoken pieces, and we need to mix, master and print the official recording of “The Virgin Islands Songs” so that it is available as soon as possible. I have just arranged for Tut’s daughter Jarmaine to bring her camera and come with me next Sunday when we will try to film/document a little bit of the grace of Sula, for posterity.

 Book 2. Nelteburg Bay

Nelteburg Bay is one of those places that you just can’t get out of your mind, it is not primarily a beach for bathing, but rather a place for living and dying.

It is most certainly (if such things exist) haunted, and if that is the case they are haunting up a storm down there. And so many kinds and types of Jumbies, not the placid checkers playing ones, or the green fanged vengeful people eaters ones either, but mournful, moaning wind blown displaced souls with no way out.

 About two thousand feet beyond the surf line is a little Island perhaps a mile long that lies perpendicular to the shore, “Inner Brass” it’s called, and strong currents sweep through the channel between Neltiburg and Inner Brass with a vengeance. The sort of currents that create dramatic wild water vistas, a sort of hopeless fear settles upon you when you look out there and imagine your self in that water. Within moments you realize (even in your day dream) that you are swimming for your life and that if you somehow ever, ever manage to get back to solid earth again you will never never go back in the water at Nelteburg Bay.

 It’s a dramatic and powerful place. The exact kind of place that (when you are young and “foolishly” fearless,) invites you to the foolhardiest kinds of bravado, and lord help you if there is a pretty girls watching.

That kind of crazy Nelteburg bravado is what fueled my thinking early one sousy New York City morning, when I thought it was a great idea to dive into the East River and swim across to Welfare Island to see and be where my poor orphan young girl grandmother Sally, had died in the TB Hospital there. (In turn, leaving my poor father Frankie, an orfink laddie himself.)

 It could only have been a well organized coalition/delegation of my own yet unborn children, (not wishing to be orphaned before birth) that intervened that morning, because all the prerequisites were in place, for another tragic, pathetic, vainglorious East River drama featuring a “stale-drunk” drizzlebrained alcoholic dream boy from the Islands and a beautiful young girl that he hoped to impress. (although the girl was already impressed beyond any reason and needed not one iota more… in fact fifty good smooches would have suited her just fine) I guess fellows susceptible to Nelteburg bravado just never know when enough is enough, or perhaps even more accurately, just never know.

 Nevertheless I know this, Nelteburg, it’s history and the people there are really something, and I am grateful for the many times that I have been allowed to be a part of their reality, and I pray this,  “God please bless little Ellie by the bay”.

 Book 1. Saved By The Belle

 So after spending hours on the internet yesterday, reading reams of “digidots” by “experts at odds on everything”, I did what reasonable people (who  are no longer interested in getting juiced and wrecking a bar) in the islands do. I went to Lindburgh Bay, to “sit beneath the seagrape tree,  in raptured contemplation of the deep blue sea” yep.

 While thus engaged, a hefty shapely maiden caught my eye, actually my ear because she was engaged in conversation with quite a pale older fellow thirty feet away, up to his chin in the water. He was saying “Yes, they all came to my ordination”, and then, “Did you bring a towel?” she said no she hadn’t and then got up off the sand and walked (like she was in some kind of voodoo trance) fully clothed right into the water . Now, walking voodoo tranced into the water fully clothed is nothing new to me, having done that many times myself, however in her case, I must confess that I felt a small jolt of anticipation when I realized the vision she would present when she came out of the water fully soaked.

 It then occurred to me that there is surely a very special corner of hell reserved especially for poor wretches like me, who dare to lust after the secret concubine girlfriend of a priest. And THEN it occurred to me that if that is the case, they will be ferrying me from special corner of hell to special corner of hell all night and day for ever and a weekend for all the “special corner ” offenses (see my upcoming book “The True Confessions of Don Wha?” that I am guil… ah…have been accused of. (Just joking Daughters, just joking, Grand Daughters)

 My attention was drawn away from the impending presentation of sparkling shining feminine pulchritudals, by the sight of an even more shapely and swollen delicacy that was mine for the having. A promise of instant gratification with much more to follow. The most perfectly purple seagrape that I’ve seen in over half a hundred years. Beautiful, sweet, tart and tangy.and no rebound, hangover or promise of eternal perdition.

It’s amazing how a fellow changes over time; this must be another benefit of the instant wisdom and sanctification that occurs when a boy turns sixty four. Giving up a soaking wet salty wench for a sweet little seagrape…interesting.

 I’m looking out to sea at the waves breaking against the reef, approximately – in fact exactly, where I was drifting in a broken masted eight foot sailing dinghy  forty nine years ago, about to be flung upon that  very same conglomeration of razor sharp rocks out there known as “The Dolphins” Yes, and had to be rescued by the Carnival Queen, and her consort (Ok, ok, he was Eddie Elkins, the Carnival King, my friend, and a very fine fellow on top of that, but man O man what a pretty Queen Ms. Digna Feliciano was) and how embarrassing for me to have her see me as one in a boat full of hysterical red-faced fourteen and fifteen year old teenage boys begging and pleading for help.

 It’s a good thing that the special boat ride that was part of her prize for being the purdiest and most perky and engaging and (did I mention purdiest?) teenage girl on this island earth, happened to be passing our misery just in the nick of time, or you might be reading “The Is That Never Was” or “Backstage With Barry Manilow” instead. (By the way, I do know Barry Manilow AND Bette Midler, both, each and separately, but that’s two or three other stories. (See my upcoming tell all “Confessions Of a Guy That Knows People” or “Wha? Wha?d I Do? Wha?d I say?”)

 Meanwhile back at razor sharp “The Dolphins”, When I realized that we were going to be saved and bound for the future rather than to be sliced and diced on the bottom of the sea, I immediately struck a very cool pose with one arm and leg wrapped around the the cockamamie crooked mast and the other hand shading my eyes, scanning the horizon like any good Captain, looking for interesting ports and possibilities.

I can’t say for sure how completely the Queen was able to appreciate my cool, but the King noticed and appeared to be quite amused, in fact he laughed quite a bit. That’s the problem with  dudes.

 Anyway, they towed us back into Honey Moon Bay on Water Island, the home port for “the Dingy of a thousand Humiliations” and we went back to the “Free Sunday Beach Buffet” table laid out by “The Water Island Hotel” which is why we were there in the first place.

That may also be the day that I ate a world record “twenty seven brownies” and the Morciglio Brothers had a heck of a fight on the beach.

For some reason they discontinued the “Free Sunday Beach Buffet” shortly after that, which was too bad, because us Bournefield Boys could eat a whole weeks worth of food in one sitting, that buffet was an important, all but essential dietary supplement for me.  Boy it was fun while it lasted, except for the almost shipwrecked part.

 Well look at that, two hours have passed, I saw a vision of sparkling pulchritudes, had a head full of imaginings, a bellyful of Seagrapes, and a  good laugh at myself.. Now back to business.