Archive for June, 2010

Book 1. In Nueva York Continued 57, 58 And.. Book 4. Gran Faddah Buckra An De Ol Geeal

June 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Book 1.  In Nueva York Continued 57, 58

 It was just the beginning of one of the more interesting and consequential seasons of all…the fall.

“Island In The Sun” with Harry Belafonte had just came out and Mud, Gale and I took the subway (a long and dreary ride across cold mucky mud brown marshes, that Mud had to traverse twice a day to and from her job) into the City to see it at “The Roxey”. The minute the opening shots of the beautiful green Island in the beautiful blue sea appeared on-screen, I knew it was a deal done, a conclusion forgone, sooner or later, we were heading back to the bongo isles…

 Gale and I were both in PS 198 AKA Benjamin Cardozo Junior High School, when Mud announced that she was going to St. Thomas on a “little Vacation”…

Gale, Little Larry and I stayed with Aunt Lea and her family just a few streets over in Far Rockaway while Mud was gone…

 In those days I was wearing a little silver heart ring that I had bought for myself in Puerto Rico, from a street vendor for something like a quarter. The little ring said ”Yo Te Amo” (I Love You, in Spanish). I loved it and all it represented. I really did.  

One day during lunch recess I was waiting my turn at the handball wall when someone hit the Spaulding over the school yard fence. It was a very tall chain link fence of the type favored by the New York City public school system, a design thought to be tall enough to discourage even the most defiant of kids from climbing over it. Unfortunately I had stuff to prove (being a shrimp with the cohones ah…rather, jive bravado, of Godzilla) and I rather quickly climbed (to a chorus of “Hey kid dontcha kno etc.) up and over the sky-high thing, down the other side and got the ball.

The truth is the world seemed a much more interesting and inviting place on the outside and I ought to have just thrown the pinky ball over my shoulder and strolled away to make a life with Arleta, but no…

Being a good boy, I climbed back up the blasted fence and when I reached the very tip-top, decided to jump all the way down thus ending my demonstration of casual but exemplary rule breaking/fence-climbing with what I  thought would be great flourish and style.

 Instead when I landed back in the concrete consciousness of PS 198 I discovered that my right ring finger (the one with my Te Amo Heart ring) was now all but ripped off my hand. The ring was gone and my poor finger from the knuckle up, was hanging by a grisly gristle-thread…

My dear friends, I was dumbfounded, shocked and deeply wounded at one and the same time…many an exclamation of confused horror followed me as I headed directly for the Principal’s office where I would turn myself in, confess my sin, beg mercy and petition all in authority for a miracle do-over of the last five minutes. Ah…ah was tragical and upsetting in the extreme.

God bless my dear sister Gale, they summoned her to ride in the ambulance (sirens blaring) with me to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where we were met by poor overtaxed, stressed-out and worried sick, Aunt Lea. 

Apparently, while I teetered sky high on the fence, planning my ascendant descent, the open crisscross at the top of the chain link had snuckeled in between my finger and my mighty fine ring and consequently, when I launched, my ring and finger did not. Meaning of course that something had to give. It was first my finger, and then my beautiful ring.

 You may think it odd, but I was very saddened at what happened to the little heart ring, I don’t believe I actually saw it again but I imagine it, popped and twisted (much like my poor finger) and  abandoned all by it’s self alone.

 The Doctor looked at me, looked at my finger and looked at me and said well. “I hope you won’t planning on playing the piano”.

I wasn’t in the slightest bit concerned about playing the piano, I was scared to death that they were going o take my finger off. However and perhaps in part as a result of my protesting the idea with everyone at every turn, I was asked to choose between having it set to stick (and stay stuck) straight out, or bent over in the shape of “a one finger fisticuff” (they couldn’t just set it okee dookee like,  and back to normal, because the poor thing’s owner had krankfrangled it almost completely beyond repair, and was just plain lucky to have any finger at all even one that looked like it had been glued back on with an L plane)  I choose the one finger fisticuff model, and ironically, when I’m writing a tune on the Piano, (I’ve written some good ones on it, but don’t ask me to play any) (on the piano that is) it’s the only finger in the whole gaggle , that consistently finds and hits the blasted note that it’s supposed to.

I spent the rest of the day and that night in the pediatric ward of the hospital, and therein met some kids whose lives were very different from my own, meaning that they had serious health problems as a fairly central issue and frankly, I hadn’t given much thought to kids in their situation before. My time with them was very touching and important. It was heartbreaking to see them, complete innocents, suffering…    Continues


 Book 4.  Gran Faddah Buckra An De Ol Geeal 

A time when I wa small ah went to see me ol granfaddah de ol Buckra de Paehae de fus fus fus. Ah sae Granfaddah! Ah come tu see yu! He sae Ok den, look me hare, but yu gon got tu bettah stay ou de way, a Ol Geeal coming to see me fo something an ah don wan yu get mashup when de action start! Ah sae “ A Ol Geeal? A Ol Geeal? Who it tis, granfaddah, who it tis? He sae “Ah me bouy, don worry bout dat, yu gon see, don worry bout dat.

 I sae “but Granfaddah, wha kina action yu gon do wid a ol Geeal, yu gon teach ha how tu fall asleep in de chair? Yu gon teach ha how tu take out an put in ha teet dem? How to play domino?  Granfaddah,Yu tink de ol Geeal gon wan tu hear bou when yu poisen yu self an almos whole a dounde road,  when yu cook up dat Barracota in de olden days? Oh how yu used tu tief Mango?  An Granfaddah wha yu gon gee she tu eat? De Ol Geeal ain gon wan no  sardine and French bread to wash doun wid kool aid, Wha wrang wid yu, Granfaddah, you don know you too ol to have a ol Geeal?

 “Ahh meboy” he sae “ahh meboy” das wae yu wrang, you mubbe tink yu Granfaddah ban ol”? Yu dunno yu Granfaddah is a sharp boy? Yu dunno yu talking tu de man de used to call “Buckre de Pale-Male, de champagne ah Gingerale?” Ahh mebouy, in dose days Yu Gran Papeeto had woman like mosquito, woman like whelks, like genip, woman wha couden done me boy. Yu tink ah spen me whole life scratchin me baney? No Sah, Yu tink all I cou do is siddown outside de kitchen do? No Sah, Not me me bouy, De ol Buckra still know a ting or two, yu gon see, don worry bou dat!

De minute Granfaddah see de Ol Gieall by de do, he suck in he belly an he  stann up straight straight, den he sweep off he hat an he bow doun low like Erroll Flynn, he sae “Come right in my darling, come right in my dear,

Bouy, ah couldn believe me oy dem, de ol Geeal wa de famous Carnival Queen from Nineteen Fifty odd, a ol Geeal wha we da see in de newspapah almos every week for doin something good, Dis ol Geeal is like de fus lady of de lan. Wha she doin hare wid me Granfaddah?

Before ah could ask ha dat question, she watch me straight in me face and she sae “Good afternoon young man, I’m hear to take de measure of your Grandfaddah’s Curtin rods” and wid dat de two a dem went straight in side de bedroom.

De nex ting oy know, ah hearin’ tee hee hee and tae hae hae den something fall doun on de bed an de bed spring start to squeak and squeal , an Man, ah embarrass to tell yu wha come nex, ah hear de ol Geeal  sae OY!, OY! Den she sae “Oh me dahlin  Paehae yu know das how ah like it, yu know das how ah like it, den she start tu bawl out Oh Godee Oh Godee (Ah sae to me self what does dat have tu do wid curtin rods?)

She singing now, Yes Sah, Buckra, OOWEE! She singin now! Yes Sah! Buckra, OOWEE! Yu got me goin, yu got me goin OY OY, ah hear dem bouncing up an bouncing up! Oh Godee Oh Godee! She bawl out don stop now don stop now! Man anit soun like a donkey broke he win in de) wid A AAIIIEEEH! (ah sae tu meself, dat soun like de end a de worl) den a KA_POW! ah hear de bed broke doun! Den all ah hear.. is notin atall, noting atall me bouy,  den ah hare de ol Geeal say .. Hello? HELLO?

De nex tin I know de oL Geeail bus out tru de do,  bawlin out Oh God! Oh God! Sonny boy come quick, yu Granfaddah Dead, Yu Granfaddah dead!, Ah done kill yu po Granfaddah, Oh God Sonny boy, ah sae yu po ol Granfaddah dead”

Ah went in tu see fo meself, Man de ol boy wa white like a ghos, he oy dem wa roll back in he head, he toung hangin out de side a he mout,. De woman bawl out Oh God I’s a murderah, I’s a murderah! Ah done kill de sweet ol Buckra!

Den she sae Ah got to get outta hare befor me chrren dem fine out, ah gato go, I ain wan me chrren dem know I ain wan nobody kno…an wid dat she pick up ha wig an she run ou de back and clime doun in de gut an clim up de uddah side a de gut, den she broke thru de chicken coop by de cenep chtree an she wa gan..

Ah sae OH Godee!, OH Godee!  De ol Geeial done gan an le me here alone wid me po dead Granfaddah… Ah sae “Oh Godee, how ah gone tell me Mammie, who it tis kill me Granfaddah? How a gone tell me Mamee wha dey wa doin in de bedroom?” Wha ah gon tell de Police? Ah dunno what u tell de whorl?  

Jus den ah hear a voice sae “boy wha wrang wid yu, yu bettah stop yu bawlin if yu don wan some clout”..when ah tun around, it look like ah see me Granfaddah dae sittin down good as gol an winkin he oy.

Ah sae “but Granfaddah yu dunno yu dead like a ol keeat, de ol Geeal done kill yu, yu ain know yu done dead awreaddy Granfaddah? Yu don tink yu bettah lay doun?

 He sae “Ahh me bouy, don be schupiddy, yu keean see das me good way tu get rid a dem guirl? Das de Ol Buckra trick tu mek dem go home when ah done had me way wid dem. He sae “ Ahh me Bouy…don worry bout a ting, an jus wait til yu see de two ol Geeal wha comin’ tomorrow!!!


Book 1. En Nueva York, 1957…

June 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Book 1. En Nueva York, 1957.

As noted once and said twice, we would learn a great deal in Far Rockaway, New York, USA in the winter, spring, summer and fall, of 1957.

Right from the beginning, the music meant almost everything and was somehow more real than the reality that it was sound tracking, Gale and I went back to school to discover that we might as well have been studying moon rocks on Mars for all our previous book, (and lack of book,) larnin’ had to do with the New York City Public School curriculum.

The flash back was to sitting in La Escuela de San Juan Bautista where no one spoke a lick a da lingo (English) and I didn’t speak a lick a la lingua (Spanish) only this time we were able to comprende the sniddy snoody and snide comments made about our pathetic fraternal idiocy.

The only saving grace for me came in the person of a Puerto Rican kid whose command of English began and ended with a fruit salad of four letter words like you’ve never heard. It was fantastic. This angel faced boy knew nothing but cuss words and creative combinations of cuss words presented so fluently and floridly inappropriately that I’m certain that we today, would have an entire field of scatological study devoted  to and franticly seeking the cure for FFFWS (Flagrantly Floridly Filthy Word Syndrome) it was amazing.

Anyway, I was able to demonstrate a smidge-lit of intelligence by virtue of the fact that I was the only person in the entire school able to translate his linguistic intentions (though there is the small possibility that I may have inadvertently taken too broad a horizon or perhaps one too many small liberties with my interpretations and translations, but only to demonstrate my own facility with multi-syllabic  language, in the hope that they (the school) would realize the kind of intellects that they were too quickly dismissing as “the gang of three ..Idiots”.

He really was a sweet sincere kid who had more than likely been victimized by a psycho Tio (uncle) with his own hysterical but cruel agenda for getting even with  all the school Marms and Principals in the New York City Public School system, and boy if his intention was to cuss ‘im out, he got ‘im good…

I can’t help but wonder how my life might have been different if a kid like me had been assigned to interpret for a kid like me at San Juan Bautista…Good Lord Awmighty.

Needless to say, my attention to my own school work was frustrating and minimal, in truth because we had missed so much of what led up to the sixth grade, but mostly because I was much more interested in The Spanish Main, the clash of sword against sword, the clash of cultures in the race for God Gold and Glory and most especially, the names and exact locations of the great treasure Galleons that had gone to the bottom bursting with doubloons and now swayed in the sea tide with red eyed skeletons guarding the golden pieces of eight, than in Millard Flurbush, or Floyd Huckabucket  (who or what ever they were)

But that was school daze, and when not immersed in defending a translingual scatological diatribe, or my dream life along the Spanish Main, my antenna was “full tuned” out the window towards every passing car radio and the essential life lessons being broadcast freely into the air. Life lessons as only Chuck Berry and Rock n’ Roll could structure and present them…” Be Bop A Lula She’s Mah Ah Bay Bay” “Up in the Morning and off to school” These are the days of “Be Bop A Lula” “Hail Hail Rock n’ Roll” “Party Doll”, “Little Darlin” and “All Shook Up” music that moved us through winter to spring and into the summer of 57. (10 years later as a young staff writer in New York City, I would spend my days at Screen Gems writing “SOON”, cubicle to cubicle with the Great Otis Blackwell, writer of “All Shook up” “Don’t Be Cruel” “Great Balls A Fire” “Fever” and many other seminal, inspirational works of Rock And Roll, but that is another story. One which we will surely get to in it’s time)

Summer, dazzling full on blazing hot, tar melting Summer on the Boardwalk is (in my opinion) one of the elemental full sensory joys of life on Earth. Truly something that everyone  ought to experience at least once in their lives.

Many people, especially the old folks and the teenage girls in Far Rockaway, seemed to live for it. The old folks would endure all the bitter winter winds, wearisome woes, disappointments and God awful depression of that seemingly endless time in between. Trudging along, their little spark of the divine flickering through dampness and the blasted semi-damnation of the dark time; waiting for the when the world would be born again.

The when, when a kind of honeyed hell comes to the city and Beelzebub’s own wicked heat hots up the place and the human race once again flings off the cloth (and all modesty) and prances out bellies bouncing, barely clothed, slathered in Sea and Ski, straw hat on the top knot, down to the glorious sea side.

Another group raring to go was the mysterious sideshow of pseudo carnies that opened and ran the flipped out, tripped out stands along the strand, that made and manned the crazy sand blasted or freshly painted pre-psychedelic, psychedelic art and amplified lunacy of the Boardwalk

Oh the smells, my God the smells, the French Fries, Candied popcorn and Hot Dogs (Kosher thank you) Cotton candy, Candied Apples, foot wide lolly pops, Soft Custard in Chocolate and Vanilla, the double Rainbow array of Popsicles and the sodas, Cel-Ray, Sarsaparilla, Orange Crush, Cream Soda, Cherry, Root beer, and the Coca-Pepsi and Chocolate syrup egg creams and the Lemon, Pineapple and Strawberry scent of twirling Salt Water Taffy,

I am sure that the Angeles in Heaven (but perhaps only the goodest of the good ones, like Vicki Sue and my dear partner Kookoolis) are from time to time allowed to part the firmament and stick their noggins down to whiff deeply the aromatics of the Boardwalk…and the Beach (the seaweed, salt air, sea and ski and the fishtunken stink-a-moids stuck in the flotsam and jetsam) because in the Summertime, the super heated swirled up smell of it all together, is well, all together, out of this world.

You understand of course that I (and we) were well adapted to the mystical turquoise tranquility of mountain sheltered coves along the Caribees and the sweet reflective solitude to be found ‘neath the shading (coconut) tree. I’m guessing that you know or have at least heard tell that the Beaches in the Rockaways are any and everything but that. In fact they are the opposite of that in every way.

They are a Symphonic, electronic, “Ca-ca-ca-ca-phony” of clashing color, scent, sound and crazy characters, double amped to the max. I could not believe my eyes and ears (and taste buds) nor the heat of the frying pan hot sand under my feet, the Icy cold water, sea birds screeching, wheeling and robbing, up down around and around, Kiddies screaming and yelling (as often as not because the sea gulls were making off with their samrichs,) people wall to wall everywhere ,standing sitting laying leaping running back and forth slipping, tripping, back flipping  ball flying, babies crying, the guys screamin’ Ice Cream, “Hey uh huh getchur Ice Cold Ice Cream Heeya!” It was five towers of Babel fallen on their sides and popping open to spill man’s madness willy nilly upon the land..ah..sand 

Every conceivable human activity was being plotted, planed or in process there, I understood it to be my first real exposure to Democracy, and the downtrodden, weary rabble yearning to really be free.. And weaving under around, through and ultimately over and above it all, was the music. The glorious music a never ending arrhythmic crescendo of clashing keys, the competing themes of ultimate liberation of the human spirit.

That was the summer of ”Good Golly Miss Molly” “Searchin’””Bye Bye Love” and well yes “Love Letters In The Sand” and “Tammy” (I WAS a 12 year old romantic, much the same as now) but most of all, it was the Summer of 16 year old Paul Anka’s beautiful record “Diana”. “Diana” was the dream theme of every cross-eyed lovesick skinny bagabones boy who had ever set his eyes and heart on a slightly more physically mature, and sophisticated teenaged dream queen… (you may recall how wide a gap a year or two means in early teen time), “Diana” playing full blast over and above it all took us out of the crazy mind-boggling and delirious Boardwalk  Beach,  Summer of 57, (so exciting to me),  and into the Fall….   

Un “supra-stuporus” impression that has lasted, pasted and blasted the test of time, (and still takes my breath away) was what I can only call “My Vision of Arleta”

One pre-adolescent September afternoon when I was twelve, there on a side street close to the Boardwalk just inside the slightly elevated doorway, standing coolly in the tidal wave of jingling boinging bell banging, screeching sirens rackety raucous, sizzled grease burnt electronics and sawdusty scent and sound cloud that is a pinball arcade, was a girl.

And Oh my dear Lord what a girl. A sixteen year old Garrison Belted gum snapping, cigarette dangling helmet haired black leather jacketed death in blue denim Queen, A 1957 New York City, Rock n’ Roll indigo dolly of the most extraordinary God help us, “first plus” order.

Heavy lidded, red lipped, rouge on ivory, pouty, sultry, tough teen atomically charged, motorcycle booted “A-Bomb Baby” white teethed, smooth skinned, insolent virgin seductress, big bang born goddess of love, ah.. Ah… I mean burning lust. Teen Venus Diana Magdalene Italian Valkeri, proud, ah… very proud, of bosom, switch blade flashing, ebony eyed, Arleta.

 I stopped, heart pounding in my tracks right in front of her and looked dumb struck directly straight and completely into her face, into her eyes, searching, searching deeply into her soul, for her own registry of this moment. The impact of this momentous eye popping, jaw dropping of “fate in your face” moment.

I stood as her attention slowly shifted in my direction, and then to me, I imagined that the light flash kiss of a lifetime was a moment away that I would soon fling myself upon her bosom and mercy, for now and for the rest of my trembling life.

I steeled my self for her imminent ecstatic recognition, my collapse and complete surrender to her and her Arlettic ways, her eyes swept across my latitude, my geography, my place in time, my whole in the whole of the universe and registered… no thing, no one, nothing. As if my heaving chest and love flushed, thunder struck face was empty space. She registered nada, nada nada. 

My friend just off my elbow, who had witnessed the whole thing said matter of factly “Her names Arleta, she’s sixteen” and then “she didn’t even see ya”

What I learned that day was that this particular friend had a way of loudly and UN necessarily belaboring the painfully obvious.

The Vision of Arleta was beyond learning it was just an “is was” or “was is” of the most extraordinary, exciting and lasting, power and inspiration.

The next New York girl that made a strong and lasting impression on me was one that I had also never seen before but got my attention by swacking me smack dab in the eye before raining a torrent of fisticuffs down upon (or rather across) upon me in a mano a mano toe to toe nose to nose, knee to knee belly to belly “watch me beat up this boy battle” that seemingly was born for no other reason than that. Apparently, she saw it to her advantage to demonstrate her ability to “beat up a boy” and scrawny me looked like a most likely candidate… This was a battle that I certainly could not win, however I did manage to avoid humiliating myself for the next sixty years by standing my ground and taking it (rather than running away in tears) until an adult stepped in and sent us each back to our own corner buildings.

Of course my right hand comentater man found it necessary to say loudly and repeat repeatedly “Boy, did you see that? That girl sure can fight” and “Man, a girl was beatin’ you up in front of all those people!”




Book 4, Scott Fagan And The MAAC Island Band at The 35th Annual Middletown Fair

June 15, 2010 1 comment

BOOK 4. Scott Fagan And The MAAC Island Band at The 35th Annual Middletown Fair.

 Up in the states, I am a member of and involved with The MAAC (Middletown Area Arts Collective) MAAC is located in Middletown Pennsylvania, a gritty little town that was once a crossroads of the old canal system (The Union and Pennsylvania Canals met and joined here) then a railroad town, an/industrial center and finally the home of Olmstead Air Force Base.

 All of those economic engines have come and gone (the base closed in the sixties) and with them, much of the heart and spirit of the place and its people. The town is most recently known for being the location of the notorious and near catastrophic Three Mile Island Nuke plant meltdown. A not inappropriate illustration of the present state of the Middletown, and its burgers.

It’s the kind of environment in which art is not taken seriously, if, taken at all. The kind of “banged in the noggin” environment where art is likely to be considered (when considered) a serious waste of time.

It is the intention of MAAC or the Collective, to transform the town into a center for the arts and artists. I am a very active supporter of that idea for a number of reasons, and if you’ve been reading the Mem.wa?  Reasons, the genesis of which, I don’t have to explain.

 Moreover, however and in addition, I am strumulated by  (as if I needed any more challenges)  the idea of  collective consciousness in action and  the fun in  making music with folks lacking in big city disillusionment, who actually still make music for the love of it.

(You certainly have my permission to assume or conclude that my own constellation of motivations for making music may be somewhat more constrangled with conflicting complexities than the simple pursuit of joy however, believe it or not, the joy  found in the “magic moments” in-side the transformational experience of singing/making music, is still the jumbo juice of it all.)

 We are going to be doing a one hour concert at the upcoming 35th Annual Middletown  Fair, and I am looking forward to the gig. Here is our little local one sheet and the boys (and girl) in the band.


 SCOTT FAGAN and The MAAC ISLAND BAND have been tearing it up at the Middletown Area Arts Collective since Scott came up from  St. Thomas at the beginning of May.

Scott Fagan (Singer) has been an international recording artist since he left high school in St. Thomas Virgin Islands to sign with Columbia Records in 1964. He presently divides his time between The MAAC collective in Middletown and his home in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

Some reviews…

  • Cashbox Magazine:
    Spinal Tap melodies…His range is phenomenal
  • Billboard:
    “A Poet”
  • William Krasilovsky, Author, THIS BUSINESS OF MUSIC, l & ll:
    “Scott Fagan is a genius. I’ll certify that.”                                                                      


Rafael “El Jefe” Martinez, (El Congero) Rafael was born in Armaguerros, Puerto Rico; he has been a “Congero” for over twenty Five years and a “Pennsylvaniero”since 1973.

 Drew Washington, (Bass) Originally from New Mexico, Drew appeared at the MAAC Gallery in Middletown one winter night for an open jam and immediately became the BASS Man of Choice for the MAAC ISLAND BAND. Drew has been playing at the highest levels, for over thirty Years.

Tim Griesemer (Drums) is well known through out Pennsylvania (and beyond) for his extraordinary gifts as a drummer. He is master of a wide variety of percussion instruments and has made it his business to “pass it on”

Barbara  Vajda… is a Croatian Steelton Guitar Goddess with a long musical history in Pennsylvania. After a hiatus to raise little ones, The Goddess is back with SCOTT FAGAN and the MAAC ISLAND BAND.

 Friends of MAAC may pop up or chime in as the spirit moves them and time will allow.

Sound Engineering for SCOTT FAGAN the MAAC ISLAND BAND is by digitaldave, 30 Years on the knobs.

CONTACT Tim Griesemer Home 717-944-3023 Cell 717-439-1919 or Scott Fagan 717-592-0853   

My little joke is that at sixty-four, opportunity is once again knocking at the door, the problem is finding my glasses my walker and my wig and then getting my shakity self to the door in time, or possibly, even hearing the blasted knocking in the first place, or if I do hear the K’ NOK  figgerin’ out what the heck it is. I’m a tellin’ ya..

 The gig is over, and we did a great job. I am very grateful to the “Great Artist” for giving me the gift and ability to sing, I just love to sing..And thanks to all that is good, I was able to sing like a banshee.

We have another gig,(this time a two hour concert) scheduled from five to seven on the 26th of June here in Middletown, at the old log cabin down by Swatara Creek. (No I’m not kidding,  for reals)

The new CD “Scott Fagan’s The Virgin Island Songs, Live in Concert” will be coming out in July with the new recording of “Surrender To The Sun” as the single. While we are trying to promote the release, we will be busy recording The MAAC Island Band and my self, live in Middletown.

Playing live shows and singing up a storm is great fun for me and I hope that we will be able to gig and that I will be able to  continue singing as well as I am for a long long time. In order to do that, we need to find an agent able to book the gigs.

It’s a new world and the dawning of a new paradigm for music and the relationship between music creators and them that love music. I wish that my beautiful partner the Great Cocacola (Kookoolis) and the many friends of “SOON” were still around to see this day. What a Cabruncle the Music Business did to the Music Business… We will sing and play and, “The Great Artist” willing, love, clear thinking and collective effort, will find a way…yep! Continues…


Book 1. In Nueva York!

June 6, 2010 1 comment

BOOK 1. In Nueva York!

 We arrived in Nueva York that night with the wind a blowing and the snow a snowing… Mud walked out of the plane, down the stairs and across the tarmac  with little Larry snuggled in her arms, Gale and I following behind. People looking in amazement at this woman and her children dressed for  the fourth of July, apparently completely ignorant of things like baby blankets, mittens,, noggin toppers and the like. An older white gent looked pityingly at Mother with her little brown babe in arms, and took off his heavy overcoat, draping it over Mother and child. We knew instantly that we were in a world, a reality that was  completely foreign to us, we (Gale and I) had spent over half of our young lives surrounded by people of color, or colors, immersed in cultures and climes very much other than this one. 

I can’t speak for Gale on this but I had come to view the world from the position of an underdog with “something to prove” and white folks as “odd otheren” that we did not particularly identify with or fully understand.

It was very strange to see “the othern” all around us, and to all but hear them making judgments about Mother and Larry and Gale and I, things became even stranger when we saw our first  so called “American Negros” all relegated to subservient positions in the airport, and saw (and felt) the tense and toxic vibes that existed between the Blancos and los Negros and vice versa.

The number of shifting realities present in those first minutes in the terminal at Idlewild Airport that winter night was fantastic.

Our survivor antenna were sparking and spinning like never before…our exposure  to the new “who is what to whom and which is where and why and how and what is what is what” would take intense sorting out and every day that followed would bring more and more of the same…

For example, the very next day while riding in Mud’s twin sister Lea’s husband Jack’s (who had been on the verge of marrying Mud in St. Thomas before she choose Howard instead and we wound up in Puerto Rico) car, I saw a white kid my age running like crazy down the middle of a four lane avenue, a huge box of Jujubes in his hand with the lean mean  grown up manager of a nearby supermarket right behind him. The kid was flying…

I was filled with curiosity and strong emotions   as I watched, in large part because I had never seen a white person in either of these roles. Why would a white kid have to steal anything? Why does a grown up white man care enough about a box of candy to be running around in the street traffic and risking his life, like this?  “Suppose the man catches him? is he going to kill him or just hurt him? Will the kid fight him and bite him? Will they call his parents? Does he have any parents? Will the police come, will they beat him up? I thought It was among the strangest things I had ever seen, but only because the people were white. 

In my experience, white people didn’t work, and certainly they didn’t run through traffic risking their lives over a box of Jujubes, white kids didn’t have to steal candy they were rich and got what ever they wanted by whining for it.

The white adults I knew were wild eyed  artists or owned things like hotels or jewelry stores or were plump and pale effete tourists, the only white children that I’d ever seen (or could remember having seen…-although we may have seen some such before we went to the Islands in the first place) poor enough to perhaps have to help themselves to a bon bon  from time to time, were Gale and me, and of the two of us I was the only white child that I know of in the whole wide world that had actually stolen (and eaten) candy. In reality, I had stolen some pennies and a quarter, some nickels, and dimes, half a handful of change from the cash box of a little shop in the Islands owned by the parents of friends of Gale and mine.  (I was so young that I didn’t yet know how to count, or I was so upset at what I had done that I didn’t want to know how bad a deed it was, I bought some penny candy with it just outside of the Barracks Yad and stuck the booty and the little looty left over under my pillow. Apparently I had scooped up more than I needed for the penny candy I wanted, so..not knowing what to do with the overage, I  may have thrown it away by the road side) Nevertheless, even though I was only six or seven when I lost my state of grace to petty penny pilferin’ misery, I still felt terrible about it. (Ah..In fact, I still do) Against that background, I struggled with what I was seeing play out in the middle of the traffic before us. A light changed somewhere and we moved on down the road without seeing the conclusion of the tableau or act three. (My hope has always been that the boy got away but was so upset by his actions and outcome that he never never never did anything like that again. It may be an unlikely end story however, because frankly the little white kid looked like a pretty tough little guy already. Another something novel and new to me)

Lea and Jack were pretty blasé about the whole thing it, and I got the impression that stuff like that happened all the time. It “blew my mind” (which means it exploded my preconceived notion of a particular reality) Yep,

Then there was this thing called television, and its crazy crazy shows like “Queen For A Day” and “$64,000 Question” and something called “The Mouseketeers” with a beautiful soulful looking girl named “Annette Funichello”. We were in someplace called “Kew Gardens” in a world dunked and  dyed this God awful brown and gray. A color that I’ve since dubbed “Brey” the essence of depression that ran under over and through everything everywhere you looked.  The sound track to all of this was an Ookity Dookity song called “Catch A Falling Star And Put It IN Your Pocket And Save It For A Rainy Day” by a singing barber named “Perry Como” who made Pat Boone look like Humphrey Bogart. The song was #1 in this, the world of Rock And Roll, one more reason why  Gale and I along with Mud and Little Larry  were thoroughly  disoriented and confused.

 One day I was looking out the window and  saw some scruffy older kids  messing around with the great New York City equalizer,  Stickball. However, just as I had earned my own place in the scruffy lineup, the whole kapassel of us (Mud, Lea, Jack, Hansie ( Lea and Jack’s little guy John Just about the same age as Larry) Claudia (Lea’s beautiful little girl,around two years old at the time) Gale, Larry and I.) left for Far Rockaway and Wave Crest Gardens.

“Wave Crest Gardens” (two or three blocs of “private” public housing type buildings, each “Bloc” consisting of two U-shaped six-story buildings facing each other from either end of a  raised central space containing park type benches and the odd patch of grass, stunted trees and bushes. The “Gardens” were a block from the board walk and the beach at Far Rockaway. A far so far  that the Board walk actually ended there. It reminds me of  El Ultimo Trolley in its lonely finality.

 Now we were in another world, inside another world, because most of the people living there were a kind of white people called “Jewish” a people with some interesting thoughts and experiences around race and cultural prejudice themselves. Of course up to that point the whole Jewish New York reality might have been a Chinese opera for all we knew, however we soon realized we were foreigners again with much to learn. And we did.

Probably first and foremost was the realization that the ideas that we had about white people were pretty much adopted from black people and brown people who had been oppressed and disrespected by “the white people” and were jusifiably wary of any universe that contained them.  Consequently, our understanding of “white people” was cockamamie and incomplete. We realized that up close, there was (for us at least) no “the white people” rather there were innumerable groups of disparate peoples (many of whom and didn’t like each other one bit), fought constantly and said nasty things about each other. We were now living among a “white people” who had been wronged, abused, brutalized, and murdered due to prejudice. However, inspite of that, I was surprised to discover that some of the kids had some hateful prejudices of their own.

Fairly early on as we all jockeyed for places in the hierarchy of cool (roughly based on appearance, ability to fight, demonstrated skill in Stickball, Punch ball, Handball, Stoopball, and your ability to sound like the singer on a Rock and Roll record) some of my age peers (11 or 12 years old) came running breathlessly to tell me that “Alan” a hither to coolish  bigger, older kid, had called me a…a…a…”spip or spuk or snik or something”, a word I had never heard in my life and had no meaning whatsoever for me.  “What’s that? I asked them, “It’s a person from Puerto Rico!” they exclaim-s’plained, a person who comes from Puerto Rico! “We came here from Puerto Rico, but what’s the matter with that”? I wondered and asked. They were flabbergasted…how could I not know what that word meant? How could I not be outraged by the word? How could I not know that someone had tried to be completely demeaning and insulting of me and what the idiot thought were my people? By calling me a word that had no meaning? I didn’t get it, It was ridiculous. 

I didn’t even know what he and they were talking about. It took quite a while for me to understand and realize that this Jewish kid (a bigger older kid who I had respected and thought worth learning something from) thought he was putting me down by calling me a spluk or something. It really was ridiculous. (Years later a New York Taxi Driver trying to hip me to the ways of the City and educate me about Borinquenos, proudly explained to me that “People from Puerto Rico are “Spanish Puerto Rican Indian Coloreds” and that’s why we call them that word.

I still didn’t get where the insult is in being “Spanish Puerto Rican Indian Colored”, because in fact there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s a beautiful joining of beautiful peoples with a powerful and romantic heritage and history.

Anyway, that kind of cruel idiocy seems to be one of the common threads connecting all of human kind, it’s always disappointing when it shows up but most especially from someone who you think might have suffered enough to know better. As I said earlier, we would  learn a great deal  in Far Rockaway, New York, USA in the Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, of 1957. Continues…