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Posts Tagged ‘Nueva York’

August 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Here’s one for Bite Size and the “All She Wants To Do Is Dance” Group.

From the Live Album “SHAKE A BUM” by Scott Fagan And The MAAC Island Band lilfish records, St. Thomas Virgin Islands

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Scott Fagan And The MAAC Island Band @ Gullifty’s Camp Hill PA.

December 7, 2013 Leave a comment

Scott Fagan And The MAAC Island Band @ Gullifty's Camp Hill PA.

Here’s a picture taken by our beautiful friend and Producer “Digital Dave” recently at Gullifty’s a great spot in Camp Hill Pa. Just behind and to my right is the great Bass Player “Bobby Fry JR”. It was a Wonderful Gig, I wish you had been there with us. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Book 4. What a Wonderful Gig!

May 8, 2011 2 comments

What a wonderful gig we had in Brooklyn yesterday (Saturday 5/7/11) at the big Convergence in Red Hook Event. What fun!

The MAAC Island Band fluted and banged their socks and maracas off and I (while breaking three strings myself) sang like a banshee in flames. The dancers  twirled the colors swirled and the music that makes happy, ruled the land.

Many a girl from yesterday was there, piffeled up with perfume and looking all shiny and new. Each as enticing as ever.

There is a communal space (parallel to the muggled mundane) in which “them that makes the music and them that receives it” are intimately bound in transcendental joy, breath to breath, beat to beat, spirit to spirit. I thee, you, me… a “we”. A “we” that is at once plural, that is at once singular. A “plural singularity”, a delight to sing in, a delight to sing from, a delight to sing  to. All in all, past wonderful.

We will be back in New York for the big “Make Music New York Festival”  on June 21 st.  Musical artists of every kind will be playing simultaneously all over the city.  We “Scott Fagan And The MAAC Island Band” are scheduled to play at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (46th and First, across from the UN) from 4:00 to 5:00 PM. We can hardly wait! Perhaps we will see you there!

Here are two more tunes from the LIVE Album “Shake A Bum” I hope you enjoy them.

Here is “Mademoiselle”

and Here is “Where My Lover Has Gone”

Book 4. Brand New Grandson…Jacob Max Charles Fagan! “Dreams Should Never Die” and “El Gringito”

April 13, 2011 4 comments

Book 4. Brand New Grandson…Jacob Max Charles Fagan!

My boy “The Bix” (Scott Francis Fagan) Son of Patricia Trepuk Evelyn Nelthrop Fagan and Great Grandson of Max Trepuk (of M.E. Trupk and I. Levine fame) has just had a little one. Here’s a photo of the fine young gent.

Jacob Max Charles Fagan

The Newest Chip off the Old Block

 He is not one bit better looking than his father or Grandfather (me)  at his age and so unfortunately, is not terribly likely to be able to get by based on looks alone. This means the lad is destined for hard work and long labor and may expect to start his first job  well before nursery school.

 Such is life for the likes of we…

Too bad he doesn’t look like his Grand Mother Patricia, why then the boy would be “King of The World”.

However, if he brings even a quarter of the happiness, delight and joy to his father, that his father has brought to me, then there is great cause for high kicking and hot footed celebration all across the land, and I welcome him with all my heart and soul.

 God bless you little Jacob Max Charles Fagan, you are most certainly a chip off the old block. Welcome, Welcome, to the World.

Here is “El Gringito” from “The V.I. Songs Vol. ll”  ’cause the dear lad is “Un Cuarto Puertoricanio”

 and  “Dreams Should Never Die” from the same CD to mark the occasion.

Feliz Navidad! Looking Forward!

Book 4. Dear Carol and Book 4. De Barracks Yad Bay And Beach Club And Book 4. “Yeah But Can You Sell 300 Tickets?”

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment

 Book 4. Dear Carol and Book 4. De Barracks Yad Bay And Beach Club And Book 4. “Yeah But Can You Sell 300 Tickets?”

 Dear Carol,

Please forgive me for not responding more quickly, I was away from my computer and in New York, as you will see later in today’s postings.

Gale and I have thought of you, your big sister Ruth your little brother Kent or “Kennet” (as people call him), and your parents, many more times than I can say. I am very sorry to report to you that Gale died not long ago (April of 08) and up and to that time we spoke about you and your family often and with great fondness.

I recently did a concert at the “J. Antonio Jarvis Museum and Learning Center” in Pollyburg, which is also the defacto home of “We from Upstreet” (an organization that you may be familiar with, or may find interesting to look into.)

In any case, because of the time that Gale and I spent living “Upstreet” (we had already moved twice, and had been in both Catholic and Nisky schools before coming  upstreet) I was invited to join the organization and I did with great pleasure.

 During  the concert I performed a spoken word piece called “De Barracks Yad Bay And Beach Club” which was very well received, I am posting it here again today in hopes that you will enjoy it. There is much more to write about the people, places and things of upstreet and you can be quite sure that you will find the Daniels family therein.

I have seen Kent from time to time through the years and have often asked about you and Ruth, I am glad to know that you are well and I certainly hope that she is also. Please pass my warmest regards along to her if you can, and know that because of your many kindnesses the memory of you and your family is always with me. Do you remember our little club and its Theme Song “Home Home on The Range”? Yep! And when we children would pack a little picnic lunch and follow Ruth along “Beljan Road” to go swimming at “Long Bay” (before Pearson Gardens and Yacht Haven?) Yep and.. and..well, God Bless you Carol, thank you for writing. My email address is scott@lilfish.com looking forward!  

Book 4. De Barracks Yad Bay An Beach Club

 It jus so happen dat one day roun de bay dere by de Barracks yad a big truck come an dump out a truck load a san. Wha! Yeh meboy, (I se to meself) now yu talking boy, now yu talkin’ lemme go lay doun in it.

 No sooner said dan done an I was de fus man dare. Boy, ah lay back an cross me leg an crass up me han dem behine me head like ah contemplating de clouds in de clear blue sky. De nex second, ah jump up ana run back home to de head a pave street for me Muddah towel ana umbrella fo style, den ah grab up a can a sardine, two French bread ana red soda ana fly back to de beautiful new san at wha I kno gon soon be “De Barracks Yad Bay an Beach Club” Yeh meboy, ah se to meself now yu talking now yu talking.

 By de time ah reach back, three o fo touris had done fin de spot, but ah tro doun me self right in de middle ah dem, put an me shades ana open me sardine.

Jus den a big hard face man se “Hey Buckra, wha de hell yu tink yu doin, yu can’ see we come tu mix up concrete an cement?” Ah se “wha? Yu crazy? Wha yu commin’ to de beach tu mix up concrete and cement” De man se “Is you is de one who crazy, who de hell tell you dis is a beach, we makin’ a watahfront fo  bigtruck cou pass here” Ah se “wha? Is YOU is de one who crazy, look de beautiful blue watah de, look de san here, look de people in de middle. We here in de Barracks Yad waitin’ bocoups an many years plus fo somebody to bring de san fo de beach. Man de people dem  been laydin doun in de mud full a crab hole an rock stone an badein’ in de watah  wha de bottom fulla broke shell an beer can. De chrirren dem billin san calsel outtah mud an don’ talk abou when de gut runnin and de nightsoil commin’ doun, den dey makin mud pie outta dat!

 No man, we waitin’ two hundred years an mo for dis san tu come (an fo somebody to plug up de gut) We ain’ wan no concrete and cement fo de beach, how de people dem gon lay doun on concrete and cement?, why yu wan tu have to jump up wid yu coal pot an yu fry fish and yu mabi an yu blanket an everyting, everytime some schupid muddah skunk ina bigtruck want tu pass. Yu crazy? No man, bring mo san! Dis is de place right here me boy, in fac we should exten de beach all de way from Wes Indian dock to Cha Cha Ta…ah.. ah mean French Toun!

Yu kno de beach belongs to de people dem and dat way every day will be like Christmas Mahnin fo de whole ah Charlotte Amalia me boy. Man sellin fraco an jumbi bead lef an right, woman sellin pate an benye by de poun. Touris frum all ovah de place commin to see de most beautiful town in de wurl, wid de bigges an de bes and de most beautiful beach in de wurl, rite in de middle ait. An de people dem will own de whole ting!. Man ah tell yu bring mo san! Bring mo san!

 Book 4. “Yeah But Can You Sell 300 Tickets?”

 I have been a Recording Artist since I first signed with Columbia Records in the fall of 1964, and have been subject or exposed to most every original and derivative permutation of art/music and business related bull jive steamin’. Every hipper than thou conceit, confabulation, confusion, slight of hand obfustication (compounded I confess by crock pots of chemistry guaranteed to lift the veil, and expose the heart of matter AND the matter too, listened to every triple speaking squeaky charlatan and predatory Piranha, every well intentioned honey, and her Father AND her Mother, Cuzuncle, Cuzauntie, Police Chief, School teacher, sponsor, Chaplin, shrink, business and financial advisor and attorney, music biz, patent, copyright, real estate, personal injury and divorce. Every cross-eyed, trembling lipped visionary, explicator, explainer, translator, voice from the clouds, fortune cookie, Gypsy and know it all, know nothing available. Every ambitious author, handbook scribbler, how to coach, wanna be publicist, agent, and queen bee, every bartender, dealer, secretary of the meeting, founding director, Psychologist, Professor, lunatic and even to my partner in lilfish records, Tutsie.  And nothing has ever been quite so clear, so illuminating, so to the point, so completely question AND answer in one, so insulting and inspirational so in out all and every thing, as the question put to me this past Friday October the 8th, 2010, in New York City.  “Yeah But Can You Sell 300 Tickets?”

Continues….

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. 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…