Neolithic Equinox

I first visited London in the fall of 1978.

My girlfriend Lisa was a model for Elite. The New York owner John Casablancas thought her beauty might sell better in Europe. The blonde from Buffalo was only 5-7.

We lived next to the Chelsea Football Stadium and had never left the apartment on match days.

Chelsea supporters fought before, during, and after the game outside the Butcher’s Hook.

Lisa watched the brawl from our window and said, “I have to go to work.”

“There’s no walking through that mob.”

“Maybe not for you, but I can walk anywhere. This casting is important.”

She pulled on a white leather coat over her mini dress and hurried out the door. I tried to follow her, but she was swallowed by the fracas. I returned inside the apartment and waited for her call.

The phone never rang and after the mob dispersed I ate at workers’ cafe.

Bangers, bacon, eggs, beans, and toast.

My day was free and I wandered around the city.

King’s Road.

The British Museum.

I had read about a tunnel under the Thames to Greenwich linking the Isle of Dogs shipyards to the grounds of the Royal Observatory. Mostly for the dockworkers. Workers of the world unite.

Few people trod through the tunnel. Even fewer were on the grounds of the Royal Observatory. The upper-classes on England were at war with the workers in the late-70s and the battles were for the hearts of the young.

I emerged from the depth to the center of all time.

The clock here governed all time across the globe.

The BBC World Radio Service announced the hour according to Greenwich Mean Time.

In the early 1970s I had studied math at university. In Multi-variable Calculus I argued against the value of the speed of light. Everyone chorused Einstein’s calculation was a constant.

I had argued that while the speed limit in America was 55 and none of us drove that slow. My professors, except for Rene Marcus, considered me a simpleton and I dropped LSD to divine the turn of time.

The clock ticked slow and I thanked the stars the speed limit was not 45.

Four years later I stood at the center of time for Earth and watched my watch’s third hand tick off every second.

My Texas Instrument Chronograph was on the same beat.

I was in synch with the planet.

At least for humans.

Universal time was no longer the sole possession of the Royal Observatory, but that day I was seduced by the International Terrestrial Reference Frame and fell into a standing coma. A man in a white coat asked, “Are you all right?”

At first I thought he was a Bedlam intern coming to take me away, but he was a groundskeeper and I said, “Just struck with awe.”

“As well you should be.”

“Tempus fugit.”

I returned to the tunnel and walked its length in silence. My feet measured time. I was 28.

Throughout the 80s I lived in Paris.

The City of Light.

I ran nightclub doors.

Also in Hamburg, Nice, and London.

I was the toughest man in all those cities.

Mostly because the Bufalos had my back.

And I had theirs.

We didn’t look at clocks or watches. Our time was determined by the end of the night and in those years no one wanted to end the night young.

But I hadn’t forgotten math, because I was now 32.

Candia was younger than that.

Nothing stalled the clock ticking like a younger woman. She was crazy and I was crazy in love. I wrote down the measures of time we spent together. Numerology was a refuge for the mad and no one was more mad than an older man in love with a young woman. She was seeing someone else. Maybe two someones. I had to get away for the moments between her going and coming, because math had no control over love.

In September of 1985 I fled Paris for England by hydrofoil.

The Prince Of Wales traversed the Channel in forty minutes.

I rode from Dover to London on an ancient train, eating a bacon sandwich in the cafe car.

I didn’t give a shit about gaining an hour of time.

I stayed with my old friend AJ in Queen’s Park and tai chi teachers never graded you for tardiness.

We drank at his house. A bottle of vodka. Sleep. Oblivion.

In the morning AJ proposed a trip to Stonehenge.

“It is the equinox.”

“The autumnal equinox?” The equinoxes are the only times when the edge between night and day is perpendicular to the equator. They along with the solstices set the season. The passage of the moon determined the months and the passing of blood for women.

We were of the stars and I still didn’t believe 186,000 miles per second was the fastest speed in the universe.

“Even Captain Kirk knew there was no speed limit, but on Earth the seasons have forever been bound by the moon and stars.

AJ and I drove west out of London.

The city had existed before the Romans over 750,000 days ago, however today mattered only for today and today was a beautiful autumn day.

Especially in a burgundy Rover

The Avesbury Circle was one of the greatest works by our neolithic ancestors.

The Picts.

They understood the passage of the stars, moon, and sun.

And they created beer five thousand years ago.

They spoke an extinct language, but I remained a Pict.

Lords of time.

We walked the northern avenue.

The light was golden.

I touched the stones and was transported back thousands of years.

Everything in me said, “Get naked. Understand time with the wind on your flesh.”

Time flowed through my skin.

AJ slapped my shoulder and said, “Snap out of it. We have a lot of ground to cover.”

At the next stop a mist rose over the burrows.

I stood by the mound.

I saw my dead grandmother.

And all time before.

E=MC2.

Time is not constant and out the corners of my eyes peeked the past.

And then we reached Stonehenge.

The sun pierced the stones.

I cried on my knees.

AJ lifted me to my feet.

“Is there something wrong?”

“No, five thousand years ago I was here.”

“And we’re here today.” I started to take off my clothes for the sun and the cosmos.

“Not now.” AJ bought me back to the Rover. “I know someplace better.”

We headed east.

A great mound lifted from the Wilshire plain to the height of the pyramids.

“Silbury.”

“One thousand men worked ten years to build it.” AJ sounded like an expert. “It’s over a hundred feet tall.”

“Can we climb it?”

“By the ancient route? Of course. But no photos.”

We climbed to the top. I stripped naked. AJ joined me. We spread out arms to the sun. Time passed through me from a billion miles away from the solar system’s course across the edge of the Milky Way.

I was one with all the elements

The evening was getting cold. I looked at AJ. He was crying too.

And like that we were lost to the eternity of an spring sunset.

As we all are.

E=MC2 does not apply to me or mine.

Not in this world’s time.

I didn’t care. Oceans measure time and the movement through the cosmos.

I am 68 now.

In 1960 I was so much younger then and still am now.

No matter what my age.

I Blew The Shofar

Several years ago I was out on Montauk with Richie Boy. The summer rental of his shack had finished the previous Sunday and his beach house was his again. We worked around his cottage in the morning and played with his twins, then hit Ditch Plains at noon. The waves were ankle-high, but the surfers in the water discussed the upcoming swell on Wednesday.

“There’s a hurricane out there.” Richie eyed the ocean.

“Potentially the biggest waves of the season.” Another surfer said sitting on his board..

“I’m taking off the week for Rosh Hashanah.”

Nobody argued with Richie’s choice. He was almost a local. We spent another hour at the break, then returned to his shack for a BBQ.

Later I caught the last train to New York and slept in my own bed.

The following morning I woke up thinking that today was the High Holy Day of Awe and said as much to my landlord.

“No, it’s next Wednesday,” AP told me.

“I blew it.”

“Better than blowing the chauffeur.”

I made a mistake, but what can you expect from a goy?

ps the ocean was flat last weekend, but lovely all the same.

50 States of Hell

Hawaii is the happiest state in America. New York ranks as the unhappiest. It is my state and I wish that I could be with my children in Thailand. Holding my son and daughter is paradise for me. Maybe I can fly to Asia in two weeks.

One good sale would pay for the R/T ticket and I had two new good customers.

Several years ago I was speaking with an older woman in the diamond exchange. Everyone else had early closed for the Rosh Hashana. The nickname for the high holiday of repentance was ‘rush-a-home-a’ and people get very religious when it comes to getting out of work early.

Only our store and Marsha’s were open.

My boss, Manny, was busying with paperwork. His son, Richie Boy, had left at 4 with his Brazilian wife and older brother. They were dining with Manny’s ex-wife. Hilda had invited both of us to her table. Manny said the same thing as me.

“Thanks, but not thanks.”

Neither of us wanted to schlep back and forth to the island.

Across the aisle Marsha was also in no hurry. She was meeting her good friend for dinner. Marsha had millions. Much more than Manny. Her wealth came from the hard work of her husband and herself. Marsha’s wrist was marked by a tattoo. The work of the Nazis. Her late husband was a friend. We shared the same taste for good things. He could afford them. Not anymore.Paul passed away the previous year, leaving Marsha everything.

Marsha’s children had begged for her to come to dinner. She wasn’t going to the suburbs. She liked sleeping in her own bed.

Me too.

“Tomorrow I’ll go to Long Island,” Marsha spoke the two words as if the suburbs was purgatory. She had been brought up in Berlin. Her family had lived on Behrenstrasse. The good life. Even three years in a concentration camp had not destroyed her love for Europe. She knew my history of living in Paris and said, “It’s not Ile St. Louis.”

“Nothing in New York is Ile St. Louis.” I had lived on Rue des Deux Ponts with a Vogue model during the 80s. She slept with many men. Never me. It was better that way. “I loved waking in the morning and walking to the cafe opposite Notre-Dame.”

A cafe, croissant, and Calvados.

“This city is for animals. I’m sorry, but no one here has any class.” Marsha adhered to the old ways and was appalled by the lack of dignity in America. “The people are good, but they are slaves to TV. No one reads anything. They speak about trash and the way they eat, feh.”

Her tongue clucked with a disdainful hiss.

The city’s restaurants were crowded with wealthy hedge fund bankers. They were the only ones with money.

“The reason that I don’t get a laser operation is to avoid seeing the ugliness of this city.” A 100 mph storm had devastated my neighborhood the previous evening. “After the tornado I looked at the sky. The end of the storm was beautiful. We have to enjoy these small moments. They make the ugliness forgettable.”

Marsha shrugged with surrender.

“Three weeks ago I was in Switzerland. The mountains were everywhere.” Her voice softened with the memory. She had been a widow for over a years I had offered to marry her on more than one occasion. Her laughter each time made us both happy.

Almost happy as Hawaii.

And that was a good state of mind.

Especially after Manny said that it was time to go home before 5.

It was most certainly ‘Rush-a-home-a.”

Tannah Shova.

Stealing the Shofar

Joseph, a deeply religious man, went to his temple for Rosh Hashanah and forgot his prayer shawl [Tallit], so he borrowed one from “the rack” by the door.

At the end of the service, he realised that he really liked this Tallit so much so that he actually decided to stuff it down the front of his trousers and take it home.

After the service when he was walking through the reception line, the Rabbi Lionel stopped him and whispered, ‘Joseph, I am sorry, but I saw you stuff a tallit down your pants. Why would you do this?’

Joseph, totally embarrassed and ashamed, explained the situation, whereupon Rabbi Lionel suggested he remove it from his trousers and give it back. By now, the Tallit had managed to slide half-way down his leg. While Joseph was bent over pulling the it out of his pant leg, he accidentally let out a loud fart.

Rabbi Lionel, exasperated, said, ‘Joseph … you took the Shofar, too?’

ROSH A HOMA by Peter Nolan Smith

Last year I sat in Frank’s Lounge with Vince. The owner’s nephew and I were discussing a teaching position as a creative writer. The offer sounded good and the Fort Greene native said, “Hell, I have a four day weekend thanks to Rush a homa.”

“You mean Rosh Hashanah?” My boss from the Diamond District also called the Jewish holiday ‘rush a homa’.

“Yeah, and I bet no one in this bar know what the holiday is? It’s not like I have an extra holiday for Martin Luther King Day.” The school administrator was right. Frank’s Lounge was a black bar. I was the only token white boy in the place. It was a quiet night for a Friday.

“It’s the Jewish Day of Awe, celebrating y’shim creation of Adam and Eve.” I knew the High Holy Days from working twenty-odd years on 47th Street. “It’s also the Day of Judgment and Jews have ten days until Yom Kippur to repent for their sins. Of course I don’t believe in that shit, because I’m an atheist.”

“Atheist?” Vince rocked on his stool with laughter. “I’m always amused by you atheists. None of you believe in God until you need him.”

“Not true.” I stopped praying to God years ago.

“You ever hear about this atheist rowing at the lake, when suddenly the Loch Ness monster attacked and grabbed him from his boat. He panicked and shouted “God help me!”, and suddenly, the monster and everything around him just stopped.

A voice from the heavens boomed “You say you don’t believe in me, but now you are asking for my help?”

The atheist looked up and said, “Well, ten seconds ago I didn’t believe in the Loch Ness Monster either!”

Several of the nearest drinkers chortled at this joke.

“This isn’t about atheists. This is about Rosh Hashanah and the sins of the world.”

“Well, here’s to Rosh Hashanah. I got two days off with pay and my next beer is to Yom Kippur. I love a holiday to fish.” Vince ordered me a beer too. I was glad for his hospitality. My money was down to $10. I may have sins, but too many to count on a Sunday night.

Shana Tova everyone.