Kill For The Sake Of Cali

GUNGA DIN was one of my favorite movies as a child. The cinematic version of Rudyard Kipling’s poem about an untouchable bisthi or water carrier had elephants, fakirs, religious fanatics, comedy, thrills, and the horror of the Thuggees, who killed the innocent for their multi-armed goddess, Cali.

“Swear by our mother Kali to be thrice faithful to her and to me and to our order and to all of us. Rise, our new-made brothers. Rise and kill. Kill, lest you be killed yourselves. Kill for the love of killing. Kill for the love of Kali! Kill! Kill! Kill!”

I always found this murderous request chilling, but mankind hasn’t changed a lick since the release of 1939 GUNGA DIN.

The Taliban murdered over a hundred schoolchildren in Pakistan, a Louisiana mother killed her babies, Israel’s IDF slaughtered hundreds of Gazans during the summer, a madman shot two cops in NY, the cops killed more, and it keeps on going on and on and on without cessation.

The horror.

As Joseph Conrad wrote in THE EHART OF DARKNESS.

The horror.

Marlon Brando rumbled the words in APOCALYPSE NOW.

All I want is a little peace.

Is that too much to ask from the world.

One day.

And here’s the end of GUNGA DIN.

The water boy has been shot and is dying.

A sergeant speaks over his body.

So I’ll meet ‘im later on
At the place where ‘e is gone –
Where it’s always double drill and no canteen;
‘E’ll be squattin’ on the coals
Givin’ drink to poor damned souls,
An’ I’ll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!
Yes, Din! Din! Din!
You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,
By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din

To watch a sequence from GUNGA DIN, please go to the following URL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEynYH-FNy8

The Longest Night

The Longest NightThe Longest Night

Stonehenge has endured time. This morning the sun rose in the east. Light passed through the massive portals to cast a path marking the winter solstice. Beer and mead were ready for drinking after the season of fermentation. Both were served as food through the winter. I have always called the Winter Solstice the holy day Beermas.

I celebrated it often during the cold months.

Modern historians paint a bleak portrait of the Bronze Age.

They called the time after Meán Geimhridh as the famine months.

Few of them lived amongst the poor of Now and even fewer understand the nutritional value of beer.

I woke this morning to the sun rising over Brooklyn.

The light was gold on the tall buildings to the west.

They told me the time and honored the day.

I drank beer with friends.

I drank Irish whiskey.

It was a good beermas.

Now begins the longest night.

My pillow waits.

Brionglóid milis or sweet dreams.

11:59PM

A little before midnight.

On the Friday before Christmas I stopped by the diamond exchange on 47th Street. There are no customers before the booths. Only the rich have money and the vast majority had fled south for Florida or St. Bart’s. Richie Boy was working with a wealthy friend. He was asking $260,000 for a magnificent sapphire in an exquisite platinum and diamond mounting.

“Burma no heat.” The best stones came from that country.

“I’ll give you $150,000.” The banker had squirreled away a fortune during the 2008 financial collapse. He had escaped the face-saving investigations into the multi-trillion dollar scandal and well understood that having money at a time of capital scarcity bestowed a wicked power of leverage, however Richie Boy stood firm at 260K.

The banker stood up and left the store, saying, “If you change your mind, give me a call.”

“You’ll be calling me before I call you.”

The man’s wife loved the ring.

I watched the door close.

“Bastard,” Richie Boy muttered, putting the ring in the safe. “I’m making 6% on this sale. 6% and he wants to steal it.”

“How do you think he got his money? From Santa Claus. No, he stole it like every banker in America stole money.”

“I don’t need to hear your bullshit about only three ways to be wealthy.”

“Be born into it, marry it, or steal it.”

His octogenarian father was snoozing in the corner. A smile was on his face. He had to be reaming of better times.

“Your father worked sixty-five years. Is he rich? No, you’ve worked almost thirty five and while you have a nice life, you ain’t rich.”

“What about you?”

“For the last two years I slaved in the steel factory cutting beams for a salary of $800/week and I was glad to have it, but now I’m working with Jeri on 3rd Avenue.” Our store was close to Bloomingdales.

“How’s business up there?”

“About the same as here.” There wasn’t a single customer in the vast exchange. “I sold a fancy yellow diamond for $40,000 and the profit was $4000.”

“A luxury, although the other day i sold an emerald for 14K and made 7K on it.”

Sounds like the good old days. I’ll see you later.”

I picked up some diamond eternity bands for a customer. I returned to the store. Jeri was sitting with her pugs, while going over her bills.

“Anything happen?” It was a stupid question.

“The dogs slept for an hour.”

“Lucky them.” Samson and Delilah were old pets. I liked them, but they weren’t buying any jewelry this or any year and neither were the disappearing middle class. Only the rich had money for gems and they were bargaining like Gypsies with a Minnesota roll of $1 bills.

Jeri’s client arrived on time and picked out the best ring. The Palm Beach blonde was in her 70s. Her husband wasn’t healthy. I wished that Simon passed over the New Year, so I could marry Elaine. It was a dream too good to come true.

At 5pm we shut the store. It was already abysmally dark on 3rd Avenue. Thieves targeted stores daring to stay open in the shortest days of the year.

“I don’t need another theft.”

“Sorry about that.”

A thief had hit me for an expensive bracelet in my first month.

I didn’t trust anyone anymore.

“What’s done is done.”

Jeri magnetically locked the front door. The pugs work from their sleep. We gave them thin slices of apples. Their happiness had nothing to do with money.

“You close safely.” Jeri put on her coat. It was fur. Warm too, but like Richie Boy and me she wasn’t rich. No one who has to work is rich no matter how much money they have. The real rich don’t have to work at all.

After closing the safe and locking the door I took the Q train back to Fort Greene. I bought a very good bottle of wine for $41. The staff of Green Grape applauded my escape from single-digit priced wine.

After arriving home I drank the bottle with my landlord and his wife. They had given me gave me a bottle of Jamison’s for the winter’s solstice. I toasted them and my staying them. It’s been over five years. I babysit their kids. I don’t make a mess. My bedroom has a view. My bathroom too.

After we finished the wine, AP and I retreated to my floor to listen to music. I opened the bottle of whiskey. We drank a few glasses and AP descended into domestic ‘for better or worse’ bliss. I readied for sleep, listening to Jefferson Airplane’s SURREALISTIC PILLOW.

COMING BACK TO ME.

11:59PM

It was time for bed.

Because tomorrow I have to be to work at 10AM.

Jeri asked me to come early.

She had a customer for an emerald.

The store needed money.

Jeri needed money.

I needed money to send my kids in Thailand.

Only a minute remained in the day.

Within sixty seconds the clock would tick into Saturday.

Tomorrow was filled with twenty-hours.

One of them had to be lucky.

The Longest Night

Stonehenge has endured time. This morning the sun rose in the east. Light passed through the massive portals to cast a path marking the winter solstice. Beer and mead were ready for drinking after the season of fermentation. Both served as food through the winter. I have always called the holy day Beermas.

I celebrated it often during the cold months.

Modern historians paint a bleak portrait of the Bronze Age.

They called the time after Meán Geimhridh the famine months.

Few of them live amongst the poor of Now and even fewer understand the nutritional value of beer.

I woke this morning to the sun rising over Brooklyn.

The light was gold on the tall buildings to the west.

They told me the time and honored the day.

The snow melted in the yard.

I drank beer with friends.

I drank Irish whiskey.

It was a good beermas.

Pagan Winter Solstice

This coming Saturday will be the winter solstice.

The shortest day of the year.

On December 21st I will wake at dawn and climb onto the roof of the Fort Green Observatory to bathe in the distant sun’s light. The frost on my skin will the only human sacrifice within sight. After 30 seconds I will retreated to my bed and shivered myself to sleep for another half-hour before heading into Manhattan to work in the Diamond District.

Few people in the modern age and even fewer Christian realize that Christmas was lifted from the ancient pagans celebration of the winter solstice as the rebirth of the sun. This last chance to feast before the months of winter starvation coincided with the final stages of fermentation of wine and beer.

My friend the ex-model from Paris abhors Christmas as an orgy festival. Brigitte is a devout fundamentalist. The Bible is fact and she recently wrote on Facebook.

“Christmas is a disgusting pagan holiday that comes from Roman orgies where they would choose a scapegoat torture them by forcing them to eat and indulge in all sorts of excess and then brutally murder them.”

She later added, “Some of the most depraved customs of the Saturnalia carnival were intentionally revived by the Catholic Church in 1466 when Pope Paul II, for the amusement of his Roman citizens, forced Jews to race naked through the streets of the city. An eyewitness account reported before they were to run, the Jews were richly fed, so as to make the race more difficult for them and at the same time more amusing for spectators.”

Sounds like a good time had by all.

So happy solstice one and all.

I’ll be drinking me some beer and not a little either.