Going To Hell

1. An Indian man dies and arrives at the Pearly Gates. “Yes, how can I help?” asks St Peter. “I’m here to meet Jesus,” says the Indian man. St Peter looks over his shoulder and shouts, “Jesus, your cab is here!”

2. What’s the difference between the real Jesus and a picture of Jesus? It only takes one nail to hang up the picture.

3. Did you know that after the crucification, Jesus pretty much lost his sweet tooth? The M&Ms kept falling through the holes in his hands.

4. What did Jesus say when they removed his hands from the cross? *waves arms frantically* FEET FIRST!!

5. What did Jesus say as he was being crucified? “Ahhhhhhhhhhh…!”

Is there any better way to celebrate Good Friday?

Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez RIP

“My heart has more rooms in it than a whore house.”

― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

I know the feeling.

I loved reading A HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE.

Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez first opened my eyes to South American literature with his novel from 1967 about his liberal grandfather’s house in Columbia. The tale of one family careens through several generations living in “Macondo”, a city of mirrors that reflected the world in and about it.”

Success is trumped by failure and failure is trumped by resignation to destiny.

Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez triumphed with this novel and like the family in A HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE he never achieved a greater success.

One is enough for most men and there are few better than A HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE.

Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez died at the age of 87 in Mexico City.

In the words of former Columbian president Álvaro Uribe Vélez “Master García Márquez, thanks forever, millions of people in the planet fell in love with our nation fascinated with your lines.”

Esta la Veritad.

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Our Bastion Of Democracy

The Dispatch from U.S. Bogotá Embassy to the US Secretary of State, dated January 16, 1929, stated:

“I have the honor to report that the Bogotá representative of the United Fruit Company told me yesterday that the total number of striking banana workers killed by the Colombian military exceeded 1000.”

And the rich got richer.

Lorenzo Dow Baker of United Fruit.

As for our bastion of democracy.

Hooey.

Happy Good Friday


For Catholics around the world Ash Wednesday kicked off the Easter Season. Forty days of abstinence from a favorite pleasure was a token of their devotion to the upcoming sacrifice of the Messiah. On Palm Sunday the faithful brandished palm fronds to honor the Son of God entering Jerusalem. The New Testament recounted how his triumph was transformed into horror by the infamous crucifixion on the Mount. As a youth the priests and nuns led a mournful procession around our parish church stopping at each station of the cross to intone prayers, dispense incense, and light candles. There was nothing joyful about the ceremony.

Most other Americans understood the solemn weight of the day.

God’s son was dead.

Good Friday was a day of buzzkills.

This Friday several recent emigres at the diamond exchange reeted me with a ‘Happy Good Friday’.

“And Good Friday to you.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell these non-Christians from Asia about how Good Friday was about suffering.

Mostly because I’m an ex-Catholic.

So it’s Happy Kill A God Day.

My mother wouldn’t like that, but I became a heretic at the age of 8.

Happy Good Friday indeed.

A FLYING DIME by Peter Nolan Smith


One April night in 1939 my uncle and three of his friends exited from State Theater’s double western matinee of STAGECOACH and JESSE JAMES in a state of cinematic exhilaration. Gunfights had had funny effect on their blood. War was looming across the Atlantic and young men were seeking adventure far from home.

The sun was setting to the west of Portland’s Back Cove. Weekend shoppers were exiting from Benoits with full bags. The threat of impending war in Europe had revitalized the Maine’s largest port.

“What now?” asked Russ’ best friend. Hugh was more adventurous than his friends. He played left field for the high school team.

“We could get a pizza.” My uncle was hungry and an Italian restaurant on Congress Street served the northernmost pizza on the Eastern Seaboard.

“Pizza?” Hugh was more ambitious with his adventure. “We could drink beer on Fore Street.”

“Only sailors, tramps, and fisherman go to those bars.” Russ protested knowing no good came from slumming at those dens.

“Are you chicken?” Hugh challenged without protest and the four friends walked down High Street. A bar offered dime beers. The boys had $2. The bartender didn’t ask for IDs. They drank ‘Gansetts and watched sea-toughened fisherman brawl with iron-hard East Yard workers.

This slumming aged fast for Russ and his friends after a Portugee fisherman picked a fight with these young lads and old salt wanted blood. The teenagers ran for their lives and caught the trolley to the quiet safety of their homes in Deering.

The sun was down, but a full moon lit the tops of trees.

“That’s that,” Russ said quietly.

It was Saturday night. Most everyone was home and he felt the eyes of those disapproving their being on the street.

“There has to be more to life than that.” Hugh kicked a can into the gutter. A light flashed on a second-floor bedroom. Their neighborhood was used to early nights.

“Not in Portland.”

“My cousin went to Boston once.” Hugh’s family came from Westbrook. They worked at the SD Warren paper mill. “He said Scollay Square was fun and no place was more fun than the Old Howard. Its motto’s “Always Somethin’ Doing’.”

“Not like here.” Randall looked around the quiet neighborhood. He played centerfield for Deering High.

“Boston’s a long way away.” Russ had heard about the burlesque theater, where the dancers went more naked there than on the pages of LIFE magazine.

“We need a car,” Hugh said and the three friends looked at Russ.

“I don’t have a car.” Russ had gotten his driver’s license this winter.

“But your brother does and we’ll leave him a full tank of gas.” Topping off the tank cost about $2.

“He’ll never let us take his car to Boston.” Russ thought that this was starting to sound like a bad idea.

“We’ll tell him weren’t going to Sebago.” The big lake out on Route 25 was less than twenty miles from Portland.

“I don’t like the idea of lying.” Russ’ older brother was a better friend than Hugh.

“And you like the idea of sitting around here and doing nothing?”

The silence of Deering’s streets answered that question.

“So are we in?” Hugh was the leader.

“When?” Russ had a date with a doctor’s daughter the following Saturday.

“Friday night.”

“That’s okay with me.”

The following Friday night Russ borrowed his brother’s Studebaker Champion, telling everyone one, “Be back by 9.”

Russ started the car and pointed the car south to drive the 100 miles to Boston. The teenagers spent the afternoon touring Scollay Square various attractions. One boy hocked a gold ring at Simpson’s Loan to finance their adventures. They got their hair cut at Tony Ruggiere’s Barber Shop, ate lunch at Waldorf’s Cafeteria, played pinball at the Amusement Center, refilled on hot dogs at Joe and Nemos, and then they went up to the entrance of the Old Howard. They were sixteen, which was old enough to pay for the tickets. The usher sat them in the darkness of the back row. Only bald men sat in the front row.

Russ and his friends stayed long enough so that the afternoon became evening. They exited with red faces into the crowded street. Boston was preparing for war. Men had money in their pockets and Scollay Square was the place to spend it.

“What next?” asked Hugh. He wanted more.

“What time is it?” Russ asked hurrying to the Studebaker.

“6PM”

“Then we have to go.”

Portland was normally a four-hour ride.

Russ intended to make it in three.

The boys jumped into the car and Russ stomped on the accelerator. Traffic over the Old Charles Bridge was light and the Studebaker passed every car on Route 1.

Russ hit 80 mph through the hilly straight-aways of Topsfield.

He didn’t slow down until the Portsmouth rotary. It was 8PM. Curfew was one hour away and the Studebaker picked up speed approaching the bridge spanning the Piscataqua River.

“We have to stop to pay the toll,” Russ shouted over the roar of the engine and the whip of the wind. “Give me a dime.”

“Here.” Hugh handed him a coin and Russ flung the dime at the toll booth.

The booth collector ducked the toss and the dime plunked into the wood with an audible thock over the car’s engine. Russ swore the sliver of silver was buried in a pine timber.

The boys arrived in Portland around 10:30. The friend was cool. He dropped off everyone before returning home. His brother felt the hood and checked the mileage. Russ wasn’t allowed drive his brother’s car again until after he returned from the War in 1946, but he went out with the doctor’s daughter the next night.

Sally became his wife and they live together in Marblehead.

As a young man I loved hearing my uncle’s stories over and over again.

Last year at the Barnacle on Marblehead’s inner harbor I asked Russ, “How fast were you going through the toll booth?”

“I don’t recall.” It was over sixty years ago.

“80?”

“No.” His memory was keen.

“60.”

“No, more like 70. Studebaker built a good car.”

“I know. I drove a Studebaker Hawk across country in 1996.” Meg Grosswendt was hot to be with her beau. She drove a hundred across the Midwest. They married and had two kids. I understand that people drive fast for a reason.

“That was their last good car.”

“We blew a carburetor in Colorado. A mechanic had the part.”

“Probably the last one in America.”

“We made them extinct.”

It was a good trip.

Five days from coast to coast.

Meg drove the same as Russ from Scollay Square.

Fast with a destination.

It was the only way to travel.