Red Tramps

Tramps are cool too.

Workers of the Universe unite.

Resistance is not futile.


Foto came from Eric Bedos of Paris

Workless Bum

TERMINATOR 5 has wrapped the filming in New Orleans. Arnold Schwartzernegger has returned to California and the director flew back to New York and Fort Greene. We planned to meet for wine next week in the neighborhood.

“I’ll be unemployed like you.” He had nothing on his schedule.

“It’s been a long slow summer.” I was glad to see the coming of September.

That month signals the start of money and I haven’t worked since the end of June.

“Arnold must be unemployed too.”

“He might be.”

“Maybe he wants to hang out with us.”

“Three bums.”

“Arnold doesn’t think of himself as a bum.”

“Neither would I, if I was the star of T5 or its director.”

“And what about you?”

“I’m a bum.”

We seemed more numerous during the dog days of August.

I hope we’re one less next month.

My fingers are crossed for good luck.

Labor Day 2014

Labor Day Weekend traditionally marks the end of summer in the USA. Millions of Americans flocked to the shore, lakes, mountains, parks, and backyards for a last gasp of enjoyment before going back to work. Few realize that the holiday was established by President Grover Cleveland as a peace offering after his ordering in troops and federal marshals to break up the 1894 Pullman Strike outside Chicago.

The American Railway Union had struck and boycotted the Pullman Coach Company throughout the summer. Executives had cut workers’ wages, but refused to lower prices at the company stores or rents in their company towns. Nearly 200,000 railroad workers walked out across the country effectively shutting down transportation from coast to coast.

President Cleveland called in 12,000 federal troops to protect corporate property and escort scabs or strike-breakers across the picket lines. In the ensuing violence thirty strikers were killed and many others wounded. Public opinion favored the action and ARU leader Eugene Debs was imprisoned for six months. Further investigation faulted George Pullman with inciting the unrest.

Immediately after the end of the strike Cleveland designated first weekend in September as Labor Day was chosen rather than International Workers Day in May due to its association communists, anarchists, and socialists.

Yesterday I asked twenty people at the farmers’ market in Fort Greene, “Why do we have Labor Day?”

Most said to celebrate the end of summer, a few replied that they didn’t know, and two answered to honor the working man without any mention of the struggle to win an 8-hour day, a minimum wage, health care, social security, and many other commonly accepted entitlements for the working classes.

The Republicans with their Tea Party adherents know exactly what was won by those strikers and the GOP has refused to enact any legislation to overhaul the national infrastructure. They prefer for the country to crumple into dust rather than hired hundreds of thousands of Americans for good-paying jobs.

An annual expenditure $100 billion will transform America into a nation of workers.

Do not give them up without a fight.

The police are workers working for the bosses.

They are not our friends when in uniform, except when they remember that they are union members too.

Workers of the world unite.

THE BEST FORM OF FLATTERY by Peter Nolan Smith


Several years ago midtown traffic was snarled by the security measures protecting foreign dignitaries from any harm during the annual UN General Assembly. Crosstown streets were closed east of 5th Avenue and a beeping tentacle of the congestion packed Madison Avenue. My bus took 20 minutes to cover ten blocks. I was late for a gallery opening on 78th Street and abandoned public transportation. My walking pace was accelerated by two panicked calls from my landlord AP and Billy O.

Our dinner guest, an Irish hedge fund banker, was on a ‘craic’.

“This is polite society up here.” Billy O was looking for clients. He was a real estate broker in the East End. Most people living above 72nd Street had money, especially in between Park and 5th Avenues. “I’m afraid that he’s going to shag an old heiress.”

“Would be the worst thing to happen to her? When I was living down in Palm Beach, I dreamed about seducing a wealthy octogenarian with three weeks to live.”

“You would have given her the best two weeks of her life.” Billy O and I went back to the 80s.

“At least.” I was never stingy with love or lust given the right circumstances, however my time on Palm Beach had been off-season. Secondly those crones with money knew the game. Men fought over them at the Leopard Lounge. I was too much of an outsider to brake inside the circle.

Except for once.

“Hurry up.” Billy O sounded desperate. “He’s offering the owner a line of blow.”

“Ten minutes.”

I made it in 15.

The police had blockaded 72nd Street for the passage of POTUS. Obama was in town to speak at the UN. High-level conversations were scheduled between the Israelis, Palestinians, and our leader. Peace initiative # 257. The presidential cavalcade passed at 65 mph. A fast-moving target. I waved to what I guess was his car. My support for change remained strong.

I crossed 72nd Street and hurried the final six blocks to the gallery, which was located in a small townhouse. The crowd was gentile. The artist hailed from the Hamptons. Some of his paintings had crows in them.

Two women were complaining about the crows on their property.

“They’re bad eating and worse as pets.” A tall man in a Versace suit slurred from his slouch. It was Irish Johnny. His accent was pure Hollyfield drenched by the slobber of art wine.

The two middle-aged women in matching Chanel summer drag glanced over their sloped shoulders at the intruders. Their noses wrinkled with disdain. They had the expression down pat and clattered away from Irish Johnny in spiky stilettos.

Irish Johnny staggered to the bar and grabbed two glasses of Chablis. The first one lasted a second. The second balanced his careen through the gallery. His trousers were rolled to mid-calf and his sneakers were unlaced.

Thankfully he was drunk enough not to recognize me from drinking at an Eastdhampton bar a year ago. I didn’t say hello, but nodded to Billy O and my landlord. They signaled to keep an eye on Irish Johnny. The banker was difficult work after closing time on the NYSE. I engaged him in a long conversation on John Kelly, Ireland’s premier DJ, and drinking at the Shelbourne Hotel Bar. Irish Johnny couldn’t have been happy and neither could the gallery owner.

The dead drunk was a member of the living drunk.

Billie O and AP schmoozzed the rich. They were a hard crowd to work, but the two had been laboring in the Hamptons for years.

AP spoke to a prospective new client. He owned a football team. His girlfriend was an old friend of mine. The connections were snaking together. It was time to leave. Irish Johnny was hitting on a painting.

“How much you want for one night?”

Billy O took charge. Irish Johnny was his boy. They proposed dinner at Danielle’s. A posey place. I begged off that future. Billy O and AP said, “Come.”

“Veni, vidi, ibam.”

“I came, I saw, I went.” Johnny Irish was a Latin scholar too.

I waved my goodbyes and walked to the 77th Street Subway. Lex Line to Bleecker Street. D train to Atlantic Avenue. Key in the front door at 8:23. I climbed the stairs to my apartment and wrote about Hoegaarten Beer. My wine-weakened fingers were slow on the keyboard.

A knock on my door.

AP.

He wanted to smoke some pot.

“Dinner was fantastic, but you were so right to go. He never broke open the bag of cocaine.”

“Better to have a $20 bag with a friend than an 8-ball with a fiend.”

AP and I smoke some weed. We drank some wine. We listened to garage rock, our favorite genre of music, although he loved the Beatles and I hated them as pop poseurs. At least we agreed that WORKING CLASS HERO by John Lennon was brilliant.

“You know I really love having you live here.” AP considered me a NY legend as long as I paid my rent on time.

“Thanks.” I loved living here too.

“No one in New York is like you now and no one writes like you, but I have to say one thing and that’s you have been plundering old writing and putting it on your website as if it was new.”

“So you noticed?”

“I’m one of your most faithful readers.”

I had been adding stories to gain girth on treads of interest.” It wasn’t much of a defense for AP.

“You should be writing all the time.”

“Agreed.” I love writing on the 4th floor of his brownstone. My view of the Brooklyn skyline. The changes of the sunset. His kids sleeping on the lower floor. Their falling asleep to the MC5. “I’ll try to be more original.”

“No one is more original than you in these days.” AP truly was a fan. “All I want to see is more new.”

“Oof.” More work.

A sign of the times.

“I promise to not rob the grave, unless it makes a nice flow.”

We smoked more weed and drank the rest of his Hoegaartens.

They were good.

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Midtown traffic was snarled by the security measures protecting foreign dignitaries from any harm during the annual UN General Assembly. Crosstown streets were closed east of 5th Avenue and a beeping tentacle of the congestion packed Madison Avenue. My bus took 20 minutes to cover ten blocks. I was late for a gallery opening on 78th Street and abandoned public transportation for the more ancient mode of walking. My pace was accelerated by two panicked calls from my landlord AP and Billy O. Our dinner guest, an Irish hedge fund banker, was on a ‘craic’.

“This is polite society up here.” Billy O was looking for clients. He was a real estate broker in the East End. Most people living above 72nd Street had money, especially in between Park and 5th Avenues. “I’m afraid that he’s going to shag an old heiress.”

“Would be the worst thing to happen to her? When I was living down in Palm Beach, I dreamed about seducing a wealthy octogenarian with three weeks to live.”

“You would have given her the best two weeks of her life.” Billy O and I went back to the 80s.

“At least.” I was never stingy with love or lust given the right circumstances, however my time on Palm Beach had been off-season. Secondly those crones with money knew the game. Men fought over them at the Leopard Lounge. I was too proud to join in that spectacle.

Except for once.

“Hurry up.” Billy O sounded desperate. “He’s offering the owner a line of blow.”

“Ten minutes.”

I made it in 15. The police had blockaded 72nd Street for the passage of POTUS. Obama was in town to speak at the UN. High-level conversations were scheduled between the Israelis, Palestinians, and our leader. Peace initiative # 257. The presidential cavalcade passed at 65 mph. A fast-moving target. I waved to what I guess was his car. My support for change remained strong.

I crossed 72nd Street and hurried the final six blocks to the gallery. It was located in a small townhouse. The crowd was gentile. The artist hailed from the Hamptons. Some of his paintings had crows in them. Two women were complaining about the crows on their property.

“They’re bad eating and worse as pets.” A tall man in a Versace suit slurred from his slouch. It was Irish Johnny. His accent was pure Hollyfield drenched by the slobber of art wine.

The two middle-aged women in matching Chanel summer drag glanced over their sloped shoulders at the intruders. Their noses wrinkled with disdain. They had the expression down pat and clattered away from Irish Johnny in spiky stilettos. Popular footwear this season.

Irish Johnny staggered to the bar and grabbed two glasses of Chablis. The first one lasted a second. The second balanced his careen through the gallery. His trousers were rolled to mid-calf and his sneakers were unlaced. He was drunk enough not to recognize me. We had drank at a bar in Easthampton a year ago. I didn’t say hello, but nodded to Billy O and my landlord. They signaled to keep an eye on Irish Johnny. The banker was difficult work after closing time on the NYSE. I engaged him in a long conversation on John Kelly, Ireland’s premier DJ, and drinking at the Shelbourne Hotel Bar. Irish Johnny couldn’t have been happy and neither could the gallery owner.

The dead drunk was with the living drunk.

Billie O and AP schmoozzed the rich. A hard crowd to work, but the two had been laboring in the Hamptons for years. AP spoke to a prospective new client. He owned a football team. His girlfriend was an old friend. The connections were snaking together. It was time to leave. Irish Johnny was hitting on a painting.

“How much you want for one night?”

Billy O took charge. Irish Johnny was his boy. They proposed dinner at Danielle’s. A posey place. I begged off that future. Billy O and AP said, “Come.”

“Veni, vidi, ibam.”

“I came, I saw, I went.” Johnny Irish was a Latin Scholar too.

I waved my goodbyes and walked to the 77th Street Subway. Lex Line to Bleecker Street. D train to Atlantic Avenue. Key in the front door at 8:23. I climbed the stairs to my apartment and wrote about Hoegaarten Beer. My wine-weakened fingers were slow on the keyboard.

A knock on my door.

AP.

He wanted to smoke some pot.

“Dinner was fantastic, but you were so right to go. He never broke open the bag of cocaine.”

“Better to have a $20 bag with a friend than an 8-ball with a fiend.” The lack of an ‘r’ made a big difference.

AP and I smoke some weed. We drank some wine. We listened to garage rock. Our favorite genre of music, although he loved the Beatles and I hated them as pop poseurs. At least we agreed that WORKING CLASS HERO by John Lennon was brilliant.

“You know I really love having you live here.” AP considered me a NY legend.

“Thanks.” I loved living here too.

“No one in New York is like you now and no one writes like you, but I have to say one thing and that’s you have been plundering old writing and putting it on your website as if it was new.”

“So you noticed.”

“I’m one of your most faithful readers.”

I had been adding stories to gain girth on treads of interest. Not lazy, just that I don’t have much time in the day to write with my boss asking me what I’m doing every two minutes. No much of a defense for AP.

“You should be writing all the time.”

“Agreed.” I love writing on the 4th floor of his brownstone. My view of the Brooklyn skyline. The changes of the sunset. His kids sleeping on the lower floor. Their falling asleep to the MC5. “I’ll try to be more original.”

“No one is more original than you in these days of mediocre.” AP truly was a fan. “All I want to see is more new.”

“Oof.” More work.

A sign of the times.

“I promise to not rob the grave, unless it makes a nice flow.”

We smoked more weed and drank the rest of his Hoegaartens.

They were good.

THEY ARE ANIMALS By Peter Nolan Smith

The other day I was on 47th Street selling a diamond. I ran into a young friend. Shimon spotted my NY Times opened to an article about Hamas.

“Animals.”

“Excuse me.” I liked Shimon. We shared the same taste in clothing.

“Hamas are animals. They hide behind civilians and hide weapons in schools.” His chest puffed with righteous indignation.

“That’s what the Nazis said about the Jews.” I didn’t mention that the KKK and John Birch Society shared the same thought.

“What would you do if someone was firing missiles at you?”

“You mean missiles that don’t hit anything?”

“People die from the missiles.”

“Out of the twelve thousand missiles fired in the last ten years twenty-eight Israelis have been killed versus over 500 Palestinian children killed during the recent Gaza operations by the IDF.”

“Because Hamas is hiding behind the civilians.”

“No, because the IDF was angered by the number of soldiers killed during their attacks and went blood red for revenge. The blast radius of an artillery shell is 64 meters, which means if there was a missile launcher at St. Patrick’s Cathedral we would get blasted to dust.”

“But what would you do if they were shooting missiles at you?”

“I’d kill everyone of them.”

“And push them into the sea.”

“Exactly, but I’m not a Nazi or a Zionist or a member of Hamas. I’m Irish and I know that at one time you have to sit down with the other side and talk about peace or else you’ll lose the war and Israel, because people will not back murder or talk about people being animals. Neve again a Shoah. Not for anyone, unless you believe that the Holocaust was a good thing, because it create Israel.”

I walked away without hearing his answer.

Shimon texted me later that I was an asshole.

I replied, “לעולם לא עוד.”

Like I said I’m Irish and my people lived through the Famine.

“Go deo arís.”

It is the way to live.

Anything else is strictly about death and death is not an option for those who have lived through Shoah, the Famine, or the Nakba.

I texted back to Shimon, if he had a two-carat diamond for a certain price.

“Of course.”

“Good man.”

After all the first law on 47th Street was ‘nimmt geld’ or take money.

And with my many mouths to feed I am a true believer in taking money.

As well as peace.

Free Palestine.

Free the world

We are not animals.