We Are Not Alone

On April 4, 2013 the National UFO ALERT Rating System along with California, Florida, New York and Texas updated the UFO status alert to Code 3 with the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) according to Huffington Post.

California had 59 sightings in March.

New York experienced 30.

I have looked for space ships since my youth.

At night I lay on the back lawn. Our house shielded me from curious eyes and I watched the skies for any signs of extraterrestrial traffic. I prayed an alien might take me to Space. It had to be more interesting than my suburban hometown south of Boston.

One night my father came out of the house.

“What are you doing?”

“Looking at the sky.”

“There are a lot of stars up there. No one knows how many?”

“No one?” I thought Klattu and his robot Gort from THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL might have a good idea.

“No one.” My father believed in infinite space.

“Not even God.” I was only saying that to camouflage my puerile atheism

“Maybe Him.” My father reached down and lifted me to my feet. He knew me well and said, “Go to bed. If the Martians come, we’ll hear their death rays.”

“Okay.” I walked inside the house up to my bedroom. My brother was asleep. I laid in bed and joined him, only my dreams were of the stars.

One day with the help of aliens they would be mine.

One Bag Theory

Back in 1974 my good friend AK and I traveled cross-country to Encinitas, a small beach town slightly north of San Diego. We crashed at his friend’s bungalow and spent our days sunning and bodysurfing at Moonlight Beach and our nights smoking pot and drinking wine. We made friends with a hippie guitar guru wandering the coast with a long-haired blonde. Rockford and Carol were free as the wind.

“We only want a place to sleep, eat, and place our music,” Rockford explained atop the bluff, as the sun set in the Pacific. They were staying with a clinical psychiatrist from UCSD studying the effects of LSD on humans. They were two of his guinea pigs and the acid left them daily dazed. One afternoon Rockford defended his participation by saying, “I don’t believe in money. I have everything I need in one bag.”

“What about your guitar?”

“That’s my extra, but other than that one bag is all anyone needs in this life. Some clothes, sandals, a good book, plus a little weed.”

Rockford offered me a place in his band. Carol played tambourine. I was to solo on kazoo. He looked at my canvas travel bag.

“Way too much shit.”

“It’s almost nothing.” I had more clothing than the two of them.

“Nothing is nothing other than nothing.” Carol dismissed my excessive possessiveness with a wry smile. I wasn’t getting the message and the next morning they left without me for San Francisco.

AK and I hitchhiked back across America. We re-united with Rockford in Woodstock. The three of us remained friends and I never asked the old hippie about abandoning me to a life of meaningless acquisition.

This morning I read an article in Huffington Post echoing Rockford’s one bag theory.

A 69 year-old German woman abandoned money twenty-two years ago. The divorcee has perfected a barter economy called “Gib und Nimm” or Give and Take. Her attempts to convert Dortmund to a moneyless society was met with derision by the workless and retirees addicted to cash or credit, but her year-long experiment has made her a happier and healthier person.

According to the HP all of her belongings fit into a single-back suitcase and a rucksack, she has emergency savings of €200 and any other money she comes across, she gives away. Heidemarie doesn’t even have health insurance as she didn’t want to be accused of stealing from the state, and says she relies on the power of self-healing whenever she gets a little sick.

Rockford understood that money is the root of all evil, but somehow I don’t think this theory works in a go-go bar.

At least not at my age.

Portrait By Parker Dulany

If ever there was someone easier to paint than Suzanne Mallouk or Ann Magnuson, it was Peter Nolan Smith. I think Peter is the Jack London of our scene. If you have never read any of his short stories, you are missing out of a time gone by on the innocent dark side. My favorite is “The Rule of Mr. Klaus”, which isn’t really a story but a collection of little vignettes of the vanished NYC of the late 1970′s.

I moved to the city in 1979 and I immediately connected with his images and words in this piece. I saw Peter at one of the various club ‘reunions’ and we spent a long time at the bar, of course, trading stories of the nightclub shenanigans and the mischief that we did out of boredom or cash; he told me of growing up in rough Boston, ‘procuring’ cars and other various high-jinks and we ended up talking about our childhoods.

I told him how one day when I was 13 my mother came to me and told me a story about how after all this time that my ‘real’ father, not the father that I lived with, wanted to meet me and then she put me on a plane to Dallas and my ‘real’ father and some French lady picked me up in baggage holding one of those placards the limo drivers hold with my name and his last name, (I guess my real name), on it. Straight from the airport we went to Dealey Plaza,then I learned how to hit a golf ball and I fired a pistol. All on the first day.

Then a dinner in total silence, because I didn’t know what to say and neither did the real dad. Peter looks at me and said, “You win, that is terrifying!”

This nightclub legend and Boston thug had a soft heart.

Till the next reunion Peter!

THE RULE OF MR. KLAUS by Peter Nolan Smith / Anthony Scibelli

New York City was a ghost town in 1978.

The Twin Towers rose over Manhattan, but the city was bankrupt.

Seven million people were living in anarchy.

The landfill along the Hudson was a long stretch of desolation.

Sand blew in all directions.
The wind obeyed no rules around the Twin Towers

The rich knew nothing of the poor.

The Concorde flew them direct from JFK to Paris.

Every morning in the East Village Sean Coll heard its take-off.

The Rolls-Royce engines were loud.

Sean was living with a blonde model in the East Village.

At night Lisa dated a tennis player.

“It’s good for my career.”

She came home at dawn.

Sean never asked any questions and wrote poems about the waiting.

Lisa never read his journals.

No one did.

Poetry paid nothing.
Sean worked at night.

When people wanted things, they called him.


Sometimes it was a girl.

There were plenty of girls in New York.

Most of them were good fun.

Lisa liked playing hard to get and she knew her role well.

They never mixed business with pleasure.

Sometimes his work was a breeze.

People did what they said they were going to do.

Other times people were cute.

Cute got them hurt.

Sean came from Jamaica Plains and kids grew up tough in the shadow of Mission Hill.

In the end people ended up being nice.

It was part of human nature.

But New York was New York.

This city had different rules from Boston. Sean understood some of the city’s game, but no one understood everything, although a Mr. Klaus thought he was smart enough to know all the answers.

Tony introduced Mr. Klaus at a party.

Sean was not in best form.

Lisa had not come home for two days.

“I might have some work for you.” Klaus had a German accent. “But I have one rule. You do what I say.”

“I don’t have a problem with that. You know my price?” I spoke pure Boston.


“Then call me.”

A day later he asked Sean to meet a woman named Clover at the New Lost Bar in Times Square.

Tony came over with the cash.

Sean gave the photographer his finder’s fee.

“You trust this Klaus?”

“I trust no one.”

“Me neither.” It was the first rule he had learned in New York.

Sean showed up on time.

Clover arrived ten minutes late.

The blonde teenager was no woman, but she was no girl either.

“I was a mistress to a Texas oil baron at 13. Does that make me bad?”

“No, but it doesn’t make you good. Let’s have a drink.”

Sean ordered a gin-tonic. Clover had a martini.

The bartenders at the New Lost Bar never checked any girls for ID.

“Do some of this.” She handed him a vial. “Mr. Klaus wants you to.”

“You always do what he says?”

She smiled with a laugh.

“When it comes to Mr. Klaus, yes.”

Clover danced at a bar.

Or at least Sean thought it was Clover.

In truth it didn’t matter, because Lisa was erased from his mind.

By the time they left the New Lost Sean was feeling no pain.

Times Square looked like a pinball machine.

Clover was the flippers and Sean was the ball.

Somehow they ended up in the subway.

Clover was taking him to see Mr. Klaus.

Sean asked the subway conductor for help.

“You don’t need any help, if you got her.”

Everyone in New York was an expert at minding their own business.

The next stop was at Mr. Klaus’ penthouse.

“Willkommen, time for some business.”

Sean was in no condition to refuse him anything.

“Do you feel different?”
“No.” It was a lie.

“Gut, I have a job for you. It might require violence.”

“I wouldn’t be here, if it didn’t.”

“An ex-associate has something of mine.”


“A ball on a box in a refrigerator.”

“But you only want the ball?”


“What does the ball do?”

“Does it really matter?”


“Clover really likes you.”

Mr. Klaus had the young blond show Sean how much.

Mr. Klaus drove him to a townhouse on the Upper East Side.

The street was quiet. The rich could afford order.

“That’s Cookie’s house. I’ll take care of her.”

“Why do you need me?”

“There’s a man with a gun.”

“Does he know who to use it.”


“Then he is just a man.”

“Why should I do this? Because of your rule.”

“Maybe, but more because things will go bad for Clover.” He showed a photo. It was Tony’s style.

And then another.

Mr. Klaus was worse than Clover’s Texas oil baron.

“Bring back the ball.”

Sean couldn’t say no.

Not yet.

The man with the gun was a young boy.

Sean strangled him till unconsciousness.

He was too young to die and too pretty too.

The steel ball seemed like a steel ball.

Until Sean held it in his hand.

He could see things.

He could break Mr. Klaus’ rule.

Mr. Klaus had Cookie.

She looked tough.

Sean could see the word Baltimore on her face.

Like Boston it was a tough town.

Cookie yanked on the rope.

Mr. Klaus rolled down the stairs.

He didn’t stop until the bottom.

Sean left with the ball.

He was his own man again.

He found Clover in a bag.

He wrote on her thigh before freeing her.

“I thought you’d never come back.”

“You were wrong.”

“What did you write?”

“A poem. You can read it later.”

Sean took her to his place.

Lisa was gone.

She had taken everything, but the TV and a set of weights.

“Nice place.”

Clover picked up a dumbbell.

I want to be strong like you.”

It was a good idea.

New York was a tough town on the weak.

Sean turned on the TV.

Clover lifted the weights and read the words on her thigh.

“I like your poem.”

“I wrote it for you.”

Her smile told him that she would be a good roommate.

He had the ball and he had Clover.

And both were good things in 1978, because the windblown sand had no rules.

Not in New York.

Not anywhere.

Fotos by Anthony Scibelli and Peter Nolan Smith

A La Porte De Le Balajo

In the mid-80s DJs Albert Grintuch and his partner Serge Duprat took over the Bastille nightclub, Le Balajo. Once a week our crowd of rockers filled the large dancehall.I worked the door with Jacques Negrit as security. The barmen and waitresses were the same surly staff as the other nights of the week featuring accordion bands to a rough working class clientele. None was more vraiment Le Balajo than Daniel, the bullish barman, who was a Pigalle wrestler on his off-nights.

Daniel’s disagreeability was a matter of Gallic pride.

More thanccasionally Jacques and I would hear a disturbance at the bar, but before we could attend to the fracas, Daniel would grab the offender by the scuff of the neck and throw him into the street.

As Albert recently explained his technique, “Quand ca chauffait Daniel le catcheur ne prenait pas la peine d ouvrir les portes vitree de l’entree pour balancer les clients un peut trop debordant, resultat, on remplacait continuelement les lourdes.”

In English simply put Daniel chucked out the client without opening the glass doors, which required their replacement with thicker glass doors until they had it right.

Those were the days.

Guess which one in the photo was Daniel.