Monday, August 31, 2015

The Wilderness Years - Friday Night to Sunday Morning pt. 1

When the weather broke and spring began creeping in i began to ride my bicycle to Hippie Jack's, these days the local hipster cyclists and their politics get on my nerves a bit, but back the day (as an crotchety old man would say) it wasn't a lifestyle choice or political statement it was a fucking means of transportation and since finding transport to the Hippie's apartment was always a challenge the bike gave me a little freedom, of course the weather had to cooperate cuz the last thing i needed was a soggy pound or two of grass, which at this point wouldn't be a complete knockout blow but would set the plan back to almost the beginning, not to mention the stigma of fuck-up on the resume', even one that was an act of nature, didn't matter, so it was with great care and forethought when i hopped on the bicycle to head over... or at least i'll claim there was...

Now being the ever present student i soon took note of the secret knowledge of back roads that ran between and behind and underneath various East End neighborhoods, the snaking twisting roads that were like a mystery, unknown to a large portion of the population but there nonetheless to be used by the drug runners, drunk drivers, and criminals of the city, the Melwood/Gold Way trail was like a backdoor in and out of Polish Hill, the Strip, North Oakland, all depending on which way you were going, it runs down a hill below Bigelow Blvd. and under the Bloomfield Bridge, a few stray backs of houses, a couple old brick garages carved into the hill,  some twists and turns, lush green urban weeds filling the hillside, graffiti on every paintable surface,  around another bend and you've snuck into Polish Hill, one cardiac hill away from Hippie Jack's back door, i came to love this street, a street i'd use for over fifteen years, a street i've driven at practically every hour of day and night, but in these days i used it to ride to Hippie Jack's house on the sly, load up the backpack with gear and ride it back, sometimes not seeing a car the whole time i was on it...

And so on an unusually hot spring day i came home from work and made the call, it was a Friday and it worked out that i could ride right over to his place asap, i could be back to my place by 5pm or so and be off and running for the weekend, i counted out the money (twice), grabbed the backpack and off i went, through the infamous parking lot behind the fire station, past the Roach Motel apartments, a quick sprint down Baum Blvd and over the busway, a sharp right and on to my quiet and serene backstreet, it was fucking lovely zipping through the shade and around a S-curve as fast as i could, roughly twelve minutes later i was walking my bicycle up around the corner past the shady dry cleaner and up to his porch, a knock, a bit of laughter seeping out and into the always hazy, always smoky den of Hippie Jack...

Amazingly the old hippie had a lot of furniture, helped out by a keen eye for sidewalk specials or what one might call gently used, discarded and ultimately recycled furniture, there was always a seat to be had, Jack always sat on the couch opposite the door, with a love seat to his right, a chair that looked right out of my grandmother's place right inside the door and offering a view into the mostly unlit back of the apartment, in the center of course was a decent sized, wooden oval coffee table usually covered with any number of illicit residues, fast food wrappers, empty beer and soda cans, scraps of paper with random phone numbers, take-out menus, basically a fucking mess, there was a television that i never saw turned on and a stereo with a tape deck and a turntable, around which were piles of cassette tapes of the Dead, Zappa, Garcia Band, Marley, Tosh, almost all bootlegs of varying quality, there was a crate of records but like the television i never saw a record played but did occasionally see vinyl on the turntable, mostly it was Hippie Jack rambling on and on about the nuances in songs and various versions of bands, it was somewhere, depending on how much time i had and how much patience, between mildly interesting and fucking highly annoying, but sometimes you had to deal with it...

As i entered his place i noticed he had some company, sitting on floor in front of the love seat was a frizzy red-haired girl, a bit pudgy and looking to be maybe legal drinking age, old Hippie Jack was holding court and he introduced us and i immediately forgot her name and Hippie Jack went on to wax poetic about what a helluva find i had been, this cat can move shit maaaaan, he said laughing and pointing towards me, i shrugged and sat down and he offered me a beer and i took it, seemed something was a bit off in the room, i couldn't quite put my finger on it, Jack was all grins and the girl was a bit spacey, maybe they'd just fucked for all i knew, that would put a smile on good old Hippie Jack's face for ages, but they hadn't, at least not yet, Hippie Jack kept grinning and said, got any plans? other than getting some food on the way home and moving some of this not really i replied, he picked up a small vial with a dropper lid, feel like a dose he said?

Now if this were an mid to late eighties John Hughes flick it would be at this point and time when Anthony Michael Hall would look into the camera and break the fourth wall, when asked this question it felt a bit like i was an astronaut, there were a myriad number of calculations that needed to be done in a split second and so i paused... and then said, sure why not, just don't go fucking hog wild on me, and so he took the dropper and squiirrt, he dropped a fucking doozy down the gullet, the kind of hit you can taste, in a nutshell i was gonna be fucked, motherfucker i said and Hippie Jack laughed hysterically and the girl just looked about the room half-freaked out/ half-blitzed with a smile that flickered between pure joy and pure panic, damn Jack i said a little hit man, i half complained, he giggled more and said, maaan i gave you the same we took, he then made fucking weird googly eyes and began laughing some more, i pulled out my loot and said let's get this show on the road while one of us can still count the fucking money, and so he leaned behind the couch and grabbed two freezer bags full of weed while i counted out the money for a whole one and half the other, amazingly he checked to make sure they weighed, i made sure Hippie Jack had the money and put it away, then placed the pounds in my backpack and drank my beer...

There's this funny thing that happens with acid sometimes, it's like fucking time travel except you don't really go anywhere or do anything while simultaneously doing and feeling and thinking everything at once, particularly with clean lsd, and this stuff came rolling in like a warm wet wave of light, my ears roaring, and i sat in that chair and drank a few more beers and talked shit and when i left i walked some unknown number of hours later out into the blue twilight, pie-eyed and invincible, and i climbed onto my trusty steed and began the ride home, for some unknown reason (food) instead of taking my secret little back road home i headed instead for the Bloomfield Bridge, and as Bob Frost would say, that would make all the fucking difference...









Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Wilderness Years - All the Young Dudes

And thus began the year of our lord, 1996, i eased into the brutality of January, February and March, cold and shitty days spent loading and unloading vans full of crap, driving slush filled back lots in all sorts of shit rust belt weather, and while most businesses have ebbs and flows, a busy season as they say the vice business is always booming... on the days when i'd come home and need an hour or two before i could feel my toes there was no way i was going out, i'd let between five and seven people stop by, some of it would depend on supply or how much i made, my first few months had seen me build up a pretty steady and decent sized clientele, good weeks saw me with a $200-300 extra in my pocket after everything was paid off, didn't i tell you it was glamorous? it wasn't getting rich it was getting by...

So those days spent working in the elements only to return to a cold and cavernous warehouse would see me walk that city block home and make a cup of coffee, a hot shower, a check of the messages, i'd peruse the mental files and decide who might buy the most or provide the most profit margin and go from there, i didn't want a parade in and out and in the short days of winter i wanted to be done by 8pm, my lovely transient hood provided cover along with my three unit apartment building, a bit of foot traffic between 4:30-8:30 wasn't gonna raise any eyebrows, being the lazy bastard i am i had finally rigged a phone line that ran all the way around the living room of the apartment, around the corner and down the hall to my room, kept me from having to walk all the way out to the living room and also kept the good Doctor and Jess from having to answer the phone constantly, ninety percent of the calls were for me anyway, after a certain point we'd turn off the ringer and turn the machine down low, i had ground rules and on work nights i let people know that i wouldn't be up all night, that i was like a normal person and wasn't gonna be open 24 hours a day, i'd drink my cup and warm up and between visitors sometimes i'd crawl under the covers and catch catnaps, the radio tuned to the local uni's station, the monotone voices of the cool nerd college DJ's lapping gently against the walls...

Of course there is always a learning curve in these endeavors and dare i say sometimes that curve needs to be learned a good two or three times before it really takes root, this wasn't my first go round on this joyride, technically it was my fourth, the first being my last year of undergrad for about six months, then my first stint in the burgh which lasted about eight months, and then back to Podunk U. again for the ill-fated year of grad school and wheeling the last four months i was there just to survive, though i'm sure i could make a case for each and every entry into the game being a point of survival and i'm sure the squares would say that i was just shirking work but i kinda always thought you take the best work for the best pay and when there are no legit jobs that will pay that and no dad's couch to crash on if you fuck up you do what you can to keep a roof above one's head...

When the weather is cold and your little room is warm and cozy the need to go out is minimal, the most dangerous nights were the really cold ones, weekdays being the worst, i'd make some call backs and set the schedule and settle in for what i thought would be a mellow night, and for the most part they always were, except for the fact that i'd smoke up with all the people who came through the door, there was a coat rack that was built into the wall in the hallway outside my room and people would take off their shoes and hang up their coats, they'd plop down on my mattress on the floor or bring a folding chair in from the hall, i'd always sit in my garbage picked rolling desk chair, it was like the command post, by this time the triple beam sat atop the armoire, in off times covered with a towel or t-shirt, during business hours it sat uncovered and with the grass stashed in the second drawer from the top, easy for me to weigh and bag, the drawer helping to catch buds falling off the scale, on those cold winter days i'd want to close up early but by the time the third party got through the door i'd be a half a dozen or more bong hits in and a few beers would make the way back to the cave, and in general it was all low key and not much if you scored a sack and hung out for an hour or so but if you're the guy selling it that ends up being four or five or six hours and when the last person would leave i'd shuffle back to my room grinning, i'd try and do the books as fast as i could, then i'd crawl into bed a well bit more than half in the bag, read about half a page of a book and pass out stoned and drunk...

And those were supposed to be my mellow nights, it took awhile but i learned of course, learned i couldn't blaze up with every wastoid that came through the door or i'd end up being another textbook failed stoner weed dealer, the good Doctor always liked to watch old movies and he was watching Indiana, Pa's favorite son Jimmy Stewart waiting for his miracle, i was stoned and in the small kitchen washing a pan so i could make some mac n' cheese when i hear the catch phrase and immediately bastardize it, "every time a bell rings, another dealer gets his wings", the Doctor just grinned and shook his head, you are one fucked up individual sir he said laughing, but i believed that shit, i was trying to absorb the right way to run this shit by watching the mistakes, for lack of a better term, my mentors and competition would make, and those nights of mellow excess did at times lead to some minor monetary fuck-ups, nothing major but when the profit margin is really that thin screwing yourself out of $50 cuz you're wasted is not something you want happening on a regular basis, some weeks that was 25% of my take, i could eat like a fucking king with that money...

The winter was good for my wallet, i'd pick my spots to head out to the bar, after working outside all day a lot of times the last thing i wanted to do was walk a block or three, i had a fairly steady business by this point, no kingpin just a fringe player, hell the average shelf life in this business was never long but after a five or six months bringing in an extra three bills a week felt good, i was using all legit money for rent and loans and living off the gear money, it was all still a bit hand to mouth but i was taking care of business as Elvis Aron Presley would say, sometimes it took less than a week to flip the weight and be even more ahead, those weeks i'd usually split the extra, half to fun and half to the funds, stashed in an envelope in a lock box, paranoid delusions wouldn't let me put much of it in the bank, i did of course but in the whopping amounts of 50 bucks here or 35 there, of course over time it adds up but at this point it was nice to see i had a whopping one thousand dollars in the bank, meant i could cover rent and loans for a month or two if shit went tits up, but i had no intention of letting that happen, at least if i could help it, which in this game... sometimes you can't...

Monday, August 10, 2015

Dominican Dirt pt. 4

Part four? are you fucking kidding me? what a long-winded fuck, as if like Dickens i was being paid by the fucking word or better yet the fucking expletive, and so it occurred to me the other day as i was driving the lovely tree-lined suburban streets that i got it pretty fucking good, i was stoned and driving slowly and listening to some fucking dad rock that wasn't dad rock at all and grinning like the Dude at the state that i was in... on Monday i was the recipient of an unplanned root canal, well not totally unplanned but discovered that it needed to be done the Friday before and since my face was humming in pain i was given some pain killers that made for a rather unproductive weekend (that stretched a bit into the week) at the typer, stoned on grass and pills and eating yogurt and passing in and out of consciousness while the telly babbled gently in the background, but i digress, i was driving down the street and thinking i really need to finish that bit about the Dominican Dirt and get on with something else and if i was to continue to loosely abide by Henry Miller's eight rules i needed to get it cranked out, as if i have a deadline or a waiting audience...

I was driving in the car thinking, you can sub that line into a certain Jane's Addiction song, and i was laughing at how fucking Zen stoner i had become, rationalizing about how 85-90%  percent of my existence was absolutely fucking gorgeous and the other 10-15, maybe creeping higher or lower any given day, was utter dogshit, now as i thought this i figured that it was a pretty good fucking ratio and that if i had said 100% copacetic that i'd either by lying or insane or suicidal, as Longfellow once said "into each life a little rain must fall" and as Tom Waits expounded upon "but a little rain never hurt no one", i had no right to complain and i was thinking back to that night in the DR and that most people in my position would not be fucking about in some Caribbean mall with a guy who looked like a cross between an Argentine Man. U. washout and vaguely cartel-ish, but as the case may be there i was standing in said mall with my new acquaintance Moe...

It was at this point when i realized what was going on, the mall wasn't quite yet closed and there were still a few people other than the mall guards walking around, it seemed Moe had stepped in it a bit when he gave up Luciano's nickname, i smiled and told him all good, all taken care of, he lost his smile and said mary-wana fifty dollor, yeah man i said it's bueno, all taken care of, fifty dollor he repeats, i look at him puzzled, you got something better? i ask, his turn to be puzzled and again, fifty dollor mari-wana, he inches toward me and i give a quick scan, i step toward him and a bit forcefully tell him, the black guy i say, negro on motorbike has dinero, you want fifty dollars you talk to him, negro on motorbike i repeat, buenos noches i say, we're fucking done here i tell him and walk past him and out the door and back towards the resort, as i made the door and crossed the street to the lane that led up to the main entrance i took a glance or two over my shoulder to make sure i didn't have any company and once i made the main entrance i hooked a quick left and went straight into the casino and pulled up a seat at the bar, ordered a beer, and proceeded to watch my Cavs get taken apart...

I just so happened to pull up a seat between an overweight chap from the outskirts of Cleveland and his annoying brother-in-law on one side and a couple of swell kids from Staten Island named Joe and Bianca on the other, i was a bit stressed to say the least and it turned out the bro-in-law was from Chicago and giving his Cleveland counterpart shit, needless to say i was tempted to yank his fat fucking ass right off his stool and step on his throat but the last thing i really needed was more excitement tonight and so i turned a shoulder to them and drained my beer, ordered another and mumbled what a fucking nightmare, Joe heard me and said something about the game and him being a Lebron fan and we soon fell into conversation, i told him the nightmare wasn't just the game but the bullshit i had just gone through to score and he laughed and told me he could have saved me that hassle, that down at the end of the resort there were a bunch of shops, all named JC Penny and numbered, the kind that sold trinkets and "local art" and didn't believe in price tags,( haggle city) Joe told me that if you went in and bought the cheapest little pipe they immediately wanted to know if you want something for it, it was shit brown he laughed, and they tried to charge out the ass he said but i told them fuck you i'm from New York... so we got to talkin'...

After the initial exchange about scoring gear we shot the usual shit about sports and the like, of course he asked what i did and when i told him he fucking laughed out loud, i then produced pictures of the boyos and showed them to Bianca, an absolutely beautiful and sweet soul with a set of breasts that could distract the fucking Pope, Joe sold something to restaurants, they were just kids and i smiled when i told them i was old enough to be his dad, and then we got to talking about weed, i asked about all the fancy new stuff the kids did these days and spun a few yarns about the old days, they both looked at me like i was fucking bananas and Bianca smiled and said, but look at you now, it's crazy, i'd have never guessed, Joe and i got into talking strains and the in and outs of the NYC weed scene, he laughed at my luck in my fair city, he said he couldn't believe how much i knew about grass for being an old guy, it was good fun and a way to take the edge off, of course my Cavs went down that night and the next two after that as well...

Epilogue
I sort of made it a point to avoid Luciano's bar, it wasn't exactly a place i really ever needed to go and i didn't feel the need to find out if every thing was copacetic between him and his friends, most likely he'd want another tip and after smoking that horrible shit i was half thinking about asking for a partial refund, oh it worked okay for about an hour or so and i laughed every time i skinned up thinking about how the last time i smoked shit this bad i was the one hustling it, only a lot fucking cheaper than what i just paid... at the pool bar a day or two later i was talking to a Dominican girl from Miami, somehow the topic of smoke came up as it often does at the bar and i told her the story, she started laughing, i love my Dominican men she said, always on the make no matter what, she ordered a drink and continued, and you told them to fuck off, that's funny, you had it clocked , they won't do shit near a resort, they just know they can scam Americans, most people would've just gave up the cash, i shrugged, i do know my way around this game just a little bit and bid my farewell and swam off... On my last full day i was walking up some path at the resort that i hadn't been on, it was a main one but at this time of day was empty, the sun was beating down and a little motorbike went putting by with two workers on it, i looked up and saw Luciano who immediately yelled Hey!! with an air of unfriendliness to it, in keeping with the language barrier i grinned and yelled, Au Revoir Shoshanna!!! and kept right on walking...


(And there it is...)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dominican Dirt pt. 3

Luciano was pacing around the parking lot, a fine sheen of sweat on his forehead shining in the dull parking lot lights, he walks over and explains that the guy he needs lives right here, pointing to the apartment block, he tells me he'll bring the guy out so that he sees me, he know me, and you know him, si? Si, i reply and off he runs into the apartment complex... i'm left standing in this parking lot, a 6'4 gringo, though i'm not quite sure that's term they use in the DR, but not the most inconspicuous of resort guests for my height and sideburns alone, but i wait and about 5 minutes go by and out comes Luciano, walking a few steps ahead of a dark skinned guy, Haitian looking, and Luciano walks by me all smooth as gravel practically yelling, you see him... he see you, nodding his head quickly and pointing back and forth between us, Si i say and the Haitian, who's jeans and shirt damn near match the color of his skin, barely looks at me and walks up some steps and back towards the apartments, Luciano then asks me if i know where the supermercado is, i tell him i do and he tells me to go over there by the street and the Haitian will meet me, fine i say and then he stops me and says, when you get there cut your wristband off, you get another at desk, i stop and say otra vez? and he says it's okay it's okay, get another... the antennae went up a bit on this comment cuz i know that these places always charge if you lose your wristband and here Luciano's assuring me that it's fine and i tell him i don't think i'm gonna do that and slip him a fiver as he jogs back to work and i head towards the mall...

Isaac Brock once said that the malls are the soon to be ghost towns, that was damn near 20 years ago now and it turns out he was right, malls i roamed as a child and teen have been bulldozed, replaced by different malls but they are indigenous to the suburbs of my youth and so it always feels odd when standing in a mall in a foreign land, this one was half indoor/ half outdoor with a disco, a supermarket and high end Euro/American swag, the same shit you could get at home, let's raise a glass to consumerism and the global community, at this time of day the place was winding down except for the Hard Rock Cafe and the Outback Steakhouse, standing outside and looking in the Outback's window i watched the end of the first quarter while a really bad American cover band butchered "Your Love" by the Outfield, i was waiting again after my first lovely interlude with the Haitian...

So making my way through the mall and  the paranoia is creeping, mainly cuz this crew seems to be a bit more Three Stooges and past experience has taught me that a loose team can be either dumb, dangerous or worse yet both, and so under the fluorescent lights i wander while trying to maintain a certain nonchalant air, i walk and look for the Haitian, clocking the security guards and realizing they were just the Domincan version of mall guards but the uniform providing a brief moment of oh shit, i'm scanning the lot and of course there's no sign of him and so i begin to walk towards the sidewalk that runs around the supermercado and next to the road, once around the corner i walk about 40 feet, once you get past the supermarket lights there is a whole lot of dusk and nothing, i can make out the outlines of buildings and such but there are no lights on in them, i look the street up and down and turn and start making my way back up towards the supermarket which sits on the one end of the mall, when i hear a pea-shooter motorbike coming up the road, the Haitian has finally arrived...

The Haitian pulls his motorbike over and i hop down to where the curb isn't as tall but i'm still standing on a bit of a lip, he looks up at me and the bright white of his eyes are almost startling, he says you want the coca? and at this point i about started yelling what the fuck is the fucking problem man no i don't want the fucking coca or cashews or an ashtray and you and Luciano speak the same damn language so tell me what the fuck aren't we hearing, mare-I-juan-AH, grass, ganja, smoke, Bobfuckinmarley, but instead i smile and give him the latter half of my mental rant and he shakes his head and says yes 10 minutes, you get on bike, i laugh and look at him, i don't ride bikes, no he says it's good, get on 5 minutes, a little more forcefully i tell him i'm not getting on the bike, c'mon man he says get on, i don't ride motorbikes i tell him, not in the fucking States and defo not here so if he wants to get my shit and bring it back here that'd be swell but if he doesn't well then i'll just be on my merry, fucking way...

There comes a time in every illicit transaction when both parties must balance their needs and wants, sometimes it's a seller's market, think powders and rock, sometimes depending on the situation it's a buyer's market, of course in the tourist/resort areas many times the seller's believe the Anglo's are made of money and want to get all they can, it's just like haggling for the fucking wooden mask at the local bazaar, how bad do they want to sell? how much you willing to pay? how much do you really want it?... The Haitian then gives me and exasperated look and tells me to meet him here in ten minutes, right in the middle of the parking lot again and under the lights so at least everyfuckingone can see what's going down and i say si si, and off he zooms and  like i said i wander in to watch some hoops beginning to wonder now if i'll catch any of the fucking game...

And so the first quarter ends and i walk back out and act like a confused tourist cuz by now the mall guards have to know something fucking shady is up and i begin heading back to the other end towards the supermarket and in pulls my friendly Haitian dealer, we'll just call him Curly... so Curly pulls up and immediately asks for the money, 50 American, i smile and say give me the shit, he says what? and a little more forcefully i say give me the fucking gear, he looks a bit taken aback but hands over a what looks like a torn off piece of a plastic grocery bag tied in a not, i hand him the money, i take the bag and hold it to my nose, i laugh and say this is dog shit, que? he says, mierda del perro i say, he nods and says great shit and then asks me for the 20 he saw in my hand, come again? i say, Curly then tells me that he gets nothing out of this and that i should give him the twenty as a tip, no no i say, and he continues to plead and then i stop and say give me the money, he looks confused, i say give me my fucking dinero! un momento he says and he hands me back my money and i give in a bit, i take out the ten and put in the 20 and tell him that he can have ten for doing me the favor of scoring me dogshit, i had put money in both pockets but had the sense not to let him see what i had in the other, i tell him that's it, that's all he's getting and to have a swell fucking life cuz we're done and i turn from him and walk off into the mall...

By now i'm talking to myself out loud and lecturing myself about how i'm not some fucking 20-something and what am i doing fucking about with half wits and wannabe thugs when a new character enters the fray, we'll just call him Moe, Moe you see is a slender light skinned Dominican lad sporting a rather expensive multi-colored striped polo shirt with his crisp and clean white Yankees cap and a pair of khaki Dickies, he bears a striking resemblance to Angel Di Maria and his voice seems an octave too high, you Chico's amigo he says, que? i say, Chico's amigo he says again and i smile and say i don't know a Chico and as i start to move he goes, no mean Luciano's amigo, oh i say quickly gauging what's in front of me, Chico's amigo, not so sure if i am i say...






Friday, July 17, 2015

Dominican Dirt pt. 2

Luciano was one of those light skinned Dominican men who i'm sure had no problem collecting dollar bills from the female clientele at this resort, his hair was coiffed in that trendy euro-football star style known as the Gents and his white pants and shirt were snug enough to let you know that Luciano was in fine shape, he smiled a lot and spoke English a little and since rule 1 in the dope fiend's handbook is bartenders and cab drivers are always good for info if not product i politely smiled back at Luciano as i drained my second beer and motioned for my third, he poured my beer and brought it over smiling, i slid a couple bucks across the bar and said gracias, he kept smiling and i motioned him to lean in a bit, i smiled back and asked, you wouldn't know where to get some smoke would you? he smiled broadly and said si, si si....

Let me say that at this point i was thinking fucking hell, that was easy... of course nothing is ever that easy unless you're in Amsterdam or Jamaica (or Denver), but for that fleeting moment the spirits rose, there are always moments when hope springs eternal for the fucking wastoid and of course Luciano runs off and through a doorway and comes dashing back, still smiling, and places a glass ashtray in front of me, i smile and shake my head saying, no no, como usted and i pause trying to figure shit out and then switching back to English i say, smoke man smoke, sorta laughing and making what i think is the universal sign for toke and of course there's my new buddy smiling and he runs into the back room again and reappears with a glass dish full of cashews, by this time i'm laughing hard and tossing cashews in my mouth and saying no no, Luciano is looking back a bit perplexed and finally i say, ah! and again making like i'm having a toke i say Bob Marley, Luciano says Bob Marley? and then it hits him, oh yes si si amigo, i can get Bob Marley...

At this point Luciano leans in close and says si amigo i can get you, he begins washing some glasses in the sink nearby and looks over his shoulder at his co-workers and then begins talking some more, i must be careful he says and gestures with his head towards a tall, dark-skinned, pot-bellied man, that boss me smiles, i glance over then sip my beer and tell him i understand and that i don't want him to get in trouble, these are prime gigs in this country and i don't want the kid to loose his job scoring me weed though i know it happens at these places all the time, he keeps washing glasses and explains that we can't get it on the resort but that we need to go just off, then it's okay and he can get it done no problemo, he explains that he gets off at 4 today and to meet him up near this same bar around that time and then we'll be able to go just outside and get things done, i smile back and ask how much? he says whatever you want, i tell him about $40 American, figured that would get me through the week, and he smiles and says again, around 4 up here, excellente!! i grin and drain my beer and head off for a day floating in the Caribbean Sea and swimming to the pool bar...

And so at 4 i make my way to the lobby bar where he works and he sees me and motions me toward the front desk and he comes out from behind the bar pushing a cart filled with ice buckets, ice, table clothes, and begins heading towards some conference/ballroom while chattering away in his broken English about how his boss is making him work over and that we can move things until tomorrow or later at 7 when he gets off, i explain that i'll be back up at 9 to watch the game in the casino bar and he smiles and says that work and to meet him around here, near the conference rooms at 9pm, great i say and head back to the bar for another Presidente before heading back to the room to relax before dinner...

At 9 i'm in my appointed spot waiting and hoping this won't take forever cuz i have a game to watch, Luciano pops his head out of the conference room, he's sweating and his smile is fading, i'm beginning to wonder if he's full of shit or not very good at this game, he motions for me to get up and we walk to the end of conference rooms which lead out to the entrance of the resort and towards the mall i was in earlier that morning, he disappears and re-emerges between two tour buses and hisses for me to come up there, i walk up the sidewalk and he, still sweating and bit wide-eyed, tells me to wait by the buses and that he'd be back in 5-10 minutes, my spider sense isn't exactly tingling yet but it's awake and i smile and say sure sure no problemo, he runs back towards the conference rooms and i begin trying to wander idly trying not to look like an American tourist trying to score drugs, which at the time i look plenty like in my book but a few people pass and say hola and i realize the paranoia is creeping in and i haven't even smoked any gear yet... and so i wait, i see a skinny stray cat and chirp at her and she comes cautiously walking over and she rubs against my legs a few times, i scratch her ears and off she goes into the night, i on the other hand am still waiting... then that hissing whistle again and a person clad in white is waving me towards him...

Now if there's one thing i learned when i was in the damn game was that it's always a good idea to take note of your surroundings, i knew there was some kind of industrial site to my right, maybe the resorts physical plant/laundry room/ meth lab, straight ahead and across the street was the mall and supermarket, behind me the resort and to the left of me a parking lot and what looked like apartments, i've travelled the Caribbean and Latin America enough to know that often times the resorts will build apartments for some of their workers to live in, i had noticed employees of the place either getting their cars and driving off or walking into the apartments, groups of two or three women, the lone guy, now Luciano was standing in the parking lot out of view from the resort and waving me over... and so into the dark parking lot i walked...






Sunday, July 12, 2015

Dominican Dirt pt. 1

To say there was an art to scoring is a bit of an overstatement and yet  there is a bit of an art to scoring, granted it's more commerce-centric than artistic but i've known people who were just absolute shit at finding and procuring anything, there is an unspoken language, a mixture of facial expressions and subtle movements, an aura of quiet confidence and fearlessness that helps drive one through the process, granted sometimes it's out of necessity as with the junkie, a more need based thing, and sometimes it's more out of want, you want something, a little grass or some blow or a bit of adventure... which brings me to how i spent my summer vacation, well not all of it of course, really it was no more than an hour or two all told but in the end i walked away with my Dominican dirt and even had a little adventure and story by the time it was all said and done... part comedy, part drama, part adventure, part B-movie...

Somewhere east of Haiti, across some mountains and heading south toward the Caribbean Sea one finds a stretch of beautiful beaches, the sand a fine powder and the sea a lovely pale blue, all gobbled up by international conglomerates and given fancy tropical names to appeal to fucking suburbanites like me, along with the odd Rusky and occasional Euro, a bevy of South Americans, an interesting place to hang at the bar and wander between the South Americans watching futbol and the Yanks watching basketball, it was my first full day and that night my beloved Cavs would be on the telly and though i had a wrist band that let me drink all i could possibly guzzle i still needed my smoke, or maybe not needed but definitely desired, having kicked cigarettes a while back and slowed my drinking down to a crawl for the most part i didn't want to spend the week in a half drunk half hungover haze, i wanted to enjoy this time and i knew it would be much more enjoyable stoned...

The first thing one has to do the day after they arrive is schedule the transport to the airport for the departing flight, of course i volunteered right off to wander up to the desk and arrange this because having done my research i discovered that in the DR one could obtain certain painkillers over the counter and being the consummate wastoid i decided why not tie two loose ends up first thing and so before i went to the desk i walked across the street to a mall, one i believe specifically built for tourists with a bunch of high end shops but also with supermarket and a pharmacy where i was hoping to find the pills that i had read about, all perfectly legal to buy over the counter and all loaded with codeine, for hangovers of course... and any other minor aches and pains, real or otherwise, that might arise, so i walked on over, the day's heat already coming up and a fine layer of sweat clinging to my body, i made a quick lap around the place glancing at the stores until i saw the familiar red cross and the words la farmacia written next to it...

The total amount of products in a Dominican pharmacy amounts to what would roughly fit in half an aisle at the local Walgreen's, it's got some lotions and soaps and shit locked in cabinets and then a counter where all the drugs are kept, both over the counter and prescription, i sauntered around the locked island in the middle of the store glancing at the names of things and then finally made my way over to the counter, first i asked about stomach medicine, half ass Pepto or some shit i didn't need and had no intention of buying, it was here the language barrier was established and a friendly woman stepped in to help, they handed me a packet of something and i looked at it and then handed it back, i turned to the woman and told her that i had back pain too, and needed something, something strong, the girl behind the counter looked at her and then at me and grabbed a box of something and immediately went to ring it up, i gestured to her to stop and asked to read the box, i leaned on the counter pretending to be in discomfort and scanned the ingredients label looking for the magic words, as usual i needed to be a bit more conscientious in my pre-trip studies and my slack note-taking and memory had me fucking all Chevy Chase, finally i gave up and handed the box back, thanked the counter girl and the lady and pretend hobbled toward the door thinking to myself, that was an absolute disaster you fucking knob end...

All this of course took maybe fifteen minutes and seeing how this little mission needed to be done a bit clandestinely it left me ample time to hit the bar, albeit at 9:30 in the morning, for a quick beer or two, i had half and hour and needed to take the edge off the heat and so i pulled up a fine wooden chair at an expensive looking cheap bar, the wood the color of dark chocolate, i drank from my first glass of beer thinking of the failed mission, i scanned the tourists and workers around the half moon and listened to conversations, actually thought of bumming a cigarette but then stopped and thought better of it, finished my first beer and then ordered a second and that's how i met Luciano...




Monday, July 6, 2015

The Wilderness Years - No Cover pt. 1

The first time i was ever in a strip club i was 17, an all nude place near San Diego called Les Girls, it served no liquor, my friend who had hooked me up with this trip (for scraping and painting his parents house) and i would drive down from Orange County near Irvine in our host's brown Lincoln Town Car with a cooler of Corona in the backseat and blasting Ice-T's Rhyme Pays on the tape deck, the place played porno on the walls and was a fucking dive located on one of those shitty city blocks i would come to know so well, the first time we went our host took us, an older gentleman who wrote computer code (this being 1988) had given us each a 20 for our first private dance, i can remember standing in the dimly lit hallway between the stage area and the private rooms, a bright light shining out of from the teller's booth where a girl gave you change, i was standing and holding my 20 in my hand like Ohio's finest rube just come out to the really big city, it was in this hallway where Goldie, not her Christian name but a stage name i remember damn near 30 years later, all six strawberry blond feet of her, proceeded to pin me against the wall with her ass and started grinding on me, she then asks me if i was looking for a private dance? to this day it is still hands down the best sales pitch i've ever had the pleasure of being the mark of, but before i could say sold my friend is practically begging her to take his money and she plucks it from his one hand, then takes his other and leads him back towards the private rooms...

Now i can attest to the fact that up to that point Goldie had not been my first choice, there was a blue-eyed brunette working that day and if there is one thing i am just a fucking sap for it is brunettes with blue or green eyes, not that i've ever discriminated but that combination fucking buckles the knees, and so instead of taking sloppy dance seconds i sought out the brunette and got my dance from her... when it was done i took my seat back at the stage and about 10 minutes later Goldie was back, she sneered at me as she dropped her bra in my lap and then worked the room, i waited anxiously with my stack of George Washingtons and by the time she got in front of me she was naked and grinning at me as she lay on her back propped on her elbows, she swung herself around onto all fours and suddenly her long hair was draped over me and her face was an inch from mine, she smelled like stripper, like a wonderfully cheap and fruity body spray, she whispered that she still needed to give me my private show and i mumbled yeah and then she flung her hair back and moved on to the next guy...

About the time i began to take an interest in the female form my dear mother made my old man sell his porn stash, and a fine fucking stash it was, mainly Penthouse and Hustler circa early to mid 70's to the early 80's, the day of the garage sale she had to put up some more signs that morning and her last words to me were that she knew how many and the exact order of those magazines in the garage and i best not touch them, i remember staring at the entry door and breaking out into a sweat i wanted to look at them so bad, it was akin to leaving a rock in front of an addict and telling him not to touch it, but i didn't, still i was pervert or just a normal teenage boy and so imagine the look on my mug as i sat in this place, a few scant years later, while naked women danced around me at the tender age of 17 1/2, (a side note: after the trip i sat at the kitchen table one afternoon and wrote down all the places i went and shit i did in Southern Cal and train wreck trip to Vegas, including all my sojourns to Les Girls which amounted to more than a few, a lot more in the few weeks i was out there, i then left the pages on the table where my mother found and read them, i can still see the smirk on my old man's face as he told me the news, your mother enjoyed reading about your travels son, there was that light dawning on marble head moment and then he handed me the pages, you might want to hide these... or burn them, he said in his stoic way, and then a smile crept across his face as he walked away...

And so she came off stage and i made my way back to the hallway with my own 20 this time and once again she pinned me to the wall with that glorious ass, there was a moment when i thought i might run out the door but in what was becoming a more common theme in my wayward youth i decided to see what would happen next, and so she lay down on a bed and i sat in a chair and she began dancing, the music was pumped in from the stage area and since it wasn't deafening we talked, what i else could i do? i tried to distract myself from the fact there was naked 23 year old woman in front of me, it didn't work and like any teenage kid i tried to steal glances, Goldie knew, and when it was finished i got another one, what did you expect from our young mark? i'm sure the smart money wasn't getting put on the Ohio Rube but then the second dance ended and i got up to go and she stopped me, she smiled and said sit down this one's on me, by the time that dance had ended she had given me her phone number and real name and work schedule and what days she was off and best to call, i don't remember what we talked about, she seemed to like my innocence, Christ i was naive as fuck and maybe she knew it, when she asked how old i was i calmly said 20, she told me she was 23, i told her i was here looking at colleges, she told me she grew up here, she was tall with a pointed face and her front teeth were slightly crooked, by the time i came rolling out and back into the club it had been over an hour, my friend and our host looked at me, the host grinning and my friend gobsmacked when i told them what happened, i think they thought i was bullshitting, i produced the number and showed them, still wide-eyed at what had transpired, my host laughed over his shoulder as i rode in the backseat, that number's real kid you're my hero... a few days later after a couple few beers i called... and it was...

One might be asking what the fuck is he on about now? what's he doing? what happened with Goldie?  and i would reply that i'm providing background, a point of reference so to speak, this suburban teenage kid had always been fascinated and drawn to the seedy and now as a grown man or at least appearing like a grown man though still feeling like a kid, had moved to a seedy neighborhood, to run what we'll politely call an illegal start up business, and now discovers that he lives just a half a block from two g-string and pasty strip clubs, one to the left and one to the right, now i'm not gonna lie and declare some sort of noble intentions when i began patronizing the places, i wanted to look at girls and pass the time, unwind a bit from the gig, i soon realized though that if you're going to delve into the human condition you have to get out and mingle among the humans and this place provided an up close view of the brilliance and malfunction of the lovely world in which i lived... and they both served .25 cent slices of pizza, .35 for pepperoni.. but i'll get to that...