Unnoticed in Clever Worlds

The clearest description I have managed so far about my blog is that it is not about cats. In general, I find predators pretty predictable while prey on the other-hand, because they live in universes of anxiety, develop more textured personalities. I also have as a writer a deft hand when it comes to making matters worse, so of course , the already panicky are ready made for me. I will try to grow this blog into an assortment of laughs, because that is what my life has mostly taught me to do. I will use the famous people I have known to get your attention and then tell you small but many times wonderful things about them. I will never name the ones I say ugly things about but I hope you will guess who they are.

Waiting for you

Do your memories,

cast loose by life’s end

wait bewildered

for you to come back ?

Like pets at windows?

Interview with Bob Dylan

I ask Dylan about the time he and Bruce Springsteen were invited to a dinner party at Sinatra’s house and whether Bob thought Frank had ever heard his songs.

“Not really,” Dylan says. “I think he knew ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’’ and ‘Blowin’ In the Wind.’ I know he liked ‘Forever Young,’ he told me that. He was funny, we were standing out on his patio at night and he said to me, ‘You and me, pal, we got blue eyes, we’re from up there,’ and he pointed to the stars. ‘These other bums are from down here.’ I remember thinking that he might be right.”

Me and Pete Townshend

We were not friends, but there was a curiosity between us. I heard Keith Moon say to him, “You know he is never going to forgive you.”
I did, and he made me cry, as he said he would when I first met him.
In Bill’s words,” He told you he was sorry. He did that for you, and you have to allow it to be enough.” Hard for someone like me who has a lifetime of unforgiven frozen people.
In real life, it is never a good idea to believe you know someone. It is barely passably accurate most times to say you understand yourself, let alone another.
No one who got close to the band was a fool. We had all passed the humiliation test, The Who included.
The band never ill-treated strangers, but if you were with them, working from day to day, you had better watch out. You had to remember who you were. And that’s what made it so much fun. It was all so authentic.
A simple exchange of vanity for living so grandly entitled, it took your breath away.

Keith Moon’s Fabulous Dallas Scrabble Game

Twenty or more naked women smell a certain way.

“He wants money,” Tiny said on the Dallas hotel phone.
“Do you have him?” I asked. It was seven hours after The Who show had ended.
“Buttoned down, he can’t get away, but you better come he’s been pestering for you.”

I palmed a couple of hundred dollar bills as I got out on Keith Moon’s floor in case I ran into any police sniffing around.

Teenage girls wandered the drummer’s hallway like confused chickens. They all cocked their heads towards the sound of my elevator, alert for any flying corn but were disappointed because I was a grown-up.

One of Jim’s guys was standing at the door to the Moon’s suite being brawny and earnest.
“What’s he doing?” I asked, calm now for not engaging any police. The likable young tough shrugged like muscular people imagine they can, “He’s been ringing up hookers for the last couple of hours with Jim, Tiny, and Dougal.”

Moon’s living room was empty except for Tiny, who was standing sentinel at Keith’s bedroom door.
Tiny was a colossal ex-New York cop who got shot and lived on a pension, I think. He irregularly carried The Who’s only gun. He kept it on his ankle where he could not reach it in a crisis without a chiropractor. He had greasy black curly hair and an uncut testicle sparse beard. Having been up for at least two days chasing Moon, he somewhat resembled the consequence of a high school custodian’s wet mop attack on a fat black bear. He was a simple and good guy.
Tiny bathed, as the tour joke went, only before major surgery.

He was naked except for his laminated security pass that hung around his neck.
“You’re a picture,” I said as I passed him to knock on the bedroom door.
Jim Callaghan answered, just as unclothed, “No clothes, governor’s orders.”
I undressed, except for my briefs and my case.

The drummer was holding three girls and struggling to focus on something in the center of his king bed.
It was a Scrabble board.
The balance of the space on the bed is taken up with hired women of shapes and sizes, all likewise concentrating like cats sharing a flushing toilet.
He glances up at me, “Well, finally, we took our time, didn’t we?”
“You better be winning,” I challenged him.
I lose his attention as he turns again to the board, peeking through his private forest of breasts.

“Well Regis, you’re in time enough, I may need to buy a vowel,” he loudly confuses our two most important American letter games, Scrabble and Wheel of Fortune which must have had a British equivalent somewhere in his past.

“Come sit, he patted the bed beside him, shoving a blond to the floor. I cover my lap with my bag and obey.
“I have these ladies of the night on the run, but the field of play is getting crowded the board is very condensed.”
I glanced down and regarded that three words had found their way into the match so far, but none of the wooden squares forming them were touching each other.
“You guys ever play this game before tonight?” I said to the girls. One or two expressed some confidence.

A stunning black girl with bruised blood-colored hair and long bone earrings heaved in a dark voice, (like a lonely cow’s moo), “I got one,” carefully laying down “dog,” forever impressing four of the other girls who I judged must be on her team against the drummer.

So Moon kicks the board into the air in a losing hissy fit and banishes the poor black girl off the bed. She promptly goes from pride to tears, her spelling days over and in tatters.
He pushes himself up to lean on the puffed pink silk headboard beside me. I don’t sit next to naked men regularly, and so I worry about sweat.

“Can I hold it?” he draws my eyes with his then gives a begging look to my bag. I hand him my case. He flattens it to his stomach and balls and says brightly, “Does it have lots of tonight?”
“You bet,” I said.
He tosses the case to the middle of the bed, and the girls lunge on it like it was a deep jungle musk genital pouch.
I was half thinking of how early I could get hold of a spray bottle of Fantastic from housekeeping or a new bag.

Moon, his mouth now on my ear, says in his whispering British spy voice, “I have my eye on that little blond down there, think she could be mine?”

I have this job owing to two strengths; I am trustworthy with money, and my reality was not easily overwhelmed by the unreality of anybody else’s.
“Please,” I offer, “she has not taken her eyes off you, even while her mouth is on my case.”

Jim and Doughal know their call girls.
“Girls, the case please,” he commanded, putting his arms out like the prongs on a forklift.
“I will need quite a bit tonight,” now back to me.
“How much?” I said.

He began gravely calculating, employing his taxing ” pin the tail on the donkey” arithmetic.
“Twenty-thousand might cover it,” he said, immediately giddy with relief that the stress of the mathematics was finally over.

Opening the case, I counted out twenty packets, handed it to him and made him sign for it, which he did, dramatically sweeping my pen in semi-circles like a crashing propeller plane, before landing close enough to the dotted line.
He threw all the money to Doughal who couldn’t disengage his hands fast enough from women’s body parts, so most of it hit him on the head.
Jim and Doughal sprang for it before the girls did.

On my way out, I told Jim to pay the girls himself, if he could, and to drop the balance back to me at the next show.

None of it ever comes back.

Epochs

I’m glad I grew up in an era when how much sex you had was more important than what sex you were.

The Who’s Crush on my Mother

Keith Moon insisted the two of them had a connection.
It was awkward. The woman was my mother.
She was beautiful by any standard.
The drummer started to fantasize about her soon after I showed him a photo snapped of her in the fifties. She wore a shapeless, tent of a chiffon dress, popularized then. It was my second North American tour with the Who, and she was already dead.
Ridiculously, this did not counterbalance my discomfort. I am not anybody’s definition of a prude, but this was my mother he wanted.
He was smitten with her in that shy British way. He would talk to the photo like he did to prostitutes. As if he might be successful, provided, he played his cards just right.
He would bring mother up to me out of nowhere, regularly wanting to see the picture.
The trajectory of my mother’s life and death were much the same as his, inevitable and sad. Neither of them was nailed down. Of course, she did not wreck hotel rooms, but our neighbors did slam the front doors when they saw her coming in the night.
I see them now as hapless geese plowing deliberately into the propellers of an airplane​ taking​ off to God’s airport. Neither the plane nor their shared psychosis was willing to alter course. They had no chance.
Their now dead broken feathers scattered everywhere around me. Moon’s drifted over everyone.
She died conveniently between tours.
Once in a while, he would ask whether if I could find a dress like hers.
Of course, in his size.

Keith Moon loved my Mother

Keith Moon insisted the two of them had a connection.
It was awkward. The woman was my mother.
She was beautiful by any standard.
The drummer started to fantasize about her soon after I showed him a photo snapped of her in the fifties. She wore a shapeless, tent of a chiffon dress, popularized then. It was my second North American tour with The Who, and she was already dead.
Ridiculously, this did not counterbalance my discomfort. I am not anybody’s definition of a prude, but this was my mother he wanted.
He was smitten with her in that shy British way. He would talk to the photo like he did to prostitutes. As if he might be successful, provided, he played his cards just right.
He would bring her up to me out of nowhere, regularly wanting to see the picture.
The trajectory of my mother’s life and death were much the same as his, inevitable and sad. Neither of them was nailed down. Of course, she did not wreck hotel rooms, but our neighbors did slam the front doors when they saw her coming in the night.
I see them now as hapless geese plowing deliberately into the propellers of an airplane​ taking​ off to God’s airport. Neither the plane nor their shared psychosis was willing to alter course. They had no chance.
Their now dead broken feathers scattered everywhere around me. Moon’s drifted over everyone.
She died conveniently between tours.
Once in a while, he would ask whether if I could find a dress like hers.
Of course, in his size.

Keith Moon’s Iceberg

Jim Callaghan, the early morning remains of Keith Moon’s security detail shifted nervously from foot to foot. He was wearing only one shoe.
We both ignored him.
Moon was seated legs crossed in an Admiral’s uniform having tea on a small Victorian table against his suite window that opened to whichever lake was next to Chicago. It was sometime in the late seventies.
The drummer summoned an image of an unshaven Judy Garland during her last catastrophic years.” He was wearing Callaghan’s other shoe.
“Spot of tea, Regis?” He offered, not aware there was not a second cup. “Did you take in some theater before you rushed here to help me?” he added.
“I wanted to pick up more money,” I dropped, working to deflect him and to get to his point. “Increased money” worked on him, I knew from practice.
He regarded me as a magically tall cash fountain and understood vaguely that on occasion, I needed replenishment.
“We have disturbing confidences to discuss. I have finally slept with the wrong woman.” He paused here searching our faces for some sympathy or recognition. None arrived. But we didn’t laugh either.
Callaghan broke first,” He’s got the clap.”
“Quiet!” he whispered, “this is our grave intrigue; no one can ever know.”
I was immediately ahead of the puzzle,” I’ll get a doctor over this morning.”
I had a doctor in Keith’s suite within the hour. I can make anyone do anything for enough Who tickets and cash.

That afternoon I got the call that confirmed our boy had an especially hateful strain of Vietnamese gonorrhea.
I headed back up to the room to tell him and found him and his close friend Dougal hunched over a coffee table with pen and paper looking liked Hitler and Goebbels planning a North African panzer campaign.
“Should we let the girl know?” I asked Keith.
“The girl?” he sniffed as though I had demanded the definition of a two hundred letter word, “What girl?”
“There is no girl, Regis, don’t be stupid, there are zodiacs of girls. We are standing on the tip of a dangerous iceberg!
Women moved like buffalo around the free range of any rock tour. ‘Moon’s Iceberg,’ as we were later to name it, made notifying the potential girls unimaginable without also calling the National Center for Disease Control.
We settled, the three of us, on cataloging all of our crew and traveling party that Moon knew for sure had shared one of his girls. I would call them and make them come to get their shots.
This doctor now worked for me.
He made a fortune and walked away with enough tickets to start his own Ticketron.
To my great discredit, I grasped that innocents were named, caught up in the net of Moon’s finger-pointing enthusiasm, but the drummer, once he got into the melody, could not stop implicating bystanders.
Nearly the entire Who entourage was English. Britains are always the last ones to realize they are victims of a trick. They came over to the suite with a sick look on their faces and dropped their pants.
Sadly, this was one of the funniest days of my life in the business.
There was a picture taken of everyone standing or kneeling together in the suite, like a baseball team card. The little Indian doctor was sitting in the center holding a lap-full of Who tickets and a syringe. I don’t know who has that photo today. I would pay anything for it.

Keith Moon and Dougal

We had science too

I am more familiar with the last Ice Age than most of you. You are more adjacent to Earth’s promised scalding flameout. We are both wedded to our alarm.
Advancing glaciers scared the shit out of me as a kid. Our schools and media certified it was only a matter of time.
These transcontinental icebergs would come gnashing relentlessly towards my home. They would overwhelm our 1956 Chevy and mashing our too slow to react dimwit of a family dog.
Glacial speed was faster than global simmering to us.
I knew where my hooded fur coat and galoshes, ( bet you haven’t heard that word for a while) were at all times, even in the heat of summertime.
Today’s children and village idiots are​ encouraged to fear incineration by slow global baking. But I won’t change​​. I’m betting on ice. We had science too.
PUBLISHED: September 20, 2018
FILED UNDER: Unnoticed in Clever Worlds

The Caucasian’s Guide To Black Barbecues by Michael Harriot

As interracial dating, integration, and cross-cultural friendships increase, many people find themselves attending events in which they are the minority, and have no frame of reference from which to base their etiquette. In an effort to help bridge the cultural gaps we all have to traverse at some point, I have created a few rules for all my Caucasian friends who might find themselves at a black cookout.

1. You gotta bring something. One time, I went to a co-worker named Tom’s barbecue and brought a pasta salad. He looked at me like I had shit in the middle of his living room.

At a black cookout (yes, if there’s more than seven black people there, the name automatically changes from “barbecue” to a “cookout”), only the meat and the grill is supplied by the host. Everything else is brought by attendees—and no, this is not “potluck.” Black people don’t do potlucks. Potluck dinners are for Caucasian bible-study meetings where one can bring store-bought dishes. Here, you either show up with a homemade dish, or they’re gonna look at you funny. And please don’t try no new shit like potato salad with raisins or vegetarian shish kabobs. If you can’t cook, or you don’t have all the required black seasonings, just bring some cups and napkins. Or LOTS of aluminum foil. I don’t know what the hell black people do with all the aluminum foil at cookouts, but they ALWAYS need more. I have long suspected that black cookouts were ploys by hosts to get free aluminum foil. In any case, you are expected to bring something.

2. It’s a cookOUT. Black people’s cookouts are outside. At the previously mentioned Tom’s barbecue, everyone mingled in his living room. I was nervous as fuck, because for the first hour, all I could think was, “These motherfuckers are about to have an intervention on me.”

You don’t go into the house unless you have to pee, which means there a few things you should bring:

1. A chair.

2. Bug spray.

3. Another chair (because someone is going to sit in your first chair when you go pee).

3. Don’t arrive on time. If they say they’re going to start around 3 p.m., that means you can arrive around 4:47. CP time is a very complicated algorithm to figure out, but the published start time at a black BBQ is the time when they start thinking about preparing to get ready to almost light the grill.

4. Learn how to do the “Wobble.” Then consult a local ballerina/choreographer to add your own variation to one of the moves. I don’t do line dances, but I’ve noticed that white people feel SO included if they know how to do them. I believe line dances should be used by the United Nations to prevent war. You can’t be THAT mad when you’re adding your spin shimmy kick to the Cupid Shuffle.

5. Make friends. Here is a FOOLPROOF method to making a new black friend at the cookout:

1. Bring a bottle of dark liquor.

2. Keep it in the trunk of your car.

3. SOMEONE (usually Tasha’s new boyfriend) is gonna ask, “Way da liquor at.”

4. Wait. (I know you’ll want to rush up to him or say something, but ignore your white-people-timing instincts just this one time, and give it a few minutes.)

5. When he changes the subject, walk over to him and say, “Walk to my car with me.” He’ll know what you mean.

6. When you pop that trunk, you’ll have a friend for life.

6. DO NOT PLAY SPADES. Even if your black friend tries to teach you how to play. They’re gonna get you FUCKED UP. No matter what you do, don’t get on the spades table talking ’bout you “learned” how to play. You do not learn how to play spades. Black people just know. Like we just know how to do the Electric Slide or get diabetes.

AND, if you mess around and renege, your partner is gonna give you the side-eye all night when they take those three books.

AND, you might get in your feelings over the shit-talking, because James is going to call you a bitch. He always does that.

AND, if your spades game is weak, no one is gonna want to be your friend. Not even Tasha’s boyfriend.

7. Park down the street. Trust me, you don’t want to have to wait for someone to move their car so you can get out. Especially after your bitch ass let James them run a Boston on you. (See? I bet that offended you, and you probably don’t know what it means. That’s why you shouldn’t play spades.)

8. Don’t worry about the drunk uncle. You know how at white people’s Thanksgiving, there’s always that ONE drunk uncle? (Yes, there is a White Thanksgiving and a Black Thanksgiving. White people’s Thanksgiving has pumpkin pie and wine. Black Thanksgiving has pound cake and Crown Royal.)

Anyway, at black cookouts, ALL our uncles are the drunk uncle. Except Uncle Jerome, who is saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost. In fact, Uncle Jerome is starting a new ministry that confronts the evil of drugs and alcohol.

But if you take him to your trunk, he’ll have a nip.

9. For dominoes advice, please refer to rule no. 6. You know what I said about spades? The same goes for dominoes. It’s like spades with math. Most black people don’t even play dominoes as well as they think they do. And the shit-talking factor is even higher. James is going to call your mama a bitch. He always does that.

10. Listen. As the evening progresses and the alcohol flows, it becomes more dangerous to be at a black cookout. We all know that white people get drunk and fight, too, (probably more than black people), but here’s the difference:

Black people can fight.

There is, however, a very simple and effective way to know when a black cookout is getting dangerous: the music.

Music is not just entertainment at these gatherings; it is like the terror-alert warning system. The intensity of the music is inversely proportional to the danger it represents. Here are the Black Cookout Music Alert Warning indicators:

Pop/current music. If you hear the Weekend, 2 Chainz, or Fetty Wap, you’re pretty safe. That means the kids are around, and everything’s cool.
Old-school R&B. When Al Green or Parliament is playing, everything should be okay. Everyone is getting lubed up and eating, and Tasha’s boyfriend has been waiting on you by your car.
Old-school hip-hop. By now, only the guys are left. Mostly the drunk ones. They’re arguing about whether Rakim was better than Tupac, while Uncle Jerome is talking about Kool Moe Dee being the G.O.A.T. Shit is getting sketchy. You better get ready, because it’s going to jump off soon. The spades table is pumping, the dominoes are being slammed down, and then you lock eyes with one guy, and you can tell he’s thinking, “If James call my mama a bitch ONE MO TIME ….” Man, just start getting your stuff together and making your way to the car.
Gospel Music. If you hear we fall down, but we get up … run, motherfucker. Get the fuck out of there. Leave those camp chairs, and tell Tasha’s boyfriend to get the fuck away from your car with that screwdriver trying to break into your trunk.
Aren’t you glad I told you to park down the street?

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