Jumat, 13 April 2012
The number 12 symbolizes completeness for numerologists and 13 has a reputation of a prime number steeped with irregularity. Thirteen is further tarnished by being the number of people at the Last Supper of Jesus. The Turks went so far as to ban the number from their language and the Vikings feared that if thirteen guests sat to dinner, all of them would die within a year under the curse of Loki, their god of mischief. Some humans have rejected this belief as superstition.Manhattan has a both East and West 13th Streets, however most high-rises on that fabled island are missing the 13th floor.
Many superstitions have their base in gambling and many gamblers exhibit an extraordinary fear of the #13 aka triskaidekaphobia.
There are usually 1-3 Friday the 13ths in a calendar year.
Today is one of them.
Unlike the West Thais consider the number 4 unlucky, although you’ll notice on Thai Air flights there is no row 13.
Personally I think 13's reputation comes from the age at which Jewish boys used to be circumcised and nothing is more unlucky for a man than losing a piece of your penis, unless you’re a ka-toey.
Black Sabbath also released their first album on Feb. 13, 1970.
The date had nothing to do with ladyboys.
Although with Ozzie you can never be sure.
Every high tide deposited beer bottles, oil containers, fishing lines, shiny candy wrappers, and plastic bags onto the sloping shoreline of Jomtien Beach. At low tide I harvested the trash into sea-worn rice bags. Within a half-hour the sand was devoid of any human refuse and I could smugly regard the pristine strand with pride.While tourists rolled their eyes in disgust at my ecological efforts, the Thais from the beach cafes congratulated my work without ever breaking caste to aid my task. Such labor was beneath them and from under a parasol my girlfriend expressed her embarrassment by saying, “Tomorrow have plastic again. Every day have. You stop nothing.”“Doesn’t matter. At least the beach is clean for now.”Every day I expanded my patrol and the bending proved very therapeutic to my aging boy. My muscles ceased to creak and the aches vanished from my joints.“Watch this.” I pressed my palms flat onto the sand.“You only not hurt, because you stop play basketball.” Mam was unimpressed by my suppleness.“I didn’t stop.” I shot baskets at the park in the elephant ranch near Sukhumvit at dusk,“Yes, you stop.” Mam was less than half my age. Her belly was swollen with our son.“No one plays basketball here.” Thais were mad about Man United. The courts at the schools were used for pick-up football games. Their backboards were warped by the tropical sun. Occasionally when I dribbled a basketball, the Thais waited for a show, except ballhandling had never been the mainstay of my game.“You not play too.” Mam hated my picking up the trash on the beach. She said that I looked like a crazy man. right. I had not picked up a basketball in months.Two weeks later when my cousin came out to visit, Mam asked, “He good playing basketball?”Bish and I had played our last one-on-one game twenty years ago yet he answered without hesitation. “He’s the dirtiest player this side of Bill Laimbeer.”The Detroit Piston was legendary, but the name meant nothing to Mam“Sok-ka-phok.” She wrinkled her nose. “Dirty same not shower.”My cousin gestured violently with his elbow. “No, dirty same the Mafia.”“I played defense tight.”“In your shirt and then some.” Bish was not far from wrong. My fouls on the street courts had to be approaching the half-million mark. Despite this record, I loved basketball and had so from even before I saw one.In the 1950s I lived on a quiet street across the harbor from Portland, Maine. My brother, my best friend, and I spent summers playing baseball, chasing seagulls from the mudflats, and exploring the offshore islands in leaky rowboats. Autumn was dedicated to football and every winter my father constructed a hockey rink from long planks of two-by-tens.My older brother, our friends, and I played hockey from the second we got home from school to the collective call to dinner from our mothers. We shouted back ‘five minutes’. It was more like ten.One night my father ran into the backyard and declared that he had seen a rattlesnake in the front yard. We hobbled into the house on the skates and he called the State Police. The cops approached the suspected snake with drawn guns. The deadly reptile turned out to be the silhouette of a paper bag flapping in the wind.During dinner we joked about the episode, however my six-year’s old mind filled the dark with snakes’ sibilant slither. Panic-stricken I ran into my parents’ room and leapt into the bed. “There’s snakes under my bed.”“Maine doesn’t have any snakes.” My father was exhausted by this fiasco.“You thought saw one tonight.” If he believed snakes in the winter, then they might have slithered into the house. “Can’t I sleep with you?”“You’re getting a little old for this.” My father protested with closed eyes.“He’s young.” My mother threw back the cover.The disruptiveness of my nocturnal intrusion escaped me, until I was a little older.The following day my father brought home two crystal radio sets shaped as rockets. They were made in Japan. My father explained the instructions. “You attached alligator clips to a metal object. The signal is transmitted to the antenna and you tuned the radio with a retractable space needle jutting from the nose of the rocket.”“They aren’t going to get electrocuted.” My mother’s fear was for our own good.“There’s no electrical charge. The radios capture the airwaves.” My father was an electrical engineer for the phone company. He knew about these things. “These are better than TV. You can hear the rest of the world.”TV reception is Maine was limited to three very snowy channels.Okay.” My mother accepted their harmlessness and my father handed my older brother and me the sets.At bedtime I dressed in my Davy Crockett pajamas.
Before I could plant the earpiece, my mother ordered us to hand over the sets. My brother surrendered his and rolled over to sleep. I needed any explanation. She held out her hand.“But they don’t have any batteries.” I had read the flimsy instruction sheet. One side of it was in Japanese.“At night they play things you shouldn’t hear,” she exhaled with adult exasperation.“Things?” This cryptic comment reanimated my dozing brother.As a devout supporter of Tailgunner Joe’s battle against the Reds my mother was deeply concerned about the subversion of the airwaves. Events of the Sixties proved her right.“Yes, things.”“There’s nothing on the radio that can hurt them.” My father came into the bedroom and contradicted my mother’s demand, “Let them listen to the radio. It’s a free country and the radio scares away the snakes.”“You shouldn’t be telling them stories.” She gave him a withering glare.“I just want a night’s sleep,” he whispered with a wink.My mother begrudgingly returned my brother’s set and kissed us both.“Sleep tight.”“And don’t let the bedbugs bite,” my brother and I replied in unison.Once the light went out, my brother fell asleep and I attached the alligator clips to the metal bed frame.The airwaves soared with voices from Montreal, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Wheeling, West Virginia. Their accents scared away the snakes. Music and radio shows appeared between the squawks of static, until a hoarse man cried out, “And Cousy has the ball.”I soon divined that ten men comprised the Seventy-Sixers and the Celtics.Each play mattered to the announcer and the roar of the crowd was as bloodthirsty as the Romans in the Coliseum. I rooted for the Boston team, since my mother had been born in Jamaica Plains, but Bill Russell was not stopping the dreaded giant, Wilt. Luckily the Sixers were befuddled by the Jones boys and at breakfast I recounted how the two brothers’ defense stopped the Philadelphia team.“When did you fall asleep?” my father asked and I answered, “Around midnight.”“Don’t tell your mother or the Jones Boys will have a curfew.”In 1960 we moved to Boston. My father took us to the Garden. It didn’t matter that KC and Sam Jones weren’t brothers.Seeing the game hooked me on basketball, despite my dribbling being rudimentary and my shooting abysmal. My skills didn’t improve in high school or college, yet my merciless ‘in your shorts’ defense allowed me to compete against much taller and more talented players.In 1976 I wandered onto West 4th Street.Truthfully I didn’t deserve to stand on that pint-sized court with its high-flying leapers, deadeye shooters, and dazzling dribblers, but the players recognized I didn’t give up on defense. This sacrifice allowed them to devote everything to offense. It was a fair trade.One summer day a muscle-bound guard from Mott Haven drove toward the basket. I planted my feet and took the charge. He bounced off my shoulder and I passed the loose ball for my teammate’s easy lay-up. Before any congratulations were offered, the guard said, “Point don’t count.”“Why not?” Incredible talent didn’t prevent players from calling outrageous fouls.“You charged me, Opie.” He pushed me.“You ran into me like a drunk driver hitting a telephone pole.” His grudge against Andy of Mayberry’s son wasn’t shutting my mouth.“You think you’re funny?” The laughter from the line-up of ‘next games’ ignited the guard.I ducked his punch and wrestled him into a headlock. His elbow cracked my jaw and my tooth was loosened by the blow. We dropped to the ground.Our respective teams separated us and I shouted over the shoulder of the forward, “That was your best shot? Damn, that was a real Twinkie.”“I’ll show you a shot, Oppie.” He reached into his bag for a gun.I opted for discretion and fled the court.When I returned to my SRO room on West 11th Street, my hillbilly girlfriend tended to my black eye.“That’s it. No more basketball.”“I didn’t do anything.” It was a weak counter.“Like always.” She threw my old baloney-skinned Spaulding out the window.The next week we moved to the East Village and I obeyed her edict, until hearing the familiar thump of rubber on Avenue A.A Puerto Rican teenager was dribbling into Tompkins Square Park.“Mind if I shoot around with you.”“Not at all.” He bounce-passed the ball and I launched a high arcing shot. It missed the backboard, hoop, and net. He retrieved the ball at the top of the key and flicked the ball into the netless hoop.“Shit, man, you better be good on defense.”If he hadn’t been right, I might have been insulted.“I can’t get my shot right.”“A couple of hundred shots each day. You gotta improve. The name’s Izzy.”Izzy was short, lean, and worked an early shift for the sanitation department. I was stocky and worked at a discotheque as a bouncer. We met every afternoon to play all-comers.The picks I set in a two-on-two game created a bond between us. Izzy scored the points and I defended the hoop. Anyone big, anyone rough, anyone with weight, Izzy would say, “Stick ‘em.”Before games opposing players dunked the ball for intimidation and Izzy warned them, “Don’t try that shit on the Rock during the game. Players have scored more points and others have more rebounds. No one has more fouls than the Rock.”The dunker smirked, only to discover Izzy hadn’t been kidding.Basketball became my refuge from the storm.When my hillbilly girlfriend and I broke up over my infidelity problem, I treated the pain by shooting in the park. During the AIDS epidemic I shot baskets to forget my friends’ deaths. The only time my body and soul didn’t hurt was when I was playing ball.The park was my gym, therapy, and social club. I met friends, we told stories, and shared future plans. Izzy and I played in any weather other than rain, sleet or snow.There were a few other all-year players; Terri with the knot on his head, Carmelo with the sweet touch and the evil temper, Doug, the swing guard from Chicago, Jose, the mad Peruvian, Jim Thorne from Maine, the pure shooting Mark, crazy Hollywood with his fifty-foot swishing hook, JD’s devotion to winning, Big Ed with his sweet hook, Shannon’s swooping glide, Church Charles with his Walter Bibby perfection, Mouse with his slashing drives to the hoop, and they helped me win a few more games than I should deserved to have on my record and I played everywhere in the world.I have squared against Chinese soldiers in Tibet, run full-court with heroin dealers in the mountains of the Golden Triangle, elbowed for position with French forwards in the dusty court inside the Parc de Luxembourg, fast-breaked barefoot with Filipino sailors in Penang, and faced baby gang-bangers in North Hollywood, but my home court was the three bent rims and buckled metal backboards of Tompkins Square Park in the East Village.Some of the kids from the Boy’s Club across the street reached the college ranks. Their names went up in lights. Sadly I remained a dim 40-watt light bulb.Teammates groaned at blown lay-ups, unchallenged tap-ins missed from under the basket, and long bombs rattling out of the cylinder. My opponents’ laughter inspired frenzied heights of defense. Great scorers gave lessons in cradling the ball, and I spent hundreds of hours shooting baskets, hoping one day the mechanics might click, yet I remained a 20% shooterMy teammates never went to me in the clutch.I was losing more than I won and even Izzy was shunning me on the court.
One afternoon we had an insurmountable lead and Carmelo bounce-passed the ball to me. The ball struck my hand at an awkward angle and went out of bounds. Izzy pointed at my dislocated finger.“You should go to the hospital.” Izzy was eying a rasta named Roberto to take my place. The dreadlock power forward had game.“No way.”I had popped knees, cracked ribs, shattered teeth, had my eyes blacked from elbows, twisted ankles, and torn ligaments from head to toe. So had the other players in the park. We were great believers in self-cures.“I can fix this myself.”“Hey, that’s your hand you’re talking about.”“It’s my left hand.” I didn’t use my little finger for eating pizza and tugged it into place with the crack. “Good as new. Our ball.”“Your ball?” our opponents crowed vainly, since I had the most seniority on the court.Carmelo inbounded the ball and I spun to pop the ball toward the basket, a move I had been practicing for years without any success. This time the ball glided through the rim.Carmelo blinked with disbelief and glanced at my left hand.My grip had been altered and I nodded for him to pass the ball.The other team was familiar with my awful shooting and didn’t bother to dee up. I released my shot at the top of the key. The ball actually had spin on it and dropped through the basket.“It’s your birthday,” declared Izzy.“It’s the finger.” I held up the swollen pinkie.I won every game that day and walked off the court a hero.Next morning I ran into Richard at the court. The mailman was a solid 6-4 power forward with a deadly shot from behind the arc. My losing streak against him stretched over a decade. After he scored three unanswered points, I rebounded an errant bank shot and launched my shot. It sliced through the rim with a whish. His eyes slitted with suspicion.“Luck was what that was.”“A football coach once said success is 95% hard work and 5% luck.” Anyone would trade 50% of the hard work for another 5% of luck and I was one of them. I dribbled the ball from right to left. My ball-handling remained a disgrace.“Stupid, dumb white boy luck.” Richard spread his arms. His wing span rivaled a condor.“Luck it is then.” I entered a space/time warp of probability. Hooks fell, three-points rained, and lay-ups spun around the rim to drop in the hole.“It’s my finger.” I flexed the crooked digit and challenged Richard to another game. “Best out of three.”He lost two straight.My longtime friend, Andy Kornfeld, had beaten me for over twenty years and mockingly berated my newfound skills. I defeated him effortlessly. My nickname went for ‘Brick’ to ‘Comeback’, although I had never been anyplace from where to comeback. Players discussed defending me. Their strategies were a waste of effort.I was on fire.The other players on the court called out my name like I was a MVP free agent and I didn’t fail them either.I beat my old adversaries.Not with an inside game.I stepped farther and farther from the basket.Day after day the victories mounted. My thirty-game winning streak was challenging UCLA under John Wooden, but the long hour sessions of basketball were tearing apart my body. My doctor witnessed me limping into a restaurant.“You’re almost fifty. You have to give your body a rest.”“I’ll be fine.” Pros get a day off. College players rest after a game. I couldn’t stop. I was invincible. I would live forever. I would win win win.The next day a college kid asked why I was playing at my age.“Old man you should be in your wheelchair.”“Wheelchair?” I beat him inside and outside, but on a crossover dribble God strummed my right knee. The shot fell for the win, as I dropped to the floor in agony.“No.”The pain boiling through my knee did not lessened, as Carmelo helped me home.The next time out my knee buckled and I limped to my apartment, praying that tomorrow I might be the same man I had been a week ago, only a month passed and then two. My knee was too weak to handle the stress of a three-on-three. My doctor was pleased to not have to listen to my litany of injuries and suggested, “Take up golf.”“No way.”I decided to ink my name on an extended disabled list.I had no other choice.A year has passed since that Spring. Not one day has passed that I don’t want to have the ball in my hands. I haven’t told anyone. Picking plastic off a beach has been a workout and I’ve been practicing my jumpshot with plastic fishing buoys. My body’s suppleness improves day by day. My knees are flexible and my little finger remains crooked. New York is only 25 hours away by plane.One day soon I’ll return to my home court. I’ll be greeted like a ghost from the dead. It will be the game of my life, because I have a basketball jones and the one place to scratch that itch is a day away over the North Pole,so start spreading the news, “I’m leaving today…..”
Kamis, 12 April 2012
Working at a nightclubs I met a lot of people; famous, infamous, and nobodies. Sometimes I had no idea who was who. One night at Hurrah I tried to stop Mick Jagger from entering Hurrah. The singer of the Rolling Stones was wearing a beard. His bodyguard Tony steered me right.
At the Mudd Club Steve Mass had called down from his apartment. The quirky owner had seen Meryl Strep at the ropes on his CCTV and instructed me over the intercom, “Don’t let her in?”
“Why not?” The blonde actress had won an Oscar for KRAMER VS. KRAMER in 1979.
“I hated THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT’S WOMAN.”
“Me too.” Especially her scene where she turns her head on the quai.
“Sorry, but you can’t come in.”
“Don’t you know who I am?”
“Yes, but tonight’s not your night.” I didn’t have to say why.
Doorman had that power in the 70s. We ruled the night and that privilege continued with my move to Paris in 1982.“Here you are not a doorman, but a physionomiste.” The manager of the Rex was a socialist. He wanted an eclectic crowd based on fun.
“No, problem, but I don’t know how to speak French.” Two years of grammar school French from a nun with a lisp had taught me how to ask, “Ou est le Bibliotechque?”
“Pas de problem,” Olivier shrugged with ease. He wanted someone not so French and said, “You only have to say two words. ‘Ouais’ or ‘non.” “Okay” I had learned that trick at CBGBs, Hurrah, and Studio 54. “But I don’t know anyone in Paris. Not the famous people. Not the people who go to nightclubs.”
“Bien.” His partner and he were tired of everyone getting in for free. “Make them pay. I don’t care if it’s Brigitte Bardot.”
“But how shall I treat them?”
“Like shit?” I didn’t think that I had heard him right.
“Comme le merde.” His accent was perfect and I said, “I’ll do my best.”Treating Parisians like shit was a dream job for an American and I followed his orders to the tee, except I treated my favorites with glory and I built a new clientele of rockers, punks, models, gangsters, pop stars, and just normal people too. For the most part the owners liked the mix and I was well-known as ‘le ras-de-ped’ or ‘homo’. It was verlaine for pederast. My French was getting good and the owners of Les Bains-Douches hired me to replace of Farida. The Algerian Amazon was leaving her post to pursue a career in modeling with Claude Montana. She was that beautiful.
The owners were a little more concerned about their clientele, who were more upscale than the Rex, but I still treated their regulars ‘comme le merde’. It was a tradition. I also liked to throw in a curve ball and one night a decrepit clouchard approached the entrance to the club.
The bouncers moved to prevent the derelict’s climbing the stairs.
“Stop.” I had a plan.
They were off-duty Legionnaires and followed orders.
“Why do you want to enter the club?” I asked the grizzled drunk in Boston-accented French.
“Because I’m a good friend of Moses. He told me to meet him here.”
“Come on in.”
“Are you serious?” This line mustn’t have ever worked before this evening.
“Mais ouais.” I had heard plenty of excuses from people seeking to enter the Bains-Douches. None of them were as good as this ‘friend of Moses’.
“I have no money.” The clouchard patted his pockets.
“A friend of Moses doesn’t need money. Here are two drink tickets. Have a good time.”
His raison d’etre granted him entry to the elite boite de nuit. I went inside from time to time to check that he was having a good time. The clientele of the Bains-Douches opened their hearts to the Friend of Moses. He wasn’t one of them. They liked different. I considered him harmless, until my boss stormed up to the front door.
“Are you fou?” Americans were crazy estrangers to the French.
“What’s wrong?” I didn’t have an idea what, but I was sure about the ‘who’.
“That clouchard drank a bottle of wine from Thierry Mugler’s table.” My boss had a sweet spot for the fashion czars of Paris.
“Really?” I thought they were a little full of themselves and laughed at the situation.
“You think it’s funny.” He mustn’t have been a Jerry Lewis fan.
“Just a little. I’ll show him out.”
“Why did you let him in?”
“Because he’s a friend of Moses.” The excuse wasn’t so funny to the patron, but he had never seen Charlton Heston part the Red Sea in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. I know it was special effects, but the real thing must have been very impressive. The god of the Israelis knew how to kill their enemies with unforgettable style.
I signaled the bouncers or ‘videurs’ escort the clouchard and he cried out, “You can’t treat the friend of Moses like this. Just wait till I talk to Moses. He has more plagues up his sleeves than I have fleas.”
Nothing as bad as the killing of the first born ever visited the Bains-Douches and I spotted the friend of Moses in the nearby environs hectoring passers-by about the 27 Commandments. I wish that I could remember his ‘thou shalt nots’, except I’m lucky if I can repeat Moses’ 10.
He cursed everyone with damnation at the very popular Cafe Pere Tranquille. The junkie and drunks laughed at his predictions of doom. I looked to the sky. The madman pointed a finger at me. “That Amerlot loves God.”
And I wish it were true, but I had been a non-believer since 1960, still I gave him 20 francs. It’s not a bad idea to have the friend of Moses saying good to the Grand Seigneur even if the drunk is completely mad, for while their Lord moves in strange ways, so do the mad and this episode led to my being let go at the Bains-Douches.
I wasn’t unemployed for long.
When Albert and Serge opened a dance club near the Paris Opera 1985, they offered me the doorman job. Le Reve’s plush décor harkened back to the glorious 50s. The young rich loved the mix of soul and classic French hits stitched together by Albert’s world hits.
They hired a young black bouncer to handle the voyous. Jacques had run with several gangs from the outer suburbs. A two-year stint in prison had not ruined his smile. The young girls from the good neighborhoods thought the muscular Martiniquean handsome and came in droves to try their luck.
These beauties in turn attracted men who brought them drinks. A glass of champagne cost $20 and Le Reve coined money.
My job was keep the crowd cool.
A week after the opening an older man entered with two dowdy women in fluffy coats. His nose was splayed across his upper lip like a wet sox. An argument ensued with the cashier about the cover charge.
“Give one reason you don’t have to pay and you can come in for free.” I could tell he had been someone once.
“We never pay,” the ex-middleweight rasped in a punished voice. He had won more fight than he had lost, but not by much. “Not to un putain Amerlot.”
“Fucking American.” The insult was rewarded with an immediate response. “Jacques, escort this old man out of the club and have him take the two old pallisons with him too.”
It was the word in French for doormat. The connotation was not good. My French was getting better every year, but puzzlement muddied Jacques’ face and the fiftyish blonde woman glared with disbelief.
“Casse-toi.” I had practice of telling Parisians to get out.
They left without a fight and afterward my boss came over to the door.
“Explain to me why you threw out Brigitte Bardot.” Serge was very non-plus.
“Brigitte Bardot.” The boxer’s companion re-assembled into the legendary sex symbol as would any woman who was Brigitte Bardot. AND GOD CREATE WOMAN and CONTEMPT were two of my favorite films of all time. I had dreamed about her as a boy. “That’s wasn’t her.”
“Ouais, c’est elle.”
“Merde.” I ran out to say they could come in, except they had already reached the boulevard. A taxi stopped for the trio and I returned to nightclub expecting a lecture, instead Serge suggest that I act with more tact in the future.
“We will be old one day too.”
The story of her rejection hit the morning papers and I expected the Paris Police to institute deportation proceedings for having insulted a national treasure, however the passage of time had rendered the animal lover’s beauty passé to today’s youth and our business doubled with their appreciation of my indiscretion.
A week later Mickey Rourke showed up at the club with ten friends. Mostly young junkies from the Bains-Douches. We never let them in for free. I made an exception this time and Serge came up to me.
“No Brigitte Bardot, but hello Mssr. Rourke.” He never let me forget this error in judgment and it remains a joke between us till this day, even more so now that the American actor slipped down the ranks from his heyday, although we both agreed on his best line.
“Drinks for my friends.” Mickey Rourke called out in Barbet Schroeder’s BARFLY.
It seemed to be a line he must have said in real life too.
“A guy like me changes hard, I didn’t want to change, but I had to change.”
Same as the rest of us.
We all get old some day. Desole Brigitte.Je suis con.
Rabu, 11 April 2012
The stench of this squishy fruit is so disagreeable to non-aficionados that durian joined hand grenades and land mines on the list of dangerous objects you’re not supposed to bring into a hotel room.
Not anymore, for a Thai botanist Dr. Songpol Somsri has created a durian without the pungent odor, which he named Chantaburi No. 1. “No smell, good taste.”Personally I like the smell and taste of durian. At least in Thailand, where it is eaten in a soft state.
In Malaysia the natives prefer the durian in a near-putrid ooze. I sampled some in Penang which had the consistency of a fetid cheese left in the tropical sun ie it was runny.
Jungle animals can smell this fruit almost a half-mile away and the travel and food writer Richard Sterling said of durian, “ … its odor is best described as pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock.”
Whatever its negative points, this raja of fruits has been reputed to possess aphrodisiacal properties, for both the Malays and Thais say, “When the durians fall, the sarongs fly up.”
Partially since if one of the spiky behemoths dropped on your head, you’d be KOed for a week. Most plantations these days have nets under the trees to prevent damage to the durian.
Not that anyone cares about the unsuspecting pedestrian.
I tried the amorous technique of smearing durian pulp on my body as a cologne. Not a single woman or girl or man or dog came near me, although the mozzies zeroed on my flesh like I was a blood donor.
Another danger is the fruit’s rich combination of carbohydrates, protein, fat and sulfurous compounds, which can be deadly for anyone with high blood pressure.
My wife didn’t eat durian for a year after my daughter’s birth, because Thais think that durian breath can kill a baby, but this new breed may erase that threat for newborns. Workers say the new durian only smells a little and the taste remains the same.
In 1856 the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace wrote a much-quoted description of the flavor of the durian, “A rich custard highly flavoured with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but there are occasional wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes. Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp which nothing else possesses, but which adds to its delicacy.”
Not many westerners would concur with his olfactory assessment, due to the durian’s sulfurous stench, although no scientific study could prove why the durian smelled like Gandhi’s underwear.
So no smell durian are sort of like roses these days.
Beautiful flower. No bouquet.
A rose is not a rose if a rose doesn’t smell to the nose.
Could the durian lose its appeal if it doesn’t smell?I have to go to the old classic adage.
A rose is not a rose if a rose doesn't smell to the nose. - James Steele
Selasa, 10 April 2012
Senin, 09 April 2012
A firm believer in maintaining a good facade Oil Can stepped out of the elevator with the intention of exuding the confidence of a man who just penned an agreement with a billionaire, then almost stopped in his tracks upon seeing the brokers' glum faces.
"What's up?" Oil Can asked a sweating salesman.
"Market's tanking again."
"How bad?" It wasn't even 10am. There was no shouting from the trading pit and this was a crew that never shut their mouths.
"Bad." The trader shook his head. Oil Can glanced at a screen. The stock market had entered a dimension where every vector pointed down and the staff wore the misery of the last months like cheap margarine on Wonder Bread at a homeless shelter.
"Bad is good." Oil Can stood up straight, knowing it was one thing to be defeated and another to look beaten. He strode to his corner suite, as if it was still in 2005. No one else bothered to upgrade to his level of happiness.
"Good morning." His secretary greeted him without saying his name.
"Why the sad face? Everything is going to be fine." Oil Can handed his Brooks Brothers overcoat to Josie. He could smell massacre in the air and locked his office door before calling his boss.
"What's up?" Oil Can looked out the window on East 57th Street. Only a few pedestrians were on the sidewalk and the lights atop the taxis indicated none of them had passengers.
"Nothing special." His boss was a master of deception.
"Nothing special. Everyone in the office looks like someone strangled their puppy. Who's getting axed?" Oil Can's sales were down 10% from 2011, which was 200% better than the other earners in his firm.
"We're shaking of the tree to get rid of some dead wood. Not you. I promise." His boss spoke about the advantage of a leaner executive staff and the opportunities presenting by the current challenges. Oil Can thanked him for his honesty and thirty seconds later got on the phone with a VP of Sales for a Swiss Bank. They offered him a new position. The pay was less than he earned in 2010, but his income was based on sales, not salary.
"Whatever you kill, you get to keep." The VP of Sales used that expression, because every autumn he hunted moose in Northern Ontario.
"That's the way I like it." Oil Can had once accompanied the VP to the near-frozen wasteland. The banker had missed every shot. Finally Oil Can paid the guide to shoot at the same time as the banker. One dead moose and ever since then the banker had considered Oil Can good luck.
He hung up and asked Josie for the morning's calls.
"None of them are happy calls."
"This isn't a happy time of year." Oil Can shut the door and scanned the list. Everyone wanted cash out their investments. None of them were getting a cent. The money was staying where it was. One number stuck out in the list. It was his cousin. James Steele was working on 47th Street selling diamonds. Oil Can checked his calendar. Tonight was an open date and he dialed cousin's office. He could use a break.
"You open for dinner tonight?" Oil Can knew the answer. His cousin had no plans other than to return to Thailand.
"Your choice. Money's no object." Losing your job was one thing. Not eating at a good restaurant was another.
"Le Bernadin is 4 star. My friend is the maitre de, so we don't need reservations."
"I'll meet you at 6."
"Come to the diamond store. You know where it is."
"Of course." Oil Can had been avoiding the Diamond District, because his cousin wanted him to buy an anniversary present. His wife and he had been married almost 30 years. Last year they had been contemplating a gala event for a hundred. Now the plans were for a quiet dinner together. Tonight he could celebrate the anniversary of the his bachelor party. His cousin would be his best man and he eagerly said, "I'll see you then."
The rest of the day was punctuated by security escorting several people from the office. Survivors wagered bets on who would be next to go in this round of 'musical chairs'. The bloodletting didn't stop until the market closed with a slight rally. over for this day. Oil Can ended the day in the black.
"Good day. Good to have you here." His boss bumped his fist on the way out. Care to go to Philippe's for drinks?"
"No thanks. I'm going to meet my cousin." Philippe's meant footing a bill for Opus 1 wine. Each bottle cost $700. His cousin was a cheaper date and he didn't need to be in a restaurant packed with shouting investment bankers. The volume of their conversation increased according to their desperation.
"Your mysterious cousin." His boss asked to meet James on several occasions. It was better for those twains to never run into each other. His cousin didn't know how to keep his mouth shut about anything.
"I'll see you tomorrow bright and early."
A light rain accompanied Oil Can down Fifth Avenue. Few stores were crowded with shoppers. Abercrombie and Finch was the exception, however he noted those exiting the world-famous store were carrying smaller packages than previous years. The rain drops fell heavier, as he passed the Rockefeller Center. A couple of minutes later he rapped on the window of the diamond exchange. His cousin was closing up the shop. His boss was giving him a hard time. Work sucked everywhere. James signaled for him to wait at the Ocean Grill and that he'd be there in ten minutes. Both of them were good at reading lips.Oil Can went over to the basement bar in Rockefeller Center. The room was pleasantly decorated with floral arrangements. The management wasn't skimping on atmosphere, even though only a few customers was sitting at the bar. "I'll have a Cosmopolitan." Oil Can told the bartender and phoned his cousin.He could tell Derek was disappointed that he wasn't coming down to his shop. No one really wanted to buy diamonds in this economy. Beer seemed to be selling better than martinis at the bar, but even Budweiser was taking a hit this winter. Three bankers in a corner table were drinking tumblers of whiskey. A man and his wife were fighting over the bill. She had never paid before. Five British tourists by the window drank beer, as if England had won the World Cup. Oil Can drank half his drink in one go. Two seconds later he ordered another for James, who joined him at the bar.
"How's work?" James signaled the bartender for two more Cosmos .
"It's been a tough year, but don't worry, we're going to have a super dinner tonight. When can we leave?"
"I don't think yet." James looked out the window. The drizzle had intensified to a downpour.Oil Can examined his cousin. He had gained weight since his return from Thailand last summer. His hair was grayer too.
"Life's been tough this year." Oil Can confessed without any guilt. "Same for everyone, but last year was worst. Always is if you start it with an arrest in a foreign country."
"But that's all over?" Oil Can had heard the story about James getting caught in Thailand for copyright infringement. He was lucky not to be in jail.
"Yeah, I'm still persona grata.""How's the food here?""Good.""Want to eat here?""Why not?" James settled the bar bill and they were escorted to the dining room by a fashionable blonde. Oil Can heeded the sommelier's suggestion for a Bourgogne and the two men drank two bottles throughout dinner. The chef offered them crepes Suzettes on the house. The bill came to $900 mostly for the wine. After calling his wife from the coat check, Oil Can and his cousin went outside to 59th Street.
The rain hadn't let up.
"I have a big sale tomorrow." James was bailing on him.
"And what about going for a massage?" Oil Can was sure that his cousin hadn't had sex in months. "It's on me."
"No, I don't like those old hookers."
"What about a strip club?"
"Don't like Russians, but I'll tell you something. A friend of mine called today with a tip."
"A tip?" Oil Can remembered that JP Morgan said, "When your taxi driver gives you a tip, it's time to get out of the stock market."
"Yes, the market is really going to tank all week long."
"And?" He wasn't in the mood to hear more bad news.
"Then it's going to nosedive to 6000."
"Who's your informant?"
The name James whispered was well-known through the financial markets. "We did drugs together in the 80s. Of course this information can't help me and probably can't help you, but at least you'll be prepared if it comes true."
"To be honest it doesn't matter. The whole world is fucked right now. So what's the use?" Oil Can was feeling tired. Everything he knew was valueless. The meal in his stomach felt like dust. The wine burned his esophagus. This crisis was killing him and his cousin sensed his loss.
"Okay, strippers. But only for a few hours."
"That's more like it." Oil Can could forget today in the arms of a stripper. And tomorrow he could forget until then, because tomorrow would be today until tomorrow.