Thanks for visiting my blog. It is a sampler of my murder-memoir Boy Outa Brooklyn. The best way to enjoy it is to start at the first post and read chronologically. I hope you’ll find it both hilarious and horrifying.
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Supreme Court cutie Ruth Bader Ginsberg crowed many times that her Jewishness shaped her judicial outlook . . . Not the Bill of Rights, the Torah . . . Not the Federalist Papers, the Talmud . . . Not the Constitution, the Kaballah . . . So I guess it was her Jewishness that made Ruthie promote lowering the age of sexual consent to twelve . . . TWELVE . . . TWELVE!!!! . . .
Here’s a definition of chutzpah: Ginsberg, the champion of affirmative action, hired only one Black law clerk during her forty year judicial career. FORTY YEARS. ONE BLACK . . . She claimed she couldn’t find any more who were qualified . . . I call that “affirmative action for thee but not for me” . . . The Noxious RBG spent her last four years on the bench in a coma with her law clerks propping her up like the eponymous hero of the movie Weekend at Bernie’s . . .
Had Ruthie not been so high-on-her-own-supply and convinced she was the “indispensable” woman, she would/could have retired when Obama was President thus assuring that someone equally toxic would have taken her place . . . Funny how karma bites even the most high and mighty on their high and mighty asses, ain’t it . . . But, waaaaiiittt a minute here, Ruth Bader Ginsberg said that the Black football players in the NFL (Negro Felon League) were “stupid and disrespectful” for kneeling during the national anthem. That’s not nice . . .
Saint Ruthie wasn’t the only extreme libtard with “surprising” views on race and sex . . . Che Guevera (the Left’s favorite pin-up) said, “Mexicans are a band of illiterate Indians” and “The black is indolent and a dreamer; spending his meagre wage on frivolity or drink.” . . .
Che (the most reproduced face in history aside from Christ) was no friend of the LGBTQ crowd. In fact, he called homosexuals “scum” and put them in concentration camps where they labored beneath a sign that wittily proclaimed, “Work will make you men.” . . . Some say that sort of anti-gay vitriol only comes from a closet queen. Hmmmnnnn . . .
Speaking of the “lavender lads” – it’s being whispered in the corridors of power that Chief Justice John Roberts is “light in the loafers” and is being blackmailed by a certain tribe of rootless-cosmopolitans? . . . This explains his lurch to the Left . . .
Not possible? Welp, the Mafia blackmailed and deballed the famous “crime buster” of the 1950s Sen. Estes Kefauver with pix of his pussy-hound ways . . .
Yup, Ol’ Estes made JFK look like a choirboy . . . As long as we’re talkin’ about choirboys . . .
This squeaky-clean holy-huckster isn’t preaching the Gospel. He’s just sprinkling a bit of Jesus over Napoleon Hill’s classic self-help book Think and Grow Rich. . . Hey, how come we let immigrants with tuberculosis, polio and even plague flood into our countries but if your dog isn’t vaccinated you’re in big trouble? . . . John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival had never been to Louisiana or even seen the Mississippi River before he wrote Proud Mary and other songs about the Bayou . . . In pre-WW2 Hollywood, actors were blacklisted for not being commies . . . Ronald Reagan’s film career tanked when “liberal” Hollywood blacklisted him for daring to clean the commies out of the Screen Actors Guild while he was union president . . . Morons who mock Reagan’s acting have never seen King’s Row, Juke Girl or Storm Warning . . .
As long as were discussing simians in the cinema – George Floyd fucked-on-film in porn movies . . . This just in – evidence has emerged (seen by your reporter) that Georgie Boy Floyd was a longtime police informant (snitch) – that’s considered the lowest form of life in the ‘hood. . . Meanwhile, Floyd’s fellow-felon Jacob Blake whose shooting caused all the kerfuffle in Kenosha, Wisconsin had a habit of raping women including his baby-mama. He raped her while her young daughter was in the bed next to her. The insistent dusky Casanova forced his fingers into his beloved’s vagina, smelled them and opined, “It smells like you bins wit udder mens.” . . . His baby-mama tearfully testified to this and, ya know, we gotta believe the woman . . . She called the cops to arrest Blake. He attacked the cops, was shot while reaching for a weapon and was left paralyzed from the waist down . . . Mayhaps the unfortunate Blake’s sexual activity will be restricted to digital insertion (hopefully consensual) for the foreseeable . . .
But unlucky Lorez never had that all-important hit record so she never got the bookings and acclaim she deserved . . . One dame who got nothing but undeserved acclaim was Margaret Mead the most famous woman in Cultural Anthropology . . .
Maggie was hoaxed by the South Sea island teens when she wrote her famous pro-Brown, anti-White study Coming of Age in Samoa . . . Turns out their society was actually very straight-laced and violent – not at all the peaceful, sexual paradise the dim-witted Mead portrayed . . .
Mead was a student of the Jewish-Marxist Franz Boas. He invented the pseudo-science of Cultural-Anthropology which holds that a Bantu banging on a tree trunk in the jungle is of equal artistic value to the work of Bach . . .
Guess what? Franny’s famous skull measurement studies which supposedly proved racial equality have been exposed as totally bogus . . . Boas cooked the books to push his anti-White Marxist crap . . . He was as crooked as that other fraud Sigmund Freud . . . Meanwhile, I’m scratchin’ my noggin’ over why people who have never owned slaves should pay slavery reparations to people who have never been slaves . . . Heard on the Rialto and Rodeo Drive: Meghan Markle is the most pretentious, presumptuous twat in public life and has already worn out her welcome stateside . . .
Tell ya the truth, I’d sooner listen to political punditry from Scary Spice . . . Fred Astaire failed an early Hollywood screen test with this critique, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” . . .
Here’s another showbiz “ouch” – Broadway producer Cheryl Crawford turned down Arthur Miller’s great play Death of a Salesman with this note, “Who wants to see a play about a traveling salesman?” . . . So explain to me why the same loons who say there is no such thing as gender are screeching that there must be a female President . . . Here’s some good news – the future belongs to the fertile. The gender-liquid brigade, the cis-phobic snowflakes and other assorted psycho-sexual misfits aren’t reproducing . . . Wanna know who is breeding? Mormons, Amish, Hasids, Muslims and Evangelical Christians. Looks like the future belongs to the fundamentalists, too . . .
Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower and Charles de Gaulle each wrote multi-volume histories of WW2 . . . These three wartime titans devoted about a paragraph each to European Jewry with no mention of gas chambers . . . Betcha didn’t know this – the British almost dropped the atomic bombs on Japan using their Lancaster bombers coz America’s B-29s were too small . . . Elvis Presley “The King” died on the “throne” whilst straining at stool . . . But even in the worst of Presley’s stupid movies there is at least one good tune . . . Barbara Streisand wanted Elvis to co-star with her in A Star Is Born but after one meeting with Babs, The King took a pasadena . . . Who sez Elvis was a dumb hillbilly? . . .
Laurence Olivier almost played the Marlon Brando role in The Godfather . . . Robert Redford almost played the Dustin Hoffman role in The Graduate . . . Jackie Gleason almost played the Gene Hackman role in The French Connection. . . If you think Jackie would have been a weird choice then you obviously haven’t seen him in Requiem for a Heavyweight and The Hustler . . . “The Great One” was a great actor . . . Mary Baker Eddy, the deranged founder of Christian Science, insisted her flock eschew doctors and medicine coz the body and pain didn’t exist; only spirit was real and flesh was an illusion . . . But this holy-hypocrite secretly visited dentists where she insisted on massive doses of pain killers . . .
Surprisingly, the arch-cynic Mark Twain flirted with Christian Science then came to his senses and wrote a hilarious critique of the cult . . . For many decades, the Twain book was as rare-as-rocking-horse-shit coz Christian Scientists (on orders from the paranoid Mary Baker Eddy) found and destroyed copies . . .
Uncle Joe was the second greatest mass murderer of the 20th century second only to that other commie-creep – Mao Zedong . . . Your correspondent laughs and cheers when he imagines the repulsive Julius and Ethel frying in the electric chair at Sing-Sing . . . To his everlasting credit, Judge Kaufman (the Rosenberg’s co-religionist) who presided at their trial blamed them for the deaths of 38,000 American soldiers in Korea . . . That war only happened coz Stalin was emboldened by the nuclear weapons he had acquired thanks to the secrets the Rosenberg scum had given him . . . Another of the Rosenberg’s co-religionists – Congressman Samuel Dickstein actually took money from Stalin to betray America . . . And still they kvetch when people question their loyalty . . .
Since Lockdown more Brits have died from flu and pneumonia than from Covid-19 and that’s even accepting the massively exaggerated Covid death totals . . . On the other side of the pond, the New York Times reported that the most widely used Covid-19 test in America is returning 90% false positives . . . Say, don’t call me daffy, this Corona-hoax gets more apparent and preposterous by the day . . .
Waaaiiittt a minute – first they told us to buy expensive masks with breathing valves coz simple masks wouldn’t stop Covid. Now they tell us to not buy masks with valves coz they spread the disease. Who’s in charge here? . . .
From its earliest days television was described as “chewing gum for the eyes” and “the idiot box” and “a vast wasteland.” All correct . . . My favorite description of TV is – “an electronic sewer-pipe in the corner of your living room.” Even the genteel NPR in the states and BBC in Britain are pumping genteel sewage into your brain. Turn ’em off . . .
Hey, if masculinity is so “toxic” why do so many lesbians pretend to be male and dress like traditional grooms . . .
And why do they pretend to be super-butch males? Doesn’t that make them super-toxic? . . .
Hey, If masculinity is so “toxic” why would any woman want to “transition” to male? Answers on a postcard . . . Another question – If male to female transsexuals are returning their bodies to a “natural” state then why do they have to insert a dildo-like plastic tube into their manufactured vaginas for several hours a day to prevent their bodies from closing up and healing what it detects as an open bleeding wound? . . .
When bluegrass bands play heavy metal and Motown music, it’s better than the originals . . . Southern, White Christian males are the only group in the world that we are allowed and even encouraged to mock . . . When people wearing Corona-masks flinch away from me, I want to beat them to a bloody pulp . . . In the 1960s, U.S. police departments came under massive Marxist attack over supposed police brutality against Blacks. The anti-Communist John Birch Society ran the counter-campaign: “Support Your Local Police and Keep Them Independent.” It made them a laughing stock . . .
Please explain this to me – The US & UK built many massive “Covid emergency centers” to handle the predicted overflow from hospitals. These facilities, boasting many thousands of beds, were unneeded and unused. They’ve been dismantled. But, hold up, from the beginning of the Covid-hoax we were warned of even deadlier second and third waves of the virus. If the powers-that-be actually believed this disaster was coming then why did they dismantle essential facilities mere months before Covid would return with a vengeance? . . . The big band leader Stan Kenton had an incestuous relationship with his daughter that lasted from her pre-teen years to young womanhood . . .
Is it me or are more female teachers banging their students these days? . . . British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is such a racial mongrel even he doesn’t know what he is . . . BoJo wants to import 3.5 million Chinese from Hong Kong at a time of unprecedented UK unemployment and economic crisis . . . Maybe our boy is Chinese, too? . . . How do the Chinese pay him off? . . .
The Empire State Building was a flop for decades and was dubbed The Empty State Building . . . Even before Corona and the riots, I knew that Trumpowitz was gonna lose the election coz the demographics were against him in Florida, Arizona and Georgia. He had the right impulse about Corona i.e. let it burn through and develop herd immunity but then he listened to President Kushner and surrendered to the hysteria. Then he listened again to President Kushner and didn’t crack down on the riots immediately. He’s making a few tough tweets now but it’s too late. He’s gonna have no convention, no rallies and no second term . . .
The spectacularly corrupt and stupid Biden will win but he will be a figurehead and so will his incompetent female Black VP whoever she is . . . America will be ruled by a cabal of Marxists with Obama pulling the strings . . . Bader-Ginsburg will resign with much fanfare and spike the football on her way out. The Marxists will get to appoint at least two other justices. Then they will abolish the electoral college, open the borders, open the prisons, pass amnesty and bankrupt the country . . . When Trumpstein appeared, I said that he wasn’t important but what he represented and who came after him were. I also said that he would fail but that his failure would be useful. It would set the stage for a genuine White Nationalist leader to emerge. This coming leader who is yet unknown will operate outside of electoral politics. He will be a strongman in the mold of Caesar or Franco . . .
During the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s more Communists were killed by other Communists than by Franco’s forces . . . Stalin saw that war as a chance to finally clean out the Trotskyites . . . The Gospel Quartets and Quintets of the 1940s and 50s were pure rock & roll, doo-wop and soul. Listen to the Swan Silvertones and the Soul Stirrers and you’ll hear it . . .
I’ve never bought any music by The Beatles or Bob Dylan . . . Cardinal Spellman of New York was called the American Pope. He was also a predatory homosexual who cruised gay bars in Gotham accompanied by famous homos of the theater. These lavender lads all favored young Black meat . . . The Cardinal was also a rabid hawk. It’s said he spent more time on his knees in Viet Nam servicing GIs than praying . . .
Tony Blair’s Labour Party promoted 24/7 drinking in pubs and widespread gambling so I guess it really did care about the health and welfare of the White working class; or was it that Blair took money from scumbags who made their fortunes by selling gambling, alcohol and tobacco to the White working class? . . . Hookers will tell you that often their johns just want to talk about their wives and children . . . The Arabic word for African is “slave” . . . Millions more Africans were enslaved by Muslim countries than by the Christian world . . .
Saudi Arabia didn’t outlaw slavery until 1962 . . . Millions more Africans were enslaved by Brazil than by the USA . . . Brazil didn’t outlaw slavery until decades after the USA did . . . Most of the slave ships and slave markets were owned and run by Jews . . . How come Black Lives Matter isn’t protesting outside Brazilian, Israeli and Islamic embassies? . . . My favorite true-crime cases are Lizzie Borden, Sam Sheppard and Jeffrey MacDonald . . .
The father of singer Harry Connick, Jr. was a New Orleans D.A. accused of covering up the JFK assassination . . . The father of actor Woody Harrelson was a Texas hitman who many believe was one of the mysterious “Three Tramps” arrested behind the Grassy Knoll on the day JFK was hit . . .
Abraham Lincoln opposed expanding slavery into the West not because he was opposed to slavery but because he was opposed to spreading Blacks further into America . . .
Lincoln’s last meeting in The White House was with Black leaders to decide how and where to repatriate or resettle the freed slaves – Africa, South America and part of Texas were considered . . .
The White liberals who cry and march for George Floyd would shit their pants and call the cops if he came near them . . . Abbott’s Frozen Custard in Rochester, N.Y. is the best in the universe – end of story . . . Margaret Sanger, the unhinged founder of Planned Parenthood, attended seances to contact the dead children she had abandoned . . .
Is there a more annoying song than Hey Jude? . . . Whites are fleeing US cities at a record clip. So desperate are they to escape the coming race war that they are buying houses in rural America sight-unseen . . .
The electric vibrator was invented to save the wrists and fingers of 19th century psychiatrists who spent much of their time masturbating neurotic, middle-class women to calm them down . . .
The straightjacket was used to prevent the insane from masturbating themselves bloody . . . The Kellogg Brothers were 7th Day Adventist fanatics who invented cold cereal as an anti-masturbation food . . .
If the Chinese ever get the whip hand in America the Blacks will scream, “Come back, Whitey. All is forgiven!” . . . Other Orientals call the Chinese, “The Jews of the Orient” . . . Next time you’re in New York avoid Little Italy; there are no Italians left and the food is poison . . . But visit the nearby Tenement Museum to experience the “White privilege” enjoyed by European immigrants . . . Mickey Mantle, the great Yankee ballplayer, dropped out of the 1961 home run race with Roger Maris coz he got an infection from a botched VD injection . . .
Mickey got his clap shots from the same “Dr. Feelgood” who injected JFK, Nixon and most of Hollywood and Washington. We still don’t know what the good doctor was putting in his “vitamin” shots . . . Question: Does anyone actually read Toni Morrison or Maya Angelou? . . .
They were filmed in an old open-air silent film studio on a Bronx rooftop that had been enclosed for TV use . . .
I never liked or believed Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas or Rock Hudson . . . Lancaster was in Harvey Weinstein’s league as a sexual predator . . . The Broadway composer Richard Rodgers was another notorious sex creep . . .
In the early 20th century, Atlanta was the center of silent film production. Then the Jewish movie moguls fled to the West Coast to avoid paying patent money to the gentile Thomas Edison . . . I don’t care what vegans say, there’s nuthin’ better in life than a rare prime rib with a baked potato and salad . . . Lucca and Gubbio are my favorite Italian towns. And, you can give me Siena over Florence every time . . . How can it make sense to social distance getting on and off a plane but sit cheek by jowl on the flight? Youth wants to know . . . George Floyd did five years for holding a gun to a pregnant Black woman’s stomach while his partners in crime stole everything she had . . . When’s the last time you saw a man smoking a pipe? . . .
Laurence Olivier’s Richard the Third is so good it hurts. He based his villainous make-up on the vile Broadway producer Jed Harris and the Big Bad Wolf . . .
Ya think Rush Limbaugh will grow a pair before he dies and tell the truth about Jewish power and influence in America? . . . The great “commie-killer” Senator Joseph McCarthy is the most vilified and lied about figure in American history. He was rough but he was right. And the decrypted Cold War messages sent from the Soviet Union to its Washington embassy prove how right he was . . .
Be-bop sucks and Charlie Parker is the most over-rated figure in American popular music . . . Tell me something, why do so many doctors wear bow ties? . . .
Read Bruce Jay Friedman! He’s a darker Woody Allen and a funnier Philip Roth. He’ll make ya laugh and wince at the same time . . . Dames with spaces between their front teeth are instantly endearing . . . Women shouldn’t be cops, firemen or soldiers and men who serve must meet stricter height and fitness requirements . . . The Antifa-BLM riots revealed how out of shape our police and National Guard have become . . .
Most of the Old Testament stories including Adam and Eve and Noah and the Ark were stolen from the Egyptians and Assyrians then cut and pasted together . . . The chief Biblical redactor was a female scribe in the court of King David . . . With any luck I’ll go to my grave without having read Marcel Proust or J.K. Rowling . . . In his best moments, Jerry Lewis was as funny as anyone. The rest of the time I want to slap him. Same with Lou Costello . . .
The Empire State Building was built in one year in the depths of the Depression! One year! Think about that! . . . Homeopathy and chiropractic are quackery and so is “European-style” osteopathy. But American osteopaths are actual doctors. Their medical schools haven’t been devalued with affirmative action admissions. So, if you’re in America and want a good doctor get an osteopath. He’ll have OD after his name . . . German Village in Columbus, Ohio is the prettiest neighborhood in America . . . Abstract-Expressionism was funded by the C.I.A. and like “conceptual” art it is nothing but a money laundering scam . . .
In my last post, I wrote that the comic Mort Sahl said, “Lenny Bruce knew people use The Prophet by Gibran to get laid.” Not so. Lenny said it himself . . . But Mort did have the brilliant line, “In my younger days, I dated actresses and other female impersonators” . . . But enough about Meghan Markle.
Pete Hamill and I grew up side-by-side in working-class, Catholic, Brooklyn neighborhoods.
Pete – Irish. Me – Italian
That last distinction was the biggie. For as much as I admired and even feared the Brooklyn Irish; and though we lived cheek by jowl, I felt they were alien to my tribe. Sharper. Colder. Meaner. And, lots, lots drunker.
I can’t remember ever seeing an Irish parent being warm and affectionate with one of their children.
It was the Irish parents who mocked their kids and blackened their eyes; the Irish parents who drunkenly fell off bar stools and tenement stoops; the Irish parents who got thrown into the aptly named Paddy Wagon to be hauled away by Irish cops.
It was the Irish mother upstairs in our tenement who got her sluggish sons out of bed by throwing pails of cold water over them. It was the Irish father upstairs who chased one of those same sons out of their kitchen window only for the terrified kid to go sailing past our kitchen window as we ate dinner.
My childhood impression, formed in countless games of stick ball, tag and Monopoly, was that all Irish kids had fiery tempers and green teeth. I also learned that all Irish nuns had cheeks forever reddened with fury. No lie, it seemed like all of Irish Brooklyn was constantly plastered and pissed-off.
So, for me, Hamill’s memoir was an insider’s lowdown from the enemy camp – one that confirmed what I felt as a child about his kith and kin. In A Drinking Life, he spills his guts on himself and his breed with bittersweet affection and brutal honesty. This is a brave, brilliantly observed memoir that captures the feel of 20th century urban American life as well as any I’ve read. Pete’s description of the VE Day celebrations in Park Slope brought me to tears. The way he conjured his proud, angry one-legged father made me see and feel the man as he limped up the street to the corner bar.
Pete Hamill and I played in the same streets, rode the same trolleys, hung-out in the same parks, fought in the same playgrounds and gorged in the same ice cream parlors. I suffered a year of weekly piano lessons from a terrifying Irish nun at Holy Name School where Pete suffered the full-time fury of the Sisters of Perpetual Rage.
I even bought movie tickets from Pete’s mother at the local itch-house.
Yet, no matter how similar our childhood landscapes, we were separated not only by ethnicity but by politics.
Pete – Left. Me – Right.
Pete Hamill became one of New York’s premier newspaper columnists and bleeding-heart liberals. Like his contemporary Irish columnist, the insufferable douchebag-blowhard Jimmy Breslin, Pete Hamill loved playing the “muck-raking White knight” fighting for what he believed was equality but what I knew was actually White replacement.
In the 1980s when Brooklyn was stewing in crack-fueled racial violence, Hamill sided with Black Brooklyn against White Brooklyn – specifically Italian Brooklyn. He sneeringly called we Italians fighting for our survival, “guidos” which was tantamount to calling Blacks, “niggers.” I’ll never forgive Hamill for being a race traitor.
Irish drunks are a dime a dozen (and a fuckin’ bore) so Hamill’s saga of bottoming out before straightening out, though well told, wasn’t for me. I much preferred his bawdy, Henry Miller-like tales of being a budding beatnik artist. Those were full of fun period details and read like Tropic of Art School. Besides, a little sexual braggadocio never hurts. In fact, Brooklyn and braggadocio go together like sausage and peppers.
And, hey, if you were playing “hide the shillelagh” with…
You’d braggadocio, too!
So, this social-justice leprechaun wasn’t averse to a bit of jet-setting at Elaine’s and P.J. Clarke’s. (Somehow I doubt he ever squired Tawana Brawley to either boîte.) And yet… like Alfred Kazin (the subject of my last post ) as much as I wanted to smack Hamill in the chops for his silly knee-jerk liberal bullshit, I couldn’t help liking the guy.
I’d love to sit down with him over a beer (Oops, better make that a root beer) not at Elaine’s but at Farrell’s – the legendary Irish working-class watering hole in Park Slope. We could stay off politics and shoot the shit about the nuns, the priests, the gangs, the girls, the Irish Mafia, the Italian Mafia, Coney Island and especially the Dodgers. The Brooklyn Dodgers.
Alfred Kazin (1915-98) was a noted Jewish critic – one of my least favorite literary types. I’m not a fan of that species because it’s part of the Jewish monopoly on printed media. (Don’t believe me? Check the names on the mastheads of every magazine and publishing house in America but… be careful. Many of those Anglo-Saxon sounding names are not genuine. Name changing is part of the Hebraic shape-shifting ploy called passing.)
The Jewish critics rave about members of their own tribe (often without merit) while neglecting more talented gentile writers. And, they only promote philo-semitic authors. Plus, their view of literature is hopelessly tainted by their Jew-centric perspective. So, to put it mildly, there exists an unbridgeable political, religious and cultural gap between Alfred Kazin and I.
And yet… I gotta say that I loved Alf’s memoir of growing up in the Jewish ghetto that was Brownsville, Brooklyn in the 1920s and 30s. In fact, I couldn’t help liking the guy. Go know. I think it’s that undefinable “Brooklyn” thing that bonds us.
A Walker in the City is Kazin’s elegantly written collection of character studies, incidents and musings. It brims with colorful tales of rabbis and radicals, great books, great music, great meals and great awakenings. The reader senses Kazin walking himself into adulthood and consciousness. His love of Brooklyn, literature and his people permeate every page. I admire his own writing more than his criticisms of others.
Don’t get me wrong. I bristled at much of what he wrote but he did such a great job of writing that I cut him some slack. Hey, I’m easy. So, sue me.
I owe Alf a debt of gratitude because his memoir was one of those that inspired me to tell the story of my boyhood across the borough in Italian-Catholic Brooklyn. That said – our takes on race, religion, sex and politics are as diametrically opposed as his Brownsville is from my South Brooklyn.
It’s a sad but predictable irony that all of the Marxist and liberal bullshit about class and race preached in the streets and synagogues of Brownsville (and described so brilliantly by Alfred Kazin) failed. Bigtime. Marxists embedded in the city government used Marxist principles to replace the Jews of Brownsville with the Blacks of Brownsville. The result? After “70 count’ em 70” years of those Marxist ministrations, Brownsville is the murder capital of New York City.
The area was never a garden spot but now it is a no-go zone of hellish housing projects. It makes Flatlands and East New York look like Cap d’Antibes.
The few Jews left in Brownsville (even fans of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela) have become the prey-of-choice for roving gangs of feral youths playing the “knock out game.”
Never mind… if you enjoy reading memoirs written with wit, style, brain and heart then have I got a Brooklyn book for you – A Walker in the City by Alfred Kazin.
The late Thomas Boyle was a Pennsylvania kid who spent part of his childhood in Brooklyn. (That makes him an Honorary Brooklyn Boy in my opinion.) He graduated from Cornell, earned his doctorate at NYU and taught at Brooklyn College for many years. Some book review sites confuse him with the more famous T.C. Boyle the author of many brilliant novels including The Road to Wellville – set in a 19th century health-spa and Drop City – set in an Alaskan hippie commune.
Our Thomas Boyle’s last book (published in 1990 in the midst of his crime trilogy) was Black Swine in the Sewers of Hampstead – a study of Victorian crime fiction. It sounds like the Sherlock Holmes mystery Conan Doyle forgot to write! I’ve added it to my “must read” list.
Any fan of gumshoe fiction will enjoy Boyle’s modern yet faithful reworking of the much-loved archetypes and plot devices of that often hackneyed genre.
Anyone who knows the geography of Brooklyn will get an extra kick out of Boyle’s locales. His hard-boiled tales follow Detective Frank DeSales as he chases bad guys down hidden alleys in Red Hook, across garbage strewn vacant lots in Williamsburgh and even onto the hallowed ground of Green-Wood Cemetery.
If you like Lawrence Block’s ex-cop now “private dick” Matt Scudder, you’ll feel right at home with Thomas Boyle’s active duty detective Frank DeSales. They are brothers from another mother.
I can’t find any movies or TV shows based on this trilogy which is a shame and surprising. For decades now, “All things Brooklyn” have been all the rage. Go know!
Any list of famous writers from Brooklyn would fill a decent sized phone book. And any list of books set in Brooklyn would be almost as large. I’ve read plenty of both but there are many more I’ve missed. So, the posts I’ll be making about Brooklyn books will be far from a definitive list. Think of them as tips from your friendly Brooklyn librarian.
It would be remiss of me not to begin with the very first “Brooklyn” book I ever read. (Hell, it was the very first book I ever read cover-to-cover!) And, I’ve reread it many times since – most recently last Tuesday. In fact, it’s the overdue book mentioned above – overdue for over 60 years! If you haven’t read it then all I can say is, “I pity you!”
“Psssst, hey kid, ya wanna read a really doity book?”
As you drive into Brooklyn across the Brooklyn Bridge a large sign looms up at you. It screams, “Last Exit to Brooklyn.” If a driver doesn’t take that exit they are taken onto the Gowanus Expressway and thence over the neighborhood of Sunset Park where the spectacularly downbeat novel Last Exit to Brooklyn is set. In the 1950s, the period of the novel, that sign should have screamed, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”
In the 50s, the waterfront of Sunset Park was a land of perpetual night – a slum rotting in fetid shadow beneath the elevated Gowanus Expressway. The Mafia had killed the docks, Robert Moses had killed Sunset Park by cutting it in two with his hideous highway and the Dodgers had killed Brooklyn by moving to L.A.
Hubert Selby Jr. knew this coz he was a Brooklyn boy born right next door to Sunset Park in Bay Ridge.
Selby’s book consists of inter-locking tales of losers, junkies, sadists, pimps, hookers and trannies who fight for scraps in a nightmare world of gangs and gang-bangs.
I was raised in the 1950s just a few blocks away from this world. I even swam in the public pool there. But, I knew better than to venture into the Terra Incognita below the highway. Many years later, I met a Yorkshireman who had lived in a sleaze-bag hotel in Sunset Park during WW2. He was outfitting ships to British standards that had been built in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He told me that the whole area was full of crap games, gyp-joints and whorehouses all making a fortune from the servicemen and dock workers.
In the 1980s, I would spend pointless, penniless weekends meandering around Brooklyn by bike. I was drawn to the derelict and rotting factories of Industry City that lined the waterfront in Sunset Park. I thought, “Damn, this would make a great film set.” And, that’s exactly where, a few years later, much of the movie of Last Exit to Brooklyn was filmed.
That film is good but doesn’t capture the daring style and outrageous vitality of Selby’s prose. Plus, by 1989, much of the shock value of his book’s subject matter had been lost. But, when it was first published in 1964, Last Exit to Brooklyn was an outrage and banned in several countries. I haven’t been impressed by Selby’s other work but anyone interested in the lower depths of Brooklyn life and the heights of “outsider” American literature should read Last Exit to Brooklyn.
In 1965, I read it as a 15-year-old while working as a messenger in Times Square. The guy who sold it to me could have been arrested. I made sure that its instantly recognizable cover was always visible sticking out of my back pocket as I made deliveries. And, I made sure that same cover was visible as I read Last Exit to Brooklyn on the subway. I didn’t live in a artist’s garret in Greenwich Village but it was fun to pretend that I did.
The Christmas blues of 1970 morphed into the January blues of 1971. I and my fellow “cultural casualties” of the 1960s having dropped out of college and dropped far too many psychedelics were facing the prospect of a lifetime of blue-collar work in the Post Office.
Yeah, yeah, it was a job-for-life with uniform and pension but not quite what we had envisioned for ourselves just a few years before. Back in college we were going to be actors, writers, musicians, poets, painters, philosophers even. But, the luster had faded from our Age of Aquarius fantasies as it had from the few sorry strands of Christmas tinsel that hung from atop the mail sorting coops.
We were a motley crew but not without our talents and charms. Alex was a half-assed genius and chess master. Mark was a poet and fluent in Latin. Murray was a killer wit and killer blues guitarist. Sandy was trying to decipher the hidden codes in Dylan’s lyrics. And, Charles, our only Black member, was trying to convert everyone at the Post Office to 7th Day Adventism and vegetarianism. We were all from working class families and had discovered to our shock and horror that unless something miraculous happened we would not escape the gravitational pull of our caste. So, we embraced our fate.
As if on cue and without any spoken agreement, we took to wearing plaid, flannel work shirts, tattered jeans, garrison belts and battered work boots. We cut our freakish hair back to a moderately radical length. Less Woodstock. More Workers of the World. We trimmed our facial hair to Lenin length. And, we embraced the Grateful Dead’s album Workingman’s Dead as if it were written only for us. After all, we were nothing if not workingmen.
One of the worst aspects of being a trainee mail-sorter was that we weren’t guaranteed hours. If the mail dried up we were sent home. And, this often happened shortly after we had clocked on for our graveyard shift. There we’d be in midtown Manhattan at Midnight having planned to be up all night and having ingested amphetamines to help us be up all night but suddenly with no reason to be up all night. Luckily, Alex lived in a nearby East Side tenement so we’d pick up some munchies and beer and head over to his pad, there to smoke hash and listen to Workingman’s Dead till dawn’s early light. Or, at least, till Alex’s neighbors banged on the walls. We named ourselves the Dead Workingmen. (Okay, not that clever but we needed all the help we could get.)
Suddenly, it became embarrassingly clear that Tony, one of our Supervisors, was madly in love with Sandy. I don’t think this burly Italian knew he was gay and he certainly wasn’t swishy in any way. But, goddamn, he was as queer as a three-dollar bill for Sandy. Lovesick Tony was eager to demonstrate to Sandy how powerful he was by how many favors he could do for him. One big problem. If he gave Sandy a break he had to give it to all of the Dead Workingmen or his cover would be blown. We teased Sandy mercilessly about his conquest but he still generously connived to use his charm over Tony to the group’s advantage i.e. without “coming across” for the Italian Stallion, Sandy kept him sweet on our behalf.
Some nights Sandy would persuade Tony to let us get lost for a few hours. We’d head over to Alex’s while still on the clock and then sneak back in at 8AM to punch out. Some nights at Sandy’s behest Tony would let us hide and sleep on the filthy mailbags piled out on the loading dock. Other nights he’d put us on parcel sorting duty – a welcome break from the din and dementia of the sorting coops.
We’d stand before rows of open mailbags and practice our basketball jump shots tossing boxes into the bags. Sometimes we even read the addresses and aimed for the right mail bag. Sometimes we even made a basket. But, truth to tell, we didn’t give a shit. We had come to hate the mail itself. Mark once tickled his throat until he vomited into the tray of mail he was sorting. (I know, I know, disgusting. But, you gotta understand that 99.999999% of the mail we were sorting was junk mail. And, the rest was going to Reverend Ike!)
Time Clock Confidential
I don’t know if anyone actually punches a time clock anymore. But when I first joined the world-of-work as a teenager, I was angered by the demeaning nature of this act. I was even more angered by the grown-ups who loitered by the time clock waiting for it to tick to a specific second so they could get a few paltry shekels more in their meagre pay envelopes. I was embarrassed for them and hated how they compared stories of time clock victories and defeats and of famous “time clock jockeys” of yesteryear. ThePost Office was full of these lifers who stared in amazement and clucked with disdain as I strode past them and punched out without even looking at the hour hand. Wage slaves. Not me.
Meanwhile back at the Tony-Sandy love affair things became waaaay too strange and sad for this trainee mail-sorter. It happened one night when members of the Dead Workingmen were surreptitiously tapped on the shoulder and told to report to Tony’s office. There we discovered the other invited guests were the usually unfriendly Supervisors. Tony had set up a movie projector and hung a sheet on the wall. He greeted us conspiratorially then locked the door, turned off the lights and showed us a stag movie i.e. the type of fuck-film that was usually confiscated if sent in the U.S Mail. I wondered if this film had been caught by an eagle-eyed postal dick and turned over to Tony.
As the silent, grainy, 8MM black and white film unspooled on the stained sheet, the air in the room became noxious with nervous laughter, unfunny quips and cigar smoke. We’d been invited to a classic “smoker.” The film showed a singularly unattractive couple reclining on a singularly uncomfortable table and fucking in a singularly unenthusiastic manner. Watching their coitus was as erotic as watching the piston action on a Ford V8. But, I sensed that a bizarre male-bonding ritual was at play. The Supers wanted to show us that they weren’t such bad guys after all. Hey, they were like our fathers and uncles – just a bunch of older working-class fellas who liked watching fuck-films with a bunch of younger working-class fellas. This secret screening was an olive branch extended across the generations and a sort of test.
Would we make the grade and join their ranks of Merry (albeit horny) Mailmen?
Also, except for Charles, we were all White as were the Supers. I sensed they wanted to find racial solidarity with us since they spent so much time with obese Black women with whom they shared little cultural interest. Least of all watching fuck-films.
I’m sure that shrinks would highlight what they’d claim was clear homo-eroticism in this sweat-lodge soiree. But, I don’t think that was what was going on with the Supers. Except for Tony. He turned on the projector, pushed me aside and sat next to Sandy. As the couple built to their inevitable climax we all watched in silence. Except for Tony. He giggled and elbowed Sandy while peppering him with questions in hushed rabid whisper.
“You believe the size of the cock on that guy?”
“Wait. Wait. She swallows the whole thing.”
“Look at that bush. You like hairy twat, Sandy?”
“Hey, Sandy, you ever put it in a girl’s ass?”
Then, after the “money shot” in which the on-screen stud splashed his semen all over his fair maiden’s belly Tony gushed – “Yeah, that’s the good part, right, Sandy?”
The Supers must have overheard Tony’s pillow talk but they didn’t react. Meanwhile, the Dead Workingmen shared looks of amused horror. Mainly horror. Then the lunch horn barked, the lights came on and with eyes cast downward we bolted out of there muttering, “Holy shit, what the fuck was that?!”
Shortly after that night I was fired for telling an especially sadistic Supervisor to go fuck himself. The union jumped to my defense assuming that I wanted to keep my job. At the mediation meeting the union rep was dumbstruck when I told all present that the United States Postal Service could sort my job where the sun don’t shine. I thought about throwing the porn party in their faces but didn’t coz I knew that would make big trouble for Tony and the Dead Workingmen I was leaving behind.
Ten years later while walking in the middle of nowhere on Staten Island, I ran into Murray. (What are the odds?) We recognized each other even though he was now as obese as his female Black co-workers. Yes, he was still at the Grand Central P.O. but he was now a Junior Supervisor. No, he wasn’t playing guitar anymore.
It was an awkward encounter and a painful one for him. Murray and I had come from similar working-class backgrounds, two Brooklyn boys who had arrived at the same point via similar paths. Then our paths diverged. I had followed my dream of being an actor. He had buried his of being a musician. We exchanged phone numbers and promised to get together. We never did.
It happened on a bright June day in 1967. I was walking across the surprisingly bucolic campus of Brooklyn College nestled inside the decidedly un-bucolic Flatbush. Many of the campus buildings were ivy-covered brick so who needed the Ivy League? I was a recent Catholic high school graduate there for a day of testing and orientation. I was unaware that I was in the epicenter of Jewish communist activism.
Brooklyn College was so radical it was called “the little red school house” but not to be confused with The Little Red School House in Greenwich Village. Both institutions graduated a spectacularly disproportionate number of Levantines who were moaning-Marxists of dubious sexuality and (worst of all) folk singers.
The co-eds at Brooklyn College were evenly divided into two opposing camps.
The “JAPs” (Jewish American Princesses) had been gifted nose jobs as high school graduation presents and came to class loaded for bear i.e. they were out to land a nice Jewish boy preferably in pre-med or pre-law. I had never been in close proximity to such exotic creatures and gazed open-mouthed at them in class as they simultaneously adjusted their hair, stockings and bra while filing their nails and applying lipstick. I was a goy so I was invisible to them. They were brainless and harmless and at least afforded me a chubby or two.
The “Rachels” and “Ruths” bore their Hebraic-honkers like a badge of honor. Their wiry hair was left to nature and they favored sandals, folk skirts and unshaven legs. Their moustaches were unshaven, too. They scurried around campus clutching to their peasant-blouse covered bosoms Joan Baez LPs, Lawrence Ferlinghetti poetry books and Wilhelm Reich’s The Function of the Orgasm. (I wouldn’t fuck these hectoring yentas with your dick.)
So… I was strolling across campus feeling like Joe College when a Rachel ran up to me screaming like a banshee, slavering like a bronco and demanding that I boycott class because LBJ was bombing Vietnam. She shoved a flyer into my hand and her unshaven face into mine and ranted about nukes, napalm and negroes. I thanked her and promised to read the flyer but she screamed into my face, “Nazi” and ran to her next target. I tried to proceed but was forced to walk a gauntlet of Rachels, Ruths and their male counterparts – the Bruces and Barrys. All screaming. All slavering. All thrusting flyers. All demanding that Brooklyn College be brought to a standstill because LBJ was bombing Vietnam.
The very next day the Six Day War broke out between Israel and Egypt and I was back on campus for more testing.
So… I was strolling across campus feeling like Joe College when the very same Rachel ran up to me screaming like a banshee, slavering like a bronco and demanding that I boycott class because LBJ was not bombing Cairo. She shoved a flyer into my hand and her unshaven face into mine and ranted about Auschwitz, Anne Frank and Arabs. I thanked her and promised to read the flyer but she screamed into my face, “Nazi” and ran to her next target. I tried to proceed but was forced to walk a gauntlet of Rachels, Ruths and their male counterparts – the Bruces and Barrys. All screaming. All slavering. All thrusting flyers. All demanding that Brooklyn College be brought to a standstill because LBJ was not bombing Cairo.
In fact, these leftist humanitarians wanted Cairo nuked!
Suddenly and e’en like Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, I was knocked to the ground by a blinding light of revelation. I then picked myself up and stood in the center of Brooklyn College, in the center of Flatbush, in the center of Brooklyn and knew in the center of my Catholic, Italian-American soul that I was in enemy territory. The scales had fallen from my eyes! I knew that the Rachels, Ruths, Bruces, Barrys and, yes, even the JAPs were not me. Not mine. Not American. All their supposedly selfless political activism was all about them. (And, they have done nothing to dissuade me of that conclusion in the more than fifty years since my Damascene conversion.)
Day of Infamy
During the Six Day War, Israel, our supposed ally, deliberately attacked and attempted to sink the USS Liberty, an intelligence ship, observing the war from the Mediterranean. In order to prevent the Liberty from reporting Israeli war crimes, Israel killed 34 U.S. sailors and wounded 171 more. Israeli planes even machine-gunned U.S. sailors attempting to escape in life rafts.
Meanwhile, Israeli dupes inside the White House almost gave my Brooklyn College classmates their dream. They almost tricked LBJ into nuking Cairo. (Take a minute to imagine that scenario.) Then, the dupes and LBJ conducted a massive cover up. The surviving sailors were ordered and threatened into silence.
Israel claims its act of treachery carried out on a U.S. ship clearly flying the Stars and Stripes was a tragic mistake.
If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I wanna talk to you about.
In the 1970s, I learned that a former classmate at Brooklyn College had machine gunned many Palestinian women and children to death. When I knew this particular Bruce, he was a “peace & granola” hippie-dippie-trippie type. Then he got that Old Time Religion. From Meyer Kahane and the Jewish Defense League to the present, Brooklyn has been the breeding ground of Israel’s most violent fundamentalist lunatics.
Whenever I hear wild-eyed, wiry-haired women living on illegal Jewish settlements being interviewed with a baby on one hip and an uzi on the other, their Brooklyn accents are those of the Rachels and Ruths I first encountered on that bright June day in 1967 on the surprisingly bucolic campus of Brooklyn College.