April 2019- Going to lead off the month with some recent work from a couple of great writers/friends.
Anthony Murphy –
http://www.Read650.com • “Straight Outta Ireland,” a Read650 live event, was part of Carnegie Hall’s spring festival, “Migrations: The Making of America,” and was recorded March 10, 2019 at City Winery, New York City.
Phillip Giambri- The Amorous Adventures of Blondie and Boho (Two East Village Dive Bar Coyotes)”Episode 11 of 13 in pending release of new book –
Brenda and Bubba
Brenda and Blondie are “best buds.”
She works noon-to- eight at Dave’s on First Avenue
Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Drinks are cheap and she pours heavy.
BoHo meets Blondie there around one
for their weekly afternoon buzzfest.
Bright sun filters through the large dirty front window
illuminating a classic village dive joint,
with iconic late ‘60s juke box
and a pool table with warped sticks
and chewed up felt.
There are hard and fast rules here when Brenda’s working:
The TV only shows Yankee games,
with the volume off,
‘cause her husband Bubba likes to watch the game
and listen to “The Sultans of Swing,”
so you better not play anything else on that juke box either
while Bubba’s there,
or the plug gets pulled.
Brenda’s a worn out version of Dolly Parton
without the high hair
and a thick muffin top where her waist used to be.
Bubba’s a younger version of Richie Havens.
He loves Brenda, the Yankees, Dire Straits,
and after two tours in Afghanistan, heroin.
Everybody loves Bubba
‘cause he’s so sweet on Brenda,
he’s so freakin’ mellow,
and he seems to know all the best musicians
who ever play the Village;
he’s that fuckin’ cool.
Just don’t mess with his Yankee’s game,
his “Sultans of Swing,” or his woman,
‘cause then he gets downright Green Beret on ya’.
Blondie and Boho check out of Dave’s around four
with a good buzz and a need for some play-time.
Gonna’ try to break that old bed again before dinner.
Funny how quick life changes ‘round here, though.
Jump ahead two weeks:
Brenda calls Blondie to tell her Bubba’s gone;
dead from an overdose.
Blondie and BoHo are devastated.
Such a sweet guy.
BoHo meets blondie at the bar.
They take up a collection,
but barely enough is raised for a cremation.
What to do with his ashes?
Well…. they’re resourceful, if nothing else
down in the East Village.
They put Bubba’s ashes
in a Maxwell House coffee can,
at the end of the bar, under the TV set,
with his Yankee hat over the lid.
Next month Brenda says
the landlord’s sold the building for fifteen million
and the bar’s closin’ in a couple months.
Probably gonna’ be remodeled
into a knot-head Hipster joint with high prices,
so Brenda’s outta’ work
and Bubba’s lost his final resting place.
Blondie and BoHo get drunk with Brenda
and cry while she’s huggin’ Bubba in that coffee can.
Without Bubba’s disability check and no job,
Brenda can’t afford their apartment anymore.
She moves to a roach infested, six floor walkup, in Chinatown.
Blondie and BoHo are thinking things ain’t lookin’ so good right now,
but hey …. they’re dive bar coyotes.
This ain’t the worst they’ve seen.
They’re street smart and they ain’t dead yet.
Darla and The Dungeon
East Village dive bars are droppin’ off
faster than a prom dress in a pickup truck:
Mike’s Place, Broadway Charlie’s, Downtown Beirut,
Cheap Shots, St. Marks Bar, Grassroots, Continental,
Coal Yard, The Central, and lots more.
Blondie and Boho drop by Double Down Saloon for Happy Hour
and run into Blondie’s pal Brenda.
Seems like Brenda’s got herself
a handsome new lover boy
who looks to be a good bit younger than her.
She introduces him as “Bungie” and Blondie asks,
“What the hell kinda’ name is that?”
Brenda says his real name’s Russell
but she gave him that nickname
‘cause he’s had a pretty fucked up life
but always manages to “bounce back”
and stay focused and positive.
They all chat for a bit
with Bungie commenting that he lives in a loft
over on Attorney Street by Parkside Lounge.
He mostly writes and publishes online “Flash Fiction”
and fills in for cash
with a hydroponic, computer-controlled, grow in his loft;
mostly the high-end “Yellow Haze.”
Says his product is excellent and sells really well
with his downtown dive bar buddies.
Blondie and Boho immediately feel a kinship with Brenda’s new guy.
He’s a writer, he’s cool,
and they wanna’ try some of that Yellow Haze.
Boho asks Brenda how she’s doin’
since Bubba passed and Dave’s closed.
Said she’s still livin’ in that walkup in Chinatown
with Bubba’s teenage daughter Darla.
Blondie says, “What? We didn’t know Bubba had a daughter.”
Seems that her mama’s a junkie hooker
who runs a steady trail in and out of lockup.
Darla leaves home at fifteen and couch bounces
with different school mates from St. Brigid’s
while tryin’ to track down her dad.
She scours local bars and junkie crash pads,
eventually learns that Bubba had passed,
and that he has a wife who’s livin’ in Chinatown.
Long story short: Darla’s finds Brenda, moves in with her,
and is a senior now at St. Brigid’s High School.
She has really good grades and wants to be a nurse.
Boho asks Brenda how she’s gettin’ by for rent money.
She says she’s workin’ at a private club
in a basement on 3rd Street,
across from the Hell’s Angels.
She and her of out of work bartender buddies
decide to open up their own joint.
She remembers a Puerto Rican Social Club
called “El Gallo Rojo”
that was busted for illegal cock fightin’ and shut down.
Been sittin’ empty for a year,
so they check with the landlord
and get a two-year lease for $1,100 a month.
They all pitch in and fix the joint up
‘til it looks like a real bar
and doesn’t smell like chicken shit anymore.
They contact a lot of their old regulars,
tell them they can join the club for twenty-five bucks,
and get a lot of takers.
The club’s been open about six months
and it’s called The Dungeon.
She invites Blondie and Boho to join.
Says she works noon to six Monday to Friday
and it’s usually open ‘til around two in the morning.
They’re doin’ good, it’s fun there,
and drinks are always five bucks.
Blondie and Boho stop by the club
the following day around four
stepping carefully out of bright sunlight,
down crumbling cement steps,
into a very dark space,
definitely justifying “The Dungeon” name.
As their eyes slowly adjust,
they find the it looks very much
like the old dives in the neighborhood.
There’s a juke box, pool table, dart board,
a DJ setup, and even a small space for dancin’.
Comin’ as no surprise,
sittin’ on the bar, below the TV,
is a Maxwell House coffee can
with a Yankee cap over the top.
They each tap the can,
say, “Hey Bubba!” hug Brenda,
and offer up fifty bucks to join the club.
They notice a striking young girl
in a Catholic school uniform
sittin’ at the far end of the bar, smokin’.
She looks totally out of place among the bar regulars.
Brenda introduces her as Bubba’s daughter Darla.
She doesn’t like bein’ alone in the apartment
so she hangs out here after school
until Brenda gets off.
She looks like a bi-racial gal, with olive skin,
striking blue eyes, and long blond “dreds.”
She’s wearin’ a pleated plaid mini skirt,
saddle shoes, and white blouse.
She gives Blondie a big hug
while smiling seductively at Boho.
Boho’s thinkin’ there’s lots more to be heard from this one.
Every Saturday is themed music night at Dungeon
with downtown DJs Ms. Cal and Oscar Oscar spinnin’ the hits.
There’s Punk “moshes,” Shitkicker Rockabilly nights,
Disco Nights, High Hair Heavy Metal Nights,
and even Swing Dance contests
with gals sportin’ vintage dresses
and guys in Zoot Suits.
Blondie and Boho quickly become Dungeon regulars
and she’s always out there on the dance floor
with her sexy ‘80s moves.
Cyndi Lauper was even spotted dancin’ with Blondie
one late Saturday night at the club.
Everybody knows everyone
and everyone dances, drinks,
smokes, and tokes with everybody.
It’s even better than the good old days
in the bars they closed,
‘cause this is more like family here.
They’re makin’ the rent,
the bartenders are makin’ a decent livin’,
and life is good at The Dungeon.
Blondie stops by on a Thursday afternoon
to hang with Brenda for a few hours
only to find the place closed.
She peeks in the window and it’s dark inside.
Even the neon beer signs are off.
She texts Brenda and asks what’s up.
Brenda says meet her at Double Down in an hour.
Blondie walks in to find her sippin’ a whiskey
watchin’ vintage porn on the bar monitor.
Looks like a digitized, black and white,
of an old 8mm from the ‘40s:
A naked bald guy wearing only black socks
is goin’ down on some chubby chick
with a dark barbwire triangle of a bush.
It’s actually pretty funny.
Blondie grabs a stool next to Brenda,
orders “a double Jack, back”
and asks what’s goin’ on with The Dungeon.
Brenda lets out a deep sigh, chokes up,
and silently trys to fight back tears.
She swills down the rest of her whiskey,
takes a deep breath,
and says Darla starts bringin’ two of her friends over
to smoke and hang with her after school every day.
Unknown to Brenda, they’re all sneakin’ vodka
from behind the bar
and pouring it in their cokes when she’s busy
or not payin’ attention.
On more than one occasion,
Darla’s friends are noticed by regulars
staggerin’ out of the bar.
Sonny, the President of the Hells Angels
stops by and tells Brenda
that the girls in uniform leaving the bar
are attracting attention on the block.
The Angels are concerned
about police snoopin’ around.
He mentions the cock fighting that was here before
and the police attention it caused.
He says, “As of right now, we’re closin’ this place,
and ya’ll got two days to get your shit outta’ here.
You’re not welcome on this block anymore.
Do you understand me? Do you get what I’m sayin’?”
Brenda nods and starts sobbing as he turns and leaves.
Darla and the girls stare in shocked silence.
Everybody’s outta’ work now
and they’re all really pissed at Brenda
for fuckin’ up a good thing.
She’s back on welfare and very depressed.
Darla keeps her head down and her mouth shut
around Brenda these dark days.
Brenda stays curled up in bed crying a lot.
Time passes slow, hard, and painful for several years.
Darla quits college her senior year
and after two years of singing covers in Hipster clubs,
decides she’s gonna’ be the next big “teen sensation,”
like Madonna and Lady Gaga.
She reinvents herself as Darla Dungeon,
packed in Neo-Goth black latex and blonde braided hair
down to her artificially enhanced, Kardashian, bubble butt.
Things don’t always happen like ya’ plan though,
and three years later she’s found lying peacefully
by Harry Houdini’s grave in Brooklyn;
“works” still by her side,
and a needle in the femoral artery of her leg.
Like Houdini, she discovers too late
that sometimes the magic just don’t work.
Now . . . on any given lazy summer afternoon,
on the thirty-first floor of that new green glass,
hi-rise, monster on Astor Place,
you can find Brenda
quietly preparing a Chateaubriand for two.
How she ends up here in this glass tower
overlooking the Astor Place Cube,
is the result of an unexpected magic carpet ride.
Seems Bungie is sharp enough and knowledgeable enough
to buy into the legal marijuana trade early on.
With his writing background,
an extensive knowledge of growin’ product,
its customer base, and how to move it,
he scores big time.
“Bungie” is no more.
He’s only known now as Russell
by their “new money” millennial friends.
In the living room, tokin’ “Yellow Haze,”
he sits workin’ on his iPad,
carefully proofing next month’s issue
of his industry leading Ezine, “Pot Luck”.
There’s a large fireplace opposite
the floor to ceiling glass wall
overlooking The Cube.
The fireplace mantle consists of a wooden shelf
cut from the dark stressed oak
of some long-gone dive bar.
On it, sits two Maxwell House coffee cans;
one topped with a vintage Yankees baseball cap
and the other, tightly wrapped in black latex.
An Ultra HDTV mounted over the fireplace
casts silent images of a Yankee’s game,
while quad Bluetooth speakers pound out
Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing.”
Things seem pretty damned good right now,
if this is the kinda’ life you were deamin’ of;
but hey, even though they don’t look it,
or live it anymore,
underneath all this glitter shit,
they’re still dive bar coyotes,
and I’m thinkin’ they’ll eventually realize that,
make some changes,
and get back to who they really are,
just regular folks; like you and me;