Sunday, December 15, 2013

Another false start.

Po Boy Views


Phil LaMancusa

March On


Spring Ahead

            A diagnosis of early onset of Alzheimer’s is no laughing matter; it’s a death sentence. Alzheimer’s has no cure mainly because no causes can be found and pinpointed. And because there is no cause or cure there is no way to prevent it. You come down with it and the picture and soundtrack of your  life fades into sepia and then all of the life that you’ve led turns into someone else’s memories. Bummer, huh, Dude?

How do you know that you are in that number? Usually you don’t until it’s too late; it’s a Catch 22: if you think you have it, you probably don’t. Is this a good column to write in an entertainment monthly? Probably not so I’ll write about something else.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Valentine's 2014 to be published

Po Boy Views


Phil LaMancusa

Lesser Gods


Little Candy Hearts

February holidays come in all shapes and sizes. Groundhog Day, Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day and of course we’ll be swinging to carnival time 2014. Punxsutawney Phil and those fine young warriors in tight suits and protective gear will dominate the first part of the month. There will be at least forty parades between the fifteenth and the end of the month. That being said, this discourse will hit upon that remaining holiday that is always memorable for me.

Valentine’s has got to be my favorite holiday becaaaauuuuussse……. I’m a fool for love. Period. And over the course of my years I’ve come to regard Valentine’s Day as a reaffirmation of faith for my fellow human beings; the fact that this day exists-- something we single out of the other three hundred and sixty four-- shows me for good and all that the human race is basically a bunch of optimistic romantic saps; I love that.

How we celebrate Valentine’s Day, as you know, is purely subjective. As a kid in grammar school, I brought cards for everyone in class and passed them out, what fun! We had little candy hearts with cute sayings on them, we were shy and had cookies and milk; so you see, I was celebrating the holiday way back when I was a wee shave tail. I think that what made it so special was that there was not the angst that went along with other celebrations, all you did was cut hearts out of red construction paper and write in your scrawny penmanship “I LOVE YOU!” and there you go…instagrams!

Of course as I got older the trappings became more intricate: a mushy card for the girl that I met over summer vacation, flowers for a crush on an older woman left on her doorstep and more little candy hearts snuck into unsuspecting pockets and book bags.

Then I got even older and more world wise and it became roses (Valentine’s  must make millionaires out of rose farmers), chocolates, more elaborate cards and then….drinks, dinners and a dates! Do you remember giving (or getting) a gift of one rose and how cool you thought that was? I do and it makes me smile for that feeling. And then I learned how to cook and boy, the real fun began! In fact, falling in love was just about its own reward when Valentine’s came around and I got to strut my stuff.

My Valentine’s have run the gamut; certainly over the last dozen or so February issues I’ve written about it enough to paper my dining room walls, so I deserve some cred on the subject as a mentor and a fool  all thing regarding  heart songs. So, let me tell you the perfect way to celebrate this special day and auspicious occasion (as I see it).

First and foremost is the person that you’re going to share the occasion with-- choose wisely—this holiday is a once a year thing. Next, clean your house because sooner or later you’ll end up there at the end of the day and nothing is worse after a romantic escapade than coming home (alone or with someone) to a messy abode. Then, decide whether you’re going with dinner out or in; I prefer in, and if you do as well, this is the time to plan on what food you’re going to eat.

Okay, realize this: there’s date food and non date food. Little candy hearts with cute sayings on them is date food, but not really a healthy dinner. Food that is bite size and able to be talked around, not stuff that you have to wait to swallow before picking up the thread of conversation and sly innuendos that come with a romantic meal is best. Food that you can take a little forkful (or bite) at a time: caviar, smoked salmon, farfalle pasta (bow ties), bisque, gumbo, etouffee and yes, those little candy hearts with the cute romantic sayings work as ‘date food’. Spaghetti, barbecue, roast beef po boys, cream puffs… not ‘date food’. Crème Brulee… yes beignets… no, get the picture?

Choosing the right wine is important; yes wine… not beer or whiskey. Choose something light and white, something innocuous that won’t screw up the taste of your Moon Wok /Verde Mart grub or whatever you’re serving up (yes, to pull this off you will need to plan or it’s gonna be take out or delivery!).  And remember, pretty much with wine you get what you pay for; ask your local merchant for some recommendations in the low twenty dollar range.

No romantic evening is complete without music; no, this is not a night to watch Family Guy, MSNBC or M*A*S*H* reruns. In the old days we would know to play soft sweet slow and low volume material, you know background and mood stuff; heck, I knew a guy that could stack a half dozen pieces in order from ‘get comfortable’ to ‘let’s take some clothes off’. Think about it.

Now the perfect scenario would be a bearskin by a fireplace, some brandy, candlelight,  Gymnopedie on the box and bellies that are not overstuffed. A quiet hum exists between two supine bodies, utterly passive and inactive; a real Hallmark moment. Their lips come close, their eyes lock, the heat rises… oh, my foolish heart! 

In reality it’s: it’s either too warm or too cold, the dog’s baying from the other room,  a car passes blasting rap music, a siren goes by, the smell of your neighbor smoking pot is driving you up a wall and your cd player is skipping.

So you opt for a stroll, hold hands, eat those little candy hearts and just enjoy eachother’s company. All’s right with the world. Happy Valentine’s.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Another Valentine not published

Po Boy Views


Phil LaMancusa

Black Coffee


Blue Valentine

February holidays come in all shapes and sizes. Groundhog Day, Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day and of course we’ll be swinging into carnival time 2014. Punxsutawney Phil and those fine young warriors in tight suits and protective gear will dominate the first part of the month. There will be at least forty parades between the fifteenth and the end of the month. That being said, this discourse will hit upon that remaining holiday that is always memorable for me; one way or another.  

Valentine’s hits on the ides of February and herewith I’ll set down my versions and visions of love for your contemplation, edification and consideration. Who am I to set down this info? Me. The guy that’s loved not always wisely or well and compounded his experiences with twenty-twenty hindsight and an incredible sense of love’s illusions that he recalls. One might say… from both sides.

Here’s the way I view love these days: you’re hungry and you’re broke; do you look for a job or do you go begging for food? Think about it. Or… you have a croissant and seven pats of butter; do you only use the amount of butter that it takes to cover the finite area or do you slather that stuff on hoping to get equal parts, by weight, of the buttery baked subliminary and that golden grease? Do you push yourself away from the Thanksgiving table or do you loosen your belt and tuck in for seconds and (hopefully) thirds? Do you like your whiskey straight, your cigarettes unfiltered, your coffee fully caffeinated and your chewing gum with sugar? Do you shy away from diet sodas? I do and always have and that’s the way love has come into my life; solid hit passionate or bloody and bruised, drive it like you stole it or spend time in the doghouse because you f**ked up again. And, I’ll tell you, living that way is nothing to be proud of or one I’d recommend; it’s a cat on a hot tin stovetop; it’s a runaway train called Desire; it’s a boy with a loaded gun.

When I was younger, I used to think that it was in my blood; as I got older I suspected that it was all in my pants. Now I don’t think at all and that’s because it’s all out of my capability of perception. Am I the kind of man that wants to fall in love? No. Am I the kind of man that can’t keep from being in love? Yes and eventually to the detriment of myself and others.

I’ll tell you firstoff, I am a man that loves women; always have. I love their softness, their roundness, their complete uniqueness, their complete power package. I feel that it was a wise god(dess)  that made all women different from one another. Has this gotten me in trouble? Have I been made to pay dearly for this flaw in my makeup?  Is there something psychologically wrong with me? Yes, yes and probably so.

And, and here’s the big AND, it comes at a cost. The simple fact is that by loving more than one woman at a time—and I have been guilty of that-- and in my experience-- a man will eventually lose all but one and he’ll be lucky if there is one left. Women are different, they are embrace loyalty, they’re set in their ways, they make up their own rules, their made of tougher clay and when they’re crossed… they turn … really mean. They never forget a conversation or anything that you’ve said/done and never hold back from regurgitating verbatim with red rimmed eyes that reflect revenge and with raindrops falling from their eyes as they rage inside; a man that crosses a woman literally has hell to pay.  The person that talks about the equality of the sexes has it completely wrong: women are far superior; of course it takes some time before a female realizes it but once they do, the guy who pulls shyte on a gal will find himself being fed ground glass, being woken from a sound sleep to be screamed or cried at and find himself standing out in the rain and cold Bogarting those cigarettes that he professed to have quit years ago. In short, when you’re wrong with a woman, you’re wrong with the world. Cold blue steel and sweet fire.

Would I have it any other way? Does that keep me on the straight and narrow? Did that deter me from finding another good woman when I already had one waiting at home? Am I a jerk, fool, bastard, liar, cheat, fraud, cad and ass? Maybe, no, no and yes.

And then comes Valentine’s Day. The day that us men usually try to spoil them women; as a man, if you forget Valentine’s Day you are literally dead meat. It’s also right after Valentine’s that women will start shopping for another man, but that’s a different story for a different time. Dinner, flowers, jewelry, proposals, candy, cards, chocolates and, a man had better go the whole nine yards if he wants to get special attention from his beloved. What do women give men for Valentine’s? Special attention. It’s pretty much up to the man to make the fuss; it’s a holiday for the women. Go on; correct me if I’m wrong; I dare you.

            Why? Because I believe men instinctually subconsciously believe that they’re not deserving of love and are probably guilty of something. Is that cold? Did I just make all that up? Is any of that true? Yesnomaybe so. If anything this Valentine’s Day, I’d like you to pay attention and evaluate the entire enchilada. Good luck. 


Friday, November 29, 2013

languages of love unpublished

Po Boy Views


Phil LaMancusa

Survey Says


Constant Stranger

February holidays come in all shapes and sizes. Groundhog Day, Super Bowl and of course Valentine’s Day. Punxsutawney Phil and those fine young warriors in tight suits and protective gear will dominate the first part of the month. Valentine’s hits on the ides of February and with it our version and vision of the languages of love. Who am I to set down this info? Me. The guy that’s loved not always wisely or well and compounded his experiences with twenty-twenty hindsight and an incredible sense of love’s illusions that he recalls. One might say… from both sides.

  Does love have its own languages?  Survey says: yes, and pundits may mention that the premiere language of real love is consideration and honesty. Consideration implies that you work to shield your lover from any (especially your) unpleasantries since you’ll want to do everything, anything to keep your lover sane and happy. It goes without saying that, as honesty should be the only policy, you’ll always be truthful. This is not as easy as it might sound. What you profess as truth at times can get delivered half-baked and become misinterpreted. And besides, who knows how much truth is truth-fully?

Now, I don’t mean to kick kitty litter into your cornflakes, but just because you’re providing eachother with havens of warmth and safety-- as lofty as that might sound—there is no guarantee that you’ll not one day wake up next to Mr. Edward Hyde and not Dr. Henry Jekyll. Is it possible to have a union that has it’s foundations in not accepting or revealing each other’s true natures? Survey says: it happens every day. The glimpses that you might glean by spending as much time together as is possible and comfortable for you both may help, but for a relationship to really work I’ve found that a degree of ambiguity-- not assuming you know the other person completely-- comes in handy when you find yourself in a ‘where the *#!%^&!* did that come from (?)’ moment.  Is it possible to fall in love with someone that you’ll never fully understand? Survey says: you can take that one to the bank.

It’s not implausible that a person cannot be a person and not love or have loved others, ergo, couples-- as a matter of courtesy-- avoid talking about other very personal experiences; however, past loves live inside ourselves forever, for good or ill. And future loves? Well…best NOT to consider them. Appreciate: no matter how well you think you know yourself-- how to please and to what degree your true feelings may be shared-- the fact is that there are apples and oranges (strangers) here; not only do you not ever fully know yourself; but, the other person, that you think you know, may not be who you think they are. Not surprisingly, they can change without your knowledge, warning or consent. Is it really important to remember that you are both unfinished bipeds and as such need time and room to grow? Yes. And it’s not out of the question that even after a time; one person may need more independence than the other wants them to have. It’s effortless to become attached to the person that you love and it’s also easy for each of us to find an attraction somewhere else. If someone limits themselves on the inside for the sake of appearances on the outside they’re surrendering their rights as a unique and multi-faceted individual; you should consider this (at length) pro and con. This is why clear and constant communication is the paramount consideration. You accomplish this by always hearing what your lover is saying, compassionately. Everyone will talk about themselves if there is someone listening to them and at times the person that listens will have to read between the lines to see what is being truly said; it might not be what you want to hear but possibly something that you should know. And I know it’s not easy to suspend judgment especially when the telling can hurt you, your status quo or mind set. I know.

Now let’s talk about a committed relationship or the institution of marriage: at best that can be a marriage relationship, at worst it can be committed to an institution, and all points in between. They’re never black or white, and require balance. Balance is never inert and you won’t maintain it except by constant reinvention.

            You do know that alternatively, this is all conjecture and has all the trappings of a load of bovine excretion. Each relationship is trial and error at best and all we pitiful humans can do is feel our way blindly through our lives and circumstances because “just when you’re thinking you finally got it made, bad news comes knocking at your garden gate”.

We all need to meditate on the nature of relationships, however, any of us that have even considered such a thing as ‘languages of love’ for any amount of time eventually come to the conclusion that they’re in morphemes, Braille and sign language.

In a perfect world a relationship of any type relies on a contract, spoken or not and spoken is best: be frank and upfront about what pleases you and what does not in your pairing,  from the beginning, and that, as a value, can only come from your experiences or the lessons learned from watching others succeed or fail. Know that love is a wonderful, fulfilling and fragile state of being and like a candle’s flame it needs tending, knowing when to cleave and when to let go. Love, any love is a supreme risk. How do I know? Survey says: there are more sad songs about love than happy ones.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

More about New Years

Po Boy Views


Phil LaMancusa

Truly Tom Thumb


Homey’s Humor

            January is the time for resolutions; but, Homey ain’t got time for that truck. Homey’s down on the corner of Anthony and Claude, pitching pennies with the boys, drinking breakfast from a bag. Homey’s thought about ‘gainful employment’ but Homey’s got bigger fish to fry, he know where the real action is. Homey ain’t no fool gonna mess around with no resolutions; Homey likes the way he is just fine. Gonna cop some lunch at Saint Joe’s, maybe hustle some over by The Court of Two Sisters; selling beads to the rubes and bumming butts from punks. Homey ain’t ready to change. Homey’s ready to clown; betcha he can tell you where you got dem shoes.

            January is the time for resolutions; but Clarence thinks he might pass this year. Clarence is busy. Clarence hasn’t had time to wipe his rear since the season started; pickin’ up shifts like a glass eyed mule pullin’ an eight seater. Makin’ it through the days and nights on caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Clarence’s just tryin’ to catch up. Sleep is something he can do later; sleep is for people with no bills. After Jazz Fest, they cut his hours, first to four days a week and then to six hours a day. His Old lady ain’t never worked a day and he picked up a second job bustin’ suds at that jive café on the Square. Resolutions? How about this? Get those one percenters to give up some green to the guys at the bottom; get that fat cat that runs the café to cut loose with some health bennies; get some groceries to fall from the sky and the damn city to stop charging him for the water he uses to brush his remaining teeth? How about a resolution to hit the lottery and buy a chicken farm? “Hey! Who you lookin’ at?”

            January is the month for resolutions; but Samantha Marie’s having too good a time. Her Daddy’s rich, her Maman is good lookin’ (LOL!). The social season’s in full swing and Twelfth Night begins Carnival; all of her friends are planning parties, shopping for the perfect costumes for masquerading. Every day brings more invitations; she’s even going to a couple of Krewe balls! OMG! Christmas was simply awesome with ‘Santa’ bringing her everything that she asked for and more! Of course the holiday breaks will be broken up by the necessity of her furthering education, but school never did interfere with joie de vive, n’est pas? Sure college is, like, time consuming, but, won’t her sorority sisters make up for that? And how about that great looking crop of seniors? Really, she could throw the soiree to end all soirees and she’d invite them all, but, Mamere just had the floors refinished.

            January is the month for resolutions; and, boy, does Manny need to make some.

His life went into the toilet about ten months ago; it’s all he can do to keep his hand from flushing it. If everything hasn’t gone wrong in his life, well, then the only thing that is lacking would be a direct lightning strike to his cajones. But it’s his own doing, he knows it; it’s his own fault.

            Sure, his job wasn’t all that but he didn’t need to tell the boss to kiss his ass, did he? And then the drinking, turning himself into a fish; nights out at the saloon knocking back shots of Jameson with beer backs, chain smoking. Snappy comebacks and video crack. Those days away from home with women of dubious reputations; his wife leaving; his best buddy buying the farm and his slow descent, decline. Going down. Way down. Credit axed, living in van in someone’s back yard, doing temp work and finally sobering up for the holidays, missing the life that he wasn’t wise enough to cherish. She even took the dog.

January is the month for resolutions. And doesn’t Doris wish that she had that luxury. Back living with her Mama babysitting her unwed choice to deliver an eight pound baby girl just out of diapers; her Master’s Degree not worth the paper it was printed on. Knocked up by a guy who wouldn’t know how to pour water from a boot if the instructions were on the sole, one olive shy of a Greek salad and if his brains were dynamite wouldn’t have enough to blow his nose. But he was pretty though, boy was he pretty.

Student loans, frozen foods, too much worry and not enough sleep. Graveyard shift at the Waffle House and her body turning from lithe to lumpy. Getting into her uniform as Kelsey Grammer earns another million with his reruns of inanity.  Another load in the washer; her mother tells the same story for the hundredth time.

Alone with Senior Chardonnay on her night off with the house asleep she muses about what she would give up; tickets to Wimbledon? Going to the film festival in Cannes? Perhaps Vail for a sky holiday, water polo, her Jimmy Choos? Her Phillipe Patek?  For sure, she’d give up life’s wins and losses… she’d be satisfied to break even.

January’s for resolutions, eh?  If you’re gonna have them consider well: be careful what you promise yourself and be ready as a harsh task master. If you’re passing on the self improvement, then bless you; you’ve taken the easy way out and have nothing to lose. We all walk the walk, one way or another and we’ve got no choice but to wear our own shoes; nobody told us that it would be easy, we’re all doing the best that we can. That said, I say: sally forth into the sun, the rain or the fog and have a blessed New Year.


New Jeers Rolexations

Po Boy Views


Phil LaMancusa

A Hazy Shade Of Winter


New Jeers Rolexations

            “Time is the longest distance between two places”: Tennessee Williams

It’s about time! It’s about friggin’ time! Yes, it’s about time that I catch up with my life and stopped spending so much time behind time wasting precious time. I’ll tell you a story if you can spare a minute.

            I have a theory. The theory is that there’s not enough time in our lives. Duh, huh? Sure we may save time, make, manage, invest and preserve time; but we also waste time, spend time and fritter our time away. We mark time. We sometimes treat time as a commodity; we get paid for our time getting things done in a ‘timely manner’. Sometimes for our sanity’s sake we treat ourselves to some time alone time off time away quality time with others. We may lavish our time on another person; take up their time or take our time doing things. And, if we get busted we may actually have to do time. The younger we are the more time we have ahead of us (not counting ‘time outs’); as we age we have less-- less time to get our missions accomplished. Time isn’t on our side; time’s a thief; time flies when you’re having fun; time passes quickly or time drags. Who hasn’t wished to be able to time travel especially when someone starts laying a trip beginning with: “when was the last time…?”

            Personally, there’s never enough time in my life; fact is, I could be three people and still not have enough time to get done everything, and now it’s the New Year and time has run out. What have I got to show for the time that I was given last year? Sure, there‘s were good times bad times; but did I really accomplished anything with my time last year?

            Have I written or even started my Great American Novel? Practiced more piano? Painted my masterpiece? Secured that retirement job in an exotic clime? Won the lottery struck it rich hit the big time? Had the time of my life? Or did I let time slip away? Well it’s about time that that changes.

            So here it is January and I am resolving to use my time henceforth both wisely and well. I lived 2013 like I was a three minute egg timer; herky-jerky like a marionette with a case of Sydenham’s Chorea (St. Vitus).  I’m coming into 2014 at double time a two timer old timer; it is my resolve to alter and illuminate myself to the next level; to use my time instead of my time using me.

            The sun always rises too soon and with it my day begins; time to wake up, time to go back to sleep. Time for coffee, fix a smoothie and some lunch to take with me. Time to feed the critters. Girlfriend is also up, cleaning, straightening, littler box duty, watering our little patch of greenery. Does the trash man come today? Recycling? Do we need to make groceries hardware store pet food? What’s for dinner? Ow, my back again. Remind me to call the vet mechanic neighbor sister chiropractor. Remind me that that bill needs paying, do we have time for more coffee, read the paper my book the mail, brush teeth shave shower shampoo? Make up the bed shake out the comforter and “who peed on the rug?” And we ain’t even out the friggin’ barn yet.

            Wave to the neighbors. Take the dogs to the park throw the balls pick up litter. Now it’s time for work. We work six to eight shifts a week each, work out at the gym swim go out for drinks watch the tellie do another load of laundry dinner dishes, the car needs gas oil shocks brake tag insurance. Bills bills bills. When’s the election? Can you believe what he said she said did told me is rumored to have gossiped? Time for bed.  Roll over let me spoon you good night have pleasant dreams. Tell me again, where did the time for romance go?

            I am supposed to be retired, only the only thing I am is tired. It was simpler when I was single, but I didn’t get much done. I left my bed undone, went out for coffee, slept in, stayed out and let the laundry pile up until I got to the bottom of my sock drawer; open the back door and let the dog out if the cat’s thirsty he should learn to drink out of the ……

            Time time time, see what’s become of me.”  Talk talk talk. It seems I spend days on end talking to people. The only time the chatter stops is when I’m in my cups. Time out. Or, believe it or not, another time the voices stop is when I’m in my kitchen. Thyme in. A couple of weeks ago I went for a five hour walk, speaking to no one. Actually that’s not true; I set myself on a mission: I would see where they sold Lucky Strike unfiltered cigarettes; I found about twenty places that did not. Except in the French Quarter.

            The point is that at the pace that I’m going, I don’t have time for a quiet thought and I think it’s driving me crazy. Why when you’re with someone are you required to talk? When you go out, why is it required that someone talk sing share dance emote grab your attention? Is that why flirting is so satisfying—the eyes do the talking? I find that it’s at quiet time that I get to sort things out; I need to take the time to do that. And that’s my one resolution. Time.           



Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hippy Dippy Weather

Po Boy Views


Phil LaMancusa

A Knock At The Door


Hippy Dippy Weather (Man)

There was recently a gathering, a march, a whateveryoucallit where some folks, young folks, poser hippies, tree hugging geezers and environmental radicals protested genetically engineered foods, chemtrails, contrails, the destruction of our planet by big oil and the military industrial complex, the NRA, FBI, CIA, and the entire Republican mindset ; naturally I showed up.

I tell people that I’ve been in attendance for years; civil rights, reproductive rights, demonstrations to end violence and crime; food not bombs, roses not guns, love not war, hugs not drugs and candidates of my choice. I’ve marched, rallied, protested and assembled for decades; my complaints are many and the results of my complaining are paltry. I was an activist in the sixties when we got our asses kicked; fifty years later, Big Brother still has us by the short and curlies. The only things that I can bet on at these noble and fruitless gatherings is (a.) that they will be small potatoes compared with the protests that other countries pull off (mortality); and (b.) my photo will be taken and updated somewhere in the files of the not so secret police (immortality) . Someday, in the dead of night, they’ll round up all dissidents (geezers first), and the country will be left to people who don’t give a rat’s whisker about anything but being able to get their fat butts behind the wheel of a gas guzzler, pick up some fast food, carry an assault weapon to church to worship a heartless god, keep their women at home (barefoot, pregnant), and to hell with anyone who doesn’t act/look/think like them. Not that I’m paranoid or anything.

I think social media and electronics are responsible for my suspicions that someone is watching me, listening in, taking notes and compiling a dossier with my name and all of the people I know, associate with or are related to. Take FB for example: I have ‘friends’, some of those friends have hundreds of pals and, in turn, they have hundreds. How many degrees of separations exist in that reckoning? Answer: I’m friends with everybody in the world and naturally that makes/connects me with everyone from Bin Laden to Obama (although, Osama has let his page expire), anything I post is open to scrutiny. Somewhere there’s a list of the books I’ve read, music I like and photos I’ve taken; someday a red flag will go up somewhere (“Mr. LaMancusa would you like to explain why you youtubed  ‘Gangnam Style’?”) and (BAM!) it’s goodnight Irene.  Me? No, I’m not paranoid.

While we’re on the subject: “that this country is the leader of the free world is open to a wide interpretation of the words”. Do we not get much of our news from corporate sponsored stations? Expect them tell us only what they want us to know; anything that threatens the profits or security of big business, the government or the people I protest against is greased. Like ‘newspeak’ in the book ‘1984’ by George Orwell; they don’t believe we have any memories of stuff that happened yesterday, last year or in the presidency before last.

They’re not just out to get me… they’re out to get us all. They feed us propaganda, sensationalist stories, gossip and which friggin’ movie star has f**ked up their life; which one is pregnant with another man’s baby and what they’re wearing when they take a whiz. Served up like a trough of toffee.

Consider; when I swipe my credit card, give my pin number, show my ID, log in, sign up, show up, tune in or turn on, somewhere, someone can track me, monitor me, spy on me. There are cameras everywhere, eyes in the sky, security, scrutiny and surveillance and don’t you disbelieve it. And yet, and yet, we cannot catch and prosecute criminals except on CSI TV. Think about it.

Believing that there is no possibility of clandestine law enforcement, confinement facilities and/or ways of erasing people makes you dumber than I look. To believe that elections are fair and impartial, that politicians aren’t worse than crooked and the medical profession isn’t looking out for their bottom’s line is at the very least… naïve.  To suppose that court systems deal out impartial justice and that the government is not listening to your conversations is like saying that big business and the military industrial complex is not running the government in the first place. I know, I know… love it or leave it.

A recent oration by the Canadian Minister of Defense (Hon. Paul Hellyer) pointed out that, by gum, the world is not run by governments, wars are not started by governments or the populace and that we do have at least three species of outworlders living on this planet (a couple that are working with our government) for gum knows what reason. Check it out, if ‘they’ haven’t taken it down by now; there are certain things ‘they’ don’t want you to consider, having an open mind is one of them. I could allow myself to drown in drama dogma and occurrences that will keep me off balance but that would just play into ‘them’.

Have you followed the doings of that big GMO seed and pesticide company? Did you know that they have just purchased their own army? Do you know which president has bought land in a country with no extradition policy? Do you realize that voting rights, healthcare, women’s rights, education and climate change are still on the agenda of those damn tree huggers after half a century of demonstrations that only ask the rest of us numbskulls to wake the f**k up? Did you read Charlie Reese’s final column? Do.
Do you really think George Carlin was jus

Up in Smoke

Po Boy Views


Phil LaMancusa

Up In Smoke


Only The Strange Survive

            I took my first puffs of tobacco when I was eight. My mother, upon catching me mugging for the older kids, butt in my mouth, made me eat that cigarette. That cured me; or rather, made me sneakier. By thirteen, I was adept at stealing cigarettes; in those days doctors/movie stars recommended smoking; brands like Old Gold, Chesterfield, Viceroy, Philip Morris, Juleps. Mom smoked Pall Mall straights; they were longer and her waitress job had her picking up and putting down her cig to perform her tasks.

 Son: “Mom, how old do I have to be before I can smoke?” Mother: “When you can pay for them yourself!”

Eventually I would settle on Lucky Strike (unfiltered) as my butt of choice. In those days you were identified and you identified yourself by the brand that you smoked. I was to go on smoking for fifty years, never, and never wanting to, quit. Even in the old days we called cigarettes ‘coffin nails’ so we knew what we were doing wasn’t good for us; however, we didn’t have Nicotine Nazis  to worry us. I mean, would you suggest Humphrey Bogart back then or Johnny Depp now to snuff their butts? Julia Roberts? LeBron James? Heather Locklear? Keith Richards?

            Of course nicotine isn’t good for you (take finely shredded vegetable matter, roll it up in thin paper, stick it in your mouth and light it on fire(!)…AND THEN… suck in the damn smoke); worse is when you blow that smoke around someone else (smoker or not) and subject them to death by cancer caused by second hand smoke. But we have ways of dealing with smokers. Make them pay high taxes on their vice and not allow them to carry on their filthy habits in restaurants, bars, public buildings, parks, around children and expectant mothers and now in their own homes. Do we outlaw (I love that word, a gerund really) tobacco? No. Do we outlaw marijuana? Yes. Does marijuana cause cancer? No. 

 Genetically modified foods, chemtrails, global warming and the use of fossil fuels will kill the planet. We embrace assault weapons and alcohol, killers both.  Wars kill our enemies and friends impartially. Are they against the law? No. Pesticides can cause cancer, lead in our soil can lead to brain farts, if your pets eat Round Up it’ll exterminate them. Legal? Yes.  Obesity; should that become illegal, we wouldn’t have prisons enough to put away all the porkers around here.

We will prohibit reproductive rights, homosexuality and certain immigrants; see it now: “I’m a transgender illegal alien and if you don’t give me birth control and a mammogram I’m going to get drunk and go postal!!” Yeah.

(Why do we call them ‘aliens’ if they’re from this planet?)

            Flowing in that same vein, prostitution is illegal (as well as elevating); I always picture freshly laid people as very happy folks, something that we’ll recommend to that gay Hispanic that just snuck across our borders: “go get laid you crazy wetback!” we’ll say.

How did I stop smoking? Like this: I get regular medical checkups and I would always have to answer for my habit, explaining that I didn’t smoke much and only at night and while drinking or on drugs (plus before, after and during sex). On one appointment I happened to get a young, intelligent and attractive doctor who in the course of the examination asked that damnable question: “are you a smoker?”

            Not wanting to go into my nicotine song and dance I gazed into her large brown eyes and replied “NO”.

            Back on the street, walking home, I suddenly stopped in my tracks and realized that I had just lied to a woman that I could have easily fallen in love with; decided that I could not/ would not ever do that, and my only alternative was to make that statement true. That was seven years ago. I have not smoked (cigarette) since.

Concerning those nasty smokers of which I was one: with present legislation, we’re making it harder and harder for them to exercise their right to kill themselves with tobacco here. Illogically, however, we keep tobacco readily available. Sales may dwindle in the USA but, tobacco companies compensate by marketing their products in other countries. The exceptions are cigars, we import those; it seems that it’s pretty hip to smoke something that looks like a turd or aboriginal penis and smells like horse manure. Whole magazines are devoted to that habit.

 Trundle around with a deep fried turkey leg, a concealed weapon and carry a bible and you’re golden. Carry a Koran and a Marlboro and you’re a double terrorist. Smoke in an airplane and your ass is getting taken away in handcuffs.  Smoke in front of a pregnant woman and the punishment doubles, first offense: organ removal. I swear, there is no logic to this subject.

So why do we pick on smokers? I don’t hear about smokers robbing banks or jewelry stores yet we always picture felons with fags (cigarettes), and by the way, why do we call cigarettes ‘fags’? Lung cancer is low in Arab countries but they shoot each other at alarming rates (whew, at least they’re not breaking the law). Chinese women have high percentages of lung cancer although very few smoke (pollution? Hmmm).

            Personally, I have nothing against smokers; in fact, I’d like to apologize to them for all the flak they take from people who do nothing about our planet, its people or animal life and yet will take an opportunity to give grief to some Joe who just wants to light up a friggin’ Lucky. Sorry for that guys, go ahead, fire up that cancer stick; in the scheme of things; you’re really small potatoes.

Later on Decatur

Po Boy Views


Phil LaMancusa

Flying Outside The Envelope


Later on Decatur

I first came to Decatur Street in 1967. I had stolen someone’s wife and we hitched thirteen hundred miles south and landed in New Orleans knowing damned little about what we were doing. We were treated to Orange Julius’ on Bourbon Street, given a place to ‘crash’ and turned loose on the city. At the time, Decatur Street was stomping grounds for a lot of people of my mind-set, if not my circumstances and atypical, amoral inclinations. Fools all.

The Greek places (Athenian Room, Acropolis), with belly dancers for the stevedores and merchant seamen; sailor bars like La Casa de Los Marinos (now Café Maspero) with regularly scheduled pandemonium and pugilism set to live Latin music; strippers popping seconal like candy and challenging whole saloons to ‘step outside’, (“Ya Mahtha F**kas!”); that Chinese joint run by the Dragon Lady; Jax Brewery in full swing by the Square and a moonlight artist named Napoleon Rex hustling paintings and dames. Café Du Monde for late nighters, (across from the liquor store) abutting fish markets where you could get your shrimp shelled for a buck a pound.  The street was lined with shops and supplies for the blue collar/no collar workers; laundries; hardware; chandlers; work clothes; haberdasheries and hangouts. Cheap restaurants, saloons, groceries and rooms by the week for a sawbuck. A speed freak named Tinkerbell eating Vicks inhalers and drinking rain water from a down spout; Manila Joe (ex-prizefighter) slinging pairs of Yos.  Morning Call with the parking out front and the ‘colored’ entrance in the back. The French Market teeming with produce goons 24/7; watermelons rhythmically unloaded; kids asleep on flatbed trucks; Fiorello’s selling booze for breakfast and that gay couple who ran a bohemian coffee house called Phoenix that didn’t open until late. Down by Ursuline there were abandoned buildings and cheap digs. A young girl, known only as Spookie, with far away eyes; Raspberry Mahogany smoking Camel straights and quoting Rimbaud.

  Not much after that, when I made the round trip back, the ‘counterculture’ had taken over The Quarter like a rash; Communes, eateries, free clinics, seers and diggers and underground newspapers being sold to drunks. Babe Stovall in the Square playing the blues while poets played chess and kids munched Morning Glory seeds to take them higher.

Hippies sweeping the streets; Mike Stark and Kumi Maitreya; Shambala and Cruz opening shops on the corners of Barracks. On Decatur you could always find monkey business, mutiny and mischief. Pot selling for a hundred a pound and young girls making ends meet by posing nude for pervs that were rented filmless cameras. Narcos looking to make busts. Lovers looking to meld. Marshall on the make. That small theater on Madison. Dino returning from ‘busting a script’ at Walgreens on Canal; refugees from Kent State; Volkswagens returning from red beans at Buster’s for four bits. Ne’er do wells and numbskulls; neighbors, knickerettes, Nunzios and Nancys  on larks and out of order. Bucks and beards; peasant skirts and peace pipes. Wharf rats, weirdoes, winos and wayward wunderkind.

 We stayed indoors when the MDA family came to town, hung out at Napoleon’s Retreat with Janis on the box and steered clear of the Seven Seas (La Siete Mares) unless Big Luke was with us. Guitar solos coming from a club called the Bank and Tink in traffic raving like a gibbon. The best Muffaletta was hot from the oven at Mom’s next to the ice house and truckers unloading shrimp with snow shovels fresh up from the bayou, feral cats keeping down the rodent population and an old black man skinning a possum. You could walk the docks from here to Jackson Avenue and never set foot on pavement.  We had earned our lives and were freely spending in the coin of the realm: nothing in moderation.

Now when I walk down Decatur I’m blue. After dark the area looks like a midway and smells like horse, homeless sleep in doorways; Decatur is carnival lit and the market resembles (a cheap roadside stand by day) an empty prison yard.

The only area reminiscent of that past; where the zest, gusto and a certain joie de vivre lives on is in the last blocks before you hit Esplanade, what is called

‘lower Decatur’ by the foot of Frenchmen Street .On lower Decatur you’ll find joints and establishments embracing the funk of those yesteryears for which I wax reflective.

Sidebar: {not  many locals can afford to live in that area and frankly speaking, being real now, if a friggin’ Subway or Starbucks decided to pony up, any landlord on that street would sell out. Sic transit Gloria mundi.}

My experience of Decatur Street is transitory at best; but, my instinct as a tribal member persists.

The tribes moved on to Frenchmen Street and the Faubourg Marigny; what was a locals treasure has now become public domain. Residents that have been priced out have moved into the Bywater and now the Bywater is the new Marigny just as the Marigny was the Technicolor version of my noir Decatur Street. (Whew, you need a scorecard to keep up with the diasporas.) Surely I miss when the tribe lived in proximity, but what are you gonna do? Wander until you find them. Catch up. Dragons, dreams, delights, dangers, delusions and self deception.” If that’s all there is, then let’s keep dancing...”

Like missing pieces to a puzzle, the Decatur Streets of my life have formed the jigsaw of who I have become, will become. Self-effacing selfish sleepwalker shadow strutting string-puppet pulled along other paths, lured by the elusive temptations of lyrics, libations and love’s false promises. Chaos, confusion, compassion, experience, exposure and the eight bar changes of Professor Longhair.  All later, on my Decatur.




Big Mouth

Po Boy Views


Phil LaMancusa

Big Mouth


I Just Don’t Know

            The most exotic Louisiana food these days, the one that every visitor has to try or reject is alligator. This has not always been the case, this is a recent-- by recent I mean this century—occurrence; and, you may ask, ‘how did that happen’? I’ll tell you. Some entrepreneurial yayhoo who started off selling alligator skins to cobblers, began selling those dried alligator heads to the Rubes and when business took off they were left with the prospect of a pile of stinking, rotting carcasses of the slaughtered reptiles (or amphibians or whatever the hell they are), or doing something with the meat while it was still fresh. Ergo,” have an alligator po-boy to go with those boots, belts and dried gaping smiley toothed heads, Bubba?”

Today, eating alligator is something that every cute couple from Des Moines has to experience when they get in the lowest of the forty-eight. You can buy ‘Farm Raise’ alligator meat here, yep, go on over to your local Rouse’s and there it is, in the frozen food section, right next to the turtle meat. Fifteen dollars a pound. More expensive than filet mignon. Go figure.

I don’t think that alligator is on the menu in the Caribbean, maybe they ran out of the nasty things, I don’t know. In Australia they have crocodiles but the people don’t eat them; crocs eat the people, proving that crocodiles are smarter than alligators.

            In Buster Holmes cookbook from 1980 there is a recipe for alligator; however, there are also recipes for nutria, possum and raccoon. What does that tell you? Was alligator a poor man’s food? Was Buster serving ‘poor food’ or ahead of his time? Will possum and coon be showing up on K-Paul’s menu? Maybe. They’ve already tried to get us to swallow nutria (unsuccessfully). I think that eating alligator is just weird; I hear that they eat alligator regularly in Florida. I rest my case.

            Not yet. Who was it that first ate alligator? Did some poor hungry country cracker happen to find one on the side of the road and think: ‘well, didn’t ketch me no fish today, mebbe this here gator’ll feed my hongry young’ins?  And then after the apples of his eyes got through chewing six hundred times on a piece of tail they gave up and said “Daddy? That was dern good; kin we have us some ole tractor tire too?” Next thing you know, Daddy (who knows zip about kid sarcasm) is cruising the roads looking for some stray gators (or tractor tires) to run over or he’s off huntin’ them suckers and bragging to the boys down at the VFW how his kids are eatin’ good on gator “an it don’t cost nuthin’ neither!”. It has to have its origins, foodwise, in the Ole Swamp Boys History Book: “Wonst upon a time, Ole Jed decided he wanted to wrassle him some dinner….”

Or maybe it is a poor Black thing--possibly from a time when they were… ‘Servants’-- Ole Massa told them that if they wanted some protein not found in hog leavings they could just go catch it themselves. If so, I’m sure there were some casualties at the beginning. “See what happen to Jeremiah’s arm, chirrin? Don’ you go messin’ in thet swamp!”

One way or the other (or both) it’s got to be a poor thing. It can’t be a sport; then they would have it in the Olympics. It can’t be a pastime or Granny would be doing it. Nor an amusement, pursuit, activity, distraction or diversion.

You won’t see Brad and Angelina shopping for it to feed the kids. You won’t see Tim Tebow bopping down to Café Maspero for an alligator po-boy.  Nobody but poor people or tourists would ever eat an alligator; much less raise them on a farm.

How do you ‘Farm Raise’ an alligator? Beats me. An alligator farm’s got to be like a gated community, huh? Are they kept in pens, corrals, dormitories… condos? Alligator apartments? Are they ‘Free Range’? Who from the FDA gets to inspect them (I’m not applying for that job). What does the farmer feed them: Purina Gator Chow? This is another WTF subject, ain’t it?

Does the female (called a cow) go into heat, stop by the beauty parlor, get dolled up and bellow to the male (bull) to come make some babies (hatchlings)? Does the group (congregation) keep the hatchlings together (pod) and do they have dances, sing-alongs, play tag or bingo? Do the bulls sit on their porches smoking weed, drinking 40’s and whistling at the passing cows? Or do bulls stake out claims and territories; possibly have harems? What constitutes an attractive alligator and is it true that you have to keep the adults away from the hatchlings because they’ll eat them? I just don’t know.

I do know that to make alligator sausage palatable it’s mixed with greasy dead pig meat and stuffed into porcine intestine before cooking. Nice thought, eh? I’ve heard of Gator Spring Rolls, Alligator Etouffee, Smothered (Smothered?), Italian Fried and Gator Balls(?); but nothing beats a nice plate of Alligator Sauce Piquant. Of course, for my money, you could put sauce piquant on a tractor tire and I’d eat it.

Let’s just put it this way; last week Girlfriend and I were out in City Park on one of the paddle boat things, you know where you go out, get dehydrated and sunstroke just for the hell of it? Well, we saw a couple of alligators in those waters. Did I see ‘dinner’? I did not. I saw ‘DANGER!’ And I got the hell out of there! Homey don’t mess with alligators in any form.


Merry Whistle Fist

Po Boy Views


Phil LaMancusa

Merry Whistle Fist


Punked Again

“Every saint has a past; every sinner has a future.” Oscar Wilde

This December I need a Sanity Clause, because this whole blasted year has literarily, figuratively, financially (and emotionally), driven me nucking futs.

 Not that good things, swell things, haven’t happened; but, by in large, 2013 has been a waste of makeup; a wash; a cosmic curve ball. A swing and a miss.

It goes without saying, like most of us, I spend every New Year’s Eve telling myself that this new year is gonna be better than the last, but then I get to about August and I just want to spit. August is when I realize that the rest of the year has nowhere to go but further downhill. At that point, my year is already littered with the carcasses of broken resolutions, abandoned projects and thwarted intentions. The culprit of these setbacks? Life. My life.

What I want is, in January, the ability to set down some noble resolutions; realistic, achievable, attainable resolutions. But first I have to get rid of this year’s baggage; the carryon luggage I’ll haul into next year that causes my current annual winter anguish. Yes, anguish, and I’m not the Lone Ranger here.   Do you (at least I do) come to the closing of the year and realize that ‘no, I’m not making more money nor did I change my evil ways; and no, I have nothing to show for the aspirations that had me sallying forth into 2013 like Big Dog only to retreat like Whupped Ass? My money is funny, my debts are dead serious and I still have the same bad habits that I had at the beginning of the year. And those are the least of my troubles.  And how are you this December?

Tell me, is there anything weirder than sending Christmas cards made in an outsourced country that wouldn’t know Santa from Moo Goo Gai Pan? Merry merry, Old Pal.

“Next year will be better!!!” Sure, tell me that and then tell me the economy is having a comeback; real estate is worth more, employment is up, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is within our grasp, and “we can all be middle class now!!!!”  

You know what my reality-check present will be? Hint: it comes right after the first of the year. No clue? It’s my tax forms, it’s my bank statement; it’s knowing that there’s a few people that I should’ve apologized to for my thoughtless actions. It’s my indication that I’m doomed to repeat my past over and over through all the new years to come ad nauseum. It’s my tip-off that, regardless of my hopes and good intentions, 2014 is gonna suck the big one. As well. I got a lot of payback coming. And you?  Are you ready to make changes to your morals and your standards in hopes of a better life? Are you ready to pay off your credit cards, square things with the vet, dentist and mechanic and go back into debt to buy shit from China to give away in the December holidays to people that you either give to all year long or hardly know? Are you ready to reform?

Was that a discouraging word? Oh, sorry Sparky.

Let’s see if we can put this into some kind of perspective. Every year at this time we watch a horror film called “A Christmas Carol” As you know, it’s about a miserable geezer jerk that is surrounded by the good things that he could be doing but doesn’t until three grotesque spirits scare the beejeezus out of him. A.K.A. ‘The Dickens Effect’.

Now, pause for a moment to consider that we are all, to some extent, disciples of immediate gratification and rarely consider the Dickens Effect; you know, how where you came from and where you are is probably an indication of where you’re going. We cruise along being less than perfectly happy because the situations and conditions we’re in are comfortable. More or less. If you’re comfortable, even in your poorest of circumstances you will never escape until something shows you that getting what you want is dependent on what you’re willing to give up to get it.

We certainly know where we came from to get to this place but we rarely look to see where what we are doing is going to take us; until… until something shakes up our comfort zone and those shake-ups are rarely comfortable (unless it’s hitting the lottery). A calamity. Loss of a job or loved one; a value system shattered or hurricane anyone? What’s a fellow to do?

Look back twenty years, fifteen, ten, five and then today; all the years on the path you’ve traveled that put you in this place. Do you really want to keep going when you view the next five, ten, fifteen and twenty years into your future in that context? And so, it’s like the person you were who cannot help becoming the person you are is gonna be that person down the road because you cannot help it. Unless you shake things up a bit. Are you up for it? Nah, neither me. I have become a slave to that person I was and am.

Alas, I’m in a position to tell you that immediate sense gratification is the most common addiction and sometimes the most deadly. That’s the person I was; that’s the person I am and that will be the person I become. Maybe. Isn’t that what New Year’s Resolutions are all about?

Now, with that pearl of wisdom and hope, let me see if I can make it through December. Here’s looking at you kid.