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.