©1999 A.D. Sullivan
|Dead Men||Tom Kellar|
|Walking with Ken Kesey's Ghost||A.D. Sullivan|
|address||Scott C. Holstad|
|Money for nothing||A.D. Sullivan|
|The Scam Man||Terence Ripmaster|
don't care what the surgeon general thinks
drive around with no place to go
figure the come-on at the end of the bar, more trouble than she's worth
hold alcohol in a medicinal light
will sleep in their work clothes
never need to RSVP
buy cars, and smokes, based solely on price
avoid eye contact at all cost
doodle on the obituary page
drive on bald tires with cracked windshields.
accept with resignation, the next day's hangover
listen to Coltrane, and Davis, start to finish, no interruptions
will drink their Sake cold
don't sweat expiration dates
never wear bandages
are past blaming anyone
see horse-shit and diamonds the same
don't care where the candle-wax falls
forget what day of the week it is
can't get to sleep at night, can't wake up in the morning
have nothing in their hands
never ask another chance
have no need to make sense of anything
play dumb when they know they're being lied to
have made the connection between sorrow and desire
after losing the thing he loves
a dead man will spend the rest of his days
anesthetizing the past
pouring gasoline on the future
have no fear of dying the second time
by Tom Kellar
Walking with Ken Kesey's Ghost
(Even though he is not dead yet)
Some people thought we should have skipped the whole trip-bit about making one of Ken Kesey's books into a film, that even in retrospect, we managed to blotch up the process of thought he was trying to achieve, as if society was actually stupid enough to give the native American roles in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST to John Wayne (with the ultimate desire, of course, to have filmed on location in a mental hospital, leaving the previous era's macho idiot there when we were done) or perhaps, attempt an even grander scale project with SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION as a contemporary sitcom version of Gilligan's Island. (Whoever heard of the great northwest, anyway?)
I think we might get high ratings with a mini-series on Ken Kesey's life (Oh, no! Oh, no! Not that Tom Wolfe crap again, who cares about the Merry Pranksters, Grateful Dead, Jack Cassidy, or Hell's Angles anyway? Did they not already make those movies, ripping Hunter Thompson off for old World War Two footage, just ease in Korea and Vietnam film clips with shots of John Wayne for Irony?)
I was actually thinking along the lines of a quieter movie than that, a camera following the man around, maybe through the streets of Portland, Oregon, with permission, of course (shades of former Princess Diana), a documentation of an artist's life. Watch Ken Kessey eat, breathe, smoke dope, shit, make love (and none of that pervert stuff either, we got enough of that in the perverted 1970s imitation of the Beatles' HELP movies).Or maybe, we can just walk with the man through the woods, camera trained on his face for changes of expression, the kind of film Andy (Valerie shot the bastard) Warhol might have made, a full eight-hour marathon showing the face full of serious writing thought that only serious 1960s writers who are high on LSD could have, battling the ideology of the Big Bad Nurse who looked and sounds like Bill Clinton, but is really Hillary in disguise, with Al and Tipper Gore telling us we can't make any such movies without violating some taboo. (Oh, well, a good thought, maybe next generation, eh?).
seems there was
and people got hip
and just a little
loose and engaged
such as love ins and
sit ins and be
ins and all that
sort of jazz and
then this here
seemed to die a
prosperous death of
commonly known now as
The Me Generation
it suddenly seemed
as though all those
had been swallowed
by a McCarthyesque
Society which had
destroyed their ideology
while things generally are
cyclical by nature
cause it seems an Era of
Intolerance is upon us
friends just dying
by Scott C. Holstad
[First appeared in the Chaminade Literary Review.]
Money for nothing
August 5, 1998
The tax man got us, one of those incomprehensible letters saying you'd better pay or else, except that in fine print, also saying, if you don't want to, don't. But since Sharon fears paying any bill late, she paid up front and now the tax man has $650 from us he doesn't deserve.
It is enough to make you scream.
I find myself growing more and more radical, beginning to understand just how easily taxpayers are duped into giving up cash for nonsense.
Although it is politically incorrect to say so, I don't think government should be in the art business, helping artists make a living on the backs of laboring men and women already struggling to put bread on the table.
I don't believe government should be in any business other than providing for the overall general welfare, making sure the roads are repaired and the police are guarding us, and enemies from outside the country don't slip in to murder us while we sleep. I'm not saying that government shouldn't promote fairness, but the whole concept of government has gone too far, becoming a gambling house through its lotteries, a public charity through its welfare and a employment agency providing lifetime jobs to bureaucrats, teachers, municipal workers.
And on the whole, we don't benefit nearly as much as we ought to from the amount of taxes each of us pays. The man or woman paying into the tax pool generally doesn't get service in kind. While in the past, taxes were raised with the promise of a carefree society, water delivered, trash collected, crooks caught, fires put out, one by one those who pay the taxes see less service. In the town where I live the township council has put restrictions on the watering of flowers, and sends the police around -- not to protect me from crooks, but to ticket me if I put my trash out to the curb an hour too early.
While the state has put people off welfare, increasing in some cases the criminal population against which I need protection, the state has done little to reduce the bothers and sisters who work on each municipal payroll in do-nothing jobs, a much more outrageous welfare condition against which taxpayers are helpless.
Over my lifetime, I have helped bail out banks, helped bail out the economies of other nations, helped rebuild the lives of fire victims, flood victims, and victims of hurricanes. I have paid for the painting of nude pictures I would never buy, helped marching bands I will never hear, create parks I will never visit, helped support families I did nothing to create. I pay for the cleaning of water, corporations have dirtied, air interstate trucks and buses fouled, cleared land of contaminants people long dead have dumped upon.
Meanwhile when I try to park my car or water my flowers, I find myself ticketed, paying yet more taxes in a different fashion, having nearly no say in how the laws that bind me were made.
And that's why I'm so peeved when the tax man holds his hand out to get some more, fooling me into paying even more money for nothing.
The Scam Man
Dominick, Dom as he is known, joked about calling himself the Scam Man. He started his nefarious career when We Were kids in the Iron Bound section of Newark. Now, 40 years later he is on trial in Newark and I'm betting he'll get off.
I don't know how Some people become so bad. Dom and I were poor kids from the same neighborhood. We Were both altar boys in the local Catholic church. He would steal wine and sell it to the kids at school. He also considered becoming a priest. He would say, "These guys got a great scam going. They don't pay rent and get everything for free."
The strange thing about Dom is that he probably would have made a good priest. When he dedicated himself to his career as a con man, he did it with complete devotion. It was in grade school that he began his scams.
He would steal cigarettes, booze and condoms and sell them to kids at school. You name it Dom had it. Everything from porno magazines to ball point pens. In the capitalist world, he would be called an excellent entrepreneur. He exchanged money like a bank teller and even made loans with interest.
We were about 16 years old when Dom moved to a more lucrative and dangerous source of income. There were some rough girls in our neighborhood and Dom became a pimp. He rented an old walk-up apartment behind an auto repair shop and would take his fee at the door. It worked well for a few months until the big guys realized he was cutting in to their prostitution profits.
Dom was fearless. To this day I don't know what deal he cut with those guys, but suddenly, in our senior year, Dom was driving fits fantastic, red, 1960 Chevy convertible, Dom was like a character from one of those 1950s Hollywood movies, but he was a rebel with a cause, to get rich fast-by any means necessary.
You might wonder how a guy like me got along with Dom. I was like the nerd character in the movies. I liked school and honored my parents and teachers. I wanted to be a lawyer like Perry Mason and put the bad guys behind bars. My parents were poor and Dom would tell me that he had plenty of money and would pay my college tuition. I always laughed when he said this.
Dom moved on to his next business venture and really got rich. He was the major supplier of drug in our neighborhood. He ran this scam like he did the cigarettes and condom sales. He was brilliant at street math and could figure percentages in his head. He would make his drop-offs to Its dealers and flash his roll of money at me, saying, "Tax free!!" The big boys moved in on him again. I don't know how he handled It, but he obviously cut some deal. When I was accepted to Rutgers University, as a freshman, Dom was driving a big, black Buick and had bought some apartments. As it turned out, I was given a Scholarship to college and didn't need any of Dom's money, which I couldn't have taken in any case.
I didn't see much of Dom in my college years. When I returned to the Iron Bound section of Newark, I would go to the clubs and Dom was always hanging about with some beautiful woman on his arm and wearing expensive clothing.
There's a funny things about guys like Dom. I was opposed to the war in Vietnam and wore a peace button. When he greeted me in the club, he broke into a patriotic lecture.
"What's with you college people? You get a little education and you turn commie." He ripped the peace button from my coat. "You got to stop supporting all that liberal shit. This is a great nation man! Support our fighting men and the flag!"
There was Dom, who had made his living ripping off people and engaged in crime, giving me a lecture on being a good citizen. I didn't respond with an argument but told him I had been accepted to law school.
About the time I was studying for my bar exam, I glanced at the local paper and read that Dom had been appointed to the Newark school board. I giggled to myself and didn't give it much thought. My career and personal life moved quickly in those years. I married, we had two children, bought a home, and I obtained a position with the New Jersey Department of Justice.
My office was in a building in Newark. When my father died, Dom attended the funeral and handed me a $1000 check for the American Cancer Society.
When the Justice Department drafted the indictments against Dom, I had to admit to my life-long friendship with him. In one sense, I was not surprised to read the incriminating evidence.
There was no end to his rapacious adventures. As a member of the school board, he had established a phony company that provided maintenance services for the schools. it appeared that he had bilked the city for over $2 million in services never rendered. He was the owner of six pieces of property that he rented to the city as educational sites, none of them to have ever been used. The indictments filled over 100 pages.
The newspaper reported that he had hired a legal team and he denied the charges against him. I watched him on television as he pushed his now overweight body into a limo and waved press cameras away. "No comment!"
Dom's case was front page news for over six months. On the day that the trial began, I received a call in my office from Maria Civili. At first, I did not recognize the name. She informed me that she was one of the girls who worked as a prostitute for Dom in high School, and later had become one of his drug dealers and had a child by him. She asked me to represent her in a case to sue him for support of the child, and I had to inform her that while I was an attorney, my position with the Justice Department excluded me from such cases.
Maria went to the press with her story, which resulted in Dom's wife suing for divorce. As a result of a hung jury, Dom's case was thrown out of court.
Maria was waiting in the large crowd on the court steps. As news people jammed around Dom, she took a pistol from her purse and pulled the trigger. Dom was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
It was reported the next day that medical attendants at the hospital found a wad of thousand dollar bills in his pocket; wrapped in a rubber band with a note attached, "This is tax free."
by Terence Ripmaster
Copyright ©1999 A.D. Sullivan
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