Monday, February 4, 2008


The dirty whoreson Kubrick stole my car, leaving me stranded in some Guatemalan slum after closing time. I shant forget it.
It was a positively balmy summer night in 1974, the revolucion had just rolled over guatemala, and I was behind the wave recording the people's experiences for the New York Times. Kubrick came along for the trip, ostensibly to location scout for his next film. I think more likely he wanted unfettered access to the readily available and rather inexpensive senoritas, as well as the fabled Percussio cerveza.
That vile swindler made a fool of himself within four hours of our arrival in latin america. I'd never seen a man get accused of smuggling drugs INTO guatemala, but there he was, bribing his way out of a prickly situation before we'd even had a chance to do anything remotely nefarious. Bumbling buffoon. I shook my head sadly, and wandered off to find us a cab, or perhaps a mule drawn cart that could get us to our destination, the small town of La Cabeza.
La Cabeza is located about 15 miles of the coast, with a population ranging from fifty in the winter to near four hundred in summer, during the famed cattle drovings (fever drunk and itching for human contact, the mad guatemalan gauchos come in waves during the summer drovings).
It was nearly three thirty in the morning, and Kubrick and I had eaten our fill, and at least I had certainly had enough drink to convert any lesser man to madness. But Kubrick continued. And continued. The filthy bastard had scared off every decent girl in the place, and we were left with only Poca, the fifty year old bar maid, and the oddly named "Mr. Bubo", the publican himself as our company. Kubrick proceeded to attempt to regale our hosts with tales of his prowess in combat as well as his skills as a certified master plumber, but Poca was having none of it. Mr Bubo clearly reached his limit, and with nary a word began to strop his machete loudly. Quick as a wink, i was fumbling for the keys to the pathetic corn-oil-powered taxi that I had purchased only a few hours before for only thirty dollars. I knew that it was stolen, and the bloodstains on the front seat betrayed a certain violence to my salesman's....technique, but back to Kubrick.

The fat auteur shoved past me, knocking me flat to the mud slick road. Before I could find my feet, the keys were wrested from my grasp, and I caught a vague whiff of french fries as my little thirty dollar taxi speed away into the night. The sound of shouting and broken glass coming from the pub behind me indicated that in fact Mr Bubo was coming to greet me, and none to warmly.

Thank you Kubrick. i am glad you soiled your career with that pathetic Tom Cruise vehicle.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It was the fall of 1956, and that fool Plimpton convinced my wife Oriette and I to accompany him on a journey into the foulest jungles of Uruguay. We agreed if only because that season at the theatre in New York promised to be dreadful and we wanted to avoid being coerced into attending the ridiculous after-show events with the various troupes of fool "actors" and tolerating their droll wit.
So, we chartered a third-class steamer out of Norfolk, after taking the B&O out of Grand Central's main concourse. The ship was a rickety tub by the name of the Queen Be, yes "Be" not "Bee" or even "Bea". The captain assured me that the name was intentional, but I rather suspect that he saved himself some kopeks by hiring a foreign sign painter, one unfamiliar with either royalty or proper pun construction.
Regardless, our journey was dreadful, more due to boredom and poor provisions than because of weather or the company (although Plimpton insisted on playing backgammon with me, even though he seemingly cannot remember the rules to this day). Upon arrival at the port we were greeted by the local chamber of commerce, who mistook Plimpton for some man of means or influence. We allowed them their mistaken identity as far as it garnered us access to a proper guide and we were also granted access to a coal powered jitney. A vile device, somewhere between a autobus and a train, the system required no fewer than five native attendants armed with pick shovels and water buckets, while we rode out on top, only slightly shielded from the smoke and spew of the engine.
All the while, Plimpton, grinning like the simpering fool he proved to be, continued to chatter in his Brahmin-drawl-inflected-spanish with the locals. I could tell at a glance they had no idea what he was saying, or what, if anything they had to talk about, but gods bless the little natives, they were tolerant of him. We were laden with a few crates of local fruit, a large cask of aguardiente (a local spirit, distilled from cane) and some hard crusted bread. Of course at this point Oriette was already beginning to show signs of the dreaded revenge-of-montezuma, so colloquially known, but we pressed onward.
The jungle itself was rather bland, as such things go. A few monkeys here, a banana tree there, some diptheria-bearing-mosquito-bites over there, twas nothing to truly preserve on paper, but for this- it was on this trip that I began to see beneath Plimpton's masque.
You see, during our trip on the jitney, we had garnered a terrific head of steam as it were, and were plowing deep furrows into the jungle, charging forward ignoring all impediments, when from our vantage place Plimpton was thrown from the vehicle. At first I thought him struck by a low-hanging branch, but none were around. It took the native coalmen time to slow the jitney, and by the time Oriette and I returned to Plimpton's point of departure (the jitney tenders refused to leave their infernal buggy, nor bring it round) we found him milling about, talking with a group of the smallest humans I had ever seen.
Dressed in what appeared to be straw skirts, with bead headdresses and tiny spears, the group of men stood no taller than the middle of my thigh. To my great surprise they appeared to be near-worshiping Plimpton. Eyes wide, and mouth agape, Oriette nudged me to indicate something at Plimpton's side. It appeared he had one of their spears lodged between his third and fourth rib, easily stuck in a good thirteen inches or more. It MUST have pierced his heart. But there the fool Plimpton stood, gabbing in his bad espanol with the locals, buffoon grin upon his visage.
Quick as a wink, Plimpton grabbed one of the little buggers, opened his mouth wide as an anaconda (I never knew about his retractable jaw until then) and popped him into his maw. With a few quick crunches, and nary a scream from the native, Plimpton was done. He wandered off toward the jitney. The remaining natives, rather than attacking him from the rear, seemed placated. Perhaps they assumed one accidental spear strike on a "god" was worth the loss of one hunter.
As we trod back to the jitney, we found a tiny spear in our path, bathed in blood, and heavens help me, a piece of Plimpton's heart upon its point. Still beating.

Saturday, January 26, 1980


No more than a week had passed since our visit to mr Pelagius, he-of-the-watered-wine-and-polio-ravaged-stride. Ernest and I were bound for Oslo (stowed uncomfortably into the captains quarters of a leaky chartered fishing scow), seeking the next connection in our Franco-cult-hunting quest. Seemingly Mr Pelagius primary source of intelligence relating to the cult was one Mme. Lundqvist from Oslo’s fishmonger’s district. We disentangled ourselves from Mr Pelagius backwater villa and made straight for the coast. Ernest knowing something of the land was able to secure us passage on our host vessel, the unfortunately named Ojo Negro. The captain of our vessel, a man with the unlikely moniker of Saul (humorously pronounced Sah-ool, with that silly Portuguese accent) proved to be a man of high character if not hygiene. Capitan Saul was in fact a fair sailor, claiming to have ridden the waves with no less than Farragut the 3rd and Admiral Weynon himself, in his final quest for the southern pole. Of course, this unliklely tale would make our capitan at least eighty years old, but we were clearly in no position to argue, as we were well out of sight of land by evening of our first night at sea, and were slated for a one week voyage north, ever north.
I cannot say much about the cuisine de table served by our capitan and his slovenly crew. Mostly it was some amalgam of a rum-based-stew, containing clearly the lowest cuts of the pig, a few bits of celery and some obscure form of locally grown potato. When I inquired as to his brandy selection, the capitan merely scoffed, and filled my mug with the same vile rum that Ernest was already so enamored with. Poor Ernest. He did so love his grog. I remember one time in, oh it had to be…thirty five at the latest that Ernest got involved in a love triangle with some obscure Mongolian headman and his third wife. The only solution available to our poor Ernest that didn’t involve the horseman’s blade in his belly was to survive an odd drinking contest. The game was based on the rapid consumption of rum, a short stick and the backside of the smallest dog in the village. It was quite strange to hear Ernest tell of it, and in fact to this day, I think he got many of the details wrong owing to the vast quantities of rum he had imbibed. Small dog indeed...
Well, back to our poor misguided capitan. It was one the fourth day of our voyage that we developed engine troubles, seemingly unassisted by Ernest’s insistence of mixing a bit of his grog and the engine’s diesel- “to give it more kick, damn you Vidal” he would say. The problem of course was that Ernest couldn’t drink alone, and thus insisted that the power plant join him in a few rounds of his rum-fuel cocktail (dieselitos he called them). The resulting temperature increase from the combustion chamber’s non-rum-considered design played havoc with the cooling system, and a variety of pumps and gaskets had to be replaced. Poor Ernest, I cannot remember the last time I saw a man weep so at the illness of a drinking partner. He clearly had little faith in our capitan’s ability to weather the storm, and restore his amigo to full function. A promise of vast sums of pesos were also required to prevent the capitan from tossing Ernest to the sharks, which had been following us since the second day when the capitan dragged one his men across the keel owing to a misunderstanding over the rules of mumbletypeg. We all carried the knowledge of choosing “first-thrower’s primacy” the rest of our days, having heard that poor sailor’s screams during that bloody event.

Thursday, January 24, 1980


It was not three days later, completely exhausted from the back-country mule rides and rickety riverboat crossings that we arrived at the home of Mr. Pelagius. His home, though humble was outfitted with the finest in modern communications, even the famed two-way-pictora-phone, of recent design by RCA/Victrola. I had only seen such a thing at a party thrown by King Seamus of Iceland a few months prior. At the time, he proclaimed it only one of seven to be in exsistence. Considering the price, and the power requirements of this fantastick system, I was not surprised that Seamus had one, being the gear-hound he was. I mourned his death at the hands of the visiting HuTu missionaries that summer….Damn my memory….where was I…oh yes. Mr Pelagius’ two-way-pictora-phone
To find such a device in an outland hacienda, seemingly powered by no more than a half dry water-wheel and four servants pushing some odd wicker contrivance up and down a nearby hill, I could scarcely imagine it. Mr Pelagius himself was a pleasant enough fellow, with an odd aspect to his stride, owing as he claimed to a bit of the gout, but perhaps more likely to polio in my estimation, although no Portuguese man would ever admit to the polio…some sort of religious conviction, or perhaps just a misguided concept of machismo. Well, Mr Pelagius was unwilling to show us his collected evidence of the plot by this proto-neo-fascite group until after we had rested up, had a pleasant meal of melon consommé and bacon grisé and of course consumed a few bottles of local Rioja Viejisto wine. Thankfully Ernest and I learned to universally praise the Portuguese hospitality, regardless of quality, as it was only after we had nearly drowned ourselves in the mediocre wine that we were informed that the grapes were in fact grown on his vines- some vestigal vineyard-passé -passed down from his grandfather’s time. As I have alluded, the wine itself was a bit weak in character, a bit thin in the legs and with a certain unpleasant aspect of brine to its nose that we found unpleasant, but our prudence paid off, as our host was most pleased that we “enjoyed” his labors.
The evidence itself of the plot was secondary it seemed to Mr Pelagius’ real motive, which was perhaps to get some time with Hemmingway and myself, seemingly due to an article we had co-authored in the Saturday Evening Post regarding the rise of the Cola barons in Atlanta. We were able to slough off his requests for further details on the business practices of those syrup magnates, and return his focus to the collected data we sought. Our fury at the possibility of the Generallisimo coming back to power, even as some form of corpse leader was clearly shewn in our eyes, and Mr Pelagius led us to his inner sanctum, and left us to review his archives and recorded picto phone conversations with other owners of said systems around the our sainted orb.

Sunday, January 20, 1980


Allow me the privilege of setting the scene. The Portuguese coast, Summer, nineteen hundred and forty seven. I had just sat down to a pleasant enough lunch with Ernest Hemmingway and George Marchand…oh I remember it as if it were 1975 (which sadly is as far forward as I can remember owing to a piece of shrap-nel lodged in my cerebellum during some advance-guard action in the Luxemborg Rebellion of the same year)….forgive me, I am rambling.
As I was saying, I was sitting down to an early afternoon lunch with dear Ernest and Msr. Marchand… a lovely seared scallop and crusted salmon with a wild green salad and the native holiba-moscolo sauce. Just lovely. Well, the enjoyment of our meal was interrupted by a very inconveniently delivered telegram. The boy from the Western Union was clearly impressed and even a bit… overwhelmed to be in the presence (as it were) of the great Snr. Hemmingway, but with a few additional pesos thrown his way, we were assured of his discretion. Ha! That fool Marchand was so gauche as to get the boy’s address, perhaps for some future indiscretion. I did not dare ask.
The content of the telegram, although murderous to our appetite was nonetheless enthralling to our natural curiosity. It seemed that a certain Mr. Pelagius had in fact uncovered evidence of a plot to exhume the remains of the hated Generalissimo Franco, with the overt intent to use his corpse as some form of gross symbol or figurehead to a potential rebirth of the fasciste movement in our beloved Portugal. Naturally Hemmingway and I needed to set this to rights immediately. We dropped our forks, retrieved our rapiers and set out post-haste to find this Mr. Pelagius immediately to review his evidence, and perhaps uncover the rest of this most devious scheme. Marchand wandered off, perhaps to a certain young man’s home. Again, I didn’t ask.