Saturday, July 15, 2017

9742. RUDIMENTS pt. 14

Making Cars
I used to think I lived among folly
and danger. That was a weird thing
to think, but it was probably as true
a self-realization as any other. The
folly part, well, that could be debated
all day I guess, After all, what is folly,
and who's to say. A 'good,' proficient
hooker, even back then, was able to
pull in seven hundred bucks a day,
not all hers at all, of course. Others
took from that sum, but no matter.  
(This was August, 1967, remember).
She was the draw. Is that to be considered
folly? Being able to make, with your
own raw-material, so to speak, in that
way  -  if you were careful and stayed
healthy  -  twenty times what most
workaday stiffs made all their life.
It's probably ten or fifteen times that
now. So, calling folly 'folly' is a
sometimes folly, because you just
never know.  I never spoke up on
those counts, though I did frequent
two over-night coffee and food places
where any number of these working
girls hung out, freshened up, and even
'slumbered' between bouts. So I heard
a lot of stuff. My waitress friend in one,
named Tre, (I think it was Theresa)  -  she
was more the 'counter-girl' and not so much
a table waitress. It was a small dump  - 
used to tell stories of things she knew.
A real trip. I wrote a piece once, called
The Miasma Arms Hotel  -  it's the
opening chapter of one of these posted
memoir things I've got about. It's a good
one  -  about the night the place got wrecked
up over some problem with mob payoffs
and stuff. I had walked in, myself, with
a bloodied head, from another beating
elsewhere nearby, and she was tending
me and my head wound, and this other
buffoon came in  -  on an entirely other
mission  -  to take out the cook and the
manager; instead, he trashed the place
as they came at him with a baseball bat.
Yeah, it was a real adventure. So, forget
the folly part, the danger part was all
around me.
Sometimes you get in a situation, or into
situations, entirely of your own doing. That
was me. Before I knew it, on 11th street, 
thanks to my supposed new 'roommate' 
and sponsor, Andy Bonamo, I was knee 
deep in the middle of a raging drug-den, 
almost a commercially licensed place of 
commerce for drugs. Andy was kind of 
a creepy California guy. Lots of mystery,
and lots of cash. My first few weeks in
NYC, after my sleeping in the park for 
some days, he managed to befriend me 
while I worked at some stupid late-night 
ice-cream and hamburger joint next to 
the old Fillmore East. I used to have to
clean all the stainless steel, dairy surfaces. 
By the restaurant inspector's code, it had 
to be done daily, after hours, and it was 
a real pain in the butt. There were like 
thirty flavors of crummy ice cream, each 
in a metal tub, and all the utensils and
scoops, and mixers and the rest  -  all had 
to be swabbed down. However, with the 
mix and the concert-ending rush of freaks, 
addicts, losers, drunks, fighters and fornicators, 
we never really got much done, certainly 
never 'after-hours.' There never were any 
inspections, thankfully, but my cleaning and 
polishing and stuff was about as cursory as that 
hooker's bra coverage I mentioned earlier 
(her, not the bra). People were everywhere,
whether standing on their own or being propped
up by friends and lovers. Andy did a fierce 
nightly business of contraband commerce. 
It was often incredible. And noisy and unruly.
Every mad person there had the munchies,
or hunger pangs, or was just wailing about
one thing or another. Plus, half of them ended
up buying weed, or whatever. Andy had it
all. One night then, instead of me going back to
the park (Tompkins) to sleep on the Summer
grass by the bandshell, he told me that he
lived in a room above the marquee of the
Second Avenue Theater, (it used to be a quite
famous Jewish Vaudeville type venue, about
1900 or so, when lower Second Ave. there
was the Jewish 42nd street), and that I was
welcome to 'crash' on his floor, for free, or,
even better some hot nights, step out the
large crank-out window and sleep out on
the marquee. Which was done. Very nifty.
The room was large and sprawling, and 
white. I liked it, but didn't know much 
else about it: what he paid, how he got it, 
nor for how long. Two weeks later I had 
found my own apartment on 11th street,
#509, next to the old Paradise Alley beatnik
and then biker den, and Andy stepped up
to take all this off my shoulders. ($60 bucks
a month  -  which sum was forever after that
first month paid in drugs to the really shifty
superintendent on the first floor. We were on
the second. The lease was signed by me, but
he too moved in and took it over, gladly, from
my point of view. I never paid a red cent.
The place was a totally, basic, rudimentary 
shithole, with no real furnishings at first either.
That all got taken care of in time  -  cast-offs and
finds. Plus there was this oddball furnishings
place at the corner of 8th Street and Fifth called
Zuma, which, in an almost lady-like fashion,
Andy would browse and buy from. He kept 
cowboy boots (this is real, no bs) lined up against
the wall in the side room, each boot filled with
coins of a different value. One boots for dimes, 
one for quarters, one for nickels, as it went. His
command to me was, for whatever I needed  -  
subway, food, socks, whatever  -  to dip my hand
in and take whatever I needed or wanted, as need
arose. Caveat: 'Don't get greedy, and don't be an
asshole over this. It's my business going here.'
The few times my girlfriend came by, waiting 
for me, or looking for me, whatever, (I was most
often at the Studio School), he set her on her way
again loaded up with suitable coinage. (Believe
me, it was chaste). Eventually, more and more
of that 'commerce' ended up at 11th Street, in
addition to the commerce at the ice cream shop.
The guy was an operator. Lots of shit happened,
maybe I'll get to some of it later, but suffice it to
say Andy Bonamo, whoever he was  -  clean-cut,
a little older, maybe 32, orderly, with an apparent
head for 'business,' shall we say, was probably a
narc setting up a network to bust. As eventually 
came down. More later.
If it was an ambush, a trap or a set-up being laid or
prepared, I foolishly walked right in to it but was gone
by the time anything nasty happened. Which did occur.
Maybe more later (Hey! Am I baiting you in? Am I
holding the reader?)......I lost track of Andy Bonamo,
forever  -  don't know what ever happened to him, or
even if that name was real. But he was no prize at
all compared to the big, hulking Mayan dude who 
also worked there. He said he was some Central
American/Mexican type of Indian, most recently
on the lam from Colorado, where he'd pushed his
wife out of a speeding car going around a cliff and 
a bend, he said, to her death. He said. I could
never figure that, nor picture it either  -  drive
fast, holding the curve close, opening a door, and 
pushing someone out? Mayan Magic, for sure,
but I think that was the name of some drug.

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