An everyday super-hero/mensch, with much more than bagels, college tuition payments and a 25 year tennis rivalry on my mind. After a near miss at fame as an actor in NYC, I became stage-dad to the canine equivalent of Morris the Cat. When my dog’s career came to an untimely close – think Anna NicoleSmith without a 2nd round rise from the ashes – I put NYC in the past and I'm still wrestling with cross cultural challenges on the left coast. I've mustered pocket change as a gonzo international entrepreneur making deals for assorted widgets in Asia. I introducedgraffiti/ urban tagging to the Inner Mongolianterritories. I've been hit by lightning, kidnapped in China and possessed the largest collection of Dylan tapes in sub-saharan Africa. I think Craiglist Missed Connections is the bay area antidote to CSI. My teleportation experiments can now retard the spoilage of food. For the past few years, I've returned to writing / performing more personal tales.
Spalding Gray, Hunter S. Thompson, Del Close, Larry David
An Asshole In My Prime
I have issues. So many issues, so little time.
I’m a bona-fide ex New Yorker, a healthy neurotic NY Jew, living in the tranquility of the Bay Area – wrestling all the cross-cultural challenges and issues of an ex New Yorker living in SF. I’m a worried man with a worried mind. I don’t even know if this is funny and I’m already worried about that too.
I might have peaked already…might be all downhill from here.
(all neurotic nerve synapses firing at headbanging speeds).
This ex-New Yorker living in SF – it’s like:
Mercury is always in retrograde
Everything Might Be A Big Mistake
Living here - I’m a diabetic in a candy store
Homer Simpson at an all you can eat buffet
(I almost said Hunter S. Thompson line, I’m an “errie trumpet call over a lost battlefield.”
I need more memory – my RAM is overloaded; think of Long Day’s Journey Into Night and stuff like I have more of a past than a future and a living thing is a memory which acts and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – otherwise this tale will morph into totally dark version and I’ll feel like a Cat On A Hot Tin Roof – trust me we don’t want to go there.
Like Madonna, I read the Kaballah every day – “something sacred is at stake at every event” – me and Madonna sitting in a tree….
I find it refreshing when I’m backing into a metered parking space in the very trumanshow like town of Montclair and someone attempts to steal my parking space. There are certain tenets of civilization at stake. I calmly approach the parking space stealer and ask, “Exactly how far are you willing to take this?”
Unlike most Berkeley denizens, I don’t view long lines at the Berkeley bowl or Whole Paycheck as an opportunity to get to know my neighbors on line. On line, in line, have a catch, play catch, all these syntactic differences…who knew?
Issue with “What Happens in Baghdad Stays in Baghdad.” But local issues.
You probably don’t want to be talking really loudly on a cell phone (especially Blue Tooth) in a crowded elevator with me, or employing unique toothpicking styles or flossing w/ relish (not actual relish but could work too) at a restaurant table across from mine, or sharing a relaxing Esalen whirlpool with me while pontificating too proudly on subjects you know nothing about. You may or may not want to be in Café du Nord w/ me but you definitely don’t want to be in a crowded airport jail cell w/ me.
There’s an old Yiddish expression. A “Schlamiel” is the kind of moron who’d spill his hot borscht soup in someone’s lap. A “Schlamazzle” is the fool who gets that hot borscht spilled on him. And a “Schmendrick” is the sucker who cleans it all up.
Unfortunately, this is a true story. (Del Close line – guy that started 2nd City in Chicago – just cause something didn’t happen, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.)
I worked for a company based in Beijing, China. So I flew. A lot. I used my own pharmaceutical cocktail melange of melatonin-tylenol pm-valium chased w/ a nice Chardonnay to get me through the 15-18 hour flights.
On a recent flight, I deplaned at SFO. My mind was still fuzzy from the drug cocktail and the fact that I’m magically landing in the US an hour before I left China. (International Dateline stuff). As I always do, I check to see if any ex-Nazis are traveling incognito. Because, goddamn it, somebody has to….
I'm outside the baggage area and spot a guy hopping into a cab, abandoning his rented luggage cart. You know those carts…the ones you don’t usually have to buy, ‘cause somebody’s always abandoning theirs? Well this guy has clearly relinquished his luggage cart and released it into the public domain. (same as never parking in a lot and using my parking space karma – same w/ luggage carts – don’t know why.)
I put my hand on the cart's handle, glad I got it before someone else ran over to grab it, when a hand reaches OUT OF THE CAB WINDOW and grabs ahold of the cart handle. It’s the previous luggage-cart owner’s hand.
A voice says, "Yo buddy, I want $3 for the cart. I paid and you should too."
My first reaction is "maybe this guy’s from NY”. But then I realize that – no – I’m about to enter into another episode of my own continuing series…"DUELLING ASSHOLES!"
Now, I may be an asshole, but I’m not a complete fucking idiot. (actually I like to think of myself as a “Selective Nicest – other people might think of me as An Asshole in His Prime. Whether my panoply of flaws are greater or lesser than other peoples’, that’s whole other story.) I quickly calculate that my nemesis is NOT a 450 lb Sumo wrestler or a multiply handicapped paraplegic so neither my mortality nor my sense of fair play are at risk.
I try to imagine Lou Reed needing heroin really, really bad as I fix my gaze on the gentleman in the back of this taxicab and wonder “how far AM I willing to take this?” I remember Gandhi and our mutual preference for non-violence. But cut me some slack here…he gave up the cart and I’m clearly in the right.
Ever so subtle, I throw myself onto the luggage cart and grab the handle. A crowd has gathered, by now, to watch this spectacle.
Unfortunately, the previous cart “owner” calls my bluff…leaping OUT of his cab, throwing a VERY well read porno magazine at me… he calls me a "mook and a needledick" (all my life I’ve waited to be called a “Mook” – like de Niro in Mean Streets in pool hall and he says “you called Me a Mook?”, anyway, the guy calls me a mook and a needledick & positions himself for a fistfight. Now, to me, it wouldn't matter if he was white, black, brown, Hasidic Jew, Christian, Mormon, Hare Krishnan, Mennonite, etc. (On 2nd thought, I think I would have liked the imagery of fighting w/ a Hare Krishnan and the odds might have been more in my favor – how many people, in their lifetime, get to have a fight w/ a Hare Krishnan). And I am very well aware of how people often speak of groups of people as a collective, and not as individuals.
And that is bad.
But it definitely did not help, in the eyes of some significant others, and for political correctness purposes, that this guy was dressed in full MOSLEM attire. No judgements here whatsoever, in my mind, you have one asshole Jew, (moi), and one asshole Arab, sort of like a metaphor for the decades old Israeli/Palestian conflict, but we're outside an airport, and not nearly long enough after 9/11.
He calls me a "Fucking Asshole!"
I bite my lip and say, "Hey, MR. ARTICULATE ONE, if you write like you talk, nobody will read you." And then I mumble, "I'll take a Begin and Sadat, please hold the Arafat."
I duck just in time and he narrowly misses me with his first punch.
I hadn't been in a fight for 20 years. All I could think of doing was grabbing his head in a headlock and giving him noogies. Things take on a life of their own. He’s screaming that he's been in jail… doesn't care about going back to jail… he was going to fuck me up… and if I have CHILDREN… he was going to KILL MY CHILDREN. (This is over a $3.00 rental luggage cart.) From the corner of my eye, I sense lights flashing, multiple police, National Guard….
I let out a nervous chuckle when Bam! A well-executed roundhouse hook hits my head and I enter that warm, gentle, confused zone between the fist and the rapidly approaching sidewalk. It’s an out-of-body experiential playground. The kind of space where epiphanies seem to grow on trees. I’m delirious, I think I’m fighting Gandhi, the cops look like Charleton Heston and aliens at an NRA rally, and, Moses-like, the Charleton Heston cop holds a gun aloft like he did after the Columbine shootings, swearing you could only take his gun when you pried it from his cold dead fingers….
(crystal night of time, curled leaves burning, hungry horses crying, a moment when the wind blows the leaves off the trees, there is no curfew…..(I just like saying that.)
Next thing I know, I’m awakened sitting in this cramped, over crowded holding cell. I have a splitting headache and the guy sitting next to me is shaking his leg so violently that it is driving me crazy. Plus I am hungry. (no matter what, Jews are always hungry).
They finally serve us some HOT soup in a paper bowl. Perhaps by accident, my bowl of HOT soup slips out of my hands and into the leg shaker’s lap. He jumps up and simultaneously pukes. The Charleton Heston looking cop comes in with a towel and a mop to clean it up. Instantly I feel vindicated. Though I lost the rental luggage cart, the fight, and, fyi, I lost my luggage…at least I wasn’t the leg shaking hot soup in his lap schlamazzel or the asshole schmendrick who had to clean it up.
Friends bail me out and I go home. I stay in bed a lot…dream that Gandhi was his high school's dodge ball champion. I hang out at a Mexican café named Rose's Cantina. I'm thinking of getting involved with a woman down the street who looks like my mother. And, by the way, my mother is a very beautiful woman. Though Jewish, she looks like Italian women on spaghetti sauce jars. And she has big breasts…and I like them….
But that's another story. As far as my mom, what happens in SF, stays in SF.
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