Blackhumouristpress's Blog

December 19, 2011

Occupy Detroit

 

 

 

It sounded silly at first as if someone was trying to be funny but it wasn’t a joke when a protestor by the name of Billy amassed people from all over North America and the world to occupy public space within the city of Detroit.

900,000 vacant lots within the city limits of Detroit and to occupy a blighted big city sounded almost charitable.  Bill was feeling anything but compassion for the city of Detroit and the United States in general.  Bill started off watching crowds of people on television in the Middle East fell leaders like Mubarak and Gaddafi.  It was en vogue to drop heads of state like at no time since the fall of the Soviet empire.  Billy joined people in occupying parks in places like Oakland and New York Cityonly to be returned home by Billy’s father’s deep pockets when it came time to bail him out.  Soon the idea came to Billy to amass as many dissatisfied, disenchanted, and downtrodden; serfs and petty bourgeoisie and set up camp around the General Motor’sRenaissance Center in the heart of downtown Detroit ironically enough called Hart Plaza.

            At first, Bill didn’t have many takers as most of his Detroit buddies who lived in metropolitan Detroit, knew that at night, late night, there were not a whole lot of people around downtown Detroit.  Sewer covers blew off steam like English tea kettles every few feet around desolate streets and sidewalks.  Every now and then you’d see a Chrysler 300 at a red light, waiting for no other cars to pass as the lights quietly turned from green to yellow and red.  Most police officers patrolled several blocks away in the more vibrant Greektown where middle class Detroiters could take a stay-cation at one of the casino hotels, eat at a fairly upscale restaurant and try to win their house out of foreclosure inside the casinos.  Those that stayed at the Hilton at the top of the GM Renaissance Center drove in by taxi or limousine and never had to venture out into the streets of Detroit.  The people the protesters were trying to harass were largely unreachable.  From up high, executives staying for a night or two could see the tents set up in the plaza.  Most thought it was some sort of Hooverville in a town with nearly 20% unemployment.

            The first Occupy Detroit gatherings were sort of pathetic as those who wanted to yell and scream at passersby took note of congregation of homeless men who actually danced to the sounds of a drummer who was leading a chant, “Bring out the 1%, bring out the 1%”.  The black homeless men wondered if somehow the population of white people had actually dropped to 1%.  The thought of white people being only 1% of the city of Detroit lead a few homeless people to wonder if they should pick up and move to other big cities where there was a larger pool of financially stable and generous white folk.  The native Detroiters felt sort of silly when nobody noticed them except a few Red Wing fans that cut through HartPlaza on their way to Joe Louis Arena to catch a game.  The hockey fans thought it was sort of dumb to camp outside in inner city Detroit but they politely ignored the small group.  Within a few days, the Detroit protestors packed up and went home without any fanfare.  No beatings, television crews, cops with night sticks or tear gas. Billy had to retool.  Billy read up on other charismatic leaders like Hitler, Jim Jones, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro and H. Ross Perot to see how it was that they were able to draw people to them.  Billy would never admit to reading Perot’s biography since he was in the top 1% of the top 1% but he read it nonetheless.

            Billy remembered Michael Moore’s movie called Roger and me and how Moore had hounded a GM executive named Roger Smith everywhere in order to get an explanation why it was that he closed GM plants in Flint, Michigan and so Billy wrote a letter to Moore in hopes that he might be willing to help a fellow antiestablishment native of Michigan. Mooreliked the idea quite a bit.  Michael Moore then used his larger base of fans and followers who hated the government, rich people and the mainstream in general and before long, Billy had close to a 1000 people who had descended upon Jefferson Avenue in front of the GM Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. Moorehad chosen a rare time when there were throngs of sports fans out to see the Detroit Lions on a Sunday afternoon and the Detroit Red Wings in the evening. Moore told Billy to get the people together at about five in the evening and think of something that would bring traffic to a screeching halt.  Billy had a great idea.

            Hundreds of football fans on their way to see a hockey game and hockey fans that had just seen a football game, were stopped by a large group of mostly young white people who were throwing metal spoons onto Jefferson Avenue in front of the General Motors building.  Bill felt like Che Guevara and Fidel Castro rolled up into one big Hugo Chavez.  Bill climbed up a statue that symbolized the city of Detroit onWoodward Avenue and spoke through a megaphone.  A few news trucks were out in front of the melee and filmed the action.  Bill was in heaven.

            The crowd quit banging drums and throwing metal spoons onto Jeffersonwhile Bill stood with his ratty looking red dread locks that hung like dirty rope over a Jamaican flag hoodie as he shouted into the amplification device.

            “I’ve been to Seattle and New York and Oakland to help the people of those cities get people to understand that we are being taken for a ride by our government, by the fat cats who own 85% of everything worth owning.  Look at that giant symbol of what the government involved itself in…  General Motors.  General Motors made a shit product and made the people at the top wealthy while working people on assembly lines lost their jobs.  What happened?  Your government gave your tax dollars to save a company that should have never failed.  General Motors was once the largest manufacturer of automobiles in the world and they became in danger of going under.  How does that happen?  Your government bailed out companies that have fucked us all in the ass…  How many people are out of jobs?  How many people have been foreclosed on?  Who has swooped up and bought up all these homes that once belonged to working people?  The very banks that have caused this fucking mess.  You starve and they eat cake with silver spoons in their mouths.  Well if they are in search of a spoon tonight, my friends let them come down to the streets ofDetroitto find one.  Millions of spoons for millionaires.  When are you going to wake up people?  When are you going to get up out of your chair and go to the window and yell that you’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore?”

            It was at that moment that a man by the name of Bob who owned a gun shop and riffle range in Northern Michigan, had decided that since the Lions were in danger of making the playoffs for the first time in years and that the Detroit Red Wings were in danger of making the playoffs for the 21st year in a row, that he would make the pilgrimage to the city of Detroit that epitomized everything that Bob disliked about America; Crime, racial tension, traffic, shopping malls, unemployment and rich white kids with nothing better to do than take up a liberal cause.  Bob decided to rip through Jefferson over the spoons in his large truck, sending protestors flying to the left and right of him.  A dozen or more people had leaned on a sign near the tunnel to Canada that read, Welcome to the United States of America.  The sign snapped off and flew into the windshield of Bob’s brand new GMC truck that had a hand painted sign on both sides and the back window that read, “Bob’s Emporium of armaments- The playground for those believe in the Bill of Rights.

            The windshield looked like a kaleidoscope after the heavy sign hit the windshield.  Bob exited the vehicle as his wife rolled down the passenger side window and calmly lit a cigarette and gazed at the mob that had filled the street.  Bob walked towards the sound of the voice and saw the slight figure yelling passionately into the megaphone.  Bill seemed like the ring leader of the band of misfits and so he pulled Billy down off of the symbol ofDetroitand gave him and ass beating like he had never had before.  The local news caught the whole the incident.  A large man in a Detroit Lions hat and a Red Wings Gordie Howe jersey beat the young man with the megaphone senseless.  Protestors through bottles and rocks at the Bob and before long, large groups of drunken football and hockey fans came to the rescue of Gordie Howe or at least a man wearing his jersey.  When the dust settled,Detroit had made the national and international news.  Possibly a million spoons littered Jefferson Avenue in front of the GM Renaissance Center and brought traffic to a stand still. Red Wing and Lions fans and protestors alike were taken into custody by the Detroit Police.  Billy was given his proverbial one call.  Billy called his father as he always did and expected to be bailed out without question once again.  Billy hated his father for being a rich and successful owner of a flatware company that had moved operations from the United States to China.  The spoons that were scattered all over the streets of Detroit came from a warehouse belonging to Billy’s father.  Billy, well known to everyone who worked for his father, loaded crate after crate of spoons into trucks from his father’s factory for the sole purpose of letting people know that the rich were born, living and dying with silver spoons in their mouths.  Billy’s father attitude had changed towards his son.  He was very firm and to the point with Billy who had cost him a lot of money by stealing his spoons.  Several millions.

            “I’m going to speak plainly to you, son.  The fake Rasta hair, no deodorant, Reggae listening, Haile Salassie is god bullshit was cute.  You thought you’d rebel against having life the easy way and I would just sit back and shrug my shoulders because I should have some sort of guilt for having money.  I have no guilt, son.  I don’t know a man alive who ever claimed to have enough money and today, you cost me a whole lot of money.  Your father is part of the 1% and you thought you might try to punish me at a tremendous expense by taking my spoons.  You’ve dubbed yourself the new voice for the poor and people of color, right?  A modern day Lenin waiting for the revolution to take hold in the streets of Detroit.  It isn’t coming, Billy. Well I want you to know that you are going to work to pay off your debt.  You want to ally yourself with the poor and ordinary man.  You’re going to be right there with them now.  Reading Marx and hating me while I put you through college and this is what I get… A big bill for all your pseudo communist bullshit.  Here’s the deal, son; you will learn what it is like to truly work for one solid year or I will see to it that you spend your time in jail for what you’ve done.  This is America, son.  A free country and one where you have choices and so I give you the choice, if I bail you out this time, you go to work for one year, no days off or you can say no and know that I will do all I can with my pull and connections to see that you do at least a year for your brash stupidity.  When some lifer is lining your ass up in the shower like a Penn State date, you’ll wish you had joined the proletariat…  The choice is yours to make.”

            In a factory in a remote part of China, where people wear medical masks over their faces at all times and are forced to breathe the air that has a strange tint to it when the light of day illuminates the sky, works Billy.  Behind him wearing a suit is a young black man, whose only job is to watch and live with Billy 24 hours a day for a year.  The day after Billy’s father bailed him out of jail; Billy’s father ordered a shake at a fast food restaurant and offered a job to a young man that was mopping a floor who was roughly the same age as Billy.  The young man went from making minimum wage to a half million dollars in a year and his only job was to make sure Billy worked every day, twelve hours a day, loading silverware into boxes to be shipped to the head quarters in Detroit,Michigan.  Hundreds of sullen Chinese stood in front of an assembly line, collecting spoons, knives and forks with one young white American.  Jefferson, who just the week before had to take two buses to make just over $200.00 a week, was dressed in nice clothes, had a chauffeur and a nice apartment that he shared with Billy.  Billy’s father sent Jefferson a text, thanking him for taking the $500,000.00 dollar job that came with a bonus of a new car and a condo if Billy could complete the year without fail. Jefferson replied to Billy’s father.

            NO THANK YOU, SIR.  AND THANK YOU FOR KEEPING THE AMERICAN DREAM ALIVE AND WELL.  GOD BLESS YOU, SIR.

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November 12, 2011

The Beat Your Ass Cafe

 

Patrice Fort was born and raised in a really small town that most people never heard of in Alberta.  For those of you in the states, Alberta is a province, which is sort of like a state except that it is not a state.  The Fort family slowly moved from the Plaines of Abraham near Quebec City and over the years kept moving west like the Mormons in search of a new town called Springfield.  The Forts wound up in no place Alberta.

Fort, if you know the French language, means strong and Patrice was the epitome of a Cro-Magnon man of the modern age.  Patrice was a hair over six feet tall and weighed 250 lbs.  Patrice was a solid mass of muscle like a human pit-bull.  At a young age, Patrice learned that his ice hockey skills were mediocre at best.  Patrice was not fast and did not make the best decisions on the ice nor did he have the best shot.  Patrice was able to fight and from the age of thirteen, Patrice never lost a fight.

The thing that scared people most about Patrice when they were faced with fighting him was that there was no anger or malice.  It was just something he was born and bred to do and so he would pummel opponents who messed with the premier players on whatever team he happened to be playing on.  It was during juniors that life suddenly changed for Patrice.

Patrice’s Quebec junior team had gone south to New York City to play in a tournament sponsored by some bank that no longer exists in the states.  Patrice had never been to a city as large as New York and had never imagined so much humanity crammed into such a small space in a place like Manhattan.  Patrice went into a Starbucks and ordered a tall hot chocolate and watched the unique people that walked down the sidewalk near Times Square.   From the Starbucks window, for Patrice it was like watching a freak show at the circus. There were so many different types of people, in varying sizes and shapes. An older woman of about sixty years of age came up and spoke to Patrice in a way he had never heard before.  Even though the woman was older, she was shapely and confident.

“Many years have come and gone man and you’re one of the last relics of the Neanderthal period, man.  All swelled up with muscles and I suppose you never took one supplement… Man, dig that crazy tune.”

Herbie Hancock was playing Cantaloupe Island over the speakers in the Starbucks.  The woman put her hand on Patrice’s large forearm and closed her eyes as the song played.  Patrice looked at the strange woman and sort of dug the tune that softly played.

“People are always saying that this or that is the shit.  I’m here to tell you that this is the true shit, man.  You weren’t around when this shit was devised.  People were swinging to Benny Goodman and then cats like Herbie came round and opened people’s eyes to music that could speak without words.  1964, we all thought the world would end, man.  Kennedy killed and a cowboy with his hands on the nuclear button, man.  Beatles came and what did they say?  They said too much but listen to this here, man.  I know you can feel it, cave man,  baby…  I bet you’re hung like a horse.”

It was the first time that Patrice had ever had sex with a woman and the woman was older than his own mother and twice as shapely.  There were very few sags and lumps on the old Beatnik woman. They made love, if you want to call it that, several time over the course of an afternoon while listening to cool Jazz and hearing the woman read Beat Poetry by Ginsberg and Kerouac.  Patrice left the small basement apartment in Manhattan and was never the same.

As the years went on, teammates came to understand that Patrice was a bit out there but they respected the difference.  And wouldn’t respect a man who could kill them with his bare hands.  On planes and trains, Patrice listened to Coltrane, Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk through earphones and wrote poetry.

What colour is blue when the sky is gray.  Walk down the streets of Detroit like I came from Mars, come to visit bars full of coulorful coloured folk and they think they know me because the press wants to own me, ride me, pride me like a pony and it’s phony.  Won’t eat gluten. I’m free like Putin who wants to keep Russia from anarchy after the fall of The Wall and Soviet dynamo.  The Red Army Team came to town when I was young.  Ate biscuits and drank coffee in a vast land.  I followed the road from Alberta to everywhere, man.  Everywhere is nowhere and yet I’m somewhere between where I should be and where I am.  Sit in the shade  sipping wine no words to this Monk tune that rolls through my mind.  If the colour blue is true, I hold out hope for me and you…  Coltrane, last train try in vain…  Gonna sit outside in Portugal or Spain and write a few words on the balcony in the rain…  Rinse and repeat that, Cat.

 

Now to you and I, words strung together such as this meant little or nothing.  A long stream of unconsciousness.  Patrice was traded from Phoenix, to San Jose to Boston and then went to Nashville and landed in Detroit at minimum wage for the NHL.  The Detroit Red Wings were a finesse team that really did not need a lug or a goon to go out and fight to protect the true hockey players of the team.  The fighters were an outdated necessity from days gone by of clutch and grab hockey a la Philadelphia in the 1970’s.  Detroit grabbed Patrice and never really played him until one day against Chicago, a heated rival who happened to be winning the game and taunted the Detroit team.  The Detroit coach, Mike Babcock, nodded to Patrice, who on his first shift, beat up two Chicago players and mistakenly punched a referee.  From that point on, Patrice had a home in the hearts of Detroit Red Wing fans.

Most people don’t know the story behind the finger snapping when Patrice takes the ice.  To those from out of town or watching on Versus, it may sound like the theme from the Adams Family is being played.  Before long, large groups of Beatnik poetry types who frequented Patrice’s café in the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck, began going to Detroit Red Wing games, wearing jerseys that had the name FORT on the back.  Scruffy faced young men who appeared to be anti-sports, showed up wearing Red Wing jerseys, snapping their fingers violently whenever Patrice got on the ice or fought.  Before long, everyone got in on the act.  It was like throwing octopus on the ice.

After home games in Hamtramck on Jos Campau there is a Beatnik café where people drink and read poetry to Jazz.  It is called, Beat Your Ass Café.  It is nothing more than an old Polish watering hole that Patrice bought to host poetry readings and feature live Jazz.  On the walls are pictures of some of Patrice’s best fights with the dates and names of opponents. Patrice usually appears after games and reads his latest poetry while young Jazz musicians play behind him and others.  It is standing room only after Red Wing games.  Dig that.

May 2, 2011

Boris the Greatest or The Ice Cream Socialist

            Boris’s father played ice hockey in the oldSoviet Unionfor ЦСКА Москва otherwise known as Красная Армия.  For those of you who don’t read in Cyrillic, it was the infamous Red Army team.  Boris’s father had told him many times about the exhibition games he had played against NHL teams back in 1976 and how his team had dominated theUSSRleague right up until the end.  It had always been Boris’s dream to play for the same team as his father.

            At the age of nineteen, Boris had entered the KHL and ripped up.  He led the league in penalty minutes, goals and assists.  Boris could stick handle in a phone booth, skate like the wind and fight with the toughest of the toughest.  It had not gone unnoticed by the NHL.

            The Detroit Red Wings grew tired of being a contender but not a team that could any longer win the Stanley Cup.  The Swedes were excellent but they just weren’t winning the way the Red Wings were when they had the Russians.  The Red Wings found success with Kozlov, Larionov, Federov, Konstantinov and Fetisov.  When all five were on the ice for a power play, it was quite and exercise for the announcers.

            Of course the Red Wings had the great Pavel Datsyuk but they wanted a similar player like Pavel who could be rough.  Big Boris was drafted by the Red Wings and started his rookie year at the age of twenty four.

            Boris made a good living inRussiain the KHL but the money the Detroit Red Wings were offering him was absurd.  The brash young Russian put on a red Detroit Red Wing jersey at a press conference with the number 0 on the back and only his first name.  The Red Wings had to get permission to use a first name only and the number 0.  The league granted both.  The first press conference went something like this:

Press- Boris, what is your last name?

Boris- Eet tiz Boris only.  Jus like Bono andCher.

Press- It was Sonny Bono…

Boris- Wat!  Stupid, man… Next question

Press- How do you think you will do in the NHL?

Boris- Cis league ees you know gut but Boris ees the greatest.  I’m like Mohammad Ali of hockey,      

          Man.  I’m gonna make hockey a sport in cis country like it ees eenCanada…  You see.

            Boris first year, he scored the most goals, assists and had more fights by himself than the rest of the team had in total.  Boris had a beautiful wife and a giant compound of a home within the city ofDetroit.  Boris bought up a whole city block and turned it into a villa.  He grew grapes on his villa and sold his fortified sweet red called, Five Buck Boris.  It was twenty percent alcohol and had a hammer and sickle under his smiling face with a missing tooth.  Boris could be found at casinos inDetroitmost nights and there were pictures of him in the papers with various black women.  Several black women claimed that Boris was the father of their children.  When questioned about siring so many out of wedlock children with black women, he innocently answered.

            “Zee womens love Boris and I loves zee womens.  All womens not jus black ones.”

            And that statement was untrue.  Boris’s beautiful blond wife returned toRussiato make films again and divorced Boris.  When that happened, Boris was like a child without parents. Boris gambled and had wild parties.  The Red Wings hired a Russian driver to be Boris’s personal nanny.

            Vlad was paid handsomely by the Red Wings to drive Boris to and from Joe Louis Arena to his villa just north and west of downtown.  Vlad’s mother came to Boris’s fifteen bedroom house and cooked her famous Baklazhanovaya Irka recipe and borscht.  Boris loved Vlad’s mother’s cooking and loved Boris like a brother.  It wasn’t long before Boris had corrupted Vlad.  Vlad’s job was to troll the casinos and dance clubs and invite beautiful black women back to his compound.  Boris would invite rappers and basketball players to party at his nightclub within the compound that was within his villa.  Boris had a ten thousand foot nightclub with lights, smoke machines and a fantastic sound system.  Boris reasoned that if he could not hang out at the clubs, he would create his own.  Black basketball players would show up to his parties with white women while their black wives were at home and Boris did the opposite. Boris was an underground hit with Hip-Hop culture inDetroit.  Before long, Boris made his own video called, Boris in the D.  The video was a Youtube sensation and aired occasionally on BET.  Snoop Dog did a cameo as did Kid Rock on the video.  The hook of the song went as follows:

            Boris in the D playing hockey…  Joe Louis Arena and the bitches love me.  Bullet proof Mercedes, lots of ladies, riches, bitches, 100 proof…  Boris in the D, gonna put you through the roof.  The roof, the roof, put you through the roof.  The roof, the roof, put you through the roof.

            Images of Boris scoring, stick handling and fighting flashed along with images of him lifting weights, running, swimming and then driving in a convertible Mercedes stuffed with young smiling black women in sunglasses and bikinis.  It wasn’t long before the highlife caught up with Boris and Vlad.

            Vlad was fired by the Detroit Red Wings and hired by Boris as well as a dozen other young men that were part of the entourage of body guards.  An average night for Boris was to play hockey, dress, visit the casinos, send Vlad out to invite women over to the compound.

            “Excuse me, missus…  Dat ees Boris dee Greatest over there.  He is not at leisure to speak to you at thees time because he ees with the daughter of the owner of the Detroit Red Wings but would like to know eef you vood be interested to join heem at he’s home not far from here to have a drink and get to know you gut…  You can bring you friend too.”

            Most women understood that it was just a romp for the night, a chance to ooh and ahh over a palace within the city limits ofDetroit, drink, have some sex and disappear again.  One particular woman decided that she was not going to be just like the other women in his life.

            Felicia was a tall black woman with high cheekbones and a dimple on her left cheek.  She wanted to be a singer and a movie star and did not want to be just another conquest for a celebrity.  Felicia was content being who she was for the most part. Felicia went to Boris’s compound and refused to get drunk and have sex with Boris.  Boris was stunned.  An unbelievably beautiful black woman with a voluptuous frame and pretty face had turned down Boris.  Boris took it as a challenge.  It was like finding a goalie that he could not score against.  He had to find a way to put the puck in the net to add to his statistics.  Boris had to find away to convince a beautiful woman with standards and morals to give in to his flashy temptations.

            “You know dare ees a lot of vimans thaat vood like to be where you are tonights…”

            “Boris, you are a handsome man with a lot of money and I have to say it was poor judgment on my part to come and have dinner with you tonight.  If you thinking you bout to get you a piece of ass, Imma tell you, you wrong.  I ain’t a bitch or a ho.  Imma beautiful Christian woman that got to go to bed with myself at the end the night and atone for my actions.  So I don’t know whatchu thought inviting me all up in yo Dee-troit Kremlin west.  You thank you the tsar and Jesus Christ all rolled up into one sharp suit.  I’m looking for a gentleman who appreciate me for who I am and willing to do some work to see the fruit of thy labor…”

            “Vat?  I don’t know vat you are sayink…  Eet ess a lot of sound but don’t having meaning for Boris.  You saying you vant to be the one woman een my life?  Come on…  There ees a lot of Boris the world ees needing.”

            Boris went on drinking and partying and fornicating as well as fighting, stick handling and scoring goals.  Things were going well for the Detroit Red Wings.  It looked as though they were going to cake walk into the finals and manhandle their opponent in the Eastern Conference for the Stanley Cup.  Boris seemed unhappy and bored with life.  Vlad asked him what it was that he could do to make Boris happy again: more cars, more women, more parties, a trip toMiami.  Boris responded by pursing his lips and banging his fist on the table.

            “Nobody weens over Boris.  Boris ees thee wiener at all times.  How can Boris be the greatest and still hear no?  I vill vin thees thing…  You vill see Vladi.”

            Felicia had received flowers to make a florist jealous, calls to have dinner and drinks but Felicia would not respond to Boris.  After dozens of phone calls, Felicia answered the phone to send Boris off once and for all.

            “Look you Russian Valentino…”

            “Who?  Thees ees Boris.  Who ees thees Valentino.  I vill beating heem like dog.”

            “No means no, Boris.  I want more than you can or want to offer.  I want a man who wants me and ain’t running around all over, planting seeds wherever he be allowed to.”

            “Seeds?  Vat ees seeds?”

            “You cain stop calling me now.  I ain’t going wid you now or never.  You got a whole lot of women takin in by your world.  Go send yo boy to find them.”

            After the Red Wings had won the Stanley Cup, Boris did not return toRussiaor take off for tropical places.  He hired a woman to teach Boris about the bible and Jesus and Christianity in general for about a month before he decided to show up at the Motor City Missionary-Baptist Church within the city limits of Detroit.  Boris walked into the church and took a seat in the back, wearing an off white suit with a pair of sunglasses.  His three Russian body guards stood in the back of the church with black suits and sunglasses on.  Many in the church had ideas on who the FBI agents were there to nab.  Even the minister of the church had some thoughts that the white men were there for them.  Nobody recognized Boris the Greatest, the best hockey player in the NHL and savior of white hockey loving people in theDetroitmetropolis. 

            The minister sweated as he began to give his sermon.  He decided to inquire as to who the visitors were to their black only church.

            “It appears as though we have some new folks that have joined us today… Brother, what’s your name and where are you from?”

            “My name ees Boris and I am fromMoscowbut leave right here eenDetroitnow.  I verk here een the city ofDetroitfor a team you are having called the Red Wings…  Maybe you are knowing them?”

           A laugh went up in the church as people suddenly recognized the face and accent.  They were stymied as to why a white, Russian, partying, hockey playing, brash young man, would enter a poorly air conditioned black church at8:30amon a Sunday.

            “Romans 2:1 says and I quotes, “You therefore, have no excusing, you who pass judgments on someone else…  Uh… You condemning youself because you passing judgments. John 8:7  as you are knowing says, “if any one of you ees without sinning let her picks up a rock now and throw eet at me.”

            Boris boldly walked up and took the hand of the ravishing woman who was singing in the choir and kissed   her hand as he kneeled before her.  It was a penalty shot, one on one with the goalie who had stoned him so many times earlier.  Boris pulled out everything he had for the shot.  The puck went in the net.

            Vlad goes to bars and drinks alone or with other friends and tells people in his heavy Russian accent how for a few years, he was the body guard and personal bitch fetcher for Boris.  Vlad told stories of driving drunk, bagging women and the number of celebrities that hung out at the compound.  The question at the end of the story was always the same and Vlad always had the answer.

            “Every man needs to learn that he can lose…  And sometimes ven you lose, you winning.  The von who made Boris losing von.  Dat ees the one he needed.  Dat ees the one he gots now…  So sad for me.  No more parties, just backyard barbeques and church.  My man sings in the choir… and is an ice cream socialist…”

January 13, 2011

Drunk Driving the Dog

            Horatio Kiss made a pile of money or as the saying goes, hand over fist, getting drunks to beat the drunken driving laws in the state of Michigan.  Horatio was an attractive man with a televangelist’s smile, with perfect hair and good speaking voice.  Business got so good that Horatio began to do commercials on local television in Detroit.  His commercials began with kissing lips and a red imprint of lips across his own forehead that he would wipe off with a handkerchief.

            “Drunk driving is not a laughing matter; you need the professionals at Horatio Kiss and Associates to help you wipe away that DUI.”

            Horatio would then tuck the handkerchief into his breast pocket and point at the camera and exclaim, “Get the facts, get the help you need.  At Horatio Kiss and Associates we have handled every type of DUI charge imaginable.  We can get you that dismissal, we can get you that re-instatement today… Begin to wipe away that DUI now.”

            Peter Francis Geraci had been the most recognized commercial attorney in Michigan with all the bankruptcies and foreclosures. All those broke and evicted people then needed another attorney when they turned to alcohol to ease the pain when they operated vehicles while intoxicated.  Horatio became their man.

            It was no joke; Horatio was very good at getting drunks off the hook.  Many people were nailed dead to rights by the Michigan State Police or in the city of Detroit or surrounding municipalities.  An officer would often come into court and explain why he stopped a potentially drunk vehicle operator and then Horatio would go to work on that officer.

            “Officer Whipple…  Have you ever changed a station on your radio in the car?”

            “Yes.”

            “Have you ever drank or eaten something while operating a vehicle?”

            “Yes.”

            “Have you ever spoken on a phone or answered a radio call in your squad car while it was moving, while operating it?”

            “Yes.”

            “Have you ever swerved while doing this?”

            “I’m not certain.”

            “So you could have swerved but you are unaware of ever doing it while doing everyday things that everyone does without taking a drop of alcohol.  Is that correct, officer?”

            “It is possible I suppose…”

            “Are you a diabetic, Officer Whipple?”

            “No sir…”      

            “Were you aware that the defendant is a diabetic and that he was on the phone with Walgreen’s placing an order for insulin when you stopped him for erratic driving which was nothing more than driving on the lane marker but not crossing it.  This man was about to go into shock and yet you would hear none of it.  Am I correct, officer?”

            “He refused a sobriety test and in my experience this is usually guilt by denial.  We never discussed diabetes.”

            “The defendant was not allowed to discuss diabetes, officer…”

            And so on.  Horatio understood that most obese people needed insulin and since most people were obese, he could use that argument.  Horatio pulled many rabbits out of hats to help clearly drunk motorists beat the rap.  Aside from diabetes, Horatio used insomnia, head injuries, poor vision that had been since corrected, contractions, menstrual cramping, vertigo due to ear wax blockage, recent deaths in the family, divorce, loss of jobs, homes and even once a drop in stocks.  Horatio was good and everyone knew it.  Horatio could stuff an elephant through the eye of a needle and many knew he was capable of explaining why it was necessary and plausible.  Horatio was the Houdini of DUI defense.

            Horatio had a brother by the name of Helmut who was Horatio’s twin brother.  Helmut was not a fraternal twin and unless people were told, they would never guess that Horatio and Helmut were even brothers.  Helmut was tall, obese, loud and drunk most of the time.  He went to strip clubs and never missed a Detroit Red Wings home game.  Helmet had a job dropping off medical supplies between nursing homes in Ann Arbor and Oakland County in the town of Wixom.  People who knew Helmut called him The Pontiac Trailer Trash but not to his face.  Helmet lived in a trailer and drove a 1977 AMC Hornet that had belonged to their grandparents who had willed it to Helmut before they died.  A coat hanger held the muffler to the car and he drove with the windows open because exhaust fumes would enter through the rotten floor boards.  All Helmut could get on radio was AM stations and so Helmet listened to a Detroit sports talk station on AM  radio and even got a five minute call in show which he was not paid for where he would rant or rave about the Red Wings.  The only reason Helmut was given the show was because he was the brother of the famous Horatio Kiss and because Helmut showed up to every Red Wings home game with his English Bulldog who he named, Delvecchio after a former ice hockey hall of fame player by the name of Alex Delvecchio who played for the Red Wings during the days of the Original Six.

  Helmut and Delvecchio would walk around Joe Louis Arena before games and Delvecchio wore a red sweater with the Red Wing logo on it and the name Delvecchio.  Delvecchio the dog also wore a custom fit white CCM helmet with Red Wing logos on both sides.  Helmet would yell like a drunken frat boy and high five anyone and everyone who would acknowledge him and his dog.  Helmet would then valet park his AMC Hornet with the windows cracked and the motor running so that his dog would not die of carbon monoxide or freeze while he went into Joe Louis Arena to watch a game.

            It was on New Year’s Eve that the Detroit Red Wings were taking on the New York Islanders.  For those in the know, the lowly Islanders stood a slim chance of ever stealing a win from the mighty Red Wings especially at home and on the last night of the year.

            Helmut left his home early to parade Delvecchio around downtown Detroit.  They walked by Campus Martius where Detroiters were skating at the outdoor ice rink, he walked up and down the streets in Greektown and then took Delvecchio on the People Mover at the Cadillac Center, past Greektown, The Renaissance Center, the financial district and then on to Joe Louis Arena.  Patrons of the people mover all wanted to pet the panting, slobbering Delvecchio with his cute sweater and helmet on his head.  Japanese tourists usually took family pictures with Helmut and the dog and then tipped him.  Helmut didn’t mind.

            Horatio was more of a basketball fan than a hockey fan and so Horatio rarely made it to The Joe.  It just so happened that a wealthy client who had a son that got arrested with a fictitious license, got into a car accident while intoxicated.  It was a trifecta for the arresting officer: suspended license, fake identification and an accident while intoxicated.  The son of the wealthy real estate speculator racked up fines that exceeded $50,000.00 and a potential felony for falsifying his identity.  The wealthy real estate man was a huge hockey fan and wanted to discuss Horatio’s plan of action between periods at the hockey game.  They were fantastic seats, center ice about ten rows back.

            It was at the end of the game when Horatio fought his way to a men’s bathroom on the way out of the arena that he recognized a distinct voice.  It was the voice of his twin picking a fight with some fans from Long Island in New York.

            “Fuck the Rangers, fuck the Devils, fuck Mike Bossy, fuck Long Island, fuck Long Island Ice Tea, fuck your stupid accents and the fucking Islanders…  This is what I think of your fucking Islanders…”

            Helmut pulled out his penis and began urinating in the sink in full view of every man waiting in line to relieve themselves before they burst.  Other Detroit fans cheered in the bathroom as Helmut clasped his hands over his head as if he had won a prize fight.  Horatio grabbed his brother and escorted him towards his car, lecturing him all the way.  Horatio collected Delvecchio from the overheating AMC and paid to have the car stored overnight. 

            “Bro, you don’t understand cause you’re not a fan.  We got Pavel out, Cleary, Modano and now Stewart and they just got fucking lucky.  I don’t like nobody coming into my home and talking smack.  It’s smack bro, that’s all.  I’m just trying to have a good time and enjoy a game and welcome in the baby new year, that’s all.  Delvecchio and me are gonna stop by a few places to have a nip and then we’ll be on our way,” said a slurring Helmut.

            Delvecchio was panting profusely while he sat on Helmut’s lap.  Drool was getting all over the dashboard of Horatio’s Escalade which had just been detailed.  Horatio lost his cool.

            “I am tired of saving your ass every time you do something stupid.  Bringing the dog to games, getting wasted, pissing in sinks in a public building…  I can’t save you from yourself, Helmy.  When are you going to grow up?”

            The lecture made Helmut sad.  He began to cry.  The immense amount alcohol which was consumed over the course of eight hours brought about an impetuous decision to open the door of the SUV which was moving at seventy five miles an hour on interstate 75.  Horatio slammed on the breaks to keep his brother from falling out of the moving vehicle.  Helmut began to walk alongside the interstate carrying his sixty pound bulldog in a sweater and hockey helmet as snow began to fall.  Horatio pleaded with his brother to get back in the truck but Helmet ignored him.  Helmet began to stick out his thumb in hopes of getting a ride from a passing vehicle.  After about a quarter mile, an Officer Haynes pulled his state issued Crown Victoria over to the side to try and understand what was happening between two men and a dog.  The night grew ugly for the trio.  Officer Haynes had actually been in court with Horatio several times and lost.  It was his good fortune or possibly karma that brought them all together at nearly the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

  On the front page of the Detroit Free Press was a picture taken from the squad car camera of Horatio, Helmut and Delvecchio looking like deer in the headlights.  The headline was as follows:

            DUI CRUSADER NABBED DRUNK DRIVING WITH BROTHER AND DOG

            Detroit- Horatio Kiss was found walking with his brother, Helmet Kiss and his dog Delvecchio along interstate 75 near exit 55: Holbrook/Caniff Avenue exit after attending a Detroit Red Wings game earlier in the evening.  Mr. Horatio Kiss contends that he was attempting to get his brother Helmut Kiss and his dog into his vehicle when they were spotted by Michigan State Police walking northbound on the shoulder of Interstate 75 at 11:52 pm on December 31st.  Mr. Helmut Kiss struck the officer who was attempting to handcuff him, broke a window to the squad car and ran off of the freeway.  Mr. Horatio Kiss then followed his brother in a white Cadillac Escalade.  The Kiss Brothers and the dog were apprehended without further incident in Hamtramck.  Bond hearing is scheduled Monday January 3, 2011.  Mr. Horatio Kiss will be representing himself and his brother.  No further details are known about the English bulldog named Delvecchio.

December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas, Detroit or Take the Homeless Skating

Tim could hardly be called tiny but the name sort of stuck with Tim since he didn’t hit puberty until late in high school.  As the saying goes, Tiny’s nut did not drop until late in adolescence.  Tiny or Tim as his mother called him, was short and had a high pitched voice until senior year of high school.  It was at that time that Tiny joined the ranks of all the other boys who were becoming men.

            Tiny grew up in suburban Detroit and played ice hockey from kindergarten through juniors when he finally came to grips with the fact that he was good and not great and that professional hockey was not going to be his vocation.  Tiny went to the University of Michigan, became an accountant, found a job and started a family in Los Angeles before being moved back by his company to suburban Detroit.

            Saying that he was born and raised in Detroit was not a source of pride to Tiny.  He felt as though he had not really gone very far in life by returning to a town that seemed to have crumbled, decayed and stagnated through the years.  Returning to Detroit seemed to be a punishment to Tiny who was squeezed out in the running to climb a rung up the ladder of his company’s firm.  Instead his boss gave him a ho-hum review and gave him the choice of losing his job or move to Detroit.  Tiny opted to keep his job and move to Detroit.

            For anyone that ever had to move from Los Angeles to Detroit and really spent some time in inner city Detroit where neighborhoods gave way to prairie and trees grew through the roofs of abandon homes that were not burned down or decayed to pieces, Detroit could be quite surreal.  Tiny was determined to put in his time for his company that was housed in the General Motors Renaissance Center along the banks of the Detroit River in the heart of downtown Detroit.  Tiny bought a condominium on Lafayette which was walking distance from the Renaissance Center.  He didn’t want his family to get the feeling of permanence.  Condominiums seem more transient than single family homes at least Tiny felt this was the case. 

            Tiny’s wife was sort of indifferent to Detroit being a native Angelino who thought places like Michigan was somewhere on the east coast.  It had to be since it was in the Eastern Time zone, right?  Susan exercised profusely and shuttled their sons to hockey practice up in Troy, some fifteen miles north of the city to play for Little Caesar’s.  Tiny, when he wasn’t working, spent a great deal of his own free time late at night playing men’s league hockey or rat hockey in well to-do towns north and west of Detroit.  When Tiny told fellow hockey mates that he lived in 313, most were quite stunned.

            It was the night before Christmas Eve that Tiny went with some of his buddies that were Detroit Firemen to play in a fund raising tournament in Windsor, Ontario.  Tiny sent his wife Susan alone with their two boys to a holiday tournament outside of Toronto and opted to play hockey himself. 

            The tournament was uneventful for Tiny.  He played defense and had a few assists and allowed a few bad goals to happen by not tying up his man.  He had a few push matches in front of his goalie, had a good sweat and then returned with the team to downtown Detroit to finish a night of male bonding; play hockey, drink, watch hockey, drink, gamble and drink some more and then possibly hit a strip club, pass out, return home hung over and be low keyed and a family man on Christmas Eve.

            Tiny stood out in front of a downtown watering hole called the Old Shillelagh after watching the Detroit Red Wings play at Joe Louis Arena.  A digital display could be seen from the street letting everyone know that only eight two days were left until St. Patrick’s Day or possibly one hundred days left of potential winter weather before the Tigers would return to Comerica Park as a sure sign of summer.

            Tiny smoked a large cigar that dangled out of the corner of his mouth like a large phallic symbol.  Smoking indoors was only allowed in casinos and so the men stood on Monroe Street smoking, laughing and talking.  A disheveled looking black man with rags hanging off of him and leathery exposed hands asked the smoking men if they had any change to spare.  The man wouldn’t take no for an answer.

            “Its Christmas y’all…  Y’ain’t got some spare change so I kin buy me a hamburger and a little water?  Come ahn y’all…  Find it in y’heart t’help a man who ain’t gotta dime.”

            Tiny listened to the man and he thought about how he felt trapped in a Detroit that was so different than the city his father had worked as an assembly line worker for General Motors from the end of World War II until 1984.  Tiny’s father retired before he was let go.  He outlasted the change that was coming.  Tiny’s rant was angry, racist and drunk.  Even his fellow hockey mates were surprised by his words even though they may not have disagreed with him.

            “This is your fucking Detroit…  Since the riots and Coleman Young, you people have done nothing but run this city into the fucking shitter and you hold your hand out and ask people like us to give you more.  Well you got the whole fucking city to yourselves.  Go ask one of your own to give you some fucking change…  I could use a change.  Change this town back to a place where people might want to live.”

            The man looked at Tiny with a blank stare and then shuffled off into the night.  Tiny went back in and had a few more pints of Guinness before deciding to go to his parent’s home rather than go on to play poker at the Greektown Casino and crash at the Greektown Hotel with his teammates.  Tiny would have stayed but he needed to let his parent’s dog out at his boyhood home in Warren since his parents were visiting Tiny’s brother and his family in Akron, Ohio.

            Tiny blared Van Halen on his fabulous sound system in his Range Rover as he sped north on interstate 75.  The thought came to Tiny to piss on the abandon Fisher Body 21 that once made Cadillac limousines. It was symbolic.  Tiny needed to piss but he was going to piss on the symbol of what Detroit had become and was mired in. The building stood abandoned with all the windows smashed out of it, covered in graffiti and home to drug addicts and homeless. It was Detroit’s Chernobyl. Snow had begun to gently fall as Tiny took the interstate 94 ramp from interstate 75.  Tiny was singing, Hot for Teachers as he took the curve too fast.  Tiny couldn’t control the SUV.  It hit the guard rail and went right through it.  The large vehicle felt weightless as it plummeted over twenty feet and landed nose first on the ground.  The car didn’t roll or tip, it stood vertically on end.  The airbag deployed and hit Tiny with such force that it broke his nose and cheek bones.  Tiny smashed his sternum on the steering wheel and fell in and out of consciousness.  Tiny had a dream that he was walking on a sunny day through a field of knee high grass towards the Fisher Body 21 building.  It was the 1950’s and the building was strong looking, vibrant and intact.  Tiny walked up to the security guard at the entrance who saw him bleeding.  The security guard posed a question.

            “Say Mack…  What in the world happened to you?”

            The security guard asked over and over until the voice changed along with the words and the accent.  The day was no longer sunny; it was cold, dark and snowy.  He could hear a voice posing the same question over and over again.

            “Say man… What happened to you?  You okay, man?  I know you breathin.  Kin you hear me?”

            Two old homeless black men raced from the fire they had built within the Fisher Body 21 building to see what had happened to the driver of the car that had sailed over the side of the freeway.  Tiny gave a faint response.  One of the homeless men took off on foot to possibly find a cop or someone with a cell phone that could call for an ambulance.  The other homeless man ran back to the building and grabbed a ratty old comforter that he dug out of the garbage.  It smelled horrible but it was warm and Tiny began to go into shock.  Tiny was aware of the fact that he was seriously hurt and the idea of dying that night was entirely possible.  Tiny was scared and began to say out loud that he wanted to live.  He had a wife and kids and he hadn’t yet done all the things he set out to do in life.  Tiny suddenly regretted that he didn’t spend more time with his wife and kids.  He regretted racing through life, doing two things at a time at all times.  He regretted being so angry and dissatisfied with life.  Tiny sniffled as he listened to a homeless black man that he couldn’t see.  All he could feel was a random stranger holding his hand.  If he were to die, someone living would witness it.  The homeless stranger was no stranger to the loss of life.  Jonas had lived through Vietnam and at least a decade on the streets.  Jonas quietly tried to reassure Tiny to fight.

            “Listen boy…  You keep yo eyes open an tell y’self you gone live.  You got a wife an kids…  That reason nuff to live foh.  Yo wife an kids don’t want to be putting yo ass in the goddamn ground on Christmas…  Hell naw.  She want you to give her some present and y’kids want the same.  They want to sit round and eat and talk like people do on dem holidays…  Just like Jimmy Stewart,” said Jonas.

            Jonas rubbed the top of Tiny’s left hand.  Jonas was cold but acclimated to being cold since he lived in the cold.  Tiny trembled almost uncontrollably as his teeth chattered.

            “You cold, I knows it…  Picture walking through a jungle where it so dang hot you kin barely breathe.  You got mosquitoes biting on you and you sweat so much at all times.  I lived through that in Vietnam foh two years, boy.  I sat in the jungle with a young good ole boy from Georgia who hated me foh the color my skin an when the time come an he was tremblin from shock ah been shot, he held mah hand an thanked me foh being wid him… He died an I felt bad.  I felt real bad cause I nevah toll him to fight.  I jus listen to him an he needed t’hear me tell em to fight foh his life…  I’m telling you, boy.  Fight foh yo life.  Fight foh yo family…  You don’t give up, boy.  You keep treading water cause the lifeguard coming.”

            Tiny fought hard to stay awake.  He thought about all the things he wanted to do and say to people that meant so much to him.  After a while he could hear sirens getting closer and closer.  The voice ceased speaking to him and his left hand grew cold.  Tiny passed out and came to in the hospital surrounded by his entire family and a television news crew.

            Every year since the accident on the day before Christmas Eve, Tiny and his hockey teammates rent out the Old Shillelagh and Campus Martius ice rink.  Homeless people from all over Detroit come to get a free meal of corned beef and cabbage and then ice skate for free at Campus Martius, which has an outdoor rink.  Homeless men and women put aside their woes and demons for a few hours as they shuffled across the ice to the sounds of Bing Crosby’s White Christmas.  It may seem like a bizarre thing to take the homeless ice skating but none of them minded.  In fact every year the homeless look forward to a day of dignity.  Tiny served food at the restaurant and tied skates at the ice rink.  He no longer raced around in traffic and cut people off.  He did not let insignificant things ruin his days either.  Tiny spent time with his family and took time to appreciate and grasp that every moment of life was life itself.  Tiny took the time to take life in instead of letting it race past him.  Almost dying will put life in true perspective.

            Tiny was offered a lateral move with his company back to Los Angeles and he declined.  When asked why, he answered; I am Detroit, Detroit is me.

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