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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

MORE FUN AT POPEYE'S

My status as a "nutter magnet" remains in place: While eating lunch at the good Popeye's on Flatbush Avenue, a middle-aged Puerto Rican woman — I could tell she was Puerto Rican because her sun visor, earrings, t-shirt, and shirts were all emblazoned with the Puerto Rican flag — walked in and was about to get on line to order a meal, when she stopped dead in her tracks and stared at me in undisguised horror. I tried to ignore her as the waves of crazy radiated off of her, but she kept staring and finally blurted out "Iz you Spanish, or iz yoo a NIGGER???" I tried not to laugh and opted to answer her with Kenshiro's famous Japanese catch phrase, "Omae wa mo shinderu," which means "You are already dead," and that utterly confused her. As the line advanced, she walked away and got in the last word with "Fuckin' yellow maricón..."
Ah, the free entertainment to be had in NYC...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

VERMIN INVASION 2017


12:51am
With the extensive renovation/gutting work being done on the building next door I expected a certain amount of verminous displacement to make its way into my building, and the sounds and evidence found around my apartment lately lead to me correctly concluding that I have unwanted visitors. I've had to deal with mice many times during my two decades here but what I just saw scamper across my counter top was either the biggest fucking mouse I have ever seen, or it was a straight-up rat. Mice are one of the few creatures I have a serious phobia about, so you can imagine how I feel about rats making their way into my home. I just got back from buying out the 24/7 convenience store's supply of large traps, and now my counter top area looks like a series of obstacles that would daunt even Indiana Jones. But NYC rats are a hardy and clever foe, so I can only hope to wake up to find the interloper well and truly snagged. And believe me, if I were not allergic, I would have employed good old Ninja, the badassed black cat from the garden next door, and let her put her vermin-destroying feline talents to the immediate test...

2:00am
The interloper is definitely a medium-sized rat, and it managed to pull its way free from one of the traps. I heard it when it first got mildly ensnared and its movements pushed the trap out of position. I waited for a couple of minutes to see if it would move again and thus further secure itself, and then I clapped a couple of times to spook it into moving. I was able to get a good look at it before it managed to pull itself free and disappear behind a cabinet, and looking at the traps I realize I may have to hit the local super-dependable hardware store for some traps with Paste-Pot Pete-level glue.


What I have currently deployed is certainly sticky, but the rat in question managed to get free before I could make my way over, cover it with another trap, and then dispose of it. It's gonna be a looooong night...

7:43am
TRIUMPH!!! Well, mostly...
After the verminous interloper made good on its first escape, I figured it would wait for a while before making another attempt at raiding my counter area. I took advantage of its down time and got the counter top super-organized and scrubbed with bleach (for the second time in 24 hours), made sure the numerous traps were positioned in such a way that it would have been impossible for the rat to make its way from behind the pantry to across my stove and onto the counter without a THUNDERBALL-style rocket pack, and put down some bay leaves to draw it out with their yummy scent. (Bay leaves, while irresistible to rats, are also poisonous to them, but they don't know that.) I then turned off the lights and settled into bed, listening to the most recent Bill Burr podcast, and just before it ended I heard sounds of activity as the interloper fumbled about while stuck in the trap closest to the rear of my stove. I let it thrash around some more, so it would get well and truly stuck, and when I got up to see what was up I found a decent-sized rat, its lower half stuck to a big glue platform. 
With its front legs it tried to dive behind the stove, but it was stuck too firmly to the trap, which was cumbersome and would not have fit through the hoped-for escape space. As it squealed loudly upon seeing me, it redoubled its efforts, but to no avail. I quickly grabbed another trap platform and covered the rat, making a squirming vermin sandwich, which i bolstered with yet another trap. There was no fucking way that the rat was getting out of that, so, while keeping pressure on the rat sammich, I grabbed a heavy-duty garbage bag and dumped the critter into it, tying it shut to prevent all possibility of escape. 
I then took it outside and intended to drop it into one of the trashcans on one of the four corners near my apartment, but instead I handed it off to the nice garbage man who happened to be emptying one of the cans into his garbage truck. I told him what was in the bag and as his eyes narrowed, an evil grin split his weathered face from ear to ear and he said, "Good. I fucking hate these fuckers!" And with that he unceremoniously dumped the vanquished vermin into the back of the truck with the rest of the garbage.
That was all well and good, but as I sat here typing this up, I saw the moving tail of another, smaller rat stealthily cruising the floor not far from my bed, presumably looking for its companion. This time I have baited the remaining traps with crumbled bits of Reese's peanut butter cups, leaving one near my bed, one on the floor close to the stove, and two on different parts of the counter. 
The waiting continues...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

40th Anniversary Edition: ELVIS PRESLEY IS STILL DEAD

Surprisingly, not a scene from a special episode of ACCORDING TO JIM.

It's the fortieth anniversary of the passing of the King, and I remember that day in 1977 like it was yesterday.

I had just barely turned twelve and was quite immersed in the history and music of rock 'n' roll, and although I had listened to a lot of Elvis Presley I just didn't get what the big deal was. I'd seen the footage of his appearances on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW, suffered through a few of his (mostly) wretched flicks thanks to THE 4:30 MOVIE, 

Elvis, about to molest a hand puppet in G.I. BLUES (1960).

heard the mothers of some of my friends describe how crazy and "naughty" he made them feel when they were teens, and witnessed the general public mention him with a reverence usually reserved for the Pope or some shit.

The "lost" Elvis movie, NUDE HAWAII (1961)

This across-the-board worship didn't sit well with me at all since I considered Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis to each be far superior in terms of both musical output and sheer showmanship — to say nothing of being balls-out crazy in the case of the latter two — and I scoffed at Elvis' Las Vegas career, a period described so eloquently in the film HEARTBREAK HOTEL (1988) as him "kissing the ass he used to kick," so I simply had no use for an icon that I felt was an overrated, bloated has-been in a Captain Marvel Jr. suit.

Think I'm kidding? Google Elvis Presley and Captain Marvel Jr. and see what you discover!

On the day Elvis died you would have thought the world had come to an end. The news was crammed with endless footage of beer-gutted, toothless trailer bunnies, their beehives practically touching the sky, bawling at the entrance to Graceland like they'd just seen their most beloved child shot through the head by a nude-from-the-waist-down Ronald McDonald with a bloody penis. Again, I just did not get it. This was the summer of 1977, the summer of STAR WARS and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, a golden era twenty years after the heyday of the now-deceased hillbilly whose famous sneer sometimes made him look like a stroke victim. His music was now obsolete, dethroned by disco and the anti-monarchy vitriol of the Sex Pistols and things could only get better, right?

The Sex Pistols, aka Rock 'n' Roll Phase 2?

Well, all of that just goes to show you how little I knew in my twelve-year-old arrogance. The STAR WARS series would eventually turn to utter horseshit, the Sex Pistols fizzled out after one album — two, if you count the soundtrack to THE GREAT ROCK 'N' ROLL SWINDLE — and disco, which started out annoyingly enough, would collapse under its own weight and played-out repetition (to say nothing of all that cocaine), and not long after that MTV would start the countdown to the death of not only rock 'n' roll, but pop music in general.

MTV: the future is now, and it sucks ass.

It wasn't until my college years that I reevaluated my opinion of Elvis and finally got why he was culturally important. For better or worse, the guy brought black music to the masses, had a look and a style that were totally unlike anything that white America was ready for at the time — or maybe it was ready and needed the boy from Tupelo to kick down the front door — he could sing his ass off, and he irritated the shit out of parents everywhere while sending their innocent young daughters into fits of panty-drenching ecstasy, all of which is, as we now know, the very definition of what a rock star is supposed to do. Elvis Presley invented that shit. Let us review:

Sure, Chuck Berry was a born guitar-slinger who hauled underage white girls across state lines in order to violate the Mann Act.

Chuck Berry, about to duckwalk your little angel over to the Motel 6.

You're goddamned right Jerry Lee Lewis performed as if someone had hooked a high voltage power cable up his asshole just before he took a break to fuck his thirteen-year-old cousin.

Is that the Mummy? Holy fuck! IT'S JERRY LEE LEWIS!!!

Yeah, Little Richard looked like the first contact ambassador from the Planet of the Flaming Hairdressers and shrieked like a Capuchin monkey on a fistful of Stud City animal stimulants.

"Tutti Fruity" indeed.

And not one of them would have made it onto the popular airwaves if Elvis hadn't blazed a trail of "unwholesome, race music filth" before them, and for that I could haul his mouldering corpse from the cold, cold earth and kiss him full upon his maggot-drooling lips.

The King relaxes between takes on the set of the stag reel masterpiece HOUND DOG HUMP (1958).

And as I got older I also found out about just what a twisted freak Elvis was in real life; all the creepy shit about his mother and her bizarre nickname of "Satnin," how he supposedly wouldn't fuck Priscilla anymore after she'd given birth to Lisa-Marie because her parts were now associated with motherhood (thereby driving her into the arms of Elvis' karate instructor), the escalating madness brought on by unimaginable excesses and prescription drug addiction, the deep-fried peanut butter and bacon and banana sandwiches, and all sorts of bizarro good ol' boy shit that the tabloid media still mines and we still devour, and probably always will. Plus, don't forget the religious-cult-like proliferation of Elvis impersonators and their oddball ilk, some of whom are actually legally empowered to perform marriage ceremonies, perhaps the ultimate white trash/kitsch statement.

But the crowning moment of Elvis lunacy can only be the time when the King, allegedly doped-up out of his mind on one of Dr. Nick's pharmaceutical cocktails, barged into the White House, presented President Richard M. Nixon with a gun in a beautiful wooden collector's case, congratulated him on what a great job he was doing running the country, and asked to be appointed as an honest to Christ agent of the D.E.A., an event which, thank God, got photographed for posterity.

I swear on my mother's eyes that I didn't cobble this together with Photoshop. Tricky Dick meets Captain Marvel Jr., for fuck's sake! I mean, you just can't make this kind of shit up. 

So I salute you, Elvis Aron Presley. King of Rock 'n' Roll, karate black belt, master of every field of human endeavour — if you believe his movies, anyway — and total maniac. I will remember you this evening when I get home and spin the bootleg compilation ELVIS' GREATEST SHIT,

an incredible compendium of the King's all-time worst efforts, including "Song of the Shrimp," "There's No Room To Rhumba In A Sports Car," "Dominic the Impotent Bull," and his incredible rendition of "Old MacDonald Had A Farm," in which Elvis outlines how the animals on the farm had better stay in line or else he'll eat them in a variety of ways. I may also break out Turkish Elvis impersonator Emil Nargi's cover of "It's Now Or Never,"

but I'd really like to get my hands on this gem, perhaps the perfect album to play on this day of days:

Sadly, I don't have THE ELVIS PRESLEY SEANCE, so I may pop over to the local bodega and kick down a couple of shots in Elvis' honor.

THE KING IS DEAD! LONG LIVE THE KING!!!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

AS DALTON SO WISELY SAID, "BE NICE."


The really good Popeye's on Flatbush Avenue.

Since I knew that this past Tuesday was going to mean me spending hours at Mount Sinai hospital waiting for a late-in-the-day dermatology checkup — if they book you in anytime after 2pm, expect a looooooong wait — I treated myself to lunch at the good Popeye's on Flatbush Avenue. 

The counter girl who served me was a young beauty with deep ebony skin, a very pretty face, and stunningly beautiful eyes that stopped me in my tracks. She looked like she'd had a miserable day, so before I ordered I said to her "Listen. I'm old enough to be your dad, so this is not me hitting on you. I just have to tell you that your eyes are beautiful!" She lit up at that, smiled and thanked me, and then took my order, grinning from ear to ear all the while. When she told me how much my order was I didn't stop to think about it and just paid her. When I sat down I realized that my favorite Popeye's meal — five mild wings with mashed potatoes and gravy, a biscuit, and a large Dr. Pepper — always comes in at close to fifteen bucks, and the counter girl instead charged me for a 2-piece combo, thus saving me close to five bucks. 

Proof of kindness in the form of a receipt.

Lesson to be learned from this: ALWAYS BE NICE TO YOUR CASHIER!!!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

All-Time Favorite Movies: A PATCH OF BLUE (1965)

 Home is where the heart is...NOT.

In an effort to take my mind off of my current medical woes, I'm going to start posting capsule looks at my favorite movies of all time, in no particular order. Hopefully, you will find some items that interest you enough to check them out. 

Today we start with A PATCH OF BLUE (1965), a sweet but jarring and tragic tale of the friendship between Sidney Poitier, in yet another of his "perfect negro" roles, and Elizabeth Hartman as the blind, isolated, and abused daughter of aging whore Shelley Winters. (Winters won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this performance and deserved every ounce of it.) It's Hartman's journey from an abused adolescent to blossoming womanhood as her friend (Poitier) teaches her how to be come self-sufficient in the sighted world during daily visits to the local park, a world her horrible mother has intentionally kept her unprepared for. As the pair become close, the young woman develops deep romantic feelings for her friend and intends to act on them, but he kindly keeps her at bay due to her age and innocence. 

Life lessons in the park.

But as the narrative progresses, he and the audience learn just how unspeakably horrible the young woman's life was until she met him, a tale involving her witnessing her mother's work as a low-rent whore in their apartment, her being blinded by acid thrown at her father during a vicious spat between her parents, and getting raped by one of her mother's customers while her mother had stepped out for some reason, a scene made all the more terrifying because we experience it from the girl's blind and uncomprehending point of view. Seeing her friend as a way out of her hellish life with her mother, she tries to convince him to take her in as his willing lover, which she says is alright because she's "already been done over." She relates all of this in a matter-of-fact way that communicates that she has accepted such violence as just the way life is, so her relationship with her friend/desired lover is something she never considered as possible. (The appalled look on Poitier's face after her recounting of her sexual assault is like being hit in the face with a hammer.) 

The film's sole decent man holds in his horror and disgust as our blinded and abused heroine nonchalantly recounts being sexually assaulted by one of her mother's vile clients.

And things are further complicated when the evil prostitute mother gets wind of her daughter's friendship with a black man who intends to honorably save the girl and enroll her in a school for the blind, but mom thinks his plans are more lecherous, which does not sit well with her nigger-hatin' attitudes. And worst of all, the mother plans to retire from hooking and open her own brothel, pressing her innocent blind daughter into unwilling service as her first deployed whore. It's a gripping study of world-class family dysfunction and a touching tale of a damaged young girl blossoming to womanhood under the most adverse conditions possible. A hardcore tear-jearker if ever there was one, and hands down my favorite drama from the 1960's, HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.
 Poster from the original theatrical release.

Friday, August 04, 2017

"UMGAWA, BRO!"

NOTE: This story was originally posted to my Facebook wall three years ago but I somehow neglected to run it here, where it truly belongs.

While waiting for a bus on 7th Avenue a little over an hour ago, a sixty-something white woman stared at me for a while with a look of admiration on her face, eventually wandered over, looked me square in the eye and said, "Nice dashiki, bro!"

Need I tell you that she lost me at "bro?"

I thanked her for her compliment and hoped she would go away but no such luck. She instead got closer and began going on and on about how African colors were so beautiful and how Africans were so smart for knowing what colors go well with their coloring. She then asked me, "The dashiki comes from NIgeria, yes?" I wear dashikis purely because they are comfortable and I give less than two squirts of rat's piss about their point of origin, so I politely told her that I had no idea. She then began to lecture me on how I should look it up and become familiar with "my culture," which led me to stop her right there and tell her that my culture is American, thanks to me being born and raised here. ( All done politely because, though she was exceedingly presumptuous and condescending, she was clearly being sincere and meant no offense.) I also explained that my ethnic makeup is a genetic stew of four distinct ethnic varieties from five points of origin on three continents and two islands, and that I had no real interest in Africa. (Tell the truth, American black people, do you really give a tin shit about "the Motherland?" We are NOT Africans. We are Americans, goddammit, and actual Africans will be the first to let you now that in no uncertain terms. Trust me on THAT one! Which is not to say that I don't know some really cool Africans, one of whom I consider to be one of my brothers and whose African relatives are some of the most sweet and fun people I've ever had the pleasure to know.)

Anyway, she still kept trying to school me on black culture, so at that point I adjusted to waking meditative mode, in which I was able to perceive her natterings and nod or say something like "Uh-huh" when appropriate by way of response, while in my head all I could see was a vast void in which time became a moot concept. I have no idea how long she yammered at me but eventually the bus arrived and I was able to make my polite escape. Thankfully she had just happened to be standing near a storefront when she saw me and did not have to take the bus.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

"MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH..." BLONDIE at the Beacon- 8/1/2017





From the "Missed It By That Much..." department: 
Last night an old friend brought me along to the Beacon theater to see Blondie in concert, with a backstage pass kindly provided by her girlfriend. As Blondie has been one of my Top Five favorite bands of all time, I jumped at the opportunity, hopeful to have an audience with Debbie Harry during the after-party and obtain proof of that momentous occasion via a photo. 
The opening bands were the two-woman (and barefoot) Deap Vally, who were quite good, and co-headliners Garbage, a band I never cottoned to, but I have to admit that they kicked ass as a live act and have forced me to reconsider my previous negative opinion of them. (I would definitely see them perform again, and no one is more surprised by that statement than me.) Then Blondie took the stage, with Debbie Harry Chris Stein, and Clem Burke being the only remaining original members, and they proved in no uncertain terms why they gained their iconic status. 

Blondie takes the stage. (photo by Anne Lowrie)

 (photo by Anne Lowrie)

The venue requires the music to end by 11PM, so Blondie only played for a little over an hour but they made every minute count. They performed a mix of new and classic material, closing with an encore consisting of "Dreaming" and "The Tide is High" as performed with live marching band accompaniment that came from out of nowhere as Debbie ruled the stage in an outrageous faux-fur coat.

(photo by Anne Lowrie)
My friends and I made it down into the bowels of the theater for the after-party and carefully plotted how we'd make our move for the hoped-for photo-op, and eventually an exhausted-looking Chris Stein — Blondie's guitarist and co-founder — arrived to meet and greet. I managed to briefly chat with him and thank him for all the years of superb music, and he could not have been more gracious. Drummer Clem Burke soon followed but was immediately surrounded by what were apparently old friends as he downed a glass of red wine, so I let him be and returned to the stakeout for Debbie Harry with my friends.
Just before midnight, Debbie Harry herself finally arrived and immediately beset by fans and well-wishers. Looking quite beat after putting on a hell of a show — everyone cut her a shitload of slack, as she's 72 and still brings her A-game — she was quite cordial as she signed autographs and posed for a few pictures, so my friends and I kept strategically adjusting our position, getting ever closer to La Harry as the throng thinned a bit. 
But then her management cut off the crowd's access and hustled Debbie away to a waiting limo, and my friends and I followed close at her heels, determined to do our best to snag a photo, but it was to no avail. We watched sadly as our exhausted queen boarded her carriage to be whisked away into the NYC night, but we were happy to have been within literal distance to have shaken her hand. 

The queen departs. 

Sure, we were somewhat disappointed, but we all had a great time and came out of it with bitchin' and very durable backstage pass stickers for souvenirs. (I re-attached mine to the bits that one peels off to expose the sticky bits, and it now resides in my album of memories, along with the show's ticket.)

My after-party pass.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

A RANDOM SUMMER THOUGHT

That moment while spending quality time with your girlfriend and she whispers/moans in your ear, "I'm sooooo wet..." and you think to yourself, "No shit! My hand's about to start singing 'Surfin' U.S.A.!!!" (There! Try hearing that song again without thinking of THAT image!) 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

SLIP 'N' SLIDE AT THE FLATBUSH AVENUE POPEYE'S

 25 Flatbush Avenue: the best of the downtown Brooklyn area's Popeye's Chicken and Biscuits joints.

One of the immutable facts of life is that urban Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits joints tend to attract the dregs of local humanity, an assortment of lowlifes that includes families with no manners or control over their obnoxious children, sketchy bootleg DVD and jewelry entrepreneurs, beggars, loud and grotesquely obese "ghetto fabulous"chicks in appallingly inappropriate outfits, and the obviously schizophrenic or otherwise insane. So, if you find a Popeye's that somehow has managed to remain open and serve a quality meal while not being plagued with the aforementioned societal nightmares. cherish it. But, with that said, the Popeye's in my area that I favor — with its perpetual cleanliness and unfailingly nice and friendly staff who never fuck up my orders and sometimes give me extra goodies because they like me — was long overdue for some sort of textbook display of ghetto drama, and this evening it landed with a big, wet "SMACK."

Today I arrived at the Popeye's on Flatbush Avenue, a mere stone's throw from the Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and before I made my order I took the seat nearest to the door and stopped to adjust the contents of my backpack. I was seated facing the entrance, so I could clearly see the door and anyone coming or going through it, when suddenly a dude with dreadlocks loudly fell against the lobby window and ended up on the floor. I immediately leaped to my feet and went to lend assistance, asking if he was okay. I helped him to stand and a white guy from the Nathan's hot dog joint next door popped out to also help out and asked if the guy was alright. He looked at us strangely and politely waved us away, assuring us he was okay. It was obvious from the on-scene evidence that he had apparently slipped on a soda previously dropped by another patron and that had not yet been mopped up by the staff, but he seemed okay so myself and the other fast food patron left him be.

I returned to fixing the contents of my backpack and watched as the slip-victim looked around suspiciously and slowly allowed himself to slide down the window to end up seated on the lobby floor. He remained there for some time and a number of patrons entered and exited, stepping over him with the non-chalance common to longtime New Yorkers. I kept my eye on him as I made my way to the ordering line and found myself behind a fifty-something Latina busybody who was busy berating the Popeye's staff because they apparently were not paying attention to what had happened and were not calling an ambulance. Her annoying voice was loud enough to be heard all the way down at the Coney Island pier and she was not about to let the staff neglect a man whom she felt was so clearly in need of medical attention. The staff looked at her wearily and tried to explain to her that they had seen the whole thing and it was clear to all of them that the guy was faking the whole thing, likely in hope of a lawsuit-derived payday, and that they saw that sort of thing every week, but she seemed incapable of accepting what they were telling her. So I cut her off and told her that I was sitting right there and witnessed the whole thing, and it seemed pretty obvious to me that the guy was a bullshit artist. She kept trying to cut me off, as though I did not understand why she kept insisting on an ambulance, but I gave as good as I got and I must have re-explained what I saw six or seven times before it began to dawn on her that the guy was a scammer. Once they were able to get a word in edgewise, the staffers all repeated what they had tried to tell her earlier, and she finally sheepishly accepted what we were saying. She tried to save face by stating that she'd been in a bad fall once and had required ambulance and she just wanted make sure he got the help he needed, to which I and the staffers and another witness all told her we got where she was coming from but that she could put a sock in it, pick up her order, and get the fuck out, thangyaverramuch.

Once she departed, I made my order and chatted with the staff about what had just happened. When my meal arrived, I turned to look for a seat and saw that the dreadlocked guy was still sitting on the floor, looking increasingly annoyed as people stepped over him while entering and exiting. I took a seat with a vantage point that allowed me to continue watching this idiocy and found myself seated next to a hugely fat, crispy-black African guy in a dashiki and Gilligan-style hat. We exchanged knowing looks as we both nodded toward the guy on the floor, as if to both say "Can you believe this shit?" I was going to eat my meal while continuing to make my way through the book I'm currently reading, but the African guy decided he wanted to discuss what was going on. The problem with that was that the guy spoke in such a thick accent, I could only comprehend maybe every fourth or fifth word that he uttered, which put me into full-on feigned "Uh-huh, yeah" mode. That went on for a few minutes but was thankfully interrupted when two young men who were seated to my immediate right began talking to one of the staff who had come over and was obviously a friend of theirs. They discussed what had just gone down in considerable detail and the staff member noted that the scammer had to be a real rocket scientist to try and get away with that bullshit at that particular Popeye's, because the place was festooned with enough surveillance cameras to make hundred-eyed Argus Panoptes green with envy.

Mythological side note for clarification: Argus Panoptes, the hundred-eyed servant of Hera and guardian of her stuff. (Never let it be said that this stupid blog is not educational as educational as it is entertaining!)

And not only that, but the place even has a sizable flatscreen TV aimed so that the patron's can watch what's on the surveillance cameras, so any would-be thieves and scammers could not help but see that their actions were being recorded.

The young men laughed and shook their heads at the rampant stupidity, and the staffer called me over, saying "Man, you gotta see the video!" He then whipped out his cell phone and ran the footage, which revealed even more of the story than I had actually witnessed. The footage I saw was shot by his camera from a replay in the Popeye's office, and I could see everything as clear as day:
  • From the vantage point of the specific ceiling-mounted camera, everything that a staffer could see from behind the counter was visible, including me at the seat near the door.
  • Just before I came in, a black woman had ordered a medium drink and took it with her on her way out. Upon crossing into the lobby, she got on her cell phone and dropped her drink to the lobby floor before walking outside. 
  • Once she was out of view, there was a pause of perhaps fifteen seconds before Dreadlocks appeared on the street before the door. He was on his cell phone and looked down onto the lobby floor before putting his phone away and entering.
  • He was then seen steeling himself before taking the intentional  fall against the window and onto the floor, at which point myself and the white guy are seen attempting to help, but he waves us away.
So the entire thing was an obvious setup from the start, and the staffer also very astutely noted that "Nigga, ain't no black girl gonna come in here an' order a soda, drop it, an' not come up to the counter to ask for another one, or at least tell us we needed to send out somebody with a mop to clean the shit up! Bitch ain't gonna pay no $2.97 for a fuckin' drink, drop it, an' just leave! Sheeeeeeeit!!!" At that, we all laughed our asses off.

Meanwhile, Dreadlocks was still on the floor, acting as a traffic hindrance, so my African pal once more launched into semi-incomprehensible commentary and his own attempts at outlining the inevitability of Dreadlocks winning money from the situation, no matter if it was as little as just a grand or two. I tried to explain that I didn't think he had much of a case, especially considering that the entire incident was caught on video — no Zapruder footage, this — but he kept on and on about how Dreadlocks would win because the restaurant had not sent someone to clean up the spill before he stepped on it. I then pointed out how even if there had been someone fairly close by with a mop, it would have been impossible for them to have gotten to it before Dreadlocks, and the video bore that out in no uncertain terms. Africa just would not have it, and as he continued to expound on the lack of cleanup, an ambulance pulled up outside and was greeted by the aforementioned annoying and dense Latina, who must have called 911 after she left with her order. The haggard-looking EMT's listened to her ramble for a while before coming into a lobby to check out the status of the "injured," and they soon helped him to his feet and led him to the waiting meat wagon. As he was being led out, the assembled onlookers offered ongoing commentary, including one guy saying "See how he's putting all his weight on that leg and ankle? If he'd broken anything, no fucking way would he be walking at all! Bullshit!!!"

As things finally settled down and I was able to read and finish my meal in peace, a grizzled 60-something dude came in and I instantly pegged him as a beggar. "Say, my brutha," he said, "I'm broke an' I'm tryna git me some Popeye's money..." I politely cut him off and told him I did not have any money for him, and once he understood he was not going to get even one red cent out of me and assessed the equally-uncharitable looks on the faces of the other patrons, he then joined the discussion of the Dreadlocks incident, complaining about how "These fuckin' boys these days...Don;t wanna do no work! Always lookin' for the easy money!" Stunned, I wanted to yell at him, "Motherfucker, did you not just try to shake me down for money???" but clearly the irony would have been lost on him.

For a coda to all of this, a staffer came out to mop up and set up a couple of those warning quasi-cones that are used to mark slippery-when-wet areas, and that was that.


As seen while I was exiting.

The next time I eat at this Popeye's, I'm going to ask the staffers if there were any further developments, and I will of course chronicle any further info here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

UNDA DA SEA: A Look Back at KAMANDI #22 (Oct. 1974)

Let me tell you about KAMANDI #22 (Oct. 1974), specifically a sub-plot that emotionally wrecked the nine-year-old me. 

Having followed the post-apocalyptic adventures of Kamandi, "the last boy on Earth," for a while, I had come to expect a lot of weirdness from his world which did the then super-popular PLANET OF THE APES series one better by making ALL of the world's animal's talking sentients. Therefore, I found it quite amusing when Kamandi found himself on the receiving end of the affections/crush of Teela, a sweet female dolphin from a high-tech undersea city of cetaceans.



Kamandi, of course, lets her admiration go to his head and he soon acts like a complete and utter asshole when Teela tells him she's applied for a permit to make him her "squire." The dolphins of her world employ trained humans — who have low-level intelligence after the apocalypse, a la PLANET OF THE APES — as the active hunter half of a team in which the dolphin pulls them along on water skis as they engage their mortal enemies, sadistic killer whales who also can speak. Kamandi arrogantly tells her she had no right to apply for such a permit, but Teela explains that it's not a master/servant arrangement, but rather a partnership of great trust and intimacy, and a great honor. Kamandi dresses her down with an overblown "no means no" speech, and the stunning art of Jack Kirby perfectly conveys the exact moment when Teela's heart breaks and she turns away so he won't see her cry. 
Then — and here's the devastating bit — Teela is suddenly and without warning brutally murdered when she is speared with two harpoons fired by the squire of an enemy killer whale. We see her body penetrated by the spears (but no blood, thus leaving it to our young imaginations, which only made it that much more horrifying) and hear her scream of pain and terror, at which point we cut back to a distraught and horrified Kamandi, whose previous bluster was now revealed to be an obvious act, losing his shit over Teela's murder. The issue ends with a vengeance-fueled Kamandi vowing to avenge her death by teaming up with another dolphin and taking the fight to her killer, the infamous "Red Baron," the lethal human hunting dog of the killer whales. And you had damned well better believe that Teela was avenged...BIG. TIME.

The cover to the subsequent issue: One of the rare times in the '70's when an awesome cover was not let down by lackluster material inside the issue.
KAMANDI #22 was the middle chapter of what is perhaps my favorite arc from Kriby's run on the series, and while his entire time on the book has my highest esteem, those three issues were sheer storytelling perfection that were among the four-color yarns that made me a comics fan for life. KAMANDI #22 gets my highest recommendation and ranks among the Top 20 best comics I've ever read. A+