MODERN AMERICAN GYPSY: BY DAVID MCWANE PAGES 31-40 (Scotland, through Belgium, through France, through Luxembourg, to Germany)

Each day a new section of David McWane’s Modern American Gypsy will be posted. Todays story takes place in Scotland, through Belgium, through France, through Luxembourg, to Germany

Enjoy,

David McWane

*

Scotland 

*

We Attacked The Table 

We attacked the table.

Our drinks had no time

to get to know the festival.

The beer, Brouw Meester,

tasted like cardboard,

but somehow that was

fruit to us,

quenching to us.

The men and I

had just played

to the insane

and now we drank

and

smoked with them.

“Now just happened”

philosophized the

slightly smirking,

spliff rolling

sound engineer,

sitting across from me,

at this

small outdoor festival called,

Parking Pup, located in

     the center of Dordrecht,

          off the A16 or, if you choose, the E19

                 on Lijnbaun Street,

           south-west of Amsterdam.

The man seated to my left,

Erix, said,

“The only thing

human beings have to do,

      is have fun”

I wasn’t sure of their philosophies, but

I wasn’t sure about mine either.

Then I caught the eye of a girl,

who was looking very hard

for her lost jacket.

“I have a lot to care about,

but I must have no worry,”

Eric went on to explain.

 

The building behind the stage

of the Energiehuis,

once was used to provide

the energy for the town;

now it is a kindergarten.

The artists of

Dordrecht,

had built many

installation art pieces

inside the fence

of this

enclosed muddy festival.

The parents

led their little children

to awe at art pieces and climb some.

The teenagers

gravitated

to the pieces as well,

they leaned on them

rolled spliffs,

drank beer,

sat and practiced flirting.

A demon sculpture,

ten feet tall,

made of scrap metal would

shoot flames

out of its nose

every ten minutes.

The flames were

six feet long.

There was no fence to warn you.

Each blast of fire unleashed

would make the promoter

of the concert scream out with a

Santa Claus, joy filled, smile.

Beside the demon sculpture, was

an enormous metal ant,

made from scrap parts,

from an old caravan.

Small children

climbed it, while

two kids around

15 years old

sat under it,

kissing.

 

My men continued to attack the table,

some more than others,

but everyone at war.

We put down our Brouw Meesters

as my friends spoke loud

and with flailing arms

about learning how to

properly

throw a boomerang.

The man I felt closest to on the excursion

to my right

said to me quietly,

“I want to move here and find a wife.”

I tell him, “Yes,”

then spill a beer bottle that rolls off the table

smashing into a pile of

broken glass.

I look up to see

a new mic controller take the stage,

he dances and cheers, which makes

the people dance and cheer. 

The mic controller speaks

Dutch, but I listen

while

I’m handed a new glass

of fun juice,

as a girl

kisses my cheek and runs off,

as a man

smacks my shoulders

and

smiles a wet smile,

as a child

and I accidentally

get eye contact,

and I look toward the stage again

and notice the girl has found her jacket

and that the sun is starting to set

and that we look lovely with an orange glow

while I stare deeply

into the mic controllers chest,

because the lousy booze and

clever spliffs

have taken effect

and I can’t seem to take my eyes

off the new mic controller’s

enormous,

heavily starched,

massive shoulder padded

abnormally bright,

pink suit.


Belgium

            We were lost, late and worried.  Dale wasn’t however.  He smiled and played tunes, smoked rolled cigarettes and chatted up the only one halfway responsive  – me.  Us men had started Belgium’s excursion in Ghent, a kind town with warm pubs, beer that had a sharp personality and middle aged prostitutes in store front windows waving and bending, to then head out to take E17 for a short drive north-east to St. Niklaas to play a frothy night in a venue called ‘t Kompas, where the people were wet with drunk and their smiles, laughter, conversations and embraces cheered up our tribe well, to now, today, be heading south on N17 to a town called Sint-Amands, where we were to meet with a good friend Astrid, a film director, at 1:00PM to shoot a music video in a small barn atop a modest farmlet.

The landscape of rounded grass hills looked as if a family of giant dolphins were submerging together into an ocean of green.  Unbothered sheep and dozy cows grazed around red shingled homes with steep, sharp, roof tops poised to pierce the sky.  As I slid the window open the smell of wet grass, mud, manure filled the Sprinter and we all crinkled our noses and looked at one another unpleased from the foreign scent.

We pulled over to an old farmer.  Dressed in nice green pants, green vest and bright blue undershirt rolled to his elbows, leading a miniature mare that looked dazed and daffy.  We wanted to ask this wonderful painting of a man for directions.  I followed Dale out of the Sprinter to stretch, and the farmer nodded to me that it was alright for me to scratch the nose of the mare.  Over the fence an agitated rooster came upon us to suss out the goings on, passing back and forth with grumbling chirps.  As I walked down the road a few steps I looked back at the farmer taking off his tan fedora to scratch his hair for knowledge.  Some of the other men filtered out of the van as well and a few were snapping photos of the rainbow arching over a distant church, then up to fade in the hazy blue.  I knelt to mess my fingers into the dirt road, slapped them clean and then used the lingering grit to massage the back of my neck.  Walking back I heard Dale say, “Brilliant, thanks mate.” And we all piled back into the Sprinter and moved on down the road.

 *

            The festival Groezrock, in Meerdonk rained heavy droplets like fishing line weights, joined with bone jolting thunder that reminded you that nature is an unpleased God.  The music acts and the concert goers dashed from one cover to another, uncalculated seconds could soak you.  We drank beer in small, clear, plastic cups, under trees and makeshift overhangs, in crowds of people, trying to sneak peeks under umbrellas and raincoats to see if the girls were pretty.

The equipment was muddy as we loaded it back into the Sprinter and our shoes were destroyed.  Spirits were stable, but no one likes being cold, soaked and muddy.  We shivered in the Sprinter, hunched over and stared at the floor.  The jokes were all dark.

That night we stayed in a cold room, on the floor with a mangy dog sniffing our bodies.  The building seemed to be some sort of recreational center for the youth.  Coloring competitions, collages and crude handmade banners were tacked to all the walls.  We laid down blankets found behind a stage for small plays on the concrete floor.  One of the men made good with the girl that fixed us dinner and they giggled in a far off hallway and later under the largest blanket found; saved for him.  I closed my eyes, with my muddy wet shoes, socks and jacket still on, dreaming that the devil was roasting me in hell.  For all but one of us men, it was a dismissible, lousy night.

    *

The next day was sunny, cold and lightly raining, but sunny all the same.  We took lunch outside a railway station in Buggenhout to eat fresh French fries from a small stand that only sold fresh French fries.  However, calm moments are short on the road, we had to get on the motorway to head south to a town called Silly just south of Brussels to shoot another video with Astrid and play a concert afterward.

At the show in Silly, we met up with our French friends, who had learn of our drinking ritual and laid sixty cans of beer in front of us; the game was to drink them all as fast as one could.  Even men become boys if the wind blows the right mood in.  We were dry and drunk, cheerful and chatty.  The need for a woman had begun to press on the men and they became more charming.

The concert rained down warm sweat that gathered on the pipes above.  After the performance we all stood around the dance floor, the Americans, Belgians, Frenchmen and the one Brit – Dale, telling stories and listening with inviting eyes.  Belgians give a new talent to feeling drunk and content.  Women found their men and some men were graced with a woman.

I sat on the stone step outside the front door, listening to the sizzle the cars make on the wet roads and watching the puddles sparkle with life from the dull street lights above.  An older woman on a bike rode up and stopped, dropped money into a machine, that was built into the side of a shop that I hadn’t noticed, grabbed the brown package that slid out of the machine and road off.  Curious, I stood, wavered, collected myself and crossed the street.  I found some coinage and dropped it in.  Not sure what was coming, I pressed the button that pleased me most and I too now had a brown package.  I slowly opened it to see.  It was a loaf of warm bread, so I took a mouthful and brought the rest inside for the rest of us all to share.  Many men said mouthful thanks; the woman said, “No thank you.”  Except one.

*

After warm bread and frothy beer, after the men all found someone to hold, after the drunks feel asleep, even after the moon cared enough to still look charming in the sky I sat to write some poems, but only came up with one.

Simply

and maybe a man

can make a dollar

turn into a woman’s smile

if he spends it right

*

France

*

We got to Lille, France around 6:00PM, enough time to toss our bags into the Etap, (A human-less motel, that is much like the interior of a space ship or the exterior of a red light district in Alkmaar, Netherlands), shower, clean our nails with any knife or wood splinter, write short letters home and head outside to find a pub to enjoy.  We walked out sore, but the sore that makes you pleased to be living hard.  It would be nice to sit and reflect, us men thought, after many cold nights.  We approached the first bar and stopped at the doorman.

He said, “No.”  When we asked what he meant he simply said, “We do not want you in here.”

“Are you still open?” I asked.

“Oui.”

“Oh, is it because we are American’s?”

“Oui, no tourists.  No.”

“We really just want to have one beer.”

“No, not you, none of you. No.”  Then he looked over us and two other men approached.

“Go” they said, so we did.

We approached another door, a man behind it looking through a small metal gate, the size of his eyes only said, “No, you cannot come in.”  We asked why and he slid the small door shut.

Five, dressed to the nines, French girls came upon us and said,

“Bonjour Americans.”

From there we made good friends all around and walked together to a bar of their choice.  We told them our story about not being let in and they said they would get us in easy.  Yet at the door the men said “No” and the girls danced on inside, never looking back.

I had learned the score and knew what to do.  We went to a restaurant / bar that had outdoor seating and did not have a doorman.  When it was time to order a round of beers I just pointed and showed with my hands how many.  The bartender gave me a questionable smile, but a sweet “Voila.  Merci.”

As we sat outside talking quietly we noticed everyone around us whispering to each other with cupped hands, staring.  And they did that for two hours – five rounds.  Now the bartender was no longer sweet and it took a long time to be helped, yet it was a nice social experiment.  We got to reflect, talk calmly about the days ahead, enjoy rich beer outside a beautifully lit, gold platted city center; we got what we needed most – to feel calm.

The next morning, one of the men and I decided to have an outdoor breakfast in the centre ville of Lille, sitting by the storybook architecture and gold statues. Once the waiter realized we were American, he didn’t come back until thirty minutes later.  And when he did come back it was to ask us to move seats.  We did.  We’ll play.  Once in our new seats he took a drink order and his manager asked if we could move one more time.  We did.  We’ll play.  To me it is occasionally fun to dabble in living beside people with a less evolved mentality.  I don’t mean the French, I mean these specific men.  But yes, being prejudiced to me, means you are less evolved and there are prejudiced people all over this world.  The breakfast took two hours and the razz got less and less fun for the waiters and manager.  I also was extremely kind to the waiter, he can thank my mother for that, and by the end he thought we were alright and gave us great directions.  I also think, by the end, he was putting in a dash of extra kindness to make up for his earlier ugliness.  And probably for making up for the spit we may have eaten atop our dishes.  So Lille was a young game that I cannot wait to play again.

*

I Won’t Be The One To Tell You

I asked the barkeep

if I may ask him

a question in English,

because

I had a small emergency

and time was essential.

He made a grand spectacle

of me at the bar,

as I knew he would,

he made sure his staff and regulars

could hear him have a go with me

and ended his performance with,

“Why don’t you learn French?”

‘Lord’ I thought,

as I hustled away to help the young girl

sitting on the curb, beside the table I was eating,

‘Should I really

tell him why?

No,

that would

truly

hurt

his

feelings.’

The Cheerleaders Of Europe

It’s the American

behind me

and how he acts,

that is the reason why

I cannot order

a coffee in Paris

without feeling like

the cheerleaders

in high school

don’t like my

new kick-butt

Pink Floyd t-shirt. 

Give Me A F!

The French

are not rude

no, no, no, no.

It’s just that they have

rules

of social interaction.

And I’ve had time

to be taught those rules

and understand them.

They are the same rules as

the

   American

          high school

                  cheerleader.

 

  1. Don’t ever introduce yourself.
  2. Always take the opportunity to publicly put someone down for a laugh, that is for the good of the group, even if you like them.
  1. And be bored at the party, while smoking.

             

Trust me,

if you ever

get confused

talking with a French chap

just channel

the

     American

              high school

cheerleader,

you will do great

and it will all

make sense.

Dishonesty Is Key 

The French

let down their guard

when I fake them

sign language.

Birdman’s Feeding

As easy as could seem

Trusting birds flutter

Trusting birds play

Around an old birdman’s feeding

Outside Notre Dame

A Paris morning

 

Layered in old red and blue sweaters

His grey newsy cap torn

A smoke dying in his mouth

Birds sailing around his extended arms

In dance

 

His

Warm old eyes

Father-like in wisdom

Slow movements

Eyes peeking to passers by

He smiles like a pirate

Who is in full control of his pillage

 

This man

Who wins the hearts of all

Simply from

Birds dancing

 

Lightly, they glide around him,

Whirling

Swooping

Spending brief seconds on his shoulders

A bounce to his arms

Soaring up a bit to land on his hands

And then head

 

We all laugh aloud

Forgetting troubles

Here in this unforgettable

Paris morning

 

Lining up the children

He speaks not

As he positions small arms

Fully extended

Young hearts racing

 

Small birds seem to laugh

In their dipping

And dashing

Around young children concentrating

 

There is no pot for coinage out

Parents need not give thanks

All snapping future framed photographs

Of their children

Holding birds ahovering

 

Trust no stranger unless

It is a chance to stand

With the old birdman’s feeding

His birds afluttering

*

Luxembourg

I didn’t know Luxembourg existed until I woke up there.  Us men walked the town together looking for a memory.  The wine from Paris the night before, still ran though us.  All the houses were painted bright colors — red, blue, yellow, green.  And their trim was painted by a true expert.  The houses made the entire town fresh and healthy.  Other than houses, the only other place to catch your eye was to a petrol station.  The owner was standing outside.   He had seen us in the distance; saw we were heading to his shop and was ready to greet us.

“Welcome, hello.  Are you all in a band or something?  How fun.  My name is Rory.”  I came to find out that Rory was actually from Beverly, Massachusetts where I was born.  He had decided to move to Luxembourg to be closer to some of the elders in his family.  They were getting older and needed some help with their day to day.  He opened the petrol station and now lives comfortably, calmly and content.  We all sat on the curb and passed the time talking about New England and traveling.  Each one of us living the passing moments at the same pace.  When the sun grew pink and tired, we stood up, said our goodbyes and headed down a steep hill, past the colorful houses to find something else.  Anything.

                                                            *

Fin

Thanks for reading! I will post 10 more pages tomorrow. You can find Modern American Gypsy here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/

And check out the bonus Poem & Audio Poem below.

Take care,

David McWane

 

Bonus Poem

a fight in New Orleans
(click above for audio poem)

a fight in New Orleans

the musicians rained into New Orleans with

money in their pockets

and southern girls on their mind

the local boys would not be having it; there was

talk among them

 

I didn’t have any money

so I drank cheap beer in the R.V.

head ache beer

when I was sure my drunk could last until someone realized

I had

no money

and would then, out of the night’s excitement

buy me a beer

I swung the screen door open

and hit the street

 

by accident I found the neon sign

that I was told to look for

most of my friends were smiling, getting lap-dances

hoping that if they spent enough money

the girls would get economically frisky

and sex would be an option

 

I was a slouch

leaning back in my chair

realizing the beer had a much greater hold on me

then I had intended

 

it was a good time for me

I remember liking a song that was playing

a foxy shorthaired blond girl

the one my Italian friend was working on,

asked me something

engaging me

while on his lap

I noticed she was dressed all in pink

I gave her a short answer

the sad way ‘the poor’ let the working girls know

that they are not

disheveled, trust fund baby boys

 

I had had enough of waiting for a free $8.00 beer

so two of my friends and I headed to a place called the ‘three legged dog’

I was told it was where

bouncers,

strippers and

bartenders

drink

after their shifts ended

I didn’t care about all that

it was close, that’s all

 

I walked with my nose up to the sky

the warm air hugged me

flapping the sides of my t-shirt

I messed my hair to get the air to its roots

my eyes trailed the street lamps and I stumbled a bit

and I smiled

and it smelled like a happy place

and it felt friendly

 

the bar was a normal dive

nothing special

one of my friends went to the bathroom

I stood at a standing table while my other friend

bought beer

just then the shorthaired blond girl

the talkative stripper

in pink

came out of the girls bathroom

and walked right up to me

her eyes locked aggressively

she grabbed my crotch hard

then squeezed

 

she whispered in my ear all these things about

if she

wasn’t working

and this and that about how I slouch

she had a snappy last sentence that I didn’t hear

then left with a big bouncer type

I imagine her pimp

for a moment I took the time to think

“that was odd”

and how, now, I too, wished she wasn’t working

 

a young drug user with dark shades and

an ashtray voice

came to prey upon me

he used ‘fear’

but I used ‘dumb’ back

I was confusing him, by not understanding his threats

and then turning them into something

we had in common

we were almost friends

I had won

so the local boys

would have to set me up differently

 

it was 6:00 am now

my friends and I were using the standing table as a crutch

that’s when I noticed

a hot young thing

looking over at me

she couldn’t take her eyes off me

now, after hours of drinking and the little blond pink striper girls grab

I thought I was a pretty desirable bum

I waved the staring girl over

 

just then my scrappy-voice, dark-sunglasses friend

came running up to us with the entire bar

this was the set up

it actually was, the entire bar circled around us

she screamed in my face,

“no you did not just wave me over”

her spit, cat sneezing onto my face

the questions came loud and fast and demanded

quick answers

a punch could be thrown at any moment

too drunk for adrenaline

my friends and I were to lose this fight

I tried all my different ways to get out of it

but they would only scream over me

uninterested in my retorts

repeating one or two words for a full 2 minutes

“no, no, no, no, no, no”

“oh kid, oh kid, oh kid”

uneducated

mutant humans

damaged but functioning

you could see them working out their past memories of being molested

or beaten

using their angst as a way to cry for a mother’s love

their eyes were young, scared, full of

hard pain

and in this game, they were beating me

I could only say “I’m sorry”

 

with no fear

I learned their names

and would agree with them

to move things along

 

it should

have ended

but it just kept going

a full 20 minutes

I began to get annoyed

a solution had to be made

or a fight must get underway

it was almost 7:00 am now

and I was getting sleepy

 

irritated that they couldn’t choose the outcome

I erupted in anger

I screamed, “are we going to do this or not”

“are we going to fight, just let me know”

I put down the boyfriend of the staring girl for not hearing me apologize

I screamed at her to simmer down

and barked at the scrappy-voice sunglass-wearing

drugy,

to shut it

I screamed at everyone

 

they all retracted into

childhood abused stares

silence

longer silence

killing silence

I grabbed my hat

and we left the bar

 

I was told later

that one of my friends went to

“the three legged dog”

looking for us

he met a girl

and had a good time

‘a fight in New Orleans’ is from the book ‘The Gypsy Mile’ which can be found here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/ And the audio poem is from ‘The Gypsy Mile Readind’ found below are CDBaby.com.

Pages 31-40 of ‘Modern American Gypsy’ will be back on Monday.

But until then, enjoy this:

Pocket of Poems

Winter’s mist

hides the poet

eating toast

*

Double parked fish truck

Makes the world

Honk

*

Four beers

Two margaritas

He’s no fun anymore

*

“What’s it called again?”

“A burrito,

How have you never had one?”

*

Fresh cookies

“Can I have one?”

“Of course, I made them for you”

*

The student cries

Too much work

Too much work

*

They broke up

He’s crying outside

But it’s a good thing

*

Little girl waits

Fall leaves piled

Dad says, “Okay, Jump!”

*

“He pulled my hair”

“Is that true, Jonathan?”

“I di-didn’t mean to”

*

The poet waits

Looks through the trees

Then writes

*

“It’s really for me?”

“Yup, I think it’s from Gammy”

“It’s really for me?”

*

Crouched with a net

Singing for the fish to come

Dad snaps a photo of his son

*

“I don’t think you’ll like a perm”

“But Mum, I want one”

Trouble ahead

*

“This is your new brother”

“I love him”

“So do I”

*

Pocket Full Of Poems is from the book Let The Poets Come And Stop Me available here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/

Today Sept 14th Post: note

I will be waking up very early in order to give a talk at Lyndon State College in Vermont with Joe Gittleman, for his school’s Music Business seminar. Pages 30-40 of ‘The Modern American Gypsy’ will be posted in the evening once I get back and stretch.

Below are some ‘American Love Haikus’ for you until I get back (yes, not the standard beat scheme, but more Kerouack style).

Thanks for reading :)

- David McWane

american love haikus

 coffee employees laugh

and drop things

she likes him and him her

*

warm hands

cold noses

skating at night

*

student sees him approach

outside the coffee shop window

love

*

she cries to the moon

red phone rings

she is loved

*

fall ends the love affair

walking home

there are no tears

*

long shiny hair

covering my naked chest

let’s fall asleep

*

the boat coasts

a silent lake

her first romantic boy

*

mum’s lips on dad’s cheek

“mm” he says

after forty years

*

lips are softer

than I imagined

kiss me again

*

a fall date

she knows how to dance

uh oh

*

warm summer rain

naked in a field

what a joy she is

*

she sat on my lap

what do I do?

what do I do?

*

MODERN AMERICAN GYPSY: BY DAVID MCWANE PAGES 21-30

Each day a new section of David McWane’s Modern American Gypsy will be posted

Continue:

*

Scotland 

            Our hangovers were sin given.  Heading to Scotland, the seven of us men tried desperately to sleep pain away.  Some of our splitting heads banged against the windows while the others retracted their heads fully back leaving open mouths and protruding Adam’s apples.  Ben blasted loud punk, oui, ska and mod rock music.  His favorite styles.

“Right, wake up, wake up, wake up everyone”, said Ben as he drove. “There is something of interest you lot have to see.”  We all stretched and rubbed our faces loose.  I wiped the moisture off the window and onto my face, arms, stomach and chest for a bath.  “Right, you all sorted?  Right, okay.  So this bloke, yah, he owns all this land coming up, just up here, and all that there, fucking all that shite, loads of it, long time ago, long-long time ago, like dukes and kings long time ago.  And some Lord cunt or whatever, takes his land.  Just takes it over.  The guy’s pissed, rightfully so, so history has it, yah, that he planted all these trees on this coming hill over, um, up there-ish.”

Ben takes a hard turn and without power steering he must really lean into Duff for her to make the turn.  We all shift into each other and put our hands out for support.

“Just about a couple more kilometers.  It’ll be over there; up there.  So yah, he plants all these trees in the shape of a massive cock and balls, to piss off the Lord cunt.  Massive, fucking massive, it’s just a massive cock and balls.”

Ben puts his elbow on the wheel and with his hand shows the size against the distant hill.

“It’s a laugh, get your cameras out gents.  Right, here we go.  Yah-yah, right up there do you see it?  Yah, there it is!  Yah!  Cock and balls!  Just there!”

We all sat at attention, wiped the rest of the moisture away from the windows, squinted, raised our cameras and there it was, atop the side of a steep hill, pointing downward, impressively pruned, the largest and most organic art installation of a perfectly shaped “cock and balls”.  We drove on laughing; it helped calm the hangovers.

*

Once in Edinburgh, we pulled into one of Ben’s favorite pubs.  It’s a vegan record shop that sells beer and has small concerts.  Ben goes there for the vegan cheese cake and eats it like it’s a cure.  The waitress was of marginal beauty, but her accent made us all fall in love.  And she could tell.  Long brown hair that reached her thighs, big eyes, big lips that smirked and she worked as though she could tend the shop blindfolded.

We drank and swore and laughed and moaned.  I decided to head out on a solo mission to find the spot my grandparents met and find the bench my parents had engraved to forever note their love.  I also had to get out, because my headache was so splitting that I didn’t want to be a dud around the men.

My father had made me promise to snap a photo of the bench and I was determined to oblige.  As I approached the center of the city where the bench was supposed to be I was shocked to see that all the sidewalks were lined with benches.  My headache squeezed my brain tighter.  There must have been hundreds of benches.

I searched for over an hour and never found it.  One bench after another, there was no plaque to be discovered.  I took a tired right on to Princess street.  It started to rain.  I sat down outside the New Caledonia Hotel, rubbed my head and waited for the men to pick me up.  When they arrived, Ben snapped a photo of me from the driver’s seat because he said I looked defeated.

Later on, after this excursion, when I was back in Hamilton, Massachusetts sitting with my parents, I told my mother and father that I never found the bench.  However while my Dad flipped though my photos, he came across the one Ben snapped and said,

“This is it boy, you’re sitting on it, that’s the bench there.  Wonderful.  Look honey, it’s their bench.”  Then he looked back at me, “This is where my father met my mother.”

*

            A ‘Rider’ is what a band sends ahead to the clubs to have ready for when they arrive.  Usually that starts and ends with a case of beer.  However, chips and salsa have also become a nice treat to find after a twelve hour drive, when you’re broke, un-showered and starving.  Some of the more famous riders would be Van Halen’s only green M&Ms, or Maria Carey’s, ‘must have a bed covered in small stuffed animal bunnies’.

One of our men got excited when we realized that if you are booked to play a college show, you can have a big rider and they will actually get you everything on it, because their budget is so large.  We started adding things like socks and underwear, batteries for guitar pedals, fruit, cold cuts and two cases of beer.  For this tour we added for a laugh, an elephant and a midget in a bikini.  Leave it to my homeland to come through.

After loading into the venue in Glasgow, meeting the crew, setting up, sound checking and having a quick rest, the show started.   The promoter of the show, a big Scot, with curly red locks and a booming voice burst into the basement green room.

“G-t evr-ding den, ya?”

“Yeah, thanks man, everythings great.”

“No, n-t evr-ding, na.  Som dings mis’n.  Fillow ma.”

We followed the booming promoter up four flights of stairs to his office / personal bar room.

“Epen dat, der.”  He handed our biggest man a wrapped present.  Inside we found male underwear.  The front of it was a face of a blue elephant.  And I don’t need to explain what fills out it’s trunk.

We all boomed out in laughter.  The promoter headed behind the bar and started slapping glasses down and filling them up with a scotch he was very proud to offer us.

“Dlrrank, dlrrank, s’propa loc-kill sc-tch.”  It was smooth, smoky and tasty.  My heart warmed.  Each time one of our glasses hit the bar it was refilled with a roaring laugh and, “Gon, gon, dlrrank.  Ye g-t ta be gud an’ dlrrank fer ye neex geeft.”

Just then a little person in a bikini came out, laughing and twirling.  She went over to our 6’2” man with the elephant underwear and said, “Ye gat tu p-t dat un. Goo-on den.  Dant bee shie.”  And he did.

I stood there thirty minutes until show time, whirling and spinning, laughing and coughing, staring at one of our men in elephant underwear dancing with a little person in a bikini and the promoter smashing glasses down and roaring with laughter, screaming, “Dlrrank, dlrrank.”

                                                                        *

her choice night

it was the kind of night

that no one cared about a thing

all of us louts

dancing in a carefree disco-tech

still sweaty from our own show

this would be our only night in Scotland

and we were gonna milk every hour out of it

it’d be a simple trade for hours of pain

the next morning

when we were back in England

 

she had platinum blonde hair

the porn star kind

wearing a white furry jacket

and kept a seductive eye locked on me across the crowded dance floor

one that made it hard for me to continue acting the fool with my friends

before I knew it she was dancing with me

my friends laughed and leered

they knew I knew not

what to do

with

such a loose woman

as was she

while dancing

she moved fast

hands

looks

the things she said in my ear

she moved real fast

she explained to me

that we were going back to where I was staying

and we were to leave now!

I was like a 5th grade student being seduced by his sexy chalk smoking teacher

 

we crashed into an old fashion black taxi of Edinburgh

the cab driver’s eyes looking weary in the rear view mirror

the girl knew the way

and told the cab driver in Scottish

her voice ‘clacked’ harsh in the dialect

I stared out onto the old cobblestone road

whipping by

and at

ancient churches

clay shingled roofs

and park benches where I was told

my Grandparents met

feeling my drunk

move

through my shoulders

 

we burst into the youth hostel

the old man at the desk’s

eyes looked weary

we crashed into the room that I had a key for

she scanned its layout

the beds were bunked

so I tore the top mattress off the top bed

and tossed it to the floor

and we…

oo la la

 

she was skilled

had a pace

moved in a rhythm

that only dance instructors have mastered

she liked me

she liked me lots

and would smile during times

when one usually doesn’t smile

 

later we heard a scream from outside

it was her pissed friend from the disco-tech

smacking into walls

as she tramped down the hallway

looking for her platinum blond friend

hollering like a drunk witch

I put the pieces together

this witch had come with my friends

they had no choice in the matter

Ms. Platinum blonde and I said our goodbyes

and

she left

but not before

staring deeply

into me

smiling

smiling a bit sadly

but warmly

 

putting the room back together

I found a business card under the desk

it was hers

I read it

and learned

she was an

off-the-clock hooker

a call girl

and I was her

Good Old American Saturday Night

or should I say

Good Old Scottish Thursday Night

the cabbie and

the old man behind the desk’s

weary eyes

made sense now

they only saw a hooker with a client

they couldn’t tell

she was

off the clock

out with a friend

having fun

I continued putting the room back together

and then went to my friend’s room next door

where they had some beer

I asked them about their night

but thought

to myself

sipping

while they answered

I never knew that

when

the working girls

are off the clock

they still

have

the

want

to

get

close

to

someone

who is

their choice

*

It was the night Ben was to leave us and Dale our new driver / tour manager was to take over.  We crossed the Scot border, back in England two minutes to midnight, driving deep into the night, finally getting to the small muddy road we were destined for, just a few miles from the Dover Peaks, where a good friend of Ben, Buzz, an older tough geezer with a throat full of jacks, was kind enough to open his home up to us for the night.  Buzz waved us into his driveway, back lit under his porch light, with his glasses reflecting white from our headlights; rain poured on us all as we shook hands and pulled our bags and all our equipment and merchandise boxes out of Duff and into the small flat – the rain soaking us and what we carried, as we trudged back and forth, from the Sprinter to the flat, coughing and spitting up unmentionables.  None of us felt well.

Wet, we sat around the kitchen table with bottled beer.

“How long you lot been with this dozy cunt?” Buzz laughed.  We told stories, stories that keep the traveling man strong.  We told the stories that make strangers friends and kept bottled beer popping late into the night.  Stories of blood, women and beer, stories of fights, near death experiences and who has had it rougher.  But Ben had to move on, had to be in London before sun up, had to be beside his warm girl, crawl into her bed before her alarm sounded.

We said our goodbyes, one at a time, hands on shoulders, smiles with kind eyes.

Then the men went to bed, laying on blankets that sat as close as the finger in a hand ready to slap.  I stayed up with Buzz for one more hour, but even Buzz retired; it was late and our clothes were still wet.  We were quietly miserable.  But happy to be out of the rain.  The house was now silent; everyone was asleep.  Not me, I had a job, I had to stay up for one more hour.  Our new driver was someone called Dale from Leeds, England, with one working eye and was said to have the demeanor of James Bond.  He was to knock on the front door at 5:00AM.

I sat in the dimly lit kitchen, with my legs up on an empty crate, spinning a flaking onion with one hand and combing my hair with my fingers with the other, while I continued to attack the crate of bottled beer by my side.  I inspected new cuts and bruises as I glanced at Buzz’s family photographs on the walls; he seemed to be close to a younger curly haired sister.  Then turned my attention out the window.  My eyes passed the first laundry line to the second, watching a thin white blanket, left out to dance and ripple in the spirited wet wind.  Finally a distant light, behind the neighbors’ barn, illuminated through its loose boards, a cautious light that moved tentatively toward me.  I stood, pulled a new beer from the crate and walked quietly on creaking boards down the hall to the front door.

And at 5:00AM Dale knocked on the door.

Drenched in a black leather jacket and wet slicked back black hair Dale shook my hand.

“Right, hello there, I’m Dale.”

“David, nice to meet you,” I handed Dale a bottled beer.

“Awe.  Brilliant,” he said.

*

The Netherlands

            Dale has the luck of the Irish, but he’s a Brit.  His motto is, “Hey man, relax, it’ll sort itself, I mean c’mon…I’m Dale.” And it always was alright and you began to think it was because you were with Dale.

Heading to Den Helder to perform at a heavy metal motorcycle bar, we stopped at a petrol station for a stretch, a scratch and a smoke.  Some men went inside, some smoked by the door even though you could inside, and I stuck by Dale by the pump to get to know him better.  I liked chatting up Dale.  His simple philosophy was endearing and something for me to live by.

“Can yah blame the cows for mooing, the birds for flying, the politicians for lying?  Just let the smokers smoke,” Dale would say when a person would glare at him for lighting a fag.

A calm man, who exudes a calm scene – wise, smooth, an in the trench philosopher who could walk through a war sipping an over filled scalding cup of coffee and not spill a drop.

Dale — a King without a Kingdom.

                                                                        *

            “Any rules Dale?” one of the men asked as we drove through the Netherlands.

“No mate, actually yes, one, it’s that there is to be no rules.”

Then Dale looked into the rear view mirror and changed lanes with a smile.

*

            After the show at Mike’s Bar we sat with Mike – at his bar.  He loved having eight Americans and a Brit there to get lousy with.  He poured us massive goblets of beer, that would over flow frothy from the tap, and he would scrape the head clean with a knife splashing suds behind him.  Drunk hags, with knotted grey hair and blue cheese breath, barked at us mocking, teasing our accents.  They’d repeat our words and barrel over with laughter when we spoke.  Our idea was to drink as much as Mike would pour, since our sleeping accommodations were the cigarette graveyard floor of Mike’s bar.

Upon locking up, or I should say, locking us in, Mike gave us a bottle of whisky, in exchange for a promise not to drink anything expensive behind the bar.  He hugged us all like a hairy bear, with wet whispers in our ear and sealed us in.

We played cards at a table; Piedro is our game, it’s half poker, half hearts.  Some of us men did laundry in the bathroom and bar sink.  We would hand the gift bottle from Mike around rather then separate it into glasses.  One of the men got the jukebox playing – Roy Orbison took to the room.  I scrubbed my clothes with a bar of soap I  found under the bar’s main sink and proudly rinsed and rung them clean again.  Us men working on our laundry, quickly nicknamed that night for a razz – the Laundry Men, set up chairs beside the front windows to lay the wet clothes out for the morning sun to hit.  We knew there would be no morning sun in The Netherlands, but we did it anyway, while the other men quickly nicknamed to retort the razz, the Waitresses, sorted out turning the beer tap back on.

The Waitresses did well and we all sat around with new frothy beers talking about anything anyone wanted to bring up – what makes a good dog, favorite old motorcycle, favorite old car, skydiving, scuba diving, Elvis, music and the good women we messed up with.  The last topic being the only conversation that men talk about, where the other men just listen and nod and no one gives advice and the conversation is over once the last man speaks.

Eventually we decided to talk of the future and what it held for us.  Tired now and spinning, we laid our blankets down on the beer soaked, cigarette discarded, vomit smelling floor and closed our eyes.  But not before talking about warm food, money and Ben while passing and finishing the bottle from Mike.

Spinning sleep.

*

In the morning the Sprinter was gone.   We searched and searched Den Helder looking for it.  We found a policeman and asked him for advice.  He told us that he and his men found it parked in a spot where they needed to clean the street that morning, so they picked it up and moved it.  He brought us to the van.  It sat in a small patch of grass, with yellow flowers, beside a canal.

*

After the show in Alkmaar, just south of Den Helder and north of Amsterdam, the spindly promoter with dark earth tone clothes that were two sizes too big for him, long bleached dreadlocks that reached his knees, a closed mouth smile and bouncing shoulder laugh, with pleased black eyes that were somehow warming and trusting when he listened, and who always seemed to be carrying a full slender glass of beer, even when he was outdoors, had us follow him to his friend’s squat down a cobblestone road, that was having an electronic music party that was in mid swing; the squat would second as the place for us to sleep.  On the way there he took us through a gate that glowed red from lights hidden under bushes, where short stocky men who smoked cigars wore their hats low, all styling long tan coats, full mustaches and sunglasses, passed back and forth and back and forth in an unsettling way.

It was Alkmaar’s red light district.

However, this was not like the red light district you may know about in Amsterdam where women lure in store front windows sitting and waving, or city streets of the States, where girls walk and talk through passenger side windows of stopped cars.  No.  This was three full blocks of a structure that can only be described as a red and blue glowing space station.  It was an endless maze of turns and twists showcasing girls in human aquariums, room after room lined with neon plastic edging, rounded smooth to the walls.  It was as if you were in a futuristic pet store for women.  Slender or plump, blond and pigtailed, long black haired with chopped bangs and a whip, fat, old, young or dwarfed, two girls in one room, three in the other, Asian, white, black, Indian or transsexual; they had it all.

I asked the promoter about it as we walked and he told me the price for a woman here worked out to be twenty-five U.S. dollars.  One girl off the clock rolling a cigarette came walking along side us, chatted me up.

“Are you American?”

“Yes.”

“I am Russian.”

She explained as she motioned to me to light her cigarette, that most of the girls are promised new lives before they come over from Russia, but find once they arrive they are now working girls.  The men drug them and break them; desperate, with no one, they find no way out.  Sex slaves.

“Some just do it for money.  Addicts.  Some have children they need to pay for.  Some girls stay or some travel from one place to another, like here.  They can work all across Europe.  It can be good money compared to working in a shop.  Do you understand me?”

“Do they rent the rooms?”

“Yes, you rent.  Some nights you only make enough for the rent.  It’s hard job, pays more then a shop job.”  She stopped. “You tell your friends you talked to a Russian girl, yes?”

“Sure thing Ms.”

“Bye American boy,” she waved with her fingers, winked, blew a kiss and walked off smoking in the pink neon glow.

“Goodbye,” I said and watched her walk into where short stocky men who smoked cigars, wore their hats low, styled long tan coats, full mustaches and sunglasses, passed back and forth and back and forth in an unsettling way, until she was gone.  She was young, I’d say 22, slender, and a beauty.  Tragic.  Lost.  Alone.  And gone.

The squat was new, meaning that all the windows were broken and everything electrical ran off power strips that were strung up everywhere and plugged into a secret source down the street.  Some squats you find are quite nice, like a semi posh youth hostel combined with a rock club, but this one was far from becoming that.

We were taken to the party of three-hundred drunkards dancing to house music, drinking and doing a cornucopia of drugs.  We walked in a line through the party.  People stopped.  People stared.  We had a different style than the party people and stuck out.  The party goers were unsure of us as we passed.  No recognizable emotion, they just stopped and stared.  The promoter stopped at a bar made of sheet metal, that was crafted into an enormous open jaw with sharp bladed teeth.  He ordered a round of beers and whisky shot.  The wad of dosh the show brought him was healthy and he liked showing it off.  We toasted and moved on.

The stairs were fragile and dusty.  The railing was just for show and was not for touching.  We had to spread the power wires into manageable openings as we walked up the steps, as if we were all daft enough to walk up into a spider’s cave.  Once at the seventh level, the attic, you had to watch where you put your hand, for if you touched the wrong brick wall the entire wall would topple over, crashing down.  And one of the men did just that.  Crash.  Dust.  Frowns.

The attic was where we were to sleep.  It was freezing up there.  Wind from the broken windows blew dirt and dust around combined with the spray of the rain outside, glued the dust and dirt to your face.  If you smeared it – then you smeared it.  After we dropped and hid our belongings we headed back to the party.  We spent the evening drinking in a dark corner, under a hanging black light.  A two inch candle in front of us.  People were uninterested in talking with us and we were uninterested in talking to them.  It was loud and uneventful.  Annoying actually.  Many of the men and women had such similar body types and clothing style that it was almost unisexual.  We were simply too tired for an electronic music party.

The men and myself decided to have an early night, we headed back to the attic and all lined up on the wet wooden floor with new glasses of beer and blankets with the intention to try to pass out.  I wore everything I had, shirts, sweatshirts, jacket, pants, socks, shoes, but still could not fall asleep.  I just lay there as the rain blew in, whirling the dust around, with my eyes closed, trying to remember what the one that got away used to feel like.

                                                                        *
Fin

Thanks for reading! I will post 10 more pages tomorrow. You can find Modern American Gypsy here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/

And check out the bonus Poems & Audio Poem below.

Take care,

David McWane

*

*

Bonus Poem 1 of 2:

Us Wild Ones

Humanity

Keeps you in its grid

With their—

Laws

Religions

Social expectations

Adverts

Healthcare plans

Retirement threats

High rents

Low wages

With

The fear of local news whispering to you loudly

And most of humanity

Locks up in this grid

Of today’s society

But not all

Not the insane

Not the crazed

Not the drug users

Not the entrepreneurs

The artists

Intellectuals

Or the fortunate

No

Not all

Of humanity

Is tamed

‘Us Wild Ones’ is from the book ‘The Gypsy Mile’ which can be found here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/

 

*


Bonus Poem 2 of 2: 

keeping the pin-up hostage

I was jamming

my orange-plaid pullout bed

back into a couch form

when I heard

johnny trouble scream,

“oh my god, no! no! No! NO!

THAT BITCH!”

johnny trouble busted into

the living room

shouting a story about how

he had come home from

the bars

with

a girl

the night before, but

when he awoke, she was gone

and all of his belongings with her

 

a Lower Allston girl

had cleaned him out

while he was sleeping

she had taken

his rent money – $350.00

his super nintendo,

some cds

his ipod,

and some other

odds and ends,

she even took his transformer – sound wave

swearing,

passing,

helpless and confused

johnny trouble

lit

a cigarette

and

opened a can of beer

 

I just stood there

looking sleepy and dumb

I wadded my sheets and put them

in the trunk,

sat down

and listened to johnny trouble curse the girl out

this sort of scenario was

introduced to me in stories

I’d heard traveling around questionable areas

but I didn’t know girls

really did that sort of stuff

I began to

console him

and ask him questions

about the girl

he didn’t know her real name

he only knew her pin-up name

 

you see…

…in the early 2000’s a couple smart cookies

convinced the alternative girls of America,

that if they posed nude,

spread their legs

and sold sex on the internet,

it didn’t count as pornography,

that is…

…if you had tattoos and piercings

somehow the ink on the skin

made them not as naked

as the other girls in pornography

 

young girls should be reminded that

the devils always herd sheep to hell,

with kiss sounds

and a smile

a smart idea

 

I decided to put on

some music

to smooth out the

tragedy

but I couldn’t find my

cheap

mini disc player

it was missing

the tattooed bandita

had taken it

so

now

I was involved

 

 

a word of advice for you

it’s not a good idea to steal

from people who have

less than you

 

I went on johnny trouble’s

computer

and searched

whatever her

pin-up name was,

betty-who-gives-a-shit or something

with words like

tattoos, porn and Boston

and what do you know…

johnny trouble screamed, “THAT’S HER!”

I now knew what she looked like

I checked to see the name of the

web master

for future knowledge

her profile said where she worked

so I called up

and asked in a cool friendly voice,

“do you know if betty-who-gives-a-shit is working today or was it monday?

“you mean, anna”

“yeah, sorry”

“what’s her last name again, I can’t read it here,”

and then I pretended to start to sound something out

“anna whatever-it-was, no, she is coming in tomorrow;

she’s got today off”

 

now

I knew her real name and her work schedule

I went on some web site

johnny trouble suggested

and got her phone number

I called it

she answered

“is anna there?”

“this is anna”

I hung up

then I plugged her name and phone number

into some other web site

and, voila, johnny trouble and

I had her address

 

 

you may be thinking,

‘yikes, he’s crazy,’ well, no

I had never done anything like this before

but like I said, you don’t take from

those who have less than you

 

understand,

I did not have enough money

to get myself another mini disk player

and I’d be damned before I let

some tramp rob me

 

 

the plan was to head over to her place

at midnight – for effect

I was going to be the good cop

johnny trouble the bad cop

and two of our friends came along for

intimidation / look out

 

we did not drink before

we sat quietly in the car on the way over

we knew if we weren’t careful

we could see cops or bats

 

the four of us pulled up

I walked up the broken wooden staircase

I knocked on her door

I took a deep breath

“who is it?”

“I’m a friend of (web master’s name)”

the pin-up opened her door

I discreetly put my foot at its base,

to block her from closing it

“yeah, what do you want?”

“I want to leave,” I said

“you what?”

“I want to leave, I want to go home”

“what, what are you talking about?” she was cautious now

“I want to just

leave

go home

but I can’t…

 

…I can’t until you go get all the shit you stole from my house last night”

 

the pin-up went white

she looked like she needed to sit or be sick

I then said,

“look, anna, johnny is in the car and he’s really mad,

I asked him if I could give you a chance,

a chance before he comes up here,

up here, for you”

she just gulped and stared

I entered the house

“I, I don’t know what you’re talking about, I don’t have any…”

“no, no you don’t understand, this is your chance

you’re last and only chance

you don’t want him to come up here

he’s…

“WHERE IS THAT BITCH?”

screamed johnny

from the bottom of the staircase.

three men

stomped

their

way

up

I just looked at the pin-up with a

‘you should try and listen when it’s important’ look

johnny exploded into the house

he immediately found

half of his stuff on her bed

he screamed

and screamed

and banged about

all four of us were now in the house

the door was closed and locked

one of my silent friends stood by it

the other silent friend stood by the phone

 

calmly my old friend nicole came out from

a second bedroom

“hey, dave, what’s up?”

“oh, hell, hey nicole, how are you?”

“better than last time you saw me.  what brings ya here?”

“oh, your roommate there anna

stole a whole bunch of things

from my house last night

and we’re just here

to get it back”

nicole rolled her eyes,

looked at her roommate and said,

“yeah, she does that”

 

nicole and I sat at the

kitchen table

and caught up with each other

the boys were working on interrogating

the pin-up

she said that half of the stuff,

including the cash and my mini disc player were with

a guy friend of hers

johnny trouble

allowed her

to use the phone, to ring the man up

he didn’t answer

the pin-up thought that got her off the hook

it didn’t

we sat her down at

the kitchen table,

with the phone in front of her

she was told to,

“find him”

and she eventually did

the boy denied having anything

which made the pin-up nervous

I got on the phone and asked him if anna was

his friend

he said, “Yes”

“well your friend is in a lot of trouble right now,

this would be the moment where you help her”

I said

he agreed

we waited in a fear filled room;

four wolves circling a bunny

it was very quiet

nicole and I added to the eerie’ness with our

light positive small talk

nicole knew the score

and was helping things along

we were all living an

alfred hitchcock episode

two friends chatting

two silent men guarding

and johnny trouble sitting across from

the pin-up staring at her with dead eyes

 

the pin-up looked spoiled inside

 

one of my silent friends asked

the boy’s name

and started to call around town to see who he was

we found out

he ran with a serious group of men

ones that we were no match for

 

the boy called us from his bike

he was a block away

unsure what was next

we hid our silent friends

in the shadows

with bats

just in case he was smart and brought friends

which would have been the thing to do

but for some reason this connected kid

didn’t bring friends

maybe he couldn’t rally them at 1:00 AM

maybe this kid realized this race was over

that’s respectable

he finally said on the phone while riding his bike,

“okay you win, you got me, I’m pulling around”

when he came inside the house

he was calm

and respectful

he handed over the cash

he handed over the mini disk player

without

any

attitude

 

as johnny trouble counted the money

I lectured the two that you don’t steal from struggling people

and by the looks of it

these two were much better off than

johnny trouble and me

I hugged nicole goodbye

we walked out backwards

we got in the car

and drove to the

the model

our local bar

for many beers

and a lot of loud talk

johnny trouble

sorted

the entire bill

Keeping The Pin-Up Hostage is from the book ‘Biting Lightening, Bloody Marry’ which can be found here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/

 * 

MODERN AMERICAN GYPSY: BY DAVID MCWANE PAGES 11-20

Each day a new section of David McWane’s Modern American Gypsy will be posted

Continue:

*

            Ben cuts down the windy London streets with ease, but for us left is right and right is left, the roads are the size of alleyways, we have no bearing to base any logic, all we can do with our heavy drunk is smile, hold our cans of beer tight, get tossed back and forth, joke, laugh and swear, and stare out on the endless chimney rooftops that glow yellow from the stained moon above.

“Who else?” I ask Ben.

“Well, drove Fugazi and the Green Day’ers would sleep on the floor at my flat at their start.  They were always alright; good blokes.  Never cunts.  Drummer’s a loon.”

Not only has Ben been immersed in the punk scene all his life, living in squats and drug dens, but he is now the back bone for American bands that tour England and Europe.  If you’re on your first tour you call Ben and after that you’ll never work with anyone else.  But he doesn’t just drive punk acts, he’ll toss Joanna Newsom’s harp in the back of Duff and sort her out for every tour she does overseas as well.  Joanna even flies Ben out to do her States tours.  He’s that good.  He’s that fun.

Ben’s an old school English gypsy, talks his own talk that’ll make you jot down quotes to remember; Ben’s original, tough, classy, smooth and smart.  He’s the main hero in a spy novel, yet he ain’t a made up character or an actor acting; Ben’s the real slice.

Pulling into a small parking lot where there is a city warning sign that states that someone had been shot there the night before, Ben tosses Duff into park, turns and looks to us all.

“Alright yah cunts, whatever you do don’t wake up my roommate Shawn, he’s gotta work in the morning yeah and I don’t wanna hear him moaning to me about how you lot kept him up all night.  Right?”

“All right,” I say.

We walk down orange slanted, creaking steps into Ben’s flat.  Inside it looks like the bowels of an old sailing ship.  Vinyl records line the wall seven feet tall.  Ben gives us  a tour of the living room and kitchen that adjoin and points to the bathroom.

“There that.  Right, I’ll see you in the morning Boston boys.  9:30AM; set yah clocks.  There’s some wine there and there.  Don’t wake up Shawn.  I repeat, don’t wake up Shawn.  Cheers.”

Ben locks the door and heads to his lady’s flat down the road.

*

I was standing in the kitchen when I heard one of our men fall to the floor.  We were all well tossed, still striking canned Carlings open with drunken authority, so our reaction skills were a blunder.  The man started to convulse and make weird moaning sounds.  One of the men stood above him shaking him and repeating his name in a whisper scream, “Wake up, wake up, wake up man.”  When that didn’t work he began to slap him in the face.  Hard, with the heel of his hand.

The man came to and launched back on the couch.  He was shocked.  Disoriented.  His color began to come back.  He breathed fast and deep, scanned the room with bewildered eyes and reached for his Carling can.  Men’s muscles eased.  We all wondered if the incident had woken the mysterious ‘Shawn’.  After the fallen man cleaned up in the bathroom, he grabbed another Carling can from the crate, sat down and struck it open.  The incident was forgotten; no one spoke of it.  “Sorry about that,” was as far as it went.  All was sound again.  We faced one another, scratching our hair, new beards and chests, talking about shows to come and about English women.

Back in the kitchen, I got the second warning.  The fallen man was sitting forward, moaning again and about to throw up.  I was told to fire line the trash barrel to him.  However, when I went to grab the barrel I noticed there was no trash bag in it.  Being new to the house I was afraid that if we used Ben’s barrel without a bag, then the puke scent would never leave it.  So one of the men and I looked about for something else.  I found a bag and fire lined it down.  The man at the end of the line grabbed it and looked up at me with a smile.

“This is a bread bag.  It’s got holes,” he said.

My partner and I laughed as we looked for something else.  In the bowels of Ben’s ship we all swaggered back and forth, caught in a rough sea of drunkenness.   We found a bowl and sent it down.  The same man looked up with the same smile and said,

“This is a strainer you guys.”  Everyone laughed.  The fallen man moaned.

We looked on and found a pint glass and sent it down.  One of the men held it under the fallen man as he filled it up and over with vomit.  The fingers of the man holding the pint glass now had the vomit cascading down them.

“Quickly, give me something before it…”

I slid him the trash barrel.  And we all smiled a wise ass smile.  We then cleaned the fallen man up a bit.

“Sorry about that,” was stated again.

We all stood in the back of the kitchen, looking out the windows and screen door, on to the back yard and unfamiliar looking roof tops and continued striking cans of Carling.  We looked up higher to the moving clouds, until a fox dashed out from behind a propped up police barrier in the street that stated that someone was stabbed there the night before. The small fox ran to the middle of the back yard.  Stopped.  Froze.  Stared at us.  One of the men stated, “Never seen a  fox.”  Then it dashed off, jumping over the hedges.

We never woke Shawn.

                                                                       *

Chase The Farmer

There are more baby lambs

than there are sheep,

driving past a roadside farmlet in

Manchester, England.

I look out the window

far off and back, at

the adult sheep lying,

sleepy, they watch

their fuzzy little lambs,

chase a farmer,

who laughs out loud

while he drives his tractor,

it all

     makes

            me

                laugh

                       too.

*

The morning we headed out of Brighton, we stopped briefly at a red light by the shore.  Still tired, I watched a massive hooligan dressed in a blue and white football jersey rip at a young pup’s collar about seven times, making the little thing scream out.  It looked like the bloke was about to rip her little head right off.  I finally screamed out of Duff’s passenger side window, “Hey man, leave the poor pup alone.”

The hooligan looked up sharply and then approached with a direct line of hateful vision.  To describe anger in his eyes would be an understatement; he was rabid.  A cherry red face with a gorilla’s cranium.  He was a tank of a man.  Like most hooligans he looked as if he had just taken some dirty speed which had now cranked him so tight that he wanted to let himself loose on anyone who would start up a match.  He growled and showed his teeth, got his hands up, and fingers bent to rip me apart.  Freed, his pup eased and took a few steps back.

Duff’s windows had cranks and I knew I wouldn’t get the window up in time.  And I was certain this bloke would just fist throw the window in anyway, so I didn’t even try.  I only gulped.  And murmured.

“Whoa-oh.”

However, I had forgotten one fact – there were eight of us.  When the Brighton fan made it a half foot from me, he could now see eight men ready to go, ready to get into it.    So he stopped, scanned the van, exhaled like a steaming pan under the faucet, turned around, walked back, petted his pup, picked her up and walked off.

“Whoa nice work mate,” Ben said.  And a couple of walker byes gave me a nod.   “Wouldn’t repeat it though.”

I gulped and made a mental note never to underestimate a football fan again.

                                                                        *

“You gotta play Reading and Leads mate.  They’re the biggest festivals in England.  ‘S massive mate, massive,” we endlessly heard.  And on this excursion, we were finally booked to play both festivals.

Once we pulled up to our stage at the Reading location, we got sight of the proper mud fest.  Because of England’s rainy weather, the festival grounds were an ocean of puddles and mud.  Thousands of Carling toting, spliff rolling, make-out questing Lovers of the Sound entered this brown, wet circus.

A polite, 6’2”, 240lbs skinhead, dressed in full rude boy fashion, with his: Doc Martens, cuffed jeans, Ben Sherman short sleeve and britches to keep it all in order, showed us our trailer, where catering was, where the immaculately posh bathroom trailers were and where the socializing musicians tent was.  “Is everything alright gents?” our skinhead tour guide asked.

“Definitely” we rang; it was one of the nicest festival staffs we’d encountered.

“Well, do let me know if I can sort you out with anything, names Break’em.”

“Break’em?” I questioned if I heard him right.

“Yah mate, just think, if anyone gets leery with yah, I’ll break ‘em for yah.”

We were impressed.

The family of the Reading and Leads festivals are pros.  They have an attitude of …’maybe you’re not Oasis now, but you could be next year’.  It was hard for us Bostonians to get used to.  They would also herd all the bands to one social tent and take photos of everyone chit-chatting, drinking and laughing, so that potentially they can be the one who snaps the photo similar to New York 1983 – of Madonna talking to Basquiat.

In  truth, it all made us a bit nervous for the shows.  To us, this was the big time.  And England takes their music seriously – you’re good or you’re shite.  But after five canned Carlings, the nerves were sorted, ‘Bring it on, bring them on’, was my air.  And when we hit the stage in front of a sea of souped up drunks, we brought it with the energy of a cornered dog barking at a bear.  Win or die, win or die.

We walked out onto the stage, I snatched the mic, the crowd lifted their chins and squinted.  We got their ears and their hearts.  It was a strong day.   

                                                                        *

It was the sixth night in a row that a girl in the front row reached up and grabbed my unmentionables.  You can’t hit a girl, but you can spit on them, that is, if you’re in the right and they don’t have a boyfriend you can’t handle.

I tossed those shorts out.  Maybe they’re the problem.

   *

plump with a pint
 

Americans aren’t the fattest,

         the English are.

  Go ahead and check.

You Americans
 

You may use the term

- “You Americans”

if you like

 

But I must tell you

the credibility of your logic

decreases by half

 

Like when I hear the unevolved say

-       “You people”

 

Substitute

your country’s name

your heritage name

or

your sex

in the sentence

 

“You Africans always…”

“You Chinese just think you’re…”

“You women can’t stop…”

 

However if it rings

 

“You Americans always…are so hospitable.”

“You Americans are just…hilarious.”

“You Americans can’t…keep making me laugh like this.”

 

Then continue starting sentences with

- “You Americans”

 

But if you are sour inside

And want to make a global point

Run the sentence in your head first

Think and be patient with what you want to express

 

Then maybe your logic will be heard

And not dismissed

by the ancient art of profiling

Making your credibility increase by half

 

Or

maybe you just shouldn’t drink so much in public

                                                                        *

            The drunk Englishmen at the pub liked us Americans less and less as each of their pints went down.  Their doping faces could tell that tale.  They drank sitting horseshoed around a table full of empty pint glasses facing us.  We sat at the bar.  I stood up to go to the loo and said to my men,

“Watch this.”  I knew the wet Englishmen would follow.   They would only make their move if one of us separated from the group.

‘Don’t use the stall, that’s suicide, use the first urinal, that way they have to enter the room and you’re closer to the exit,’ I thought.  Five of them entered, but didn’t know how to kick up the dirt; it wasn’t the positioning they had imagined.  I finished, washed my hands, but skipped drying them.   I did take the time to sort my hair with my wet hands and headed out.  They stared, standing awkwardly too close to one another.  Their stall lost the hyena’s dinner.

I smiled at my men at the bar knowing that I approached them with a line of surly pups following me from behind.  The drunkest one of the group made his move, he quickly double stepped ahead of me to sit on my stool.  I had draped my jacket on the stool, which was now underneath him.  It was a good move.  Blatant, but good.  A classic way for a true tight wanker to start a fight.

“That’s my jacket, that’s my seat.”

“You all Americans?  S’right, yah?”

“That’s my jacket, that’s my seat.”

“You’re Americans.”

“Boston.”

“Whu?”

“We’re from Boston.”

“You’re Americans.”

“We’re from Boston, Massachusetts, yes, that’s in North America.”

“What’d you lot think of New York getting well sorted?  It was legend.  Plow!”  He made a gesture with his hand to pantomime decimation.  It was about a month after September eleventh and these boys probably didn’t have many chances to let Americans know what they believe us to be.  They were red faced drunk, wet around the lips and smelled of body odor, kabobs and chili sauce.  Wankers.

The rest of his mates, about eight, circled around us.  Six of my men sat at the bar, slightly turned, drinking.  I stood in the middle.  I reached for my beer over the drunkard sitting in my seat, brushing his shoulder and arm for some fun and for him to know I didn’t mind touching him.

Surprising after New York City and Washington D.C. was attacked by hijacked planes, certain young men and women at the pubs, concerts or parties had enough liquid courage to approach us Americans and let us hear about their politics.  Lucky weren’t we?  We called this time of the night – ‘fight o‘clock’.  And they often started the conversation with – “You Americans”, which I often found interesting, because America is about the size of Europe and you’d have to be one well uneducated lout to say “You Europeans” when generalizing.  My point?   There is just no way a group of people on either continent can be thought to all think and behave the same.  A German does not think as a Frenchmen, nor does someone from Texas think the same as someone from Vermont.  Pure modern day prejudice.  Juicy and fresh.  New and un-caged.  A slander used by those unknowing of a prejudice in them they incubate in their thoughts and serve in their words, as we imagine less evolved humans were feeling when dealing with our society’s outdated prejudices.  The tallest of these Englishmen decided to let himself be known by saying the most popular quote…

…”You Americans, don’t you think, you deserved it?”

“Yeah, now you lot, know what s’like.”

“Yah cunts get a taste.”

“You Americas must have known it would eventually happen.”

“Your turn.”

“Don’t you think you deserved it?”

We made a pact to keep quiet at fight o‘clock as best we could.  And these days that was tested at the end of every night.  The unwise have always been fire starters, always wanting to spark hate, yet fire starters aren’t worth peaceful people’s spit.  For now – we stayed cool.  It was truly a new time to be an American abroad.  Most drunkards wanted a go at us American’s with fists or words.  Occasional new friends, women with class and the seldom who practiced practical wisdom would see our silence, understand the night is about to get ruined and would tell whoever was brave at the time to ground his soap box beliefs, to simmer down, take a breath and leave it be.

But, none of those people were here tonight, so our pact was loosely being honored.  I decided to give them one chance to settle down.

“They were all innocent people.  Family people.  Women and children were in there.  And the men had families,” I said.

“They deserved it!  Americans deserve it!” one of them spouted from wet lips.

“No they didn’t ‘deserve it’ , no innocent women or children deserve to be murdered.”

“BLOODY HELL THEY DIDN’T, HOW CAN YOU EVEN FUCKIN’ SAY THAT, YOU FUCKIN’ CUNTS HAVE BEEN…”

I had enough.  I was tired.  I wanted to have a nice night and I decided to move things a long.

“GUYS, GUYS, OKAY, OKAY, LISTEN!  We’ve only been here for a couple days and we want to have a nice last night here in England.  You see?  If you guys wanna fight, that’s fine, absolutely, let’s do it, but can we just get to it?  Ugh.  I hate waiting. Makes me jumpy.”

About this time all the Englishmen start screaming and yelling at us even loader.  They didn’t move in for a fight, but they did move around from side to side a bit more.  That signaled the bouncers and they moved in, grabbing all the Englishmen, having a bit of a tussle and tossing them out of the pub.  The bouncers apologized, were kind, chatted us up a bit and we turned to finish our beer, order a quick last round and pay the tab.  As we put on our jackets, the bartender lined us up a free round of well whisky shots.  We thanked him and decided to find a new pub where it didn’t smell like confrontation.

Any proper kid from Boston, Detroit, Philly and such know that chances are your trouble still lingers outside.  And it did.  We walked out, and the Englishmen stepped up.  It was the same conversation and too much déjà vu gets under my skin, so I shouted at them to get their attention and move things along.

“GUYS, GUYS, HEY-HEY, LISTEN, listen guys, if you want to fight it’s fine let’s go, let’s just not keep chit chatting around it.”  Then our men moved a bit forward and into proper brawl positioning.  Oddly, the Englishmen turned around and ran off.  A bit drunk and a bit angered to have our last night wasted, I took off after them followed by two of our men.  We ran about three and a half blocks, but realized we could easily find ourselves in a position where we could not find our way back if we continued further and now the odds we’re even worse for us.  We slowed down into panting coughs and spits.

When we walked back, we found the men outside a chip shop, under a dull yellow light.  One of the men, with a nicely cut new lady friend was having a balancing completion of empty Carling cans on their heads.  The rest of the men were chatting up a couple of girls and guys asking them where another pub could be found.

The new friends decided to come along with us and as we walked down the quiet, wet brick roads, chomping on steaming chips with vinegar, we chatted them up about tonight’s fight o‘clock.  With an agreeing head nod, while nursing a Carling can, one of the English girls looked over and up at me and said,  “Yah mate, bloody hooligans.  ‘S fuckin’ shite.”

                                                                        *
Fin

Thanks for reading! I will post 10 more pages tomorrow. You can find Modern American Gypsy here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/

And check out the bonus Poems & Audio Poem below.

Take care,

David McWane

Bonus Poem 1 of 2:

 If I Went To War
(click above for audio poem) 

*

If I Went To War

If I went to war I would definitely die

But in no means would I do a hack job

I think I would help greatly

But I would definitely die

 

If there was a stand off

I would get anxious—

Bored—

Annoyed

And try and do something foolish to move things along

Maybe I would save the day in that way

Or maybe I would just die

 

If we got pinned down in a fire fight

And Roscoe, my new friend from Brooklyn, got his face Blown off right in front of me

I wouldn’t be okay with it

I would stare at him, dazed and surely die from that Brief moment of mourning

Or maybe I would become so enraged with the far off Speck that had done it

That I would be completely focused on killing – just that one man  

To avenge Roscoe

And by that young anger, I would surely die

 

Or if Sarge got hit

I could think of nothing else, but to get him to medic

Or carry him to safely

Even if he told me to “stick with the mission”

 

If I went to war I would definitely die

That whole thing about soldiers diving on a grenade to Save the platoon

That would be me

Morals my mother taught me

 

If there was a stationed gun

Blasting my friends apart

I would charge it

Even if there was a better plan

 

If I went to war I would definitely die

But by in no means would I do a hack job

I think I would have helped greatly

But I would definitely die

*


If I Went To War is from the book The Gypsy Mile and can be found here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/

The Gypsy Mile audio book can be found at CDBaby.com. See above:

Bonus Poem 2 of 2:

*

First Weekend In Heaven

If Picasso and Dali

Sat together in chairs

Would they talk about art

Would they both want to share

 

“I like the flow of The Seated Woman

Dali might start

“Well, I loved your Still Life – Fast Moving

True innovative art”

 

Would they have a cup of coffee

Or a bottle of wine

Would either suggest collaborating

After they’ve loosened with time

 

There is one thing

I’d sure like to know

Would Picasso paint Dali

And Dali, Picasso

 

“I find art is lovely torture”

Dali would confess

Agreeing Picasso would whisper,

“Dear Dali you sing it best”

 

First weekend in Heaven

I’d send out invites

Including Dali’s mistress

And, of course Picasso’s wife

 

Because I’d love to listen

And watch the affairs

Of Picasso and Dali

Sitting together in chairs

*

My First Weekend In Heaven is from the book Let The Poets Come & Stop Me available here:

http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/

 

Modern American Gypsy: by David McWane Pages 1-11

(Each day a new section of David McWane’s – Modern American Gypsy will be posted)

Adventure

I was tired, achy, banged up and dirty, weak, skinny, and in need of rest; my body and soul had been chewed up and spit out; open cuts, horribly bruised legs, a cracked rib and a stomach that felt like mice were breeding inside; yet it was a new day, a cool March day and time for me to stack the four journals, torn loose pages, napkins and beer coasters of writing that canvassed the observations, imagery and, what I say is poetry, that I had collected traveling across The United Kingdom and Europe.  You could see in my eyes an untold story.  I was a musician home from the war for music.  I was exhausted.

It was quiet inside the colonial farmhouse.  Still.

After dropping my bags, eating some cold chicken in the fridge with old red wine and tossing my dirty laundry in the washer, I headed to the bathroom medicine chest to find some tools that I had needed for some time.  Americans love the title Rock Star and love to use it as the nickname for their friends that play music, including me, but as I winced, looking in the bathroom mirror, filing my chipped front teeth straight again, I wondered what that title is really worth.  It was painful.  My eyes watered.  Rinsing the dust out of my mouth with wine, I put the nail file away and pulled a much more needed tool out of the medicine chest – tweezers.  I stripped my cloths off, sat down on the toilet seat and began to pull hair and lint out of the many cuts covering body.  The hair and lint spider webbed under the new scabs and pulled open the clumpy coagulated blood.  Fresh red popped and oozed out and mixed with the alcohol I was pouring freely all over the open parts of my body.  The wooden floor absorbed the drips.  The only sound in the farmhouse was the tinkering of my tools and my under breath grunts.  It felt nice to clean up.  To me it was simply patching up my suit that is my skin.

Feeling properly tailored, I ran the bath and laid half asleep in soapy, dirty, bloody water thinking of where and how I am going to organize my excursion’s notes, poems and observations.  Soap was a remember smell.  Silence was a remember sound.  And the soothing warm water baffled my senses.  I closed my eyes.  Kaleidoscope.

What you have in your hands is exactly that – notes, poems and observations of a 220 plus day excursion I took with my men.  Together, we are a young group of musicians, poor, but lucky, kind, but with rules; questionable men, with good hearts and daunting flaws.  We do not correct one another.  We do not point fingers and judge one another.  Dark men with hidden light.  We know too well our own flaws and have no desire to change other men’s.  We are one.  To crush one of us with judgment is to curse ones own limb.  We are Boston men.  Prideful men, who only smile from true joy, enjoy hard work, except and welcome labor in the rain or snow, will enter any fight where a woman is against the wall and only ask for one minute of pleasure to balance their endless days of strife.  We are good men and will stand up to anyone who says otherwise.

This adventure occurred outside the United States of America after the decimation of the Twin Towers in New York City, the destruction of the Pentagon and the bringing down of United Airlines Flight 93 over Pennsylvania.  It was an interesting time to be young, American and overseas.  Dangerous.  The men and I dealt with many late night scraps, much drunken and sober slander and pure modern prejudice.  Never did we raise a voice or a counterpoint and never did we raise a fist that wasn’t raised to us first.  Mostly.  We were simply today’s musicians – modern day American gypsies: bruised, battered, but free.  Men who bring music to this earth, addicted to sound, addicted to dance, addicted to singing and the uppity beat.  Dauntless men that were fine with hard days to come as long as there was the promise of a hot bath and a woman somewhere at the end.

But this adventure, this humanitarian expedition of music and self-exploration wasn’t all met with troubling men.  Fights.  Slander.  Or internationally, foam spitting, pistol word speak of – “You Americans.”  No.  Many friends from London to Paris, Brno to Erfurt brought us laughs, memories, hope and lucky late nights with kind women with curious eyes and, of course, too much lousy booze.  Head ache booze.  The days were spent looking at new land with wide eyes and the nights were spent burning in the flames of the romantic poetry that seems to only burn for the young.  Never was there a moment when us men moaned heavy.  We felt lucky to leave our homes in New England, lucky to see the world with only 28 bucks to our names, lucky to be young, strong and healthy, lucky to be the musicians of the time, lucky to be free and wild, lucky to be self aware enough to not be a modern day slave.  We were running young, running from the demands of out modern day society.  We were wild.  We were living our lives.

If the vinyl record of my soul was to ever skip, it would play, “Run young, travel while your spirit is still whole; become the richest you; go now!”  But if you are to listen to that scratch, then the responsibility to be smart is on you.  Pay attention.  Record this to your instincts: always look around the room, always mind your back, and the ones with you, especially when you’re soaked in lousy booze, and never be the one lighting the night on fire with booze soaked words.  You’ll regret it with a scar.  Run young, not dumb.  Keep your pride.  Develop style.  And keep at bay the women who laugh loud late in the night, gripping their glass, with both hands.  Always be helpful.  Always love your friends.  Always enjoy the small things.  Always protect the woman.  And drink your lousy booze slowly; control it, enjoy it, enjoy everything.  These are your days.

This adventure for me started clean, well showered and smelling good, dashing to a flight I was late for.  A flight from Los Angeles California to Boston, Massachusetts.

*

Modern American Gypsy

by David McWane

*

The United States of America

California to Boston

*

Last Morning

I became conscious before my eyes had opened.  Like most mornings I wondered – ‘Where am I’?  Keeping my lids shut I centered on the flashing colors closed eyes display when sunlight falls on the outer lids.  Orange.  Yellow.  Blue that moves like spider webbed electricity.  Playing out my life consists of traveling 200 to 220 days a year and more often than not, forgetting which house, hotel, state or even country my aching body lay.  That is my norm; that is the life of the Modern American Gypsy.  However, this morning I could smell it was California.

My eyes squinted open to find that I was on the floor of the California apartment I had been living in for twelve days.  The surfer confine was completely empty; no couch, no bed, no chairs, nothing.  The only thing you’d find is my bag, Rachel on the floor, Johnny Lamp Shade leaning against the wall and our trash.  Rachel is a Los Angeles film editor, wide eyed with spunk.  She creates joy everywhere she goes and her mouth only speaks positive words.  She can fill you with excitement with just one sneaky look.  Johnny Lamp Shade, my actor friend, was passed out cold from drinking, leaning against the wall in the corner of the room near the front door, with his cool brimmed black hat covering his eyes and nose.  He even slept like the movies.  The three of us decided to spend a month together, to join for shared artistry.  You see weird ones occasionally mix just to see what will conspire.  It was a good month.  We created much.  Stayed up late.  Woke up late.  I was rising.  My head pounded.  It smelled like guacamole mixed with the ocean.  A car alarm was finally shut off outside.  It was 7:30AM.  Friday.

I had a flight back to Boston, leaving in one hour to begin a tour that would last 200 plus days.  But don’t fret, time wasn’t too pressing, oh, no, no, no, you see, the irresponsible don’t go to the airport an hour before their flights like the rest of the world.  That’s impossible for us.  We’d sooner admit to the coppers the naughty things in our pockets.

The three of us began to break down the apartment with the ache one acquires when they’ve only eaten the last bits of a bag of chips and a shared apple for twenty-four hours.  Clothes were stuffed into bags, files were copied and triple saved, glass swept up and future plans were made to finish the few things we could only start.  An art chapter was ending.  The only evidence of us was left in a Polaroid, a medium shot of the three of us, taped with pink gaffer tape to the wall where a television would one day control the view of the room.  On it I wrote, “Who’s next?”  I felt it would be a nice “Look at this Honey, what do you suppose it means?” conversation for the next patrons.  And because it was spooky.

Time began to become an issue, we moved too slow.  Too dazed.  The night before we had stayed up late with Tim Armstrong, another artist we had been running with.  His weekly Thursday Night Horror Movie Nights were a meeting place for the rejected, but good at heart.  A gathering spot for a plethora of us who move through the shadows that are over looked from a panicked society: Punk and Ska musicians, tour managers, guitar technicians, a director named Birdman, Rachel, Johnny Lamp Shade, me and a couple of porn actresses.  A collection of grinning bandits, chomping on Tim’s home made popcorn and licking up melting ice-cream cones from the shop down the road, screaming bloody murder at the grainy Philippians’ gore classic – Brain Of The Blood.

It was late in the night, too late for a morning flight, when the last gory murder played out.  And we were all belly up with snorting laughter.

The three of us displayed new talents in achieving the hangovers we now carried.  And we now winced out our foolery as Rachel, Johnny Lamp Shade and myself exited the L.A. house for the last time.

Outside in the California sun we collected ourselves to fit in.  Three pairs of sunglasses were lifted.   A bottle of water was passed.  I wetted my hair sloppy.

Rachel drove fast, fast for her to the airport.  She knew I was in no hurry to get to my flight, so she would have to be.  I had ten minutes to get to gate 71 in the hope of plopping my ragged body and my spindly butt, down in seat E25 on flight 168 – LAX to Logan.  Rachel pulled up and before the car stopped I was out the door.

Driving off, out the car window, Johnny Lamp Shape gave me the finger.

The airport was filled with annoyed families and business travelers.  All of them sighing and moaning.

SLAP – back pockets, SLAP – front pockets, SLAP – sweatshirt pockets, ‘Where’s my ID?  I just had it.  Oh, here it is.  Here you are ticket girl,’ I thought.  I made time to flash the bubbly 5’5” short/light brown haired foxy little number, about 22, obviously itching to get out of work, a smile and she had all the time to give me a head down, look up, shy smile back.  Hot water flirting.  I stood with my arms out like a professional diver as an older security woman scanned me for evils.  The Angel, or was it the Devil, on my shoulder, I wasn’t sure, I didn’t get a good look, whispered in my ear, “You have time for a beer, there’s no hurry here”.  However, the pep talk was interrupted, when they found the first knife.

“What is this, son?” three security boys asked me in unison, with canine licking eyes.

‘Oh, that is the really deadly shank knife a promoter gave me in Hartford Connecticut after I complimented the outrageous weapon collection he had nailed to the wall, while he served me Russian vodka, bought in Russia, in the back room of his seedy club, as we were getting paid,’ I thought to myself.  But, all that came out was a stutter and a look of confusion.  Luckily enough they didn’t demand a full answer from me, because of the interruption of them finding the second knife.  I was sharply told to step to the side when they found the third blade.  One of the security boys placed and kept his hand on my shoulder.

What can I tell you, “I forgot about the three deadly knives in my bag, it just slipped my mind?”  Well, that’s what I told them.  I believe “whoops” was the basis of my argument.

Now, I’ve had my share of, “Yes, officer, no officer, thank you officer” exchanges before, so the fact that I was dead sober for this one was a plus.  Two police officers joined the three security boys.  It was worth a point and a whisper from every ‘normal’ (that’s what we call regular people in society) that walked by.  All I could think about while I was answering the police officer’s questions and being glared at by this one ready to burn the village down security kid was, ‘The men back in Boston are gonna kill me if I miss the first show of tour.’  And that’s when I realized I was about to get arrested.  I wondered, ‘Will it be 2 days, 3, or more than a week?’

I used every style I’ve learned about dodging arrest and I came out on top.  Maybe it was because I’m white, maybe it was because they could sense that a murder hijack didn’t look like it would be in my day planner, maybe it was just the relaxed California vibe of these police officers that got me out of a no-way-out situation, or, like I said, maybe it was because I was white.  What do you think?  I don’t think a black, Mexican or Middle Eastern kid my age with three knives on him would have gotten off like I did.  If it makes you feel any better though, because of the IRA, when I see the drawn curtain booths in European airports I know I’ll be spending quite a lot of time inside.  Tit for tat.

The police officers told me my options without any copper attitude.  Before I knew it, my knives were back in my possession.  Yes, they gave them back.  I was actually allowed to check them for the next flight that was conveniently in thirty minutes.  I got my new flight information and walked back to the cute ticket girl as if an end of a movie sound track was playing behind me.  She was all smiles. “What happened, what did you do?”, she asked, as excited as a high school girl, after watching her boyfriend pop some poor lout in the nose.

I took a James Dean lean, “Oh, I had three knives in my bag.”  We both laughed; she winked.

“Well don’t get in any more trouble you,” she finished with.

I apologized to my crew of now security buddies and police officers as I walked through the evil detector again.  “It happens” seemed to be the relaxed response.  An older security man came over and politely helped me find where my new gate was located and while another wanted to hear some quick stories about the band I run with.   He was more than proud to tell me all about when he saw Bruce Springsteen “before The Boss was a big star” at the Stone Pony in Jersey.  The security team, coppers, the ticket girl and the kid with three knives all had a good laugh.  Good clean fun.

I made my way to now gate 73 and thought about how the moment I got off the plane I’d have to take the green-line subway to the #1 bus, to my bass player’s house in Roxbury and just make the 2:00PM gun shot, to start tour.

But, for now, I had time for that beer.

*

England

            I would call her the Young Stewardess, but she was the same age as me, so instead I’ll call her the Brave Stewardess.

“Right, well hello gents, you all right then, bags all up top, can you scoot that in a bit more, maybe under the seat there?  Right, okay.  Brilliant.  Lovely, thanks.  Each one of you together, in a band or the sort?  Oh lovely.  Brilliant.  Mm, okay.  Legend.”

            The seven of us men sat in the long middle row of British Airways Flight 727 – Boston to London.  We had only a month prior gotten off a full States tour.  That means, we were rested, properly ready for another excursion.  Us men used the morning to pack equipment, wash cloths, kiss girlfriends: if you were lucky enough to have one, and run into the local Boston pubs to say so long to working friends.

But for now, we all had our eyes locked on the Brave Stewardess dressed in starched white, with a little cap secured wonderfully off centered.

“Whoop, here you go, she’s right here,” she says.  Smelling sweet, she bends forward and helps me find the female end of my seat belt. “Lovely, there we go.”

“Thank you Ms.” I tell her.

“Mm hm,” she says back, looking up at me smiling and then again over her shoulder two steps later.  Inquisitive flirting.

Two hours later, four of us men, me at the helm, are standing in the back of the plane with our Brave Stewardesses and three other starch white women.  They handed us canned Carling, Stella and whisky nips as if they were afraid our stomachs were lined with the dry Nevada desert.  They leaned forward, hands clasped by their side, with closed mouth smiles, beside themselves, as if we were the first American men they had ever spent relaxed time with.  We flirted like hard travelers do, hanging on each other’s words, for our accents juiced us all and we all held stares with inviting smiles.  Sandbox flirting.   Do the wayward travel to find adventure or simply find connection?   Is it all just an adventure for finding the one?  The ladies would laugh at jokes that may not have been funny and we listened to their dreams without giving advice.

Four hours now into the flight a well to do woman laying on the empty last row said in sleepy annoyance.

“Could you all just keep it down?  My god!”

“Ms. please, you have an entire row to yourself, we are fine,” responded the Brave Stewardess elegantly as she pulled the curtain closed.  And the ladies in starch white fed us more canned beer and whisky nips and we all continued to flirt and lean, stare and smile, laugh and listen until it was time for them to serve the breakfast snack, until it was time for us men to return to our seats to play it all out again in our minds.

*

Us men landed in Heathrow airport – England.  We were to start a tour that would take us across England, to Scotland, then to the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Germany, France again, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, then finish it all up in England and then back to the States to start another tour.  There was even talk of adding Mexico at the end of the States tour.  Which seemed likely.  By the end of the massive expedition of music and cold water living, us men would be battered and broken, disheveled and dangerous – longing for solitude.

But for now, we were at our start; hungry to live and ready to bite into the first happening.  We were told by our booking agent to find a “not so black, not so white, skinhead named Ben.”  He was to drive us.  The four of us who were drunk were told to sit and stay with the bags.  We obliged with Christian Slater grins.

With no luck, the group came back an hour later.   Four frowns.  We headed through customs, gathered all the instruments from baggage claim and went outside.  The rain was cold and as light as a cat’s sneeze.  The smokers smoked.  After we scanned the new soil and conceptualized the subtle architectural differences we noticed a small white Sprinter double parked outside and a not so black, not so white skinhead leaning on it.  Slightly.

“I assume you’re the men then,” he said relaxed with bowing eyebrows.   And scanned us all.

“We are,” I return factually.

“Brilliant then.  Well, all right yah cunts, London traffic should be bloody shite right about now, so toss your gear in the back and let’s fuck off.”

“Are there enough seats in this van?” one of the worried men let out.

“Don’t piss on the fireworks mate, Duff here will sort yah out just fine.”

            The backs of the airline seats nailed to the floor of the Sprinter were as straight as Jesus.  Three in the front, three in the middle and three in the back – gear packed high in the way back.

“Right, listen up then.  Three rules for this Sprinter here, she’s called Duff, remember that or she won’t cooperate: no puking, no pee-bottles left inside and no drugs if we have a border crossing coming.  Yah?  You got it?  Sorted then?”

We all said a stern “Yeah.”

“Well then alright yah dozy cunts, we…are…off…then.”

Ben pulled Duff straight into a roundabout and out onto the motorway.

                                                                        *

            London traffic.  Unlock Ben’s warehouse filled with music gear – point and choose, try out and compare, then load the new amps, amp heads, and drum set into Duff.  London traffic.  Pick up ten boxes of merchandise.  Up and down three flights of stairs.  London traffic.  Enter town.  Find the venue.  Load into the club, jet lagged and hungry.  Chat up the promoter.  Count and organize ten boxes of records, t-shirts, sweatshirts, pins, patches, stickers and more.  Chat up the fans or as I call them – The Lovers of the Sound.  Drink beer.  Drink cider.  Laugh.  Hit the stage and play to 350 of The Lovers of the Sound.  Ring out and fold soaked cloths into my black suitcase, with pictures of Audrey Hepburn glued inside – my fighter plane woman.  In the back of the club dry off with a bar towel.  Eat and share with the men a found bag of salt and vinegar crisps.  Head to the front of the club to drink outside with The Lovers of the Sound on a wet stone wall.  Body steams outside.  Pack the gear back into Duff.  Get paid.  Get another pint.  Snake Bite ‘n’ Blacks for fun this time.  Paste stickers on road signs outside the venue.  And head out on foot, into our first night in England, exhausted, hungry, cursing and drunk; wet, steaming, laughing and shivering; arm and arm with old Derby friends from the tour a year past.  Cat eyes.

                                                                        *

the unexpected reunion 

we raced to the party

stumbling and cackling

down the damp cobblestone streets

of Derby, England

water washed down the gutters,

piling up little piece of trash

making diminutive waterfalls

that gave off the sound of a natural brook

light glowed through the rain swirling

the flashing kabob shop illuminated

purple, yellow and green

on damp brick walls

and streets

carling cans were kicked

and reverberated,

fags were rolled and lit,

and everyone was a bit more

touchy feely from all the

happiness around

but it wasn’t until chas shouted,

“we can’t find the party,

so let’s follow the music!”

that our eyes locked to the distant melody

reaching us from just over

the misty church

and past

the haunting playground

we rsvp’d the melodic invitation

with a

scary saliva scream

it was all the direction we needed

my dear ella 

she’s the sweetest girl I know

when I asked her

how she met her boyfriend

she said with foam dripping

from her upper lip,

“oh right okay, um, at a party yeah

neil and three of our mates

agreed it’d be a razz

to piss on me

it was my idea right,

so, yeah,

neil was one of ‘em

guess we started going out then really”

then she laughed

a cute laugh

ella’s intelligence is creative

if allowed,

she would paint her house with a fire hose

dry it with a blowtorch

and it would be her true logic

guiding her along the way

 

ella’s lovesick for neil

he’s a musician,

a trumpet player

and he was going away

on tour

with the band he runs with

for two months

and that’s hard on a girlfriend

 

ella told me,

she’d been tossing and turning all night

until she came up with it

- her idea

 

ella waited

for the night my men and I

came into town

her goal was to somehow

spill her blood that night

and she did just that

 

ten of us

sat at a table

in the back of the blue note

in Derby, England

it’s a dark place

with a bright soul

everyone in town comes there to

dance

get pissed

have a laugh

have a go with young birds

snog slobbery, unabashed

stumble home

and a fight on the way

 

ella tossed pints back

like me

smoked hash like she was

neil young

slapped back shot after shot like she was

nikki six

and swore like

dice k.

 

once she felt sorted ella took to the street

 

she crashed into a post box,

which opened her nose,

she missed the step of the curb

and opened her forehead

the blood oozed out of her

as if she was

melting from the inside

ella’s body tried,

but couldn’t contain her guts

- her insides wanted out to reprimand their controller

ella  jumped into bushes, trash cans and cars

she even tried to jump over every scooter on the street

yet was never close to clearing one

ella even tried to start with some hooligans

by chanting at them – “Swindon, Swindon!”

but once the hooligans got sight of ella’s

red liquid face

of

white eyes and white teeth

they moved on

 

she made it back to her flat

chas,

our friend,

carried her the last block

 

once on the couch her arms hung between her legs

her head was tilted and down

smiling,

with the voice of a seven year old

she sang

“oui,

quickly, take a snap of my face, of my face

would you please take a photo of my face, of my face”

 

chas snapped five gruesome photographs

 

the next morning ella walked

with a bruised smile

first to the diner for some bubble and squeak

next to the photo developing shop

and lastly to a shop that prints t-shirts

 

she gave the young man working there

a snapshot of her bloody mug

he screened it on a white, size x-large t-shirt

a gift for ella’s neil

 

weeks later

I was in Paris when neil sauntered up to me

I was happy to see that he was

wearing the t-shirt of ella’s beat face

under it was written

 

“my girlfriend is special”

 

neil explained

“yeah, mate, yeah, she is quite a unique one

I guess she made it so that no girls

would want

to talk

to me

on tour”

he pulled at his t-shirt so I could get a proper view

of ella’s

blood soaked hair

cut face

bruised eyes

cracked teeth

and winning smile

ella’s intelligence is creative

chas, neil & ella 

this may be hard to follow,

because frankly

the story

is odd,

 

standing in a small pub,

called the vic, in Derby England,

finishing up a warm pint of carling,

while a fresh cold one is being poured for me,

I ask for a bag of crisps and fumble

with the coinage to pay ella.

the vic is properly filthy,

with road kill smelling stool cushions

and a carpet that looks like burned brownies

dirty tables, coated thick

with a cocoon shellac

of bacon fat grime

and a smell like that of a bum

giving resuscitation though your nose

dirty glasses, worse

than an old pepsi can left to rust in the woods,

dirty old men,

dirty young women,

dirty conversations,

dirty ideals,

and a dirty pub dog that knocks over pints to lap up the brew

the stage is wet with layers of

blood, puke and spit

there is nothing outside

or around the vic.

five miles to the left

are just muddy factories

that sell all kinds of large

construction equipment –

cranes, plows, dump trucks, bulldozers and wrecking balls

to the right, is just the road that leads you to the motor way

so when you get to the vic,

you stay in the vic

I passed the next four hours drinking

stella, carling and guinness,

and playing a

mars attacks pinball machine –

the best pinball machine

to sink a coin in

 

ella tends bar at the vic

ella’s intelligence is creative,

if there was a riot in the city

and ella was caught in it,

the British army would find ella

as the last one standing over a pile of bodies

with a bloody knife and a smile

ella’s man is neil

I met neil last year at a house party

In Derby England,

he was wearing a

blue dress and poorly applied woman’s make up

we talked about music

like we were harvard professors

I was so caught up in the discussion that

it wasn’t until neil walked away

that I realized his cross-dress

I had simply not noticed

 

neil’s best friend is chas

chas’s hunger for

razzing, getting naked, bringing fear into a room,

destroying property he knows you love

or simply being creative with makeup, food and his delicates

are even greater than neil’s

if neil was a punch to the face,

then chas would be a grizzly bear punch to the face

and as chas and niel took a seat next to me

and ordered snake bite ‘n’ blacks from ella

I remembered the first night I met chas

 

it was in Chur, Switzerland

at a friend mike’s venue called

the safari beat club

mike is a promoter who always treats us well

he likes food, big dinners, wine, and beer

laughter, music, dancing and many other things that happen

after the lousy booze is in you

mike dared someone to do something,

I didn’t hear what,

but by the time I caught wind

of the ew’s and yucks

I saw neil peeing in a pint glass

and then chas knocking it back

with drops of pee jumping from his chin

these were proper English gents

ella, neil and chas were as famous

around England and Europe

as the first girl to develop breasts in high school

 

another lousy time

the three of them almost got

well beat up

was when they began walking across

ice tea’s rap-metal group body count’s performance

dressed in a donkey outfit,

at a festival in Leeds, England 

they didn’t get shot by ice tea’s entourage,

but they were very close

in their defense they simply said,

“awe come on, ‘s a proper laugh,

don’t be cunts”

 

what always sent me

was how the people of England

would cheer them on

the men I run with and myself

would always lift our beers

off the bar

and take two steps back

when ella, neil and chas

had their devil grins on

and their clothes off

 

So now that you’re sorted with how I met the cast,

 

back at the vic,

it was time for the band I run with to perform

I left ella, chas and niel at the bar

 

the performance was mental

we were playing a sweaty,

sold out show,

halfway through

ella, neil and chas,

jumped on stage naked

ella danced around like janice joplin on acid,

while neil peed in chas’s hands,

to which chas,

would then toss the pee into the laughing crowd

the crowd reached and grabbed

at the urine,

with open hands and mouths

I picked up my beer off the stage floor,

took two steps back, and

bumped into a naked ella, who had beer dripping

from her upper lip as if she had a bully mustache

she caught my eye and

licked my face – chin to ear

I stood back,

jumped up and sat on the bass amplifier

and watched the way I always do at the vic

when these three

get onto their

ninth pint

Fin

- Thanks for reading! I will post 10 more pages tomorrow. You can find Modern American Gypsy here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/

And check out the bonus Poem / Audio Poem below.

Take care,

David McWane

Running With Your Arms Out
(click above for audio)

Running With Your Arms Out

Driving across the Midwest

You want to stop the car

Run out onto the vast plains

With your arms out

Feel where the sky touches the dry yellow earth

 

The air seems cleaner

Crisper

Your pores open to feel the air and breathe

Like you’ve always promised them they would

 

You want to be a part of that Midwestern painting You’ve seen

You want to run through a Jon Steinbeck book

You’ve read

 

But you don’t

You’re logical,

And your friend

Is a bummer

“What would you do once you got out there?”

“We don’t want to get in trouble”

Finally, you’re convinced

“Yeah, I’d just pant hard, walking back to the car.”

 

You can’t stop the momentum of the car

Or your life

You can’t push down on the brakes

And walk out onto the earth

That’s touching the sky

 

But that’s not me

I always make sure I pull over

Step over the fox fence

And run

With my arms out

 

Running With Your Arms Out is from the book The Gypsy Mile and can be found here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/

The Gypsy Mile audio book can be found at CDBaby.com. See below: