Friday, March 31, 2017

“Put Out The Fire In Your Head”- With Patti Griffin’s Not Alone In Mind 

By Bradley Fox, Junior

[Sometimes this generational divide between parent and child that occurs naturally once the younger generation comes of age and begins to make its own way, make its own mistakes, and have its own problems grappling with day to day life in a hectic, dangerous world can only be deciphered by someone from that generation. That is the case here with the story of Sam Lowell’s youngest son, Justin’s. Sam told me his side of the story, really his take on Justin’s story since Sam had had little directly to do with what got Justin into his difficulties. I tried to write it up as a cautionary tale of sorts to help inform Sam’s, my generation, the generation that the late Peter Markin, our mutual friend who passed on under mysterious circumstances down in Mexico after the 1960s had ebbed and we had lost the cultural battles, called the Generation of ’68  about what was troubling our children. I failed in that effort.

I told my son, Bradley, Junior (with Sam’s permission), who knew Justin when they were younger, the details to see if he could write something that would make sense to Sam and me about what makes their generation tick. As for the grandkids, forget it between the Internet and its subset social media and the trials and tribulations they confront in an extremely dangerous world going forward it would take, as young Bradley told me, the minds of Freud, Einstein, and Rapper Rocco combined to even know what subliminal language they were speaking. Here’s my Bradley’s take on the whole mess [BF, Senior]:      

Justin Lowell had been a late love child of Sam and his third wife since divorced, Rebecca, and as such, with eight years between him and the next youngest child, Brenda, and hence eight years of being the only child at home after she left for college, was pampered by her, cocooned Sam said.  And frankly had been by Sam as well although the number one thing all of his children from his three failed marriages said of him was that he was a good and generous father but he that was a distant figure always off doing some lawyerly business and not around enough to get rid of the that foggy picture of him. But enough of Sam Lowell’s failings since this is about how Justin navigated the world not Sam. 

Of course Justin had all the advantages that accrued to a financially successful small town lawyer’s son from living in a nice large house with his own room (and later own rooms since he took over Brenda’s as well), a good if not great college education (good since Justin was not a particularly studious type like myself and unlike Brenda who gained entrance to Harvard with no problem), and all the diversions that leafy suburban life in Riverdale could bring. All through high school at Riverdale High we were very close buddies so I knew a lot about his make-up, knew too that he resented his mother’s overweening attentions (and as already mentioned Sam’ distance which Justin called indifference unlike my father who went out of his way to be attentive and was a reason why we would spent much more time at my house than his). Many nights out with hot dates we would go wherever we went together, tried out and failed to make the championship Riverdale High School football team, things like that. Mostly though we talked serious stuff about dreams and what we would do when we flew the coop, when we had what Sam and my father always called when they got together and regaled us with their stories the “great jail-break.”          

Naturally after high school, members in good standing of the Riverdale High Class of 1992, when Justin went to State U and I went to NYU since I was desperate to live in New York City and breath the air there as part of my becoming a commercial artist we drew apart. Maybe we would call, see each other at Vinny’s Pizza in town and cut up old touches. That was mainly freshman year when everything was new and we were “free.” Then Justin kind of fell off my map as I got involved in some school projects and Justin from what he told me one time at Vinny’s got involved in the furious social life that dominates lots of school out in the boondocks and where kids are away from  home for the first time. That was when Justin, who had hated even the idea of liquor when we were in high school and wouldn’t speak me for a while after l got Kathy Callahan drunk (and horny you can figure the rest out yourselves) on a double date, started doing drugs. Started first I had heard on easy stuff marijuana to be sociable (Justin, me too, as much as we got along with girls were both kind of shy and inward at times which is probably why we gravitated toward each other beyond our fathers knowing each other since their youth) and bennies to stay up and study for those finals at the last moment. Later senior year I heard from Jack Jamison who had gone to high school with us and was also at State U Justin had graduated to cocaine, serious cocaine, serious enough to have to begin to do some small time dealing to keep up. He did graduate but it was a close thing, very close.         

After college Justin moved to Boston to take a job in a bank, work his way up in the banking industry to make lots of money. In any case in Boston is where he met Melissa, Melissa I won’t give her last name because now she is a big deal in the college administration of an Ivy League college. He met Melissa at the Wild Rose nightclub, the one just outside of Kenmore Square. Met here and quickly came under her spell (a lot of guys had, did, would do that before she was through). Melissa, not a beauty but fetching was one of those women who loved kicks, loved the attention her desire for kicks brought. Her kick at that time was heroin which some previous lover had turned her on to. She something of a manic-depressive as it turned out said grass, coke, pills didn’t do it for her, didn’t put out the fire in her head, the feeling that she could never get close to anybody. (Later it also turned out that she had been sexually abused by her drunken father and had had plenty of reason to want to put the fire out in her head.) She turned a very willing Justin to smack (it goes by several names, H, snow, the lid, sweet baby, and the like we will just call it smack). Se he had been having trouble adjusting to having to actually work his ass off to get ahead in the banking industry and he too needed something to put out the fire in his head.

Melissa, as far as anybody ever knew, never got seriously addicted to the smack, maybe cut it enough to keep from going to junkie heaven. Justin of course got himself a jones, a big sleep on his shoulders. He before too long got fired from his job, went on the bum, started muling down to sunny Mexico for the hard boys to maintain his habit, went back on the bum and finally got picked up by the cops on Commonwealth Avenue trying to break and enter some Mayfair swell condo. All he would tell them beside his name was that he “had to put the fire out in his head, needed to get well or he was going to jump into the Charles River. At that point, Sam, who was clueless about his son’s drug problems as most parents are until some tripwire turns the lights on had to come into the action, had to defend his youngest son on a damn B&E charge. Got him into a “detox” program too. Did what he could without recrimination, or just a little other than bewilderment that his son would succumb to drugs.                        

Well I wish that I could say that Justin turned it around after that first “detox,” effort but that was not the case. He went through programs for five years before he sobered up for good, or what Sam and Rebecca thought was for good. One night I was home to see my father and to attend our twentieth anniversary class reunion when I ran into Justin on the street who said he would rather not go to the reunion since he would have to explain too many things about his life. He suggested we go into Vinny’s a few blocks up the street and have a couple of slices of pizza and a soda for old times’ sake. We did so and while we were munching away Justin explained as best he could what had happened to him. He reminded me of that night senior year when we were sitting down by the river and he had told me how much he hated his father, hated Sam, since he was such a pious bastard, was almost non-existent in his life, yet tried to be cool about his own bogus jailbreak youth like they had changed the world, like his youthful coolness made everything alright. I had forgotten about that night, had had my own small (compared to him) troubles adjusting to my own father’s whims. Then Justin said he had spent all that time since that night trying to put out the fire in his head.           

Here comes the sad part, about a year later Justin met a woman, Selina, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire where he went to live to get a fresh start. They fell in love, planned to be married, and had made all the arrangements, the church, reception and all. The night before the wedding when he was out with some guys celebrating he went off the bus. Somehow he had made a connection, and before the night was over he was sitting in Prescott Park by himself as the cops came by based on a disturbance call yelling “I ‘ve got to put the fire in my head, I’ve got to put the fire in my head out.”                
Out In The Be-Bop Drive-In Theater Night-Circa 2015-With Laura Perkins In Mind 

From The Pen Of Bart Webber

Josh Breslin was a man, is a man of institutionalized memories. Part of that came, comes from his long ago minute career as a budding journalist in the alternative media world of the late 1960s and early 1970s when anyone with access to pen and press could, and did, print plenty of interesting material before the hammer fell down and that whole universe fell under the ebb tide of the big bad movement, the counter-revolution as one political wag called it, when the other side, symbolized by the master criminal Richard Milhous Nixon who also happened to be President of the United States, let the whirlwinds of reaction have a field day on our heads. (A couple of the journals that had weathered the storm that he had written for like Rolling Stone which is today just a glossy reprint of Vogue or Vanity Fair for the quasi-hip audience it appeals to in its articles and the consumer-driven advertisements it displays which pay the bill, hence the tiller’s placid reward, and the local Boston Phoenix which went belly up a few years ago after subsisting as a “hook-up” venue do not undermine that ebb tide understanding on the media front.)

Part of Josh’s respect for memory also came from his association with the long gone, long moaned over Pete Markin whom he had met out in San Francisco in the high tide summer of love, 1967 and who came to a bad end in the mid-1970s down in Sonora, Mexico after a high-end drug deal went down the wrong way and he wound up face down in a dusty back alley with a couple of slugs in the back of his head who always, always lived to have about two thousand juicy memory references handy on the off chance that, for example, somebody might quickly need to know Millard Fillmore’s standing among  American Presidents (just above Richard Nixon at last check) and the practice had rubbed off on him.
On a recent night that memory business got a full workout as Josh went back deep into his youth (and the youth of his lady friend, Laura Perkins, who is key to this particular memory flash) returning to the scene of many a youthful misadventure-the still functioning Olde Saco Drive-In up in Maine.              

Drive-In? Well, yes, for those who have only heard about this institution of the high golden age 1950s and 1960s automobile and have no personal knowledge that they really still exist in spots except in “generation of ’68’’ nostalgia movies like American Graffiti  the drive-in. Here’s the skinny (or if you are still in disbelief then go to Wikipedia and check the information out). Back when everybody was dying to have a car from old grand-pappies to barely sixteen year old boys (and it was mainly boys, girls were usually okay grabbing the family car for a night out with the girls, a night “cruising’ the boulevards looking for the heart of Saturday, looking for boys just as Josh and his crowd were “cruising” looking for girls or sitting, sitting in the front close to some hunk with a “boss” car and glad to be the subject of some salacious  Monday morning girls’ lav gossip) the whole axis of night-life changed once everybody realized that you were no longer tied to the house (or at most the neighborhood), were not tied to constantly eating at home, sleeping at home or watching the new-fangled television or go to the local box movie house. In a car-fixated time you could travel and stay in a motel overnight, you could eat, if you dared, at a drive-in restaurant or while away the evening in the snugness of your automobile at the drive-in theater. Hail god car.   

Of course while anybody, child or adult, could do all those things the drive-in movies became along with the drive-in restaurant one of the moments of the teen ritual, although we were all back then brought up on parents taking their children to the drive-in as an easy way to get out of the house what with a double-feature, a snack bar and a playground to entertain the kiddies. That kids’ stuff is just that. The teen drive-in movie scene is the stuff of nostalgia. Josh wasn’t sure when he stopped going to the drive-in except sometime in the 1970s, wasn’t sure when drive-ins kind of folded up and died away of hubris or indifference at some point that he did not remember (after in some cases serving up some soft-core porn to keep an audience) and wasn’t sure if they even existed anymore. Wasn’t sure that is until he was heading to Portland, Maine for a conference and decided to take Route One instead of U.S. 95 up from his home in Boston.

Now that was no random decision since  Josh had grown up in Olde Saco a few miles south of Portland and had been for a lot of reasons of late in an Olde Saco frame of mind after the passing of Rene Dubois his old high school classmate and runaround corner boy back then. As he worked his way up Route One when he got to Olde Saco he happened to look to the right and there kind of hidden from view was an ancient dilapidated crude handmade sign for the Olde Saco Drive-In and moreover that the place was still open for business. He did not have time to stop but that sign, that memory kind of festered in his mind for a few weeks until he decided to go spent a few days (along with Laura) up at an old friend’s house in Wells (an old friend of Markin’s really from North Adamsville down in Massachusetts where they had grown up which is how he had met Jimmy Jenkins the owner of the place back after the summer of love, 1967). One day Josh fervently asked Laura to “take the ticket, take the ride,” an expression that he used when he wanted them to do something out of the ordinary. And going to a drive-in, the Olde Saco Drive-In was not something that he had done in about forty years so he was really doing a memory stretch. Laura at first didn’t want to go, said she had no history and hence no memory for drive-ins since between her shoulder-to-the-wheel no-nonsense parents not being the drive-in movie types and living out in Podunk in upstate New York where she could not remember if there were drive-ins in the area Josh’s big deal was a deflated balloon to her. But she eventually relented after he promised her to do about fourteen different things from taking her to dinner, cleaning up a laundry list (her laundry list) of stuff, to cooking in return which he took as a fair bargain under the circumstances, so they were off.

Now this drive-in thing back in the day had a certain ritual to it, a Josh and his gang ritual anyway. He had already thought after seeing the old place about the travails of childhood when after a long shift at the MacAdams Textile Mill where his father, Prescott,  worked as a machinist before the mills that sustained the town headed south (first to American South then the world South to places like Indonesia and Singapore in search of that greedy increased profit wrought by cheaper wage packets), and Delores (nee LeBlanc and hence her hometown of Olde Saco one of the work stopping points heading south from native Quebec a generation or two before her own), his mother, both work weary would bundle up he and his four sisters and head to the “Olde Saco” for the night’s double feature, some illicit snacks (you were not supposed to bring your own foods in but what was to stop you and it would not be, despite five Breslin children howls, until he went there with his gang that he would learn of the delights at the snack bar-the buttered drenched slightly stale, maybe popped from the night before, popcorn, the fizz-less sodas sickenly sweetly syrup and caffeine clogged, the desiccated cardboard-like pizza light on cheese, sauce and flavor, the greasy grimy hamburgers only saved by slathered ketchups and mustard, no onions, no, onions if you wanted to go in to that good night with a certain she but more of that later, and the food-free, calorie free hot dogs in their grave-like mushy white flour enriched buns that would become his staple on drive-in nights, his sisters too from what they said, from what they said on their date nights if the guy wanted to get anywhere, anywhere at all with them, no cheapskates need apply their motto), and the playground conveniently located at the  end just below the movie screen where he and his sisters would climb the jungle jim, slide the slide, mangle the see-saw and seek heaven on the swings. Kindly childhood thoughts as almost all children would think (and later measured, nicely measured in his parents favor since they really did not have the surplus dough to spent on such “frills” when the rent was always behind and his mother made something of a secular rosary out of her weekly white envelopes on the kitchen table bill-paying chores always short, always damn short although that remembrance too late to do him, or them, any good since they had been estranged so long).

No, what drove Josh these days were the teenage drive-in movies where he had come of age in the Olde Saco night. Of course it started with larcenous intent (nice legal term courtesy of Sam Lowell, the lawyer friend of Markin also met after they headed back East together in the summer of love year 1967) when the late Rene Dubois, a year older than the rest of the guys since he had just come down from Quebec and was in a special language immersion class (although they didn’t call it that then but something like special needs, or for dumb kids or something) for a year before joining the regular class who got his driver’s license first and more importantly since he worked at La Croix’s Garage over on Main Street after school and on weekends his first car an old beat up ‘53 Chevy that he worked on to bring back to life (as he would do with a succession of cars up to a “boss” ’57 two-toned white and cherry red naturally Chevy that was nothing but a “babe” magnet and not just for teeny-bopper girls either). But before the girls started cluttering up Rene’s life (as they would through four freaking marriages, a bushel of kids, and a bevy of grandkids) he was the “max daddy” of the road taking his corner boys like Josh to the Olde Saco Drive-In.

Here is where the larceny comes in though. In those days admission was something like three dollars a head for the nightly double-feature (Josh urged that he not be quoted on that price for like lots of things these days that number seems to have come out of the mist of time and may be totally wrong but the price cheap anyway although not cheap enough for “from hunger” working class projects kids like him) so what they would do is pig-pile three or four guys in the big ass trunk (occasional sightings of 1950s automobile models still on the road and a recent visit to an automobile museum out in San Diego only confirmed to Josh what he remembered about how big the trunks were then, and how big bad ass the engines were too, and although today’s are quite a bit more efficient there was some psychological lift then in being seen in those big ass cars, certainly the girls would turn their heads something he had not seen anybody with today’s zip cars and minis), maybe depending on size a couple of guys in the rear seat wells so for about  six bucks (remember the guess-aspect please), the admission Rene and whoever was riding shot-gun paid (later correctly split up among the total number admitted since that was the whole point) half the freaking neighborhood got into the show for less than a dollar.

Now one might ask, aside from the silly question of the morality if not the legality of such moves whether the admission booth attendant would not get wise to the whole scene. What are you kidding this poor cluck probably got about a dollar an hour for his or her work and was not worried about playing “copper,” not when that person probably was running the same scam when he or she was going to the drive-in. The important thing is that later, later when it wasn’t about “from hunger” guys but meeting carloads of girls from the neighborhoods who were using the same “technique” sometimes Josh and the boys would con some poor girls into the trunk and since it was tight quarters “cop” a quick feel wherever that stray hand landed (the only really acceptable kind of “copping” when you thought about it) a quick feel and maybe get them “in the mood” for the fogged up window scene every guy dream of.  (Later Josh would tell one and all out in California he blushed more than the girls when he pulled that maneuver although he caught more than his fair share of “in the mood” girls, he was not known by the moniker the “Prince of Love” in the great summer of love night, circa 1967, for nothing).  

Josh laughed when he thought about that silly larceny and that “copping” kids’ stuff but later, come junior and senior years of high school the ritual became much more serious when three was a crowd time, when it was important to be able to separate out a bit and go to what was named the “sweat box” by the local guys, the place where the single guy with a single girl placed their automobile away from the prying carload of younger teen guys or girls and better still from prying eyes of young parents, grown suddenly old and responsible once the kids started coming, shielding their kids from the fogged bound cars at the back of the lot. The “sweat box” was the section where if one asked a quick question about the plot of the film one would get some strange answers while the parties were straightening out their clothes. Josh said if you really thought about it no parent would go within fifty yards of that “passion pit.”

Not all of Josh’s memories of the Olde Saco Drive-In were great big cream puff dreams. Later after the big “cultural revolution” that was the 1960s lost steam guys like Josh (and more dramatically the moaned for late Pete Markin) were left stranded for a while, lost their moorings. Like the time Josh was down on his own luck and forced to sneak back to Olde Saco and stay low for reasons that best not detain us here. Here’s how he told the story:

“Mimi Murphy knew two things, she needed to keep moving, and she was tired, tired as hell of moving, of the need, of the self-imposed need, to keep moving ever since that incident five years ago with her seems like an eternity ago sweet long gone motorcycle boy, Pretty James Preston. Poor Pretty James and his needs, no, his obsessions with that silly motorcycle, that English devil’s machine, that Vincent Black Lightning that caused him more anguish than she did. And she gave him plenty to think about as well before the end. How she tried to get him to settle down a little, just a little, but what was a sixteen old girl, pretty new to the love game, totally new, but not complaining to the sex game, and his little tricks to get her in the mood for that, and forget the settle down thing. Until the next time.

Maybe, if you were from around North Adamsville way, or maybe just Boston, you had heard about Pretty James, Pretty James Preston and his daring exploits back in about 1967 and 1968. Those got a lot of play in the newspapers for months before the end. Before that bank job, the one where as Pretty James used to say all the time, he cashed his check. Yes, the big Granite City National Bank branch in Braintree heist that he tried to pull all by himself, with Mimi as stooge look-out. She had set him up for that heist, or so she thought. No, she didn’t ask him to do it but she got him thinking, thinking about settling down just a little and he needed a big score, not the penny ante gas station and mom and pop variety store robberies that kept them in, as he also said, coffee and cakes but a big payday and then off to Mexico, maybe Sonora, and a buy into the respectable and growing drug trade.

And he almost, almost, got away clean that fatal day, that day when she stood across the street, a forty-five in her purse just in case he needed it for a final getaway. But he never made it out the door. Some rum brave security guard tried to uphold the honor of his profession and started shooting nicking Pretty James in the shoulder. Pretty James responded with a few quick blasts and felled the copper. That action though slowed down the escape enough for the real coppers to respond and blow Pretty James away. Dead, DOA, done. Her sweet boy Pretty James.

According to the newspapers a tall, slender red-headed girl about sixteen had been seen across the street from the bank just waiting, waiting according to the witness, nervously. The witness had turned her head when she heard the shots from the bank and when she looked back the red-headed girl was gone. And Mimi was gone, and long gone before the day was out. She grabbed the first bus out of Braintree headed to Boston where eventually she wound up holed up in a high-end whorehouse doing tricks to make some moving dough. And she had been moving ever since, moving and eternally hate moving. Now, for the past few months, she had been working nights as a cashier in the refreshment stand at the Olde Saco Drive-In Theater to get another stake to keep moving. She had been tempted, a couple of times, to do a little moon-lighting in a Portland whorehouse that a woman she had worked with at her last job, Fenner’s Department Store where she modeled clothes for the rich ladies, had told her about to get a quick stake but she was almost as eternally tired at that prospect as in moving once again.

Then one night Josh came in. Came in for popcorn and a Sprite she remembered, although she did not remember on that busy summer night what the charge was. He kind of looked her over quickly, very quickly but she was aware that he looked her over and, moreover, he was aware that she knew that he had looked her over. The look though was not the usual baby, baby come on look, but a thoughtful look like he could see that she had seen some woes and, well, what of it. Like maybe he specialized in fixing busted-up red-heads, or wanted to. She knew she wasn’t beautiful but she had a certain way about her that certain guys, guys from motorcycle wild boy Pretty James Boy to kind of bookish college guys like this one, wanted to get next to. If she let them. And she hadn’t, hadn’t not since Pretty James. But she confessed to herself, not without a girlish blush, that she had in the universe of looks and peeks that make up human experience looked him over too. And then passed to the next customer and his family of four burgeoning tray-full order of hot dogs, candy, popcorn and about six zillion drinks.

A couple of nights later, a slow night for it was misting out keeping away the summer vacation families that kept the drive-in hopping before each show and at intermission, a Thursday night usually slow anyway before the Friday change of the double-feature, Josh came in again at intermission. This time out of nowhere, without a second’s hesitation, she gave him a big smile when he came to the register with his now familiar popcorn and Sprite. He didn’t respond, or rather he did not respond right away because right behind him there were a couple of high school couples who could hardly wait to get their provisions and get back to their fogged-up car and keep it fogged up. They passed by him and hurried out the door.
Just then over the refreshment stand loudspeaker that played records as background music to keep the unruly crowds a little quiet while they waited for their hamburgers and hot dogs came the voice of Doris Troy singing her greatest hit, Just One Look. Then he broke into a smile, a big smile like he was thinking just that thought that very minute, looked up at the clock, looked again, and looked a third time without saying a word, She gave him a slight flirty smile and said eleven o’clock and at exactly eleven o’clock he was there to meet her. Maybe she thought as they went out the refreshment stand door she would not have to keep moving, eternally moving after all.
A couple of fretful months later one nigh Mimi slipped out the back door of her rooming house over on Atlantic Avenue and Josh never heard from her again. Josh figured that after telling him about Pretty James one lonesome whiskey-drinking night she had to move, keep moving tired or not.”

So not all the old time Olde Saco Drive-In dreams worked out. And in the big scheme of things in Josh’s life, some ups, some downs stirred memories, good or bad, of drive-in movie times would usually rate pretty far down on the list. But these semi-retired days Josh has had time to think about old time things. Like a lot of guys, gals too but he wouldn’t speak for them since he had only talked to his guys about those old days he wished to have a re-run on such things knowing full well that you “can’t go home again,” the past is dead and gone. Hell, didn’t he know that when he tried to rekindle some old high school friendships and wound up giving it up after he realized that time had swept whatever they all had in common away. Know too when he tried that last reconciliation with his family that it was too late. Hell even a simple thing like planning to go to class reunion got all balled up when some old flame, or kind of old flame, wanted to start something up again now that she was “single” (after three divorces) and Josh too (ditto on the divorces, the number as well). So he had had to nix that plan.     

And that is where Laura came in, Laura who had “saved” him from some tiresome lonely old age when they finally got together, finally figured they were “soulmates” as she called it (and he agreed).  See Josh figured some things maybe can’t be worked out from the past but something simple like a trip down memory lane at the Olde Saco Drive-In might be a kick. Like was mentioned before Laura was very cool to the idea but since they were staying nearby, the weather was warm and the double-bill (yeah, they kept the double-bill tradition alive) while not her usual arty films were probably passable flicks she finally agreed. So on a Wednesday night they drove the twenty miles or so up to Olde Saco from Wells with a certain amount of excitement now that they had decided to do the thing (Laura with her drive-in-less youth was now curious about the whole ritual).

When Josh drove up to the admissions booth he noticed that the old standard per carload idea was also still in effect, verifying what he had already told Laura about the old time larcenies. (By the way he can confirm that times had changed, that inflation had worked its ways in the forty or fifty years that have passed since now a carload was twenty dollars and that is a number that he had no trouble remembering since it was his treat.) As he passed his money along he kiddingly mentioned to the attendant that he had twelve people in the trunk but instead of some incomprehension on his part the kid told Josh that he had a few nights before had to check a couple of trunks and found them filled with teenagers. The tradition lives! (Although Josh felt some chagrin later over the kid playing “copper” on the deal).         

As Josh and Laura found a spot, a little out of the way since they had passed a number of carloads of families with kids not sitting in the cars like the old days but spread out in front of their spots with lawn chairs so they could have a little quiet. Josh remarked that except for some overgrown grass the place looked pretty much the same as in the old days with a few exceptions. First off there were no speakers, you know, the ones on the posts that you clipped to your slightly opened front door window (and half the time in your rush to get out of the place in less than an hour as the traffic jam began at the exit you forgot the damn thing and not a few would be down on the ground after a night’s work). Nowadays, as Laura noticed on the screen, you tuned into a numbered station on your car radio. Okay, progress can’t be stopped and those silly speakers were really a nuisance. Another thing was that the old time playground that he and his sisters played in as kids were gone, replaced by a couple more rows of car spots. The most striking thing though was, probably as a matter of saving dough, the refreshment stand area looked almost exactly as it had, except maybe a new coat of paint about ten years ago, when he spied Mimi behind the counter back in the 1970s with the same “menu.” (Don’t tell Laura, please don’t tell Laura that Josh had some pangs about Mimi on seeing that stand, okay).

Actually the most striking thing about the evening though was not the same old stand but that there was not a speck of an indication that the old “sweat box” section was still around. And it made sense when he and Laura were talking about the subject during intermission. Kids have about twenty other ways of entertaining themselves, are more committed to mall-rat-dom and other locales these days so things do move on. Josh had not expected any such replication although it would have heartened him if it had. It was okay and they had a nice evening.

Hey, what about the double-feature, what about the movies. Well, Josh said he was not sure but he thought one was a spy movie, something out of the Cold War, and the other was a flipped out romance. And he said Laura agreed. When he named the two titles though when I checked they had nothing to do with spies or romances, one was a star-wars type movie, the other a gangster movie. Yeah, some things never change at the drive-in, well almost never except Josh complained about how hard it was to maneuver these days with these damn bucket car seats and the console in the middle, and about how they forgot to bring paper towels to wipe off the fog from the windshields.           

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Of The Caffe Lena And Stuff-Rosalie Sorrels’ "My Last Go Round"

CD Review

By Zack James

My Last Go Round, Rosalie Sorrels and friends, 2002 

My old high school friend, Lance Lawrence, who went every step of the way with me back in the 1960s into the Cambridge folk and coffeehouse scene since we lived in next town Arlington reminded me recently that we had spread our folk wings further than Cambridge and its rather boisterous scene. We had taken a few trips down to Mecca, to Greenwich Village in New York City and imbibed the full effect there. But the folk minute while it didn’t survive the British invasion and the rise of “acid” rock to grab young ears also had little outposts in places that one would not assume such music would have much play, at least back then. Lance and I had made a trip to Saratoga in those days to see a cousin of his who was going to Skidmore College. One Saturday night he took us to the Caffe Lena in that town, a small, a very small coffeehouse (still there unlike many other more famous venues which went under when the folk tide ebbed), run by a wild old woman, Lena, who single-handedly ran the place, kept the folk minute alive in that region, kept many a budding folkie from Arlo Guthrie to the McGarrigle Sisters going in tough times. It was there that we first saw that night Rosalie Sorrels singing up songs of protest and blues, singing some stuff by a guy named Bruce Phillips, later to be called more famously Utah Phillips.     

All of this a roundabout way of introducing the CD under review, My Last Go Round, a live album of her last public performance along with some of her friends at the Saunders Theater at Harvard in 2002 which Lance and I both attended with our wives who in their own ways had imbibed the folk minute in other locale (Ann Arbor and Berkeley). Rosalie had decided to give up the road, to stick closer to home, so had invited his friends from Caffe Lena and other roads to come and perform. Invited those who were still standing and who could make it. Unfortunately the legendary Dave Van Ronk one of the key figures in the budding folk movement in New York in the late 1950s who was supposed to perform had passed away a few weeks before (to be replaced by the still standing now David Bromberg) which placed a damper on the proceedings.             

It was at this performance that Lance and I (along with the our wives) first took stock than those who stood tall in that 1960s folk minute were starting to pass on and that we had better see performances of whoever was left standing as best we could. We additionally, as we sat in the Café Algiers on Brattle Street after the performance for a late night coffee and pastry (some things never change for that was the bill of fare in the old days when we, low on funds, gravitated to the coffeehouses for cheap dates in high school and college) got into an animated conversation about who did, and who did not, still have “it.” Have a spark of that old time ability to draw a crowd to them. David Bromberg did (and does after a fairly recent performance seen at a Boston venue where he blew the crowd away with his music and a very fine back-up band). And yes, very much yes, Rosalie Sorrels still had it that night at the Saunders Theater. Listen up.        

Out In The Be-Bop 1960s Night- Frankie Out In The Adventure Car Hop Night

YouTube film clip of the Dubs performing the classic Could This Be Magic? to set the mood for this piece. 

By Josh Breslin

Frankie Riley, the old corner boy leader of the crowd, our crowd of the class of 1964 guys who made it and graduated, not all did, a couple wound up serving time in various state pens but that is not the story I want to tell today except that those fallen brothers also imbibed Frankie’s wisdom (else why would they listen to him for they were tougher if not smarter than he was) about what was what in rock and roll music in the days when we had our feet firmly planted in front of Tonio’s Pizza Parlor in North Adamsville, had almost a sixth sense about what songs would and would not make it in the early 1960s night. Knew like the late Billy Bradley, my corner boy when my family lived on the other side of town back then, did in the 1950s elementary school night what would stir the girls enough to get them “going.” And if you don’t understand what “going” meant or what “going and rock and roll together in the same sentence meant then perhaps you should move along. Why else would we listen to Frankie, including those penal tough guys, if it wasn’t to get into some girl’s pants. Otherwise guys like Johnny Blade (and you don’t need much imagination to know what kind of guy and what kind of weapon that moniker meant) and Hacksaw Jackson would have cut of his “fucking head’ (their exact expression and that is a direct quote so don’t censor me or give me the “what for”).

But that was then and this is now and old, now old genie Frankie had given up the swami business long ago for the allure of the law profession which he is even now as I write starting to turn over to his younger partners who are begging just like he did in his turn to show their stuff, to herald the new breeze that the austere law offices of one Francis Xavier Riley and Associates desperately needs to keep their clients happy. In that long meantime I have been the man who has kept the flame of the classic days of rock and roll burning. Especially over the past few years when I have through the miracles of the Internet been able between Amazon and YouTube to find a ton of the music, classics and one-shot wonders of our collective youths and comment on it from the distance of fifty or so years.

I have presented some reviews of that material, mostly the commercially compiled stuff that some astute record companies or their successors have put together to feed the nostalgia frenzy of the cash rich (relatively especially if they are not reduced to throwing their money at doctors and medicines which is cutting into a lot of what I am able to do), on the Rock and Roll Will Never Die blog that a guy named Wolfman Joe had put together trying to reassemble the “youth nation” of the 1960s who lived and died for the music that was then a fresh breeze compared to the deathtrap World War II-drenched music our parents were trying to foist on us.         

That work, those short sketch commentaries, became the subject for conversation between Frankie and me when he started to let go of the law practice (now he is “of counsel” whatever that means except he get a nice cut of all the action that goes through the office without the frenzied work for the dollars) and we would meet every few weeks over at Jack’s in Cambridge where he now lives since the divorce from his third wife, Minnie. So below are some thoughts from the resurrection, Frankie’s term, for his putting his spin on “what was what” fifty or so years ago when even Johnny Blade and Hacksaw Jackson had sense enough to listen to his words if they wanted to get into some frill’s pants.

“Okay, you know the routine by now, or at least the drift of these classic rock reviews. [This is the sixth in the series that I had originally commented on but which Frankie feels he has to put his imprimatur on just like in the old days- JB] The part that starts out with a “tip of the hat” to the hard fact that each generation, each teenage generation that is makes its own tribal customs, mores and language. Then the part that is befuddled by today’s teenage-hood. And then I go scampering back to my teenage-hood, the teenage coming of age of the generation of ‘68 that came of age in the early 1960s and start on some cultural “nugget” from that seemingly pre-historic period. Well this review is no different, except, today we decipher the drive-in restaurant, although really it is the car hops (waitresses) that drive this one.

See, this series of reviews is driven, almost subconsciously driven, by the Edward Hopper Nighthawk-like illustrations on the The Rock ‘n’ Roll Era CDs of this mammoth set of compilations (fifteen, count them, fifteen like there were fifteen times twenty or so songs on each compilation or over three hundred classic worth listening to today. Hell, even Frankie would balk at that possibility).

In this case it is the drive-in restaurant of blessed teenage memory. For the younger set, or those oldsters who “forgot” that was a restaurant idea driven by car culture, especially the car culture from the golden era of teenage car-dom, the 1950s. Put together cars, cars all flash-painted and fully-chromed, “boss” cars we called them in my working class neighborhood, young restless males, food, and a little off-hand sex, or rather the promise or mist of a promise of it, and you have the real backdrop to the drive-in restaurant. If you really thought about it why else would somebody, anybody who was assumed to be functioning, sit in their cars eating food, and at best ugly food at that, off a tray while seated in their cherry, “boss" 1959 Chevy.

And beside the food, of course, there was the off-hand girl watching (in the other cars with trays hanging off their doors), and the car hop ogling (and propositioning, if you had the nerve, and if your intelligence was good and there was not some 250 pound fullback back-breaker waiting to take her home after work a few cars over with some snarl on his face and daggers in his heart or maybe that poundage pounding you) there was the steady sound of music, rock music, natch, coming from those boomerang speakers in those, need I say it, “boss” automobiles. And that is where all of this gets mixed in.

Of course, just like another time when I was reviewing one of the CDs in this series, and discussing teenage soda fountain life, the mere mention, no, the mere thought of the term “car hop” makes me think of a Frankie story. Frankie, Francis Xavier Riley, Frankie from the old hell-fire shipbuilding sunk and gone and it-ain’t-coming-back-again seen better days working class neighborhood where we grew up, or tried to. Frankie who I have already told you I have a thousand stories about, or hope I do. Frankie the most treacherous little bastard that you could ever meet on one day, and the kindest man (better man/child), and not just cheap jack, dime store kindness either, alive the next day. Yeah, that Frankie, my best middle school and high school friend Frankie.

Did I tell you about Joanne, Frankie’s “divine” (his term, without quotation marks) Joanne because she enters, she always in the end enters into these things? Yes, I see that I did back when I was telling you about her little Roy “The Boy” Orbison trick. The one where she kept playing Running Scared endlessly to get Frankie’s dander up. But see while Frankie has really no serious other eyes for the dames except his “divine” Joanne (I insist on putting that divine in quotation marks when telling of Joanne, at least for the first few times I mention her name, even now. Needless to say I questioned, and questioned hard, that designation on more than one occasion to no avail) he is nothing but a high blood-pressured, high-strung shirt-chaser, first class. And the girls liked him, although not for his looks although they were kind of Steve McQueen okay. What they went for him for was his line of patter, first class. Patter, arcane, obscure patter that made me, most of the time, think of fingernails scratching on a blackboard (except when I was hot on his trail trying to imitate him) and his faux “beat” pose (midnight sunglasses, flannel shirt, black chinos, and funky work boots (ditto on the imitation here as well). And not just “beat’ girls liked him, either as you will find out. Certainly Joanne the rose of Tralee was not beat sister (although she was his first wife). 

Well, the long and short of it was that Frankie, late 1963 Frankie, and the...(oh, forget it) Joanne had had their 207th (really that number, or close, since 8th grade) break-up and Frankie was a "free” man. To celebrate this freedom Frankie, Frankie, who was almost as poor as I was but who has a father with a car that he was not too cheap or crazy about to not let Frankie use on occasion, had wheels. Okay, Studebaker wheels but wheels anyway. And he was going to treat me to a drive-in meal as we went cruising the night, the Saturday night, the Saturday be-bop night looking for some frails (read: girls, Frankie had about seven thousand names for them)

Tired (or bored) from cruising the Saturday be-bop night away (meaning girl-less) we hit the local drive-in hot spot, Arnie’s Adventure Car Hop for one last, desperate attempt at happiness (yeah, things were put, Frank and me put anyway, just that melodramatically for every little thing). What I didn’t know was that Frankie, king hell skirt-chaser had his off-hand eye on one of the car hops, Sandy, and as it turned out she was one of those girls who was enamored of his patter (or so I heard later). So he pulled into her station and started to chat her up as we ordered the haute cuisine, And here was the funny thing, now that I saw her up close I could see that she was nothing but a fox (read: “hot” girl).

The not so funny thing was that she was so enamored of Frankie’s patter that he was going to take her home after work. No problem you say. No way, big problem. I was to be left there to catch a ride home while they set sail into that good night. Thanks, Frankie.

Well, I was pretty burned up about it for a while but as always with “charma” Frankie we hooked up again a few days later. And here is where I get a little sweet revenge (although don’t tell him that).

Frankie sat me down at the old town pizza parlor [Tonio’s Pizza Parlor of blessed memory-JB] and told me the whole story and even now, as I recount it, I can’t believe it.

Sandy was a fox, no question, but a married fox, a very married fox, who said she when he first met her that she was about twenty-two and had a kid. Her husband was in the service and she was “lonely” and succumbed to Frankie’s charms. Fair enough, it is a lonely world at times. But wait a minute, I bet you thought that Frankie’s getting mixed up with a married honey with a probably killer husband was the big deal. No way, no way at all. You know, or you can figure out, old Frankie spent the night with Sandy. Again, it's a lonely world sometimes.

The real problem, the real Frankie problem, was once they started to compare biographies and who they knew around town, and didn’t know, it turned out that Sandy, old fox, old married fox with brute husband, old Arnie’s car hop Sandy was some kind of cousin to Joanne, second cousin maybe. And she was no cradle-robber twenty-two (as if you could rob the cradle according to Frankie) but nineteen, almost twenty and was just embarrassed about having a baby in high school and having to go to her "aunt's" to have the child. Moreover, somewhere along the line she and cousin Joanne had had a parting of the ways, a nasty parting of the ways. So sweet as a honey bun Arnie's car hop Sandy, sweet teen-age mother Sandy, was looking for a way to take revenge and Frankie, old king of the night Frankie, was the meat. She had him sized up pretty well, as he admitted to me. And he was sweating this one out like crazy, and swearing everyone within a hundred miles to secrecy. So I’m telling you this is strictest confidence even now fifty years later and long after his divorce from her. Just don’t tell Joanne. Ever.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Before The Jug….Was The Jug-With John Sebastian’s Hungry Eye Jug Band In Mind 

By Lester Lannon
A while back, maybe two three years ago just after they had witnessed the fiftieth anniversary union performance of what was left of the original Jim Kweskin Jug Band (Jim, Maria Muldaur and ex-husband Geoff Muldaur) at the Club Passim in Harvard Square Sam Lowell, Bart Webber and Jack Callahan had been sitting in Jack’s down the street sipping some high end whiskeys when they started to cut up old touches about their own experiences at jug music and jug band under the long ago influence of that very jug band(and of course through them finding out running back to genesis to the Memphis Jug Band, Cannon’s Stompers, The Mississippi Shieks and a half dozen old state name in front Shieks where all the really good jug band material was to be found). Jack, the old-time washboard player, had blurted out what was on everybody’s mind after that performance-“what the hell we have time now let’s get a hold of Laura Lynn and Frank Riley and give the old Riverdale Jug Band a local revival.” (Riverdale the home town of all five of the original named players, an occasional sit in fiddler and magic kazoo player were from neighboring Gloversville and hence Riverdale).

Sam, the jug man supreme, was at first hesitate for the very same reason the band had disbanded after a couple of years and some local success-there was not enough space in the then fading folk revival minute to support, support as a professional operation more than one serious jug band and that band was clearly the Jim Kweskin outfit (which in their turn would split up for various reasons, personality clashes, declining energies, declining public interest and the usual hubris). Fifty years later and a look at the greying demographics at Passims’ only made Sam more sanguine about such prospects. At least that night Jack was unsuccessful in persuading either Sam or Bart both who were in the slow process of giving up the day to day running of their respective law office and print shop to know that they had needed more time think about reforming the old group. His argument that the Kweskin Jug Band was, except for ceremonial occasions, not now an on-going operation went for naught. His other argument, a historical argument, that even the Kweskin experience back in the day had only been possible because of various reconfigurations in the personal of that band after various “raids” on other jug bands also fell on deaf ears that night.

But Jack sensed that there was some mulling over going on and so he went for the jugular (no pun intended) and brought Laura and Frankie into the mix. Did it in a very tricky way. John Sebastian, well known from the folk and folk rock days as the leader of the group The Lovin’ Spoonful (that left out “g” all the rage back then when everybody wanted to be at one with the “folk” although one never saw a real “folk” who were trying to get away from that designation and could not be found within ten miles of any folk revival site) which had hits with Summer in the CityLovin’ Spoonful (remember no “g”) and Nashville Cats, was scheduled to appear at the Newport Folk Festival down in Rhode Island like he had in the old days. Jack had purchased a block of five tickets in order to entice them back to that old summer stomping ground where they had done a daytime, although no primetime, stage performance a couple of years in a row when their star was rising (and the lack of any serious follow-up, follow-up in the way such things counted in those days with a record contract except a small nimble from Dollar Records who thereafter passed on producing their first album claiming their work was too derivative, derivative of the Kweskin Jug Band particularly which started Riverdale Jug band members, first of all Laura to get married, to go their separate ways).

The hook of Newport for Jack was that he was privy to something that the others were not aware of. John Sebastian in the old days before the Lovin’ Spoonful success had been the founder (and re-founder) of various jug band combinations in the Village in the early 1960s when jug music was getting a lot of play in the folk revival. Sebastian’s most famous group, his most famous effort was the Hungry Eye Jug Band with the great Fritz Diamond on wash basin and Maria Donato on vocals and tambourines. That grouping was ready to break out, make it to the night stage at Newport when Fritz and Maria abandoned ship, went over to another unnamed jug band (but one could figure that out easily enough) and that was that. John as we know landed on his feet and so he therefore claimed no foul. The source of the story-John Sebastian himself one night when he was playing by himself in a stellar performance at the now defunct Boston Folk Festival.           

See in those free and easy 1960s days s groups formed, reformed, talent got stolen away and every other thing that has happened in the music industry since there was an industry, maybe before. Jack though if the other members of the old jug band heard John’s story they might reconsider their position of not re-forming the band. He also figured once they were back together, back on the road a few nights playing small coffeehouses and cafes to grab some work in order to work out the kinks in their material that they too could “raid” the talent pool. Might have some name in lights like John Sebastian and the Riverdale Jug Band. Or the Riverdale Jug Band with Jim Kweskin (it would emphatically not be the Riverdale Jug Band with Maria Muldaur not if he didn’t want to lose Laura and with her the whole enterprise since her vocals and good looks had gotten them plenty of play and she would not then nor now abide playing second to any other female vocalist). But he needed to get them on board, needed to get them to sunny Newport, needed to have them heard that patented John Sebastian story. 

Jack need not have worried because there must have been something in the air as the next time the group of five gathered in Cambridge for drinks and conversation Laura asked if it was still possible to sign up to do a daytime workshop at Newport. The subject- jug music. And Sam was talking feverishly about where he could find a worthy jug these days, and so it went. Yeah, before the jug was… the jug.  
Like Some French Girls That He Knew-With The Musee D’ Orsay In Mind

By Zack James

He didn’t know exactly when he first noticed her in her short mini-skirt showing well-turned legs, her slender body always a plus with him, those eyes which from that distance he was not sure of but he would have predicted (giving hope to the answer) blue and that long ravishing hair, black and shiny sheen. It might have been as he left the Metro stop at the Musee D’ Orsay and headed toward the museum entrance and he had noticed that by the swish of her hips that she was that kind of sexy girl that if he had been America, his homeland, he would have gone up to and began some kind of half-clumsy school-boyish conversation and hoped for the best but that on foreign territory, sweet beloved Paris, he found that he wanted to be more circumspect.

That notice business might have been when she turned around and looked across the street toward the Seine wistfully to notice that storm clouds were forming that warm September day and that she probably rued the fact that she had not brought her umbrella (at least from hi vantage point then no umbrella against the day’s storms as noticed by him. Probably the first real connection though it was at the ticket counter when he, a couple of lines over from her as she turned to get her wallet out of her pocket book to get her Euros for admission, noticed that she looked in his direction and gave him a semi-Mona Lisa smile which he took for an interest of some sort. Of course under the influence of museum Paris and the Mona Lisa home across the river Louvre he very well could have imagined that smile designation. In any case that last quizzical smile was all he needed to make his plans for that afternoon. He would “stalk” her, discreetly of course until he could find some obvious reason to make a comment to her about some painting and see what played out.

An old trick, that sublime “what does that painting do for you” line that  he had learned long ago when somebody in Cambridge after he had suffered through his first divorce told him that spicy, spunky, sexy, intellectual young women, and older women too in that same category but then he was like now hung on the younger female set, would “troll” the bookstores then plentiful in the Square looking to be “picked up” to use a term of art of the times by guy who were looking for fetching intelligent company. One of those bookstore “pick-ups” had after a few dates told him that his friend’s intelligence was right but that the “real” pick up locale was the museums because while most guys would be willing to troll the bookshops that would probably balk at hanging around museums so anybody willing to go through that ordeal to meet interesting women must have something going for him.

So he had his game plan ready. He noticed that after paying her admission fee she went directly to the mezzanine to view the Gauguins and Van Goghs which then had a special section. Along her way around that section though he noticed that she had stopped at a painting of a secondary Expressionist painter who had been grouped with the “boys,” you know the “school of” artists, the subject matter which was of the fallen revolutionaries of the Paris Commune from May 1871 when the Thiers government unleased a bloodbath on working-class Paris. She stood before that painting for several minutes before he realized that this event was his was his big chance. Big chance on the off-chance that she might have some knowledge or connection with the events of the Commune which if she was French, and he was not sure if that was the case although everything about her “spoke” French to him, a lot of people he had met had some connection with even over hundred years later. In any case he had plenty of knowledge about the Paris Commune because when he was younger he had been devoted to that event as an example of working class solidarity and the possibilities of left-wing rule in those heady Commune days when if a couple of things had gone right they might have survived longer (he was not sure the thing could have survived in Paris alone then over the long haul)

He boldly, boldly for him seeing that he was probably twice her age and not sure of her nationality just then, slide up beside her and commented that those fallen brethren deserved all the pictorial commemoration any true artist could have given them. Back then when choosing sides counted-and could cost you your head. She turns around and after a confused moment gave that same semi-Mona Lisa smile that she had thrown his way earlier. Then she said, “My great-grandfather Dubois on my mother’s side suffered transportation to Tasmania for his devotion to the “cause.” Bingo. Then he went into a short spiel about how when he was younger he was devoted to the memory of the Communards, used to commemorate March 18th every year with fellow radicals and reds in Cambridge when after the failure of bourgeois politics to change anything, to stop the Vietnam War particularly, everybody headed to start reading Marx and the others and in that pursuit came across the Marxist defense of the Communards.                       

Second bingo-the male model for one of the fallen Communards represented in the painting was great-grandfather Dubois’ son, her great- grand uncle who had passed away when she was very young but who was always spoken of in hushed terms both for the modeling job and for surviving the bloodbath of 1871 when he was only fourteen and on the barricades. They found that conversation required more attention and so sat down on the marble seats that are scattered around that great big train station of a museum. After talking about the Communards and those sorrowful beautiful memories of such heroic action for the benefit of working people they got around to their respective professions. He told her that while he tried for a very long time, longer than most of his friends, that he had eventually broken from his active radical past and gone back to law school and so had practiced law for a number of years (he, and probably every older guy trying to relate to younger women was vague of dates and number of year issues to avoid the generation whipsaw of non-recognition of events, personalities, and fads by the later).

She startled him when she told him, making him laugh when she said it must run in the family, referring to that long ago relative used as a model for the painting that drew them together, that she was a cam model. A cam model being then the new Internet come hither sex site novelty where a woman, presumably a young woman although nothing would have precluded an older woman from doing the same thing  then, maybe now too on a sex site catered to a taste for older women, acted provocatively on camera and “lured” guys in with texted sex talk…and more. For a price she laughed. Meaning she told him to get to see or hear anything of real sexual interest required the usual joining the site at so much a month on the credit card (with small print telling you that unless you opted out you would continue to be charged monthly even if you signed up only for say a month and didn’t expect to go further with the pursuit). She made him laugh at that last part since he had on occasion pursued such sex sites. 

Now that cam model stuff then was pretty tame, almost a public service for shy or inhibited men with big sex dreams and appetites (and credit cards0, compared to the anything goes stuff today but it still kind of made him a little fearful to go forward. But she had that winning smile and those nice bodily features that got his thinking up a bit of bedrooms and wild sex. Moreover she seemed to have no particular desire to leave his company when he asked her if she would join him for lunch. She smiled and said yes that she was hungry and that she liked the way the conversation was going. 

At the Café Blanc up on Saint Germaine Boulevard toward Notre Dame after they had ordered some wine and a light lunch she told him more of the details of how she got into her profession as a sex worker (a term of art that he appreciated when she first mentioned that was really what a cam model was as he had in the back of his mind whore, prostitute, and call girl from his own upbringing none of those terms deemed by him to be offensive as he had in the early days of his legal career represented many streetwalkers and call girls from the “Combat Zone ” in Boston when the city authorities made their periodic raids to show they were doing something about crime but his religious upbringing was a hard thing to shake). She had come from a very pious family background of good Catholic radicals and had been a very good student at Saint Clare’s when she was in high school. Had dreamed of college maybe being a doctor, something like that. Still had the edges of those dreams in the back of her mind. But then her father, a well-known marine biologist, died when she was fourteen leaving her and three younger siblings, all boys, along with their mother to fend for themselves.                           

Initially there had been some family help, the mother worked and she juggled school and playing “mother” to the three younger boys while the mother was at work. Then her mother developed lots of unclear to her health issues and from there circumstances spiraled downward. She admitted that by the age of fourteen she had already had very quietly in another part of the town she had grown up in had sex with a boy a little older. She blushed when she said that saying that even now if anybody knew it would have been quite a family scandal. She also said that she had liked it, still did (which he noted with a wink at her when she said that), and that the boy had taught her a few things about what turned a guy on, and what a guy liked.    

Sometime when she was sixteen she decided on her own to take her interest in sex to another level. To help with the family financial stresses and help the younger boys in their studies toward entering college. Even now the priority in poor French families was toward making sure that the boys, or at least one boy got ahead. So she would come to Paris from her suburban home and on weekends “work the streets.” Not literally but she would go to places, hotels, swanky bars, always well made-up and with a set of nice clothes on after a while, and allow herself to be picked up by guys who were looking for a “good time.” (Her expression). By hook or by crook she made some serious money because she was good at her job (he thinking job, good blow job, and she probably was good at that from a look at those big ruby red lips, when she said that) and because she always acted like a sullen mistress who needed to be sexually satisfied she had built up a good clientage after.

After a while the weekend night life turned into four or five nights a week and so she quit school nobody then much minding that action since she was bringing in many Euros. As a cover she told her family she had made the money working as a waitperson at one of Paris’ finest hotels. She laughed at that thought since she had been taken there a number of times, mostly by American men, and so knew everything about the place, had stories to tell so nobody suspected her real “career.” At eighteen though she left her home after she got into trouble for “soliciting” (which was fixed by a client, a Paris judge) and knew that she had to leave home before anything else got exposed about her real life. So she worked the streets for a while, had been a short term mistress to an Englishman until his wife shut off the funds after finding out about the affair (she laughed about those stuffy English women and their cheap ways where a rich French woman would write the whole thing off and have an affair of her own), had worked in a couple of brothels and then tiring of being on her back some much (and “playing the flute,” which she told him later was just her term for a blow job that she had learned from that first boy lover who said for her to “play the flute for me” and she didn’t know what he meant until he pulled her head toward his cock and took her to put it in her mouth she would figure it out from there) made a connection which landed her the cam modelling job. She laughed when she said it was easier on the back-and the mouth too.

That story told as they sipped their after meal small wine as they went through the banter of what to do next. He suggested they go to his hotel. She asked where. He mentioned that same famous hotel that she knew so well which made her laugh as she accepted. They left the Café, stopped for a couple of bottles of wine and headed to the hotel. After a hard afternoon of love-making, including her “playing the flute,” which as he suspected she played well she told him she had to go. But before going she said she was still supporting that threesome of younger brothers these days through college. Could he give her, besides the taxi fare home, a “donation.” Now it was his turn to laugh as he unfolded a one hundred Euro note. Every time he was in Paris for the next couple of years he would call her up when he was in town. She would come and “play the flute” for him and other delights. And always ask for a “donation” with the cab fare. He would smile a wise smile as he unfolded the one hundred Euro note as he had that first time. Then one time he called her number and got no answer, got no forwarding message either. He figured, wanted to figure, that the last of the brothers had finished up school and so she had moved on too. But he would always remember some French girl that he knew.