My Confession

I have a confession to make. I never saw Walter Hill’s cult gang classic “The Warriors”. Not when it came out, not since. I wanted to, badly. I was seventeen, I could have, but none of my friends drove and my parents certainly weren’t taking me. Not because it was ‘R’ rated, I have no idea what is was rated, but because to them it would have looked unimaginably stupid if they’d looked into it, and they didn’t. I didn’t ask them to. I kept my desire to see “The Warriors” to myself. I only knew about it because of adds for it on the back covers of the superhero comics I read. You see my shame. In the years since I have repeatedly referenced ‘The Warriors’. At opportune moments in conversation, I have cried out ‘Warriors, come out to play!’ in an eerie, high pitched falsetto. I read somewhere that happens in the movie. I hope to Christ it does, because when I do it I generally get a laugh, and I’d like to think it wasn’t the uncomfortable laughter you get when the person you’re talking to suddenly gets afraid the person they’re talking to is crazy, possibly violent.

My Grandfather on my Dad’s side took me to the Auotmat when I was a little kid. The original ones were in Berlin, but this one was in Manhattan. It was a Horn and Hardarts. So what you did was, you went up to this wall of vending machines, and you looked through little windows at sandwiches and slices of pie and apples and whatnot, and you picked what you wanted and stuffed nickels into the slot and then the little windows, which were actually doors, would unlock and you could get your food out. It was magnificent. I had a turkey on whitebread. I guess in the strictest sense they were vending machines, but really it was just a wall and behind it was a kitchen with people, just like any other cafeteria, and workers would put the food in the little cubbies instead of you saying what you wanted and having them put it up on the glass so you could put it on your tray. Decades later, that same Grandfather would take me to the Grand Canyon, which was also very impressive. We’d been to one of the rims a few days before, the one that was not very built up. Now we were at the other rim, and there was a parking lot and a hotel and a gift shop and a lot more people. I said I liked the first rim better, that to me it seemed more in keeping with the experience of seeing such awe inspiring natural stuff. My Grandfather replied ‘If I’da known you weren’t gonna like it… I’da slit my wrists.’ I wished I could have stuffed nickels into his slot, slid open the little door over his heart and taken out whatever the hell he’d meant by that, but he was even less of a for real vending machine than the Automat.

I get that this is a hard story to read. I don’t mean emotionally hard, I wish, I mean, I bet it’s pretty hard to know why you are reading it and to convince yourself you should keep reading. Well, it’s hard for me to write, just exactly the same way.

I used the Internet to find out who directed “The Warriors”, and that it was based on Sol Yurick’s 1965 novel of the same name, a fact I did not include until now. Do I know who Sol Yurick is? I do not. Do I know what other works Sol Yurick wrote and if any of them were made into movies? I do not. I could, though. The Internet could tell me and I could include it just as if I was the kind of person who had known those things. I still might when I rewrite this. If I rewrite this. Which probably I won’t. Not because I trust my writing, but because I am a lazy writer. I also used the Internet to find out that the first Automat was in Berlin, which I could have done a lot more with, my grandfather and I being Jews and all, and him having been of an age to fight in World War Two. As a Doctor he didn’t fight, per se, but he was all over Europe and one imagines he saw all sorts of appalling shit. He gave me a German helmet with a hole in it. He claimed to have brought it back with him from Germany and also to have put the hole in it by shooting the soldier wearing it in the head, but I don’t think any of that is true. It was a big, heavy helmet and It’s hard for me to imagine him making room for it in his luggage when he returned home. Also I don’t think his role in the war put him in circumstances that would offer the opportunity to shoot someone in the head, much less remove and clean their helmet afterwards. I don’t think I even believed the story when he gave me the helmet, but I was a little kid and it was a for real Nazi helmet with a hole in it maybe made by a bullet, which I thought was some pretty cool shit. In any event, it was lost in my parents divorce along with a lot of other cool shit.

The Warriors in “The Warriors” aren’t warriors in the same sense that the people my Grandfather attempted to put back together were Warriors, and not just because they were fictional characters in a movie. A lot because of that, but if they were real and we allowed for a universe where gangs in 1979 New York were theme based cowboys, Native Americans, baseball ‘furies’, they still wouldn’t be the kind of Warriors I’m talking about. They are more like a wall pretending to be a vending machine.

But what really is the difference between a wall you put nickels in and a vending machine? Is it just distance? I mean, someone loads a vending machine, right? Someone comes in a truck and opens it and puts chips or candy or soda or whatnot in it. It’s not a fucking robot. So why was it such a problem for me when at some point it dawned on me that the beloved Automat of my childhood was just a cafeteria with a wall between you and the staff? Why is it such a problem for me that I need the Internet to get the specific details that make my stuff sound the way I want you to think I sound? The ideas are mine, right? I didn’t get those from the Internet. Why did I hate the rim of the Grand Canyon with the gift shop, which by the way, Grampa, I didn’t hate, I just didn’t like as much as the rim without the gift shop, and not liking something as much as something else isn’t the same as hating it, otherwise we’d hate everything in life except the thing we love most. And I don’t. I don’t hate everything. Although maybe if I had a clue what I loved the most, I would. I don’t know. I wanted to see “The Warriors” but I didn’t ask anyone to take me. I was seventeen for Christ’s sake. Can you imagine? “Mom, I have a favor too ask. There’s this movie about gangs? In New York? And one of them is Baseball Furies”. Seriously. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have been the thing I loved the most anyway. But maybe if I’d even seen ‘The Warriors’ I’d hate not only all other movies, but everything else in the world. If you’ve seen it, you tell me. Tell me what ‘The Warriors’ made you hate and maybe I’ll have some idea of why I need the Internet to make my writing erudite enough to present to you.


The Very Last Summer Vacation Ever: Chapter Six

Our Mother, shotgun as always, sulking, firing up a Lucky Strike, unfolding a map of impossibly large and crinkly dimensions. Mallory already wedged up against the passenger window, hunching in upon herself, folding away like a piece of human origami in a fruitless effort to create a micrometer of air space between herself and the inscrutable, insectoid Great Aunt Ginny who might be smiling at her or in the grip of Bell’s Palsy. Poor Frodo, invisible again, did any of us ever walk that poor creature, whimpering somewhere under something. Pop and I still outside on the tarmac.

“There is,” the Old Man said, stroking the place upon his chin where a beard would be if he’d had one, “A certain amount of empty space in there that should not be. A quantity of our crap is unaccounted for and in addition also my eldest son.”

“Present, Father,” said Alex as if at roll call, and indeed there he was, standing on the sidewalk, apart from us, his arm around the Front Desk Girl, Veronique.

“What’s this?”

“Veronique and I have experienced a melding of the minds. Last night after the Mini Bar was emptied I asked if I might walk her to her car, and walking, we talked. We lay upon the hood of her Ford Escort, and she told me of her life as a Front Desk Girl, and I told her of my shattered dreams of personal perfection through mindful bureaucracy. As the moon waxed or waned if either of those words mean that thing it does of moving through the sky, it became clear that her life of key cards and phone answering and giving people extra towels and having no clear goals or desires for the future beyond a sore hole where those things ought to be was exactly the same as my now pointless quest that in all likelihood never would have worked out so well anyway. So we agreed if everything is wrapping up we’d better do the most important things we can today in case we can’t tomorrow. What that means is we’ll be married and we’d like your blessing.”

“Is that what you want, honey?” Our Mother asked Veronique, feigning solicitude, mantis-like, her bescarfed head, sunglassed eyes and smoldering coffin nail protruding out her partially rolled down window. Veronique allowed it was.

“Well now, well now,” The Old Man sputtered, “I have to say the two of you have put me at a loss. You’ve come out of left field and thrown me a curve ball that has caught me with my pants down. This is like the scene in that movie about the singing Hebrews where the Old Man’s daughter is running off with a fella who is not the guy her Pop had chosen for her, except that you’re my son, no marriage was arranged and we are not Jews. On the one hand, I am loosing my first-born son to a complete stranger, an impulse coupling, possibly brought on by dyspepsia, panic, or sudden loss of sanity. On the other hand it sure as hell will be less crowded in Matilda. What are your intentions?”

“As luck would have it, her father, a Professor of Mechanical Engineering long believed mad and ostracized by his peers, soothed himself in middle age by, with no particular plan in mind, retreating to his garage and hand crafting a Drillermobile of immense proportions. Over Screwdrivers hasilty prepared by pouring Tang into a vodka bottle, he and I compared the finer engineering points of vast tunneling engines to the intricate minutia of sub budgetary advisory notation. Both require vast reserves of water, (mine metaphorical, his actual,) for sluicing, hydraulics, cooling and above all lubrication. Our conversation having somehow catalyzed solutions to the final most elusive questions regarding the transportation of stone, first pulverized then sludgeified, from in front of and impeding to in back of and irrelevant, the Professor was inclined to reward me with his daughters’ hand. Aboard the Drillermobile, the three of us and her pet Monkey Eugene, intend to burrow into and through the Earths crust, escaping the unavoidable unpleasantness of surface life after the collapse of civilization. In fact, we count on the resulting shockwaves of the aforementioned collapse eventually reaching and propelling us ever further downward, until we reach the hidden subterranean realm so often hinted at in the deepest dreams of the collective unconscious. We expect there will be ample light supplied by bioluminescent lichens, dinosaurs long thought extinct, and placid, malleable Mole People likely to revere us as gods.”

“Seriously?” Our Mother inquired, her left arm and three quarters of her torso now out Matilda’s window. “Have you sustained some kind of head trauma since last night?”

“Now, Alice, Now, now” The Old Man stalled, putting a hand solidly on her forehead, “We have to let the Kids make their own mistakes.”

“Mistakes? Mistakes? It’s not a ‘mistake’ to take off with an unknown strumpet and burrow into the Earth; it is the instinctive defensive strategy of a bug, if one discounts the part about the girl! It’s an abuse of the language to call what your son is planning a ‘mistake’, That’s not what the word ‘mistake’ means!”

“Well, yes and no” cried Dad, really shoving now, actively trying to stuff Mom’s upper body back into the car, “Hey! Hey! No biting, woman! That’s against the rules!” And here the fight went out of her, maybe from exhaustion or the acceptance of the Old Man’s careful reasoning, or perhaps felled by one of Pop’s covert nerve pinches allegedly acquired during the cold war from an Asian spy as winnings in a bar bet.

I tried to catch my Brother’s eye so we could have a moment wherein a facial expression on his part might convey more than a slew of well chosen words about partings, and growing up, and shared memories and stuff of his I might now have, but I can’t lie, I didn’t catch it. Not because he meant to shut me out or spare me some painful knowledge or because the most interesting facets of this moment for him did not include parting with me in particular. I didn’t catch his eye because it didn’t cross his mind to throw it.

It all felt like the year I was in first grade, he in fifth so going into middle school, when I realized I’d never be in school with him again, not in high school, or college or life, and how could it be I saw so clearly what an end he and I were coming to when all he saw was the beginning of some new thing for him? So instead I stood there thinking about this one time when we were kids and to cure me of my fear darkness he made me go alone out of our bedroom after our parents were sleeping, down to the kitchen, down into the basement where I had to go and touch the boiler and then come back, all without turning on a single light, and how it wasn’t until I until I stood once more in the doorway of our room watching him snooze it occurred to me I could have just said ‘no’ to the whole damn proposition. I was never afraid of the dark again and moved into my own room not long after.

I got into the car.

“Like I didn’t see that coming six miles off,” Mallory said.

Maybe she was lying and maybe she wasn’t, but I’d been blindsided for sure, which is maybe why I didn’t see my brother dwindling out the back window as we drove away, but more likely because even with all his crap removed, our remaining crap was still sufficient to block any rearward view. I tried to catch a last glimpse in Matilda’s passenger side mirror, but found only a sheared off metal stump. When such damage had occurred I didn’t know, but it made my stomach turn a little to see the glinting metal like exposed bone where the paint was gone. I made a mental note to tell the Old Man at our next pit stop.

Fifty New or Returning Pumpkin Spice Products

1.) Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Spice Coffee!

2.) Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Spice Latte!

3.) Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Spice K-cup pods!

4.) Dunkin’ Donuts Pumkpin Spice Cheesecake Square with or without Pumpkin Spice frosting drizzles but we just toss out the ‘without’ ones at the end of the day ‘cause Pumkin Spice Drizzles? What?!

5.) Pumpkin Spice Frosted Mini-Wheats!

6.) McCormicks Pumpkin Spice!

7.) Durkee Pumpkin Spice!

8.) Spice Islands Pumpkin Spice!

9.) Pumpkin Spice Latte M&M’s!

10.) Pumpkin Spice Lik-M-Aid Lik-em Stiks Candy Powder Pouches!

11.) ‘Little Tree’ brand Pumpkin Spice hang from your rear view mirror car air fresheners that are orange and shaped like a pumpkins instead of green and shaped like trees! Neat!

12.) Slim Jim Pumpkin Spice beef sticks that taste like a cold tube of boiled offal that was in your crisper drawer next to a cinnamon bun for a year but you eat it anyway and with JOY ‘cause it’s AUTUMN and PUMKIN SPICE!

13.) Pumpkin Spice Peeps which you haven’t seen yet but you are pretty sure are orange and shaped like Pumkins and OH BOY!

14.) Red Robin’s Pumpkin Spice Pumpkin Pie Shakes!

15.) International Delight Pumpkin Spice non-dairy Creamer!

16.) Pillsbury Pumpkin Spice cinnamon rolls that fill your whole kitchen with the scent of CHILDHOOD MEMORIES OF AUTUMN and probably doesn’t give you CANCER!

17.) Duncan Hines Pumpkin Spice frosting that everybody knows you will never put on a cake because you are right now hunkered down under the sink eating it straight out of the tub with YOUR FINGERS while WEEPING DESPERATELY over AUTUMN SCENTED MEMORIES of a childhood that was in EVERY WAY superior to your CURRENT LIFE!

18.) Frito-Lay Pumpkin Spice Extra Cripsy Cheezey Doodle Puffers!

19.) Pumpkin Spice flavored surgical grade stomach pump tubing!

20.) Pumpkin Spice scented latex gloves for the discerning EMT!

21.) Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Spice Munchkin Donut Hole Treats!

21.) Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Spice Secret Recipe Behind the Dumpster Crystal Meth!

22.) Stop n’ Shop Store Brand Pumpkin Spice Pasta Sauce because I SHIT YOU NOT, I did not make that one up and I think they are considering changing their name to Stop n’ Vomit!

23.) Doc Hallucino’s Olde Tyme Preparation that makes you see a tiny, pert little blond lady sitting on your shoulder and never shutting up for even a second about how much she fucking loves PUMPKIN SPICE!



26.) Ace Pumpkin Spice Scented, Pumpkin Decorated Duct Tape!

27.) Home Depot Pumpkin Spice Scented Very Waterproof Tarps!

28.) Walgreen’s Scratch-n-sniff Pumpkin Spice scented Pumpkin Decals Especially Designed for Windowless Vans!

29.) Friskies Pumpkin Spice n’ Gravy Cat Food Shreds!

30.) Pop-Tart brand Pumpkin Spice Pop-Tart Toaster Pastries!

31.) Yankee Candle Traditional Mee-Maw’s Kitchen Pumpkin Spice Scented Candles that if you light enough of them will sweep you away into memories of the perfect New England Autumns of your Childhood to such a degree that you will be unable to recall all of the very bad stuff you have done!

32.) Poorly Paid, State Provided Pumpkin Spice Public Attorneys!


34.) Mrs. Dash Pumpkin Spice Salad Sprinkles!

35.) Tony Chachere’s Blackened Pumpkin Spice that makes everything taste like a Yankee French Kissing a Cajun Swamp Bastard!

36.) Hostess Pumpkin Spice Twinkies!

37.) Smith n’ Wesson Pumpkin Spice Hollow Tip Rounds to put in your Pumpkin Spice Unregistered Hand gun so you can blow out your Pumpkin Spice brain and for Gods sake FINALLY STOP WITH THE PUMPKIN SPICE BUT YOU WON’T BECAUSE YOU NEED TO STOP BUT YOU HAVEN’T HIT BOTTOM YET!

38.) Big Ass Container of Store Brand Pumpkin Spice that is mostly Cinnamon, Chalk Dust and Brown but only costs THREE DOLLARS so PUMPKIN SPICE!

39.) Johnson and Johnson Pumpkin Spice Sensory Depravation tanks so you can get rid of all the CRAP in LIFE that is distracting you from PUMPKIN SPICE!

40.) Life Alert Pumpkin Spice Necklace with which to contact emergency services if you fall and shatter a hip and can’t reach the PUMPKIN SPICE!


42.) Dunkin’ donuts Pumpkin Spice Curare Blend Tincture on the end of a sharpened hickory switch jammed through your eye and directly into your brain by a Dunkin’ Donuts employee as you walk through the door making you now and forever a Pumpkin Spice Zombie Slave!

43.) Pumpkin Spice Gut Punch!

44.) Pumpkin Spice Sudden Realization that your memories of perfect childhood autumns never existed, that your childhood was in fact by turns terrifying, disappointing and stultifyingly boring and that whatever the hell is going on in your head every time you smell or taste the synthetic Pumpkin Spice The Man pumps into every damn thing you encounter at this time of year has nothing to do with anything you ever Pumpkin Spice, Pumpkin Spice, don’t think of anything, shh, shh now Pumpkin Spice.

45.) Pumpkin Spice!

46.) Pumpkin Spice!

47.) What did you just think about now, Chump? That’s right, Pumpkin Spice. Better damn be Pumpkin Spice. Pumpkin Spice!

48.) What’s your name? WHAT’S YOUR DAMN NAME?! That’s right. That’s good. Pumpkin Spice. That’s your damn name.

49.) Why you got to be so mean, little blond lady? Pumpkin Spice? Pumpkin Spice?

50.) Pumpkin Spice!

Donald Trump Takes Questions From the Crowd

TRUMP: Okay. Okay. Whatever. I’m going to take some questions from the crowd now, because, people, real… not ‘journalists’ we don’t need people who get paid to journal, those are not real questions, so real, real people questions. Don’t hold back. Vicious questions. I’ll take any question at all, Throw ‘em at me, I’m fearless about questions I could get asked by supporters at a rally for me. You don’t see Ben Carson taking questions from his supporters. You don’t see Carly Farina with her face take a question from someone who probably is going to vote for her. That’s too real. That’s not in the cript on the teleprompter. So go on. Ask me anything. Whatever.

UNIDENTIFIED WHITE MALE SPEAKER: We have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one — you know he’s not even an American. But anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question, when can we get rid of them?

TRUMP: We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things, a lot of people are saying bad things are happening, we’re going to be looking at that and plenty of other things. Next?

2’ND UNIDENTIFIED WHITE MALE SPEAKER: I applaud the gentleman who stood and said Obama is a Muslim born abroad and about the military camps, everyone knows that. That’s my question.

TRUMP: Right. See that? That was two people right in a row saying a thing about someone, two is almost three, three is a lot. If three people say a bad thing, that’s something that has to be looked into. And we will be looking into those things. And a lot of other things. So, next?

ANOTHER UNIDENTIFIED WHITE MALE SPEAKER: So, Obama is a known non citizen with no American Birth Certificate to his name, and we also know him to be Muslamic by persuasion. My questions is, doesn’t the constitution say you can’t have a terrorist to be president? How do we get rid of him? Also, a follow up. Obama has dark skin. How do we not know he is not a Mexican? I for one didn’t vote to have a rapist be president.

TRUMP: I’ve heard that. You’re not the only one saying that. A lot of people are saying things about things. And let me tell you, as President? Things that people are saying about other things? Those are gonna get fixed! We’re gonna make deals for the country that are smart, good deals! I’m very rich! That’s why!

UNIDENTIFIED WHITE MALE SPEAKER WHO, WHILE WHITE AND UNIDENTIFIED, IS NOT THE SAME SPEAKER AS THE OTHER SPEAKERS: Okay, here’s my question. This country is broken. Mexicans is why. I’m not a racist, but non-whites are pretty much Mexican as far as I can tell. What about my rights? What about my pride? I can’t even yell “White Pride!” over and over at the top of my lungs in a public place without the politically correct police throwing me in jail! I just figure if I see someone I think could be a Mexican and I kill them before they can kill me, how is that automatically a crime?

TRUMP: Because your passionate!

A DIFFERENT UWMS: It says right in the bible that slavery is OK. Where are my slaves? The constipution says I’m protected to have a religious liberty to own a dark complected human just like I own my couch or TV! White, male Christians have to stand up and stop being persecuted for demanding their rights guaranteed to them by the Bible of the United States of America!

TRUMP: It’s funny you should bring up the Bible, ‘cause it’s my favorite book. It’s the best book. I read it all the time. I love that book. What a page turner! A great beach read. Next question?


TRUMP: Sure! A lot of people are saying the same thing. Next?

THIS DUDE: Where are you on eating non-white babies? For, you know, like food? Like, as if they were very small cattle?

TRUMP: Let me tell you something. When I am President, the best people, the smartest people, will be looking into things that get said. And the best people make the best deals! Whatever! Do you know how much I’m worth? Me neither! That’s how big my pile is! Am I right? Okay, next.

SOMEBODY WHITE: If I start by saying you’ve got my vote, is there anything I could follow with that was so utterly vile and sub-human, so completely despicable and morally repulsive, that you would reject it?

TRUMP: Okay, you’ve been a tremendous crowd of real Americans, but I have an important business deal about money that I have to go win, so goodbye, god bless, and Mexicans are the worst! Goodnight!

The Very Last Summer Vacation Ever: Chapter Five

The Old Man was in a Black Study.

“What’s his damage?” I asked Alex.

“Our Father contends that what the hotel has supplied here in this… ‘Breakfast Room’… does not constitute a Continental Breakfast,”

“Incontinental, more like” Pop muttered under his breath, slumped deep in his chair, arms folded, hair every whichaway, still in his P.J.s, the striped ones so old and threadbare you could see the pock marks on his knees

“WHAT?” Our Mother shouted at him, Firing up an unfiltered Camel, “WHAT?”

“IN-continental, as in incontinent, as in peeing oneself against ones will, and also, wordplay wise, UN-continental, as in NOT… CON… TINENTAL!” He snapped, rising so suddenly the small table launched his uneaten bowl of Cheerios at Our Mother who deflected it deftly with the contemptuous back of one boney hand.

“PERFECT!” Mallory howled, bolting for the ersatz comfort of distance, quickly pursued by Alex not even bothering to feign concern, leaving me alone with them.

“I ought to check on Great Aunt Ginny, see if she’s still alive,” I tried, but the Old Man was quick.

“You’ll stay. Because you being the youngest, it’s my duty, a Father’s duty to educate you.” Here he paused, assuming the professorial mantle, “A continental Breakfast is a light breakfast, usually consisting of a breadstuff, a toast or croissant, perhaps a pastry… accompanied by coffee, tea or other unspecified hot liquid.”

“That’s exactly what- “ Our Mother tried to interject

“The ‘continent’ referred to is Europe which you may read as France, since at the time this phrase was coined, French culture was dominant.”

“Exactly what they have supplied us!” Our Mother finished, the essence of reason, “Look. Look. Look at that Lucite cabinet on the counter. What’s in it?”

“The ‘Continental’ breakfast is a quite deliberate and antithetical response to the ‘English’ Breakfast-

“Danish” Mom hissed, teeth clenching so hard her cigarette severed,“Danish, Danish, Danish, which IS-

“The ‘English’ Breakfast being a veritable bacchanal of self indulgence”


“A hideous yet magnificent conglomeration fried in a single gargantuan pan; of bacon, eggs, ham, sausage in its link form colloquially known as ‘bangers’, tomatoes, the optional mushroom-


“Fried bread, fried left over mashed potatoes Called by some, though not all, ‘Potato Cakes’”

“It’s made of Lucite so you can SEE-

“And Black pudding.”


“I think,” I offered, “That those little devices over there are waffle makers. You can make your own waffles.”

“Do you know what Black Pudding is, woman?” Our Father asked. “By her silence she infers she does not. I think she does. I think she knows very well. But you, son, are far too young and innocently ignorant to know anything of Black Pudding, indeed if you did I’d have to beat the knowledge out of you as it’s not the sort of thing a boy still in short pants ought to know.”

I checked my pants reflexively. They were jeans, and long.

“Black… Pudding,” said the Old Man, standing now, arms akimbo, addressing the collected guests, a senior couple and regrettably the family from last night at the pool, “Black… Pudding… is black. It is not a ‘pudding’ in the American sense, when the British say ‘pudding’ they generally mean any old desert, but confoundedly black pudding is a misnomer in that it is decidedly NOT a sweet, meal ending treat!”

“Don’t do this” Our Mother sottoed, “The boy!”
“Black pudding… BLACK… pudding is, in fact, a sausage, or ‘banger’ if you like,” said leering at Our Mom, “made by cooking blood to a temperature such that when allowed to cool, it… congeals!”

“Damn you.” Our Mother whispered, lighting a new butt off the embers of the last.

“It is, in point of fact, revolting, even secretly to the very British who claim it as a food. Pig or cattle blood is most often used, but poultry blood, sheep’s blood, cat’s blood, monkeys blood can and will do in a pinch. Not a treat. Not in any way to any one. It is named ‘pudding’ as a joke, the way my old man sometimes called a whupping with his belt ‘yer birthday present’.”

It was so quiet then in the breakfast room.

“SO!” He continued, “So, the English breakfast is a manifestation of brute strength, colonial dominance, and most of all, arrogance. To which… the ‘continental’ breakfast… is… a response. Do you see,” he said, tweezing a croissant between his thumb and forefinger “Do you ALL see that simply providing a ‘breakfast room’ that has an array of breadstuffs, little packets of jam, and sub standard coffee kept near as damnit to the boiling point to hide it’s inferior taste by burning the drinkers tongue, is only ‘continental’ in the letter of the law, in fact it misses the whole point, in fact it takes the word ‘continental’ to mean ‘cheap’, ‘shitty’, ‘insulting’; and so is in no WAY continental, because the continental breakfast opposes the English breakfast in that it is simple yet ELEGANT!”

“Now,” he says, one hand indicating the TV high on it’s corner shelf, a tiny anchorman caged in crawls and insets, “Does any of this,” his other hand, fingers splayed to indicate in turn the complimentary copies of USA today, the toasters, Lucite cabinets and waffle makers, the juice machine and coffee station, “Seem ELEGANT to you?”

Our Mother had, at some point, departed the scene, an overflowing ashtray the only evidence she had ever been there.

“Gin,” the Old Man said, “What kind of self respecting continental breakfast is not accompanied by a few damn bottles?”

I tried to make eye contact with the girl across the room, wanting to communicate ‘Wow, Dads, huh?’ but she was gone.

I hoped to sneak a few quiet minutes of solitude in the bathroom of our suite, but no sooner had I key carded the door than Mallory pounced and had me by the collar up against the hideaway ironing board.

“Listen,” She hissed, “the Old Man’s full of shit.”

“Mallory,” I said, “your teeth!”

And indeed, there they were, neat as you please, just a few centimeters from my face, gleaming, straight, white and naked! Utterly bereft of train tracks! No criss crossing lattice of elastics, no buckles, clamps, pins, stays, not one mechanical device at all, her crisp white enameled beauties sparkled!

“Braces,” She said, “are also a lie. I took them off myself just now, while you were all squalling in the Breakfast room. Used a pair of pliers from my beading bag, it hurt like hell if you want to know, but blood is a fine antidote for mendacity! At no time in the entire history of orthodontia has a single kid’s mouth, once spellunked, been found adequate, i.e. NOT in need of braces! That’s how yachts get paid for. But never mind that Alex, we’ve got six good minutes before the Old Man and his Bride come to defribulate Great Aunt Ginny awake and I need to know who’s side your on!”

“Where’s the dog?” I wheedled, playing for time as my sisters fingers twisted the neck of my shirt into a noose.

“She’s got problems of her own, pipsqueak! I’m putting my cards on the table.”

“There’s a table now?”

She let me go so suddenly I tumbled in a heap amongst the flip-flops and wet, cast off hotel towels.

“It’s not the end of the world” she said, showing me her back. “Everybody always thinks it is, but it isn’t ever. This is just a scam, the Old Man’s showboating, he’s on a toot, something got him up against it so he’s pulling a runner, and we’re along for the ride!”

“What?” I fumbled, “Wait, no, Mal, we all agreed we saw the signs”

“What signs?”

“The writing on the wall, then,” I pleaded.

“That’s his graffiti, don’t you see? It’s all a big flim flam so he won’t have to pay for anything! And I will not get stuck holding the bag!”

“What bag?”

“The bag of crap and comeuppance this family vacation will inevitably end in. I’m looking out for the main chance. When I see it I might be inclined to cut my kid brother in, out of sentiment or to increase my chances of survival.” Here she made an odd sign, tugging the skin beneath her left eye down with her middle finger, a gesture full of meaning I’m certain but a mystery to me. I dropped my head for only a moment, but when I looked up she was gone.

In the parking lot I found the Old Man holding forth unto himself while stuffing this and that into whatever tiny spaces presented themselves within Matilda’s gaping hatch.

“I should have told them about the Irish Breakfast. That would have learned them to the point of understanding. The German Breakfast,” he continued forcing a single shoe into the wall of our junk where it became a fulcrum for a tennis racquet lever, ”I did not deign to mention, it being far too frightening to be employed as metaphor” Putting his weight into it now, forcing the racquet handle down, the stringed end slowly lifting the great weight of suitcases, rucksacks, stuff sacks, winter coats in case a sudden unforeseen and violent climate shift should bring another ice age, just enough space so that the Old Man’s foot could lift a canvas toiletry bag and with an ankle flick, slide it in. “The Icelandic Breakfast can only be consumed while sledding and on fire. I know you’re there, Andrew, it wouldn’t kill you to lend a hand.”

“Mallory doesn’t think the world is ending,” I offered.

“Oh, that. Well, she’s a girl, isn’t she? Thinks scams are necessarily untrue. That’s the female mind. What do you think?”

I? Me? My opinion called for? I pondered only a moment, basking in the unprecedented. Since that long ago family meeting I hadn’t thought much at all, to be truthful. But the idea that my Old Man could be wrong about anything, could even deliberately lie about something… well, that existed outside the laws of physics, like God.

“I think we’re all hosed,” I said.


Full Text, Kanye West VMA Vanguard Acceptance Speech

Bro. Bro. Listen to the kids.

(Two minutes thunderous applause. Kanye nodding seriously)

First of all, thank you Taylor for being so gracious and awarding me this award from you. Thank you.

(One minute pause, Kanye looking down.)

And I often think back to the first day I met you, also, Taylor Swift. You know, I think about when I’m in the grocery story with my daughter and I have a really great conversation about fresh juice… not… I don’t say that to my daughter, I, like, say it to… some other person that’s there… you know…and at the end they say, “Oh, you know a lot about juice, you are… well versed… on juice, so I guess… you’re not as bad as I thought you were ever since that time you interrupted Taylor Swift !”

(One minute thunderous applause. Kanye nods, looks down, pooches out lower lip defiantly)

And like, I think about it sometimes. It crosses my mind when I go to a baseball game and 60,000 people boo me. Or a Basketball game. And people boo me. Or I’m stopped at a red light and the person in the next car is all booing me and shit. It crosses my mind a little bit that the booing is on account of that one time I got up on stage and stood in front of Taylor Swift while she was doing something or getting something. ‘Cause I cannot think of a single other thing I have ever done that would make people boo me. I mean, they don’t actually say “Kanye, I am booing you at this red light ‘cause of how mean you were that one time to Taylor Swift”, but what else, right? Why the hell else would anybody ever boo Kanye?

(One minute pause. Miley Cyrus sticks tongue out.)

And I think. If I had to do it all again, what would I had done? Would I had worn a leather shirt? Would I have drank a half of bottle of Hennessy and gave the rest of it to the audience? Y’all know you drank that bottle too. A small portion of you all in the audience taking a sip off my bottle is ethically identical to me being so drunk at an award show I didn’t know or care if I was supposed to be on stage or not. The fact that I’m the only one in the whole audience who did it is… what now? What’s that thing where one thing happens and another does after it, but the two got nothing in common? Consequence? A Conference? I don’t know. If I had a daughter at that time would I had went onstage and grabbed the mic from someone else’s? I mean, you know, I have a daughter now, right, but if like there was this time machine? And I got in it to the past, but my daughter went into the future and came back grown up? And she was getting’ an award and somebody… somebody got on stage an… an said, like, “Okay, but somebody besides you shoulda got it, ain’t your TIME MACHINE ENOUGH FOR YOU, KANYE’S DAUGHTER?”… I’da killed that son of a bitch. Talk to my daughter that way.

(One and a half minute pause. Kanye looks confused.)


(Four minute thunderous applause, Kanye looking down. Kanye looks briefly to the side. Five minute pause)

Forgot what I was saying.

(Two minute pause)

You know this arena, tomorrow, it’s going to be a completely different setup. some concert, something like that. Or a hockey game. They can do that, turn a concert hall into a hockey rink, like… magic and shit. Anything… can change into… anything. But the stage will be gone! Unless it’s like… another concert. Then the stage would still be here. Maybe the seating might change… a little.

(One minute pause. Confused smatterings of applause.)

After that night, though, the night where I said some things when it was maybe Taylor Swifts turn to be… saying some… things…the stage was gone, but the effect that it had on people remained. The interrupting I did. Not the stage itself. Stage wouldn’t have had a lasting effect on… on people… that’d be weird.

(Twelve minutes silence. Kanye downcast, broody face)

The problem was the contradiction. The contradiction is, I do fight for artists. But in that fight I somehow was disrespectful to artists. I didn’t know how to say the right thing, the perfect thing. But one thing I am sure of is, it was time for me to say SOME thing. I have no doubt at all that it was totally appropriate for me to get up on stage at that moment and say stuff. Maybe not that stuff, but going up on stage right then, you know, I felt like I wanted to, I had the desire to, so I was supposed to, right? Maybe I got it wrong. On account of the half bottle of Hennesy, which you all split the rest of so don’t get all high and mighty on me and shit. I just… I sat at the Grammys and saw Justin Timberlake and Cee-Lo lose. Gnarls Barkley and the FutureLoveSex/Sexy Back album. And bro, Justin, not to put you on blast but I saw that man in tears, bro. You know? He lost and he cried. Right in public. And I was thinking like, he deserved to win Album of The Year! No one wants to see Justin Timberlake cry like a cub scout with a skinned knee! That’s some embarrassing shit, Justin! Give Justin the damn award so he won’t cry! I can’t look at a ex-Mouskteer cry! He was in the mouseketeers at one time… right? Did I get that wrong? Was that someone else?

(Seventeen minute pause. Miley Cyrus sticks out tongue, cups breasts, squeezes first right, then left several times.)

And this small box that we are, as the entertainers of the evening. How could you explain that? What does that even mean, ‘small box’? Why did I say those words just now? I don’t know. I don’t… know. I can say whatever, any words in any order at all and you all go nuts! I can go “Cow… dookey… band saw… military concussion… or something.” And it’s genius, ‘cause it’s coming out of my Mouth! KANYE’S MOUTH! …I’m like… the Hip Hop Sarah Palin or some shit.

(Thunderous applause. Nine minute pause.)

Sometimes I feel like all this shit they run about beef and all that? Sometimes I feel like I died for the artist’s opinion. You know, like Jesus? Like how he died for… something or other. He really died, but I feel like I metamorphically died, for being all mean to Taylor Swift that one time. So I’m pretty much the same as Jesus, except he didn’t sing and I DO! I died for the artist to be able to have an opinion after they were successful. An people boo me and shit ‘cause I had the temerity to not be all quiet and all “Oh, thank you thank you for making me famous, I’ll be good now, I won’t speak my mind!” Well I did, right in front of oh so pretty miss Taylor Swift and Ya’ll CRUCIFIED ME with your booing and shit! At Basketball games… and when I’m… talking… about juice… to people.

(Thunderous applause. Three minute pause. Kanye crouches and broods.)

I’m not no politician, bro! Listen to the kids! Hear that? Hear that yelling and hollering and clapping? It mean the KIDS are right, and anyone who isn’t hollering and clapping about me is WRONG! About ME! Wrong about that one time I did that thing while Taylor Swift was there. This is an APOLLOGY!… I think this is… I’m doing something… I’m doing something here. I know that.

(Nineteen minute Pause. Off and on applause.)

And look at that. You know how many times MTV ran that footage again? Of me standing in front of Taylor Swift that one time? Did anybody ever think maybe she was standing behind me? Everybody rerun Kanye’s ‘bad behavior’. Because it got them more ratings? You know how many times they announced Taylor Swift was going to give me the award because it got them more ratings? Why you think MTV got Taylor Swift to give me this award? For the IRONY?! I did one tiny little thing and MTV EXPLOITED IT! That’s UNBELIVEABLE! That’s some UNBELIEVABLE SHIT! That’s one thing I would NEVER do! Exploit something… for like, money… or attention… that’s some bad MTV shit! Kanye just wants to talk to people at the supermarket about Juice! Why you wanna get in the way of Kanye discussin’ juice with folks, MTV?

(Thirty second pause. Miley Cyrus stick tongue out, makes Popeye face. )


(Seven minutes, seventeen seconds thunderous applause. Kanye looks down, turns his back, squats, stands up, cocks head, eventually turns around again.)

I still don’t understand awards shows. What is that? Like… on a TV… with people getting… nominated… and shit? For an… an award… for some thing. I think that’s what an award show is. I know it ain’t no sitcom. ‘Cause a sitcom got a laugh track. It’s kind of like… Entertainment Tonight? Right? But it’s… you know… happening. At the time…I guess that’s what an award show is. I don’t know, I still don’t get it.

(Two minute pause. Kanye touches parts of his head.)

I don’t understand how they get five people who worked their entire life, sold records, sold tickets, to come, stand on… the carpet and… and for the first time in their lives be judged on a chopping block and have the opportunity to be considered a loser. That don’t happen in art! People don’t judge art! If you do a concert, or, or… some other kind of… art… people don’t… You make a painting, nobody judge that painting!

(Thirty-five second pause)

I don’t understand it bro!

(Fifteen second pause, which seems like much longer, but is only fifteen seconds.)

LISTEN TO THE… Listen to the…

(Ten second super uncomfortable pause)


(One minute thunderous applause. Kanye tilts head all the way back, opens mouth, works jaw around. Miley Cyrus sticks out tongue, makes several complicated hand motions indicating her genitals.)

I don’t understand when the biggest album or the biggest video… I still don’t…I feel conflicted bro! I just wanted people to like me more. Stop booing me sometimes. You have to like me, it’s not okay for you to not like me even if I do stuff you don’t like, that’s not what it’s about! You… people… are… REQUIRED to like me… all the time! Irregaardless!

(Thunderous applause have only just begun when Kanye interrupts.)

But fuck that, bro! 2015! That’s what the date is! I know that! It says so right on my WATCH! I will die for the art and for what I believe in. Like Jesus, in case you forgot! I know I told you you had to like me and I don’t want no booing and shit, but that don’t mean I ain’t TOTALLY ready to die for my art! Just… you know… not literally. And the art… ain’t always going to be… polite. See, I’m the art… you get that, right? So I don’t have to be… polite… and shit. So whatever the hell I did to Taylor Swift that one time was JUST FINE, OKAY?! Let it go. Kanye let that beef go. Long time ago. Kanye never even thinks about it. Don’t even know why we’re talking about that beef. YOU all gotta let it go. That’s who gotta let it go.

(One minute pause)

Y’all might be thinking right now, I wonder, did he smoke something before he came out here?” The answer is yes, I rolled up a lil somethin’! I knocked the edge off! Did I snort something? Why not? It’s a free country, right? Did Kanye put some of that airplane glue in a brown paper bag and stick his head in it before coming up here? What, is that against the law, now?… to do… that… Before… before… getting’ up in front of… cameras… and shit?

(Three minute pause, followed by sudden violent, thunderous standing ovation. Miley Cyrus pull stick-ems off breast, unrolls tongue and stamps on it repeatedly.)

I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, bro. I don’t know… I don’t know anything… like… at all. Like if you ask me, “Kanye, how do you… like, mow a lawn, or shit… I would not know! And neither would you! Nobody knows anything! An’ I can tell you that ‘cause I’m the geniusest!

(One minute pause. Miley Cyrus is going to stick her tongue out, but Kanye points at her angrily and she freezes like a small animal a bigger animal is going to eat.)

But all I can say to my artists, my fellow artists. Just worry how you feel at the time, man. Just worry about how you feel. And don’t never—you know what I’m saying?—I’m confident.

(Thunderous applause, audience jumping up and down, many wetting themselves)

I believe in myself. We the millennials, bro. This is a new. This is a new mentality. We are not going to control our kids with brands. Kanye is not about brands! We’re not going to teach low self-esteem and hate to our kids. We’re going to teach our kids that they can be somethin’. We going to teach our kids that they can stand up for themselves. We going to teach our kids to believe in themselves. If my grandfather was here right now, I would be terrified, because that man has been dead for years!

(Seventeen minutes of applause so thunderous, several heads explode like in the movie ‘Scanners’. Miley Cyrus’ head explodes and her headless body stumbles comically around stage with a shop vac, milking laughs while she sucks up her head remains and then opens the shop vac, takes out the bag, places it on her head and a seven foot tall Trans activist on stilts wearing day glow tartan rushes from the wings and sticks googly eyes on the bag and Miley presents her with an oversized novelty check with the words ‘YA’LL BEEN APPROPRIATED, SUCKA!’ In the memo.)

I don’t know what I gonna lose after this. It no matter though, because it ain’t about me… Wait, I said that wrong, it’s totally about me, I’M ACCEPTING AN AWARD HERE, JUST BECAUSE KANYE BAGGED ON THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF ARTISTS WINNING THINGS, WHAT DID YOU THINK? Thought I was gonna… what… turn it down? Shit! Kanye is not… Marlon fuckin’ Brando! Marlin Brando… right… was Superman’s DAD! Kanye is YEEZUS! THAT beats the FUCK out of fuckin’ JOR-EL any God damn fuckin’ DAY!

(Three minute pause. Audience loosens ties, whipes sweat off collective brow, smokes, falls asleep, wakes up and shamefully walks home in the clothes it wore the night before because it doesn’t even have cab far and it sure as hell isn’t waking up whoever the hell it went home with to ask.)

It’s about ideas, bro. New ideas. People with ideas. People who believe in truth.
And yes. As you probably could’ve guessed by this moment. I have decided in 2020 to run for president.

(Thirty second Pause.)

‘Cause you people will believe in any old shit. Seriously.

[mic drop. Seventeen straight hours of thunderous applause as people beat their hands to hamburger like pulp until one by one they die from blood loss. Miley Cyrus sticks out tongue.)