Said George


Drunken Thoughts


(summer 2016)

The brain works at hyperwarp speeds until it smacks into the alcoholic barrier; the alcoholic barrier is a dense, thick, slow, gooey place. What thoughts happen there? What inventions of purpose or pleasure can be discovered in that realm? ....

Sitting alone at a crowded outdoor cafe (summer 2016).

Haha hoho hehe, the joyous sounds of the cafe. Because here (at the cafe) you must create or sedate, since there is no WiFi, only talk and telephone. Telephone costs money, and a known noted fact; no money, no honey, no funny.

In the Cafe background the drunken sway of muted football songs saunter in the laze of the afternoon breeze; a warm and sullen breath. The horde of young drunken gents sitting at the far table, tenaciously hanging onto their puberty through the fellowship of the bottle; persisted.

So; talk or sing, sullen or sulk ..... what to discover in the crowded cafe? ... make a buck!

How to capitalize on the situation? As the son of a society both weaned and forged in the likeness of a dollar; what was I but to do?

Festival in the air (the carnival is in town!); food and drink are monopolized by the establishment’s proprietor – happy birthday salutations chimed in football cheery tradition; youth abounds in both leaps and hops.

Money to be made? .....

Crank the brain; situation analyzed!

Where’s the angle, there’s always an angle; a solution waiting in the galleries. Acrobatics, amusements, palm reading and song - all done before. Today, this day in the 21st Century ... at a Cafe, without WiFi.

Back to basics, 2 sticks rubbed together make a fire. What is needed??? ... Poetry recitals?

Is the glass half full, or is the glass half empty? What is needed? ... brain massage? .. or groin stimulation?

... to be continued. (In the meantime another pint is ordered)


Green Patches of the Bronx


George Offord

October 24, 2014 


When you mention having been born and bred in the Bronx to people who’ve never been there, they immediately envision an endless concrete-asphalt jungle crawling with gangs, muggers, murderers, and rapists. With deep pity in their eyes, they ask you: “how did you ever survive?” 

Only people from the Bronx understand the true nature of the place; besides the ‘down-side’ of things there are also the beautiful places, and the kind, sensitive, intelligent people who came/come from there. And when you tell them that growing up in the Bronx has left you with a close affinity to nature they look at you astonished and think that you’ve lost your marbles! How could you have acquired a sense for nature coming from the Bronx? 

They either have forgotten, or never even knew of those magical green places that the Bronx had/has to offer such as; Bronx Park, the Bronx Botanical Gardens, Roberto Clemente State Park, Crotona Park, Ferry Point Park, Henry Hudson Park, Pelham Bay Park (the largest park in N.Y.C.), Poe Park, University Woods, Van Cortlandt Park, and last but not least, the Bronx Zoo. These are just some of the parks and green sites sprinkled around the Bronx. 

I grew up on Bronx Park East in a housing area called “The Coops”, short for ‘cooperatives’ I guess. The Coops were built sometime in the early 1900s in what was then a quite rural part of the north-east Bronx. By the late 40’s things were changing fast, a new city housing project was being erected across the street; the street that ran in front of the main courtyard to my house was made of rough gravel (granite), it was soon to be asphalted in the early 50s. The 50s was a boom-town time in my area of the Bronx, there was new housing sprouting up like mushrooms all around us. 

The back entrance to my courtyard led down a double flight of cement stairs and opened out onto Bronx Park East. Bronx Park East ran as the eastern border of the large 718 acre Bronx Park. At the southern border of the same park ran the Bronx Zoo, while the western side of the park shared its border with Webster Avenue, and the south-western part with the Bronx Botanical Gardens. The entire area was a fantastic dream world for a kid like me. 

Countless kids like me from all sides of the park found their magical moments, adventures, and hidden romances all deep within the green luxury of the park. Running sluggishly through the park in a north-south direction was the Bronx River; continuing onward through the Bronx Zoo and finally emptying out in the East River where eventually it melted into the Upper Bay of N.Y.C. Sooner or later all this volume of water emptied out into the mighty Atlantic Ocean. 

From playing ‘conkers’ in the Fall to sleigh riding and ice-skating in the Winter, to wandering the park in the Spring and river adventures in the Summer; the park was an endless source of natural experience and enjoyment for us kids. 

Conkers was a game we played when the fallen horse-chestnuts covered the ground in the hollow of the wild chestnut grove that grew across the street, opposite my courtyard’s back stairway.  First we’d select the best of the best of chestnuts, then we’d take them home and put them in a jar filled with vinegar; there they would sit for a few days. After soaking long enough we’d make holes in them near the top of the chestnut, under the ‘belly-button’ blemish on the otherwise shiny surface. Then we would string them one by one, each with a string passing through the freshly made holes. 

Now came the time to dry them. When the drying was finished it was rock hard and that meant that it was now time to challenge all contenders to a Conkers fight! Two opponents face-to-face swinging their conkers at the end of the string, slinging them ever faster and smash!! …. Conker meets conker, and only one conker could survive such a crash. 

The owner of the surviving conker was the new winner. Of course the game was endless, as were the opponents. We carried on until the draining light of early evening signaled to all mothers; heads popped out of windows; there were calls, whistles, and shouts; it was time to come home for dinner. Another day in the life of us kids had come to an end. Each day began with a new cycle of adventures, challenges, and new chances at becoming the Conker’s Champ.  

….. then the autumn chilled into winter.

Snow, something that isn’t guaranteed anymore, but when I was a kid there was snow every winter, every year. In the park we had Suicide Hill, Snake Hill, and all sorts of less dangerous hills to sleigh and slide down when the world turned white. And besides sleds and snowy hills we also had the world of ice-skating to throw our bodies and souls into. 

My sister and I went to Twin Lakes which was located near the border between Bronx Park and the Bronx Botanical Gardens.  I learned to ice-skate by the time I was 5~6 years old; my Mother was a fanatic for ice, snow, and winter. Looking back I remember I had hockey skates like most of the boys had, while my sister had figure skates. I remember that one of my friends, Ronny, was an exception. Ronny, who was a boy, contrary to the rest of us guys had figure skates. With figure skates it enabled him to go up on the teethed front edge of the blades and actually take a running start before leveling his weight on the whole blade and shoot away at a very good start speed; it gave him a definite advantage in short distance races along the ice.  

Then there were the old timers in the corner of the frozen lake. The old men weren’t there to ice-skate (they weren’t even wearing ice-skates!). The old men were playing some sort of Bocce on ice; they had bell shaped wooden pucks with a wooden pin-like handle sticking out from the top of the bell shaped puck. They swung each puck in a slow rhythmic swing before letting it go to glide down a stretch of ice aimed towards a small puck which was the center of attention in this game. Whoever (or which team that ever) came closest to the small puck and remained there until everyone’s bell-shaped puck was used – was the winner. They enjoyed each other’s company and carried on like this all day. Everyone at the lake had come prepared for the cold day on ice. There were many thermoses of hot chocolate, tea, and coffee; and I’m certain that there must have even been those who had taken something even stronger for the cold. 

My memories of the winter forest, of the still frozen air pregnant with silence, remain with me to this day. When the snow lay thick on the evergreen trees, the forest would have a bluish-white glow at the first light of dawn, and a grayish silent heaviness at the twilight of sundown; even then at my young age, I stood humbled before this majestic show of nature (actually, sometimes I was even a bit terrified!). 

Shadows in the dim light of the evening winter forest can play tricks on you. I would imagine all sorts of ogres and ghouls in the forest while on my way home (alone). I’d often entered the park at Waring Avenue and Bronx Park East; my school, PS 96 was near to that park entrance. I’d go up the steep but short hill after entering the park and cross the narrow bridge that spanned the Bronx River Parkway and led into the Botanical Gardens just slightly north of the Rose Gardens. Then I swung to the right and walked the road parallel to the river until I reached the tunnel that ran under Mosholu Parkway. Mosholu Parkway dissected the park east-west. Once coming up from the tunnel I was out of the Botanical Gardens and in Bronx Park again; at that point I was only 5~10 minutes away from the comfort and safety of my home. 

… the seasons moved on and suddenly Easter was at our door, and spring.

As the sap began to throb in the fresh grass, weeds, plants, shrubs, bushes, and trees again; we kids also rejoiced in the spirit of spring. 

Spring was my season for mischief. During spring I spent more time in the streets, down in cellars, up on rooftops, charging around in vacant lots, and running loose in the parks than any other time of the year. Occasionally when my friends and I played hooky from school we made a long and nefarious detour from school via the park and into the zoo, the Bronx Zoo. Once inside the zoo we would spend the day dodging Truant Officers and other kinds of zoo authorities until after 3 o’clock. After 3 o’clock kids were once again permitted to show their faces in public; the school day was by then officially over. 

Of course when we went to the zoo we didn’t pay any entrance fees; we knew various vantage points along the perimeter fence where we could climb over or go through. We had to be careful about where we landed once we were on the zoo side of the fence; we didn’t want to end up in the lion’s den or anything like that! The African Plains was really popular with us, we were always challenging each other to jump down there and retrieve some sort of trophy to prove our valor; no one ever completed the boasted mission! 

… finally school ended in June and the glorious summer was ours. This was a time when our experience of the beautiful Bronx nature expanded exponentially. Not only did we have Bronx Park to play Huck’ Finn in, with our homemade raft gliding down the Bronx River, but now even other worlds were open to our reach. Now that it was summer we also had Pelham Bay Park, and Orchard Beach to explore and enjoy. 

In the summer we were set free; I remember building huts in vacant lots. Even the vacant lots had their own peculiar ecological balance; milk weed, waist-high crab grass, sumac bushes, scrawny maple tree shoots mixed with acacia tree shoots, dandelions, and in some lots there were even crab apple trees. I remember one summer when we found a hidden corner in the park to build a hut; the entrance was through the roof! 

And just as certain, each year the hut would be doomed to destruction by either fire, the Police, the owner of the vacant lot, or the older guys who had decided that they wanted it for themselves, and we’d get kicked out! Nonetheless, we weren’t daunted by anything, we’d just build a new hut somewhere else; such was the energy of our youth! 

By the end of the summer we’d be confronted by autumn once again; and a new school year once again. When the leaves lay thick on the forest floor we’d pile them into huge heaps and cast ourselves down in them from branches above and/or from a high rock. Around us the squirrels and birds were busy foraging.  There were acorns, chestnuts, raspberries, blueberries, brambleberries, and mushrooms; the forest and parks were rich in bounty. This was the last chance for the squirrels, hares, water-rats, mice, and insects to prepare themselves before the great sleep of winter would wrap around them. The autumn in all its beautiful colors came heralding the advance of winter to both the woods and meadows of the borough’s parks. 

This wonder of life was happening in the Bronx; the Bronx, a part of New York which was at the same time throbbing with busy traffic on its thoroughfares, highways, and byways, and beating to a pulsing rhythm of urgent humanity. Only four blocks away from the gates to the park the iron-horse, the elevated subway (the IRT) was grinding and thundering ruthlessly, relentlessly high up over cobblestoned White Plains Road below; oblivious to all harmony and beauty inherent to nature. 

Not everyone in the Bronx saw the beauty of the parks, not everyone even set foot in them; but to those of you that did, and to those of you that discovered the beauty of the Bronx’s parks, rivers and streams, I raise my hat to you in a salute. Here’s to the good ‘old days, the days of innocence, the days of lost magic.





Looking in the Rearview Mirror
by George Offord

Chapter One - Tour de Coops-Cellar

Born and bred in the Bronx, how many times have I heard that saying! The Bronx is unique; it was unique back in the 50s and early 60s and it’s just as surely unique today. My time goes back to the early 50s up in the Northeast Bronx; not Pelham Bay or even Eastchester Road – no; I was a little kid scrabbling around the El (or should I say under the El?) on White Plains Road.

My wanderings during my younger years up into and through my early teen years took me anywhere from Lydig Ave near Pelham Parkway up to Gun Hill Road. Of course there were always excursions further up North to 234th Street, at one point if I remember correctly there was even a Club or Disco up at 241st Street that I went to a couple of times.

Moving the other way, southwards, there was the Our Lady of Solace weekend dance period which brought me down to Morris Park. The Church was located not so far from the Dyre Avenue line which was definitely another universe in itself. Weekly gang fights between Morris Park, Eastchester Road, and Post Arrow insured that we were all frisked by the bouncer at the door before being admitted to the dance hall. The “Cha-cha”, “the Lindy”, the “Mash potatoes”, the “Slop”, and of course slow grinders; we had a lot of fun.

At the pinnacle of my Bronx wanderings away from my home grounds I found myself down at 149th and St. Anns by the meat markets – that’s a completely different story, one that isn’t so innocent; there were a lot of things happening in the Bronx in my youthful days and all of it was happening fast!

But that’s not what this story is about; my story is about growing up in the Coops and I don’t mean Pigeon- or Chicken- Coops! 2856 Bronx Park East, apartment Z41; a part of the two block long cooperative that was built by God only knows who, and later to be entangled with the workings of the American Communist Party. You can just imagine the cloak & dagger games that were going on there during the McCarthy inquisitions of the 50s! I was a toddler riding free in Mom’s pram at that time so I don’t have too much first hand knowledge about those early days of the 50s.

What I do know about is the great fun I had in the buildings cellars; the cellars ran for two entire city blocks and were built like a labyrinth!

I guess I’m going to have to tell you a bit about who I am and who all these other kids sharing these cellar experiences are if I’m ever going to get real about this story. My name is George, you can’t find a simpler, more stable, plain old name than George – but this particular guy behind that name was and is, anything but that!

My father was an Artist turned Author or maybe it was vice versa, he published some books and he had his own Art Gallery in the early days before my arrival into the family. He was a Black man from Trinidad & Tobago (the Caribbean) though in those days, the late 40s early 50s there weren’t many Black men then, there were Negroes instead.

My Mother on the other hand was the fruit of the American soil, maybe. She was the result of an Italian American marriage; her parents were Cousins back in the old country. She was born and grew up in Massachusetts outside of Boston. She turned to Art at an early age and was darned good at it! She met my Father in New York in the Bohemian days after the war. Art, Literature, and Music were their common ground; the Coops was the ideal place to be!
Interracial marriages back in the late 40s early 50s weren’t so common so it left our family with a certain amount of social complexities to deal with; I never really did find the group I belonged to! Instead I stayed with Jewish kids from East European backgrounds, Irish-American kids, Italian-American kids, Puerto Rican-American kids, and even the occasional Afro-American kid; all of these kids lived in the Coops.

The Coops was made up of people coming from a myriad of different nations whose only common denominator was the fact that nearly all the parents seemed to have left-wing political tendencies; some were artists, some were writers, some were scientists, some were engineers, some were teachers, and some were even politicians. Regardless of their line of work, they all seemed to be industrious and determined to make it in post-war America; for the most part they succeeded.

Now back to my world, the world of a 5-6 year old. I’d just learned how to ride a bicycle when I’d gotten it stolen by two thugs cruising through the neighborhood on the look out for a bike. They were riding two on one bike; they biked up alongside me and kicked me off my bike; before I could collect my wits about anything they were bicycling away at full speed – never to be seen again! God how I cried!!

Nonetheless one of our neighbors (I believe that it was Mrs Watsfogle?) gave me an old bicycle that her son had had when he was little. This bicycle was a true antique, even for those days, the middle 50s; it had springs – shock absorbers! It was a deep maroon color with tan pin-striping and some chrome here and there; it was a monster. A truck-bike, as they were called in those days with fat enough tires to be able to compete with the widest Mountain-Bikes tires that you can find today. It was a unique bicycle; unfortunately it had one glaring fault – it had no brakes.

So on that sunny day as we rode our bikes in single file down the ramp into the sunless cellar labyrinth, the world under the Coops. Naked 40 Watt light bulbs spread intermittently lit up the immense catacomb like corridors that stretched into blackness whichever way you turned. I was known for my adroit skills in the cellars, I could lose anyone in the cellars.

The cellars even boasted having a hideout for a truant teenage gang, the R.O.T. (Reign of Terror). They often bolted down into these catacombs while being pursued by the Police. I could lead people to their gang’s hideout; I knew every crack and crevice in the cellars. Their hideout was located in one of the numerous abandoned rooms in the cellars – their room was called “The Pink Room”. The Pink Room had gotten its name due to the faded dirty pink smears that remained on the room’s walls; it felt as if the colour were a souvenir from some distant long lost days of glory in the Coop’s history. The annals of the Pink Room are yet another story!

Today’s story is that of a peaceful bike tour through the cellars. As I had mentioned earlier the entirety of the cellars stretched over two city blocks, now that’s quite a basement! As we rode single file down the ramp into the cellar the earth swallowed us up one at a time. Chism (an older Black kid from the Coops) took the lead on his racer bicycle, Joey Fisher next in line (son of East European Jews), Paul Jackom (son of “Show-Business” type parents; he lived across the street in the Projects), Michael Costanza (Mexican or Puerto Rican heritage – I’m not sure which it was!); Ronny Colontonio (Italian-American heritage), Carl, Robby, Everett, James, Gary, and last but not least me.

Spread out in a row like pearls in a necklace we bicycled at full speed through the dimly lit corridors of the catacomb like cellars. These vast catacomb stretches were interconnected with each other by small passageways often crooked in their architectural layout. It was at these passageways that we could easily ditch anyone. We had broken all the light bulbs in the tight passageways so that you traveled in complete pitch black darkness as we passed through them – and none of the passageways went straight – I could bicycle or even run at full speed through these passageways without the slightest problem, while the Police or whoever else it might be who was chasing you, would go smack into a wall!!

The cellars were a paradise for us kids and of course equally as well blacklisted by our parents as “Off-Limits”. Of course being kids we didn’t take that all too serious; you know how the saying goes, “kids will be kids”!

Back to the bicycle tour in the cellars on the day I inaugurated my “new” truck-bike;
….. Sooner or later our fearless leader, Chism decided to halt our snakelike bicycle column and I had forgotten everything about not having brakes on the bike. Crash, bang, boom, and lots of angry buddies later, I realized that I had been the cause of grievous havoc for everyone! There were bent fenders and bruised knees; I was kept busy apologizing all the rest of that day. 

From that day on I rode lead bicycle on our “Tour de Coops-Cellar” bike days; my bicycle could plough through nearly anything - so in simple way I had earned some glory in the eyes of my buddies – I was as close to invincible as you could get!

George in the Bronx – 6 years old.
Chapter Two - The Annals of the Pink Room


Survivors - A Bronx Story

From the backstreets of the Bronx to the Palestinian detention camps of Lebanon, to the UN refugee camps on the banks of the Italian Riviera. The loyalty of a survivor rings true.

We are loyal to our brethren until betrayal demands revenge. Then we lock-down our souls in denial and burn our candles in infinite remorse, self-pity, and denial. We are the closed ones; we can wreak havoc without feeling.

We smile as you pass in the streets, we are totally correct, non-committed and sympathetic without compassion; we are the survivors. No past, no future, and only a non-committal present to show. Don't misunderstand me; we enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

The sweet newborn babes, the ancient wise-smiles of the old, and the sexy smartness of the contemporary creatures of the night. Indulgence is a universal balm for the soul, though it doesn't cure.
At 9 or 10 years old I watched one of the older guys light up a cat. Looking back I see that it was a major teaching in my life. It taught me about the innate adversities of life, and the injustice of life.

Boredom one sunny breathless Saturday, an open hilly lot covered in weedy scrub with an underlay of wiry tortured trees fighting to take hold on a bare granite rock. Granit the base of the Bronx, that of which all rises out of. The cat in question did nothing wrong, it's only fault was being there; it was hanging around when it should have just kept on going.

Jimmy who live next door to the vacant lot was working on his old 55 Chevy in front of the house. The cat complained, whining in the dead hot sun. Me Jerry and Kenny were messing about with some old paint cans dumped nearby in the scrubby weeds. Milkweeds known by their seeds and a tumultuous assortment of everything else intertwined.

The cat should never have complained, the cat should have never stopped there that day. It never lived to see another!

Jimmy looked up, bothered by the incessant whining of the cat; looked down at the cut open 5 gallon tin filled with dirty gasoline; the gasoline he used for cleaning his hands after working on the car. He made a decision; a decision with no remorse whatsoever attached.

Without so much as a thought he grabbed the can and walked up to the cat and pour the dirty gasoline over it.
Fully doused in the stinky, flammable fluid Jimmy took out his Zippo lighter did the one-hand flick-light, and casted it upon the cat. Wow ...

What was to follow was and still is indescribable. The noise emitted from that feline torch was something that reached down to your bone marrow; not pleasant. The cat only managed a few spasmodic twitches. Those twitches cast it some few meters away, before the full shock of the matter sank in, and thereupon it lay motionless only to burn on the ground with a hollow sound of crackling fat and flesh. It twitched a few times silently on the ground engulfed in a stench of burning flesh and gasoline.

Jimmy; well Jimmy was bored with the whole thing.
He collected the empty gasoline tin and marched off into his garage to fill it anew. He'd have to clean his hands once finished tinkering with the car and the tin was now empty.

Jerry, me, and Kenny stood immobilized watching the dead remains of the cat crackle and pop in the lazy summer sun. Some small scrub fires had to be extinguished so we gleefully did our dance of death upon them.

About 20 minutes later all signs of the barbeque were gone; all history. The cat’s carcass lay there in the burnt grass destined to stink with rot and decay for the next month forward. Jimmy continued to tinker with his car, the flies returned to their monotonous buzzing and we went back to salvaging as much paint as we could find from the dumped paint cans.

That night I slept as usual, I slept the sleep of the dead. Dreams don't haunt survivors, dreams were only meant for fools. The lesson of the day was clear; be merciless, be thorough, be decided. Winners don’t look back, don’t doubt, and survivors are those who know where their loyalties lie; the cat was wrong.


Pel-Park Lanes Revisited

By George Offord

Where do I begin? ... or do I dare. The late 60's and the early 70's were tumultuous times to say the least. I was running on a tight line up in the northeast Bronx. My naive childhood days had ended; I was a teenager now and living dangerous. No longer were the temptations of fast cars and women enough – no, now there were drugs. This was something new!, not that the drugs in themselves were new (not all of them anyway!) but the way in which the contagious use of them spread was new; it spread like wildfire!

It'll always be hard to determine who or what it was that heralded drugs into the new era of teenage middle-class consumption. Some may say that it was the music that brought it upon the western middle class youth; others may say that it was the expanded educational possibilities that threw a whole generation into a philosophical limbo challenging and defying all of the old and accepted living codes. Whatever it was, it hit my neighborhood like a ton of bricks! It divided and polarized friendships faster and more furious than even the American Civil war had done! Kids I'd gone to Public school with were now either "hip" or "not with it". If they were hip it was loose living; party, party, party - with a puritanical touch of "Peace & Love" that counted (and of course let us not forget Vietnam and its far reaching influence on everyone; especially the youth!). The late 60's and into the early 70's was a dynamic era.  

Okay, with this said let me begin upon my intended fable, a Bronx fable about a placed called Pel-Park Lanes, otherwise known as "the Bowling Alley"; 2424 White Plains Road (?). I was there at the Grand Opening; standing there, a small snot-nosed kid peeking through a forest of legs and elbows at the majestic new Managers for this glorious Brunswick bowling alley - 30 lanes - wow! Maybe I was 10 or 11 at the time that they came and glorified this otherwise very dull part of White Plains Road with their presence. Across the street from the bowling alley was a non-descriptive small ball bearings factory, and further behind that was a weed filled vacant lot. The vacant lots were soon destined to disappear from the northeast Bronx landscape. they disappeared like acne on a teenager's face; at a faster and faster rate as the 60's moved into the 70's.

The Bowling Alley became a central hangout point for about 50 to 150 teenagers (both young and old teenagers) during the late 60's and early 70's. There were Gamblers, those who bet and those who bowled & bet; there were druggies, those who bought and those who sold & bought; it was a focal point of human traffic - day in/day out, all four seasons! I was working the Desk (behind the counter) at this point in time, somewhere around 1970-71; swapping shoes for bowling shoes, assigning people to lanes, and charging them for games played. This was back yonder in the days before electronic scoring; you were equipped with a simple lead pencil and a score sheet made of paper, this meant that either you did the arithmetic yourself or … you got one of the little kids who were hanging around, to do it for you.

I had begun my early days at Pel-Park Lanes as one of those little kids who kept scores for bowlers, bowlers who played for money; these guys had no time for arithmetic! Today I'm a successful Electrical Engineer; I can thank my early score keeper days for nurturing my mathematical skills. When the League Bowlers arrived they used the overhead projector and then they wrote on a transparent plastic scorecard which then got projected onto the overhanging screen (1 per lane); remember that? I knew how to fix nearly everything at the bowling alley from pin jams behind the machines to candy bars stuck in the vender machines - I lived and breathed the bowling alley.

I’ll now guide you through a typical Friday at Pel-Park Lanes. I'm a bit fuzzy about the actual opening times, but whatever .. it began with Cliff driving up to the front door together with Norma at some point in the morning. Norma Tilley, a big Texas Lady with a walk and talk that got your attention; everyone tried to keep on her brighter side, Norma was a tough cookie. She ran things though technically speaking she was neither the Manager nor the Assistant Manager, I actually have no idea what her "official" role was there!? Cliffy, who'd heeded to all her whims, looked like a soft version of Frankenstein’s monster (though he actually had a heart of gold)! He could do everything; fix machines, run the cash register, do the books, etc. If it weren’t these two who arrived then it was Dan, he was smooth; somewhere sculptured in the late 40’s early 50’s look, a quiet, good looking man; I always suspected that he had something going with Flo (the Bartender waitress). Between Norma, Cliff (who I think was “officially” speaking the bowling machines mechanic), and Dan they did everything.. ... everything except run the Bar - that was Emil's job.

That brings me to Emil, the bartender of "The Bongo Room", a bar in a world's class of its own. Self contained in its own glass walled, curtained away room, located in the Lounge area opposite the Front Desk, across the vast lounge space; the Bongo Room existed in a time warp. It lived through the entire succession of Managers and Assistant Managers from the day that the bowling alley was conceived until it finally succumbed to time and died and closed somewhere near the end of the century. Emil had a bit of the WC Fields look about him though that’s about where that comparison can stop. He was pleasant, sneaky, quiet, and talkative in a professional bartender way. With him was Flo, a sweet lady with dark hair who seemed cut out from the era of Rita Hayworth; quiet, nice, a soft person in a hard world; she worked as waitress for the Bongo Room on League Bowling nights.

I part-time worked the Desk on the morning shift or I'd take part of the evening shift. Now that I was a strapping youth of 17 who'd just began College I was happy for the pocket money it gave me. So I worked the Desk giving out- and taking back- smelly bowling shoes; assigning lanes to bowl on, taking payment at the cash register, and turning off the lanes when they came up to the Desk with their score sheets. I knew nearly everyone that walked through the doors of the bowling alley.

The casual bum bowler/gamblers would shimmy in anywhere from 11 to 2; they came there either to talk bowling with the boys, or maybe instead grab a lane and throw a few balls - or maybe, just maybe there'd be a little action bowling on the off day. The real gambling (BIG $$$!) took place at night and it happened over an entire network of bowling alleys in the north Bronx and Yonkers. There were some real characters on that scene; does anyone remember the Beeper? That's another story! Once or twice a week there came the morning housewife league bowlers. For the un-initiated let us leave it to say that League Bowling is an organized tournament made up of organized bowling teams playing towards a final championship. Policemen do it!, Firemen do it!, Housewives do it!; just about anybody and everybody was doing it.


The morning shift was a slow shift; the drug addicts would start drifting in around 4-4:30 in the afternoon, most of them had just woken up at that time. They'd have coffee at Sal's Snack bar located alongside the lanes on the side where they ran from 16-30; that's how many lanes there were in all- 30. Sal could talk your ear off in a strong Italian-American accent about simply nothing! At the Snack bar you could get the usual savories; coffee, cokes, hamburgers, French fries, and any other unwholesome good American junk food.

Somewhere around 5~5:30 to 7~7:30 the majority of normal people disappeared, they went home to eat dinner. As the early evening began so would everything else begin; the Exodus to the lanes, the call of the ball smashing into pins, the sound of the rake greedily sweeping away fallen pins like fallen soldiers after the battle of all battles. The serious League Bowlers invaded the lanes at around 8 o’clock; they were a well lubricated lot, juiced up with beer, Gin & tonics or whatever else it took to keep the evening flow moving on. In the background hidden behind this cacophony of sound and sight rose the dark cloud of the menacing Drug Addict; the group of druggies gathering at the front door began to swell in size and number. The zombies gathered as the early evening moved towards the night. I knew them all, the good ones, the bad ones; the Police knew them too!

Looking back at those days I remember an interesting encounter. It was early evening or maybe it was late afternoon, a time when business usually was quite slow or even non-existent; Ondo a notorious local figure came waltzing in through the front door. I could see immediately that things weren’t all that good with him. Before I go any further into this tale I think it’s best that I describe Ondo, please keep in mind that I actually liked Ondo, he was my best friend’s big brother; Ondo was unique.

He was about 4 years older than me, a little bit taller than me, and totally insane, but not always crazy in a bad way. He was a charmer (when he wanted to be!). He had only one eye, the other had been lost somewhere along the line during his rough Bronx living – in its place, in the empty socket of his head, was a glass eye. When Ondo got upset or emotional, which was often, (he loved singing tear-jerker love songs!) his real eye would start wandering all over the place with a fast twitching tempo while his glass eye stared placidly straight forward into the world. It left you with an uneasy feeling– it was a queasy experience looking him in the eye once he was upset.

Anyway on this dull and boring afternoon things were soon to liven up; Ondo needed money. Ondo had a need for drugs in those wild-west days of the early 70s, and he needed them pronto! I had no money to give him; I was just a poor clerk working the cash register behind the Desk. It was then that he began staring at the cash register and I new that I was in for trouble! He leapt onto the register with both hands and we began a tug-of-war with the register, while in the background an endless babble began that never ceased. Him saying that I wouldn’t rat on him ( me coming from the neighborhood and all that!!) and that he needed the money - and I on my part pleading that I just couldn’t explain to my boss that the Cash register happened to disappear into thin air – abracadabra!!- no more cash register!

This went on for a sweaty 5 minutes or so; luckily all this got disrupted when a customer happened to come up to the Desk to pay for her games (totally unaware of the situation). Ondo gave up in exasperation and stomped out of the Bowling Alley pissed-off, swearing, and crying from his one eye in anger! I could relax again, the peril at hand was over and everything would just resume to being just another dull and monotonous day at Pel-Park Lanes ...

The real action with the druggies would begin later in the evening; it resembled something out of a Keystone Cops film. At about 10:00 in the evening, the Police would come to a shrieking, grinding halt right outside the front doors of the Bowling Alley. They’d simultaneously throw open their doors and hop out of the car - ready for action - batons in hand, and a snarl on their lips; all this was done in one smooth well trained motion. It had an effect like the start pistol at the Track - a hoard of druggies would come charging inside the building in order to get away from the newly arrived menace; under normal circumstances they kept most of their wheeling & dealing activities restricted to outside in front of the main entrance, but under these circumstances it was run for your life! The druggies charged through the Lounge and out the back door to the parking lot with the Police hot on their heels.

I don’t think that anyone ever got caught. It was a routine accepted by both the druggies and the cops, a kind of ritual as it may. Needless to say the bowling alley management wasn’t equally blasé or overjoyed with this weekend spectacle. The bowling alley had even hired security guards for a while but the security guards proved ineffective and in the end they just gave up. I myself tried the diplomatic approach with them, I tried to keep everyone happy and peaceful; it wasn't always easy! (and it wasn't always successful!!).

This wild and woolly way of living carried on for some years but in the end times changed and life at the Bowling Alley calmed down and finally everything came to a halt. The kids who were hanging out grew up and either died, went to prison, or straightened out and got on with their lives. The Italian-, Irish-, Jewish-Americans moved out of the neighborhood and the Jamaican-, Puerto-Rican Americans moved in; the structure of the League Bowling business broke down; it turned out that it was actually the League Bowling that had supported the financial side of things. Somewhere near the turn of the century it all ended, an epoch in Bronx history. Today there no longer exists a Bowling Alley called Brunswick Pel-Park Lanes on White Plains Road, it's gone forever - but the memory still lingers on …..


JHS 135, the years that were...

by George Offord

September 1963 to June 1965, my Junior High School years from age 12 to 14; the 7th, and 9th grades (by some miracle, or accident of fate, I actually skipped the 8th grade). Those were awkward years of my life, life was unfolding before me, full of discoveries and wonders; I went from being a little kid to becoming a teenager while at that school.

I had previously gone to PS 96 where like most others I had started in Kindergarten and labored my way up to and through the 6th grade. I have fond memories of my poor, poor 6th grade teacher. In retrospect I must say that I not only pity her for having put up with me, but even more so because she became seriously ill halfway through the school year and actually died. Mrs. Similefsky was her name; they planted a tree for her in front of the school.

Somehow I actually got through P.S.96 with all its ups and downs. I was clever in school but unfortunately I was very immature at the same time and I had a bad habit of getting into trouble. Luckily, the clever part of me outweighed the bad-boy part of me which resulted in that I was accepted into a 7th grade SP class at JHS 135. Mr. Silverman was my Home-room teacher.

JHS 135 was a new universe for me; kids came from all different neighborhoods not just from my local area, the Allerton Avenue neighborhood.

But this isn't a story about school! ... no sirree... this is a story about the local hangouts we went to before school started and where we went when we cut classes!

Before school my friends and I would meet up at Sol's Candy Store which was just around the corner from 135 situated on the corner of the apartment building where Topsy & Kevin's Dad was the building Superintendent. Sol was a sweet little old man that ran the store with help from his wife; we could pack 20-30 kids into that tiny candy store. There were two small booths crammed into the back left-hand side of the store and the counter ran the full length along the right-hand side of the store.

I remember one occasion very clearly. We were all packed into that small candy store listening to Sol’s radio narrate the events about the ongoing Russian Naval fleet approaching Cuba.

The Russian Missile Affair:

The Russian Navy was transporting missiles intent on delivering them to the Cubans. On the other side of things the American Navy had encircled Cuba and had vowed to stop the Russians from delivering them - cost what it may!

It was very exciting and scary at the same time; we were aware that we were maybe approaching WW III - the great nuclear war that we grew up fearing and expecting to happen. We had been having test air raid alarms every month and all the cellars now had signs set up outside the entrances declaring them as Fallout Shelters in the case of war! And now we all felt that that time was coming!!! Scary stuff; luckily it never developed into more than a naval faceoff; thankfully the Russians backed down and went home.

Lots of growing up happened that day at Sol's Candy Store.

Across the street from Sol's was the triangular shaped block crammed between Holland Avenue and Boston Post Road; the used car tire lot was there, they had a mean German Sheppard dog locked in there to keep an eye on things. We used to tease the dog as we passed the tire lot on the way to the Diner. He would work himself into a froth as you walked on the sidewalk alongside the fence. You see, right next door to the used car tire lot was Jack’s Diner, one of the last old fashioned bus diners. Jack was an ex-con or ex-sailor or something like that because he was tattooed from the neck all the way down his torso and arms and hands; I never dared to ask him anything about his tattoos - I just made believe that they weren't there. Those days it wasn’t a common sight to see tattooed people.

Now if we go back up the street (Boston Post Road) whence we came; past the used car tire lot (with the barking guard dog) and go into Sols … we’d find Topsy & Kevin at the counter buying cigarettes for their Dad. These two Irish-American kids were rascals; they were always up to pranks.

In the evenings after Sol’s closed some of the older guys would gather there while the weather was still a warm during Spring and/or Fall evenings; they would practice singing a cappella. We little guys would try our own imitation of the songs … (i.e Duke of Earl)

Okay back to Topsy and Kevin. One evening we were hanging around bragging about how we weren’t afraid of the dog from the used car tire lot, and how we could beat him in a fair fight because a man could always beat a dog due to his superior intelligence. Topsy just stood their leaning against the parked car looking all thoughtful (something which wasn’t normal for Topsy!).

The next evening it happened!!

Topsy was dumb (truth be told) but he had a canny way with animals. He and his 1 year older brother, Kevin decided to pull a prank on us! They climbed over the used car tire lot fence and befriended the dog (an enormous German Sheppard). Then they spent the best part of 2 hours building a staircase out of used car tires on both sides of the fence.

Around 9 o’clock in the evening Topsy & Kevin came charging up the block alongside an enormous dog screaming “sic um, gettum boy! Sicum sicum!!!” Needless to say there were no heroes to be found! – Quicker than quick we were all atop parked cars screaming for our lives. Between trying to get as far from this beast as possible we were screaming that we were going to kill Topsy when this was all over; needless to say all this screaming and activity drove the dog totally insane so he was madly charging all about barking, growling, and whining all at the same time.

Finally Topsy and Kevin tired of their joke and took the beast back to the used car tire lot. No one ever teased the dog ever again … just the fact that we knew that it might be possible for him to somehow get out was enough for us to treat him with respect thereafter.

This was an isolated incident and of course the thrill of it wouldn’t suffice forever …. So we devised more ways of making mischief; one of these ways was our lunchtime antics. There’s nothing so sweet like breaking the school rules.

So when we tired of being well behaved school boys and school girls, and we needed a change in the monotony of our humdrum existence at school, we would slip out of school and go to Rocco’s to get a nice Italian Hero for lunch.

It was strictly forbidden to leave the school premises during lunchtime but it was hard to resist when you knew that Rocco made some of the best Italian Heroes in the Bronx. He had every type of Italian ham, salami, pastrami, cheese, sweet peppers, hot peppers, garnishes, meatball and tomato sauce heroes baked with mozzarella oozing out at all sides; and much more.

His small crammed shop was located around 7~8 blocks from the school at Williamsbridge and Allerton (where it also intersected with Colden Avenue); it was well worth the walk to Rocco’s. You just had to remember to keep an eye open for Truant Officers and Cops who were always willing to make an easy catch. If you got caught you’d be escorted back to school and your parents had to come in and get you (and there would be all the blah, blah, blah bla, when you got home!)

And then of course what would life be like if we didn’t add some totally unnecessary elements of danger to it? There’s nothing like totally senseless danger!!

Those days when we felt we needed an injection of excitement into our lives we would cut classes and wander around the neighborhood; we’d sometimes wander up towards Eastchester Road going past the Blind Home, walking up the parkway. The parkway stretched all the way from White Plains Road up to Pelham Bay Park. We’d beg for trouble by hitching rides on the outside back of busses and even sometimes we hitched rides on the back of trucks. This little game of ours was always guaranteed to lead into some sort of adventure that more often than not ended up with us being chased by angry bus drivers and/or cops.

I remember hanging on for dear life to an advertising sign screwed onto the back of the bus. The advertising sign was set directly under the bus’ rear window …. pure terror ran through our bones when the driver would hit a bump or pothole in the road! We could fit 4~5 of us onto the back of an old bus, but only 2 could hang on with any safety to the newer more streamlined buses. I only fell once from the back of a moving bus, and it was one of the newer busses; luckily there were no broken bones or anything … just a bunch of bruises and a sore ego!

Finally when boredom overtook all rational thinking, we’d enter the world below, the underground!

The number 5 subway, IRT Dyre Avenue Line ran from Morris Park to Eastchester Road (probably even further but we never ventured any further than that). We’d enter the subway at the Pelham Parkway station (at Williamsburg Road and Pelham Parkway) leave the platform and venture into the tunnel; we’d walk the dimly lit tunnel until we’d emerge at Eastchester Road.

When a train would overtake us in all its roaring, screeching glory, we’d mash ourselves up against the filthy walls or into the hollows of the naked steel columns that separated the tracks. The contact between the electrified 3rd rail and the train would emit eerie lightening flashes, pure white light mixed with occasional sparks. It definitely kept our blood pumping!

Needless to say it wasn't all that safe and it definitely wasn't the thing you’d come home and tell your Mom about. I wonder what lies I must have told to explain away my filthy state when I came home from such an underground excursion; you can’t believe the dusty grime that has accumulated over the years down there!

Those days life was kept thrilling with these simplistic and innovative pastimes; breaking rules and dodging Truant Officers was the way we bad boys added spice to our lives!

Judged by today’s standards our mischievous behavior was quite naive and safe compared with what was later to follow in the Bronx; i.e. the disintegration of respect for older people, the loss of honor and integrity among peer groups, the growth of fear and mistrust towards strangers.

Life in the sprawling north-east Bronx changed, my generation moved as far and as fast away from the Bronx as they could, and in its place a new life with new people began; but that story will have to be left for others to tell!.




In the street as I pass them

By Sil Spaghetti - October 2010 

They pass me in the street as I pass them; the homeless, the filthy, the ones without; rotting teeth, limping through the drizzling rain. Is it me, is it I? ... will I ever become one; suicide alleviates the worst of headaches!! Pressure; pressure to do; .... the warm sun is not for me, it fools you into security. The night will come and it will be cold; cold, black, and desolate - cold concrete! 

Think, do, perform; pump it up - pump it out!; a fountain of never ending inspiration.

I'm a survivor, born and bred in the Bronx - I paid my dues, didn't I? Unfortunately things don't work out like that in the real world; justice, Yin & Yang, action & reaction - all but theories. Comfortable notions that give relief - like an aspirin. 

Pray tell what would “George the Gardener” say ?? .. an apparition from the past, an inspiration from my early childhood years growing up in the Coops. Here I am walking his streets of yore, the streets of Budapest. Behold the hills of Buda challenged by the plains of Pest; a majestic site for the eyes of the Conqueror and the Conquered. Have I found salvation? 

Salvation comes in small doses; maybe, just maybe my dose is fathomless - for I have found Love.

That which is unattainable is actually free; it exists because it does .... don't try to collar the Beast and give it a name - just behold and be blessed in its entirety; not everything can be owned. 

Her name is Zsuzsanna; pronounced something like Love but much much better - warm, bubbly, bright, and beautiful. After all the trials and tribulations life has to offer I found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the illusion of Nirvana embedded in the salt of the Earth; a vision of never-never land revisited by mortals - I am home. 

Euphemisms and sterile submissions are tick-tocking by the clock; a lift out of turmoil - behold the pedestal of Bliss. The Bronx ended and the World began. Many years of personal evolution, from tempest to turmoil to tempest again, from violence to violence; degradation, decimation, submission, oppression, oppressed - a life of disarray and disorder. Proliferation tainted by hints of beauty; flirting and fleeting, and forever beyond the grasp of comprehension. 

Countries passed by like a parade of rhythmic shards; still pictures on a screen shown by clinking rail beats heard from a train window charging on relentlessly. Cows, pastures, houses, station after station; all meaningless in their frozen passivity as they slid away with the rumble of the train through the landscape. 

My life, my wanderings through the World; days, months, and years moving in a syrupy gelatin - high points, low points - all points made of gelatin melting in the Sun. Where lies the continuity? Birth to Death, and all in a short breath. Do ants breathe? Does an Amoeba breathe? ... where are their lungs pray tell, and will smoking from a young age give them Cancer? Questions concerning nothing multiply exponentially as they relate and gyrate around one central search - the search for Love. 

Banal but beautiful, only for the Chosen - light years away from religion; warmth, breath, beauty, and a boldness beyond words; Love. The price may be too high, who knows; only Death will free me from my bonds, my molecular constitution of flesh and reality. 

Will the Loved and the Beloved depart from this mesmeric trance dance together? …. or will I be left behind destined to take the cowards demise from this called existence? No; still un-died, death untried, and we united in harmony shall continue long the path of exploration in a World full of physicality, together defying mortality. 

We shall shine like a single jewel until no-more; I live, I am, I love,- viva la Zsuzsanna!!!



...... once upon a time


Roger and the Voyage

by Droffo E’Groeg

Chapter 1 - At the hospital

Roger woke up. It was one of those “mornings” of a long time ago when decisions carried more weight, than in these
modern liberal times. Should he continue on to the mysterious Indus Valley, which only the day before had been a fact?
... almost an “established reality”!

Today { O’blessed be the Sun on the morrow!} this idea was on shaky grounds, teetering on the brink of indecision! Roger was nonetheless clear and decisive; he had once been described as a non-descriptive character, but to those who knew him,
ahh, they knew him all too well!

In the time that it takes for lightening to strike - Roger had cast off his morning countenance and assumed his royal hereditary; I am my own master!
“Onward” shrieked he,
Forward ......

As he entered the Isle of the Indus located in the heart of the Indus Valley; the place where shadows spoke tales of time. Old tales, nameless tales, assaulted him without relent, and then when he could almost tolerate no more - he saw it! The shadow of the Great Hawk had crossed him.

The Great Hawk was traveling with the Westward Winds. He had no thought of stopping or even acknowledging the pitiful small man below him on the barren plain.
The Roger thing?!

He moved on with great speed, Algonquin. The Great Birds of the Universe had long since been in motion, weaving and soaring along the Wind of Galma - creation!
Not in One & Five Hundred moons had anyone even dared to claim the attention of the Great Hawk, .. and now?; what could be the meaning of this small pitiful man chanting his name??

Wheeling to the right the Great Hawk looked upon its prey. Slowly, slowly each turning wheel tightening its grip upon the Man on the ground - it decided to attack. Utterly silent as a stone falling from the sky Roger was struck by a thought, I’d better run! Too late- in the talons of the Great Hawk Roger whizzed away over field and stream and forest and
swamp only to be dumped thumped and abandoned in an unassuming Glen near an ancient Wood. The Great Hawk no longer present.

Confusion followed by delusion. I, Roger only wanted to explore the Indus, explore myself.
Where am I and why?

First came the nauseating feeling of Bad Mushrooms, though none had been eaten; then the weakness of the limbs; and finally with knees turning to water a warm welcome to Blackness. In the deep dark tunnel a long distant tune began playing, playing in a way reminiscent of a distant and familiar Child’s rhyme.

Here comes Roger running, running!
Down through the Land of the Farro Dell!
See him huffing, puffing, sunning
down in the cleft of the Crystal Dell!

Huffing, puffing, running, running
watching, watching, slowly, slowly
stop in the Sunbeam of the Fairy Dell!

Under a lily pad, a lyin’ – a lyin’
lays a little seed of tree
a hidin’ – a hidin’
in the crystal pool of Life.

Sparkling oh sparkling
in a nook and under a Nell
in a wayward corner of
the merry, merry Dell.

Oh what should Roger do, abiding, abiding
knowing that the seed is there guiding, oh guiding
A little twig, bird or bat had given him the knowledge that
in this seed his heart would go a changing of his path!

In his hand he took the seed and like a metamorphic gland it swelled and throbbed. Shocked at first by this revelation Roger nearly dropped the seed which though no heavier than at first, was now the size of a watermelon. With spastic contortions and transformations this now no-longer seed had taken upon the form of a mighty double-headed broad ax!

Bursting up into the air upon wings of its own the broad ax began a rhythmic swirling dance which abruptly changed into a mad charge towards the largest of all trees in the wood! In one great cleaving swoop it separated tree from root but alas in that very same moment it too lay down and died.

Tree, Ax, the morning Sun and the silent song of the Elfin Wood. Silence; and in this silence Roger questioned his sanity – no it had actually all happened. There was the Ax; and there was the tree. The Tree!! Arising out of the great stump was an apparition fast gaining substance.

He was, well was he? Yes, I suppose one must say that he was a Genie. In size that of a small man, in energy that of a Cyclone! He seemed to sparkle, clad in a strangely colored garment that tended to melt into the forest leaving him nearly invisible. Yes, not a little fellow to take lightly! Roger mustered his very best demeanor and croaked forth a squeaky  “Good Day to You Sir”.

Fortunately our Genie’s bark was worse than his bite otherwise Roger might be headless today. At seeing the likes of such a left-footed fellow as Roger he burst into a laugh of gaiety and exclaimed, “ has it come to this that I a Noble Genie such as I am, must wait upon the likes of such as you for gaining release into this world of worlds?! What becomes the purpose of Power then?”

Thankfully Roger was well aware that no one could truly expect him to answer such questions, not even to contemplate upon them! Inner meaning and such – no, no – not his cup of tea!, he just continued to shuffle his feet in silence in a scolded schoolboy manner.

The Genie who now balanced an enormous jug upon his hip, told Roger as curtly as could be –  “there is something you must do for me”.

I’m well aware that we are all under the delusion that it is the Genie doing the job for us but in certain situations it just happens to be the opposite!

Genies have their own order of things and what not. Such things like combating Dark Evil Forces and keeping check on the reservoirs of hope in this world. Nonetheless at times their work overlaps into the world of Humans and it is just such a time that our poor defenseless sap, Roger has stumbled.

Well actually he’s been summoned, for summoned is exactly what it amounts to!

“There is much you must do”, said the Genie, “it will not be easy and I will help you as well I may”.
The Genie then unraveled his wish, “you must travel far and wide in search of a very special someone; but first I must tell you some things which you may not be aware of – things about the very fabric of this world you stand upon!”.

In all worlds of gathered substance a balanced state of being is in Rule; tensing, pulsing in Life Force - giving birth to Cause & Effect – relationship. Here too in the Isle of Indus, like all other Worlds these same conditions are true.

There is a man known also by the name of Gormikikkij. He is known throughout all of the Northern Realms as a Sorcerer. He is known for his cunning use of sorcery and his great athleticism in combat. In his younger days he was known as a Sorcerer belonging to the Order of the Green & Yellow, an elite order of sorcerers known for their knowledge about Color; the inherent strength of Color, its applications and its inter-reactions with gathered substance. He, Gormikikkij is a fiery man but nonetheless still of sound mind. The Genie then leaned forward and lowered his voice while he said, “It is to warn him and to possibly even save him from imminent peril that I send you on a mission”.

We of the Isle of Indus are constructed of a different Ether than those of your world. We develop two full identities from birth and not just one. In your World you are Roger and no other. Not so here! We nurture our two separate identities to such a strong degree that we even materialize two separate bodies, each body specifically conforming to its own identity. So you see, Gormikikkij is not one but two. It is his other “I” that is in extreme peril for his life. Neither identity is complete, if one should die, then by all musts the other must too!

Worst of all is that this is not just a fickle chance of the fates! It has all been dastardly planned and plotted. This plot has the markings of the hand of Screech and it is due to he that you must tread warily. He seeks the Power of Gormikikkij and his desire is least to say not in the interests of all sane creatures.

There is now a powerful spell laid over these lands and it is due to this that I myself dare not traverse the Realm and take Counsel with Gormikikkij. You of another Ether, of another World, are untouched by our sorcery. Nearly untouched, not wholly immune to our whims and ways and it is due to this reason that you must sojourn carefully with your quest!

It is thought that Screech has aid of yet another - though this cannot be proved. For it is a new Magic that spreads across the land, one more delicate than that weaved by the Screech of yore.

In Gormikikkij lies the hope of the future. Screech’s hold on the land is one of constriction, woven of the many relentless cycles of destruction. Gormikikkij weaves a tapestry based on expansion, slowly evolving, slowly unfolding; the passing of a whole Age in but the dawn of Spring. For this reason you must not fail.

Gormikikkij has the power to oppose Screech but not as long as his duel self, his other “I” is in peril. Communication has been clouded - it's no longer possible for us to contact our “others”. It is a Spell and it is a strong one, we can no longer “feel” our way to our ‘other’s’ condition and whereabouts! This is no accident but the fruit of carefully laid spells planned long in anticipation. As I said earlier, this is the work of Screech and yet even another. Our one hope lies with Gormikikkij. Do not desert me in this hour of need, find Gormikikkij and deliver my note of peril!

He and only he has the power to break the Spell that grips this Land. He stands not alone nor without aid. I myself am one of the many that though we cannot meddle as much as we may wish we can nonetheless send the Winds and the Running Tide, and watch and warn through the many eyes and ears of the birds and beasts.

You travel as one but are not alone, said the Genie; go with caution but without fear. There will be friends when needed. You will know them as true friends beyond all doubt because they will bear the light. Upon uttering these words the Genie produced a gleaming pinpoint of light, so bright, fierce, and pure in its shining that nothing contrary to light and joy could exist in its presence. The light now sheathed again still lay burning upon the mind of Roger, no, he would not forget the light, no not ever!

The Genie was gone. Alone again a letter in his pocket containing such mundane things like directions including times and distances and where and how to stock up with provisions was all he had to remind him of his bizarre encounter with the Genie. it had all happened so fast, and now .... alone again. It was nice to be standing in the simple nature again detached from all traces of fantasy. The sound of crickets in the glade, how pleasant the sound of reality is while baking in the noon-day sun.

But alas, not all is the same. Residues of our genie’s visit remain, a brightly over-sized jug sat quietly in the clearing. Walking slowly up to the jug, Roger perceived that it was maybe wisest to proceed with caution. But what be this that the jug contains? It is none other than crystal clear mountain water, aye and good tasting at that! A perfect gift as a parting souvenir and a precious gift for a journeys start! Roger hesitated no longer; a wee drop of water was needed to drink. Of course as you already know this was a foolish choice – it proved to be his undoing!!

As the first drop of silvery water touched his lips, Roger was whizzed away, transported as it may be, over hill and dale, river and stream, wood and canyon beyond time and motion. Where am I thought he? As the dusts of motion settled he found himself on the top of an arid mountain surrounded by other mountains, some higher some lower, many clad in snow like the icing upon a birthday cake. Looking downwards he saw dark musty woods, thick as a wolf pack with trolls and goblins lurking in darkened holes left by ancient boulders that had marched to the plains below. It was a fierce sight, both beautiful and frightening!

However looked upon, it was a long march ahead. Over the snow clad mountain tops will take at least two weeks and through the foothills could take anywhere from five to nine days; where would I get my provisions, fresh water, .... Lo and behold, what’s this? As if in reply to all Roger’s worries there but a stone’s throw away was a mule grazing, eating the dry tough thorny growth found here at the limits of the tree line in these mountainous heights. Near the mule on the roughened ground lay the axe, the very same magical axe that had been born of seed!

Of appearances to deem the mule seemed friendly enough. With slow noiseless movements Roger eased towards the mule while using his tongue to make slow gentle clicking sounds. The mule raised his head, tweaked his ears with alertness, and then lost all interest, resuming his eating. One, two, three – gotcha! Within a short time the two were friends. Roger upon his back now with the strange axe carelessly swinging from his belt as trusted companions, they headed as one down the mountain towards the woods.

Yes, the axe .....

The clock rang shrill as a seagull. The nurse said he's awake ......
Doctors moving quickly, smells of sterility, white. Where am I? Why? What? My GOD there's a tube in my NOSE! This is ... I don't ..... I.. I  i... i...... GONE blackout. 12 hours later as the effects of the sedative wore off - I awoke - what had happened?, how did I get here - in a hospital?? Slowly but surely the pieces began to fall into place. Kreugar, Neumann, Dharmendra, and the all enticing Maschinka ... where were they now? had they too survived?

I was lying in a bed, in a Ward at the Moshulu Parkway Hospital; the Doctors said that I was lucky to be alive, I'd been unconscious for the last 72 hours - they wanted to know what had happened, the authorities (Police?) would be around in the morning to hear my story.


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Faghart Hagarty and the Cyprus Boys

by Droffo E’Groeg

Chapter 1 - Confict

Sliding down the causeway double hip swing action comes F.H. in full commotion. smooth reflexes, casual motion; danger dead ahead. The C.P. Boys from the local bongo club, drummin’ up some hot-cakes for F.H.’s welcome!

Lurking of tenement basements with patents on F.H.’s rhythmic motion, counteractioned with nestled muggers detailed in “wait-upon-your-prey”. Smug situation, dark vibes in shaky shadows.

Coming to a climax, only a meter away, F.H. on the move; anticipation without conciliation, confrontation won’t abate! Contact!!!  .... a new series of vibrations; a gathering of nations; a blow to the mind and body.

Sanitation arrived and cleared the situation, tools of design and designation in hand. Both parties de-fused, neither abused but both highly used by the local politician, a Clockwork Orange premonition.


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This Is The Unknown History Of Swastika

Posted on 2015/05/16 by Rena

Everyone knows that the swastika is a symbol of hatred and cruelty, synonymous with fascism that led to one of the most destructive wars humanity has ever witnessed. But did you know that before the Nazis used it, this symbol had a history dating back almost 12.000 years?

The swastika was an auspicious symbol with positive connotations that represented life, sun, power, strength, and good luck. The oldest swastika dating back 12.000 years was discovered in Mezine, Ukraine, carved on an ivory figurine. Pottery and coins from ancient Troy dating back to 4.000 B.C. reveal that the swastika was a commonly used symbol. It had been used by Hindus and Buddhists in India and other Asian countries, who thought of it as an important symbol of good fortune, prosperity, and eternity. Moreover, artifacts that have been discovered indicate its use by the ancient Druids, the Celts, Nordic tribes as well as Native Americans.

The term swastika is of Sanskrit origin. According to Sanskrit scholar P. R. Sarkar its etymology reveals a deeper meaning: “su” means “good”, “asti” means “to be”, “ik” means “what will continue to exist” and “a” – denotes feminine gender. So, the word swastika means “good existence” while its deeper meaning was defined as “Permanent Victory”. Different cultures used it in different names. It was called “Wan” in China, “Manji” in Japan, “Fylfot” in England, “Hakenkreuz” in Germany and “Tetraskelion” or “Tetragammadion” in ancient Greece.

Depending on how it is drawn, the swastika can have a positive or a negative meaning. There is a difference between the right-facing swastika and the left-facing sauvastika. The swastika was the symbol of life and good health while the sauvastika symbolized misfortune. The double meaning of symbols was common in ancient cultures, e.g. in Hinduism, where the right-hand swastika is a symbol of the God Vishnu and the Sun, while the left-hand sauvastika is a symbol of Kali and Magic.

Due to its ancient Aryan/Indian origins, in the mid-nineteenth century German nationalists began to use the swastika as a representation of a long Germanic/Aryan history. For Hitler, the new flag had to be a symbol of struggle: “In red we see the social idea of the movement, in white the nationalistic idea, in the swastika the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man, and, by the same token, the victory of the idea of creative work, which as such always has been and always will be anti-Semitic“.

So, on August 7th 1920, at the Salzburg Congress, the red flag with a white circle and black swastika became the official emblem of the Nazi Party, transforming a symbol of life and fortune into one of the most hated symbols in human history.


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