Tag Archives: Farce Au Pain

Farce Au Pain ► Chapter Two

The foundations of our new government are laid, its
cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to
the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his
natural and moral condition.
~~~Alexander Stephens, Vice president of the Confederacy (1812-1883)

 Things are more like they are now than they ever were before.
~~~Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969)

 It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me,
but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty
~~~Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

There have been throughout history, mythology, fiction and show biz many Dynamic Duos.  I’ve always believed my childhood friends, Zachary Harvard Weed and Adrian Roland Thompson, belong on any such list.  You don’t have such a list?  It just so happens I’ve compulsively kept just such a list over the years, which my editor keeps insisting I shorten:
Masters and Johnson, Amos and Andy, Henry the VIII and Catherine of Aragon, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Mutt and Jeff, Hepburn and Tracy, Heckle and Jeckle, Hansel and Gretel, Gallagher and Sheen, Superboy and Krypto, Henry the VIII and Anne Boelyn, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Batman and Robin, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, King Arthur and Sir Lancelot, Dun and Bradstreet, Wheeler and Woolsey, Starsky and Hutch, Laurel and Hardy, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, James and Dolley Madison, Tarzan and Jane, Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Derek and Clive, Mary and Joseph, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Cheech and Chong, Donnie and Marie, Mork and Mindy, Currier & Ives, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, Sears and Roebuck, Nixon and Agnew, Edger Bergan and Charlie McCarthy, Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, Antony and Cleopatra, Marie and Pierre Curie, Alexander Graham Bell and Mr. Watson, Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes, Barnum and Bailey, Pierrot and Pierrette, Bogie and Bacall, Tom and Jerry, Astaire and Rogers, McMillan and Wife, Henry the VIII and Jane Seymour, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Burns and Allen, Allen and Rossi, Martini and Rossi, Sacco and Vanzetti, Tippecanoe and Tyler too, Rowan and Martin, Martin and Lewis, Lewis and Clarke, Simon and Garfunkle, Abbott and Costello, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, Gable and Lombard, Leopold and Loeb, Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon, McMann and Tate, Gannon and Friday, Friday and Robinson Crusoe, Henry the VIII and Anne of Cleeves, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, John and Martha Mitchell, Hope and Crosby, Arno Penzias and Robert. W. Wilson, Crick and Watson, Lucy and Desi, just to name a few.
This book isn’t about any of them. To tell this story of Zachary Harvard Weed and Adrian Roland Thompson properly, let’s jump into the Wayback Machine:

“Hon. Thurlow Weed”
Mathew Brady (1823-1896)
Library of Congress

Thurlow Weed lived between 1797 and 1882. Zachary’s ancestor’s loved to tell the story of Thurlow, who grew up to be a famed journalist and politician, who led the Whig and, later, the Republican Party. One of the original backroom deal-makers, he was (as the WikiWackyWoo tells us) “instrumental in the nominations of William Henry Harrison (1840), Henry Clay (1844), Zachary Taylor (1848) Winfield Scott (1852), and John Charles Frémont (1856).”  Although he supported the nomination of his good friend William H. Seward for the Republican ticket in 1860, he backed Abraham Lincoln wholeheartedly. Weed was so vigourous in his support of Lincoln’s war policies, he was sent abroad by the 16th President of the United States in the first two years of the oxymoronically named Civil War.  Thurlow was a man with a life worth remembering.  Almost nothing is known about his wife.

One son was born to the Weeds, Zachary Lyons Weed (1829–1902).  This tumble Weed pushed west in the early 1850s, where he married and settled near Mt. Shasta.  His dry goods business prospered and today, a century and a half later, just off Route 5 in Siskiyou County, California is the town called Weed.  Current population: just under 3,000.
Zachary Lyons Weed outlived his only son Harvard (1859–1891) by some 11 years.  As much as the tragedy of his son’s murder almost destroyed him (the culprit was never found), the birth of his only grandchild, Daniel Harvard Weed (1892–1950), gave him the joy missing from his early life.  Until his death at the ripe old age of 73, he regaled the boy with tales of his famed father, the boy’s great grandfather Thurlow.
Long after the death of his grandparents, Daniel Harvard Weed moved southeast some 250 miles to Nevada, settling in Yerington on the shore of the Walker River.  Maybe he was drawn by the name of the county, Lyon.  Maybe not.  Maybe he worked in the Anaconda Mine. Maybe not. We will never know and family lore seems to skip over this Weed. 

Today, a suburb of that vast metropolis of Yerington is named Weed Heights. Although we know Daniel Harvard Weed moved there, this company town wasn’t built until after he died. It’s unknown why it appears to be named for him, if indeed it was. One historian suggests it’s nothing but an odd coincidence, a synchronicity with no deeper meaning. Another historian theorizes the name “Weed” was meant to be ironic, noting the lack of any vegetation in what is essentially a desert. No matter. 

Daniel Harvard Weed had one child, named after an amalgamation of previous Weeds: Daniel Lyon Weed.  Although descended from hearty pioneer stock, this Weed had no taste for the rough and tumble west and, soon as he was able, moved to Detroit where Weeds were scarce but jobs plentiful.

“Dandy Lyon” was very much like the nickname given him during the war.  He was a fop, a fine gentleman, a dude, beau, man about town, prig, and jackanapes.  He was a man more concerned with sartorial splendour than with his only child Zachary Harvard Weed.  Dandy Lyon wore, as Zac would say later, “the worst toupee inna entire world.”
His natural hair, what was left of it, was bright red.  As hairstyles changed over the years, so did his rug.  Brushcut for the lean, mean ‘50s?  No problem.  Slick Dan was here.  Something for the Surfin’ Sixties?  Why not the Surfer Dan look?  A longer, modish style for the British Invasion?  Meet Ringo Weed.  A hippy style for the later sixties?  Here comes ol’ Long Locks Lyon.  In the back of his closet, he kept a briefcase containing all his discarded hairpieces.  It looked like the ancient burial ground for laboratory animals. 
I should know.  I saw it once. 
Dandy served his country during the Second World War keeping the western shores of Lake Erie safe from the Nazis, Japs, and the Huns. That’s where he eventually met the woman who would become his wife. Like him, she had flaming red hair.  Unlike him, she had a quality that radiated life. Why she would eventually marry Dullard Dandy is another of life’s mysteries I pondered as a teenager.
Dicentra Spectabilis aka Bleeding Heart

According to the story she told (and she told it often), it was a cruel trick of fate: When she was born to Jonathon and Erma Poppy of Toledo, Ohio, their first inclination was to name her Dicentra. It was unusual, it had that certain feminine ring to it, and it was short for the Latin Dicentra Spectabilis, the beautiful red-flowered member of the poppy family.  At the last moment they chickened out and went for something a little more conventional, but not totally conventional. They named her Rose-Violet Poppy, with an eye still on the cute-factor. However, they could justify it because of her Grammy Rose and her Aunt Violet; flower names proliferated on that branch of the family bush. 

The cruel twist of fate, as Rose-Violet came to see it, is that this beautiful flower would fall in love with, and marry, a Weed, forever losing her fragrance.

Her parents should have stuck to their first thought, however, and named her Dicentra because she was the original bleeding heart and that, after all, is the more common name for Dicentra Spectabilis.  During her loveless marriage any man with a half-decent line could get her heart to bleed.  Her red-hair and well-proportioned body made any man with glands still intact offer her a half-decent line (and some were downright indecent). 
As a teenager, I was madly in lust with her and she provided me with many masturbatory fantasies. 
Maybe Rose-Violet just never got over the initial shock of seeing Dandy without his rug.  It must have happened on their wedding night in 1951 and would have been quite the shocker.  Rose claimed to have never had “relations” with him ever again.  Zachary, the issue of that encounter, was the only thing in that marriage she loved. 
When Dandy died some years later Rose raged, romped, rampaged, ravished, rebounded, raped, ravaged, revelled, and reproduced (or at least went through the motions).
Incidentally, Zachary was named by Rose-Violet.  She named him after his great great Grandfather as well as the Weed who died so early in life before he had achieved much more than continuing the family lineage.  She had heard the history of the family line not from her husband Daniel, but from his father.  For reasons unknown to her, her husband despised his Weed roots.  However, Rose-Violet found it important enough to use the family history as bedtime story fodder for Zachary from birth, which is how I came to know much of it. However, I had assumed it was all bullshit until research confirmed it as reality; a reoccurring theme during the writing of this book.

Zachary, like all 5-year old kids, cared far more for the reality of Saturday morning cartoons. He was bored by the family lore, which he had heard so many times. The descriptions of pioneering Weeds sounded made up compared to the excitement of television.

Captain Gallant was played by Buster Crabbe.

In an odd bit of synchronicity, the author has
only collected 2 autographs in his entire life.
One was from Weird Al, personally made out
to his youngest son, and the other was inscribed
personally to his father from Buster Crabbe.

Which is why early on June 1, 1957, Zachary was in the basement, warming himself in the bluish glow of Captain Kangaroo.  The good captain hopped into Howdy Doody on Channel 4.  After the goings-on in Doodyville—Zac knew the schedule by heart—he would turn to watch Mighty Mouse, which lasted until the Channel 7 cartoons at 10:00.  At 10:30 came Captain Gallant; at 11:00, Sky King.  11:30 was the time for Sagebrush Shorty and after that would come—

“Za-ach?”  Rose-Violet always managed to make it a two-syllable word.
Nothing came back.  Again, this time louder, “Zac?”
Still no response.
“ZACH-A-RY!!” Three syllables loud and clear, which could not be ignored.
“Yeah, Ma?”
“Why don’t you shut that thing off and go outside t’play?  It’s a nice day out.  The radio says it’s going up to 80 today.”  She walked down the stairs as she spoke.
“I don’t wanna, Ma.  The Lone Ranger’s just startin’.  C’mon, Ma.”
“No, outside with you.”  She stood at the bottom of the stairs now, drying her hands on a tea towel.  Her smile said it all.  Zachary was the light of her life and now, at five years old, he was growing up to be quite a little man.  He was almost 3 inches taller then the other boys his age, but he also acted older than any of them.  However, she felt his best asset were his eyes.
They could be described as blue, but that would do them a disservice. That would be like calling Mickey Mantle a baseball player. It said the barest minimum. In fact, Zac’s eyes were the colour of Star of Sapphire gemstones; deep pools of reflection that seemed far wiser than his 5 years. Old and knowing eyes.
His hair, not surprising given his parentage, was a shock of red curls, which women pay good money to obtain.
“B’sides. Your father will be getting up soon and you know what he’s like in the morning. Anyways, I thought you’d be excited to see what’s going on across the street.”
“Whuzgoin’ on?”
“There’s a moving van across the street.  Someone’s finally moving into the Ball house.”
Before she had finished the entire sentence, Zachary had rushed past her and run up the stairs, hitting the side door running, the words “Hi Yo Silver” echoing to an empty basement. Rose smiled again and turned off the TV.
The moving truck was parked in the drive of the vacant house across the street. Zachary knew the house’s history well.  His father repeated it often enough. It had now been empty for 3 months. Its previous owner was one Doyle F. Ball. The Ball’s moved into the house when the neighbourhood was new, a few years before the Weeds. Doyle was known around the Weed house as “That Asshole.” Zac had always found Mr. Ball to be nice; Mrs. Ball always had a kind word and a cookie. However, his father referred to anyone he could not relate to as an “asshole.” With that one word, Daniel L. Weed could dismiss 92.48% of the human race.
Three months ago, without telling a soul, the Balls moved out of their house.
Since that day, the house had been vacant.  No “For Sale” sign ever went up. No listing was ever made with a realtor. Dandy had checked. That was the most “assholish” thing they could have done. There was only one reason houses changed hands quietly in 1957. Dandy was convinced that lily-white Gilchrist Street was about to get some chocolate drops. 

In 1942, during war time, Detroit was already experiencing racism.

This was how block-busting was usually done in Detroit. One of the neighbours would quietly move out having sold to a real estate agent, or they would sell it privately. Either way there was a very large profit to be made by the first person on a block to sell their house to a Negro, as they were called by polite society back then. The practice that kept Blacks out of certain neighbourhoods in Motown was called redlining. However, once a block was broken, it was amazing how quickly White Flight could change a neighbourhood.

Dandy Lyon, like most men who went through the service during wartime and had developed their first working relationship with Black folk, didn’t want to live across the street from one. Hell, that’s why he fought the war in the first place! For his Constitutional Right to discriminate!

Such was life in Detroit. Such was life on the west side of Detroit. Such was life on the northwest side of Detroit.

Zachary lived on the northwest side of Detroit, on the west side of Gilchrist, in a house two doors south of the cross street, Hessel.  His house was one block and two houses south of Eight Mile Road, the northernmost boundary of the city of Detroit and the county of Wayne.  Everything beyond 8 Mile was suburbs.

When the Balls moved into their house, the smell of fresh paint would have still permeated the new structure. It, and all the houses around it, was built in 1947. They were post-war houses at their most lackluster built in a tract called Madison Park, but apparently no one who ever lived knew that. The name Madison Park seems to have existed only on the original planning maps. The entire housing tract went up at the same time, virtually overnight. 
A current bird’s eye view of Gilchrist

Each block contains 15 houses whose backyards meet the backyards of 15 houses from the next block. Those 15 houses face 15 houses on the other side of the street. Those 15 houses have backyards that meet the backyards of 15 houses, which look out at 15 houses on the other side of the street. 

In Motown, there are blocks and blocks—stretching into miles and miles—of this type of development. Each house sits on a lot 40 feet wide by 100 feet deep. On a city block: 30 houses; 15 back-to-back with 15 others.  There are eight such blocks to the linear mile. 
In Motown, there are blocks and blocks—stretching into miles and miles—of this house, as there seems to have been only one basic design. Some were finished in asbestos tiles; most were brick. Some had the floor plan reversed; some had unfinished basements.  Some had a finished second floor; others may have had a garage at the end of the driveway. Some had aluminium siding and the occasional house had painted brick. All, however, were the same house and from the outside looked like one of those little green houses you line up on Baltic Avenue before trading them in for a hotel.
At one time, when it was still all forest and farm, people would travel from The City to this very area. Where the West Side Drive-In once stood used to be a farm, complete with riding stables. One could rent a horse and saddle for the afternoon. Just over a mile to the west, as the crow flies or the horse walks, was Madison Park, where Zac’s house came to be built after the war.  It seems a shame that so many trees, each one different and distinct, were destroyed to make way for one house—one house multiplied thousands of times.
If you say Zachary’s house was one block and two houses south of Eight Mile, you could also say it was six blocks and thirteen houses north of Seven Mile. 
Such was life on the northwest edge of Detroit City.

Now on June 1, 1957, the mystery of the Ol’ Ball Plce was about to be solved for young Zachary.  He wriggled into the bushes that flanked his front porch.  This was his customary hiding place.  He often sat, alone, beneath the bushes in the cool shade and spied on the world at large. 

The world at large always seemed to behave differently if it didn’t know a 5-year old child was watching it.
This day there was far more action than usual.  In fact, it was a veritable flurry of activity.  Movers busied themselves carrying boxes and furniture into the Ball house.

It was the goofy family he had spied on months earlier, from this very spot, having a picnic on that very lawn. 

Girls, seemingly of every size and age, helped carry the smaller and lighter objects.  And, on the curb side, in front of the Ol’ Ball Place, was a boy a few inches shorter than Zac, but seemingly of the same age.  He was crying.  He was lying on his back on the grass, legs in the street, screaming himself hoarse. The tears were running down his upper cheeks into his ears. Zach found his empathy and carried it across the street.
When he was close enough to be heard, he spoke.
The boy froze. His crying stopped. He tilted his head and looked up.
“I’m Zachary.  Can I be your friend?”
The little stranger wiped his eyes. Then he wiped his ears. Then he replied, “Are you a nigger?”

Adrian Roland Thompson’s family wasn’t big on family lore, but there was one thing he knew about his lineage: He was no nigger, whatever that was. The word had been used, often in contemptuous tones, in Adrian’s house. It had usually been whispered about some mysterious “they” and only when Adrian was thought to be out of earshot. One thing was clear: The Thompson’s were better than any niggers.

In direct contrast to Zachary, Adrian knew very little of how he came to be. He had no grandparents that he knew of. He had never heard the story of how his parents met, let alone where they were born. Adrian didn’t know how many generations his family lived in America, nor could he say if any of his kinfolk were famous. In fact, up until the age of three and a half, he didn’t say much of anything.
He never uttered a word.
Roland and Dorothy, his parents, took him to a steady stream of pediatricians, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Dorothy thought he was just “slow developing, thass all” and would catch up to his peers. She’d read Ugly Duckling to him one too many times, and believed it herself.
Randolph had his own theory. He knew Roland was “a mental retard. Other kids his age? You can’t shut ‘em up, they talking a mile a minute.  Bad genes.  Luck o’ the draw, is all.”
Adrian survived the battery of tests.
The experts were in agreement for the big picture, differing only in some details. Adrian’s intelligence scores were higher than average; comprehensive excellent; memory skills outstanding.
One of the more brave (or foolhardy) of the professionals suggested “a trauma—a psychological trauma—which may have caused him to withdraw. It may have been something small and seemingly insignificant at the time, but to a child might have been monumental. Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, have you any idea of what may have affected him so?” 
Dorothy and Randall immediately dismissed that suggestion and kept to their pet theories. “He’s just slow.  He’ll catch up. You’ll see. He’ll blossom like a butterfly,” Dorothy would repeat, as much to convince herself as anyone else.
“I think the boy’s retarded. It’s a bet he didn’t get that from my side of the family,” Randolph would end one discussion after another.

Adrian had two pastimes. Sometimes he’d even do them simultaneously. 

The first was pouring over reading matter. Books, magazines, newspapers. It didn’t matter to Adrian. As long as it had words, or pictures with words, Adrian wanted to look at it. Books with nothing but pictures didn’t interest him at all.
Adrian’s love of words came from Uncle Izzy. Every Sunday, like clockwork — at the exact stroke of 5 – there would be a light knock on the door. The door would burst open before anyone could answer and suddenly Uncle Izzy would be in the room. Despite the fact that he wasn’t very large for a man – slim and almost petite would best describe him – Izzy had a way of occupying all the unused space in a room.
Adrian would almost always be waiting for his arrival, waiting quietly on the chair closest to the door in anticipation. At the quiet rap, he’d jump up and race to the door, because everything about Uncle Izzy delighted the boy. 
He would sweep into the room, set his briefcase – the biggest Adrian had ever seen – on the table just inside the door. If it was cold enough to wear one, he’d take off his coat with a flourish, ending with a move like that of a bullfighter and then casually toss the coat onto Randolph’s chair. It would always land, as if by magic, folded neatly in two laying over the back of the chair.
By now the 3 girls would have arrived in the living room, creating barely controlled pandemonium as Hellos were exchanged. Randolph and Dorothy would always look on quietly from the doorway to the dining room. Izzy would ostentatiously snap open the two catches on the briefcase and inside would always be presents. The children knew to line up by age, oldest first, and Izzy would squat down and distribute the gifts in exchange for a hug and kiss. The girls always got some girlie trinket, but Adrian always got a book. 
Dinner would hit the table at exactly 5:15. Sundays in Adrian’s house ran like Mussolini’s trains, keeping to a strict schedule. Every other day of the week dinner would be whenever Dorothy slapped it on the table, which could be any time between 5:30 and 7. Lately, more and more, the older girls would be told to make dinner, which meant bologna sandwiches. As much as Adrian loved bologna sandwich nights, he loved Sunday more. It always consisted of roast brisket of beef, creamed corn, and mashed potatoes, but it wasn’t the food that made Sunday special. It was Uncle Izzy.
The Sunday routine never varied. One by one, as the girls finished dinner, they would be excused to go do whatever it was that girls did. Adrian would remain behind, long after he finished dinner, listening to his parents and Izzy talk, mostly his mother and Uncle Izzy. Randolph rarely said anything. The clock on the hutch would chime for 6 and Izzy would announce, “It’s time for the men to go have a smoke” and Adrian, Randolph and Izzy would get up from the table while Dorothy called the girls in to clean up.
If the weather was warm enough the men would go onto the porch.  If not, they’d retire to the living room.  Randolph would light up a Lucky Strike. Izzy would reach into his inside breast pocket and pull out a long stogie. First he would run the cigar under his nose and smell it from one end to another. He’d slip the paper ring off the cigar and Adrian would always thrust his hand out. Uncle Izzy would place the paper ring onto two of Adrian’s fingers and pull a match out of the side pocket of the suit jacket. At the same time he stuck the cigar into his mouth, a flame would appear with a hiss on the end of the match. It was like magic to Adrian. It was years before Adrian ever thought to watch the match and not the cigar and, only then, did he see that Izzy used his thumbnail to ignite the match. Rather than feeling disappointed, Adrian thought the thumbnail trick was even better.
Izzy would puff on the cigar as he held the match to the end and the flame would dance in tempo to Izzy’s cheeks. 
Sometimes no one said a word and Adrian would watch the smoke curl above their heads or poke his finger through the smoke rings that Izzy blew. 

Sometimes Randolph and Izzy talked about inconsequential things, like weather and baseball. 

There were other times, however, when nothing Izzy and Randolph said to each other made any sense to Adrian. While he recognized the individual words, when strung together they didn’t amount to anything that Adrian could grasp. Years later he would guess correctly that it was a code, but when he was young he would try to decifer it to no avail. Adrian wanted desparately to understand what they were saying, because the nights that Randolph and Uncle Izzy spoke in code were the only times that Sunday deviated from the careful schedule that had been set up.
On these nights, when his father and Uncle Izzy spoke in tongues, Randolph would stab out his cigarette and Izzy would announce, “I’ll be back in a few minutes, Adrian. Your father and I have to sign some papers” and he’d pick up his briefcase and the two adults would disappear. 
A few years later Adrian would learn that Uncle Izzy, Israel Sharpe, was also the family lawyer and he was almost nine before anyone bothered to tell him that “Uncle” was an affectionate, but honourary, title. Izzy was not related to either Randolph or Dorothy. A few years after that Adrian learned from his father that Izzy was “a fucking Jew who’d no sooner slit your throat than fuck your wife.”
On the Sundays when papers had to be signed, Adrian would wait quietly with his newest book on his lap.
Suddenly Izzy would burst into the room and the Sunday routine would pick up where it left off, because the same thing would happen every Sunday at this time.
“Do you know what time it is, Adrian?” 
With that Izzy would shoot his cuff suddenly and Adrian’s vision would be obscured by a huge watch as Uncle Izzy pointed to the large hand and exclaim, “The big hand’s pointing to the three, so it’s a quarter past.”
He’d shoot his cuff again and reach behind Adrian’s ear and pull out a quarter that always seemed to be behind Adrian’s left ear, but only when Izzy reached for it. It was never there when Adrian looked. 
As Uncle Izzy pressed the quarter into hand, Adrian would close his fist around it. Then Izzy would shoot his cuff again and the watch would look large again in Adrian’s vision.  Izzy would point again.
“And the little hand’s on the 6, so it’s a quarter past 6. Story time.”

With that Izzy would plop down in Randolph’s chair, with an over-exaggerated sigh, and Adrian would scramble up onto his lap and open the book to the first page. Izzy would move Adrian around a little bit until he was in the crook of Izzy’s left arm, safe and warm. Then Izzy would begin reading the book, always starting with the title page.
In interviews during the research of this book, Adrian told me that Sundays was the only day of the week he remembered being hugged by an adult. It was not something his parents did. It was the only time, he told me, he really felt loved and protected. So much so that sometimes he would fall asleep in Izzy’s warm embrace and would wake up in his own bed in the morning without knowing how he got there. 
It wasn’t getting a book from Uncle Izzy. It wasn’t being treated like a man during the smoke break. It wasn’t that Izzy always found a quarter behind his ear. No, Adrian told me, the main reason he looked forward to Sunday and Uncle Izzy’s visit was because it was the only time he wasn’t afraid. Even now, so many years later, listening to this taped interview with Adrian makes me cry. If you could hear it, you’d cry, too.
The other activity that would occupy Adrian’s time, was listening to a crystal radio. Ironically, or maybe not so ironically, the crystal radio was also a gift from Uncle Izzy, for Adrian’s third birthday. 
“This is very special,” Izzy explained when Adrian unwrapped what he thought would be a large book, because it was rectangular. It was, however, a cardboard box with an illustration on the front.
“And it’s very delicate, Adrian.  So you gotta treat this with extra special care.”
The crystal radio set that Adrian was given on his 3rd birthday

Izzy opened the box and Adrian could see wires and parts that looked like some of the things he had been able to see through the slots in the back of the television, when he hid back there.

“You turn this dial very slowly until you hear something,” Izzy continued as he slipped the headphones over Adrian’s ears, “And you can bring the whole world to your ear. The world is bigger than what you can see from your front doorstep.”
Adrian slowly turned the dial and he heard some static. He kept turning and inside the static he heard what sounded like music. Then the music became more distinct and the static less. Then the music was loud and clear until it faded into static, as Adrian turned the knob some more. Adrian turned the knob back the other way until the music was clear again and stopped. He smiled broadly and took the headset off. No one else could hear what he had heard. It wasn’t like the radio in the corner of the living room. It was special. Something only he could hear.
From that day on, if he wasn’t outside he was inside his crystal set. Years later, after the invention of the transistor radio, Adrian was rarely out of radio contact with the rest of the world.

When Adrian was 1277 days old [as he told me.  I had to do the math to figure out that he was about three and a half], the Thompson family gathered at the dining room table for another non-Sunday meal.  Naturally Randolph sat at the head of the table, farthest away from the kitchen, with his back to the living room.  Dorothy sat at the other end of the table, which was closest to the kitchen.  On her immediate left was Julie-Ann in her high chair, born, as Adrian would tell me, a mere 400 days after him.  Adrian would sit on Julie-Ann’s left, which put him on Randolph’s immediate right.  On the opposite side of the table were Rita, 2 years older than Adrian and Lorraine, another 2 years older than that.

Meals, other than the special Sunday night dinner, were to be quietly endured.  Conversation was kept to the bare minimum, which bothered the silent Adrian not a whit.  No child could leave the table until every morsel – every last crumb – had been devoured. 
“Adrian?  Are you feeling okay?”  Dorothy reached across Julie-Ann to feel his forehead.
Instinctively Adrian drew back, glancing quickly at his father who was raising a forkful of corn mixed with mashed potatoes into his mouth’s range.  He was lost in thought, his eyes dull and grey, not paying attention.  Adrian lent forward, allowing his mother to feel his forehead. 
“I don’t feel a temperture.  But, you don’t look so good.  D’you feel okay?  Are you sick?”
Adrian slowly shook his head from side to side.  His eyes were red and he had dark circles under his eyes.  He had been crying most of the day, but that was something he knew better than to let his father see. 
“What’s bothering you, dear?” 
Adrian fixed his mother’s eyes with his.  He moved his jaw slightly, almost a quiver, as if to say something. As usual nothing came out.

No one at the table had any expectation he would say something.  He never did.  He glanced around the table and eight pairs of eyes were on him.  He stole another quick side-glance at his father, who was scooping up more mashed potatoes with a rare piece of meat skewered on the end of his fork.  He was still off somewhere else, disinterested.

Again Adrian squared his eyes with his mother’s.  Again his jaw moved, this time almost an imitation of the Tin Woodman’s after Dorothy Gale oiled his joints. 
Without any warning, and surprising to almost all, Adrian spoke for the first time.
“The bird died.”
Dorothy’s eyes suddenly filled with silent tears, then over-flowed when she blinked.  Lorraine and Rita were frozen.  Even Julie-Ann, as young as she was, seemed to know something momentous had just happened.  Only one Thompson seemed unaware of the specialness of the moment.
“What fucking bird?” he spat out along with a partially chewed kernel of corn, which stuck to his chin. 
Adrian had been listening to his crystal radio. “Charlie Parker.  The Bird.  He died last night at the age o –”
“That nigger music?”  Randolph spat again.  His face had already started to flush with anger.  He rose and slapped Adrian on the back of the head so hard, his plate broke when his head hit it.  “Don’t you ever let me hear you talk about that jigaboo music again.”

By the time Adrian had wiped the food off his face his father had already left the room.  His mother went into the kitchen and returned with a warm washcloth, which she used to clean food and blood off his face.  The cut on his cheek wasn’t very big, but it left a lifetime scar. 

Adrian tells me he never initiated a conversation with his father again, something that I’ve come to believe. Something else I’ve come to believe, but Adrian never seems to have considered: Randolph had a greater knowledge of Black music than most. How did he known Parker was Black?

From that day on, one of the children’s voices heard on Fullerton was that of Adrian.  It filtered into the windows and the sound of it often made Dorothy cry.  She only ever seemed to hear him through the window, because he rarely spoke again in the house.

The quote is from Isaiah, Chapter 2, verse 4:

“And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
The bible had once belonged to his Great-great-great-grandmother and on this day, January 20, 1957, Richard Milhous Nixon placed his hand upon this passage and used it to take the oath of office for his second term as Vice President of the United States of America.  Eisenhower was sworn in as President and would continue to lull the country to sleep.  After all, this was the year Darvon was introduced as a substitute for Codeine.

Adrian insists on telling me what Nixon was doing that day and that it be put down in this book as he describes it.  That’s enough for me because, after all, this is his story I’m telling. I know he’s had a life-long fascination with Nixon, one that predates the famous Kennedy–Nixon debates, or so he has always claimed.

On the same day that Nixon was taking his oath, Adrian was up to no good as well.  Firstly, he was playing with his friend Keith.  He had been told never to play with that nigger. 
Secondly, Adrian and Keith were playing with fire….literally.  They were in the alley that ran behind Fullerton playing in a trash fire that someone had set.  Back in the good ol’ days of the ‘50s, private citizens were allowed to incinerate their garbage, or anything else they wanted, without regard to something called The Environment.  Behind many houses on Fullerton were oil drums, with air holes punched in the sides, where people burned whatever they wanted to get rid of.  Adrian was forbidden to play in these fires, which naturally made the fires all the more attractive.  Adrian and Keith would feed the fires with paper, plastic –although there wasn’t a lot of plastic in those days, leaves or whatever else they could scrounge.  All in the name of experimentation, of course.  Maybe they caused global warming.
The last time Adrian was caught playing in the fires, his father whooped him good.  And then when he found out he had been with Keith again, he whooped him all over again. 
However, when he began to have pains in his stomach he suddenly turned and ran for home. 
“I’ll be back”
“Where you going?”
“I gotta go to the bathroom”
Keith was content to wait.  He knew Randolph was a racist. He was the only person to ever call him nigger to his face, athough his father said white people used the word when they are alone all the time.
Adrian only got two steps when it all came running out and down his pant leg.
He ran faster.
Randolph sat in the living room listening to the radio and reading, but secretly he was hoping Adrian would smell of smoke again when he came home.  He had had a bad day. 
Adrian ran up the stairs, past Randolph and Dot in the living room, down the hall to the bathroom.  Randolph sniffed the air.  There was the scent of smoke, but there was something else.  Something pungent.  Something familiar.
“That kid smells like…like…,” searching his brain for the right olfactory neurons. 
Foulmouthed Dot finished his sentence the way she usually did, “SHIT!” 
She ran down the hallway, flung open the bathroom door to see Adrian wiping the runny, brown accident from himself.
Randolph had caught up and already had his belt out.
Not only did Dot have to clean Adrian, but had to put iodine on a few cuts.  He was running a fever, so Dot put him to bed.
“Don’t wear pyjamas tonight.  It’ll help.  You’re burning up.”  But she was more worried about the cuts on his ass.
Adrian cried himself to sleep.

Upon awakening Adrian was confused. 

Feverish, his body and bed felt swampy.  A slash of light pushed through the cracked opening of the door, casting frightening cubist shadows on the far wall of his room.  Noise accompanied the shadows. 
It also pushed into the room.  Voices.  Angry voices.  Adrian climbed out of bed and followed the voices. 
“—e’ve got to get out of this shit hole.”
“I’m trying.  I’m trying.”  Randolph almost whispered in a dejected voice.  He never lost his temper with Dorothy.  He might be man enough to dominate Adrian, but he knew he was no match for his better half.  Especially when she was in a mood like this.
“You’re not trying hard enough!  I want out of this house now!”  
Dot was keening, as she did when aroused by something. 
Adrian drew closer to his parents’ room.  His mother was really worked up.
“Don’t worry.  I’m saving up.  I’ve got most of a down payment now.  I’ll have the rest in 10 months.  A year at the most if the car holds out.”
“A year!  A year!  We won’t have a year.  Adrian will be dead within a year.  We could all be dead within a year.  You know Mrs. Mitchell?  The one on the next block? Down Fullerton?  On the other side of Linwood?”
“Her husband Matt?”
“No, that’s the family next door.  She’s the tall woman with the two girls.  Plays bridge with the Maynards.  We had dinner there once.”
“Yeah, right.  So?”
“So!  So!  I heard she’s still in the hospital.  So she was raped last week.  She was shopping on Dexter walking home with groceries and she was dragged into the alley.  Adrian was in the alley again tonight.  We can’t stay here another minute!”
Adrian could see his mother through the keyhole.  She wore a foundation girdle, the connected garters swinging uselessly as she paced in and out of his vision.  She stopped at the window, split the curtain and peered out into the darkness.  Her back started to heave.  The sobs came.  Adrian had seen the waterworks before.
“Tonight Adrian was playing in the fires again.  You keep saying, ‘Wait.  Wait.’ For how long now?  Nine months?  How much longer do we have to wait?  Until we’re robbed?  Until Adrian burns his clothes off?  Until one of the girls is raped?  Until I’m raped?  How long, Randy?” 
“Please, please, understand, Dot.  Izzit my fault they want so much for a down payment?  Izzit my fault they’re moving onto the block?  Izzit my fault Adrian’s only friend is that nigger Keith?”
“You’re not here all day long.  You don’t see what goes on here while you’re gone.  I can’t keep him inside all day.  You’re never here.”
“That’s not fair.  One of us has to put food on the table, dammit!  I took that weekend job delivering papers so we could save up.  When I’m not working, I gotta keep the car up so I can deliver The Free Press otherwise we’ll never save up.”
“Oh god, Randolph.  Look at us.  I know you work hard.  They got us crazy, that’s all.  It’s not bad enough they all come from broken homes.  They want to break up our home too.  As God as my witness, Randy, if we don’t find a house by Adrian’s birthday I swear I’ll go move in with my sister.  I’ll take the kids and leave.”
“Don’t cry, Dorothy.  I’ll figure out a way.  I’ll ask for a raise.  I’ll—“
“No!  I won’t wait.  I want you to ask Izzy for a loan?”
“Izzy?  Hasn’t he done enough for—“
“No.  If you don’t ask Izzy for a loan on Sunday, I’m leaving on Monday.”
“I don’t want to stay here any longer than you do.  But Izzy?”
“That’s it, Randy.  I’ve had it up to hear.  You’ll do it, or I am out that door.  You understand me?”
“Don’t cry, babe.  Don’t cry.  Don’t leave me.  Please?  Don’t leave.  Okay.  Okay.  I’ll ask Izzy.  I’ll do it this Sunday.”

When the household awoke to a new day Adrian was curled up outside his parents’ bedroom door.  He was using the throw rug as a blanket.

As the months passed Adrian heard no more about moving.  He was more careful about being seen with Keith and life on Fullerton settled back into its old routine.

April 28, 1957 began like many Sundays, but ended like no other Sunday Adrian had known.  In between they played Right/Left.

It had become almost a family tradition.  After Randolph delivered the bulky Sunday papers he came home to breakfast.  After the clean up, they’d all pile into the family Buick and play his favourite game: Right/Left.  It’s rules were simple.  Taking turns, from eldest to youngest, they would each get to decide the direction the car would take next. 

Father always waited until he got the car out of the neighbourhood and then Dorothy would get her turn.  She could decide whether the car would turn right, left, or go straight.  Rita followed.  Lorraine’s turn followed Rita’s and Adrian followed them.  Julie-Anne was too young to count, or speak for that matter, so it was back to Randy, Dot, Lorraine, Rita, Adrian.  Repeat as necessary.  Eventually they always arrived at an interesting destination, but Adrian had figured a few weeks earlier that this destination was always a place Randolph had specifically set out to reach.  This actually impressed Adrian.  It seemed magical that even though everyone else was giving the directions, the destination was not their own.
Magical, but unimportant.  Adrian had grown bored with Right/Left and, more importantly, with the destinations.  One week it would be an art museum or art show.  The next week it might be a boring picnic in Palmer Park.  They never went anywhere Adrian wanted.  Like a playground.  Or amusement parks.  Adrian had read about Edgewater Park and had studied a street map in the house.  He thought he knew how to get there, but with only one turn out of five, there was no way he could make the car get there.
This Sunday Adrian felt more like reading, a rare thing for any 4 and a half year old.  To be honest, since he spent less time with Keith he spent more time reading and a larger world was opening to him.  A world or words and vistas created for his enjoyment.  Cut off from his best friend he poured over every book, magazine, newspaper or pamphlet that he could find.  Later, he would say, he was amazed that he could recall it all, even though at the time he barely understood much of what he was reading.
“Come on, Adrian.  It’s time to go.” Dorothy cooed as she stuck her head in his room while he sat and re-read his newest book from Uncle Izzy, “The Cat in the Hat.”
“I don’t wanna go.  I wanna stay here ‘n’ read.”
“Don’t be difficult,” her voice automatically becoming more strident.
“Mom,” the little voice pleaded.  “I hate that game.  I don’t wanna go.”
“Is it necessary to call your father?”
Randolph was already behind the wheel of the car waiting.  Adrian knew he was in for a beating if he continued to resist, but resist he did.
“I’m not going.  I’m gonna stay here and read.”
“Okay.  That’s it.  Father will settle this once and for all,” her voice trailed off as she stomped down the hall.  Adrian could still hear her.  “You’re not going to sit there and tell me what you’re gonna do, or not do.  I won’t stand it.  I’ve got enough problems with the move without him telling me what—” the slamming of the door cut off the rest, but Adrian could fill it in.  She would be telling Randolph that something had to be done  now.  Randolph would ask, “What?”  She’d say she didn’t know, but she wasn’t going to take any more of his bullshit, that she’s “had it up to here” and Randolph, with a sigh, would heave himself out of the car.  He would stomp into the house, down the hall and into the room where Adrian was reading.  Adrian was already stealing himself to being picked up by the elbow, given a couple of well-placed whacks, and dragged forcefully out of the house and into the—
“What seems to be the problem in here, Sport?”
The only time Randolph ever called him “Sport” was when he was trying to trick him.  Why the trickery and not a beating?
“I don’t wanna go, Dad.  I wanna stay home and read.  Besides, I hate that game!”
“You’re not old enough to stay home by yourself.  Rita and Lorraine ain’t even old enough to stay home by themselves.  Hate it?  I thought you liked to play Right/Left.”
“Not any more.  We never go anywhere good.  We never get anywhere I wanna go.”
“How can you say that?  You’re the ones telling me where to drive.  Where do you wanna go?”
Something was very wrong here.  Adrian knew that Dorothy had just given Randolph the old ‘I can’t take it anymore’ speech and Randy was trying to reason with him. 

“We always go somewhere boring.  I wanna go to that amusement park Edgewater or stay home by myself.”

“Edgewater doesn’t even open ‘til next month. Look, I’ll make you a deal.  You can make all the choices today.  All the rights and lefts.  Okay?”
“No!  I don’t wanna go.”
“What if I agree to take you to Edgewater opening weekend?
Tasting a true victory, for the first time, Adrian pushed his luck, “And I get to choose today too?”
“Sure, why not?”
Adrian slapped his book closed, ran past Randolph, and, within minutes, another game of Right/Left was underway, with one big difference: Adrian made all the choices as soon as they left the neighbourhood.  Just for the sheer excitement of it, Adrian tried to get them lost.
More than two and a half hours later, longer than any game of Right/Left had lasted, Randolph pulled over. 
“I don’t know about anybody else, but I could eat a goat.  We might as well eat lunch.  You’ve finally done it, Sport.  I’m lost.  I’ll study the map when we eat.  I can find out how to get home.”
By Adrian’s count he had said “left” seventeen times, “right” twenty-two times, and “straight” twelve times.  He was gleeful at his finally getting nowhere during Right/Left that he giggled and danced as the picnic basket and stuff was taken out of the trunk.  The girls helped spread out the blankets.  All during lunch everyone, except Adrian and Julie-Anne, chattered away at what a nice neighbourhood this was.  How clean.  How fresh.  How bright.
As Adrian told me years later, it was a set piece.  But he didn’t realize it at the time.  He didn’t understand that everyone was playing a carefully rehearsed part. 

Still, Adrian thought they were wrong.  There was nothing nice about this neighbourhood, except that they seemed to let total strangers picnic on their front lawn, which had no beautiful dandelions.  The lawn was almost a carpet.  He looked up one side of the block and counted fifteen house.  He looked on the other side of the street and counted 15 houses.  Each house faced one another.  Every driveway was a continuation of the one on the other side of the street.  He looked up the driveway where he was.  There was a small white garage and, beyond, another garage in a backyard just like this backyard.  No alley?!?!

“Sport?  Let’s go for a walk.  I want to talk about the Sunday surprise we talked about in your room.”
They crossed the street and walked two house to the corner.  Randolph pulled out his pack of Luckies, lit one with his Zippo and just stood silently looking around. Adrian couldn’t help but read the signs, which he could only do because of Uncle Izzy’s books.  Gilchrist Street. Hessel Avenue. 
“You know what, Sport?  I wuz just thinking.  We’re only about 3 miles from Edgewater Park right here.  You could ride your bike there when you got older if we lived here.”
He pulled on his cigarette again and let that sink in.
“We could live here, yannow.  What would you think of that?”
Adrian looked down the block to the next street.  It was the busiest street he ever saw.  Cars were whizzing past like a speedway.  He looked down the other way.  House, house, house.  Where was the empty lot to play in?  The alleys?  The fires?
To his right he sensed movement in the bushes.  He looked over to the house next door and saw a flash of red as sunlight caught something .  Maybe a cat.  A calico cat.  It pulled back when he looked.  He sort of looked away, but kept his eyes on the spot.  A kid’s face flashed out of the bushes for a second and when Adrian reacted, ducked back.
“Well? Whaddaya think?”
“Think about what?”
“About moving to this place.  The place you got us lost at?”
“I think it’s a funny place.”
“A funny place?  Whyzzat?”
Adrian scrunched up his face.  “It’s like a place ina fairy tale.  It reminds me of Aunt Wilma’s living room.”
Randolph scrunched up his face.  “Aunty Wilma’s living room?!?!”
“Well, you know, whenever we go visit her and Uncle Frank and her living is wrapped in plastic.  So they make me play ina backyard, but I can’t do anything because of all the rosebushes and garage.
“You’d like it here, Adrian.  I have a surprise for you.  I bought that house across the street where we ate.  We’re moving here in two months.”
“Whaddayameanno!”  In a flash the real Randolph was back and he had his fist wrapped in the front of Adrian’s shirt.
“We’re gonna get two things straight right now and don’t you say another word or I’ll beat you like I’ve never beat you before.
“First.  We’re moving here and if you give me any lip about it I’ll smack you into next week. 
“Next.  If I ever catch you playing with a nigger again, I’ll put you in your room and lock the door for a year.  Do we understand each other?”
“No!  Please.”
The slap was so loud it startled a bird on Zachary’s grass.  A clear handprint was left on Adrian’s cheek.  Another clear memory was left on Zachary.
“I!  Said!  Not!  Another!  Word!”
One the way home he heard a new song on the radio that echoed how he felt: I’m all shook up!

If that were the only unusual thing that happened that Sunday, it would have been enough for Adrian to have etched it as a red letter day in his mind, but there was one more surprise left for him that day.

As usual, Uncle Izzy showed right up on time, almost taking all the air out of the room until it was time for dinner.  Dinner was quieter than usual and then the boys retired for their smoke.  As soon as they sat down and Izzy’s cigar was glowing, he did the unexpected.
“What happened to your face, Adrian?”
Adrian looked at his father.  His father was looking at Izzy.  Izzy was looking at Adrian.  Stalemate.
“Adrian?” The voice, practically the only kindness in Adrian’s, life drew him to look at Izzy.  “Aren’t we friends?  Friends can tell each other anything.”
Adrian glanced back to look at Randolph.  He hadn’t taken his eyes off Izzy.  Adrian saw something else.  Fear.
“Are you worried what your father may think?  Randy and I are great friends.  Aren’t we Randy?”
Randy’s jaw clenched and he swallowed.  “If you’re asking—“
“I’m asking if we are friends, Randolph.  Not best buddies.”
“Uh, yes, we’re friends, Izzy.”
“See, Adrian.  We’re all friends here.  We’re all men here.  No need to retire to another room.  So, tell me what happened.”
Almost against his will it came rushing out, “Daddy hit me.”
“Izzat, right Randy?  Did you hit a defenceless boy?”
Now Izzy stared at Randolph. 
Randolph stammered.
“I asked you a question.”
“He said he wouldn’t move, after all you had done for us, Izzy.  I had to knock some sense into the boy.  You know how boys are sometimes.”
Izzy looked back at Adrian.  “Does he hit you often, Adrian?”
Adrian looked back at Izzy.  “Alla time, Uncle Izzy.”
“Hmmmm.  Since we’re all men here, I’m just going to come out and speak man to man to man here.  Is that alright with you, Adrian?”
“And, I’m sure you have no objections do you, Randy?” 
Not even waiting for an answer, he continued. “Adrian?  Only a coward would hit a little boy, or pick on someone smaller than them.  You’re father’s nothing but a scared coward.  Aren’t you, Randy?”
“Now c’mon a minute—“
“Let’s get something straight between us, Randy.  You will never hit this boy again.”
“I raise the boy, not you.”
“I don’t care, Randy.  If you ever strike this boy again, it’ll be the last thing you do.  You know I can have that done, don’t you?”
“You wouldn’t, Izzy.”
“You must think so very little of yourself to even say such a thing.  I own you.  I could ruin you in 2 minutes.  Without even leaving this house. And, that would only be a beginning.”
The house breathed in silence.  Izzy took a big puff on his cigar and let out ring after ring, each one chasing another across the room.  He placed the cigar in the ashtray.
“Adrian, c’mere.”
When Adrian was close enough Izzy scooped him up into his lap and reached inside his breast pocket.  Adrian thought, for a moment, that he was going to finally get to smoke a cigar.  After all, we’re all men here.
Instead, Izzy pulled out a small leather wallet, and flipped open the front, it was filled with business cards and he took two out. 
“Adrian.  This is my business card.  If you ever have a problem with him hitting you again, I want you to call me.  This other card I only give to my special friends.  It’s my service.  They’ll know how to reach me day or night.  You’ll call me?”
“Well, nothing.  If you don’t call me, you’re telling me you don’t want to be friends anymore.  Friends look out for friends and you don’t want me to help you, you don’t want my friendship.  And, that would make me sad.  You want to be friends, doncha Adrian?”
“Sure, Unca Izzy.”
“So you call me whenever you need me.”
“One other thing, Adrian.  It was my idea that your dad buy that new house.  I even loaned him some money so he could afford it.  I saw where you were living and I wanted something better for my friends.  I’m sorry if my idea was a bad one, Adrian, but it’s too late to change it.  Will you forgive your friend and help make it work?”
“I’ll try, Unca Izzy.”
“If we only knew how many times over the years we’d use the numbers on those business cards,” Adrian told my tape recorder years later as he was both dialing the number and telling me the story, “We’d’ve had them framed.”

The merry, merry month of May was spent packing for the June First move.  Both Adrian and Randolph kept their promise to Izzy and it was harder to tell who had the most difficult bargain.  A couple of times it looked like Randy would haul off, but then suddenly announce he was going for a walk instead.

Normally it would have been easy enough for Adrian to stay invisible, but some genius had decided to pack his books and toys first.  This sent him back to the alleys for fun.
One day he was just walking down the alley kicking stones when three toughs a year or two older jumped out and started to pound him for no reason at all.  Suddenly this big kid jumped out and just yelled one word, “Hey!”
The punks stopped, looked up, and just as suddenly as they appeared they took off like a shot down the alley.  The big kid leaned over and helped Adrian up.  Adrian started to dust himself off and the other kid helped a bit.  The kid then said, “You’re Adrian, aintcha?”
“Yeah.  How did you know.”
“I’s Frank.  Ain’t Keith ever tol’ you ‘bout me?  Ah’m ‘is brudder.”
“I din’t know he had a brother.”
“Yeah, he got two of us.  He must be ashamed not to mention us.”
“Nah.  He says my Dad hates him so maybe he thinks your folks’ll hate me.  I dunno.  Thanks for helping me.  Those guys woulda killed me.”
“I did it because your Keith’s friend.  That makes us almost blood brothers.”
“Whaddaya mean?”
“We exchange some blood and we’re blood brothers forever. Do you wanna be blood brothers?”
“But I’m moving.”
“Moving, huh?  That’ll jes make it better.  You can spread the word.  A blood brother is like a friend who is family.  You’d do anything for a blood brother.”
Adrian was all for it and within a minute Frank had taken out a small pocket knife, make a small prick on both their right thumbs.  He pushed his thumb against Adrian’s and the few drops of blood made it squishy.  They each withdrew their thumbs and licked off the remaining blood. 
“Hey, whatcha doing?”
Keith snuck up on them undetected. 
“I just made your little buddy a blood brother.”
“That makes us blood brothers too.  Look, Adrian.”
Keith held out his thumb, which had a small scar running down the middle.  It’s funny Adrian had never seen it before.  A noise from down the alley caught their attention and they saw a neighbour beginning a fire, so they took off down the alley shouting behind their back to Frank.

May, 1957 had receded into history.  Adrian wandered from room to room.  They were all now empty.  Everything was either boxed and in the hallway, or dismantled and on the front lawn.  With nothing left to do, Adrian moved aimlessly through the rooms.  A lighter spot on the wall was where the oval framed picture of his grandparents had been, people he had never known personally or by story.  A chip in a door frame was a reminder of the time Adrian threw a metal die-cut truck at Rita.  The inside door to the pantry had a height marked off ever since they had moved there.  He wandered to the front covered porch and there on the other side of the street was Keith.

Adrian ran outside to his curb, where the two of them sat on opposite sides of the street and just stared at each other.  Occasionally, one of them would hold up his thumb and the other would reply, anticipating Siskel and Ebert by many years.  Less often tears were wiped from cheeks.  For close to 90 minutes they just stared and gave each other the thumbs up.  Behind Adrian was a beehive of activity as movers packed everything into two trucks.  Eventually, Dorothy came and told him it was time to get into the Buick.  He sat small on the backseat seat between Rita and Lorraine and never looked back as Fullerton retreated, except in his mind.  There he examined Fullerton almost obsessively in the years to come.

Zachary was in his hiding place in the bushes, underneath the bay window in the living room.  The operation across the street looked so comical.  The movers would put the boxes on the lawn, while they carried the bulky stuff into the house.  Two girls and a boy were helping sort the smaller boxes.  The boy was the smallest and, whenever he’d find something manageable, one of the girls would snatch it out of his hands.  The boy would return to the small boxes.  Again it would be snatched out of his hands before he got anywhere near the house and the process would begin anew. 

Finally the boy found a box in which he seemed familiar.  He opened it and became absorbed in the contents.  The box contained the books that Adrian hadn’t seen in weeks.  He pulled one out and sat down and started reading.  He picked a bad place to sit and when the movers were pulling the couch off the truck, one tripped over Adrian and the couch came crashing down, missing Adrian, but breaking the wooden arm.
He was sent to sit at curbside, which is where he was crying when Zachary approached. 
“Hi.  Can I be your friend?”
“Are you a nigger?”
Zachary jumped onto Adrian and started pummelling him.  Randolph saw what was going on and pulled this strange boy off his son.  Two minutes on the block and the trouble was already starting.
“Where do you live?”
Zachary pointed to the house across the street. 
“You’d better get back there before I kick your ass there.”
Zachary ran across the road, where he remained, only spying the boy from the bushes.
The next day the stalemate continued.  Zachary remained in the bushes and Adrian would occasionally see him poke out his freckled face and look around. 
Zachary hated that new kid.  He had called him the worst thing that anybody could call anybody.  That’s what his father had told him just a few months ago.  A cousin was visiting and they were in the process of who would be “It” in a game of tag with The Pratt Boys.  Normally they’d use the very scientific “one-potato, two-potato method” of choosing an “It.”
But Zachary’s cousin started with, “Eenie-meeney, miney moe, catch a nigger by the toe, if he hollars, let him go, eenie-meeney—“
Zac’s father, who had been sitting in the porch, was the one who started hollering.  He came running over and explained that he didn’t want to ever hear the boys say that word again.  It was a terrible word.  It was the worst thing one could call somebody else.  It was a forbidden word and he didn’t want to ever hear Zachary say it again.  

Ironically, Daniel was as racist as they came. He just understood there were certain ways to code these references. 

Now, as Zachary spied on Adrian, he felt angry all over again.  How could that boy call him the worst thing you can call anybody? He was, at that moment, convinced that Adrian was the “dumbest kid inna whole world.”
For one, he used a forbidden word without even knowing what it meant.  Zachary felt superior, even though he had only learned what the word meant recently. Zachary had never used it before or after.  

Another reason Zachary thought Adrian dumb was because he couldn’t ride a two-wheeler.  Zachary had been riding his bike without training wheels for months as well. 

He watched as Adrian, across the street, ran his bike down to the corner, turn around, and run it back again.  He looked liked he wanted to jump up on it while it was moving, but he never made the leap onto the seat.  After about 15 minutes, Randolph came out of the house and joined Adrian.
The bike was brand new.  It was Uncle Izzy’s present to Adrian for making him move and was waiting for him at the new house.  It sparkled, shiny in the late afternoon sun.  Adrian wanted to learn to ride it first thing in the morning.  However, since it was a Sunday, Randolph had to wake up early and deliver The Free Press first.  Once he had come home, and eaten breakfast, it was time for another game of Left/Right. Hours later, after a picnic in the suburbs, they returned.  Then Randolph had a nap.  By the time Adrian convinced him to help him learn to ride the bike, it was almost dinnertime.  If life kept the routine it always had, Uncle Izzy would be here for dinner in the next hour and Adrian wanted to show him he could ride his new bike.
As Zach watched from his hiding place, Randy put Adrian on the seat of bike and ran up and down the block yelling, “Now pedal, pedal!”
Adrian could barely find the pedals as they swung around knocking into the back of his heels.  Finally feet matched pedals and Adrian’s little legs pumped up and down.  Randolph kept running, holding onto the back of the seat.  Then, with one last push, Adrian was on his own, wobbling south on Gilchrist.  His problems were manifest.  He could barely balance.  He didn’t know how to brake.  He didn’t know how to steer.  Worse, from a 5-year old’s point of view, the bully across the street could ride a two-wheeler.  Adrian had seen him racing up and down the block that morning as he waited for Right/Left to begin.  If he could do it, Adrian could do it.
That was pretty much his last thought as he finally toppled, traveling less than a house-length on his own, the ground rushing up to meet his forehead.
Adrian didn’t know how long he had been unconscious, but he supposed it was just a minute or two.  Randolph was carrying him into the front door when he came to.  The girls were screaming all around him.  He was bleeding from a cut on the forehead and the metallic taste of blood was in his mouth. 
When he was stable, and his knees no longer knocked together, he was allowed off the couch to join the family at the dinner table.  Although his knees no longer knocked, the food on his plate would not stay still.  Adrian watched it go around and around a few circuits and finally puked onto his plate.
Years later would learn the word “concussion” and understood that he had probably suffered a mild one that night.  The extra T.V. time that night was obviously a way to monitor his health and make sure he wasn’t going to die.  Adrian didn’t even know that had been a possibility.

Uncle Izzy did not come over that night.

The next day Zachary wriggled into his hiding spot.  It was a quiet Monday morning and nothing much was happening.  Movement from across the street caught his attention.  Adrian was walking his bike down the driveway.  He turned onto the sidewalk and shoved the kickstand down.  There he waited for his father for another bike riding lesson.
Zachary left his bush and walked onto the lawn next door to his.  Again, the empathy.  Zachary was one of the most empathetic people I have ever met. 
“I could teach you!” He shouted across the street.
Adrian looked up.  “You jes wanna hit me again”
“I only hit you because you called me a bad name.”
“No, I didn’t.”
Zachary crossed the street and sat next to Adrian.
“Doncha know nuttin’?  ‘Nigger’s’ is a bad word for Negros.”
Adrian was stunned, but it all now made sense.  Keith was black as night.  His brother Frank was not as dark, more caramel coloured.  Most of the newer families on Fullerton had dark skin.  That’s when, he later told me, he figured out what his parents were running away from. While Daniel knew enough not to use the word on polite society, it was a word that slipped from Randy’s lips as easily as the word “pie.”

By the end of the day Zachary had taught him something almost as important, how to ride a two-wheeler.  First he took him across the street to the fence in his backyard.  Mounted on the fence was a bicycle seat that Dandy had mounted there.  This would also be the first time he’d see Mrs. Cashman’s backyard, as the seat balanced the fence between Zach’s yard and the Cashman’s.

Mrs. Cashman lived on the corner, the same corner where Randolph smoked his cigarette and slapped his son just months ago.  It was said she and her husband bought the house new and were the first on the block, but he had died soon after.  Now she lived there alone and it was obvious keeping up with a house was too hard for her.  While her front lawn looked like every other of the 29 lawns on the block, the back was an overgrown rainforest, without the rain.
“Now, you cain’t fall inat yard.  Tha’s where the witch lives.  She usalee only comes out at night.  But I heard her screaming out there inna day, sometimes, too.  Yeh jes cain’t see her in the high grass.”
And that’s how Adrian learned to balance: By not falling off a bicycle seat balanced on a fence; too afraid to fall off and be eaten by a witch.  By the time they got back across Gilchrist, Adrian had acquired the balance necessary to sit on his seat, pick his feet off the ground, wobble a few seconds, before he had to stamp a foot back on the ground for support. But, it was a start.
“Now all’s ya gotta do is when it feels right, push forward, and put your feet on the pedals.”
Adrian pushed off and wobbled, but he wobbled for two houses before he had to put his feet down again.
“I seeda prob’m.  Yer holdin’ yer arms straight.  Ben’yer arms and use yer elbows t’ turn.”
Second try was the charm.  He wasn’t fast, or anything, but he was moving under his own power and Edgewater Park was still only 3 miles away.
“I’m sorry I hit you.” Zachary said later.
“I’m sorry I called you that word.”

And, it didn’t matter anymore.  A life-long connection was made.

Four days later was Adrian’s 5th birthday, but they would celebrate the next day on Saturday.  Other than family (which included all the aunts, uncles and cousins he hated) Adrian’s only true guest at his own birthday was Zachary, invited at his mother’s suggestion.  Adrian was only too happy to do so.  Since Zach had taught him how to ride his bike, they had been inseparable.  He was also pleased Randolph and Dot accepted Zachary as his friend.  It was the first time they didn’t try chasing one of his friends away.  That had been Adrian’s big fear. That didn’t happen until years later.
The birthday haul: a cheap baseball glove from Randy and Dot; a Monopoly game from his older sisters; three pairs of underwear from Aunt Dow, the only present she ever gave; an ugly sweater, a hand knitted gift from his mother; and, from Uncle Izzy, books. From Zachary he received a small present, smaller than the rest.  He saved it for the last to open, even though it was the one he wanted to open first. 
It was flat, thinner than a pancake, and 7 inches square.  Adrian knew it would be a record.  His sisters had a few Rockabilly 45s and even had their own record player.  This package was exactly the same size as their records.  After all the other presents had been opened, and the ‘thank yous’ and ‘you’re welcomes’ exchanged, he grabbed at Zachary’s gift. It was, as he expected, a record. It was a record by Elvis Presley. It was a record called “All Shook Up.”
“It’s the Number One song in the country right now,” Zachary told Adrian.
This would be the first incident of synchronicity between the boys in a lifetime filled with these bizarre coincidences.  Adrian told him of hearing the song for the first time the day they came to inspect the house.  He told Zachary the song had been playing inside his head ever since that day. He told Zachary how the song also came out of his crystal set. 

Then he told him about Keith and all about Frank.  He told him what he understood, which wasn’t much, of the ancient blood brothers ceremony Frank had performed on him. 

On June 8th Adrian Roland Thompson and Zachary Harvard Weed became blood brothers and blood brothers they would remain until the blood spilled tore them apart.

© Copyright 2014 by Headly Westerfield

Farce au Pain

◄◄ Table of Contents ◄ •  Chapter One – The Period • ► Chapter Three – Coming Soon! ►►

Unpacking The Writer ► Packing Up the Newsroom

Welcome to another exciting episode of Unpacking the Writer, the monthly column in which I pull back the curtain — Wizard of Oz-like — and expose some of the inner-workings of a low-budget innertube news room and its hardworking staff.

First up, and most importantly, we had another recent health scare with Pops. While out having dinner with the boys, he choked on a piece of treif (breaded shrimp) and had to be Heimliched by a EMT who just happened to be at the restaurant. None of Pops’ friends picked up on the warning signs that he was choking. Had it not been for the EMT, Pops would have choked to death. He was rushed to the hospital as a precaution, wanting to make sure he didn’t aspirate any food. They kept him a few nights, until all tests proved him good to go. Now he’s back home and back into his regular groove.

A scare like that makes me realize I’ve not really developed a back up plan. My original plan when I moved to Florida never came to fruition. When I arrived I figured it would be easy to find a job as a professional writer, something I had actually been for many decades in Canada. However, I was going from the small pond of Canada into the mighty ‘Merkin ocean. I couldn’t even get the sharks to look at this minnow, to torture the metaphor further. I found it impossible to get editors in Florida to even look at my previous writing, let alone consider a conversation with someone from — sniff — Canada. They all got off the phone with me as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, I wrote for Newshounds (“We watch Fox so you don’t have to”) for a couple of years under the nom de plume of Aunty Em; and also free-lanced for Stones Detroit; Curbed Miami (one day I hope to get paid the miniscule amount promised for that feature article); PolitucusUSA; and had a disastrous experience at WebVee Guide that started out looking quite lucrative, but ended in farce in just one week. That was easily the craziest experience I’ve ever had with an editor in a writing career working with crazy editors.

Long story short: I’ve simply been unable to find a self-sustaining and continuous source of writing income.

I make no bones about it. I started the Not Now Silly Newsroom (in part) with the hope that it would generate some slight income. While the Not Now Silly Newsroom has generated some money, it’s so miniscule that it would barely keep a hamster alive. I eat far more than hamsters.

The biggest problem is that I’ve not been able to attract sufficient eyeballs to light up the scoreboard. Naturally I feel my writing is so golden that I’m confused the world has not beat a path to this mousetrap. I may have misjudged my cheesy appeal. NAH! Who am I kidding? I’m great! Like finely aged brie.

I’ve managed to convince myself it’s merely because not enough people have shared these articles with their family, friends, children, neighbours, and grocer. (Hint. Hint.)

Another problem in attracting eyeballs — or so I’ve been told many times by many people — is that I am using the Blogger platform, as opposed to a a WordPress template under my own domain name. To that end I’ve hired a big deal Web Designer, with offices on two continents and clients around the World Wide Web. With this company’s guidance the Not Now Silly Newsroom is being rebuilt from the ground up. I’m excited because I’ve seen the mock-ups. I hope you are too.

However, it’s more important than ever before that the Not Now Silly Newsroom generate some income, because there are additional costs associated with this renovation. Only propriety, and the Blogger Terms of Service, prevent me from begging you to click on the adverts on this page. (Hint. Hint.)

Not all headlines are funny. Some are quite tragic.

HEADLINES DU JOUR: I can’t remember if I shared the genesis and creation of Headlines Du Jour, but it can’t hurt to repeat it. Remember: It’s only a rerun if you’ve heard it before.

Headlines Du Jour came to me in a dream. No, really, I dreamed it. 

I don’t usually remember my dreams when I wake up, other than wisps of smoke that I can’t hold onto for more than a minute or two. One morning I woke up after having worked an entire night in the Not Now Silly Newsroom in my dream state. Yannow those dreams when you wake up after you’ve been on the job all night? One of those suckers.

I woke up that morning with the idea of Headlines Du Jour almost fully-formed. I even remembered laughing in the dream over the phrase “today’s Headlines Du Jour.” I took this as an omen and created Headlines Du Jour almost immediately. It only took some minor tinkering for Headlines Du Jour to arrive at its current format.

Sadly I never dreamed how much work it would be to collect, compile, and collate the headlines, not to mention: formatting the post; adding the pics, which luckily are already on my hard drive due to my obsessive pic collecting; and thinking up those snarky little rubrics. It can take anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 hours from start to finish, depending on the breaks, to post a Headlines Du Jour. Some days, when it’s finally been put to bed (to use an old magazine term for published) I’m already exhausted.

That’s why I’ve chosen to only do it 3 days a week: Tuesday, Thursday, and on the weekends (usually Sunday). I’m trying to reserve the days between for writing smaller posts, so I can get back to posting something almost every day, and/or researching some of my larger posts. Then there’s always Farce Au Pain to work on. Most posts take a few days to write and edit. Posts as long as this can take days, and I allot 5 days for Unpacking the Writer, but this one only took 3.

Not all Fox “News” memes are funny. Some are quite tragic,
‘specially ones noting the intelligence of Fox “News” viewers.

FOX “NEWS” WATCH DU JOUR: Something else unanticipated — more like a nightmare than a dream — was just how many Fox “News” Headlines Du Jour pop up in any given week. [You can take Aunty Em out of the NewsHounds, but you can’t take the NewsHounds out of Aunty Em.] There’s so much tomfoolery and shenanigans on the Fox “News” Channel that sometimes it takes up more than half of the Headlines Du Jour.

A suggestion has been made to spin off the Fox “News” Headlines Du Jour into a stand-alone series, with guaranteed laughs a’plenty. While the Not Now Silly Newsroom is seriously considering this new way of pointing our Fox “News” mendacity, even tho’ it would mean more work for this underpaid scribe, a thought I had while typing this sentence may be a better alternate route. Details to follow.

Meanwhile, you’re now reading a paragraph that really contains nothing more than a blatant plug for The Johnny Dollar Depreciation Society, a cozy little blind pig I operate in an apartment above The Facebookery’s storefront. The dregs and denizens who gather there on a daily basis, because they’ve got nothing better to do, are all dedicated to the mockery of the Fox “News” Meat Puppets, as they continue to plumb the depth of journalistic malpractice.

COCONUT GROVE UPDATE: Sincere apologies to those who come here because of my Coconut Grove posts. There’s nothing to update. I’ve not been down to The Grove for several weeks. To be fair: I never created Now Now Silly to be Grove-centric. That was just a happy accident.

I have been kicking around an article that’s been percolating since I visited Detroit (‘Merka’s first throwaway city) on the 2nd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research and took pictures of the Birwood Wall. Naturally, the article is about walls. It’s about the 8 Mile Wall. It’s about the Coconut Grove Wall. It’s about the walls around Gated Communities. And, the overarching theme (or maybe over-reaching theme), is how these can all be attributed to Racism.

Long story short: Often what’s on each side of these walls is as different as Black and White. Walls do far more to divide us than they do to protect us.

However, in the next post about walls I’ve wanted to include some video. The
last time I was in The Grove I shot several videos, but none of them
came out the way I had hoped. [I now realize it was a stupid idea to try a
long traveling shot at that speed.] I’ve now created a little storyboard and all I need to do is find the time to get back down to Coconut Grove
to shoot the mini-documentary that’ll accompany this important story.

Stay tuned for part three of Where the Sidewalks Ends, Racism Begins.

Total readership, with my high water mark
of December 2103. I need to up my game.

FURTHER HOUSEKEEPING: I’m not so sure what analytics I will have over at the renovated Now Now Silly Newsroom, so this might be the last time to look at these stats as Blogger feeds them to me.

This post is the 639th since I launched the Not Now Silly Newsroom in April of 2012. Nearly a quarter million people (241,455, to be exact, as of right this second) have hung out for some period of time at Not Now Silly. Forty-two percent of my readers use Firefox, with Internet Explorer (26%) and Chrome (15%) rounding out the top three. Sixty-six percent use a Windows OS, with Macintosh number 2 at 21%. About 5% arrive here on various mobile devices, but my web designer says that’s going to pick up considerable. From his mouth to The Flying Spaghetti Monster’s ears.

Also behind the scenes: There are 21 drafts of articles I’ve yet to publish. Some will probably never be finished, while others will be published in the fullness of time. They either require further research or I haven’t found the right way to tell the story yet. [See above.]

The stats I always find interesting is how readers arrived at these shores. While I can see the various sites people have come from, far more interesting to me is what search terms landed people here in the first place. In descending order they are [all sic]:

Brian Jones, Josephine Baker, 3 Stooges, Detroit, Beatles Let It Be, Alan Turing, James Rosen, Bonzo Dog Band, Three Stooges, Fats Waller, Austin Cunningham wiki, Detroit 60’s, leggy newsbabes, Roger Ruskin Spear,  the color line in coconut grove, 9/11 news articles, anyone from Detroit’s black bottom, examples of newspaper headlines, Josephine Baker children, skin in the game pun, stoping cyber bullying, brian jones beatles, controversies of sarnoff, fox news spin cycle, fox news spin cycle female host, headly westerfield, in the 50’s the chicken roost in hamilton, on served chicken on a bun what is the receipe?

Who knew there were so many Chicken Roost lovers?

The most fascinating stat is what countries my readers live in. It’s no surprise that ‘Merka and Canada come in at #1 and #2 respectively. However, I’m surprised I have so many readers in Russia, Malaysia, Ukraine, and China. However, I’ll take my readers where I can find them, even in Commie Countries. Futhermore, I’m not planning to outsource Not Now Silly production to China like some other Bain Capitalists.

The Top Ten is always changing slightly. You can see the current Top Ten in the column to the upper-right. However, the Top Ten at THIS MOMENT IN TIME looks like this:

1). The Detroit Riots ► Unpacking My Detroit ► Part Five
2). Brian Jones ► A Musical Appreciation
3). The Johnny Dollar Wars ► Chapter and Verse
4). Day In History ► Josephine Baker Born
5). Aries Development Continues To Rape Charles Avenue
6). Chow Mein and Bolling 5 ► Bully Boy Lies (Again)
7). Did Roger Ailes Dupe James Rosen, Or Did Rosen Dupe ‘Merka?
8). The First Three Stooges ► Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be
9). Is Marc D. Sarnoff Corrupt Or The Most Corrupt Miami Politician
10). Does Fox “News” Support Johnny Dollar? ► The Mark Koldys-Johnny Dollar Comment of the Day

Proof of concept of new logo. The final
will probably look nothing like this.

Hopefully by the time I publish Unpacking the Writer for the month of October, the BRAND NEW & IMPROVED Not Now Silly Newsroom will be up and running, fortified with Niacin and your daily adult requirement of news, history, and snark. It’s a slow process. However, I’m in no hurry to get it on the net. I would rather it be right than fast.

Ever onward and upward, dear readers.

Unpacking The Writer ► Unpacking The Readers

If you’re relatively new to Not Now Silly, and/or my Unpacking The Writer series, let me hip you to one salient fact right now, so you don’t feel foolish from here on out: 

Long-time visitors are already clicking on every advert they can find on this page and the next. “Why?” you might ask. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Where my readers are from and the browsers they use? Wait! China?

Ready? Because this is the series in which I ask — either subtly or blatantly (and this month I’m going with blatant) — for you to help me pay for some of the costs of this blog by clicking on an advert, or 10. Believe me when I say the pennies I get from your clicks don’t quite cover the storage costs for all the images I use. So, if you’re reading, this you should be clicking that. It’s only fair.

Meanwhile, as I was prepping this blog post I took a glance at the latest Not Now Silly statistics. The Blogger platform doesn’t give me a whole lot of info about my readers, which is why I go over the little I do get like a Vodou bokor divining over freshly-killed chicken entrails. One stat that I find eminently fascinating is what search terms caused visitors to take the off ramp to my rest stop on the information highway. I check it regularly looking for surprises. Here’s today’s chart of search terms:

Because this screen grab was taken early in the day, that’s the only search term that brought a reader to my doorstep so far. The search terms are always truncated to around 40 characters, so there are times I’m forced to infer what these people were looking for. While I’ve written about Bob Marley, I doubt this inquisitive person was looking for anything that I could supply. The same can be said for Researcher #6 on the weekly list [below] who got here twice — or there are two guys (gals?) out there searching for exactly the same stuff:

While I believe in giving my readers what they want, I simply can’t fulfill every request

Googalizer results for “free video sex gay
negro black blog.” Who knew there were
that many people looking for Black gay porn?

I’m baffled that that string of words would bring someone here, as opposed to other web sites, far more on topic, on much busier thoroughfares on the information highway. These people must be really drilling down deep into the search results because when I plugged “free video sex gay negro black blog” into the Googalizer, Not Now Silly didn’t pop up until Page 9. You’d think they would have been satiated at the end of page one, doncha? And, just imagine their disappointment when they arrive here. [It occurs to me that using the search term in this paragraph is sure to bring more puzzled visitors, which are my favourite kind. And, I’ve probably just ensured that Not Now Silly ranks higher than Page 9 from here on in on THAT search term.] 

People who are searching Not Now Silly for something very specific are represented in the chart’s #1 position above. The truncated string ‘“coconut grove playhouse” (site:blogspo”‘ indicates that someone was searching this particular site for a very specific specific term, 5 different times. I sure hope it wasn’t a libel lawyer.

Drilling down into the monthly results brings a few surprises:

The monthly stats is where [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff appears. That means someone has found there way here using that search term in the last month, but not within the last week. I hope it wasn’t a libel lawyer. That used to be a much more frequent search term, but I guess Sarnoff’s office got tired of checking. TO BE FAIR: I’ve not really written much about him lately. I wonder whether this mention will warrant a visit.

Meanwhile, the same Coconut Grove Playhouse search from the weekly chart is also on the monthly, which means it’s more than a week old, but less than a month. At the #1 position on that chart is my post on Josephine Baker, of which I am far more proud than all those times I poked the [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff with a stick.

However, the chart I always find the most interesting is the All Time results, tabulated since I launched Not Now Silly on April 19, 2012:

What I find most amazing about this last chart is that 258 people arrived at Not Now Silly by searching for one variation or another of Three Stooges. Who knew they were so popular? What I like about this list is that it’s fairly eclectic list of topics because Not Now Silly is a fairly eclectic blog.

Just a few more agenda items before I sign off on this exciting episode of Unpacking The Writer:

I totally underestimated how long it would take to kick Chapter Two of my book, Farce Au Pain,
into shape for publication. I am narrowing in on it and really hope to
publish it for you on March 1st. You may wish to reacquaint yourself by
heading on over to the front door of Farce Au Pain. If you haven’t read it yet, boy are you in for a treat.

been a slight bit of news on Trolleygate, which I hope to write about
within the next week. I’ve been reading some legal documents and I need
to interview a few people to make sure I’ve interpreted them correctly. I
also want to see if I can get official comment from: 1). The City of
Miami; 2). The City of Coral Gables; 3). Miami-Dade County; 4). Astor
Development; 5). Anyone else who will take my calls. This could be a
busy week on the phone.

I continue to research the E.W.F. Stirrup House. While I have discovered some interesting information, I’m still closing in on the real history I’ve been seeking. In the meantime, in an effort to get more people interested in saving the E.W.F. Stirrup House from Demolition by Neglect, I’ve fired up a facebookery called, appropriately enough, Save the E.W.F. Stirrup House. If you’re a facebooker, please join the group. It’s jam-packed with info about the Stirrup House, Coconut Grove, and other instances of Demolition by Neglect.

I read all your correspondence.

A big hat tip to JN & DO for your suggestions concerning Headlines Du Jour. You’ll note I incorporated both your ideas, but just not both at the same time, if that makes sense. Oh, and AG: Your idea would have taken the focus away from the Headlines Du Jour, so . . . Never mind. However, there may be another way to use that idea at Not Now Silly, so stay tuned.

I had hoped that this month I would be announcing my contributions to a local franchise of a respected country-wide web operation. However, I’m awaiting a response to my first contribution ordered up by the editor.

Back in the day, when I used to write regularly for magazines, the final draft was sent to my editor by First Class Mail. If I didn’t hear back for several weeks, it was understandable. However, in this cyber-universe in which we now live, I can shoot a 1,000,000 word article to the other side of the world faster than I can type that old saw about the swift brown fox. It’s just possible I’m being impatient. Either that or I’m just nostalgic for the old days when editors were collaborators in shaping the final product. I need to curb my enthusiasm, in case things don’t work out.

I have learned that they squeal the loudest when you make fun
of Loofah Lad, but The Falafel King would know all about that.

Additionally, lastly — and most gratefully — things have been relatively quiet on the cyber-bully front lately. The Flying Monkey Squad has not been as obsessively stalkerish this past month as usual. However, that doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten about me totally. They’ve only mentioned me enough to remind me to schedule some more timed tweets about them, not enough to warrant writing another full post about them. I’ll let all my previous posts about those psychotic miscreants stand for the time being. For the day to day hilarity, you could check The Johnny Dollar Depreciation Society over at facebook.

A clue for the clueless: If you ever did forget about me, I promise to stop writing about you. I would have thought you would have figured that out by now. And, I know whose reputation is being hurt by this continued feud and it’s not mine. Your move, Chicolinis.

Dear readers: If you’ve read this far without clicking on an advert by now, you’re a poopyhead.

Looking Back ► Unpacking The Writer At The New Year

From time to time I peel back the curtains — AUNTY EM!!! AUNTY EM!!! — and reveal what goes on behind the scenes here at Not Now Silly. The first day of the new year seems an appropriate time to sum up the previous one, doncha think?

Since starting this blog I have published 420 posts, 207 of them in 2013. When I started this blog I swore I’d post something every day. Little did I know how hard that would be. This past year I took a few weeks off here and there to recharge my batteries, research some bigger articles, and go on a road trip for research.

A year ago I was still doing regular Fox “News” snark with my 3 weekly series, Fox “News” Spin Cycle, Judge Not, and Chow Mein and Bolling. However, I got bored of those. Not to mention that compiling and formatting them was very time consuming. Which is the biggest reason I dropped ’em. I found meatier things to research and write about.

Such as Trolleygate. My first post on that topic came on January 27, 2013, with An Introduction to Trolleygate. I first learned of this story through a secret source, my Coconut Grove Deep Throat, who has tipped me to several stories now. However, I would never have won their trust had it not been for all my previous writing on Coconut Grove, and more specifically West Grove. When I learned of Trolleygate I called it racism, straight up:

As much as Coconut Grove is used to being ignored by Miami City Hall — which ironically is in Coconut Grove — Black Coconut Grove is used to being ignored by everybody. […]

Meanwhile, Black Coconut Grove gets stuck with all the negatives of a diesel bus garage from a neighbouring city. Furthermore, while it gets the increased traffic and pollution, the residents will not even get what is normally a benefit of a bus garage: a bus stop. Having a bus stop might allow Black Grove to get on the bus and ride to Merrick Park, or Miracle Mile, or any of those other swank places, including any multimillion dollar project by developers named Astor. It reminds me of how Robert Moses, who built the Long Island Expressway, purposely built all the underpasses too low to allow for buses. That’s so the ‘great unwashed’ couldn’t go to his beaches at Fire Island and Jones Beach.

Skip ahead to November: None other than the U.S. Department of Transportation confirmed what I had been saying all along. According to the US DOT, the lack of public notice and input contravenes the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It has ordered Coral Gables, the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County to come up with a plan for retroactive consultation with the affected communities. I don’t know how that’s going to work, but those three entities are going to submit a plan.

Meanwhile, just to wrap Trolleygate up in a nice bow: Coral Gables is currently suing Astor Development to get out of the deal it struck that resulted in Trolleygate in the first place. The residents of West Grove, who lost their first round in court, are planning to appeal. With the US DOT now involved it’s become one of the most confusing series of intertwined lawsuits that you can imagine.

Miami taxpayers owe it all to [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Mark D. Sarnoff. Sarnoff seems to have skated away from all responsibility [so far] for sticking the city, county, and Coral Gables with this White Elephant that will never be a “government operated vehicle maintenance facility.” There’s still the Smoking Gun email that was discovered and people continue to investigate who was responsible for telling Astor Development to remove the word maintenance from its 2nd application to build this garage. Speculation says it leads directly to Sarnoff.

Bring on the depositions!!!

Another brag: As 2014 closed, Not Now Silly had its best month ever. The blog had 13,719 clicks in December, which is an average of 442.5 a day. That beats my previous record of 12,067 from August, 2013. I don’t know where all those people come from, but I wish they’d leave some comments. As you can see on the graph above, the monthly numbers go up and down, but I’m happy with the steady progression of onwards and upwards.

This is also the year I broke the lid off a Watergate story hidden in plain sight all these years. It began with my post Aunty Em Ericann’s Bun Fight With James Rosen of Fox “News” and continued with a review of Rosen’s book in Did Roger Ailes Dupe James Rosen, Or Did Rosen Dupe ‘Merka? To be BOTH “fair and balanced,” I also told the other side of the story with James Rosen Responds To Me, Sort Of and with the follow-up Serial Liar James Rosen Responds To Me Again. Long story short: I have rejected his explanations until he produces some evidence. My theory is on the table. He has yet to disprove it.

Another media bun fight I kept alive was versus the Coconut Grove Grapevine. I’m finally willing to admit that some of my feelings is sheer jealousy. Tom Falco gets advertising dollars for producing his reviews, event listings, and promotional bumph. While I have some Google averts here — AND CLICKING ON THEM WILL BE A GOOD THING! GO AHEAD — they produce pennies per post and my storage fees for the pics are higher than that. However, the other part of my frustration with the Grapevine is that it has a very large readership. Falco could be writing and/or researching and/or publishing news of importance to the people of Coconut Grove instead.

Mark Koldys during happier times

Sadly, I’m still fighting The Johnny Dollar Wars, a feud I never started and only kept alive by The Flying Monkey Squad.

Believe me, I would have ended it with Johnny Dollar Has Proven Himself To Be A Very Dangerous Person, posted 20 months ago. However, for reasons that only a psychiatrist and powerful psychotropic drugs would be able to determine, Mark Koldys and Ashley Graham (@JohnnyDollar01 and @Grayhammy on Twitter) have continued to cyber-bully me long after it made any real sense.

Dr Keith Ablow, whose motto is NORMAL OR NUTS, would have a field day with these wackos because they are still carry on this crazy
cyber conflict more than 3 years after they began it.

They latched onto me merely because I was a writer at NewsHounds — the motto of which is WE WATCH FOX SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO — and I refused to slink away like all the others they’ve cyber-bullied over the years.

Johnny Dollar’s site has a motto, too: CABLE NEWS TRUTH. I’m strill trying to get someone to explain what part of my alternative lifestyle came under that bullshit rubric.

I have a motto as well: READ THE TRUTH ABOUT JOHNNY DOLLAR. My last three J$ posts are, I believe, the ones that best sum up these crazy MoFos. If you’re going to read them, read them in this order: The Smoking Gun ► UPDATED! followed by Does Fox “News” Support Johnny Dollar? with Anatomy of a Cyber-Feud bringing up the rear.

To make a long story somewhat shorter: Nearly every day Mark Koldys and Ashley Graham spend hours on Twitter smearing me with lies and half-truths or having cute little circle jerks all about me.  The time they devote to it is legendary. Meanwhile, once a month I dash off a post about their mendacity that makes me laugh and, hopefully, entertains my readers. It seems to be working.

A moment in time: The All Time Top Ten with J$ at #8
with a bullet, and another J$ post bubbling under at 307 hits.

I’m building my reputation off Johnny Dollar’s back, one click at a
time, and it feels great. The first Mark Koldys post has recently
entered my All Time Top Ten and is moving up fast. [Check the current
All Time Top Tell in the column on the right.] The next highest is
bubbling under at 307 clicks. I’m content to continue writing about
Johnny Dollar, especially if it keeps getting those kinds of numbers.
The more people who read about Johnny Dollar the better, as far as I am

You might have thought that some logic would have penetrated. You’d think they would have figured out by now whose brand is being tarnished by this silly Cyber War they started. Not Now Silly, as a brand new Rest Stop on the Information Highway™, had nowhere to go but up. J$’s reputation had nowhere to go but down. You really would think they’d stop already.

Last but not least: When I launched the serialization of my book Farce au Pain, I never anticipated how much work it would be to format the chapters in a way that pleased the eye and my exacting standards, especially within the limitations of the Blogger platform.

I thought I’d manage to post a chapter every month, but now it’s looking like every 45-60 days for me to get it all right. Here’s the way I figure it, to look at the glass as half full: If you are willing to wait that long for the next exciting episode after the cliffhanger, then I’m doing my job as a writer. If not, then I’m not sure it would have mattered had I posed the whole thing at once. But, we’ll never know, will we?

So . . . as we end this exciting episode of Unpacking The Writer, we have a brand new year to look forward to. Here’s to all the political muckraking, fights, and feuds to come in 2014!!!

Farce Au Pain ► Chapter One

Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable
possession and therefore are most economical in its use.
~~~ Mark Twain (1835-1910)
In their own country, they’re eating each other for lunch.
~~~Ronald Reagan (1911-2004),
speaking about American blacks, 1962
Truth is not only stranger than fiction, but in its own way,
truth is fiction, and time is money, and now is the time.
~~~ Headly Westerfield (1952 – )
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….”
His long fingers gripped my wrist.  I was surprised by how much strength he had, considering he was bleeding profusely. 
was also surprising to hear Zachary quoting Dickens.  His interest in
reading matter ran more to Sky & Telescope than the classics.  I
tried half-heartedly to free myself, but he held fast.
“It was the age of wisdom, it was the age….”
drew a deep, long, gasping breath.  In that moment his whole body went
slack.  I’ve had almost 50 years to replay these events in my mind.
Later, I realized, I could have escaped at that moment.  But, he held me
as much with his hauntingly beautiful, clear, blue eyes — calm eyes.
Eyes I can still see years removed.  They betrayed no pain, no panic. 
Zachary’s body tightened, his grip returned.  In that moment of silence,
I heard the blood on his left hand, which gripped my right wrist, make a
squishing sound as small bubbles of air appeared where his skin ended
and mine began.  I don’t remember looking away from his face.  I know I
did though, because I can clearly picture that image, also burned into
my brain.

He spoke again.

“…. of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity….”

much blood. From the pool beneath him, individual streams followed the
grout in the tiles, a red zig zag pattern slowly making its way to the
drain. I look back on this moment—the pivotal event of my life—and it
plays so slowly in my mind.  I can remember each sight, each smell, each
sound echoing from the hallway, and each thought that crossed my mind. 
But, I don’t know if that’s a trick of the imagination. I’ve had years
to think about it and hypnosis to recall it. I’ve also had many
psychiatrists to describe it to in the years since. None of it feels
like real memories; it feels like watching someone else’s movie. But, at
the time, my brain just shut down. It wasn’t until much later that I
realized that his dying words were not even his own.
 “….it was the season of Light….”
have a theory that I’ve developed in the decades since, due to nearly
50 years of intense psychotherapy.  With hindsight being 20/20, I think I
now know what Zachary Harvard Weed was trying to tell me as he lay
dying in my arms.
believe he was telling me something about America in the deep dark
‘60s.  The country was not yet 200 years old.  Moral roots were still
not very deep.  It takes centuries for those to develop.  Camelot had
held court.  The Space Age dawns. 
“….it was the season of Darkness….”
theories.  The country’s black face is tired of turning the other
cheek.  The white face is two-faced, can’t save face.
“….it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair….”
edges of Camelot’s Round Table are squared off and moved into The War
Room.  The Vietnam War is only interrupted by the commercials.
“….we had everything before us….
had everything before him.  He could have done anything with his life
and now, at the all-to-early end of it, he’s spouting Dickens.  I didn’t
know it then, but he was going to miss L.S.D., Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul
and Mary.  The Times They Are A Changing.  The Beatles make Sgt.
Pepper.  Goo Goo Ga Joob.  I am the eggman.  They are the eggmen.  I’m
Tricky Dicky.  Zach would have been bemused. 
Or, I’m just putting words in his mouth. You can’t discount that possibility. Or I’m crazy. I wouldn’t discount that either.
“….we had nothing before us, we were all going directly to Heaven, and we were all going the other way — “
I finally found my voice. “No Zach!  I’m not letting you go nowhere!” 
short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its
noisiest authorities insist on it being received, for good or evil, in
the superlative degree of comparison only.”
eyes locked.  His face broke into a huge grin.  I can still see that
grin.  He began to chuckle.  He seemed amused by it all. 
“Who did this?”
“Why be serious when you can be delirious?”
those were his last words. I had heard him say that hundreds of times
before. This was the first time it made any kind of sense, but it never
made sense before or since. This is why it seems a fitting epitaph for
someone who loved life the way Zachary did. Yet, it would never appear
on his headstone. 
“Tell my story.  Remember.” His last official words.
His eyes clouded. 
at his feet—I know because my attention was diverted by the motion—he
began to shake.  It rose up his body, and I followed it with my gaze,
and only the small portion I was watching moving at any given time.  It
rose to his head until only his wiry hair was moving.  Then nothing
I placed my hand on his shirt where a huge blood stain grew larger.
brought my hand in front of my face. Then I panicked. Doctors say
that’s when I had my first break with reality. It would not be the
to the evidence later brought up at trial, I stood and ran, placing a
bloody handprint on the washroom door on my way out.  I sprinted down
the hallway leaving bloody sneaker prints.  I reached the stairwell. 
Taking the stairs two at a time, I propelled myself to the landing,
grabbed the handrail and made the 180-degree turn by grabbing the
handrail. Down more steps. Another 180 turn, another landing, the
outside door, hit the crash bar.
All those bloody prints.  It didn’t take the police long to match them to me. 
something I do remember. The next thing I knew, I was outside.  I was
still running.  I remember hearing the wind passing my ears.  My chest
ached.  I ran harder. I hurt more.  The hurt eventually stopped.  The
tears eventually stopped.  I eventually stopped.  There was no where
left to run.  I was at a river.
I started to walk back I collapsed. I fell to the grass and looked up
at a street sign I didn’t recognize: Angling Street at Long Street. 
Later I measured it.  I ran almost 5 miles.  I began on Evergreen, at
Henry Ford High School, and ran west past Lahser, past Telegraph, past
Beech, past Inkster, past Grand River Avenue, all the way to the Rouge
River.  It seemed like only a minute had passed and I don’t remember
crossing any of those roads.
I remembered why I was running—I actually forgot for a moment—and I
started bawling and sobbing.  That’s how the police eventually found me,
curled up in a fetal position, covered in blood. Zach’s blood.
this is not my story.  I am merely keeping my promise to Zachary. His
last words were “Tell my story. Remember.” and I can’t tell his story
without telling the story of Adrian Roland Thompson at the same time. 
When I met them, they were already inseparable and they became my two
best friends.  

feel honoured to have been able to call them friends—to share their
brotherhood.  They taught me more about life in the short time I knew
them than I have learned in all the years since.  I’m honoured to tell
their story. They are my dynamic duo.

© Copyright 2013 by Headly Westerfield

Farce au Pain

◄◄ Foreword ◄ • Table of Contents • ► Chapter Two – The Comma ►►

Farce Au Pain ► Foreword

This foreword has been written afterward.  I am reasonably sure all authors write their forewords afterward.  How else would they know what’s been left out of the book and needs to be stated in the foreword to cover their ass afterward?

I apologize in advance to the principals of this book, as well as the principles in this book.  On this page I am acting at the behest of my coffee-stained lawyer with the tattoos.  He has informed me that this is the very best way to stay out of court in all matters concerning Farce Au Pain, both now and in the future.  I hope Zachary and Adrian truly understand.  My lawyer has also suggested [read: insisted] on the wording. We argued over it. A lot. That’s why the following two paragraphs are the most edited in the entire book.

“What follows is a work of fiction.  I have, as the author, tried to create a real world, much like the one in which we live, for my characters to inhabit.  All the major characters are made up; just a figment of my imagination.  To infuse this manuscript with a reality all its own, and because it takes place in the clearly defined era of the recent past, the reader may recognize certain historical figures and events.  I hope I have in no way misrepresented those people and/or events.

“Any resemblance to persons either living or presumed dead is purely coincidental” and wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t so stupid in the first place.  Don’t sue me for your ignorance.

Notwithstanding (a lovely term tossed around by lawyers like so much confetti) the above statements: This book is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Headly Westerfield
December 1, 2013
© Copyright 2013

Farce au Pain

◄◄ Dedication ◄ • Table of Contents • ► Chapter One ►►

Farce Au Pain ► Dedication

This book is lovingly dedicated to Stephen Myles Feldman, Jeffrey Deeks, Mark Levine, Craig Portman, Kenneth John Wilson, Dean Donaldson, and Peter DeWolfe and erin; who are among my oldest and dearest friends, even as time and distance separates us. However, I shouldn’t leave out people important to me from all my decades, people like Jim Cox, Scoot Irwin, Kathy Hahn, Joey Cee, Michael and Diane Keefe, Max Burns, Mary O’Shaunessey; Sheila and Cindy Rubin, Terry Seissor, Rise Leeds, Eric Gilks and Lois Flaum. Then there’s Martin W. Herzog, Courtland Shakespeare and Stuart Raven-Hill, Stuart and Helen Smith, David Stringer, Jacqueline Quinton, Mike and Suzie Andrew, and Charles Coke. Some of you I have recently rediscovered; some I am still hunting for. However, for reasons that you may, or may not know, you have always been important to me.
A very special shout out to the denizens of NHOT, who have kept me sane over the last number of years during my continued battle with the malevolent forces of The Flying Monkey Squad, namely Mark Koldys and Ashley Graham, aka Johnny Dollar and Grayhammy respectively, if not respectfully.

And, to Keg who designed all of the Farce au Pain logos.

And, most especially this book is dedicated to Justin Zac Anthony Slootsky, Zachary Orion Slootsky, Kendall Elizabeth Chandler Slootsky and Leslie Ann Chandler, who are not only my friends, but also my family. A rare combination. While I have let my side down, you never have.
And, finally, to Adrian Roland Thompson & Zachary Harvard Weed without whose help and direct and indirect encouragement none of this would have been necessary.

Thank you one and all.

© Copyright 2013 by Headly Westerfield

Farce au Pain

◄◄ The Front Door ◄ • Table of Contents • ► Foreword ►►

Headlines Du Jour ► Friday, November 29, 2013

While you were lolling around in your tryptophan-induced stupour the Not Now Silly news team was busy — as busy as it has ever been. They were busy creeping and crawling through the innertubes with just one task: Bring back only the most scrumptious Headlines Du Jour.


Dinesh Bhugra: Psychiatry needs a broader focus
first gay president of the World Psychiatric Association wants a
radical rethink of mental
illness and for the profession to apologise
for the harm it has inflicted on gay people and women

World’s top psychiatrist comes out, promises stand on ‘gay cures’
head of World Psychiatric Association has come out as gay, demanded

action in countries where homosexuality is treated as an illness


This Fox News interview with Richard Simmons
is the greatest thing to ever happen on cable TV


Unpublished J.D. Salinger stories ‘leaked’ online
‘The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls,’ ‘Paula’ and
‘Birthday Boy’ surface against the late author’s wishes.

Unpacking the Writer – Continued

Farce Au Pain ► The Soft Launch

Farce au Pain © 2013, Headly Westerfield


Cape Breton amateur weather man is a viral video star


Pot-smoking Mountie can’t smoke in uniform, RCMP says
Cpl. Ron Francis legally smokes marijuana daily
while on duty to treat post-traumatic stress disorder


‘Merka’s greatest documentarian, Ken Burns, tackles the Rob Ford Story


Did comet ISON flame out on its trip around the sun?

Comet ISON leaves a mystery behind as it goes around the sun

A Timeline Of Comet ISON’s Dangerous Journey


Headlines Du Jour is a leisure-time activity of National Trufax, a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of Not Now Silly,
home of the Steam-Powered Word-0-Matic. Updated through the day. Use
our valuable bandwidth to post your news comments in today’s open