Betwixt The Trumpety Interim#5
FIRST POSTED: MAY 2017
Betwixt the Interim 5:1 (My Last Legs): West Side Stories
I sneezed, that’s what I did, I sneezed. And THREE people almost simultaneously all said “Bless You’’. Outside the Bloomingdales/Westfield Shopping Maul (sic) in Market Street, San Francisco. Because, that’s what I’ve been during this journey, blessed, privileged, soon to be broke maybe, but well and truly blessed.
Blessed means currently having spent a couple of weeks on the West Coast of The United States of Trump. I was typing this in “Phil’s Coffee” where, Dear Reader, there are no fewer than 17 types of coffee all with confusing descriptions. I plumped for "Julie’s Ultimate”, which has “slightly intense hazelnut, vanilla and chocolate undertones”, and to accompany for my breakfast, I had a “Turkey Sandwich with cooked egg in an English Muffin”. This all required speaking to FIVE people, having to spell my name “Chris” so that it could be printed on the receipt, having to ASK for the sandwich, because they’d forgotten to tell me it was ready, having to request some sweetener/sugar in the coffee (“We provide that in the mix, sir” ????) and then being harangued with “Please inform one of the staff if your coffee was delicious.“ Really. Well I’ll tell you what it all was, blooming expensive and so furnace hot both items burnt what’s left of my tongue. Still, My Server Mary had lovely red hair, and the Muscle Mary Phil had none at all. Which was nice.
My Last Legs began as the SSS Bejazzle arrived in San Peeeedro Port, Los Angeles, thence to be hurtled through Immigration and Customs with no checks at all, and not so much as a Welcome To Our Country, The Land Of The Fee (3 dollars per transaction please). After being gorgeously and graciously received by my L.A. Most Beloved friends, and hurled into music jam sessions, radio broadcasts and studio frolics, I soon realised why 12 out of 10 Americans have therapy. Counselling. Guidance. It’s obvious. The reason?
Yes, the trauma of having to face the extremely high water level in every toilet bowl has caused generations of US Citizens to suffer with more messy moments of torrid splash, messy wipeage and paper panic than you can shake a bottle of Brobat, at. Psychiatrists are clearly in cahoots with the Waste Industry bigtime here.
The Food Industry however is second in size only to the Gun Industry here. This Number Two though, by coincidence, does produce delicious turdlike oozings (“pay by the ounce”) of Coffee Flavoured Frozen Yoghurt in every Maul (sic) With or Without Seeds, and “donuts” with numerous “flavors” (hey, who needs a “u” anyway?) for every ring requirement.
(“Think that’s enough of the Lavatorial Humour”- Non-Existent Ed.) OK.
Beers and cocktails are more widespread than wines and spirits in my experience, and burgers are numerous and far larger than their European Equivalents, as are their consumers. American Bacon is a Class One Hazard though, teeth rupture and cholesterol poisoning being common results during its swallowage. Salads are plentiful however, and it is customary when requesting something from a menu to add at least 12 stipulations, (“without the pepper, no translucent oil, no bile, only double spiralled farfalle steamed not boiled, slightly restricted range brown eggs from Philadelphia, maple syrup not Canadian, hold the Orangutan…”).
I actually really like Americans. They’re engaging, generous, conversational, interesting and, on the West Coast at least, like, MOTIVATED, like. They wanna do stuff, and nearly all their ideas are Great. Sure, things are invariably “cool”, like, really, like, cool, like. They quite often don’t realise they have legs and feet which can enable “walking”, because everyone owns at least four cars and a plane.
Linguistically, some British phrases inevitably require translation, for instance, “would you like a glass of water, Nigel?” translates as “Hey, Nige, wanna glairce o’ wodda?” Quite a few things are “gross” and if you want a combination of full fat milk and cream, one simply orders haff’n’haff. Expiry is “Expiration” and locations are described, not as 45, Epiglotis Avenue, but 1745, Epiglotis at Trousers, indicating the vastness and cross-road of position required. Sport isn’t sport, but “Sports”, and such activities have “ball” in the name, namely “base” “basket” “foot” “oons” and “curve”.
Their roads are extremely wide, yet quite often snarled up with a Plethora of Automobiles. Their trains are almost non-existent, and the Amtrak ones can only go semi-fast when travelling downhill. Trams are called “trolleys” “cable cars” or “streetcars”. Just not “trams”. Smoking is only allowed, according to the signs, "25 feet or more past the outer perimeter of the building”. Happy Hour starts at 1pm and finishes at 8pm. A lot of people Just Drink Wodda.
In L.A., everybody wants to be Huge, either in Showbiz or Muscle Size. Talk is regularly about the gym, and poodle parlors are ubiquitous. In San Francisco, everyone is in I.T., whereas everyone used to be a hippy. Talk is regularly about the gym and poodle parlors are, er, quite common. As are “cat cafes”. Miaow.
It is a State Law that any leftover food has to be Boxed and Taken Home. There also must be at least five different kinds of sweetener on every table, and Billboards advertising anything from new films or TV series to headache remedies must be at least 200 feet tall. I. Love. Los Angeles. I really do. (Especially the Barmen).
Met the hilarious David from Belfast in "Aunt Charlie’s Drag Bar” in roughly my hotel location, truthfully called Tendernob, with his soul singing friend Patrick, who looked like a bespectacled beautifully aged Lionel Richie. Greeted with “I could immediately tell you were Australian”, David loves Dionne Warwick, and buying everyone tequila shots. Patrick, (“he’s obviously from England, a**hole”) has been singing in an accapella soul group since 1964, and laughs a lot. I warmed to these two, more than the bar staff in very dodgy blue wigs and bare midriffs. The lovely Mikal (“maybe my Mom was dyslexic”) declared undying love, bought shots galore, but is only worth 10 million, so I didn’t give him my card. He’s been going to “Trunks” for 12 years, but now prefers “Flaming Saddles”. Much younger Michael from the Castro was, ahem, very affectionate, has been writing scripts since he was 18 (he’s now 30 “looking good though don’t you think?”), though admits to being something average in I.T. “Maybe we’ll hook up this weekend” was the last I heard from him. Nadia however works for @twitter in San Francisco, and loves watching old movies at the Castro Theatre. Liked her a lot too. My friends in San Francisco love San Francisco.
I. Love. San Francisco. I really do. (ESPECIALLY the Barmen).
Still it’s off to My Kinda Town today, on the Very Old Rickety Amtrak Train where there’s “no rollerblading”, and Cathy my “train stoowood” says “the bar gets pretty crowded overnight”. Only 54 hours this trip. So best have a first visit in daylight. Bye bye California, Chicago, she beckon.
Betwixt the Interim 5:2 (MY LAST LEGS) : MIDWEST SIDE STORIES
FIRST POSTED: JUNE 2017
Confusing as it is, my latest travels from the West Coast of Trump to the MidWest of Trump have brought me to the Eastern Side of Trump. Or is it the Middle East of….oh, well you get the hang of it.
Yes, Dear Reader, I have arrived in Chicago, the home of Da Blooz, though not so much “woke up this mo'ning” as “Ubered Up quodda efta fahvv…” these days.
Despite being known as the Windy City, so far, I’ve found all the streets remarkably straight.
Pizzas are indeed plentiful, though no more so than everywhere else in the entire United States of Tr**p. People are friendly, and the architecture can be remarkably ambitious and gorgeous, particularly the newest buildings built around the millennium. Wasn’t it the great Frank Sinatra (Ol’ Blue Ears) that once sang “Meccano Town, Chicago Is” referring to the construction advances? No it wasn’t.
There is here a transport system split between what are called “buses” (large vehicles which dodge enormous potholes at high speed giving rise to a condition known as McDonald’s Shakes) and a Metro Rail system called The Hell, short for The Hellevated Railway, named after the fact that only a few of the lines aren’t Elevated about street level.
Fortunately the prices of certain goods in the Midwest Of Tr**p are actually very reasonable, and for quite a few venues, there is no entry charge or “cover”. Even the great Campaigning Soul Singer Martin Luther Vandross once crooned “Free At Last, Free At Last” when queuing for Da Blooz Clubs.
From the summit of several very tall buildings, it is said that on a clear day, you can see the Moon. Oh, and up to six different States. Plus you will need to visit your Bank Manager soon after to negotiate a loan post buying any drinks up top.
There is also a very dominant centralised tower slap bang in the centre of the city, bearing the FIVE GREAT LETTERS of the surname of the current President of The US of T on the sides, at a size that can be pinpointed from the International Space Station.
“Liar liar, your pants on fire” said the Bar Manager at The Delightful J. Parker Roof Terrace Bar at the Lincoln Hotel as the rains poured in on a weather forecast sunny day! Then they went away and my colleague and I indulged in more Ladies Of The Lake.
Lakes, Winds, Tall Buildings, Endless Bloody TV Screens showing Blooming Baseball, what more could you want? Well obviously, iconic Chicago Sandwich shops selling iconic Chicago Sandwiches. Take a sliver of bread, chop up a dead cow, insert. Lunch. See Doctor. Early retirement. Pension Crisis. Surprising Choice for President Elected. Simples.
Love this city with a passion though. But I won’t Sidetrack (a VERY special bar).
Next? East Side Stories coming your way Dear Readers sure as a Warthog Avoids Stilton. From Aldi. And Lidl.
Betwixt the Interim 5:3 (My Last Legs) : EAST SIDE STORIES
FIRST POSTED: JUNE 2017
Charming, attractive and totally sozzled at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, Donna, for it is she, said to me during her 3rd cigarette outside a rather lovely Boston bar, “it’s a dump. I hate it. And I’ve lived here all my life. So have fun in New York dear. I wish I could….”
Who was it that said “Los Angeles is the City of Dreams, New York the City of Nightmares”? Absolutely no-one. But I see what they might have meant.
Dear Reader, The East Coast of the US of Trump is VASTLY different from other parts. And from itself. Further North it’s really quite a lot like England and Scotland, a kind of NEW England I suppose (OK Nova Scotia as well).
Therewith and Hither, Boston gives us…er…Lobster Rolls ($20 please, “Enjoy your day”) and a Tea Party where only coffee is available in the shop. There are many Young Things dressed up in silly Boston costumes speaking in almost British Accented Boston Tongues, kinda Dick Van Dyke meets Loyd Grossman over a Parster. Retired Firefighter Joe said to me in a bar located in an ominously odorous alley called “The Alley Bar” “We’re here from New York. Wouldn’t usually be, but my husband insisted and even he now hates it”.
Well. I quite like Boston’s “innocence”, its “politeness” its “boringness”. Its OK. Nice people again.
So, let’s rapidly move down to my final Point of Call at The End of My Earthy Excursion before returning to Battered Old Blighty. So good they repeated its title, I have arrived in The Noisiest Place on Earth, New New York York. The Big Banana, The Assassination Location of John Lennon, The Current Stage of Ms Bette Midler ($ 500 Rear Circle or Mezzanine please, plus fees, taxes, taxis and interval drinks), plus simply, once you’ve got used to the pace, i.e. FRANTIC, it’s the most exciting place there is. Fact.
I can also confirm that yes indeed, America IS the Land of The Fee, especially here. There’s the TRANSACTION fee, FACILITY fee, SERVICE fee, INTERNET/TELEPHONE fee, ADMINISTRATION fee, RESORT fee, CITY fee, and finally the simplest Philossa fee (Do Everything, and Do It Loudly). They’re bright sparks too. Brett in Posh Bar said “Some people would say you’ve got an Australian accent, but I’d say you’re from South London”. Impressive. Hadn’t the heart to mention India. And I bet he didn’t own seven houses either……
Heavens to Patsy, it’s fast mad quick act do it like NOW don’t stop book matinee shop in Bloomies and Barney’s jog EAT with more fried potatoes subway stairs and stairs HOT noisy brilliance genius chess at union square buskers in Central Park like more shows eat like Mexican Italian Korean and burgers sliders PIZZAS and more PIZZAS bud lite lagunitas heavy cocktails great jazz Sunday brunches people on strollers dog walkers on rollers PRETZEL pantries like radio city rooftop views street corner heaven skyscraping frenzies reborn massive new buildings baseballers boat trippers topless Hell’s Kitchen skateboarders Liberty seekers outdoor performers like beauty everywhere TIMES SQUARE video madness like screens above screens below screens 9 11 massive memorial then like upper west and east so nice but like 10 times the price MORE theatre and Opera Madison Rockier museums galleries mostly smilers not pisstakers chucklers Life livers and take a breath.
Relax. DURING A Happy Hour perhaps.
Took me three days to get used to the pace. I still totally adore New York City.
Sorry Jason (Christina) I can’t see your act on Sunday. Sorry we didn’t have pretzels and frosties at Coney Island. Sorry to miss The Divine One. Sorry to be leaving America.
For my Endless World Reccy has penultimated, the cases packed, the tuxedos prepared for The Mother Ship The Good Ol’ Queen Mary to carry us back home to the Original Beloveds, whilst remembering each and every acquired friends, and family for that precarious of entities, The Future.
So start spreading the news. We’re leaving today (tomorrow). We’ve had the very heart of it, NY NY. Our vagabond sails, will blow us away, right to the very South of it, UK UK…. Nurse CG and I begin our seven nights to catch up with the hot Isle of Wight gossip and find out whether Theresa may.
One Final Chapter in this already lightweighty tomette is to come. Betwixt and Bewildered: The Cab Home
© Betwixt Productions 2017, Chris Marshall, Strawberry Fields, Central Park, NYC 13th June 2017