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More fun at MacLand. Mr. Milty creates a
large scowling face in the Stinko’s Copy Shop
window down Oak Street. Te face stops traffic and
causes an uroar. Later, Tyger, Mac Armor’s,
Nick Bowers, and Sandy Alexander go bowling
at Expressway Lanes, across the river at Gretna.
The team prepares for a wild night of bowling with a
pre-games meal at the Pho Tau Bay Vietnamese restaurant and other activities.
Armor’s nearly causes a riot at the alley through his behavior.
“Smash-up at Stinko’s”
Strange birds are always perched about MacLand Headquarters.
These rara avis sit in various zen-like positions; or free, at
last, fluttering about the three bedroom house
and large adjoining yard outside.
Poor lonely souls in terminal residence next door are a
bit less active. They are not Monty Python parrots pining
for the fjrds. They are past tense. It is a funeral parlor .
But jamming, so they say, can awaken the dead and as the
parade of bongo and conga lines forms to the right, to the left
dem bones, dem bones possibly dance up a storm. Lucky stiffs.
Mac and Sarah and lions and bears fly in formation through
rock solid air. Getting on barbecue time at the old Mac ranch and
the lead drummer grills up a hearty repast of chicken breasts and
ribs. The usual gaggle of geese and soiree of swans are present
discussing current affairs or simply duck quack resting.
Fee fi fo fum, Tyger smells the bullshit of a crummy bum.
Shit, Heave Broward, funky bass player of the New Neanderthals,
has dropped like a karmic dead lead weight to disturb the
ecological balance. Heave ho is the proverbial snake in the garden
ruining everybody’s paradise. His line is plumbing the water for some
easy chum among the beautiful song birds inside.
“Why, you are the prettiest girl here,” he tells three
robins consecutively as he separates each from the safety of a
nest. Could anyone possibly be stupid enough to believe him?
But that is the pickup game. Soon he departs with a
particularly dull blue yay in tow. “You are the prettiest girl
here. I want to give you the greatest orgasm ever,” he is
overheard saying as he pushes his dainty prey out the door.
This occurs as Tyger and Armor’s enter. “Hey Heave,” Armor’s
calls to the long lanky bass fake. It’s go time.
“You’re an asshole. Loser.”
“Fuck you Armor’s,” Heave says, hastily exiting.
Heave’s departure has a salutary effect on the fruitful
gathering. Mac and Sarah, his squeeze, discuss another lame
brain member of the New Neanderthals.
“Yeah, I heard Roots Badburns is getting a doctorate,” Mac
says as Tyger overhears with disgust. “Man, that bullshit again.”
“Root bound shit has been saying that for 20 years,” Armor’s says.
“Hope he does get it. Then, we finally can stop hearing about it.”
“Hey baby, what it is'” Armor ‘s calls over to Mac who
fiddles with a drum machine. “What it is baby?” says Armor’s
walking across the room to shake Mac ‘s shoulders.
Mac, nonetheless is concentrating on the world beat.
“What it is is to be awful,” observes Mac casually.
“Hey, just saw Heave leaving,” Tyger says. What was he
doing here? Trying to steal some fun? ”
“That’s cool,” Mac notes. “He keeps saying he is going to
sit in on a jam, but never seems to get around to it.”
Armor’s has flown to the kitchen area where he coo-coos
Heave’s left-overs. Some guys have no self-respect. Armor ‘s
qualifies when it comes to the the name of that tune.
Tyger dives into the comfy cushioned couch area, next to the
beanbag chair memorial park, picking a roach out of the ashtray.
“Mind if I partake?” he asks. “Be my guest,” Mac replies as
the drum machine spews out a kind of disco beat.
“Didn’t I hear the Village People do that?” Tyger asks as he
inhales a big puff of smoke and holds it in ever so dearly before
it too must perforce fly. “Hey. Haven’t you heard?” Mac asks
rhetorically. “I used to be the Construction Worker.”
The actual reason for the visit is a rumor that Mr. Milty —
along with lead guitarist Buck the only other
acceptable New Neanderthal — is about to embark on a
semi-serious art project. Stinko’s copy shop where he works
has recently instituted a policy of letting artists
display their work in a side window.
Mac and the gang already have displayed their magnificent
salute to the nuclear family complete with painted and halfburned
styrofoam wig heads. It caused quite a public stir.
Now, it’s Mr. Milty’s turn at bat. He is going to try to
score with a giant face mural painted on the large glass window.
Milty has many strange, awful, and wonderful face paintings
at home. They are sort of to the rear of David Lynch’s
“Eraserhead,” just this side of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg of
Great Gatsby fame with a little Day of the Locust ambiance
tossed in for good measure.
Tyger dares not miss the magic project moment. Given Mr.
Milty’s track record, there is no telling how long the face will
grimace in public before something terrible happens. Milty has a
provocative and quirky attitude concerning art.
Therefore, it is best to be on hand for he who hesitates is
lost. Or at least that is what Tyger’s high school baseball coach
said when it came to the topic of taking the extra base.
“Oh yeah, Mr. Milty’s down there now,” Mac reports as he
switches off the drum machine. “Let’s check it out.” So they fly
sky high little starlings and hunker down the road four blocks.
Sure enough, super thin Mr. Milty stands in the window
painting a giant multicolored face. And the face, comrades,
does not look amused.
No indeedy, it looks like apocalypse now with mad reds,
oranges. and greens cascading in every direction. And oh those
evil eyes, Mona Lisa grimace, and general flushed expression.
“Look like anyone you know?” Tyger asks Mac .
“Hope not,” he replies.
Mr . Milty walks inside the Stinko’s window dashing off
stroke after awful stroke. What is that, a penalty shot? No, it
is just a strange face exploding colors in your mind. Mr. Milty
is hard at work, his long sandy hair and Jesus beard flowing.
Screeeeech! Kerboom. Sound of steel crashing and tin cans
being opened by self-implosion.
Boom. Crash. Burn, yearn, fern, yo mama. Disputations and
sad embraces. All this in the Stinko’s window for any passerby to
be alarmed by and hopefully pass through to the other side.
“This is the best window yet,” Tyger remarks as glass
shatters and representational art unflatters the small throng
across the street from Stinko’s now watching Mr. Milty’s every
monumental brush stroke.
An instant anti-karma news flake crew from WDSU — New
Orleans’ own around the clock source of lying commercialism
according to their self-promotions — drive by in their up-link
minivan. They stop to see what the commotion is about.
“Oh it’s just awful art,” a red-faced pumpkin lady tells them.
“You know how finicky artists can be.”
The on-air news flake looks bored. Since this is the most
important and interesting event of the day, he decides to pull up
stakes and move along little doggy to that exciting news porn house fire
on Elm Street. Better visuals for Ray-Gun family values.
Besides, the so-called reporter can’t figure out how he can
make trivial Mr. Milty’s very disturbing commentary on man’s
inhumanity to himself, taking the most awful art down to the
lowest level possible so his editors can understand.
Through it all, The giant disturbing face might be —
shall we say — eternally smiling.
Two police officers drive by noting a considerable commotion and
screech to a sudden stop. Since there seems to be no physical
danger present, they linger gently, joining the growing crowd observing
M. Milty’s impresario strokes and grand gestures with mouths
approaching open wide.
Mac picks up the universal vibration. “Awful, of course,” he state
to the pumpkin lady, now one of MacLand’s temporary best fiends, er friends.
“I think it’s very nice,” she replies, adding, “What do you
“Awful,” Mac reiterates. “Ya know–full of awe. ”
“Oh yes, it is that,” the matronly lady agrees. “But the
dear boy in the window must be a little, I don’t know,
disturbed maybe. A little disturbed I think.”
“No doubt,” Tyger says.
Crackle, snapple, pop, the police car radio mouths off as a
female cop calls in her position. “Ah, roger, roger; we have a
white male in the Stinko’s window painting a giant face.
Please advise. Over.”
Chhhh, chhhh … static … chhhh. “Never- mind. There’s a 20-30
over at Maple Street. Please respond.” orders the voice
disembodied. “We better get going,” cop-ette tells her podner.
They load in the police car. Driving off, the cop riding
shotgun rolls down his window, looks at Mac,
asking, “But is it art?”
Everyone is a citic . “Can’t help you with that one, man,”
Mac replies as they both laugh. “But I like it.”
Milty takes care of business inside the pained glass,
oblivious to the outside Oak Street crowd in disturbance. Or
maybe he’s into it because that is his usual method of operation.
The Miltmaster soaks up the crowd’s ambivalence, turning
it into an increasingly wild face painting, if that is possible.
He mines a very disturbing vision of the soul’s eye.
“I’m liking this a lot,” Tyger tells Mac.
“I think he is on to something.”
It’s beginning to look a lot like nightmare on Oak Street,
part infinity, part end of the world, and part joke is on them.
Milty winds down the face thing, beginning to wash his
brushes, packing away the offending colors.
Out of the blue, into the pink, ka-boom! Ka-boom! Squealing
tires and jaw of nuked and neutered newt.
Screech! Sliding wheels. Suddenly, right before the crowd’s
Betty Davis eyes conglomeration, a fender bender three car urban
street jam pile-up. Smash! Smash? Smash!
In your face, bozo scum-sucker rubbernecks. Kerblam!
Believe it or nuts, three drivers as one jump out of their
respective you got Prince Albert in a can, well they are let out cars.
Mr. Milty’s face has proven its karmic powers beyond any doubt.
He has caused a three car pile-up accident.
The first driver had been watching through the window and
suddenly stopped only to be struck by the second whom, in turn,
was hit by the third. Damn, that art is powerful stuff.
“I suppose they’ll try to make me investigate this,” Tyger
says. “Face mural causes accident and riot on Oak Street.
News fake at 10.”
The drivers stand on the side of the street jawboning various
pieces of impersonal misinformation. Nothing major really, just a
tribute to Milty’s artistic powers. The artist, himself, has now
finished. He crosses the confused street scene to view his
“Not bad, if I don’t say so myself,” Mr. Milty concludes. “I
think I’ve hit a grand slam with this one.”
(Mr. Milty, besides being an advanced musician-artist is
also quite the baseball buff. He specialized in collecting
trading cards before that practice became fashionable.)
“Excellent stuff,” he concludes searching for a quick escape
hatch should he need to flee the surrounding crowd — of, shall
we say, admirers — if necessary. Parapazzi might be lurking
anywhere, not to mention Brigatisti Rosa.
The madcap smashed and crashed motorists are becoming a bit
too personally involved with their dispute so Mac, of all
persons, tries to mediate. “Come on guys. Calm down, ” he says.
“Not much damage. Not much. Relax and look at the nice face painting.”
“Hey that’s what caused this shit,” Driver Number One tells Mac.
“If that asshole in front of me hadn’t stopped to look.”
Driver No. 1 pauses, reading the face on the glass.
“I think it sucks,” he says. Then, back to the accident at hand.
Grinning from ear to ear, our cheshire cat of an artist Mr .
Milty is having fun. “That’s what I like to hear,” he says before
departing. “Well, It’s getting ugly over here. I better like a banana split.”
Milty possesses an unerring sense of when to exit honed by
many near death experiences brought about in the name of art.
“You know who caused this shit?” realizes suddenly Driver Number
Three. “Where is the asshole who painted that window?” Too late, bub.
So too, the boys return to MacLand leaving the wreckage of
the unenlightened for themselves to sort out. “You got to give it
to Mr . Milty,” Mac says as he sits in the living space tuning a
conga drum. “He sure knows how to distract a crowd.”
Tyger walks back to the kitchen where Armor’s and Sarah are
playing with the cats, in this case literally. Armor’s needs some
new blood to compliment his brood and has agreed to take some of
MacLand’s excess nuevo kitten population.
Mama Cat recently delivered a large litter of genetically
inbred New Orleans specie wingheadius, a special type of feline
with super-wide ears spanning the globe found only
in the Big UnEasy. “They are cute little buggers,” Armor ‘s notes
as Sarah fetches up an orange female kitty and striped grey brother,
placing them in a carry-all enclosed cardboard box.
“O.K. ready, steady. Let’s go,” says Armor’s as the proud
papa with his new family loads into the off-duty surveillance
vehicle. “See ya later alligator,” he yells out the passenger
side window as they drive back to the future.
The plan is to scatter for now, regrouping later at MacLand.
The gang intends to engage in some late-night bowling
practice across the river at the Expressway Lanes in Harvey.
Why not? Seems like something, er, athletic to do. Tyger, Mac and
Armor’s bowl the beguine with their good buddies Nick Bowers
and Sandy Alexander. Mr . Milty would usually be square and be there.
However, he is otherwise indisposed with the aforementioned
instrumental giants of the New Neanderthal age.
Seconds, minutes, and hours pass through this temporary
existence. Tyger fiddles around his house while Armor’s settles
the cats into their new environment. The usual outrageously fine
moments pass for the MacLand crowd. Mr. Milty’s face continues
blocking traffic along Oak Street Stinko’s.
Everyone hooks up at Mac’s place around midnight, piling
into official safe driver Sandy Alexander’s tasteful black
Volkswagen Jetta headed for a date with bowling destiny at Expressway Lanes.
The team has its usual intense pep rally before bowling.
This is accompanied by team prayer at which joints are passed to
symbolize the nature of man’s quest for fun representing as well
the hope, the smoke, the holy huffing, and puffing of good high times.
Nick Bowers supplies some very good hydroponically grown
shit. Everyone agrees as they fill the Jetta with jet-streams of
exhaled reefer smoke; what a terrific guy, what great mutah.
Everybody buys into the team concept. Y’all for one and one
P.J. — i.e., personal joint — of regular Mexican pot for y’all.
Let’s hear it for bowlers anonymous. Yaaaay team’ Smoke
billows from every Sandymobile orifice as the boys stumble
outside the car party towards their next destination.
The group walks across the Expressway Lanes parking lot to
the sacred Pho Tau Bay Vietnamese Restaurant.
Another gotta-have-it exercise revealed.
They voraciously consume a hearty pre-games meal of Goi Cuon
spring rolls, and Bun Thit Nuong. Sweetened with condensed milk
Cafe Sua Da washes down the great eats.
How do you say thank you in Vietnamese?
Pho Tau Bay’s owner is an American Indochina War veteran
who married a Vietnamese woman and her family. He seems like a
nice guy, tall and thin with a right forearm tattoo of an
arrow through a heart. (Ah, the slings and arrows of outrageous
fortune form an appropriate symbol for the bowlers from across
the River Styx.)
G. I. Joe hosts as various Vietnamese women, and children
wildly run around the restaurant that has quite a few late-night
diners. Besides the vet, who greet the boys in a friendly easy
manner, the bowling team fools are the only Caucasians at the pho joint.
It is a beautiful place with exotic tropical fish and bright
walls as yet undiscovered by the local news fakes. Eventually,
they will get around to it, but for now, all is pristine pleasure
and good eating before the battle royale begins.
Vietnam Cong Hoa’. Rumbling, bumbling, stumbling,
Armor ‘s is mumbling as the team bounces into Expressway Lanes,
your basic industrial grade bowling alley. Very bright lights flood the alley as dim
bulbs fling their hard round balls of joy down waxed wood boards.
Sandy and Mac zoom over to the snack bar, grabbing four cups
of beer. Armor ‘s is all bowling business, carefully unraveling
the cosmic cloth covering his black beauty 14-pound ball,
shining the sporting object clean of grease.
Sandy smokes a cigarette, the only nicotine habit in the
group. No matter as he fits in with the crowd.
Expressway Lanes after midnight on the weekends
is a smoldering chimney. All those fat asses blow
their lung weight in tobacco haze.
They are drinking their bellies full of draft beer.
Odd excuse for a sport, this.
A very competitive environment predominates, as always. Each
bowler wants to come out on top. The lanes rent by the hour after
midnight, so games are much cheaper than during prime-time and
may be rolled in mass quantities.
Therefore, the boys usually roll 10 or 11 games each,
sometimes more, stopping only when their arms or thumbs fall off,
sometimes not even then . Huge blisters might form. A nuclear bomb
might fall. No matter. It takes more than that to eradicate bowling
fever after it has commenced. So begins the first of many games .
Armor’s is a tremendous bowler, believe it or nuts. He
brought along a clove cigarette for some reason. Lights it.
The sweet acrid clove smell drifts over to the other nearby
bowlers. They are a group of potbellied men with Rick’s Oil Field
Trash on their color coordinated white with red and blue trim
shirts. They stare swords at Armor’s target.
Armor’s ignores them, walking slowly to the ball return.
Smash smash smash all around the sounds of balls striking pins in
the nearly empty establishment, no more than one-quarter filled.
Armor’s takes no quarter either. He deliberately
approaches the boards, letting loose a solid pocket hit. Boom!
Pins scatter. Strike one. A look of satisfaction on his face, he sits down,
re- lighting the DJakarta Elephant’s clove cigarette.
Good old boys from Rick’s Oil Field Trash look pissed
Feel free to grumble among yourselves, boys.
Heightened concentration following the Pho Tau Bay culinary experience
makes for a competitive match-up. Not to mention the happy effects of a dozen consumed reefers.
Strike. Strike. Spare. Spare. Strike. Open frame. “Shit, Tyger, you suck.”
Sandy announces beer frame. Armor’s strikes a spare.
Next round you’re buying,” Mac tells Sandy. Beer beer beer all around friends.
Armor’s throws a great game. Strike strike strike strike spare, shit,
spare, spare, shit, spare, shit, strike. He is right up there around 200.
What a great anchorman. And all the while toking on the clove cigarette.
For what–for luck? Perhaps. Finally a mid-sized fatty, person not blunt,
from the trash heap boys, sidles over, staring daggers at Armor’s white haze.
“What you smoking there, boy?” he asks. “Mari-ja-wanna? What is that shit?”
“Oh, haha,” laughs Armor’s to Rick guy’sred-beet face. “No man. “All good, legal.
Clove cigarette from Indonesia. They’re great. Take a puff.”
The atmosphere lightens up considerably. The fellow takes a
hit, holds it, and exhales in a loud rush.
“Whoa Nellie. That stuff makes you dizzy as hell. How about
that,” he declares. “What you know. You learn something new every day.”
“Hey want one?” Armor’s asks, producing the strangely
colored pack with equally exotic elephant graphics.
“Y’all don’t mind,” Armor’s new bestest buddy says.
“Nah,” Armor’s says. Sharing is caring. Or caring is;
I dunno, here, they’re great.”
“Hey, you bowled a mean game there, too, motherfucker.”
Armor’s simply exudes his version of the cheshire cat grin.
“Thanks man,” as the guy wanders off into space.
Sandy returns from bowling his frame. “What was all that
about?” he asks. “The guy thought these clove cigarettes were
marijuana,” Armor’s reports.
Sandy shakes his head. “You’re up.” All business now as the
games continue. Armor’s drills another strike. “Gotcha,” he says,
pointing at the pins with a shooting gun gesture
ala Dennis Eckersley wrapping up a save.
Game after game, frame after frame, follow the bouncing
balls as pins collide, explode, dissipate, go black.
Welcome to the big bang, late night version.
Rolling bowling trolling, jolie fun and frolic shake. Beer
frame after beer frame. Alternating between one person up while
others take a quick team prayer outside. And they are not
smoking clove cigarettes either, comrades.
The games seem quite competitive. Averages are fairly
consistent and respectable. Tyger is low man with a 135.
Nick and Sandy check in at 145.
Mac is hot with his odd shot-put style yielding a 150 pin
performance. Armor’s, fueled by clove and beer, chalks up an
awesome 190. You know what they say: Can’t have too much fuh.
Getting on to 3 a.m. as Rick’s Oil Field Trash along with
about everyone else has vanished into the West Bank
darkness. A teenage party at the far end of the brightly lit
lanes about sums it up.
One of them flings his ball diagonally across three lanes.
Sad lonely ball, bounces rudely stopping gutter adjacent.
His friend runs down and grabs the ball as they laugh hysterically.
Must be too much clove in their diet.
The night manager sternly lectures the boy. “Anyone home.
Anyone there. Anyone home.” he repeats in an endless tape loop.
Black hole. No one apparently is at home. No one is listening.
The boys wrap things up as they pack their bowling bags in
cloths of many colors, return the special shoes, head across the Greater New
Orleans Bridge back to the city of New Orleans. Downtown shimmers
with skyscraper lights that reflect along the muddy Mississippi River.
Tyger removes a final joint from his altoids box.
So it goes, so it blows, so ends
the beery bowling barrel,
rolling Uptown through the mist.
Dawn is about to break a sweat.
Comrades, fare thee well.