The Modigliani Girl

One is deluged with business cards here in Las Vegas. It’s no exaggeration. In nearly four years of Nevada residence I’ve had more cards pressed into my palm than throughout the 30-plus professional years in Metropolitan New York.

Sad to report I’ve rarely reciprocated. I’m picky about with whom I exchange contact information.

The card flood represents desperation by local figures for self-promotion. The at-best tangential people who’ve insisted I be aware of them were the most fleeting of acquaintances. The likelihood we’d ever engage in any sort of productive endeavor molecular. Not that I disdained them right off the bat, but from their obvious lack of focus and dedication.

While Las Vegas offers plenty of platforms upon which to build exploitation, realizing any the least, as always, requires direction and perseverance. Most of the supplicants who’ve attempted plastering my palm with their boards have expressed vague ideas about “making it,” and hazy plans how this should be executed. Strong Mojave breezes have been enough to scatter these dreams.

At the start of torrid, known elsewhere as summer, a figure from my short Nevada residence resurfaced and reconnected. Klanger is a true creator. He’s a metal sculptor. His objects predominantly grace private homes rather than fill public galleries.

Further curtailing Klanger’s renown bleeding into public consciousness from the art world, where he resides. Not in an art Mecca such as London or New York. Rather on some island among the archipelagos comprising Polynesia. Aside from his residence he shares another Gauguin-like trait.

Klanger certainly enjoys his women exotic and striking, not the generally accepted beauty notions. Living in the South Seas has lent him an appreciation for sun-basted lovelies whose hair has more in common with obsidian than flax. Visages that are considered beautiful in the popularly recognized sense don’t stir him. What move him are distinctions that other beholders might regard as conflicting.

In a roundabout way through a woman fitting the criteria above is how we met.

“Shadow” was her stripper name; Anne the one her parents had bestowed. Funny, for a while she grinned upon hearing it from either Klanger or me. Probably rewarded the same reaction to other men who had also troubled learning it. One imagined there were few of us she so trusted.

That wide grin of hers, reflexive on these occasions, was her “tell.” Sometimes a little burst from below her throat of recognition and involuntary pleasure underlined it. Hearing that maybe dispelled some of the naked commercial aspects our intimate interactions involved.

Mind, Anne never operated in any Las Vegas gentleman’s clubs. “Shadow” did. By the afternoon we met she’d fallen from the quality jiggle joints broadly advertised and desperately promoted to visitors into Rick Blaine’s Place, an establishment better suiting locals and catering to slummers. In this instance refer to me as “a local.”

How “Shadow” ever worked in any expense account club is beyond me. She’s not pale and voluptuous, but a rail-thin streak darkened beneath the tropic sun. Small-breasted, not buxom. Staring out upon the world is the racial mix that confuses, no, bothers, no, disturbs, a good portion of Anglo male America visiting Las Vegas hoping to let loose their white-bread inhibitions.

Using a baseball analogy, Anne had been in the bigs, “the show,” for longer than a cup of coffee but time in that milieu is relative. In sports, athletes can become “old” at 30. In stripping, caprice or a whack fad or male whim can quickly render the entertainer old meat. Searches for the new girl, no, fresh flesh, is constant and relentless. Here, the conveyor leads to a grinder.

The smarter entertainers or “female company providers” understand how narrow their time is to earn. These women have plans, fallbacks when age excludes them from the higher earnings echelons. The vast majority don’t.

What they had for a while was allure which they squandered on prestige goods whose values depreciated the moment those items left the boutique, leased flash cars, rentals inside impressive, expensive, exclusive addresses, and boyfriends who exceeded the “bad” criteria. Add to all the preceding silly beliefs that indulgences in acceptable or expected vices wouldn’t somehow hasten the reduction of scheduled hours into none.

Anne’s descent into the bush leagues left out all the above.

She had an affectation or two, though neither was particularly materialistic. Early on her addresses would never have been mistaken for exclusive. Then later on the less kind would’ve described them as down market.
Her sole habit indulged? Some guy who became her husband, then father of her children, then became what might be imagined as the female version of a ball and chain. The quite ambivalent sort she made an obligation.

Here’s where Klanger and I cross paths with Anne as our nexus.

Newly residing in Las Vegas and unsure of my next steps, I took weekly Wednesday afternoon refuge in a gentleman’s club that I for a time took as a wayward home. I’d been in a few of the city’s swank peeling palaces and was deterred by their absolute mercantile natures. At least the lesser clubs let a man sit down and order a cheap drink before any hovering girls spiraled down on him.

Unlike a lot of the local pervs frequenting Rick Blaine’s Place, I have no problem being brusque in front of nearly naked women. After all, I’m from New York.

Four years ago, almost nude women and cheap cold beer helped align my thoughts. Oh? Didn’t both augment the new atmosphere? Besides, most of the women offering themselves in whatever demand were on the decided downside of enflaming lust.

What recommended Rick Blaine’s Place? It provided inexpensive louche shows. Televisions above the bar were tuned on sports channels. The talent wasn’t pushy. Inside was cave-dark and air-conditioned cool, the latter two attributes one should never discount during Mojave summers.

Hell, the last two features above likely added to any talents’ attractiveness.

Anne wasn’t pushy. Nor did she practice indifference. She made her initial pitch. If a customer bought it, excellent. If not, fine, maybe next time, no?

Anne appealed to Klanger and me for different reasons – nonetheless we swallowed her pitch right off the bat. She immediately intrigued us both. In this respect, in similar ways, she disappointed neither one of us.

(To be continued)

Meet the Strangers

Certainly we’ll all notice Islam has frightened a good portion of Anglo-America. Until the attacks most of those now afraid couldn’t have named a Muslim outside of Muhammad Ali. Today the quivering and trembling can list chapter and verse every depredation Islam has prepared for the Christian West.

Especially the ones which only exist in the most fevered imaginations.

By the way, after the attacks one of the reasons presented for the date chosen was an in your face gesture to the nation’s emergency service responses. Who does 911 call on 9/11?

Islamists are nowhere near as witty. Instead, the date commemorates an important battle between Christianity and Islam. A conflagration more vital than the Crusades and the Reconquista combined. One persevered faith. The other was thwarted for all time. Continue reading Meet the Strangers

Fear Eats Itself

Remarkable, isn’t it, how many Anglos are fearful of a Muslim threat against America that doesn’t exist? At least not in this hemisphere. For this Americans of all hues and creeds can thank the civil rights movement.

All that marching, picketing, and boycotting we may now download and view in digitalized black & white equalized a lot of boats. The movement also brought into the mainstream a good number of immigrants whose origins sat outside what too many of our native born citizens saw as acceptable lands of heritage.

Southern and Eastern Europeans performed their obligations towards integration while assimilating, but having reassuring complexions and religious beliefs somewhere near the country’s predominant Christianity also eased their entry into society. The civil rights movement is the reason why the United States shouldn’t suffer Europe’s same level of random violence nor the polarization between Muslims and non-believers.

American society has yet to impose the same weight of frustration on the Muslim community. But Donald Trump and his gang are doing their damnedest to recoup lost time. Continue reading Fear Eats Itself

Heirs to Death

Congratulations to all those who’ve graduated from American service academies commissioned as second lieutenants or ensigns. Americans are thankful you’ve chosen to be professional military leaders who’ll command forces defending these shores.

While the above is the preferred job description, their profession encompasses the less savory demands of our modern capitalist republic. These United States no longer face adversaries which threaten its being. Therefore, any taking up defense of this super state is a misstatement.

Not since the Roaring Twenties have our armed forces been so intricately bound with corporate interests. Even during Vietnam there had been some pretense of halting the nefarious spread of nationalism mistaken as communism. It was just right place, right time luck that DuPont and Bell Helicopter reaped fantastic profits. What had once been a straight-forward picket of sovereignty is now far more protection and expansion of the super state’s great overseas mercantile concerns. Continue reading Heirs to Death

The Tragedy of Sonny Liston

Some librettist and composer ought to join forces and create an opera featuring the life of one-time heavyweight boxing champion Sonny Liston. A tragedy, not an operetta. The travails of the long-dead champion contain classic elements the ancients would’ve venerated.

Brutal skills honed in an unforgiving background marked and formed the raw ambition that raised Liston high. Capricious and uncaring fate drove him into the lowest depths imaginable.

Strong and determined as he obviously once must’ve been driven, so did Liston easily succumb, powerless and guileless to thwart what now seems inevitable. The sole question needing asking and answering, whether Sonny Liston understood his plight, and did he submit? Continue reading The Tragedy of Sonny Liston

Swyving and Surviving

Las Vegas evenings into mornings can be arbitrarily unkind as well as exceptionally rewarding. Throughout April 2017 I encountered or heard about five women who had experiences running the gamut from high to low, induced remorse, or whose initial reticence entering an endeavor produced joy.

Not all Las Vegas doormen and valets are lazy, slit-eyed, money-grubbing opportunists. Several might be decent, honest, observant and caring people. Naturally they’ll seldom pass up a chance to make an extra buck, but doing so won’t plunge them into rat-bastard unscrupulousness.

A few of these stalwarts worked the portals during the nights in question. None have yet to ever mind speculating about guests habiting their respective properties.

Fair Play

Nice to have the steel-toed shoe on the other foot. All the better with which to kick.

The Schadenfreude to be enjoyed drops directly from the 2016 election results.

Given a clear choice between vast experience and absolute unpreparedness, between a first-rate temperament for governing or petulance and impatience intolerable in well-run enterprises, between a superior intellect brimming with curiosity and a small mind formed and locked early, less than half of American voters chose disaster. Unfortunately, our no longer great nation remains beholden to the last vestige of slavery.

The Electoral College.

Undeserving though awarded our presidency nonetheless, Donald Trump personifies the least of the United States. In his bloated, billowy, and bloviating presence he is the antithesis of “American exceptionalism.”

He is quite common and surpasses crass. Continue reading Fair Play

Her Persian Voice

Heard the sharpest retort to one of the vilest insults recently. Of greater interest, though, was the woman who launched it.

Nasrin identified herself as “Persian.” Yeah. She’s Persian, all right. As Persian as I’m African. She’s a 20-something Cali girl through and through.

What gained my favor was her having enough pride in self to supplant Persian for Iranian. The former carries nobility stretching back into antiquity.

A Persian background is replete with culture and atavistic figures. Xerxes? Cyrus? Esther? Their respective histories are as current today as their living importance in the past.

Iranians, their inheritors, are poor cousins. Compared against their classic progenitors, they lack stature. Who esteems them? Continue reading Her Persian Voice

All the News That’s Fit to Reap

Could Harvest of Shame be filmed today? And if so, what would our reaction be? Horror? Guilt? Scorn?

In 1960, CBS News produced a documentary titled Harvest of Shame. Migrant farmworkers, the conditions under which they lived and worked, were the subjects. To further emphasize the misery, CBS premiered this episode on Thanksgiving night. Perhaps it hoped the subject matter would pierce viewers deeper on our national okay to gorge day.

I first saw the show about 16-17 years after its initial broadcast. Recently I re-watched Edward R. Murrow and a cast of fellow citizens then likely considered disposable, if better-off Americans bothered considering them at all, discuss who made our nation’s groaning larders possible.

Watching it again after intervening decades, the black & white program has become starker, my understanding of disparities in America clearer, as the chasm between empathy and indifference in Americans has widened. Continue reading All the News That’s Fit to Reap

Sex Type Thing

Who visits Las Vegas to practice decorum and exercise restraint? Nobody. Not even Mormons.

Despite the justifiably popular “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” slogan that lures however many suckers from the nation’s tight-assed regions, that O.J. Simpson was jailed and remains so for convoluted activities here proves the advertising somewhat specious.

Yet many believe and they indulge – heartily on the way to and beyond excessively. Continue reading Sex Type Thing

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