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Friday, November 30, 2012



From Monday to Thursday, Freddie's is open at 8AM and closes at 11:30PM, so old, retired guys can have a cheap draft for breakfast, soon after they've brushed their denture and frowned at themselves in the mirror. Everyone drinks here, blacks, whites and Puerto Ricans, and even a stray Vietmanese on this blustery day. The young white cook has a black boyfriend, and the white, middle-aged bartender has a black girlfriend. Working class people are often bunched together, and more often than not, they do get along. Redneck wise man and wise guy philosopher, the magnificent Joe Bageant said something like, "Every White Trash family I know has black relatives." Some stray overheard tidbits from the bar:

"Hey, how come every fuckin' weather chick is pregnant? Every fuckin' one of them! Horny bitches."

"Today's forecast, fifty percent chance of pregnancy."

"To get pregnant, you have to come together. If you come, like, in two fuckin' minutes, and she comes in ten, it ain't gonna happen. You have to come together."

"Ladies, you have to get your man drunk if you want him to last a while, but then you'll turn him a fuckin' alcoholic, not that he ain't already."

"Speaking of the weather. I don't give a shit about the weather 'cause I live just down the street, and I work all day in this heated shithole."

"Ten more years before I retire, but I don't want to think too far ahead. Shit, I might die tomorrow, know what I mean?"

"Yeah, buddy, I just get up each morning and try to hustle a few fuckin' bucks, that's all. It's all I can do."

When the news came on about Romney and Obama doing lunch at the White House, behind closed doors, the bartender said, "Yeah, they probably have some fuckin' hookers in there!"

"It's all right. You're just a bullshiter. It's not your fault, buddy. You fucked up my entire world. It's all good."

As for the bowl of chili in photo, my mouth is still numb the day after, and my liver is talking to his lawyer about suing me. With fugitive bits of bacon, a rumor of mushroom and an undercurrent of tequila, it came to $3.75, not terrible, but the beer in Freddie's is skid row cheap. I mean, you'd have to go under a bridge to save any more dough on sud.



Cindy Shirar said...

Just saying "hi," Mr. Dinh!

I enjoy visiting your blog site every day. Absolutely fascinating.

I LOVE your artistic work (all of it, the writing, photography, etc.) I also very much enjoy watching your interviews. Just reiterating! :)

May I ask, did you ever get to meet Joe Bageant, or talk with him at length over the phone or online? I still visit his web site daily, too, and re-read his essays. Miss him so much!

I wish I could take you out for a beer sometime. (Have family in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania. Maybe someday, if your wife and teaching schedule allow for a wanna-be intellectual groupie!)

As Joe would say, "in Art and Labor,"


Linh Dinh said...

Hi Cindy,

I taught a semester at UPenn, so was able to bring in Joe Bagaent to give a talk. The real treat was hanging out with Joe, however. We met at Cavanaugh's beforehand, then drank at Dirty Frank's afterwards, then knocked down some chianti at my kitchen table late into the night. (My apartment is right near the Italian Market.) Joe slept on my couch.

Had Joe not gotten sick, I would have tried to go down to Belize to see him. Joe was generous enough to say that he would put me and my wife up, and feed us even, if only we would show up.

Joe's ability to relate to everybody, and write for everbody, was a huge inspiration. He was so grounded yet so damn smart, and when I first tried to write politically, he was kind enough to encourage my half-assed efforts. Joe's email from 10/24/2007:

"I am so proud to call such a truth sayer and wordsmith as you my friend ...

"our roiling-schlitz-malt-liquor-hitting-the-made-in-china-ventilator"

and "hug the big guns"

Linh, I am beginning to think I have not had a truly real conversation since we last talked at your kitchen table.

In brotherhood,


aspergum said...

You've really got an ear (and an eye, natch). Write another novel, PLEASE!


About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I lived mostly in the US from 1975 until 2018, but have returned to Vietnam, where I live in remote Ea Kly. I've also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), a novel, Love Like Hate (2010), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), and six collections of poems, with a Collected Poems apparently cancelled by Chax Press from external pressure. I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). My writing has been translated into Japanese, Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in Tokyo, London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.