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Monday, March 30, 2015

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Di Nic's-Tavern-on-3-22-15--South-Philadelphia








3/22/15 at Di Nic's, in deep South Philly. I came in hoping to see Johnny, the gangster, meth dealer who had been locked up for 29 years, but he never showed up. Three weeks earlier, I had said to him, "Are you Polish?"

Glaring at me, Johnny seethed, "I ought to kill you!"

Johnny is Sicilian. His nuts are enlarged and he has so many other medical problems. He admires the Irish, "They can outdrink you, outfuck you, outfight you. I wouldn't fuck with the Irish."

In photo, that's another Johnny, though. This one's 67 and sleeps on the living room floor, for free, at this lady's house. They hadn't known each other before she let him in. She just felt sorry for him.

During the day, Johnny has nowhere to go so he tries to sit in Di Nic's Tavern for as long as he can. I bought him a few beers, which he very much appreciated, but Patty, the bartender, yelled at me for doing that.

"Can you believe she fuckin' yelled at me for buying you beer?"

"I wouldn't worry about it. She's just acting like a woman. There's no rhyme or reason to it. My wife was like that."

Johnny gets $500 a month in social securities. He lost a lot of money when he got divorced. For 30 years, Johnny worked for the phone company, mostly as a lineman. You know, one of those guys who climb up them poles and do whatever the hell they do up there. He had a bunch of other jobs, including working as a caddy.

Patty had two other reasons to be pissed off at me. As she was getting a beer for me, the cooler door fell on her toes and cracked a nail. It hurt so bad, she was sobbing and, frankly, mostly people would have gone home, if not sued the bar owner. Patty worked through it, however, because she couldn't afford to lose the day's income. As she hobbled back and forth, her right sock turned red from the blood.

Hours later, she finally dabbed some vodka onto her messed up toes and changed socks. A customer had gone home to get some gauze, and he had also bought for her three pairs of new socks.

Patty was also pissed off because a customer had played some Sun Ra on the juke box for me.

"What is this shit?!" She looked furious.

"Sun Ra," the guy said. "We were talking about Sun Ra, so I played some for him," meaning me.

Patty looked like she was about to kill me. At Di Nic's, the music is usually Billie Joel, Elton John, Jim Croce, Sisters Sledge, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Cat Stevens, etc.

The man who played Sun Ra for me has a son who studied writing at Evergreen College. He was delighted that I had heard of Evergreen. It's a very unusual college in Olympia, Washington. I gave a poetry reading there and have twice been featured on its radio station.

The lady in the photo got really pissed off and stormed out of the bar when Patty said to her, "I'm tougher than you'll ever be." This, after said lady had asked about Patty's toes.

There was another yelling episode when Dominic got tired of buying beer for the old guy sitting next to him, "I bought you three, all right! I ain't gonna buy you anymore! I'm not responsible for your drinking problem!"

The old guy squirmed then, with his head down, walked out the door.




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12 comments:

x larry said...

ok linh,
this is my last (for now) in a ridiculous amount of comments i've just made on all the new material below--sorry, in one of those moods.
this one i read first. it is brilliant. loved the sicilian's love/fear of the irish--though i'm a bit sick of old ireland and all that lately, not that i was ever into it very much.
that patty the bartender! just like, not just so many philly bartenders, but several that i personally worked with, as well as one that i roomed with for a year and a half, all from the copa (what a dick he was, we both no doubt still deeply regret not only living together but even being aware of the other's existence!). but patty--priceless.
also the couple above. she looks very worse for wear, he could perhaps have some angle?, what a strange-seeming marriage.
by the way, i actually laughed out loud at the comment from the guy on women and there's no rhyme or reason to what they say. must say i've had bitterly bad luck that way, i don't think most people would believe most things i could tell them if i ever did. anyway, tip top post, and once more i was taken back to the crazy ass everything of philly--though i can begin to remember why i needed to get out.
cheers!

x larry said...

one last comment.
looked up sun ra, who i'd of course heard of, but i was thinking of king sunny ade.
all i watched so far was something called 'space is the place (1974)'. can't believe i've not seen this or heard of the guy really.
very interesting scene, no music at all.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSNvdLpLx-0

Linh Dinh said...

Yo x larry,

Do try to find a live performace of his on YouTube. He's a Philly legend. I saw him live in 1986 or so.

Back when I still went to concerts, I saw some great ones. In Philly I saw Archie Shepp, Max Roach and Amiri Baraka perform together. Also in Philly, I was blown away by the Art Ensemble of Chicago. In DC, I caught Art Pepper's last concert. Old, he looked like Gertrude Stein.

Linh

Linh Dinh said...

Yo x larry,

Check out this Sun Ra.


Linh

x larry said...

thanks linh,
will check all that out. the one video of sun ra i have seen so far, now that you mention he's from philly, it adds to it--it's so natural (i gave the link in post above).
well, between the amtrak ads, the national guard ads, that personal robot, and patty--i'm feeling ready to take on the world!
remembered this morning what you said in carlyle postcard about americans travelling (in the military) and gaining a broader palate (not much else). i'm reminded of my three years as an english teacher in seoul, where the us military has not only several bases but occupies in the dead center of the city what is traditionally the most sacred spot in korea--whoever controls it controls the country. it's, like i imagine every base from saudi arabia to england to diego garcia to japan, just like an american suburb, complete with gas guzzling big cars (now without doubt triple wide pickups, suv's and humvees). my only uncomfortable few weeks in korea were after i cut my hair very short. instead of everyone and anyone coming up to me on the packed metro to practise their english, i got hard cold stares (they thought i was military). i occasionally talked to some military people, they were everywhere in the club district next to their central seoul base, itaewon, where we ended up at least once a week. us military mp's would be bouncers at certain bars, and were a general street presence. luckily, our main bar, called club hollywood, finally banned military as they caused so many fights. anyway, very, very few of these guys (you can see why by my story above) ever ventured out into the community, unless just round the corner to itaewon. they were, as you said, very insular--besides simply having no interest.

Linh Dinh said...

Yo x larry,

Sun Ra, "All the planet earth produces is the dead bodies of humanity. That's its only creation. Everything else comes from outer space." Check out Robert Mugge's documentary, A Joyful Noise.


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x larry said...

hey linh,
haven't gotten to your recommendations yet, but have been watching a documentary of sun ra. looked him up on w.pedia, linked to dizzy gillespie, and there found a guy called earl hines--a truly amazing pianist, and i've only watched about two minutes of this
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcHz_cjeqRU
what a musical universe these guys and countless others inhabited and created!

Linh Dinh said...

Yo x larry,

Check out Thelonious Monk if you're not familiar with him. Monk is my favorite jazz pianist and perhaps jazz musician.

Lenny Tristano is interesting too.

And check out trumpeter Lester Bowie.

Linh

x larry said...

will do, thanks. i've just this year started getting into jazz (i actually sort of hated it before, not really, but some people are so shit they turned me off it completely, but my mom had stuff like duke ellington and porgy and bess and cleo laine growing up). i've seen bits here and there, including monk but not the others you mention i don't think. got a bit into fats waller, louis jordan (less him) via a miles davis interview, many others. i spent some lovely nights in a jazz bar on either 10th or 12th maybe, center city, blue in the name?? during early nineties. then there was bob and barbara's--this is before i even knew what hipsters were, much less was one or hung with any (not that i do now). fun nights there too. cheers--i can't, just can't, believe i was in philly with sun ra for about 3 years and never knew it! by the way, just did the 'i'm not a robot' word--Masta

x larry said...

should clarify, it wasn't ellington etc i mentioned that put me off, but more 80s type stuff, polished, virtuoso, lots o white boys, just masturbatory--not that i condemn in any way masturbation

Eyepilot13 said...

Sun Ra is awesome! Keep up the great job! I think you are my fav blog.

Eyepilot13 said...

Electric Miles (1968-1975)is the best! It's been blowing my mind since I was a crazy drunken teenager because 80s musik sucked so much. Thanks Linh for all your great slices of real life. Take care!

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About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). 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). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.