Continuing my little investigation of South Jersey, I was boozing at Tom Fischer's Tavern in Westmont. Somebody played Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant," which confused the bartender, "What the hell is this?" I told her that Arlo is Woody's son, but she had never heard of Woody Guthrie, so I tried, "Do you listen to Bob Dylan?" She said no. I talked to the man who played Arlo, however, then I punched in Coltrane, Monk, Django Rienhardt and Benny Goodman. This selection was much appreciated by the bar, and as I was standing at the juke box, some guy even gave me $2 to choose music for him.
Anyway, after I staggered away from Fischer's Tavern, I ended up at Collingswood's train station, but the ticket machine wouldn't take my debit card, and I had no cash left, so I sat on a bench to figure out what to do. Sergeant Rambo saw me take photos and came over, so I promptly snapped him. I then showed him the image in my viewfinder, "Hey, you look pretty good!" He grinned ever so slightly, "I've always been photogenic." I told Rambo I couldn't use the ticket machine, but he had no suggestion, so I said, "OK, I will walk to Camden and get on the train there, but if anything happens to me tonight, that's on you!"
Baratta's Taxidermy. Baratta, "I've been here 27 years, and business has never been worse.
Yeah, Camden is bad, it has always been bad, but Collingswood isn't doing so great either. Did you see all the stores gone out of business down the street? That has only happened the last couple of years. Stores going out of business.
They keep saying the layoffs have slowed down, but that's because they ain't got nobody left to lay off!
You bring me an animal, I stuff it, but nobody has any money these days."
Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy and England. 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 Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, among other places. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013), and translator of Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao (2006). 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, Reykjavik, Toronto and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.