Total Pageviews

Monday, July 25, 2016

Ellie’s Diary – 22 July 2016

Ellie’s Diary – 22 July 2016

Ellie Looking-Fixed 
Were getting a cat! I just found out about it. His name is Smoothy and he’s still too young to travel, but we’re going to pick him up sometime next month. He’s part Main Coon and I worry about that a little because those kats get so big.

Smoothy 2 
In the mean time I’m working out every day and will go to a major training event week after next.
I still haven’t heard anything from Hollywood, but I sent them my new head-shot.

Ellie Posing

I suppose it’s actually  a body shot, but whatever.  I submitted it with an idea for a movie script I’ve been thinking about. It’s called, “The Hound of the Basketballs.”  I’d be the star, a hot private eye with a big heart who sniffs out clues. There would be minor roles for a few of my boyfriends, and maybe a cat or two thrown in for comic relief.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Down and Out in Amsterdam – Day 3

Misting rain this morning. Not much fun to walk around this afternoon. I’m trapped inside this seven foot square room. And there’s no bar in this hotel. One of the things I love best in Amsterdam is hanging out the hotel bar. One can sit in one place and meet people from everywhere and anywhere—most of them in a pretty good mood. War stories, laughter, lots of beer goes down. A good time had by all. Whatever. There was a Banksy exhibition within walking distance.


There was a line, about a dozen of us waiting to get in. Progress was slow. They prefer plastic in Amsterdam, people pay with cell phones even, god knows what, and it always seems complicated . . . slow. I finally make it to ticket counter and pay cash-takes about twenty seconds.
It was an experience to see the Banksys at their original scale which makes them even more impactful. I constant crowd of people milled around a labyrinth of halls with art work on both sides. I could hear these grunts from people, tiny little sounds with no attending thought of speech. A sort of muffled, “wow.”

Banks Mural B&W 

I noticed people taking photos of the artwork and was shocked at first, until I thought about it. Yes. This is the beauty of his work – it’s on display. It’s on the streets. It’s free, and very good. Impactful. I’d never seen his oil paintings. They were interesting for a look or two. I’ve posted some photos below. Not very good shots, but I only had my cell phone.
I’d never seen his oil paintings before.

Banks 6 

Or his sculpture.

Banks Statue

Although Banksy is active world wide, his work has never appeared on walls or streets in the Netherlands.

Banksy - Love Rat

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Down and Out in Amsterdam – Day 2

Amst 2016 
Sun’s out today – blue sky. There’s still no room in my room, but it’s very clean and looks better in the daylight. I decide to stay, rather than hassle for a refund and a new place to stay.
Morris and I visit the World Press Photo Exhibit at the new church. There are two main churches in this area, the old one, Oude Kerk (one the left)  and the new one (below) Nieuwe Kerk.

The New Church is Enormous.

The exhibit featured the winning images from the world’s largest annual press photography contest. “A collection of trends and developments in photojournalism that presents the (at times gruesome) reality of events on the world stage, but also the beauty of life.”

I did not take photos of the photos, but they were amazing and interesting to see in large scale, most at least three feet wide. Some were disturbing, others very beautiful. The nature photos were especially fascinating. Some of ‘art’ shots were Photoshoped, which always bothers me, but they were very good.

Illusions 1 

Reality’s becoming more and more elusive – especially in Amsterdam. Leaving the photo  exhibit we discover more colorful art.

Painted Lady - 1 
She draws a small crowd of curious onlookers – mostly men.

Painted Lady - 2

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Down and Out In Amsterdam – Day 1 Part 2

Down and Out In Amsterdam – Day 1 Part 2

It’s not too bad here, sitting at sidewalk table, soft lights under canvas awning, cushioned chairs. Good as it’s going to get tonight. I light the blunt and take a couple hits. It’s very strong and I slide into paranoia without second thoughts. Like, how I will get back to hotel hell? I‘ve no idea how to pronounce the name of the place. I’ve never heard it spoken and have no idea how to spell it—one of those Dutch names with too many letters and a lot of oo’s. I left my key card at the desk on my way out, and all the paperwork concerning my room switch are in my suitcase. I have nothing to prove I’ve paid for a room.

And when I do get back, what then? Find the manager? For sure it’s not the girl at the check-in desk, and even if I got a refund, which seems most unlikely. . . .
Terry’s back. “Where would I stay if I check out?” I ask him. “Then hotels are all booked up this time of year.

“Ya got a pencil?

“Yeah.” I find one and notebook in the fanny pack.”

“The Hotel Runner,” Terry tells me. “They keep track of all the hotel bookings and the hostels in the Red Light.”

“Umm . . .” I write it down and pass the joint to him.

“This got tobacco in it?”

“No,” I say.

“What is it?”

“Some kind of sativa,” I tell him. “I don’t know.  I bought it at the Bulldog.”
Terry takes a drag and hands it back, and hands it back. No comment, which means this is good stuff—good enough, at least. I’ve had enough and slide the roach into it’s little plastic tube.

“The Hotel Runner’s just a block away from the old Hunters. Number 85, on Warmoestraat. Tomorrow morning you can yourself another place before you tell them that your leaving.”

“I don’t know . . . I’m only here five days. Don’t want a hassle.”

“Yeah. I understand,” he says. “Sometimes ya just have to go with things, ya know?”

“There’s no alternative, I guess. I was suppose to meet a friend at the Hotel Torenzicht were I was booked. I don’t know if he’s here or not, and can’t remember his last name.”
My head’s begun to clear. “I think I’ll head back now, and get some sleep. I’ll come again, tomorrow.”

“Four to twelve I’m here,” he tells me. “See you then.”

The rain’s a little more than mist now, but not bad. Ten minutes walking gets me back to Rembrandt Plein, a small park, ringed with coffee shops and restaurants and bars . . . sidewalk cafes, and waiting black, Mercedes cabs. I stop beside a three wheel bicycle taxi who’s willing to take me back to the Red Light district.

“Fifteen euros,” he says.

“That’s crazy. I paid fifteen euro’s to get here from the Red Light—in a new Mercedes. Why should I pay the same price for a pedicab?”

“Because I need the money,” he responds in perfect English, with an honest smile.
I give it up, but it’s not over. “Where is your hotel?” he asks.

“On Varmestaten.”

He doesn’t get it. “Warmensteten” — Doesn’t work.

“What’s the name of your hotel?”

“Starts with an M . . . I think, and has a lot of double o’s, and s’s in it. At the end of Warmenstaat.” Still  doesn’t get it. “Do you know where the old church is? Oude Kerk.”

“Yeah, sure. Of course, I know exactly.”

“Good enough. Are you American?” I climb into the rig and he zips up a see-through plastic canopy to shield me from the still light rain— it’s still light if your standing still. He climbs onto his seat and we take off. No seat belt. I’m surprised, seems like there should be . . . maybe not. It’s like riding inside a condom, but exciting. We weave through modest traffic at alarming speed, and when their isn’t room on the wet streets we move to sidewalks. When a sidewalk ends we take to grassy lawns, or over curbs and back onto the street—between cars. One honks at us, and we bump up a curb. No springs on this rig. It’s a jolting ride. 

Rain spattered plastic makes it hard to see—just blurry shapes and bright lights—shadows. I’m inside an accident about to happen. It’s that kind of a night.
We move onto a narrow street, or wide sidewalk, depending on your point of view. I recognize familiar shapes one side of a canal—the Red Light district. There’s the hotel where I was supposed to stay. The manager might be here and I want to tell him what I think about the room I have been transferred to.

“Stop here!” The driver brakes, gets off his saddle and unzips me. “Thanks.” I hand him three five euro notes. This makes it thirty bucks for cabs tonight, but I can walk back to my room from here. The rain’s gone back into a misty drizzle as. I clomp up four steps and walk into the Zicht Hotel.

“It’s Bruce!”
Familiar faces. Anna, world’s best bartendress is here with Morris who I had arranged to meet here where I thought my room would be. Thank god I stopped. It’s good to see old friends.

“Where have you been?” he asks.

“We called your wife—in Sweden,” Anna tells me.

“I was moved—to Hotel Hell. I don’t know why. Is Stanley here?”  (The manager.)

“No, he went home, but he’ll be back tomorrow. Want a beer?”

“Oh yes. I’d love a beer. I need a beer.”

“My round,” says Morris. Good to see you. Smoke?”

“Sounds good. I bought a joint on the way over.”


We take a table. “So, you got a room here, Morris.”

"Yes, no problem. Good one, number 12, first floor, in front—looks out on the canal.”

“Damn! That’s the room I wanted. You booked after me.”

“Two days,” he shakes head. “Go figure.” Morris takes a hit. “This stuff is strong.”

“You think?” We drink more beers and pass a couple hours in idle conversation. Anna leaves and is replaced by someone on the early morning shift—bar never closes, but is only open to its lodgers late at night. Our conversation lingers, this and that, a lot of me complaining of my room. We finish off the joint.

“It’s getting late, almost 2:30,” Morris checks his watch. “I need to get some sleep.”

I hate to see him leave, but should be getting back to my unwanted room. He gets up from the table, and falls down—straight down, much like an elevator with a broken cable. Jesus! He’s out cold. My first thought—is he dead? My second—would the hotel let me have his room? I try to get him on his feet—not easy. He’s a good two hundred pounds. Bartender runs to help me. We get Morris back onto his feet. He’s coming to, a little bit. He’s still woozy as we walk him over to a bar stool.

“Wow. What happened?”

“I don’t know. You passed out. You were gone for maybe ten or fifteen seconds. You okay now?”

“Yeah. I think so. Maybe get some air.

We go outside. He’s back to normal fifteen minutes later. “Need some sleep,” he tells me.

"Yeah, me too. It’s been a long day. Let’s meet here tomorrow afternoon.”

I watch him walk back to the room I should have had. Bartender’s also watching him. I say goodnight on my way out. The front door clicks shut and locks behind me as I step outside into what’s now a hard rain.

“Wait!” The front door opens—bartender comes out with a umbrella. “Take this, you can bring it back tomorrow.”

“Thank you!”

Distant thunder rumbles as I walk to my hotel. It’s raining harder, veins of lightning, exclamation marks—this not a good night.

Koop Table
Posted in Uncategorized | 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Down and Out In Amsterdam - Day 1

Down and Out In Amsterdam

(With apologies to George Orwell)

This was my sixth time back. I thought I knew what to expect, but things have not worked out as planned. It’s dark and raining as I exit Central Station. The hotel where I was booked had problems and took the liberty of re-booking me into the hotel Zoopermdoolen.
There’s a young girl at the check in counter, early twenties, maybe less. I sign in and am assigned room 12.

“Please leave your key card at the desk when you go out,” she says. “There’s always someone here.”

I drag my suitcase and a backpack up a flight of narrow, corkscrew stairs and shove the key card in a slot beside a doorway that opens to a humid, seven foot square room: one window — no place to hang clothes, no chest of drawers. Just a small table, bed and sink.

Koop View Dark 
View From My Room

I put a dry shirt on and worry about someplace I can hide my money? There is no place but my suit case and this room does not feel safe. I don’t like to carry more cash than I can afford to lose. I have a money belt, but the hell with it. I’m sweaty, tired and pissed off as I get into my dampened sport coat and strap on a fanny pack to hold my reading glasses, two pens and notebook. Nothing else I need. I slide the suitcase underneath the bed and hand check-in girl my key card before going out with hopes of finding my friend Terry who should at work at Hunters coffee shop this time at night. The place is a good twenty minute walk from where I am, without an umbrella, but now the rain is slacking off, just misting.

I can buy a joint at the Baba’s, I am thinking as I walk down Warmoesstraat. Alas, the Baba’s closed down, gutted, boarded up— a barricade outside. I never thought I’d see that happen. Wow. Baba was one of the best coffeehouses in the Red Light and did a huge business. People loved hanging out there, there were booths and tables, good music. Gone forever. It’s depressing.

Baba in 2015 
Inside the Baba - 2015

Baba 2016 
Baba -Now

I cross over to the next canal, and walk a few blocks until I see The Bulldog. Bulldog’s been here since forever. There are more than one of them I in other neighborhoods. This one’s a shabby sort of place, dim lit with a small bar that’s occupied with people drinking coffee. Some have soft drinks. Booze is never sold in coffee houses. There’s two dealers side by side behind a pair of windows, sort of like the cashiers at a 1950’s bank. Two small groups wait in line beside each window. Would be buyers take forever reading menus. There’s a lot of choices, sativa and indicas—hashish. More that a dozen colorful, exotic names like Purple Haze, Amnesia and Sour Diesel . . .  King Hassan. Who comes up with these names? The list goes on and on. I doubt if average buyers can discern the difference between one brand and another, other than the basic strains. Sativa helps you think and Indica relaxes . . . peaceful.  Finally I make it to a window where I ask the dealer for a ready rolled.

“There's just two choices,” says the dealer. “With  tobacco, or without.”

“Without,” I tell him before counting out six euros for the joint. Outrageously expensive, but I am not into shopping. It’s a nice size blunt— comes inside a little plastic tube. I put it in my fanny pack and go outside again.

It starts to rain a little harder now. I’m getting wet. It won’t be easy to find the new Hunter’s in the dark. There an old Hunter’s Coffee Shop a block from my unwanted hotel. It’s just a bar now, and a twenty minute walk to the new Hunter’s. I always get lost on the way there. A ring work of canals spread out from Central Station, through the Red Light district, much like ripples from a stone dropped in still water. The streets go all over the place, very confusing, and I’m tired. I want to lay down, or at least get comfortable and have a smoke. I walk for three blocks, then I spot a cab, a black Mercedes. Fifteen euros for the trip to Rembrandt Plein, where Terry is.

I find Hunters and see Terry right way. So glad to find a friend, and he has time to talk. Not many people here this rainy night, a few guys looking at the menu at the drug bar.

“Bruce, it’s good to see ya, man. You want a drink?”

“Sounds good.” I pull a chair out as he goes inside to get a Coke then comes back out and joins me at a sidewalk table, one of several underneath an awning.

Oy! The Coke tastes wonderful. I haven’t had a drink since a small orange juice on the plane. I should eat something, must be places, even though it’s now 11:30. I tell Terry what’s been going on with the room switch, and describe the room.

“Ya need ta get yer money back,” he tells me. “They do stuff like that all the time here. Get a refund. That’s not right, man.”

“I don’t know. I need a place to sleep tonight," I tell him as trio of new customers arrive.

“I'll be right back," he says.

mgv2 – Chunking Mansions

MGV Cover
On a roll this week.
Published photos in Buffalo Almanac- (On line),  and 2 poems in mgv2 – ( print and on line).
Mg2  Chungking Mansions

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment | Edit