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You probably already heard, but we neglected to get an ezine together.
Last week a god of the silver screen, Gregory Peck, died. A lot of
people point out To Kill a Mockingbird as his best film appearance,
but I'm partial to Roman Holiday myself, since I too once spent time
in Rome pursuing an unattainable woman.
But he was also an interesting man off screen. Back in '96 he did a
speaking tour I was fortunate enough to attend. Here's the review I
wrote back then:

"I wanted to keep my day job."
Gregory Peck when asked if he considered running for president after
fellow actor Ronald Reagan was elected.

We went to the Gregory Peck lecture last night. 50-something years in
the film biz generates a lot of entertaining stories and the man can
tell 'em but to us the most interesting and historically significant
was about an interview in Mozambique.
He consented to do a press conference during a shoot there and the
reporters were "a polyglot of people" (look it up), one of whom asked
him something like "Mr. Peck, we understand you're considered a
person of liberal political beliefs in your country, you tend to play
roles that reflect this, why is it you play in westerns where Native
Americans are slaughtered, driven from their lands and such?"
"My guardian angel must have landed on my shoulder then", he said,
"because I looked at the man and said 'I won't do it again.' I got
back to the states and John Wayne was one of the first people I ran
into and I told him this story and he stopped, though for a moment,
and said 'Dammit, he's right. I'm not going to kill anymore Indians
either!' And, y'know, Wayne had killed more Indians than... we'll,
than anybody! So they started making what were later called
'revisionist westerns.'"

SW is off for a week in Texas to see her clan. And while the
girlfriend's away the cat plays! Or cleans house and surfs the web
sites blocked by the content filters at work, many of them personal
friends' sites. Ah, the life of a wandering pervert.
But it's not all dirty dishes, dirty laundry and dirty pictures.
There's the usual dirty old man style ogling of the lovely wait staff
at Carroll St. Café where the sweetest cheesecake ain't always the
one under the glass counter. Flashes of ideas for a film noir pulp
fiction detective story keep interrupting my dessert.

"Jack walked in, gun blazing. His first target, a man hunched over
the bar, doesn't even finish lifting his beer before his head
explodes, bone shrapnel and brains flying.
The bartender must've seen it coming though. He was already ducking
down behind the bar, not a drop of blood on him as he leapt for the
floor. Tipped off? Premonition? The manager wouldn't get a chance to
find out as Jack turned a pair of twin black, smoldering eyes his
direction, the double-barreled shotgun following like another set of
hollow eyes. The bartender landed on the cold, sticky floor at the
same time as the manager's lifeless body was hurled backward to land
only a few feet away."

Cute girl walks in with her parents. She's the archetype post-gen-X
cool from the waist up, thick-rimmed glasses, thrift store t-shirt.
But below is the wallet on a chain and big black boots that say
either "punk" or "lesbian" or both.

"Jack tossed the spent shotgun aside and pulled out a .45, but
apparently he'd done what he came to do, two shots, two corpses, the
shotgun now mimicking the dead, lying lifeless on the floor, smoking.
Jack backed out quietly, covering the empty room with the pistol.
After a minute or two the bartender got up from behind the bar,
peered into the bright light streaming through the open door and
proceeded to wretch into the large stainless steel sink."

My waitress is sexy, even with a couple of extra pounds poking out
over her low-rise skin-tight jeans. But something about her reminds
me a little too much of an old girlfriend - hair color, smile,
something. Ghosts in the machine.

Jack is cooking in the kitchen of the bar. He is short and lean,
middle-aged yet looks ancient. Haggard, lined face, and a tired look
about him. But his apron is spotless. His hat sits perfectly on his
well-trimmed hair. His freshly shaven face has a look of dogged
determination as he works over the steaming grill.
The manager comes in and says 'Now it's overcooked. Fix him another
one!' dumping a steak into the garbage can and tossing the plate on
the counter next to the grill.
'But-' Jack starts to protest.
'Just do it!' the manager yells, then turns and pushes out through
the kitchen doors.
Through the open doors, Jack looks through and sees a surly-looking
patron hunched over a beer at the counter.
'That's fucking IT.' Jack grumbles, tossing his apron onto the hot
grill and heading for the back door. He bangs it open and disappears
into the glaring light of day."

Black forest cake needs brown liquor to wash it down but they're out
of Captain Morgan's, what I would have preferred to go with the
sticky sweet confection. Jack and Coke makes a reasonable substitute.
The waitress I wanted is a cute, friendly blonde who's waited on my
many times over the years, but I didn't guess the table correctly so
I'm not in her section. Which is just as well because she shares the
name of another old flame.
How many years would one have to live before everyone, or for that
matter every place and every thing, are reduced to (sometimes cruel)
reference jokes?

"Jack backs out the front door and tucks the pistol under his coat.
He turns and heads down the sidewalk to a mammoth early-70's car, a
green thing parked just down the street. His steps are quick,
betraying his worry. He keeps the pistol hidden as he ducks into the
car. The engine roars to life, loud and throaty, more like a hotrod
than the 3-ton luxury yacht. The tires chirp as it leaps away from
the curb and makes a wide U-turn to speed away from the bar.
He needn't panic. The average police response time in this city, even
for the most violent of crimes, is well over 15 minutes."

Unlike a strip club, the eye candy in a restaurant doesn't change
every three songs. And since it's all flirt but no follow-through for
me, one drink and one dessert later it's decision time - hang here by
myself and continue the fantasy of being single in some foreign café,
or roll on to some other bar, or try to hook up with some fellow
degenerates for a more social evening?

"The bartender stands outside, hands shaking as he lights one
cigarette off the butt of another. Detective Frank Blythe stands in
front of him, scribbling illegible notes in a pocket pad.
'So how long had this guy been working here?'
'A month.'
'Mind if I look through the manager's desk? Maybe he's got an address
or phone number, or at least a last name.'
'Yeah, go ahead.'
Frank doesn't even look at the bodies on the floor, covered in white
sheets, or the surrounding cops and police photographers as he
strides through the bar towards the manager's office. He has the walk
of an aggressive young go-getter who's risen through the ranks very
quickly. There is an air of intelligence about him. He'll be captain
one day, maybe police chief, and maybe the youngest the city has ever
seen. But nothing about him says 'cop.' Instead, he looks like a

I tracked down degenerates DC and BC and we headed to James Joyce, a
dull, supposedly Irish pub in Avondale. It's obvious they're going
for the after-work, dinner crowd instead of the raucous, drunken
Irish crowd. But they have a fair selection of beer and bar food and
it's an ok place to have a drink and conversation. The place was all
but empty long before midnight and eventually we gave up and headed
back to DC's place for some Grand Theft Auto, the flickering images
echoing the film ideas flashing in my head.

"Jack opens the door to his apartment, a second story place in a
run-down old house. The rusty metal stairs on the side of the
building make it obvious the landlord added the apartment onto a
house not designed for it. The walls inside are vertical for the
bottom few feet, then slant inward, matching the slope of the roof
Despite the peeling paint and ramshackle appearance outside, the
interior is clean and tidy. There is a tasteful, Spartan look about
the place. Low shelves along the vertical portions of the walls are
packed in books, meticulously organized. Framed prints of Italian
Renaissance paintings hang from the doors.
A fluffy orange cat wakes just long enough to look at who's bothered
to wake her up, then returns to her snooze on the windowsill. Jack
drops into a chair and turns on a small black and white TV. He drops
the .45 onto a TV tray and begins to strip it down."

After more domestic chores on Saturday, degenerate DN comes to town
to look at fixing the DP HQ bar stereo and 8-track. The radio and
phonograph work fine, but the 8-track player is shot. Fortunately I
have one new in the box to install in the Thunderbird, as soon as I
get the stereo and speakers installed in the beast.
We head out to dinner at Six Feet Under, a trendy new place not far
from Lenny's, across from the Oakland Cemetery on Memorial. Good
seafood, but a bit overcomplicated. The white beans are more like a
stew, chock full of things that compete for your taste buds'
attention. The shrimp and scallops were almost simple enough, but
good ingredients usually speak for themselves and don't need dressing
up. The oysters were baked with all sorts of stuff covering them up.

Degenerate DN hadn't sampled the delights of Carroll St. Café around
the corner, so we headed over there for their sweets, and sweet
service. Tonight it's my favorite waitress, a tall, skinny blonde
with big eyes, super friendly and an excellent server. We chat her up
and generally try to keep her hanging around our table as long as
possible, denying the other patrons her charms. But it's a quiet
night and nobody seems to mind. Even our neighboring table gets
sucked into our conversations of foreign lands for a bit.

"'Nothing. How can you hire someone at not have a thing on them?'
Frank grumbles to himself, rifling through the manager's desk in the
bar office. He looks around at the calendar and other things pinned
to the walls, but can't find what he's searching for.
He goes back outside and finds the bartender.
'Can I go home yet?', the bartender asks.
'No, I'm not done with you yet. Look, did your manager ever have to
call this guy or anything? What if he was late for work or
something?', Frank asked, a tone of disbelief starting to creep into
his voice.
'I don't know. He wasn't ever late that I noticed. Why don't you look
at his cell?'
Frank raises his eyebrows, 'Good idea,' and turns to go back inside.
'Can I go yet?' the bartender calls after him.
'Stick around. I may need you to go to the office and look at some
pictures for me.'"

After a Frederick Cherry Bomb (tm) and coffee, we head on to the EARL
for further ogling and a beer. The place is hopping, as always, but
DN and I are both too shy to approach strangers so we're content to
sit and stare, chatting about ideas for films and travel and such.
Lots to look at and lots to talk about, but also lots of background
noise and lots of people in line for the can, so when our bladders
can take no more it's time to hop to the next bar.

"'You guys find a cell phone on him?' Frank asks one of the policemen inside.
'What's left of one,' the cop answers, lifting the sheet and pointing
to a bloody pile of electronics in the blasted open shirt pocket on
the man's chest.
'Shit. I'm gonna need the calling records for that phone.'
The uniformed cop just shrugs and drops the sheet back over the body.
Frank pushes open the kitchen doors and asks a team of men in the
room, 'Prints?'
'Yeah, plenty. I think we've got a full set.'
'Run 'em as soon as you can. We got nothing else on this guy so far.'"

Down the block at Gravity Pub it's more beer and a game of foosball
before we return to lurking and ogling. The bartender is a very cute
girl, short and sassy and helpful with the drinks but not with the
"Where can we find this man a date?" I ask her of DN.
"I don't know, I haven't been looking for single women. But I'll tell
ya, this ain't the place."
Ah well.
A couple of young, model-like girls squeeze up to the bar next to me,
the type that you can't help but gawk at, "Three Jager-bombs please."
What the hell is a "Jager-bomb?" Something to do with Red Bull and
Jagermeister, apparently. Nasty stuff that only an idiot would drink.
Pretty but dumb. Which is fine, because even though I can't stop
looking at them I also can't bring myself to talk to them. I turn
into a complete idiot when confronted with such beauty, even if it's
only skin deep.

"Jack is reassembling the .45 while the news comes over the TV,
turned down low.
'Police are investigating the slaying of two men at Bob's Bar and
Grill on Third Avenue. Allegedly, an employee, the cook, walked
calmly into the place and fired two shots, killing two people. Their
names have not yet been released, but Channel Four news recently
featured Bob's Bar in a story about local organized crime.'
The news cuts to a clip, a 'Special Investigative Report' about
organized crime in the city, featuring a reporter chasing the bar
manager down the sidewalk, 'Mr. Carlotto, you've been investigated
for tax evasion and connections to organized crime, what do you say
to these charges?'
'No comment,' the managers says, climbing into a large Lincoln and
giving the camera the finger. His gesture is pixilated out yet still
obvious, even on Frank's little black and white TV.
The report drones on while Jack sets aside the used barrel of the
.45, a shiny new one now in it's place. He reloads the gun and slips
it into a nylon holster.
He takes the old barrel and set it on the floor, supported on each
end by a couple of books. He heads into a side room and returns with
a large hammer. He holds the barrel steady with one hand and starts
banking on the middle of the barrel with the other."

An attractive woman about my age is laughing behind me at The Gravity
Pub. I turn to see her joking around with her male friends and
possibly boyfriend or husband. He reaches up and fondles her breasts
through her black t-shirt.
"Hey, when's my turn?" I joke.
She turns and thrusts her chest out at me. Can't resist that.
"Nice breasts!" I tell her, while giving them a quick grope.
"Thanks!" she says, then turns back to her conversation as if nothing
were out of the ordinary.
Maybe for her it's not out of the ordinary. But it made my night
extraordinary. Damn, how long as SW been gone?

"Jack's car cruises down the street nice and slow. He turns it down
an alley and stops by a large dumpster. He takes out the bent barrel
of the .45 and an empty can of 8 O'Clock Coffee, crushed in the
middle. He jams the .45 barrel down into the can, making sure it's
stuck in there good and not plainly visible. He tosses them both into
the dumpster. As he pulls out of the end of the alley a trash truck
heads in."

Tired of the Gravity Pub, we head westward toward DP HQ, but stop off
at Northside Tavern, hoping the late hour has sent home the yuppie
scum that have found the place but that it's not too late to catch
Johnny Knox's last set. But he steps off stage right as we walk in
the door and the only eye candy in the place isn't really my type.
Half a beer later I'm ready to call it a night and we head home to
empty beds.

Haven't seen the hellion children in a while, so daddy must be out of
prison. With the roosters in boxes in the mornings, I've been able to
sleep pretty much normally, so unless I get pissed at the neighbors
for something else I doubt I'll be calling the authorities for a

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