February 15, 2003

February 2003 (Vol.2, Issue 2)

Welcome to Truckin' my monthly E-Zine. This month's issue includes another subway story from me, a fiction bit from Mona LaVigne, a story from our Southeast Asian contact Señor with a tale from Nepal, and Armando Huerta, our European contact, returns with a Vienna story. So sit back, relax, enjoy, and spread the word! Thanks for all your support! Be Sweet, McG

1. Feb Subway Story: Fallen Angel by Tenzin McGrupp
They all sat across from me, a family of four, each of them bundled up in winter clothing; mittens, scarves, and woolen hats, protecting them from the Canadian artic air that swept down into the North East, that brazenly unleashed a deep freeze which had last nearly two week... More

2. Just Your Average Week in Nepal by Señor
Entering Nepal was a life long dream come true. Just walking the streets of Thamel, the tourist center of Katmandu, was thrilling. The delightful "namaste" greetings and warm smiles I received from the Nepali people eased all my fears of any trouble that might be lurking... More

3. The Girl Next Door by Tenzin McGrupp
I sold weed daily to Republicans and Democrats, men and women, Yankees fans and Mets fans alike. It didn’t matter, there was one thing everyone I saw had in common, they loved marijuana. And let me say they also liked seeing me... More

4. Ring by Mona LaVigne
I had sold the ring. The answers to my prayers was the cash in hand. I had not eaten in three days, and I had finally given in. Bartholomew would have killed me if he’d known that I’d profited from his grandmother’s diamond, but fuck it... More

5. Indie Film Review by Tenzin McGrupp
Read reviews of: Igby Goes Down, Business of Strangers, No Such Thing, La Fille Seule, and Where the Buffalo Roam... More

6. The Viennese Waltz by Armando Huerta
True, the Austro-Hungarian Empire is responsible for the Gabor sisters, but they did balance it out with impressive architecture and grand boulevards... More

7. Growers by Tenzin McGrupp
The disgruntled taxpayers moaned and whined at their local representative in a town hall meeting, where dozens upon dozens of the county’s struggling farmers were being screwed over by the suits in Washington... More

Subway Story: Fallen Angel

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2003

3 Feb 03

They all sat across from me, a family of four, each of them bundled up in winter clothing; mittens, scarves, and woolen hats, protecting them from the Canadian artic air that swept down into the North East, that brazenly unleashed a deep freeze which had last nearly two weeks. After they took their time getting settled in, I noticed that each of them were holding bibles, shiny black books, with the words “Holy Bible” in bold gold letters on the front. They opened up their books, and one by one started reading the same passage. They weren’t speaking out loud, but they were mouthing the words as they read, beginning to salivate with each sacred word. I realized I was never more terrified on a subway that ever before. I’ve ridden the subways for almost twenty years, at all hours, in under all forms of inebriation, during all the cycles of prosperity and debauchery the city has undergone in recent decades. I do not fear muggers or thieves like I fear happy-go-lucky Jesus freaks, fresh out of a bible study group or prayer meeting, or seven straight hours in service getting direction from the Lord Almighty. Have you peered into the virtuous eyes of religious zealots, as they triumphantly rode the crowded downtown No. 1 train with you? Their judgemental looks tell their story. I can hear their scorn and warnings, as their pious glances nick my rugged skin like sharp rose thorns, leaving tiny cuts and scars, only soothed by a heavenly salve concocted by the devout ones.

The youngest one, a girl perhaps nine or ten years old, tilted her head and spoke over the muffled conversations of the crowded subway car and over the mechanical sounds of the train whizzing through the tunnels underground NYC at 47 miles an hour. She looked me in the eye and said, “You are a fallen angel. Take one step towards God, and he’ll take two towards you.”

I looked her in the eyes and sarcastically quipped, “Great, ‘cause I’m going to Las Vegas next week. I’m gonna need the Big Guy’s help counting cards.”

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

Just Your Average Week in Nepal

By Señor © 2003

Once again I dared to enter a forbidden zone and once again I survived, barely! One of these days my luck is gonna run out. Until then I'll continue to push the limits and if nothing else my life will be full of adventure. Everyone warned me not to go to the Philippines back in November, but I went and was happy I did so. When people warned me of the dangerous of the Maoist Rebels in Nepal, I simply dismissed such tales as negative press and gross exaggerations of the truth.

I went to Nepal and my trip started off wonderfully. Entering Nepal was a life long dream come true. Just walking the streets of Thamel, the tourist center of Katmandu, was thrilling. The delightful "namaste" greetings and warm smiles I received from the Nepali people eased all my fears of any trouble that might be lurking. I had expected to find warm, kind, friendly people, and even my lofty expectations were surpassed. Felling especially lucky to be in Katmandu, I decided to head over to the "Nepal Casino."

It was a little intimidating at first seeing the crowded tables and trying to convert the foreign currency into dollars to figure out just how much people were betting. To make things a bit more complicated although we were in Nepal bets were only accepted in Indian rupees. Anyway, all the intimidation quickly faded as I realized most of the people were betting 20 rupees a pop or the equivalent of 50 cents! I started my betting at $5 and people thought I was nuts. Within 5 minutes the casino manger came over to offer me a complementary meal and room. A few seconds later my first scotch and soda arrived. Apparently I was the only one in the casino who tipped. Even a 50-cent tip drew the attention of all the waiters. For the remainder of the night they were literally pushing and shoving each other to get close to me just to have the chance to serve me a drink! By the time I made a $10 bet a crowd of over 100 people had surrounded my table. When I hit blackjack the crowd exploded in applause. I now knew what it felt like to be a high roller. I walked away with $40 in my pocket and I believe I was the biggest winner that place had ever seen.

The next day I was of to Pokhara. Pokhara is a quaint town located in the heart of the Pokhara valley. It is famous for its beautiful lakes and is surrounded by the majestic Himalayan mountain range. It is the perfect spot to relax or to set out on one of many world renown treks. I had been warned that these treks were often infested with Maoist rebels, but the trekking guide that I hired told me that all such stories were bullshit, so we were on our way. The trek to Dhampus was challenging, but the exhilarating views made every step worthwhile. As I looked down upon the clouds below me I was literally standing on cloud 9. That night we camped in a rustic but lovely guest house, had a delicious meal of authentic Nepali curry and Tibetan bread and headed off to bed early to prepare for an early morning sunrise trek. I felt so fortunate to be alive, camping in the Himalayas and listening to my newly bought chanting monks CD followed of course by the Dead. Little did I know that "every silver lining has a touch of gray" would be so foreshadowing.

About 4 hours into out trek we were suddenly surrounded by 12 men wearing camouflage and carrying semi-automatic machine guns. Yes, I had come face to face with the Maoist rebels. My guide did not handle the situation too well. His short quickly became wet with urine and he fell to his knees crying hysterically. I, on the other hand was cool as ice. From the waist up that is. My legs were a different story, they were quivering like Jell-O uncontrollably I must have looked like I was having a seizure. I angrily noted the smiles on the rebel’s faces as they stared at my guide and my legs, but I wasn't about to do anything about it. The leader approached me and told me not to worry. The rebels only wanted a small donation to their cause. If I were willing to pay no harm would come to me. To my shock he only asked for 500 Nepali rupees or $6.50. I gladly handed over the money and in return he actually gave me a receipt! He told me if I was approached by any other Maoists I should just show them this receipt and they will allow me to pass with no problems. As suddenly as they had appeared they were gone. Come to think of it they were pretty nice guys!

Within a few hours my legs stopped shaking and everything was back to normal. Now as I sit in a cafe in Hue' Vietnam, reflecting upon my Nepal experience I realize that in a country filled with such gentle loving people even the rebels are nice! Once again I had gone to a country that I "shouldn't" have gone to and once again I was happy that I did so. Granted I had never been so terrified in all my life but when it was all said and done it was all just your average week in Nepal.

Señor is a pants dropper from Samui, Thailand.

The Girl Next Door

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2003

I had been living in a small rent controlled studio for a couple of months before I made my first contact with my neighbors. I was subletting the place from a friend of a friend who’s great aunt was the person listed on the lease. The rent was a paltry $657 a month, but after having to pay off the family who originally rented the place, kick backs to the super, and a cut to my friend who sublet me the tiny, drafty, roach infested, Upper East side, six floor walk up, the rent was close to $1100 a month. The only way I would be able to support that hefty rent (without a real job) would be if I took Rusty up on his offer to work for him as a delivery person for his successful kind bud, home delivery service. He had lots of high priced clients, so the work was not dangerous at all, if anything, they all were pleasant people who bored me to death. Work was always available, and I found myself settling into a nice noon to 6 PM shift during the weekdays and I worked occasionally on Friday and Saturday nights. Yuppies liked getting their kind bud sent to them at work, for some odd reason.

I had dealt drugs before (on a smaller scale) but I never worked for anyone else in a courier capacity. I had the routine down pat. I would get dressed up in a Brooks Brothers suit, and carry around the drugs in a fine leather brief case. Even the federalies on their highest levels of security alerts would never suspect a well-groomed suit as a drug fiend. I would saunter around midtown, past hordes of cops and undercover agents with a “smug and holier than thou attitude”, often using stock phrases on the phones and during calls to clients.

“So you want me to pick up 1,000 shares of Motorola? Let’s just say, it’s not a good time, perhaps 500 shares would be more suitable for your portfolio?”

I would pop in and out of office buildings in midtown, dropping off $50 and $100 baggies of Purple Haze, or U-6, or even the rare Afghani Hydro, and hop on the subway to lower Manhattan and make a few drop offs to closeted potheads on Wall Street, and eventually cruising over to TriBeCa or SoHo to make deliveries to the artsy-fartsy, cyber potheads, those 20-something kids who worked out of their homes designing websites or other high paying internet related jobs. I liked these clients the best because the let me sip herbal tea and get stoned on the job, while I sit, in a newly pressed suit, my feet up their brand new Ikea furniture, listening to whatever hip, new tribal music from Paraguay was in that particular week.

I sold weed daily to Republicans and Democrats, men and women, Yankees fans and Mets fans alike. It didn’t matter, there was one thing everyone I saw had in common, they loved marijuana. And let me say they also liked seeing me, a lot! I never had a dog, but I gather the reactions of having a canine pet would be similar to that I get from when I see some of my jonesin’ clients. The minute I walk in the door, they get all excited, sometimes jumping up and down on top of me, the bold ones, licking my face, and sniffing my crotch. They go bananas when I open up my briefcase and show them the “special of the week” which was always a sham. The specials of the week were just older batches that Rusty needed to get rid of quickly before it got stale, and before he got a new batch in from Portland.

It had been a few months before I even talked to any of my neighbors. I’m a shy person and I don’t like people asking me a lot of questions, especially personal questions. And in NYC, everyone asks you what you do for a living first, even before they ask your name.

“Consultant, high yield international bonds,” I muttered one afternoon, when the fellow down the hall cornered me, while I was getting my mail. I avoided small talk at all costs, and quickly shifted the conversation to him. Surprisingly, people are more self-centered and self-involved that I thought, and most of the time, I can avoid unwanted interrogations by asking them questions about themselves.

One afternoon, I had gotten off work early and I saw a woman struggling with a large box, as she nearly kicked it all the way down the hall. I didn’t want to talk to her, because she lived right next door. I didn’t want her to know I was sitting on large sums of cash and a half of pound of marijuana. But I sensed she needed help. I decided to do a good deed and offered her my help.

“Thanks,” she said, and that’s when I saw she was very young, maybe in her early twenties, with short black hair, and she had a slight southern accent.

She invited and offered me in for a cup of iced tea. She told me that Oliver, my other neighbor, told her that I was a stockbroker or something like that. I didn’t deny, nor confirm her assumption, I just sipped my tea and asked a dozen or so questions. Her studio was the same size as mine, and it was nicely decorated with simple, but inexpensive knick knacks, which my eyes captured as they wandered around the room as she spoke, softly, but in a sultry drawl.

“North Carolina,” she said, “is where I grew up most of my life. I moved to New York to become a singer, but so far it hasn’t worked out.”

She was slightly vague and somewhat aloof when she answered some of my questions, and I pretended that they were good enough answers, but I definitely got the sense that she was bullshitting me. She told me her name was Cindy, but I got the odd feeling it wasn’t her real name. Which was fine by me, because my entire life was pretty much a lie anyway. I thanked her for her tea, and I left. Over the next few weeks, I saw her a couple of times. Once at the dry cleaners downstairs, another time she was leaving a diner on First Avenue, and I saw her twice at the bodega buying cigarettes. Cindy always smiled and made small talk, but we never said more than a couple of lines of conversation.

One afternoon, I got a call to a new client. Usually Rusty never liked taking on new clients, because he didn’t want to deal to people he didn’t know, but sometimes he met people whom he clicked with so he gave out his number. On that day I got a call to go see someone on the Upper West Side. When I got to the apartment, the doorman asked me what I was doing looking for Mr. Hastings.

“He needs to sign some documents,” as I pointed down to my briefcase.

The doorman let me in, and I went upstairs. A man in his early 50s, with white hair opened the door. He was wearing a bathrobe, and led me into his living room and offered me a glass of wine. He looked like Steve Martin, and spoke very eloquently. On his glass coffee table I spread out a couple of bags and because he was a new client, I told him what each bag cost, and what was the best buys. He picked up $300 worth of bud, and he even tipped me $20! He was ready to offer me a couple of hits when a half naked woman walked into the living room. It was Cindy, with a t-shirt and nothing else on. When we made eye contact we both froze for a second, as her eyes mutated in size.

“Oh, this is my lady friend Amber,” the man said.

I got up and nodded my head. And said a hasty hello. I pretended that I got a call on my phone and excused myself. I left the apartment and frantically walked over to Central Park, where I freaked out.

The next day there was a kick on my door, it was Cindy.

“Hello Amber,” I told her.

“It’s Cindy, and can I come in?”

I didn’t want her inside my place. I made up some silly story about a small army of baby roaches that invaded my studio and have set up camps all over, and it would not be safe for her to be in harm’s way. Instead we walked downstairs and sat in the diner.

I dunno what it is about me, but for some reason, complete strangers would often empty their hearts and souls, and tell me their sad life stories. I guess it’s because I have a nice face, or I’m a good listener. But there I sat, munching away on a soggy grilled cheese sandwich, sipping bad coffee, listening to Cindy tell me the story of her sordid life, how she left Boone, North Carolina to be a big star, but the real reason was to escape her abusive step-father (how cliché I thought) and her two timing boyfriend, a TV repair man named Junior. When she got to NYC almost three years earlier, she struggled to find steady work, a cheap apartment, and to find someway ingenious to break into the difficult music industry. After one long, cold, desperate, depressing winter, and after weekend of weepy tears, she was ready to give it all up, and return home to North Carolina, until she met Mr. Hastings. He was a hot-shot real estate attorney and one night, he picked her up in a bar that she worked in. She instantly began to have an affair with the married Steve Martin look-alike. After a couple of weeks, he said he would set her up with an apartment. He was unhappy in his marriage, hated his children, and going to leave his wife. He convinced her that he would someday like to spend the rest of his life with her, and marry the very gullible Cindy, move to Connecticut, and eventually take her around the world with him. She fell for him fast, and his generosity even faster. Alas, to her utter dismay and disgrace, she found herself a year later, insanely confused, not married, not living with him, and rarely traveling with him anywhere. Their meetings had been limited to quick romps, when he would come over twice, sometimes three times a week for an hour maybe two, only to have sex with Cindy.

“So you’re basically fucking him for the apartment,” I responded.

“Yes, pretty much,” she replied, “And when I found out he was also seeing other women, I flipped out and started doing all kinds of drugs. I was crushed. I never handled rejection too good. I was very much in love and now I realized I was just getting used. Well, fuck, my habit increased and I was using more and more everyday, just to get outta bed, ya know? And he wouldn’t give me any more money than he had already been giving me. I got scared and didn’t know what to do. And this friend of mine, I knew from the gym, Crystal, well she turned tricks now and then to make ends meet and cover her own drug habit. I figured shit, if I’m already getting fucked over, I might as well make some money out of this. So I began to see other men for money.”

“So, let me get this straight, you’re a hooker?”

She hesitated before she answered, “I hate that word.”

“I’m sorry. Call girl, escort? Perhaps woman of the night?”

“Look, at first I just slept with really wealthy guys I’d meet during weekends in the Hamptons. I’d fuck them in exchange for trips to Paris, Rome, the Bahamas. I got to go see places I only dreamed of. And all I had to do was suck a little dick every now and then, which is no big deal, ya know? Because I enjoy sex, and I’m not one of those prudish girls who looks down upon women taking their own sexuality into their own hands.”

“How many countries have you been to?”


“All by sucking cock? Not too bad.”

“I guess so. But it’s really not like that. Most of these guys are lonely or need some validation in life, and fucking a twenty year old gives these guys a feeling that they can’t get at home I guess with their wives.”

“So you say,” I said with a fascinated look on my face. Cindy was really an adorable young woman, with a warm smile, and pleasant way that she carried herself. She looked like the girl next door. Wait a second, she was the girl next door! All this time I was living next door to her. She’d be the last person I’d expect to be a hooker. Then again, she’d thought I’d be the last person that would be selling dope. Makes you wonder, who are your neighbors, really? Underneath their external life, what goes on behind their doors?

“I had about six or seven guys that I would see regularly. But then I guess I got greedy. My coke habit got a little expensive, and I started seeing more clients.”

“What do you charge?”


“What a night?”

“No for one full hour.”

“For anything?” I quizzed.

“Well almost anything, I don’t do anal. I’m anal about anal sex.”

“Fucking A! Do you beat guys up and tied them up?”

She laughed. “You know that guy, you saw me with?”


“He likes to be tied up, spit on, and beaten. He also loves sucking on my toes, which, ewwww, is kinda gross, but it pays my rent.”

“I guess, people bitch about their jobs every day in this town, but they usually have to deal with arrogant assholes or sit in dreary cubicles every day. But shit, you, you Cindy, suck dick and get your toes sucked. I suppose that ain’t a bad way to make a buck in this world.”

“I’m glad you see things my way.”

Over the next few weeks, Cindy and I became good friends. She would send me the occasional postcard from Europe or the Caribbean when she would leave town for a long weekend with one of her clients. Sometimes she would bake me homemade biscuits from scratch and bring them over seconds after they came out of the oven. But most recently, we hung out for about an hour each day, after I got home from work, and before she went to work. From 7pm to 8pm in my studio, we’d get stoned and watch the BBC News followed by reruns of Seinfeld and snorting nicely cut lines of cocaine.

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

February 14, 2003


By Mona LaVigne © 2003

I had sold the ring. The answers to my prayers was the cash in hand. I had not eaten in three days, and I had finally given in. Bartholomew would have killed me if he’d known that I’d profited from his grandmother’s diamond, but fuck it. I kept telling myself that if he really wanted it, he would have cut off that finger, too.

I sat in the Blue Star Diner, dunking cheese-coated french fries in congealed brown gravy with my left hand. As I sipped the Tab from the glass, I glanced at my right hand. The bandage was crusted with blood, dried, brown, and flaky. Stupid Bart. I’m a lefty, you idiot! Cutting off my right thumb was of little or no consequence. I had tucked my left hand, bearing Bart’s grandmother’s diamond ring, into my pocket as I slept in the Shelter. This left me with strict contemplation of my right hand, thoughtfully recalling the way my husband had methodically cut through skin, muscle, bone, muscle, and skin again to remove my opposable digit. The pain had been unbearable at first, but I soon learned Battered Women’s Shelter Etiquette, which dictates that for cigarettes, one can get just about anything. Pharmies are everywhere, and five cigarettes for three unmarked, unnamed painkillers seemed a fair trade. The first night, I slept like a baby. A baby, that is, with a two-carat diamond on her finger, surrounded by thieves.

The nights at the Women’s Shelter were the easy part. The days were tougher. You can’t trust anyone in these non-profit places, they all want something, even the people who work there. I was one of the only women there without a child. That made sense to me. If you don’t have to worry about potentially losing your baby to the government, why would you leave an abusive husband in an otherwise cushy situation?

During my second day at the Shelter, I met Carlita. She was a young Puerto Rican woman with a three-year old son who never left her side. I was washing my face in the large, impersonal bathroom, when she approached me.

“Where’s your child?” I felt her voice wrap around me in a strange accusation.

“I don’t have one.”

“What the fuck you doin’ here, then?”

I did a half-assed rinsing job of my cheeks and chin, and turned to face her. She was taller than I, her hair twisted back into a loose, black bun. She was at the Shelter when I arrived, and I saw her when I came in, sitting on a bench, carefully applying bright streaks of hot pink blush to her dark, bony cheeks. Her son had been sitting next to her, singing to himself. When I smiled at him, she had noticed, and said something in Spanish. Something not so nice, I imagined.

“My husband cut my thumb off.”

I had watched Carlita giving me dirty looks the day before, as I’d sat in any clean place I could find, smoking.

The next morning, when I told her what Bart had done, she seemed amazed.

“No shit? Can I see?”

Leaning against the sink, I held up my bandaged right hand. She touched my other fingers very gently, and looked at the bandage job as though it were a rare and beautiful Conch shell.

“Damn, mami. That’s fucked up.”

I nodded, but before I could say anything, Carlita’s son came running into the bathroom. Wearing only a shirt, his little boy penis was flailing. He stood between his mother’s legs and stared up at me with a gappy grin. he hid his eyes behind Carlita’s leg and peeked out at me, giggling frantically.

“Danilo don’t like nobody, but it looks like he likes you. I’m Carlita.”

“Amelia,” I replied, extending my left hand to shake hers. Carlita noticed the ring before I could pull away.

“Holy SHIT!” she exclaimed, and a few women in the bathroom turned around. I yanked my hand out of her grip and shoved it in my pocket. It seemed that everyone in the room was watching me, including Carlita. I began to panic. Grabbing some paper towels, I turned from my new friend and quickly walked outside. I was only a block or two away when I heard,

“Amy! Amy! Amy, wait girl!”

I turned around and saw Carlita running towards me, holding her son in one arm, while pulling his little pants up with the other. I was scared, and I sped up my pace. When I got to the corner, the cars were moving, and I hesitated long enough for Carlita to catch up with me.

“Amy,” she said, panting.


“Amelia, look, girl, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to freak you out.”

I glanced from Carlita to the streetlight, and as soon as the latter read “Walk,” I started to cross the street. Carlita grabbed my arm and yanked me back to the sidewalk. I could have pulled away and made it across to the other side. But I looked at her, and something about her eyes entreated me to stay.

“Look, I ain’t gonna steal your ring. There are a lot of bitches in that place,” she pointed over her shoulder, “who would. But I ain’t one of ‘em.”

“What happened to you?” I asked, freeing my elbow from her grasp.

She shrugged, shifting Danilo from one arm to the other. “Enrique likes to slap me around. I’ve been in and out of that Shelter for months now, stayin’ there for days at a time, goin’ home, comin’ back, goin’ home again. A couple of days ago, Enrique held a kitchen knife to my throat and called me a ‘stupid whore.’ So, I left again.”

She paused and stared at the city skyline. “Hands and fists are one thing. But when you start pullin’ knives an’ shit, you ain’t gonna see your son no more, you feel me?”

I nodded. Even though Bart and I never had any children in five years of marriage, I could understand what Carlita meant. I, too, had been a victim of slaps and punches. I had even been pregnant once. I had wanted to keep the baby, but Bart wanted me to have an abortion. When I refused, he punched me in the stomach. I miscarried two days later.

“Why your man chop off your finger?”

I looked at my stump. “I didn’t want to give him a handjob, and he got pissed, so…”

This was a lie, but Carlita laughed anyway.

“Come on, girl. Let’s go back to the Shelter. I gotta grab some more free diapers for my little papi.”

I reluctantly followed her back up the street. I had only been gone for five, maybe ten minutes, but there was already a pretty good chance that my small bag of a few clothes and underwear was already gone.

I went to the cot where I’d been sleeping, and sure enough, no bag. I sat on the edge of the thin, frail mattress, and tried not to cry. My efforts were in vain, however, and the tears began to stream down my cheeks in silent sobs.

“Your stuff gone?”

I looked up, and a woman was standing over me, her hands on her hips. I nodded slowly. She shook her head.
“Yep, that’s why they all go back. Stuff gets stolen, gotta go home, man is there, the cycle starts again.”

I ran my hands through my hair and sighed. There was no way I was ever going back to that apartment, to Bartholomew, to his stupid football fanaticism, to his foolish material possessions, all of which he loved better than he loved me.

“Is that your real hair color?” the woman before me asked. She was still standing with her hands on her hips, staring at my blonde hair the same way Carlita had stared at my ring.

“It’s really beautiful,” she said before I could answer her, and sat down next to me on the cot. She placed a cold hand on my leg, and I looked at it. A chill swept through me.

“How long you been here?”

“Two days,” I groaned, not quite believing it. I had been so eager to get out of the apartment, that I had just thrown some shit in a bag (now stolen!) and ran out the door. I had gone to the hospital, had them bandage my hand, and had asked one of the nurses where the nearest Women’s Shelter was. That seemed like weeks ago, but it hadn’t even been 24 hours. The hand of the woman sitting next to me was slowly creeping up my thigh. I looked at her.

“It doesn’t take long to get lonely, you know,” she said, her bloodshot eyes glistening. I snapped into reality.

“What the fuck?” I yelled, and at that moment, Carlita appeared out of nowhere.

“Fay, you get off that girl before I have Danilo shit on your face again.”

“Whore,” Fay whispered, as she stood and walked past Carlita. She glanced back at me. “Now you know my name, if you need me,” and she winked. Carlita sat in the dent on the cot that had been made by Fay’s ass. Her son sat on her lap and pulled at the loose hairs hanging out of his mother’s bun.

“You ever been to jail?” she asked me. I shook my head no. Carlita ran her finger slowly over Danilo’s ear. “Thank Jesus for that, Amelia.” She suddenly became very serious. “Jail is a fuckin’ ugly-ass place. And there are women like that everywhere. ‘Cept in jail, you can’t go no place. You’re fuckin’ stuck."

Danilo began to cry. Carlita pulled up one side of her shirt and held her left breast out to her son. He began to suckle, and Carlita winced.

“You still breast feed him?” I asked, staring shamelessly at her enormous tits. She squeezed her breast and sucked air in through her teeth in pain.

“Well, at home he eats normal. But here, I ain’t gonna give this slop to my little papi. No way, man.”

“Do you even have any milk?”

She looked down at Danilo, who was sucking frantically and staring up at her with tear-filled, pleading eyes. She shook her head. “Not really.”

“Well, that’s no good, Carlita.”

She stared at me and laughed in a shocking burst that made me jump. “You got a better idea, mami?”

I pried Danilo off of his mother’s breast and held him while he wailed. “Come on,” I said.

“Come on where?”

I stood up and started walking to the door. “Grab your shit and let’s go.”

She had to follow me. I had her only prized possession.

Mona LaVigne is a writer from NYC.

Indie Film Review: February

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2003

Here's my February indie film review... of some of the flicks I watched late night the last couple of weeks.

Igby Goes Down

Igby Goes Down (2002) was a witty and well-written script by writer/director Burr Steers. Susan Sarandon did a sensational job as the overbearing, impossible to please mother Mimi, as did Keiran Culkin as her delinquent, slacking son, Igby, who manages to get thrown out of every prep school in the East Coast. I guess I’d say this film is sort of like Catcher in the Rye super-imposed over American Beauty, as far as the societal and family themes that are underlined in this film. Someone tried to tell me it’s a post-modern version of Catcher in the Rye. I’d say that is partly true. Igby admits, “I’m drowning in assholes,” a line I felt I understood completely (at more than one time in my life), and his astute understanding of “old money” and the hypocrisy of his appalling family members and their affluent friends is reminiscent of Holden Caufield’s decent into insanity, as he slips away from that inner circle of decadence and drifts into the pseudo-bohemian life of New York City. The characters are all slightly unique from a bi-sexual, performance artist, drug dealer named Russel (Jared Harris) to Igby’s Republican, neo-fascist brother Ollie (Ryan Phillippe), to his parody of a Godfather (Jeff Goldblum) and his sexy-junkie mistress (Amanda Peet) to a bored, eccentric, rich girl from the Upper East Side named Sookie (Claire Danes). One of the stranger scenes in the film involves a cameo from Cynthia Nixon (Sex in the City). It’s a sad flick for sure, but made me laugh. I would have casted some of the roles differently, but the gloomy, dark, realness of the script is why it’s one of the better screenplays written in the last few years.

Business of Strangers

Business of Strangers (2001) was a unique film written and directed by Patrick Stettner. Very few films center around lead roles for 40 something actresses, and this story was centered around the life of a successful business woman in a male dominated industry. Stockard Channing plays Julie Styron a big shot exec who fires her new assistant Paula (Julia Stiles) for being late to an important meeting. She later finds out she’s promoted to CEO, and stuck in an airport hotel with no one to celebrate until she finds Paula who is also stranded. The smooth things over and begin to party, eventually getting to know one another, in several one-on-one scenes, which both actresses handled splendidly. When Paula spots a date-rapist that she went to school with, the film takes a turn, and the women plot to get revenge on the guy, and the tension escalates and the final scenes reveal a more honest depiction of how these women really are.

No Such Thing

No Such Thing (2002) is a Hal Hartley film. I admire Hal Hartley as a writer and director. He ignores trends and makes his films exactly the way he wants to. But his works are an acquired taste. Perhaps because we were all raised in the glowing arms of Hollywood studio cinema, it’s hard to adjust to different forms of film making, and you really need to see some other of his films first, like Surviving Desire (1991), Trust (1990), and The Unbelievable Truth (1989), before you see his most recent release. Any sampling of his previous films will give you a better sense of how his characters all have a certain ambiguous and distant quality to them. Critics and first time viewers often walk away thinking that what they saw was bad acting, but on the contrary, the actors did their jobs exactly as Hartley wrote them.

This film was also set mostly in Iceland, which gives it a surreal, futuristic feel and rhythm to it. Sara Polley plays Beatrice an up and coming reporter who goes to Iceland to investigate the disappearance of a film crew, one of which happened to be her fiancée. Helen Mirren did a kick ass job as the Boss, a cold blooded, sensationalized story seeking TV exec. When Beatrice gets to Iceland, she is confronted with a monster (Robert John Burke), whom after centuries has grown tired of human evolution and had decided to kill everyone that chose to disturb him. She forges an unexpected friendship with the monster and agrees to help him kill himself if he agrees to come back to New York and be interviewed.

La Fille Seule (A Single Girl)

La Fille Seule (1995) is a French film staring Virginie Ledoyen (she was the French chick in the Leo flick The Beach), and written and directed by Benoit Jacquot. This film is shot in real time. Virginie Ledoyen plays a young woman whom we learn is pregnant and in the process of breaking up with boyfriend in the opening scene. Meanwhile, she begins her new job as room service waitress at a hotel in Paris. We follow her around, again in real time, as she works. When she walks to the hotel through the streets of Paris, we follow her for three blocks. As she walks down a hallway, we follow her. When she gets in an elevator, we are with her for every second. This film has a voyeuristic quality to it, as we never leave her alone with her thoughts. Her co-workers are odd, strange, mean, sex-starved, and cynical and her somber and rude customers are even stranger. I assume that during the times she walks down long corridors in this hotel dropping off breakfast, we are supposed to be thinking about how this will be her everyday routine, until she gives birth to her child, and then afterwards, perhaps the rest of her life, she will be doing this as her job in society, an empty, sad existence, to raise and support her baby by herself. It’s slightly morose, yet thought provoking none the less. The French try to attain reality in films shot during real time instead of what American TV has been doing the last few years. This gives you a more genuine feel of what it’s like to follow someone around for ninety minutes, in the middle of one of the more dramatic moments of their life.

Where the Buffalo Roam

This 1980 film opens with the graphic: Based on the Twisted Life of Hunter S. Thompson. It’s a loosely based film, directed by Art Linson, on some of Hunter’s early writings, not to be confused with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (starring Johnny Depp as Hunter and directed by Terry Gilliam). In Where the Buffalo Roam, Bill Murray plays the gun toting, drug and booze guzzling journalist as we follow him and his attorney Lazlo (Peter Boyle playing the real life friend of Hunter’s, Oscar Zeta Acosta). Murray is more Bill Murray than Hunter Thompson (versus the accurate portrayal by Depp in Fear and Loathing) but he has his moments for sure. The film jumps around from San Francisco in 1968, where Lazlo is defending hippies busted for illegal searches and seizures to the Super Bowl in 1972, where Hunter is supposed to be covering the Big Game for Blast magazine and their annoying editor (Bruno Kirby). In reality, Hunter wrote articles for Rolling Stone, and was notorious for turning in articles months late after getting hefty advances and running up extraordinary hotel room service and bar bills, often disappearing for months at a time. Hunter then gets tapped to cover the 1972 election and some stories are pulled right out of his novel Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail 1972, when he covered the presidential election between McGovern and Nixon. Many political pundits almost reluctantly admitted that his book was one of the best and most truthful attempts about American politics ever written. I actually read that book first in a Political Science class at Emory, before I delved into his more visceral writings. Hunter’s zany, and questionable hijinks include dosing a Washington Post columnist on the Zoo Plane (Hunter was kicked off the journalists plane and banished to the Zoo Plane which jetted the media, TV & film crew-mostly hippies, beatniks, and long hairs, from each campaign stop) to cornering Nixon in a bathroom to give a rambling speech on the “doomed” in America in 1972, the lonely, confused people who genuinely felt the world was going to come apart. And there, without any sympathy, pulling up his zipper, Nixon turned to Hunter and uttered, “Fuck the doomed.”

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

The Viennese Waltz

By Armando Huerta © 2003

I often go to Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava, on business; averaging about two visits a year. As the Bratislava airport possesses the size and structural stability of a roadside hotdog stand, I generally prefer to fly directly into nearby Vienna. Call me silly, but flying into Prague and then switching onto a Czech Airlines propeller jet that sways in the air like a drunken stevedore on payday is just not that appealing. I mean, honestly… the luggage belt at Bratislava International Airport consists of a luggage cart being thrust through plastic flaps into the "baggage area" and passengers crowding around and tearing to get at their suitcases like stray dogs on a gristly bone.

Vienna is an entirely different story. While not that pretty of an airport it’s efficient, and more importantly, services Vienna which is easily one of the most beautiful capitals in Europe. True, the Austro-Hungarian Empire is responsible for the Gabor sisters, but they did balance it out with impressive architecture and grand boulevards. One only has to stroll around the Ringstrasse (boulevard that circles the old part of the city) to remind yourself that Zsa Zsa Gabor was actually born in the Hungarian part of the empire and that you shouldn’t hold that against Austria in its present day. The buildings have iron eagles sailing out from every corner and are gargantuan compared to those in other capitals, super-sized like the McDonalds fries favored by porcine American youth.

On my first visit there I was lucky enough to finagle a room in the Imperial Hotel at a daily rate that didn’t make my company’s accountant gasp for breath when verifying my expenses. The Imperial is without a doubt one of the most stellar grand hotels in the world. It sits in a prime location on the aforementioned Ringstrasse, presiding over old Vienna like a filthy rich dowager covered in pearls at a family gathering. Built by the Emperor at the end of the last century, it’s a yellow fortress of marble and impeccable taste. My room was the smallest on the floor (I always check the fire escape plan on the back of the door to see the size of my room compared to others… yes, I have size issues) yet still had a walk-in cedar closet with drawers and a dressing table, a chandelier in the main room and blue silk wallpaper soaring up to the tray ceiling. While I don’t relish eating veal because of the images of bleating baby calves that permeate my mind, I must say that their room service weiner schnitzel is easily the best I ever had the pleasure of tucking into.

Alas, I could not stay forever in Vienna, or the Imperial, so I hired a car to take me to Bratislava the next morning. As I sailed down an Austrian highway in a chauffer driven black Mercedes towards Slovakia we passed by small villages and lush rolling hills whose vivid green mesmerized me. That all changed the minute we approached the Danube and border control on the other side. The first thing you notice are the factory towers belching out smoke like a scene from Blade Runner and the gray haze hovering on the other side. As you approach, the decay and Soviet inspired design (or lack thereof) become even more apparent. To go from Vienna and the Austrian countryside towards Slovakia is to truly appreciate the differences that laid between Western and Eastern Europe. It becomes a journey through time, political ideology and wealth.

Armando Huerta is a writer from Greece.


By Tenzin McGrupp © 2003

The disgruntled taxpayers moaned and whined at their local representative in a town hall meeting, where dozens upon dozens of the county’s struggling farmers were being screwed over by the suits in Washington. Their farmland property values have now been re-evaluated, and re-assessed, and they have to fork over almost twice as many dollars each year to the junkies in DC. The locals were in a bind. The state’s growing unemployment and slumping economy, which had destroyed a small, yet gleefully boisterous people, had nearly all but suffocated the life out of the sincere collective of peanut farmers and strawberry growers.

But then they arranged a clandestine meeting just outside old man Frankford’s spread near the Snatchahoee River, at the insistence of the good Reverend Earl “Sunshine” Higglesby. Their plan was simple: marijuana cultivation. And with the help of three individuals, outsiders and strangers, they all carefully agreed to start growing.

Within the first six months the local farmers, had found a groove as marijuana growers. Their mentors, a young group of entrepreneuring, goatee wearing chaps from Calgary, who learned the cash crop trade near the outer Islands off of Vancouver, British Columbia, had been looking for an opportunity to set up shop in middle America, a weed franchise if you will. The agreed to show the farmers what to do, in exchange for part of the profits. The towns people didn’t think twice and quickly heeded Revered Sunshine’s advice to do what’s best for God’s children, and grow high grade strains of British Columbia’s finest first generation cloned Purple Kush.

Every family that owned a farm was growing, and the cash was divided equally among every resident of the county. Some of it was pay off money, but most of it was welcomed by all. A new church got built, and their schools were finally able to buy textbooks, which was desperately needed, because they had sold most of them on e-bay to a collector of vintage MacGraw Hill history books from the 1950s.

But now the government got wind of their pot scheme and wanted a cut, before they hauled them all away, using men in black ski masks and locking them up in concrete cells with terror suspects. The locals had to vote whether or not to pay their new taxes, or tell their government to, “Fuck off.” The Reverend Sunshine began the meeting with a prayer, followed by a sad story, about a man, his dog, and a loaded pistol.

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

What a Long Strange Trip it's Been...

From the Editor's Laptop:

Hey, it's the 9th issue of Truckin'! 2003 is underway, and I'm pleased with the new direction that Truckin' is headed!

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