Monday, August 25, 2008

It Beats a Newfound Flame

"Don't work on Thursday night. We're going to a baseball game."

"Really?" Her dark eyes light up as she flashes a huge, gorgeous smile.

"Yea. I'll be able to explain it better if you actually see it."

She's Brazilian, so baseball to her is as foreign as soccer is to me.

"Hmm... what do I wear there?"

She starts defending herself almost instantly as I role my eyes.

"C'mon! I'm a girl. I have to know these things," she says.

I think for second.

"Well, in America, it's customary for women to go to baseball games topless."

She looks at me, her mouth agape in a half smile.

"I'm serious," I say. "I don't make these rules. It's just how things are here. Like how we use that American-standard measurement thing instead of the metric system. We're just born into it."

"Yes, well I guess I will be the only one that breaks that custom."

"Fine. Go ahead and do that. As long as your fine with standing out really badly and possibly being very uncomfortable."

She laughs at me, and it's her turn to roll her eyes. She already knows to never take anything I say seriously.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Early Sunday Mornings

Mine has long blonde hair. Beauty evades her only because of the hardened authoritarian look in her eye; a cold anger that smart strippers have.

I never know what to say to them. Some guys talk to them like they're just another girl at the bar. I'm never quite sure how they do this.

- Yes, yes, I'm here from Belarus.

- Oh really? For school? A semester away? Parents sent you to experience a new foreign country through your young eyes before you settle into your corporate life?

- No, silly! I'm here to rub my tits in nameless American faces and give handjobs in the backroom.

- Ho, ho! Of course! What was I thinking? Apologies dear.

-But of course.

It's ridiculous really.

A blonde stripper with a huge beak and straight hair decides my thighs look like a great home for her ass. I'm not going to argue, but I always feel a bit bad when the ugly ones come by. I'll hit on an ugly girl at a bar for drunkeness and wingman-isms, but I will not PAY an ugly girl to dance for me. It goes against everything America stands for. She eventually asks me if I want a dance, and I shoot her down. They always get so damn angry when you do this.

After ten minutes, another one sidles up close to me. This is my hard-eyed girl with a body that I can't take my eyes off of. She turns her head to me, says something.

Who knows what she said. How do I reply?

"So... uh... where you... from... honey?" I ask.

I always throw "honey" in there because I'm drunk and thinking I'm smooth and it sounds good. (That's right. I'm smooth.)

She says something, mentions the Ukraine or Belarus. Immediately I think of that Russian war , and I wonder how far the countries are apart. Does she have family near there?

"Ah...they got a war goin on-" and I cut myself off.

"Vhat?" she asks.

"Nothing. Forget it. Give me a lap dance."

"You vant lap dance?"

"Yea. Let's go," I say, getting off the bar stool. 20 bucks left in my pocket on a Saturday night to blow, and it may as well be on her.

"You vant go in bak room? It's 120 vor an houver and-"

I can only roll my eyes. "No. That's not what I asked for. Let's go."

Even when you're actually paying women for their company (or their breasts), they still try to dog you out of more money.

She gives me a phenomenal lap dance, pushing her breasts in my face, then going straight down between my legs. She looks up and into my eyes, like the girls who give the best blowjobs do.

- You know, I used to feel sorry for strippers. For ones like you. I used to think you had nothing to do with what happens in these places.

- No you didn't. You said that to yourself because you were a stupid white kid from the suburbs who never felt comfortable in these places. Now you feel comfortable, so now you hate us, just like the rest of them.

-That isn't true. I felt bad. I hated coming here. I hated these places. I still do.

- Yes. But you come. And you demand lap dances. And you don't care. Because you have learned that we are vultures. We will come and take your money, and if you're one of the unfortunate souls who women disdain, we will rob you blind and leave you naked and duct taped in the gutter. You have learned to take from us, because we will take from you. The only difference is that you still think about it.

Her knee rubs against me, breasts back in my face before she goes back down and looks up again.

- It's a cruel world.

- You have no idea.

She finishes seconds after the song dies, and I stumble back to the barstool. It will be another half hour before my friend gets out of the backroom with red eyes and lighter pockets.

"She gave me her number," he says.

"Burn it."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Breaks My Heart

A man should never have to go through this...


A promising professional boxer and three-time Daily News Golden Gloves champion was shot to death early Saturday after getting into a fight at a Bronx bodega, police said.

Ronney (Venezuela) Vargas, 20, a junior middleweight who turned professional last year, was pistol-whipped and then shot in the chest in his car in East Tremont.

Vargas' death comes just as the Bronx native's undefeated professional career was taking off, making him one of the city's hottest boxing prospects.

"He had a future," said his distraught father, German Vargas, 52. "They didn't just kill a boxer, they killed a champ."

Police said Vargas and five friends got into a beef with two couples at the 2001 Delicatessen on Clinton Ave. about 3:30 a.m.

A police source said the men became enraged after they noticed Vargas chatting with their girlfriends.

"It was a dispute over some females," the police source said. "He talked to the wrong girls, and the boyfriend didn't like it. It was senseless. Stupid."

The dispute so enraged the men that when Vargas and his buddies drove off in a Honda Accord, they followed close behind in a white car.

Several blocks away, on Hughes Ave., the suspects pulled up and blocked Vargas' car.

Then a man came to Vargas' driver-side window and pistol-whipped him before shooting him in the chest.

Cops said Vargas tried to drive off backward, sideswiping several cars before he got out of the vehicle and collapsed in the street.

"His friend got on his knees and held him in his arms, like a mother rocks a baby," said a woman who watched the shooting from her apartment window. "He said, 'Don't die on me.'"

Vargas was pronounced dead at St. Barnabas Hospital. Police haven't made an arrest.

A dramatic surveillance video obtained by The News shows the scene of the shooting, including Vargas' car careening backward and his friends frantically calling for help afterward.

The victim's older brother, Ronald Vargas, 24, suspects the boxer's good looks and rising profile contributed to his murder.

"He was famous in the neighborhood," the brother said. "They called him 'Venezuela.' He was good-looking. He was on his way up."

Vargas, who trained at the Webster Police Athletic League in the Bronx, made his professional debut in 2007 after earning Golden Gloves titles in 2005, 2006 and 2007. He had a stellar 8-0 record with six knockouts since turning pro.

"He was a good kid. You don't believe it's real," said Michael O'Connor, who worked with Vargas at the Webster PAL.

He lived with his father and two brothers in the South Bronx.

"I love my block," Vargas said during an interview in January. "I love the people around here. Everyone knows each other, so it's hard for me to move out and start my life somewhere else."

Sunday, August 03, 2008


There are people sitting on folding chairs in a half-circle around an old stone fireplace that is the last remnants of a house that stood here during the Civil War. The fire gently paints the stone with its orange light, as the fireflies do drunken dances through the cool, humid air. I sip on whiskey-laced coffee as friends throw cupfuls gasoline into the fire, enraging it but for moments before the night swallows it again. These summer nights are tearing by.

The other night I was at Giants Stadium for the Springsteen concert, another defining moment of my life to be sure. He sang with flair and fury, with the urgent beauty that only passionate men can create. When he ended, he sang to us the three songs that he knows are for New Jersey, and Jersey alone.

As the crowd howled the lyrics to "Jersey Girl" under the view of the peaks of the massive cranes that are building the next Giants Stadium and young couples made out by the cavernous lights that steal the darkness from us, all I could think of was that I wish she was here, and that oh, amigos, life is beautiful... fleetingly so, but beautiful nonetheless...