Tuesday, September 30, 2014

This post is a few hours early but I will be busy tomorrow.

Tom Lewis is dead. I just heard he died last year at 65 a couple months before retirement. He wanted to get a sailboat and sail the Caribbean. 
Now he can't.

Bill Michaels just stroked out and left his dream of taking a Winnebago all over the country in the crap can. He can't live his dream anymore because his health crapped out.

Tom and Janie Sanchez just bagged their plan of opening a bed and breakfast in New Hampshire by the wayside because Janie got sick.

Bob and Gail Wellington just sold their business and got a whole lot less than they thought they should have. So much for their retirement plans of going on a couple cruises a year.

My friend Dick has a heart condition and seems to have lost interest in his dream of camping and canoeing in Minnesota. 

Another soon to retire coworker has confessed he seems to have lost a lot of his drive and isn't going to take up fly fishing like he always swore he would do when he retired.

Fred and Lois are screwed. Their daughter was born with brain damage and likely will be living with them until they die. It's sad but those are the cards they were dealt.

Laurel and Hardy (Frank Hardy married a woman named Laurel so the nickname for them is a slam dunk) just took a pretty good hit. 
He retired last year but got cold feet. He doesn't see a good economy in the future so he returned to work as a consultant. He doesn't see retiring for several more years. His plans are on hold.

Personally, I don't see retirement as a viable option. I forsee getting my savings stolen from me by inflation and having to work for as long as I can.

What I have that nobody but Alzheimer's can take away from me is that I can look back and remember the neat things I did in my 20s and 30s.

The fishing, sailing, tipi dwelling, the traveling all over hell, my hitch in the army and general hell raising are very fond memories. I did this when I was young and healthy and could. Sixty-three is a little old to go fishing in the Bering Sea or wintering in the Rockies. (It is also too old to run like hell from someone chasing me!) 

The truth is that when I started my career and present lifestyle just shy of forty I managed to do well and get the house paid off in record time. I daresay I had the place paid off before some of my peers that had 25 or 30 year notes. If you want to call it 'catching up'--and I wonder catching up to what-- I did it in about 7 or 8 years.

As I see it unless I had managed to go into investment banking and make a gazillion bucks I would not be able to retire anyway with the future economic situation. I have little faith in our constantly increasing  national debt. The older I get the more I am convinced that I did it right.

I'm damned glad that I ate dessert first.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

I just mooshed a pimple

 that I saw and did it right. After the damned thing popped I kept squeezing until the clear liquid passed and fresh blood ran then held direct pressure on it for about a half-minute and called it good. In a few days it will disappear.

This isn't anything new or different to me or anybody else. Stuff like this happens to everyone at times. Race, religion, color or anything along those lines has nothing to do with.  It is just something that goes along with being human.

The rich and powerful have the same things happen to them and I suppose the only difference is that the rich may hire some big shot dermatologist to squeeze the pimple for them. Afterwards the dermatologist fills the crater in with Bondo and sands it down and paints it or does whatever dermatologists do. Then the rich guy pays the bill and winds up just as well or poorly off as the guy that just mooshed his own pimple.

One of the things I have found out is that there are things that happen to all of us no matter who we are we have to deal with them. 

Years ago I stopped looking in the mirror to look into my own eyes to try in a feeble and lame attempt to see my soul. Now every so often I look into the mirror to see if there is another pimple on my nose.

Ever since I started doing that I have been a lot better off.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Monday, September 29, 2014

Here's a post dedicated to an Old School Real Live Yankee Lobsterman

 I went to school with. He was a pretty good student and successful in high school and he decided to be a fisherman.

I hadn't seen him in years and we met recently but I heard he was fishing lobsters for a living many years ago from a mutual friend.

I guess he spent a couple years in college but decided he didn't want to wind up another Dilbert in a cubicle so he chose between the family business of demolition or fishing and fishing won out. I can't say as I blame him.

Then again demolition sounds right up my alley. I probably would have taken that kind of a business to new levels by learning to blow stuff up. Imploding buildings seems pretty neat to me. Why use a ball on a crane when you can use det cord and TNT?

He's had his own boat for decades and it is his business and he goes out just about every day that the weather will let him.

Lobstering is basically hard work and to a point inherently dangerous. You go out every day and eventually SOMETHING life and death is going to happen that you didn't see coming and you have to deal with it.

One thing that hasn't changed since my boyhood is that weathermen can be wrong more than half the time and still keep their jobs. While weather prediction has certainly gotten better it is still far from perfect.

The weather in New England is constantly changing and for a fisherman that can be either a good or very, very bad thing. The sea can go from calm to a lump in a New York minute with little or no warning.

I'll bet that there are some changes since I pulled lobster pots as a kid with a couple guys from Damon's Point.

The hull shape is very likely the same or close to it but the materiels are different. Gone are the old wood hulls. They have been replaced with fiberglass and most of them now sport diesel engines instead of the old gas jobs I remember.

Electronics have changes, too. Back in the day the only electronics most guys had was a newfangled transistor radio so they could listen to the Red Sox games on WBZ or WHDH.

Now they sport Marine VHFs, GPS navigation, depth sounders possibly weather faxes. Some probably have a lot more than that.

One thing I'd bet hasn't changed much is the basic gear for pulling pots consisting of a block on a davit and a gypsy head. It's likely still that dead simple. The pots are different these days, though. They used to be made of oak. Now they're vinal covered steel wire.

I'm going to be in his area soon and hope I can drop by and check his boat out.

Of course, the business he is in is a true business where he is paid for what he catches. I figure he's probably pretty good at catching lobsters because if he wasn't he'd have gone broke long ago and doing something else.

One of the things he shares with cab drivers, waitresses, day laborers and strippers is that he generally gets paid daily or fairly close to daily. When he gets in he takes his catch to the fish pound and settles up.

You have to be disciplined to get paid like that. It's too easy to let a day's pay slip through your hands regularly because you think you can just make another day's pay tomorrow. In reality it doesn't work that way.

You have to be disciplined.

I drove cab for a while and was paid daily. I used to put my day's pay in an old coffee can and bank it every week or so I'd have money for rent, utilities and other things. I saw how it could be too easy to let it slip from my fingers at the bar or other dens of iniquity. A lobsterman has to be the same way.

Back when I was a kid I knew a couple of old Yankee lobstermen and both of them were real characters. One was a WW1 vet that had gone Over There to France as a private and returned as a captain having gone over the top with Black Jack Pershing.

He had been in college for a divinity degree but after the war he went back and changed his major.

Frankly I think he majored in profanity and drinking as he was often half in the bag when I saw him but I digress. Somewhere along the line he fell into lobstering and it agreed with him.

He was a character and about the only adult I called by his first name unless I was in front of my parents. I'd call him Charlie because he told me to and in front of my folks he was Mr. Wendell.

Sadly, the guy I went to school with isn't a drunk or even remotely as colorful and profane as the old guy I knew as a kid. It's a shame he isn't. In this day and age we could probably use a little more local color. I suppose in this day and age they'd throw him in jail if he got drunk and sang dirty songs.

Then again, if I remember, Charlie Wendell was no stranger to a jail cell but I digress.

 Still, profanity and drunkeness aside, I would imagine they are kindred spirits. Lobstermen seem to like the independence of fishing and being their own bosses.

I hope to see him soon and I'm posting this, printing it and sending it to him as a head's up that I'm headed his way shortly. I am bringing a bottle of Jameson's to try and civilize him a bit because I think he's a Jack Daniels guy.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Trying to keep up with my posts on a netbook, notebook, whatever the hell you call the damned thing is a pain in the neck.

I just looked it up. It’s a netbook and the problem I have with it is that both the keyboard is smaller than I am used to and I have not figured out how to deaden the touchpad which I keep hitting with my thumb. I also have to disable the caps lock key.

Still, until I can get the combat laptop replaced it is going to be a whole lot better than nothing.
I was actually thinking of getting a tablet of some sort with an external keyboard but I don’t think that’s a good idea unless I can find a full sized external keyboard.
Right now there are other problems to deal with in keeping my posts on line on a daily basis. The WiFi I have been using is going to dry up soon and I’m going to have to get some kind of wireless modem.
As I have posted earlier I am a Luddite as far as cutting edge technology goes. I’ll admit that it is odd for a guy that is a licensed ham operator. Most hams are technology guys. I’m not.
Still, there is a way I can get it together and keep things up and running. I’ll just have to get an IT guy or someone to teach me and show me my options. I have faith.
I do have another combat laptop coming but I can see the end of those being a viable option as the technology keeps getting dated daily. Things in the internet seem to work pretty fast. It seems like a week ago I got my first computer.
Anyway, we’ll see how things pan out.
If push comes to shove and I have to I will simply write my daily post wherever I am and post it when I can get to a WiFi spot or someplace I can get on line.
We’ll see.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Yes. I am a Luddite. So what?

One of the guys I work with walked in on me as I was set up in an airport a while back and laughed and called me a Luddite.

Walmart cell phone, clunky old laptop and sitting on the floor, I was dug in writing another post while waiting for an airplane to show up and whisk me away to a faraway place.

I suppose he was right. I imagine I could have used a smart phone and a tablet but what I was using worked (and still works) for me. It’s really all I ask for.

I suppose in a way I am pretty primitive by today’s standards but I still get the job done.

Truth is it’s easier to write on a full sized laptop than one of the newer tablets and I’m used to it. The only thing I use my phone for is to make calls and an occasional text. The Wally World unit works for me and $30 a month is a pretty good deal. It keeps things simple.

It works for me.
Call me what you will, I’m basically happy even though I am probably a Luddite. Leave me the hell alone. I’m not bothering you.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Men, we sail on the morning tide!

has been my answer to scheduling departures for a long time now.

Now, the morning tide may not come until, say, 2330 but it’s still the morning tide. I generally call it the 2330 morning tide.

Newbies always ask why I call the morning tide the morning tide if it’s 1600 and I tell them that you have to call it something. I sometimes call it the 1600 (or whatever time we’re sailing) morning tide.

“Men, we sail on the 1600 morning tide!”

I figure that the pirates in the movies always sail on the morning tide and if it’s good enough for Errol Flynn and Johnny Depp it’s good enough for the rest of us.

I always wonder what it was like to sail a galleon all hung over and sick because generally the word is given to the crew when they are in some tavern somewhere bombed out of their minds and groping the waitresses that work there.

Of course, in the next scene you see the crew bright-eyed and bushy-tailed heaving anchor while cheerfully singing a sea chantey of some sort.

I’ve done that a couple of times over the years. I’d be hauling in deck lines when we sailed cheerfully singing a sea chanty about whores, rum, sodomy or the lash and left the crew either laughing or shaking their heads. The all-time hit single of time all time seems to be ‘The Good Ship Venus’.

I would imagine the truth back when really involved groans, curses and puking but that’s not what Hollywood wants us to see.

Pirates are supposed to be happy people.

Still, I generally sail on the morning tide no matter what time of day it comes.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Friday, September 26, 2014

Alaska drew all sorts of people.

You never knew who would show up next.

I think Kodiak had a reputation of being a pretty accepting place because there were open gays there in the late 70s and early 80s and they were, for the most part, left alone. I say open in that they neither advertised it nor did they hide it.

While they were not still in the closet they didn’t put their sexuality on parade. They simply went about their business like everybody else.

Every now and then someone would take exception to one of the gay guys and get a little snotty. A couple people tried to do a little gay bashing and found out that just because someone is gay doesn’t mean they can’t fight.

One night three guys tried to rat-pack the biggest gay guy in the bar. They achieved an astounding lack of success when their intended victim simply picked up the chief tormenter and THREW him at the other two leaving a pile of three terrified young men in a heap on the floor.

It was the first of only two times I have seen a human being pick up another human being and casually use him as a weapon against other human beings.

When the victor sat down at the bar a couple stools down from me I leaned over and said dryly, “Not bad for a fairy.” The whole bar busted up, including the gay guy.

The chief tormentor later came up to me asking for sympathy. I simply asked him if he had learned to leave people alone. I had no sympathy for anyone that went looking for trouble.

By the beginning of the mid 80s I guess transgender surgery was beginning to get successful and I remember at least three people that had been transgendered or were in the process of it.

One was actually an MD that took care of me once. She did a good job and I had faith in her. I think she was pretty competent and that’s all I ask of a doctor. Their sex and sex life is their own business.

Afterwards someone asked me if it would bother me having her give me a short-arm inspection. “Why would that bother me?” I replied. “Hell, besides seeing a lot more of them than mine, she even used to have one of her own.”

There was also another transgendered person that arrived there for a while partway through the surgical process. She got a job there and became a part of the community. She left town for a while and had the rest of the process completed and returned.

She became a fairly well respected part of the community.

To tell you the truth, out of the three transgendered women I can remember, two of them would have been pretty effeminate looking guys had they stayed that way. The third one looked like a handsome woman.

I gotta admit the plastic surgery doctors know what they are doing.

What is interesting to note is the guys generally accepted them and left it at that. A few women were catty about them. One woman named Cathy after a couple of drinks made a catty remark to Alexis (not her real name). I was sitting there. I looked at Alexis and simply said, “Ever notice the women that take offense to you are the ones nobody wants to screw, anyway?”

A couple beer drinkers snarfed and the place went silent in anticipation of the impending horror show. My pal Blaine spoke up. “Piccolo’s right,” he said. “If a few of you would take heed at the way Alexis takes care of herself you’d be a whole lot better off. So would I. I’m tired of looking at your sorry raggedy asses.”

She started to reply and Blaine looked at the bartender. “How many beers have I had?” he asked.

“Four,” answered the bartender from across the bar.

Blaine looked over Cathy.

“Five more and you’ll turn into a ‘ten’,” he said to her, dryly.
The whole place cracked up. Cathy was humiliated. She turned beet red.
Katrina looked at Cathy. “I wish I looked that good,” she commented. Cathy looked shocked. I wasn’t. I knew Katrina well. She could be kind.
Katrina was a somewhat weathered for forty woman that was comfortable around men. She wasn’t a ‘one of the guys’ type, just a competent secure woman that men are comfortable around. They cleaned up their language around her but not simply because she was a woman. They cleaned it up because she was respected by them. Guys never referred to the lines on her face as sun lines or age lines. They referred to them as character lines. She was really pretty attractive.
Sometimes she could be self-effacing. She was then and I saw Alexis’s face light up at the left-handed compliment she had just made.
Incidentally, I seldom recall hearing an attractive woman make a rude comment about any transgendered women they met.
One of the things I learned in Alaska is grace under fire.
The woman that was half way through her trans gendering I knew because of my part time work at the strip club. I treated her well and sometimes we’d chat a bit. One time when I was fixing something at the dancer’s apartment she was there alone with me.
She took off her blouse and told me to check out her recently installed boobs. Truth is the doctor did a damned fine job. I’ll admit it, though. I was uncomfortable in that situation. I did manage to keep my cool though. I simply complimented them.
She told me she was headed south to California to get the rest of the job done soon and I wished her luck. I also told her to keep them under wraps because the strippers she worked with would likely get pretty jealous if they saw them.
When I said that her face lit up.
A couple of days later I ran into her downtown while shopping for grub. Blaine and another were with me. She came up to me and started talking. Then she blurted out that when she got back to town following the rest of her surgery she wanted me to try out her new vagina. This had come at me out of nowhere and I suppose if I were drinking a beer I certainly would have snarfed.
“That sounds interesting,” I replied. “I’m flattered that you think that highly of me.”
She beamed and wandered off. Blaine was agape and stared at me a minute. “That was gracious!” he said. Then he turned to the other guy. “You have just witnessed grace under fire,” He said. “He gave her a totally noncommittal answer and left her feeling like a million bucks!”
I turned to Blaine. “Who needs a deckhand and is headed to Dutch Harbor for a year or three?” I asked and the three of us laughed.
What eventually happened is she left for California and was gone a while. I heard she returned after I left town for several months to pick up my sailboat. When I returned she had a boyfriend of sorts which got me off the hook nicely.
Another thing I remember well happened one night when some clown non-rate Coastie with a snootful overloaded his face at the rock and roll club just as the band was beginning to play.
It came out of the blue and there was no call for it.
“I can beat the snot out of every fag in this place,” he shouted.
The band started playing a few seconds later and a buddy of mine ran over to my table and slid to a stop. “Piccolina, wanna dance?”
“Why certainly, Stephanie” I replied to my friend named Steve and got up.
We were not the first same-sex couple to hit the stainless steel dance floor. Just about everybody there had the same idea at the same time.
 This was not in the defense of the gay community. They could take care of themselves. This was about letting some dopey kid know that he was in the Big Leagues now and ought to smarten up before he got hurt. When that kid looked at the dance floor filling up with same sex couples he was stunned. I had seen him before and knew he knew the joint wasn’t a gay bar. Then it sunk in. He had thrown out a challenge and everyone in the place had accepted it. He fled.
Still, something was in the air and after he left the whole place continued same-sex dancing for a while. Then it changed back to normal.
We had a blast rocking out until the place closed at 0500. I sacked out on the boat that night soaked in sweat and woke up at about 1100 feeling pretty good. I had sweated the beer out of my system that night on the dance floor.
Nobody cared, especially the owner because he sold a lot of booze that night. That night was talked about for months. I think the only night I can recall that was as much fun was the night a guy named Uncle Bob came to town with a 5 gallon pail of magic mushrooms and started handing them out.
I didn’t eat any of them but laughed myself silly that night just watching everyone that did eat them. Sometimes there are times to join the crowd, sometimes there are times to stand back and watch the crowd. That was a night to stand back and watch.
I chose wisely that night.
I think a lot of the reason I got to see a lot of stuff a lot of other people didn’t get to see or have to deal with is because I simply figured that if it didn’t rob me or hurt me it didn’t bother me.
I dealt with people based simply on the way they acted and treated me.
I had problems of my own to deal with and in truth an insight to what I saw inside the gay/transgendered community made me glad I was who I was. I had it a lot easier than most of them.
As far as I am concerned the gay community had it a lot easier than the hard drug community by a longshot. I steered clear of that even though it was constantly around me.
Actually I saw that I had it a lot better than most people I met along my 63 years.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Right now I am wearing an old pair of army boots

which means little. I have several pairs and wear them from time to time like when I am doing work in the yard. I call those days ‘Boots and Utes’ days because I generally don an old set of BDUs for those jobs. I have one coming up soon in the backyard. I have to clean it up and chop down all the weeds. It’s the annual fall cleanup.

What astonishes me is that I just happened to notice the date this pair was made. The manufacturing date is stamped on the top. They are over 40 years old and very well could have been issued to me back in the day, other than the fact that I know my issued boots wore out and I tossed them decades ago.

I think that I acquired them about 15 years ago at a flea market that no longer exists. I think I paid five bucks for them, unissued.

They are the old style. They have neither a V-cut nor speed laces, just a couple of rows of grommets for lacing up and vulcanized soles. The leather is starting to crack a bit, though because it has dried out. I don’t see them lasting for a whole lot longer.

I guess the only reason I am writing this post is because I’m amazed that they have lasted this long.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

If you are a technology snob

 don’t bother reading this post. It is about old technology that still does the job well.

I have had a friend and occasional reader come charging in to the rescue with yet another Combat Laptop to replace the old work horse that has served me well since I snagged it around February of 2010. It was the first of a pair of Gobook IIIs. The other lies next to one of my ham rigs where it serves me well and runs the digital modes for me.

A chat with a couple of IT guys says that I get pretty good mileage out of those surplus laptops. The one I have hauled all over hell and back has served we well. When it finally died I was wondering which way to go to replace the old work horse.

Enter a friend that happens to have a couple of them kicking around that he got in a horse trade somewhere along the line. They’re old for a laptop, they came out in about ’05 and besides the military, and police departments, contractors and others used them because they were so damned tough.

My old workhorse has taken several spills and kept on ticking.

Over time the guys grin when they see the clunky old thing fire up and shake their heads. One guy knows why I carry it. Both our machines took a spill once. I didn’t even have to reboot mine and his newer one went into the trash. I did have to repair a dent on the deck, though. He became a believer.

Money plays into the equation, too.

Companies generally lease laptops for three year leases and many of those that are leased don’t even last the three years.

I was able to buy the old Combat laptop for $200 delivered to my door ready to plug in and use. It doesn’t get a whole lot cheaper than that for just about anything these days. I believe I got four plus years out of this one. That’s about $50 a year for a damned good computer when it’s all over and done with. You can’t beat that.

Of course, it was simply a case of a tool that fits the job. I sure wouldn’t want to use the machine for any of the current computer games but for simply surfing the web and writing these machines were and are still ideal. If you want technology spend your $200 on a netbook.

While the netbook I bought a while back for someone had much more hard drive and a faster processor and is certainly lighter than the old GoBook it is harder to write on and from a practical point of view has no advantage but size and weight.

If you have read this far and are stammering and stuttering about me not being able to play “Knights in shining armor” or some other game, please go back and reread the first sentence. After you do you may then say, “Oh.” Please feel free to feel foolish.

I’m glad that a friend has come to the rescue and went through his Civil War era relics and dug out another GoBook3 for me.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Commercial fishing towns can be wild.

You have to remember that in the 70s and 80s commercial fishing was one of a few ways left that someone with no education could make a boatload of money. Fish boats pay a percentage of the catch and the 70s and early 80s there were not a whole lot of boats and a whole lot of fish.

Crew shares back then could run into six figures on some of the highliner boats. That was an awful lot of money back then.

There are four things that are found in commercial fishing towns. Bars, gambling, drugs and whores.

The bars were pretty much self-policing as they had liquor licenses to protect. They played by the rules. Any real trouble was dealt with quickly.  While the bars had a reputation for being zoos, there was little real violence in them. The occasional scuffles that broke out were dealt with immediately.

Incidentally I once watched a couple of mutual combatants settle their differences outside once. The police that responded simply let it run on as both antagonists were volunteers. One of the cops bet ten bucks on the guy in the red shirt. I took five of it and lost.

The police overlooked gambling so long as the keeper of the games ran an honest game and played by the unwritten rules. They gave no credit, never cleaned out a guy that had kids to feed and no rough stuff. They generally overlooked an occasional 4-5-6 game that might happen at one of the two bars on Cannery Row.

Once in a blue moon I’d fish out $20 I was willing to lose and enter one of these 4-5-6 games. I’d play until I either went bust or got ahead. When I got way ahead I’d generally drop out. I knew when to quit while I was ahead. My momma didn’t raise no fool.

Drugs were somewhat overlooked so long as the dealers kept it out of the schools, didn’t break legs to enforce debt collection, didn’t advertise and kept it pretty much out of sight. Every now and then they would bust those that advertised and didn’t have enough sense to keep their heads down.

Prostitution was handled in an interesting way. They overlooked a monopoly on it that was held by a woman that had been running it for years before I arrived.

It was an organized brothel that ran between two and four girls at any given time. The mechanics of it that I saw were interesting.

I know nothing of the business end of things. I imagine the madam and the girls split the pie. She provided housing, medical checks and a safe place to do business. She was pretty much given a monopoly by the police department to do business.

The girls were checked for STDs a couple times a week. I know this to be fact as my doctor provided the physicals and actually did it as a public service. I believe he charged little if anything for this.

I have seen many of the girls in the doctor’s office numerous times over the years.

Most of the girls came from Oregon or Washington and the madam was pretty picky. They were fresh looking and not beaten up. They were fairly attractive unlike the beat up looking hookers you see working the streets. Actually some of them were beauticians that decided to make some big, fast money in Alaska.

They behaved themselves in public and never solicited. In a small town everyone knew who was who. They didn’t have to solicit. They’d sit on a barstool and wait to be approached.

I would often walk into a bar and sit next to one if I didn’t want to get dragged into the general ballyhoo that went on. I knew that the hookers would behave themselves. When business was slow I’d play cribbage with a couple of them. They were nothing more or less than a part of the town.

If it looked like a client was entering the bar I’d make myself scarce. All it took from her was a glance.

Incidentally I did a small remodel job for the madam once. I have to admit that the hookers were far better housekeepers than the strippers were. The place was immaculate.

She also paid cash on the nail head at union scale unlike a couple of churches I had worked for did. The wages of sin were not death. They were union scale. At least as far as the madam was concerned.

The madam had a monopoly and defended it like a wildcat. Every now and then a stripper from the club would try and turn a few tricks and she was given one warning. After the warning if even a rumor started involving the stripper she’d be on the next plane south. I think the club manager paid the airfare. He knew the police would hammer him if he let the strippers become whores.

He also knew the madam had clout. She probably had the police chief’s ear.

I was astonished with the intelligence system the madam had. She had ears and eyes everywhere.

The hookers would simply sit at the bar and quietly make their arrangements and leave quietly and alone so as to be discreet. They’d meet up with their ‘dates’ somewhere else.

I’m likely the only one I can recall that was ever seen leaving a bar with a hooker. I walked out of the bar with one on my arm to humiliate the date I had just walked away from. She had just tried to get into my pocket for cocaine and I got up and left her and was seen by all leaving with the hooker following a colorful comment that left my former date humiliated.

All in all it was a pretty smooth, organized operation and it actually benefitted the town.

The girls were constantly checked for STDs, there was no violence, nor were there women running around soliciting in front of the townspeople.

You have to remember that in any commercial fishing town there was going to be prostitution no matter what the police tried to do. The demand and the money were there and there was no fighting it. Having it organized the way they had it was the way to go. The police could keep an eye on it and the girls knew which side their bread was buttered on so they were not shy in tipping the police off to things they found out about.

Alaska draws a lot of fugitives. Most people that moved there were either running from something or looking for something. Every so often the cops would pick up a fugitive on a tip supplied by one of the girls.

Sometime just before I left town the whole enterprise came to a halt because a group of church people raised hell and it’s my guess that they tried to skirt the local police by calling the State police.

My best guess is the State Police told the locals to raid the place or they would but I could be wrong. Anyway the place got raided and closed down. The results were almost immediate and not very nice. Closing the brothel down had been a big mistake.

Of course, it wasn’t the first time the church people ruined things for the rest of us heathens. One of the service clubs (the Lions comes to mind) used to sponsor a raft race with beer stops in the early spring. It was a wonderful time to get wet, hypothermic, mildly drunk and make an idiot of one’s self. In short it was a good time and raised a lot of money for a charity.

The do-gooder church people raised all sorts of hell and got the race stopped. As a result the town was a little less of a fun place to live. The self-righteous jerks seemed to ruin everything they touched. Truth is most of them were more dishonest than the people they griped about.

A number of amateur operators started running little street operations and the STD rate shot up. At that time AIDS was gaining a foothold. It was about this time I left town.

Several years I met a guy that had arrived in town the time I left and he told me that the police were spending a lot of time chasing small time prostitutes. He also told me that one of the big shots in the group that had pressured the police to shut the brothel down had lost a kid to HIV. I found that ironic.

He also told me a few former strippers had ventured into prostitution.

I wasn’t surprised.


One of the things I learned in Alaska is that an awful lot of people there were running from something, looking for something or both.

Looking back on it I was running from a Dilbert lifestyle and looking for adventure but I digress.

Shortly after I got there I developed somewhat of a French Foreign Legion attitude toward other people’s backgrounds. If they wanted me to know they’d tell me. If not, I didn’t ask. It was generally none of my business.

A few years before I left I ran into someone from my past. It was a woman I had gone to school with that had left town while I was in junior high school.  I recognized her working in one of the places I did business with from time to time.

When I introduced myself she was polite but not too warm. I do remember she had a child. I believe it was a daughter. I could tell that she seemed a bit uncomfortable meeting someone from her past. I didn’t push for further information and she didn’t offer any. I left it at that.

Looking back on it I’d guess there was a messy divorce in her background because many women that showed up on the rock seemed to have been divorced recently. They came there not because it was the end of the world, but it was close. You could see the end of the world from there.

For many people it was a place to start over. I remember a bartender introducing me to her newly divorced sister and handing me $50 to take her to the Mission (Goodwill type store) and get her outfitted like a local and teaching her how to layer.

She had shown up with heavy coats which were generally pretty useless given Kodiak’s mild climate. Locals layered light clothes as you could add or remove one or more layers as needed. After I outfitted her I gave her the nickel tour of the area starting at the dump where we watched eagles and bears.

When I returned her to the bar and her sister she breathlessly announced that I had taken her to the dump to watch bears and eagles. The whole place cracked up except the bartender who gave me ‘the look’. She knew I did well with newcomer and visiting out-of-town women by showing them wildlife at the dump. I returned ‘the look’ with a look that said I knew she was her sister and therefore off limits and she relaxed.

The woman I had outfitted was friendly toward me but offered no further information as to why she had moved there other than a divorce was involved. It was fine by me.

Incidentally once I had a woman take me to her place to ‘meet someone’. When I arrived she introduced me to her older sister, a recently divorced and fairly attractive woman about six or eight years older than I was that had just arrived in town. She opened her refrigerator to show ample rations for a weekend and several bottles of wine.

“I’m heading to Anchorage for the weekend and turning you two loose on each other,” she announced, leaving us both red-faced. Neither of us had expected anything like this.

Then she left us to our devices.  She returned to a pile of empty wine bottles, an empty refrigerator and rumpled linen. Let’s leave it at that.

Women were a little more likely to keep their pasts under wraps.

Guys were often a little more open but many of them had things to hide. I remember a roommate of sorts that simply disappeared and a couple of weeks later the local police came up to me looking for him. Seems he was wanted for hacking up some go-go girl somewhere in Washington State. That knocked me for a loop. I had been sharing quarters with a fiend and didn’t know it.

A few weeks later the cop told me he had been picked up on the mainland somewhere.

Incidentally for the most part if you had an outstanding warrant somewhere out of state that wasn’t for something major the police generally left you unmolested so long as you behaved yourself. Either they had a clean slate attitude or didn’t want to be bothered with some other department’s small offenses. However, if they found out someone was a military deserter they would pick him up in a heartbeat. I guess a lot of cops were Vietnam vets and didn’t like deserters very much.

My two main running partners had little in their pasts to hide and were pretty candid. They were there because they were looking for something. They were seeking fortune and adventure. Incidentally one of them is surprisingly still alive and I heard from him a few months back. The other is long dead. He was killed in a boating accident.

There were also in inordinate number of Vietnam veterans, many of which had seen extensive combat and wanted to build lives for themselves free of being treated like circus freaks. Until Reagan gave the military back their pride a lot of Vietnam era vets were often mistreated back in the Lower 48. Kodiak was a pretty good place for building or rebuilding a life.

Most people that arrived to start over soon fell into the traps that had brought them there. However, a large number of people there managed to find a new beginning and became a solid part of the community. A small handful of the strippers that arrived actually found straight jobs and blended into the community.

Kodiak was a forgiving place. If you made a few mistakes or did something stupid it was no big thing. It was interesting how many people had shaky pasts. I knew a couple of convicts that had done hard time but never held it against them. One had been convicted of manslaughter after he killed a man in a bar fight somewhere around Anchorage.

One Fourth of July I was having a bottle rocket fight and accidently sent one whistling past a policeman walking downtown. He knew it was an accident and suppressed a smirk as simply told me to fork over the rest them. I did and that ended the incident then and there.

I know of one woman that arrived when my running partner and I offered her a ride north. She was working as a waitress in Seattle when we met. Actually it was funny. The pair of us were in Seattle and were bringing a pickup north. We stumped into one of the taverns for lunch. I looked at the waitress. “I’m the pro from Dover and this here’s the Ghost of Smoky Joe,” I said. “He wants a ham and cheese and a light beer and I want a roast beef and a Heineken and after you serve us you got a half-hour to run home, get your bags packed and into the back of the blue pickup if you want to go to Kodiak with us!”

When she asked us if we were for real, we assured her we were. She served us and quit on the spot and took off and returned with a backpack and medium duffel bag. When we started off she asked us to stop at her bank and grabbed all the cash she had.

I always wondered what she was running from. It had to be pretty bad for her to just hop into a pickup with a couple of strangers. I never asked but years later she told me she was desperate to get out of an abusive relationship. She had ended the relationship but apparently he hadn’t.

Following a memorable trip up the Alaska Highway we hit Homer and hopped on the ferry and arrived on the Rock. She hit the gangway running and for the next few days we helped her out and introduced her around.

About a year later she married a ne’er-do-well and got pregnant. He actually decided to buckle down and make a life for his new family and the last I heard of her she and her husband had a couple more kids and were doing OK.

More than one person arrived with nothing more than a backpack and made a comfortable life for themselves. A lot of college educations were paid for by students groveling in the canneries and fishing during salmon season. I remember one guy went through college and got a Master’s by working salmon seasons on the same boat for about six seasons. He worked another season after he got his Master’s to build up a nest egg.

Some other guys I hung with managed to finance their dreams. One bought a place in Eastern Washington and the other bought a small ranch of some sort in the high desert of New Mexico.

Of course, there were several failures to every success story, but some of the failures are worth mentioning. Many of them paid for following their dreams with their lives. Maybe I’ll do a post on them later.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Monday, September 22, 2014

I am sitting here wracking my brain

 and thinking about the odd things that happened in Kodiak during my stay there. I just had a thought about the seamier side of the drug world.

Every now and then huge batches of some drug or another would hit town and be sold on the street for bargain prices. Two drugs come to mind although there were others. They are Quaaludes and mushrooms.

When a huge batch of Quaaludes or other doggie downers hit town it seemed that a lot of women would be stumbling around ‘Luded out and in a daze. Downers seemed to be more of a woman thing but there were a lot of guys eating them, too.

Dealing with these zoned out people kind of sucked. They ran around acting and talking like an old 78 rpm record being played at 33-1/3 rpm.  It only took a sentence out of their mouths for me to know that it was time for me to make my excuse to leave and split.  I hated being around people when they were like that.

Half of them didn’t know what they were doing. They didn’t call Quaaludes ‘panty droppers’ for nothing. If you had half a brain you didn’t go home with a woman whacked out on Quaaludes no matter how willing she was. Mornings could often be rough on a guy as the woman would occasionally wake up with buyer’s remorse.

More than one unlucky guy woke up to headaches and one or two guys were charged with sexual assault. The DA would generally throw it out if he found out Quaaludes were involved. It was hard to get a conviction.

What was interesting is that women would often come to some guy’s defense and be willing to testify that they saw the purported ‘victim’ groping guys at the bar on the night in question.

There were a number of decent women in that town that had a sense of right and wrong and didn’t like women like that because it made them look bad.

It got worse when the user had a few drinks to go along with them. A lot of people would pass out in the bar.

The strippers in the club would slow down, too. Sometimes that was funny to watch. It was about the only time I’d wander in. Between that and the fact that there would be passed out patrons to scrape up the manager of the club told me he hated it when Quaaludes came into town. I told him I felt the same way. I hated being around the effects of Quaaludes.

I do remember one guy that got into Quaaludes. He was a troublemaker and when he had a couple ‘Ludes in him someone bought him a couple straight up Crown Royals and it wasn’t long before he passed out. He woke up in a Dempsey dumpster much to my amusement as I didn’t like him much, either.

Magic Mushrooms were another thing entirely.

I remember when one guy got on an airplane headed for the cow fields of Whatcom County, Washington where psilocybin mushrooms grew on cow pies regularly. He left with a small bag of clothes and an empty 5 gallon pail and returned with the pail nearly stuffed full.

He wasn’t a capitalist. All he wanted out of the pail full of mushrooms was to get his expenses paid. He practically gave them away and a good chunk of the town got pretty toasted for the few days the pail full lasted. He kind of considered it a public service to get half the town stoned out of their minds.

I do have to admit that dealing with people whacked out on mushrooms was often entertaining. They make a lot of people laugh uncontrollably. After a while it becomes contagious. I would be sitting there talking to someone that was laughing and pretty soon I would be rolling on the floor with him.

For someone whacked out on ‘shrooms just about anything could be funny. Tell someone their house burned down and you were more than likely to be treated by gales of laughter.

Mushrooms didn’t affect the body the same way the downers did. People on mushrooms were coordinated and maybe a bit animated.

Of course, cocaine was a constant as it was a huge moneymaker for drug dealers and pot was pretty much a staple.

The local police generally didn’t bother too much with drugs so long as it was kept away from the high schools. Every now and then there would be a pro-forma bust and the dealers that were getting greedy, out of hand or advertised too much would generally get carted off. A day or two later it would be business as normal.

The police were reluctant to put a lot of effort into victimless crimes and generally overlooked gambling and drugs. Personally I avoided the drug scene for a few good reasons. While getting busted took some doing, you never knew if you’d get picked up accidentally in a raid and become collateral damage.

A drug bust of any kind was and is a bad thing to have on one’s record. It can cripple a person’s career and life. There are other reasons I avoided the drug scene, too. I have posted them in an earlier post.

I have had people ask me why I know so much about life on the streets and it is simply because I lived on the streets for a while and saw things firsthand. When you live in a camper/trailer or a sailboat in a fishing port you see all sorts of things.

Prostitution was controlled in town simply by tacitly allowing one madam to have a monopoly of sorts which she guarded with an iron fist. Maybe I’ll do a post on this sometime. It was interesting how that system worked. It actually made sense and I have to give the police credit for the way they handled it.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

Sunday, September 21, 2014

One guy keeps asking me to post my stripper stories

and I guess I will just to get him off my back. It’s really not too big of a deal.

I did maintenance work for a club when I was in my early thirties. A lot of what I did was repaint the men’s room and replace the toilet every time some alcohol and testosterone fueled fisherman pulled it off of the floor. That and keep the stage and other things in repair.

Incidentally it is not all that hard to pull a toilet off of its moorings. There’s a trick to it. They’re not fastened to the floor too strongly. You twist it first to break the moorings and then lift it up.

The biggest part of the odd jobs I did were not done at the club but at the pair of apartments the manager rented for the girls, most of whom were from Washington and Oregon.

I was a doorman briefly but didn’t like it very much. I am not big and imposing enough and not mean enough for the job. I begged off after a couple of weeks.

My favorite incident was when some big guy came in and simply pushed me out of the way. I looked at the barkeep who simply shrugged and called the police who arrived and carted him off for the evening and gave him a place to cool down.

What I did do a couple of times when someone looked like they were getting ready to start trouble is get one of the girls and go outside and smoke some pot with him. Then she would agree to meet him at the ginmill next door. There was a bartender there that liked to fight.

It was generally a winning deal for everyone. I got rid of a headache. The girl got stoned on company time. The bartender next door got to punch someone silly and the guy that was looking for trouble found what he was looking for. Everybody won.

People don’t know it, but lighting is terribly important in strip clubs because a lot of the women that work there are not world-class beauties to begin with. A lot of them have a lot to hide.

Some of them looked pretty beaten up.

The yellow tones tend to hide a lot of bruises and other things and in general highlight the makeup and reflect well off of their scant costumes. You can take a pretty beaten up looking woman and hide an awful lot through lighting.

Incidentally I’ll have to say that makeup can do wonders. For a while the manager had a ‘house mother’ for the girls and oddly enough it was someone in the process of being transgendered.

She was extremely talented with makeup and while she was there she made up most of the girls before work. I have to say she could truly work wonders. While she was there the girls looked 100% better.

I suppose people might find that odd but when you think about it, this make sense. She had spent a lot of time studying up on becoming a woman. The strippers were born female. The ‘house mom’ had to study up on it. Actually she was a pretty interesting person to talk to.

The stories of the single moms supporting a kid and the college student saving for school are not really all that common. Truth is a lot of the women working there are there because they don’t have a whole lot of education and smarts to begin with. The money’s generally pretty good and drugs are fairly easy to score.

The real moneymakers at a strip club are the owners who get to sell their drinks at inflated prices and the drug dealers that keep the girl’s habits fed. The strippers were paid peanuts as contract entertainers. They made their money in tips.

There are exceptions, of course. I’ve mentioned them in previous posts. However, the average stripper I met really wasn’t too bright and had a tendency toward the drug and alcohol lifestyle.

I’ve seen them fight over stupid stuff like which girl ‘owns’ which song and bickering over customers. I managed to stay out of that, thank God.

The part that amazed me is the amount of damage the girls could do to their living quarters. A 115 pound little girl properly coked up can tear a door of its hinges.

A lot of them were slobs and had little in the way of domestic skills. They could plug up a kitchen sink in a heartbeat or plug up a toilet by using it as a wastebasket.

A few of them were neat and clean but an awful lot of them were real slobs. Generally the neater ones lived in one apartment and the slobs in the other.

Guess which one required the most maintenance?

Many of these girls didn’t seem to really have the basic life skills to take care of a home and/or raise a family.

The truth is that there is nothing really exciting, glamorous or even interesting about working for a strip club. Actually it’s sad.
It wasn't one of my favorite gigs.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY