new york for me was on fire from day one. it was a lonely start though, because i knew no one. that would change. my first pay check, cash really, two twenties, three tens and a five came in a small envelope with my name written in the precise inky blue hand of the accountant. mike gieger it said. oh well, i bought a green record player at alexander's and two lp's at the discofile. the clerk there looked at me sideways for my request of an album by peter, paul and mary. what else, he asked. do you like jazz? oh yes, i answered in my very early english, yes, truly, i do like the jazz. so, miles has a great album out, with his new quintet. and who is miles? i think he was completely undone, but i went home with my funny valentine and the answer my friend. such combination-listening in my newly rented, fifth floor walk-up. no one but me up there and a washroom with a tub. i could play my new music as loud as the gramophone let me. next paycheck got me kind of blue and 'round about midnight. jack and i became friends, he played the cornet at funerals and we had beers in his flat on avenue b. he introduced me to slugs down the street, a dark, narrow hole of a place; there was fab new music, with jack everything close to terrific always was fab.
there would be girls, did i like girls? i didn't know what he meant, but yes, i liked girls, and, yes, i once had a girlfriend back when in germany. had i slept with girls? yes, once in the back of a car, but we weren't really sleeping, just kind of kissing and making out. i could feel myself blushing, the way jack looked at me in the dark, kind of skeptical. getting into slugs was like crashing the sound barrier. raucous and smoky and low down with a spot bright on the bar. everyone knew jack, it seemed, he was one with the crowd. i got a beer and backed off towards the music. they played rough, there was a bass and drums and a guy at stage-edge, upfront in a spot, wearing shades, had a sax, a flute, a penny whistle and what looked like a large clarinet hanging, like so many glittery beads from his neck. he bopped as in a trance, i was afraid he'd fall off. he was kind of ranting and he whirled, whistling from a tiny silver flute off and on. the flute fell aside and he punched screams from his sax, and back to the flute and suddenly he blew both and then three all at the same time. this was rahsaan roland kirk, of course, but no one payed notice, people were drinking and talking and laughing and the crowd heaved like kelp in a rampant sea. i saw jack's head gleam in the mob and when he saw me, he motioned me over and i was from germany, from stuttgart. someone said one of his friends had been stationed there, he knew of the hofbrau and of the frauleins, oh, weren't they something, skirt up, down on their knees on a blow. jack eased away from the crowd with two girls, his arm low around one, waving to me for the other. she came close as for a dance and tempted, but i lost my voice and made for the door. and ran when she followed. jack wasn't at all amused next day, he had taken the trouble of setting me up. what was it with me anyways. i did see my set-up again, as by chance, at a moma art luncheon on one of my days off. she wrote copy at doyle dane, a few blocks from the studio. she was prettier in daylight and very nice, though her eyes were older, her mouth harder, she was well versed in her ways and experienced. she wore short skirts and lived in the village, and took me home one night late after a party.
i woke on a sunny morning next to this woman in a low-cut white gown, not sure where i was. nor how i got there. she smiled and made coffee and we saw each other for a while. i learned quite a bit about woman from her. i knew so little, so very little, she had easy teaching. but life with her became obvious. one day hot, the next icy and done on the third. and hot again weekends. i kept on going to parties, new york had me busy that way. my friend michael was at parson's school of design, five males in his comp-class to innumerable females. where did they all come from? because i was new and my english still sparse some thought me cute. i liked dancing, and a black girl tried hard getting the moves of my legs to match those of my hips. real easy for her, though not for me, my rhythm overtly stayed rigidly german. we made quite the pair, her action lanky, satiny smooth, mine keenly ass-edgy. cat calls came left and right, but we held on tight all through blue velvet. the beatles all my loving came easy, the twist was a cinch, no coordination needed. i wiggled and shimmied through california girls, she giggled and laughed at the stones doing brown sugar. she wouldn't dance with another and in the end we walked out together and she came up to my place. we talked and we cuddled, but at three in the morning she wanted to go home by herself. i put her in a cab and thought it was all over. then she called late in the afternoon, would i want to see her again? oh would i ever! we met uptown for a bite to eat, but hardly ate, and that night she stayed.
waking with her on sunday morning, i knew exactly where i was and how i got there. a month later i even thought she might be where i belonged. but as time went by in those late sixties, it seemed we weren't meant for our cross-culturals; even in a tolerant downtown manhattan. hooted and heckled every time we were out on the town or the street took its toll. fun city in '67 already wasn't. then came the night king was killed. the harlem of my girl rumbled. lindsay walked eighth avenue in shirt sleeves and somehow managed to avoid major riots. alisha began to be afraid, and we let go. it was heart wrenching, deeply distressing for us both.
some time went by, it seemed years, she showed at my studio for a revlon commercial. we talked after the shoot in my office, by then we both had married someone, sadly not quite the one. we thought we might come around once more once, but in the end what could have been wasn't. i heard she did well for herself out on the coast, in hollywood, i believe.