Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Twenty five years have passed since I left my home.

Twenty five years since I belonged somewhere.

Twenty five years of being a chameleon; a nigger, a chink, a terrorist.

Being rich, being dirt poor.

I don’t fit in with my own people.

I am too American they say – too wild, a bad girl, disobedient.

I question, I have my own mind.

I don’t fit in with Americans either.

I am exotic.

I am foreign; it’s in my face, in my voice, in my accent, in my hair.

I don’t know who I am or who I should be.

I don’t want others to define me.

Why is that? Why is it that everyone is out for my soul, my identity?

I don’t have anything, yet I feel them wanting to take something away from me –

My spirit! They want to break me.

I will not be a nigger.

I will not be a chink, a terrorist or exotic feast for the white man.

I will be me; confused, lost, searching.

A part of me died in that journey.

The void has only gotten deeper.

I’ve often thought of going back, but fear keeps me paralyzed.

What if I don’t fit in? What if no one understands me? What if my void becomes more vast and endless?

These thoughts run amuck, keeping me paralyzed and stuck in awaiting my return to myself.


AUTHOR BIO: Naheed Elyasi and her family fled Afghanistan after the Russian invasion and lived in Pakistan for one year. At the age of nine she came to the United States and grew up in North Carolina. She holds a degree in Communications and Fashion Design and currently works in Manhattan in Public Relations.

IT'S ALL OVER NOW by Bobby LaBonza

The Deerhead Bar and Grill. There it stood in all its infamy, possibly a bucket of blood? Or a gin mill? Or quite possibly a den of iniquity. Nah, just a friggen bar on the corner. But oh what a joint it was. I say “was” only because it exists in the minds of its former (dead and alive) patrons of fun, frolic and, very often, a fine and prolific bout of fisticuffs.

Location, location. Two entrances, one on Fort Hamilton Parkway, another on 69th St. Two bus stops where thirsty travelers, off-duty cops, bookies and peddlers of all sorts of fine and fancy jewelry could rub elbows, and exchange fabricated tidbits of the most absolute glorious bullshit to walk the ever-lovin’ street.

I couldn’t wait til I was eighteen -- draft card in hand -- to order my first beer. August of 1964, I had a single dollar in my mitts. At 10 cents a draft – Piels -- I could have ten. Then walk back to my house and revel in glory.

The owner, an old bald man – Sam, he was – tended his throne with a white apron tied loosely on his belly, drooping cigar dangling from his mouth like it should only be there or you wouldn’t recognize him. He never bought back a beer because the price was so low. He was way ahead of his time. Sam knew he owned a gold mine. So much so that at 6pm he just went home and whoever was the most sober regular could tend the night shift.

Sammy had the daytime bar monopoly on The Parkway, hands down. At 9am every stool had an ass sitting on it – old retired longshoremen, ex-cops, night workers -- and me and Clancy couldn’t wait til we were eighteen just to get that first cold one.

Clancy turned eighteen in January and every now and then he’d slip me a glass out of the side door, juke box blasting. COME ON AUGUST!!! Sam had all of his bottles upside down, screwed onto meters. So he’d take inventory, untie the apron and leave the place in the hands of --? Well, it coulda been Frank Clancy, Pete Sullivan or whoever. At 10 cents a glass for beer, Sam just didn’t care if a mistake or two never made it to the cash register.

I do recall that there was a sign behind the bar, advertising that shots of whisky – Carstairs and Wilson, all old labels of rye – could be had for 45 cents a shot. A dollar could get me two shots of rye and a Piels to wash them down.

There really was a mounted deer head up on that old faded wall over the mirror, and more than once an off-duty, well juiced cop would put a 38 slug into it for fun. Many a day I spent there – and a few nights too. Actually my last beer there before I went into the army in June of ’66, and my first beer of 1969 in America there when I returned to THE BLOCK. Lucky for me, no bullet holes in my head.


AUTHOR BIO: Bob LaBonza is a child of Brooklyn who survived Viet Nam. For twenty years he was a bartender in big Catskills hotels and raised two beautiful daughters. He lives now in the Hudson Valley and likes a good cigar.