Bart Plantenga’s
Confessions of a Beer Mystic #30


Fans in “SuperPope” tee shirts waved chartreuse styrofoam crosses. The Pope was in town tying up traffic and motorists cursed the Gridlock God that confounded them. A friend of mine along the parade route was waiting to go from here to there across 5th Avenue, among hordes bursting at the police barriers, begging to get blessed by the Pope. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the Pope reached out to bless him. Catholics turned to my pagan, porntoonist, Jewish pal to stare as if to say “what’s he got that we ain’t got?”

The headlines said the Pope had proclaimed PREMARITAL SEX tantamount to MORAL ANARCHY and that sex was the fuel that would transport the human soul back to the Dark Ages. Furthermore he declared a “ban on the false euphorics of inebriants” — a declaration of war against me and my compatriots.

The Rum Seer claimed her relatives had prospered during those selfsame Dark Ages.

“Gypsy blood.” And that was why she said she had pierced her nipples — to be unattached to territory and possessions — a Bedouin, a survivor. The logic escaped me but also entertained me in the Holiday Bar. The Holiday teeters on the fray of the battle. (Part of the battle is sorting out what exactly the battle is.)

Old men tipped hats and shot glasses when she walked in. These were robust men full of smoke and fart, in old world sweaters and 2-button jackets; tipsy compatriots of the Fifth Column or, at least, a fifth of bourbon. Men who put a raw egg in a drink and call it a meal. Men who’d, thanks to evolution, developed specialized breathing apparatuses similar to fish so that when they were submerged in beverages of alcoholic cheer, they could still get air by absorbing oxygen from the C2H5OH alcohol itself. Men who’d been rehearsing their deaths for 40 years. Some were very good at it. Some were allies of the stool samples I regularly encountered in “my” Bar Nickel Bill.

The Rum Seer and others in black were staving off the yuppoisie horde and other assorted thug-golfers. Chameleons who drink unpronounceable beverages based on breezy articles in Esquire and crawl into scenarios, inhabit theme-heavy bars, hoping to gain sustenance, hardcore legitimacy via consumptive osmosis. Their stories and odors never their own. It’s only what they’ve heard or thought they felt. Understanding art only at the instant of its acquisition. They “conquer” situations this way. But the more they crave urgency, the more the craving swerves awry. So she thought anyway. And she was all for awry. And the old men were all for a rye.

And I concurred, licking the beerhead mustache from her upper lip. Sometimes it’s just easier to flatter someone into what you want. “But what’s the strat?”

“Keep the juke fulla non-Motown and unnostalgic stuff. Ignore’m. Make’m uncomfortable. Don’t allow’m to eat the life outa this place. We also throw paint at the Gap. Which is, man, like the McDonald’s of sportswear. Every Friday night. Anarchy ain’t just wearin’ black, yuh know. And the crueler I get the lovelier I become.”

“I’m sure. And so you use the old men like political pawns. “

“No way …  Yuh know, I’ll never drink in a place that puts plastic animals in MY drink.”

“Dju know, there’s a sandwich in every bottle o’ beer? And that beer preceded bread. And that they found evidence of beer in 2000 BC on an island called Rhum! Coincidence? I think not.”

“I was an ancient alky — in The Chuggers, got my vision chops there.” The Chuggers were an ex-sub-cult of Ferskine Terdwell high school truants who drank anything with proof short of canned heat and who’ve, no doubt, graduated to harder tonics since.

“Who’s this Ferskine Terdwell?”

“Somebody who ransacked his borough of Brooklyn in the right way to get him a school named after him.”

“Hey, dju know Martin Luther drank Einbeck to amplify his visions?”

The Chuggers, she went on to explain, hung under the Verrazano, carving tattoos into one another. She showed me a crude tattoo that said, “IN ORBIT” in blue letters. Demonstrated how she’d pierced her nipple with a nail to become Chugger bloodkin for life (or at least till after hi school.)

Her 1st clairvoyant experience came after the Chuggers had polished off a doz. of Colt 45s. A couple of Chugger pals were coming home from a hoot down in Virginia. Shortly before their appointed arrival she burst out; “There’s been a fuckin’ accident. It’s them! Atlantic Ave. Fronta Disco Donut.” And she (allegedly) led the other Chuggers right to the spot. A busy intersection full of glass, mangled chrome and ambulance lights. She remembered arriving just as her pals were being hauled into an ambulance.

“They accorded me special status after that. They called on me to predict Super Bowls and shit. But it only came when it came, when we’d be drinkin’. It’s the primitive stages of hooking into something.”

I was skeptical but she was prepared. Pulled out a faded tatter of newspaper detailing the accident. I astutely pointed out that there was no mention of her in the article.

Story #2, drink #3: an English teacher and his librarian wife, self-styled enforcers, confronted her in the hall. Pinned her against a locker, brusquely frisked her. “And there was plennya  me to frisk,” she insinuated, but didn’t need to.

“‘You’re bad news, like cancer, like disruptive.’ He says. And then wifey adds, ‘Why don’ you act the lady, like your sister.’”

“‘Cuz I’m from the fuckin’ DARK Ages,’ I said.” She was threatened with expulsion. “Go ahead, threaten me with freedom, you warped assholes!” They roughed her up, grabbed her by the scruff and dragged her to the vice-principal’s office, a “woman who’d had her clitoris cut out at puberty.” And eventually she was expelled.

But then she said something to the “Nazi couple” that, even while she was saying it, seemed like someone or something else was moving her mouth with a hundred dropped-jaw classmates witnessing it.

“Like bein’ an actor in a dream you’re watching. ‘With asshole attitudes like that,’ I said, ‘you 2 ain’t doin’ no kids any good and one day real soon your karma’s gonna catch up widju, mess you real bad!’” The next day, while cleaning out her locker, she heard what the rest of the school heard, broadcast over the PA; the couple had died the night before in a head-on collision. “And that’s when people started treating me REAL different.”

“Tha’s hard to swallow.”

“Of course, dear skeptical one. But yuh know, fiction just can’t hold the light of day up to unbelievable reality.” She handed me another news clipping.

“Only one thing’s missing — any mention of your powers. You oughta call Stephen King.”

“OK, so, I was investigated, shaken down. They snooped into my family’s past, if there was like witches. They checked the wreck for tampering. I was like almost indicted.”

“We need on-site inspection rights.”

“Yea, cuz otherwise I wanna BE in one uh yer so-called black eyes while it’s happening, not while you SAY one’s happening.”

We went outside under that slim possibility of stars. This was Summit Meeting #2, the showdown. She wanted to see my work. “No problem. The city’s my gallery.”

We went to a bodega. Bought beer. She had a pint of rum in her purse.

“Never leave home without it.” Her eyelashes like the sweep of a black cat’s tail. I showed her the roadway in front of the bodega.

“The road’s paved with a Milky Way of bottle caps. Look, it’s how delis roll out the red carpet for me.”

“I used to go-go in Jersey. Forgot my pasties once. Glued bottle caps over my nipples.”

“Sure you didn’t need an olive jar lid?” We gravitated toward my nearest great work at 12th and A.

But I’d forgotten what no serious drinker ever leaves home without — his Swiss Army Knife, complete with bottle opener, corkscrew and various blades of self-defense. But this oversight availed me the opportunity to show off my resourcefulness. I went to the curb and wedged the head of the Heineken Dark in between the front bumper and the body of an available automobile. Voila! Instantly the automotive world becomes a potential bottle opener.

But she was not impressed.

“I can do it with the car moving.”

“Big deal.” At 12th and A she saw my string of black eyes. As monumental, in a wattage way as, say, Rauschenberg’s famous erasure of a DeKooning painting. An entire block smothered in darkness.

Drug gargoyles with menacingly empty gazes — filled with the terror of their own bitter vacuousness — meanwhile, guarded their particular entrance to the park, their own corners, their own turf like rain-worn statues.

I bragged how the Crack Cartel and the Yuppoisie both hated me. Although they had no name for me. “Unverified phenomena,” sounds nice. Rum Seer tipped her hip flask back and burped the breath of inebriated life into my mouth. I take it where I can get it.

The graffiti on the boarded-up tenement read: “DEATH TO THE BRINGER OF DARKMESS”’ The “N” looked like an “M.”

She approached one of the Cartel and announced; “He’s your Bringer of Darkness.” He just sneered through his gold teeth.

“Yea, and I’m Ruben Amaro and I played shortstop for the ’66 Yankees and dat dere’s Bill Cosby.”

“You know, maybe it’s just a switching station foul up. You know Con Ed,” she added.

“Seems like 5% of you’s convincin’ 95% of you not to believe me.” I calculated

“Let’s just say 2% of me is like a dog bein’ dragged around on a leash by a horny lost man.”

“Horniness is not necessarily a negative.” We continued our tour. I showed her more phenomenal scenes in a calling that’s heavy in the light deprivation department.

“It’s like missing teeth. Gives the city a perverse gaping smile. Don’tchu think? And oh, how pitch black your black, black hair is. Magnificent like anthracite from a mine a thousand feet deep.”

She offered me some rum from her mouth. Like a raven feeds her young. Deep into the craw. She was certainly beginning to show me she was worthy of my gratitude.

“It’s MY black hole. Absorbs all light, all looks. I only wear black. Black lingerie. Black sucks the false gaiety out of the world. Bright shit’s just a redundancy of false hopes.”

“Like the Amish.” I opened my second bottle — this time with my teeth. Her eyes did not light up. “Like the Hasidim.”

“The body is 93% water.” She said matter-of-factly.

“But mine’s 50% beer.” We wound through more black eye sites; the streetlights in front of the police precinct on East 20th St., which I tried to convince her were like “an audacious and cathartic liberation” like a Pollock, like graffiti, like … alas … I pointed out other bodegas with their wonderful galaxies of bottle caps pressed into the pavement to welcome us as honored guests into their establishments.

“What d’you do for female companionship?”

“I get by. I sometimes count on magazines.”

“I’m reliable as Swank.

“Maybe more like National Geographic.

And we walked into the talk and somehow ended up facing Macy’s window with its “Golden Age of Classicwear” diorama, revealing an age when everybody was happy and dressed nice around a fireplace. The designer was considered a genius because he was rich and, like some kind of fundamentalist, had convinced us to remember a past that had never existed.

She grabbed my fresh beer and, in a fit of pique, poured it no-nonsense down her greedy gullet.

So I reached for her flask. Hit for hit. And suddenly we’d progressed from a policy of Mutual Deterrence to the most intimate of bodily fluid exchanges. The vestiges of her spit on the flask rim were sticky, aromatic.

“Oblivion; it’s my specialty,” she declared. We went to a Korean deli to refuel. They’re always 24 hour. Even at 3 AM you’ll see somebody squatting outside, cleaning green beans. Each Korean deli contains over 10,000 watts, a declaration of war in watts. Discourages shoplifting too.

“Heard they’re all Moonies, you know, right wing pod people.” She put on her shades as we roamed the aisles. I squinted as I dug for change for 2 Rolling Rock long necks. She protected her face from the ravages of redundant light with the collar of her jacket.

“Figh dolla,” said the man behind the counter.

“Wha’! Rolling Rock’s not foreign beer.”

“Figh dolla.”

“It’s from Pennsylvania!”

“Figh dolla.”

“Let’s just get outa here, Furman.” The light was detrimental to her skin. Fluorescent light is said to promote acne. “Why don’tchu just send a whole string of these delis the way of your street lights?”

“Maybe I should.” We waltzed around the corner. She hummed a tune yet to be written in back of Macy’s by the loading docks. I opened the bottle with my teeth and handed it to her. Whereupon she took the other bottle, reached down under her tight black skirt and opened the long neck with her vagina. And I heard what sounded like bells wrapped around the necks of distant sheep.

“I think the good shepherd’s comin’ our way …”

“Tha’s me.” She showed me the little brass bells that dangled from the pierced labia. She smiled because she knew exactly how spooked I’d be.

“It’s so I always know when someone’s fuckin’ with me.”

“I know somebody that just did the same … was there somethin’ in People Magazine … ?”

She took her bottle and stuck the entire neck down her throat and chugged the whole cold thing. Chucked the empty against a brick wall. This is how woman provokes me. “If you even could.”

“Could what?”

“Be fuckin’ me …”

“Yea, well, none of this is exactly me, myself.” I had to be humble.

“This could go on forever,” I warned.

“Listen, I’m too impatient for forever. I want EVERYthing now. So is it you and if not, stop claiming them for yerself. People used to live forever before religion told them there were 2 worlds. Part 1, here; part 2, there; now and later.” I nodded knowingly not to betray ignorance. “Tha’s when churches went into business.” She seemed to know a lot. But wanted to know even more.

“Monks’ve been brewing liqueurs outa anything since who knows when.”

“Tell me somethin’ I don’t already know.”

“I was Mata Hari in a former life. I used to be scared of the dark where the mind creates noises for the unknown. The unknown eats away at you. Things move cuz yer mind makes telephone poles follow you. Half the world’s animals are nocturnal. I know cuz I used to be a bat in a former life.”

“Before or after Mata Hari?”


“Yer Fruity as a batcake.”

“I hate people with tans. I love jazz Negroes.”

“Me too. Although I don’t know any.” Well, Nielle.

“When I do the sex thing and it’s good, I see phosphenes. You know, those delirious fireworks of the soul projected on the backs of our eyelids. And then I pass out — into delicious blackness.”

“Sounds like epilepsy.” We tugged at and under and inside one another on the proverbial steps down to her “A” train.

She crushed my nose in her hirsute armpit. Hair made her feel more European. I tasted the sweat — sodium chloride, lactic acid, traces of potassium, magnesium.

She rubbed her knuckles on the seam of my crotch until she had brush burns to show me. Misshapen lust hidden inside the blurred flailing. Passersby confused us for assault and battery. But where could our kind of reeling lead? Did it need to go somewhere?

“How do I know like yer the one responsible for all this … this stuff … that like happens?”

“The black eyes?”

“Yea, like how do I know it’s you and not just chance or solar flares? Or we see only what we wanna see …”

“And sometimes we don’t even see that …  Listen, I do it for myself and for anyone who wants to live in the lowlight, that grey area where things happen.”

“That’s very magnanimous — and retrospective of you.”

“I don’t do it to impress girls.”

“I’m no girl.” Whereupon she began to describe her “sous sol” as a place I might never escape from, a dark cave done in “velvet underground” and day-glo black velvet paintings. Her windows painted black. Her “piece of death.” Where she’d feed me exotic patés from her mouth. Where she becomes an animal of another species communing with her Nico, Joy Division and Sisters of Mercy discs — “morbid dance music for the dying and other undergrad existentialists with hairstyles.” A touchy-feely bower full of empty psychotropic prescription bottles, glowing skeletons dangling from her pipes.

“I draped various tomb rubbings from the pipes, which I got by going to cemeteries in Queens where I rub crayons and pastels over a sheet of parchment draped over tombstones.” Her faves were the various smiling deathheads with wings. As a dominatrix, in this basement (of her parents’ home), she’d set up her little dungeon, hung men in cuffs and studs from this same pipe, dressed in her soiled and pungent lingerie, teasing them to over-the-edge frenzies. Then she lets them down and makes them crawl into her bathroom of smoked mirror and there she presses against them as they masturbate while looking at themselves almost engaged in something like voyeurism of the self like it is in dreams.

“Until they beg me to allow them the dignity of finishing the job. And I might rub my bodily parts up against them or if they get impudent I might bite and gnaw away at other regions of amplified sensitivity. Think about it.”

And then she kissed me. Or did I kiss her? To make brief our encounter the kiss will suddenly lunge into the orifice of character as if taking up the responsibility of a verb of conflagration.

[The Rum Seer, née Tura Sultana: “I never was overly impressed by him. Although he could be so endearing when he tried so hard to entertain and impress. Furman Pivo is always going to be caught in the physics of inertia. Hope and glue. ‘Keep moving,’ I remember him saying, ‘so things don’t latch on to you — laws, wives, preconceptions, jobs, looters, artists, and dust.’ He has, I s’pose, learned the art of the dodge and bob — appearing to move while standing perfectly still, even appearing to be someone, someone of substance. So it’s on the skin stretched across his 6-foot frame — he’s much taller emotionally by the way, when he’s wearing his big black boots — where the alchemy takes place, where substance goes insubstantial, fact melts into rumor, and all phenomena transform into delusion. Now ask me how I know all this. Or is this just all about men?”]

Her mouth pulled you into her face, a whirlpool that wrung my dragging soul around the mischievous features of her face. A mouth always busy. A mouth that sucked the dials off the clock, the fingers off my hand like there was no soup nor tomorrow. A mouth that enveloped my identity in the surface rapture of her face. Her tongue like the 1st darter perch I ever caught, dangling from my line in Bear Mountain. She left me with this big Bozo face full of lipstick. The smile was certainly her favorite wound. It dug up bones like a dog full of jazz.

I didn’t notice until I got home. Is why people on the 2 AM streets were snickering. Others wondered what new fashion sub-cult I was loyal to. What new club I could lead them to. I didn’t get to tell her about my room, the checkerboard linoleum …  I listened to my messages, again only one — from Nielle, “‘There is nothing wrong / with sobriety in moderation.’ That’s poet John Ciardi. I see you with my eyes closed right now, I’m wet down south.”

I watch the long long skies scrape across New Jersey. I’d like to tell her about the timeline of events in my life in blue and mysteries I’d unraveled in red that I’d strung along my wall and decorated with salvaged beer labels from my Euro-pilgrimage. And the map of NYC with little pushpin flags tagging all my black eyes. I’d like to know where Nielle is. The closest phone that she can say is her phone is the pay phone on the corner of 10th and B.

The Rum Seer was now long gone into the ground that shakes and lets off steam. And I realized then that NOTHING happens forever. This realization led to fear which led to disillusionment which led to beer. To the night’s last beer.


(to be continued) #1 #2 #3 #4 – #5 – #6 – #7 – #8 – #9 – #10 – #11 – #12 – #13 – #14 – #15 – #16 – #17 – #18 – #19 – #20 – #21 – #22 – #25 – #26 – #27 – #28 – #29

How to become a Beer Mystic – by Mike Golden


Bart Plantenga – is the world’s foremost Beer Mystic and authority on yodel-ay-ee-hoo!

Sharon Mesmer interviews the old Beer Mystic @
Confessions Of A Beer Mystic by Bart Plantenga

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    Mimi & Richard Farina Live

    In 1965, Mimi and Richard Farina dropped by the studios of WTBS (now WMBR) with electric guitarist Barry Tashian (of Barry & the Remains) for music and talk with DJ Ed Freeman. Richard is on dulcimer. One of Mimi’s two guitars is tuned like a dulcimer. The explanation for the brief gap in the tape has long been lost.


    Michael Disend's RIDER OF THE JADE HORSE

    Li looked firmly into his eyes. “No! I want man who is also a woman.” Penman nodded against his will, his gaze stealing down toward the strap-on dildo she was generously coating with lube. It thrust out like a red cannon from her leather harness. Why red? Is it because she’s from China?


    Dick Lit
    Stacia St. Owens’

    “Dick lit” has been around since the first caveman’s curiosity stuck his dick into the equation when he rubbed those two rocks together around it until....
    Millie tittered, which is how girls used to be taught to laugh. Tilda wondered if this were an intentional jab.

    Barney Rosset Interview
    (The Subject Was Left Handed)