Sunday, December 27, 2009

1938, Chicago; Duesenbergs, Ocelots, And Silver Nail Polish

Here's a Duesenberg:

Here's an ocelot:

Here's silver nail polish:

And here's a memory of Chicago in summertime 1938:

I climbed into the chair. The dwarf was slapping polish on my Stepsons. A thin stud with at least a half a grand in threads on his back took the other chair. He was wearing silver nail polish. He was reeking with perfume.

A gleaming black custom Duesenberg eased into the curb in front of me. The top was down. My peepers did a triple take.

A huge stud was sitting in the back seat. He had an ocelot in his lap dozing against his chest. The cat was wearing a stone-studded collar. A gold chain was strung to it.

He was sitting between two spectacular high-yellow whores. His diamonds were blazing under the street lights. Three gorgeous white whores were in the front seat. He looked exactly like Boris Karloff in black-face.

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Iceberg Slim pimped, hustled, stole, lied, tricked, got tricked, and spent time in prison. When he was young he did a lot of reading in prison and when he was old he did a lot of writing in prison. For all his crimes, he was a good man, and I say that because he hardly ever used an adverb, and adverbs are wicked things.

Just kidding. Like everything Slim wrote, Pimp is amazing, yet there are parts more horrifying than anything by Stephen King, because the horror in Iceberg Slim is all stuff that really happened to people. Iceberg Slim lived in the ghetto as a black American before our civil rights movement took place. It was not a good place to be. He rose above the ghetto, from time to time, for very short periods, but he didn't do it by being nice. It was a less a matter of rising above the ghetto than one of lifting the ghetto itself higher up.

However, it's one hell of a read.