Rock n' Roll Lies: Ten Stories

Rock n' Roll Lies: Ten Stories

by Donny Levit

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Overview

A young woman from a Coney Island female gang called the Surf Avenue Riots is forever changed by a mystifying event at the Freak Show. Three tough Modern Orthodox Jewish kids from Midwood form a rock n' roll band that becomes an instant legend. A gruesome font escapes from the boundaries of a computer screen dead set on attacking Brooklyn, but the font faces a formidable opponent in a young woman who rallies every Brooklyn neighborhood together in a desperate attempt to save the borough. Donny Levit's ten stories are jittery adventures that whisk you through the strange comforts of urban existence. Both hysterical and haunting, Rock n' Roll Lies will stay with you. The next time you meet a stranger on the subway, you just may wonder where they came from. And where they're going. Careful, you may want to join that stranger for the adventure of your life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781504920643
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 09/18/2015
Pages: 222
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Rock n' Roll Lies

Ten Stories


By Donny Levit

AuthorHouse

Copyright © 2015 Donny Levit
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5049-2064-3



CHAPTER 1

Disco Fries


"Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue" by The Ramones


This was all just a simple accident.

I had not been back to Coney Island for 1 year, 2 months, and 3 days. I used to run with a pack of smart, tough girls. We called our gang The Surf Avenue Riots. We hung out at Nathan's.

It didn't take much to convince older guys to buy us tallboys. We were loud. We were somewhat shameless. And we had damn good taste in music. We were a pack of badass girls in the 90s. We'd piss off the three-legged lady at the Freak Show by howling Joy Division and Jesus and Mary Chain at the top of our lungs. She stroked her legs, showing them off to Apeboy in his cage. She would give us the evil eye when we bellowed "Love Will Tear Us Apart." She was in love with Apeboy and we were interrupting their onstage affair. We knew this for sure because we once saw them making out on Surf Avenue and West 12th Street. She was holding one of her legs while Apeboy embraced her.

One
Hot
Summer
Night.

Apeboy — you should know — is Anthony Agnellutti from Gravesend. At age 21 he could easily pass for age 13, however, he was in possession of a shocking amount of body hair. Plus he was willing to work for very little, always showed up on time, and was ok about being locked in a cage for seven shows a day. He used to go to high school with my friend Val's older sister.

The one act that made us uncomfortable was The Bearded Lady. She was a mystery to us. She said almost nothing when she came onstage. She stared out at the audience, daring us to look her in the eye. The Surf Avenue Riots never gave her a hard time. They spoke of how unattractive she was — a pale, gaunt woman in a simple, white dress. Their comments made little sense to me. If you looked closely enough at her, she wasn't an unattractive woman. Her features were distinct. I think I once saw her late at night on Mermaid Avenue and West 21st. She was putting something inside the trunk of her baby blue Oldsmobile. She seemed younger than I expected. Her gait was light and airy as she slipped around the corner.

The Surf Avenue Riots loved to slink down the beach like we were in the movie The Warriors. We'd run down Stillwell Avenue from the Q. The gangs of every borough ready to slaughter us. Just like in The Warriors.

One of the Surf Avenue Riots had an older brother who would pretend to hunt us down in his beat up 1986 AMC Eagle. We all had a crush on Billy. He'd take his Warriors role seriously, never breaking character when he saw us ready for a chase. He'd rev the engine and howl, "Warriors, come out and play-eeee-ay!" He'd dangle those empty beer bottles out of the window, clinking them together, and do the best Luther imitation you have ever heard.

Billy and his friends would chase us in that car all the way to Nathan's. We'd howl with pleasure. We'd terrorize the parents taking their kids to ride the Cyclone. Our goal was to make it to the big table in the back and drink tall boys, eat hot dogs, fried clam strips, and French fries until we absolutely had to go home. The Surf Avenue Riots ate their Nathan's fries with mustard.

Never ketchup. It was our signature.

You may be surprised to hear that none of us ever missed curfew.

Ever.

The very last night we ever played The Warriors game, Billy was gaining on us. He'd never gotten this close. We were about 50 feet away from Nathan's and we were running as fast as we could. All the boys were dangling bottles out their windows, clinking them ominously. Billy would taunt us: "Warriors, come out and play-eeee-ay!!" The other boys would chant, "We're comin' for you, Surf Avenue Riots! We're gonna get you and good!"

An older man was opening the entrance door near the food counter. He saw us coming at full speed and held the door open for us. All seven of us were diving through the door like we were going down a water slide.

Billy tried to swerve but lost control of his car. It smashed through the front window of Nathan's, plowing through the customers waiting on line. Billy was killed instantly. There were dozens of broken bones, concussions, and lacerations. One of the cashiers behind the counter wasn't so lucky. She was pinned underneath the chassis of the car and was pronounced dead at the hospital. The fry cooker oil flew in the air and scalded dozens who were rushed to the burn unit at New York Presbyterian. We had run to the far back corner and were safe from any injury.

* * *

We attended the funeral of both Billy and the girl who was killed behind the counter. So did all our parents. And although it was odd, Nathan's insisted on catering both funerals. They served the food in elegant dishes and had beautiful silverware. We mourned and ate hot dogs. Our clothes smelled of Nathan's when we left Billy's shiva. They used the kosher hotdogs for Billy even though his family wasn't kosher at all.

A few weeks later, my parents knocked on my bedroom door. I had my dad's albums scattered on the floor. "Sister Ray" was playing on the turntable, so it was The Velvet Underground's White Light, White Heat. The last song on Side B. You could tell the conversation was going to be serious because Dad didn't seem annoyed at all that I was getting my fingerprints all over his Remain In Light by The Talking Heads. He kneeled on the carpet next to me and pulled out a dust cloth. He gently wiped down the album and slid it back into its sleeve.

Mom sat on the foot of my bed, carefully folding my Pixies tee shirt. She knew I couldn't care less about what went into the dryer besides my concert tee shirts. She once shrunk a Siouxsie & The Banshees shirt. I sulked for three days.

"I'm feeling fine you don't have to get all concerned parent on me," I said without a breath.

"What's your dad making you listen to?" smirked Mom.

"She can listen to whatever she wants. I don't impose my taste on her."

Mom and I looked each other. We bit our tongues simultaneously.

"My rabid music fan daughter should also be a musicologist. That's all I've ever said on the subject."

"Dad, Patti Smith is a goddess, but she wrote some cruddy songs."

I loved pushing his buttons.

"Please let's not have this conversation," he responded. "You have to allow a song to grow on you."

Dad was my music professor of sorts. He knew everything about everything rock n' roll, punk, and jazz.

"We need to talk," said Mom, with a softness that made it sound like something big was coming.

"We both got new jobs. Great ones. We're going to move in about eight weeks."

Shit.

Mom and Dad were scientists and both were hired by IFF — International Flavors & Fragrances. They loved working together and actually marketed themselves as a team. They'd be heading up a department to develop the citrus flavorings from around the globe — creating the scents and flavors of lime, lemon, tangerines, oranges, grapefruits, yuzu, sudachi, kumquat, and a host of fruits I'd never even heard of.

But here was the kicker. We were moving to New Jersey.

All of my excitement for them dissipated. In retrospect, I know it was a temper tantrum I should have controlled. I walked out my bedroom door, pausing only to step on The White Album and smash it into pieces. Even after I closed the bathroom door, I could hear a sound from Dad that could only be described as a whimper.

* * *

I bought him a new copy of The White Album two months later. By that point we were settling into our new home in the bucolic state of New Jersey. A mere 27 miles from Coney Island. As the crow flies.

The three of us had never lived in a house before. I pretended I was more pissed off about leaving Brooklyn than I actually was. Witnessing that crash changed a lot of things. The distance from the incident made me feel a bit more at peace.

Dad was setting up a brand new turntable in the living room. It was the first time you could actually look at his entire album collection. On a sweltering August weekend, I worked on counting them so I could stay in the air-conditioned house.

1,977 albums.

That wasn't counting greatest hits albums, which he said shouldn't count. We fought about that one all our lives.

On the first Friday at my new high school, I was invited out by some girls from homeroom. We wound up at Tara Finnegan's house because her parents were out of town for the weekend. I thought glue sniffing was an urban myth. I didn't know anyone in Brooklyn who sniffed glue. I thought glue sniffing was on par with the myth about waking up in a bathtub full of ice with your kidneys removed and the "Call 911" note written on the bathroom mirror. But these five girls were sniffing glue. They each brought their own, removing them from these beautiful embroidered cloth pouches. I politely declined and made an excuse that I was having an asthma attack and forgot my inhaler.

So I wandered towards a jug handle entrance thinking all high school girls in the state of New Jersey sniff glue.

I was seized with a sudden craving.

I wanted French fries.

Nathan's French fries.

I hadn't eaten French fries since the funeral and I wasn't sure where to even find good ones.

I had never been to one of those Art Deco Greek diners. There were classic diners in Brooklyn, but it just never happened for me. I had no idea that the menu would include anything one could possibly desire at any time of the day. A trucker from Metuchen could order Surf n' Turf at 4:30 a.m. after being on the road for a week. A weight conscious Mom from Ho-Ho-Kus could order something called "The Diet Burger" while her kids drank milkshakes. "The Diet Burger" is apparently a burger on something called Diet Bread and has a side of cottage cheese.

A diner never says no.

I squinted a bit when I entered. The fluorescent light was a harsh counterpoint to the dark outside. I stood next to the bowl of mints on the counter. A man with a pocket comb in his shirt ushered me to a booth. He left a menu with me. It probably weighed 5 pounds. A small addendum to the menu fell out offering Shirley Temples for the little girls and Roy Rogers for the little boys.

The waitress brought over a bowl of pickles and a side of cole slaw.

"Oh, that's ok," I said. I didn't order them and thought this was for someone else.

"It's on us," she smiled.

"Gee, thanks." I was being genuine. Who wouldn't want cold, crispy pickles when sitting down for a meal?

The menu overwhelmed me. I looked for French fries but couldn't find them. I crunched all the pickles.

After about five minutes of crunching, the waitress came by again. Her nametag read "Carla." I find all Carlas to be genuine.

"You look lost in there," she said.

"I just want a plate of French fries but can't find them."

"One of our specialties," she said.

A woman with a tight hair bun sitting near me slurped coffee. You could hear the gentle sound as she sprinkled half a grapefruit with Sweet n' Low.

"What kind do you want?"

"Just. Fries."

"Do you want Disco Fries?"

I hesitated.

"Have you ever had Disco Fries?"

"I'm not sure."

"Well then, you're getting Disco Fries. I'll bring them to you and it'll all be clear. If you don't like them, they're on me."

I first asked Carla for a can of Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray — as a challenge of sorts. Could this diner possibly have a Cel-Ray? Carla didn't even hesitate. She back-pedaled to the counter, knelt down for a moment, and filled a glass with ice. The waiter behind the counter handed off the can to her and she glided back to my table.

I had my first Cel-Ray at Sherry Lowenthal's Bat Mitzvah and have been hooked on it ever since. The other kids hated it. Benny Minkoff took a huge gulp and tried wiping his tongue with a napkin to get the taste off. Big tongue. Weird tongue. Well, more for me, I thought.

And soon, they arrived. A plate of French fries, cut with the love of a potato aficionado. The fries were then covered with luxurious melted cheese and then topped with a soothing blanket of gravy.

"Why Disco Fries?"

"There are in fact a few theories," said Carla, evoking a scholarly tone. "Some say they are a perfect ending to a late night out of ribaldry. Some say they are merely a break in the late night action; a comforting pause before returning to the dance floor of sorts. Others say that it is akin to the term 'Disco Nap' — the ritual of sleeping in the early evening in preparation for a very late night."

I had many questions for Carla. I was frustrated with myself because I don't like finding out about terms I should have already known.

"You look rather serious."

She was right. I felt it in my temples, I felt it in my medial dorsal, I felt it in the way my ankles wrapped around each other, pulling tightly on my Achilles tendons.

Carla touched my left shoulder and rested it there for a moment.

"Enjoy those. I'm in the corner over there. If you need me, just come on over."

Carla swiveled. Moments later she poured me another Cel-Ray. She walked to the corner.

And soon they were gone. Every single sliced potato. I wiped the gravy clean, and washed it all down with a gulp of Cel-Ray.

I walked over to her about an hour later. The diner was almost empty. She gestured for me to sit across from her in the booth. I noticed a mini-jukebox at her table. It was playing Curtis Mayfield's "Superfly."

"How come the other booths don't have one of these?" I said, amazed by the jukebox.

"Hard to say, really. The owner didn't seem to think folks were interested in music while they ate. He didn't give me a raise, but he gave me this jukebox booth. It's my second home. I can't bring in my vinyl but I can listen to my music."

Songs by Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Nick Cave floated by while we sat quietly.

"How about this," Carla said — who was not so much asking a question but making a statement. "The next time you come back, sit here. I think you'll like this booth. We'll share it."

For the next year or so, I ate my disco fries with Carla. Sometimes she counted her tips. Sometimes she refilled ketchup bottles. Sometimes she just closed her eyes and listened to the jukebox.

The trucker from Metuchen continued to order his Surf n' Turf. The woman with the tight hair bun continued to order her coffee and sprinkle half a grapefruit with Sweet n' Low. The mom from Ho-Ho-Kus ate her Diet Burger. Her kids slurped their milkshakes.

Carla eventually granted me rights to play whatever music I wanted. I never understood why, but the music would change each time I came in. This jukebox was magic. One day it was Lydia Lunch; the next it was Sly & The Family Stone. Her booth jukebox was as expansive as my dad's record collection.

"So Carla, I've known you for about a year. Do you actually exist outside of the diner?"

"Do you?" she said.

Point taken.

"I have an idea. I'm off tomorrow. I have something to attend to."

"Sounds mysterious."

"Perhaps. Wanna come with? It's Sunday tomorrow. I assume you kids still don't go to school on Sundays."

It was early September. The school year had just begun. The weather had been perfect as of late.

"Tell you what," she said, a mischievous smile growing. "Meet me outside at 8:00 a.m. I'll pick you up and we'll take our trip."

"Where are we off to?"

"It's a surprise young lady. It's an all day adventure, so get some sleep."

She wouldn't let me pay her for my disco fries, which embarrassed me. I insisted.

"Nope. Get out of here."

I didn't know how to dress. I put on my jeans, hi-tops, and my dad's Ramones tee shirt. Off to the diner parking lot.

Carla was already there, in front of her baby blue Oldsmobile. She was slipping something inside the trunk. She caught me walking up to her and closed the trunk fast.

Carla was in all black and looked younger than I expected. I didn't realize how much her waitress uniform concealed her lithe figure.

"Yeah, I know I look good."

A six-pack of Cel-Ray was sitting on the passenger seat.

"Don't drink it all at once. I'm not stopping to pee."

I didn't ask where we were heading because you could tell she wouldn't respond anyway. She put on the Newark Jazz station WBGO and I fell asleep to the Stan Getz-Cal Tjader Sextet.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Rock n' Roll Lies by Donny Levit. Copyright © 2015 Donny Levit. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Disco Fries, 1,
Up Yours, A Love Story, 23,
Lorem Ipsum, 47,
Starbux Bladder, 69,
What About The Voice Of Geddy Lee?, 87,
I Murdered Comic Sans, 111,
Sweet Spot, 135,
Even Stephen + Bloody Mary, 153,
Mohel To the Stars, 175,
Sucka Punch, 197,

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