Thursday, 20 September 2012

1972-1973 Winter

Myself on South Ferry Street where I was living in early 1973.
in the PATH train going to Manhattan... look at the Pulaski Skyway in the background...

Billboard's Top Five on 13th January 1973

1. You're so vain - Carly Simon
2. Superstition - Stevie Wonder
3. Me and Mrs. Jones - Billy Paul
4. Clair - Gilbert O'Sullivan
5. Your mama don't dance - Loggins & Messina

The winter of 1972-1973 crept in without my realizing it. It was the second winter I spent in the USA. Nino, who was living in Queens-NY with Jose, decided he'd had it and was going back to Brazil. And that's what he did in late November 1972.  He was terribly homesick and couldn't be apart from his family much longer. It is really funny how people like Nino who could be away from his family for months on end, suddenly start missing them terribly. I think he was just bored with his life and wanted some drastic change without much effort and decided to 'go back'. Going back is always easier than sorting yourself out.

I guess we all get influenced by someone sometime and I have to admit I was influenced by Nino's choice to go back to Brazil'. I thought I had to do it too. Suddenly I started thinking I had been in the US for too long, so I put my mind to work in that direction. First I had to save money which was not difficult 'cause I had a steady job at the record factory again. After I took Nino to JFK and we said good-bye I moved into Nagib's cousin's apartment. That was late November 1972 and the songs playing on the radio were:

Billboard's Top 5 on 25 November 1972.

1. I can see clearly now - Johnny Nash
2. I'd love you to want me - Lobo
3. I'll be around - Spinners
4. I am woman - Helen Reddy
5. Papa was a rolling stone - The Temptations


I started sharing the living room with Guto and Nagib at Sing Sing. Soon I was in trouble there and had to literally flee the apartment to avoid being caught by the Immigration. 

Nagib was an immature young man even though he boasted and bragged about being a 'ladies'man'. 'Chick' relating to girls, was the only word he would speak in English. I didn't know much about his past but apparently he had been a burden to his family due to his use of marijuana and other assorted illegal drugs in the town where they lived in Brazil. As we worked together at the record factory we used to talk a lot during the shift work and he told me he wanted to experiment LSD badly. As I had taken 'acid' earlier in the year I told we could do it one day. And that day being a Saturday night I went out and bought an acid 'drop' from a Puertorican fellow on the corner of Fleming Ave. and Oxford Street right down from our apartment. The 'stuff' was a blue smear on a piece of white blotting paper. I swallowed half of it and gave the other half to Nagib. Soon Nagib started having visions of animals and monsters crawling up the refrigerator.

Nagib was a weak person and I only realized that when he started screaming his lungs out! He would not stop shouting monsters were coming after him. I myself was not feeling good either. For a moment I thought my stomach was 'eating itself out' and I was about to die. We were into what they call a 'bad trip'! The acid must have been of really poor quality! It was early January 1973. GutoLeila and her husband didn't know what to do about Nagib's lack of control over himself. I realized I had to do something before it was too late. Suddenly I up and grabbed Nagib's hands and yanked him out of the apartment, went down the stairs and walked on Oxford Street which was covered with dirty snow and ice. I knew we had to walk in the freezing cold in order to 'get better' and we walked towards the Passaic River promenade. It was almost like 'Mama told me not to come', a song by Three Dog Night. The howling wind would tear us to bits but I kept on walking and told Nagib to keep breathing deep to try and escape from our drug-induced hell. The cold would keep us alive... and that's what happened.

We walked for hours. At least that was my impression. We probably must have walked about an hour. When I could not stand the cold any longer we went inside the flat again. Nagib was still blabbering but he had calmed down somehow. 

Next morning, while we were still in bed, Nagib's aunt stormed into the apartment shouting loud and clear she was going to the Immigration Department  to 'tell the whole truth'. That I was a 'drug dealer' turning her sweet nephew into a drug fiend . I thought I'd better leave that apartment as soon as I could and by Monday I was living some place else.

Damazio had introduced me to Cuica, a Mineiro youth who was married to Antonieta, a Brazilian young woman from Manaus-AM who had been living in the USA since she was a teenager. Toni, as she was known was a nice person and Cuica was even nicer. They lived at Sing Sing but intended to rent a house, for Toni was expecting a baby and they would needed a bigger place. They invited me to share this new house and that's how I ended up living on South Ferry Street where I shared a room with Divino, Cuica's older brother who worked at the record factory too. This was my last abode in Newark before I quit and came back to Sao Paulo. 

Me and the Passaic River with the Newark skyline at the back - March 1973.

I left JFK on a Thursday, 29th March 1973 - this was Billboard's Top 5 on 24th March 1973:

1. Love train - O'Jays
2. Killing me softly with his song - Roberta Flack
3. Also sprach Zarathustra - Elmir Deodato
4. Neither one of us - Gladys Knight & the Pips
5. Last song - Edward Bear

Lori Lieberman recorded 'Killing me softly with his song' originally... actually the song was written specially at her request. She went to see a Don McLean concert and was overwhelmed by McLean's poetry and song playing... she felt he'd found all her letters and read each one out loud... that's the way the story goes...

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