Monday, April 25, 2011

BALLS: Life's Secret Scenarios #8—film career hijinx redux


Forget Downeys, Joe Allens, or The Theatre Bar
this Friday night after your show!
Come one Come all January 7th. 
Be the first to see a Midnite Screening
of your favorite Stage Manager’s
1st Indie-Undie (very sexy) debut feature film
”EVENTS …A reelie”
a new film by FRED BAKER
Friday Midnite @ The Elgin Cinema,
Eighth Ave. bet. W18th & W19th Street,
Support Your Very Own Underground Filmmaker!
Tickets $3

When Fritz finished his first dramatic feature film “Events” in late 1969, he decided to screen it in a legit size movie theatre and invite all his Bway and Off-Bway Theatre buddies; stage tech crews and actors whose Bway and Off-Bway curtains didn’t drop until 10:45 or 11 pm. To hold a screening of his new film at Midnight he felt certain he could fill tons of seats at The Elgin on 8th Avenue in Chelsea, the perfect spot.

(Previously The Elgin Theatre, 8th Ave.& W.19th, now The Joyce Dance Theater)

So over a couple of afternoons, Fritz went over there to talk to the manager / owner about his idea.  The Elgin’s owner operator, Barry Shteinholtz was not at first in love with Fritz's "Midnight Screening" schema, but Fritz being a major nudge, Barry finally gave in: 
"OK Dubake, announce it for Friday, January, the 7th, but you have to pay the projectionist for his overtime. OK?"

Fritz immediately gave out the invite (almost exactly as above) to every Stage Doorman and Stage Manager in NYC, specifically for posting on every backstage bulletin board the day after New Years 1970. On the previous Saturday matinees, Fritz went and checked every backstage bulletin board in the city—all were dutifully posted.

5 days later, there resulted a mini street riot Friday night at 11:40 pm; bedlam in Chelsea on Eighth Avenue. The boisterously beautiful singing-dancing throng that Fritz’s hand-scribbled poster attracted to his screening poured out and over from the sidewalks onto Eighth Avenue blocking traffic, bringing out a squad of helmeted NYPD in crowd control riot gear; (who ended up flirting with all the cute Bway girl dancers.)

The overflow late-night crowd was the first film line to ever form to get into till then an unheard of ‘Midnight Screening’ of a totally unheard of independent film by one of their own; noisily, in great excitement, 400 some odd Bway gypsies bought their tickets and filled the house to its shaky rafters. The film began at 12:20 am.

There was another ray of luck that shone that night on Fritz & Barbara. 

  ("Events" Poster, clockwise L top to R, Marsha Rossa, Ryan Listman, 
Joy (Wener) Bang & Frank Cavestani )

It just so happened that 1st Amendment advocate Barney Rossett, the multi-millionaire lawyer, who owned and ran the infamous Grove Press, got himself caught in this very traffic jam on a taxi ride uptown on Eighth Avenue that night, and in utter disgust, jumped out of his blocked taxi, snaked his way through the young noisy crowd, got to the box office, bought a $3 ticket, and went in to see Fritz’s “Events”—just out of pissed-off curiosity. 

The next morning at 8:30 am, he called Fritz—while Fritz and Babs were still sleeping—declaring his wish to buy “Events” for Grove Press—offering Fritz an advance of $250,000.  As their eyes opened wide, Babs and Fritz looked at each other, their jaws dropped!

Barry and The Elgin also cleaned up that Friday night!  But Fritz, in telling me, advised  me all I needed to know about Barry Shteinholtz: that even though he made a clear $1200 profit on Fritz's Midnight Show, he had no compunction taking the $150 Fritz had agreed to pay the projectionist for staying three hours late overtime. 
“A deals a deal, right Fritz” Barry smirked as Fritz handed him the cash.

But within the next week, after hiring himself an entertainment lawyer, Fritz signed the "Events"distribution deal with Barney Rossett and Grove Press for $200,000 cash advance, plus a $50,000 working account to redub parts of the “Events” sound track—which even Fritz readily agreed needed work. 

Shteinholtz was fit to be tied and red-faced livid when he was told about the deal Fritz made with Grove that didn’t include him or The Elgin.  Like in the famous words of mogul Samuel Goldwin—“Include me out!”  Eh?  Fritz had to take Barry's incendiary lowest-east-side diatribe that Fritz was “cheated him out of his Midnight bookings for the now hit film “Events, which I made possible with my theatre...blah blah blah”.  
But, in fact, “Events” would never be a hit in the final go round for underground movies, as Grove Press & Fritz had hoped or thought possible.  Its content (the graphic sex) for an American film was too explicit, too rough for most exhibitors and their audiences, even then in the 70's.  So, it languished into oblivion at Grove Press for 5 years without one booking or sale until they generously gave it back to Fritz. 

But what Barry Shteinholtz didn’t know yet was that Fritz would discover and bring him a much bigger Midnight hit for the Elgin.  He would bring him and ask him to book a virtually perfect Midnight Show, a total masterstroke of a film, perfectly designed for his venue, by another, quite ingenious, filmmaker.

Fritz was re-dubbing some of the more difficult sound tracks for “Events” with his actors up at the Ross-Gaffney editing suites and sound-recording studios on West 46 Street Midtown.  Babs, working with Fritz, and taking a short break for a smoke, wandered in on an editor working in one of the suites.  He was smoking and she needed a light for her cigarette.  She watched a couple of parts of the film he was working on at the stand-up Moviola.  He said he was Mexican, spoke very little English, and Babs, who couldn’t take her eyes off the Moviola, said, in her charismatic way, complimenting him—"uniquely shot, looks brilliant as could be"—cheering him on.  She then asked if she could use the intercom, called Fritz: “Please come in to suite #5, Fritz, take a break, come meet this guy. He's a Mexican cat and whatdaya know he speaks yiddish!  I want you to take a look at this phenomenal film he's making!”

Both of them, actually all three of them, were so happily impressed that day, they saw a really unique film and Fritz and Babs made a brilliant new friend, the Mexican Jewish filmmaker, Alejandro Jodorowsky. 

The following Sunday, Fritz took Alejandro to the Second Avenue Russian Turkish Baths on East Tenth Street.  Both of these Ashkenaze boychickles were to get happily stewed on two hours of the hottest steam imaginable, chilled glasses of Stolichnaya and Russ & Daughters Shmaltz Herring on fresh black Russian pumpernickel.  

They both emerged from the Baths with newborn wrinkled skin against the fiercely cold February wind, lit up and smoked a fat doobie on the street walking west on Ninth Street all the way to 8th Avenue and up to the Elgin Theatre. Alejandro was carrying, carefully tucked under his arm, the first English subtitled 16mm print of his very far out allegorical masterpiece “El Topo.”

(Alejandro Jodorowsky in his film "EL TOPO")

Barry was at the greasy-spoon Greek Diner on the corner across the street from the Elgin. He was having his Sunday morning Breakfast, awaiting them, and when Fritz and Alejandro came into the diner, they all proceeded across the Avenue into the Elgin.  Alejandro put the print in the hands of the projectionist who took it up to the projection booth.

That Sunday early afternoon,  Barry’s self-appointed aura of being Underground Film’s connoisseurship Maven of all times, signaled usually by no more than watching films with a slightly disgusted smirk on his face, fell completely apart! He was now being totally blown away by a screening—weirdly shaking and laughing, sniggling words to himself in his lonely seat at the back of the house, screaming at the screen, creepily rocking back and forth—all this, and just 20 minutes into Alejandro’s wildly original film.

With “El Topo,” booked as the Midnight Movie @ The Elgin, Barry officially began the phenomenon Fritz introduced him to with "Events"—the newest successful innovation in the history of film exhibition which would be copied throughout the USA and Canada and eventually all across the entire world-wide theatrical spectrum.  “El Topo” ran consecutive Friday night Midnights at The Elgin for more than six years.  Just on Friday nights—just one show.  "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" was just a dream in someone's head at that point and eventually to come out to eclipse even the "El Topo" record.  But Barry never gave Fritz one ounce of credit nor one thin dime for bringing him both the idea and the film "El Topo" to realize it with.

Another film Fritz discovered for Barry, which also ran Midnights for years, and all over the world as well, was David Lynch’s “Eraserhead.”  But, by then, Fritz was already in the clutches of and working for da Barry boychickle.

('Fritz Dubake', circa 1976, about to go to work for 'Barry Shteinholtz')

How'd that come about?:
Fritz went to see Barry one day in 1976 to try to make some money and get some of his own new working underground films booked into The Elgin—i.e., "Lenny Bruce Without Tears", "Events", "The Murder of Fred Hampton" 
This day was one when Fritz was at his weakest—still had to pick up his taxi at 4 pm that day and each and every day, driving the cab nights in 12 hour shifts, six or even seven nights a week; also, he was not clicking on any of the acting gigs on Broadway he would read for, and had no financing opportunities in sight for making new films.  It was just very bleak for my friend in what show biz folks call "down time, at liberty."

(1976 Village Voice Ad for one of Fritz's Elgin Theatre Shows)

So on this one occasion, Barry gave Fritz a 1 week booking: "Fred Hampton / Lenny Bruce" for $300 total film rental, but also put this to Fritz:

“Listen, Fritz,  since you seem to be really good at selling your own stuff, at least to me, why don’t you come to work here and help me do my buying and booking for the Elgin and perhaps even help me out with some other entities I’m putting together…I wanna branch out and do some serious art-film distribution—you’ll be good at it,  I have this feeling—I’ll pay you 400 bucks a week?”

By years end 1976, Fritz was working his tail off for Barry in his rat-infested Elgin Theatre basement office, not only booking all the weekly repertory film shows and the weekly Saturday Midnight shows for the Theatre itself but also doing all the sales both domestically and Internationally for two companies which Barry ran and owned with a few secret investors.  

Library Films Inc. and Northfolk Films Ltd. were just two of a number of small companies breaking into the then quite lucrative Indie Art Film Market on a  world-wide scale.  Fritz’s position for Library/Northfolk was Sales Director for their first big smash hit.  They had bought the USA and Canada distribution rights, for $5000, to a French flop which became a major USA hit, charming American audiences by it's dint of simplistic familial flirtatiousness,, "kissin cousins"—the milestone foreign hit film, Gaumont’s “Cousin Cousine.”  This well-made, well-acted comedy by Charles Tachella which would go on to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in the 1976 Academy Awards—doing sell-out business at The Paris Theatre across the street from The Plaza on W.58 Street.  It ran there for two and half years!  On the basis alone of the spectacularly high weekly numbers at The Paris, week after week of $60,000+ per week, Fritz was getting incessant phone calls from every out-of-town art-theatre booker in the USA and Canada.  He learned his Sales Director gig very fast successfully selling “Cousine Cousine” as the foreign film hit of the next two years bringing in more than three million dollars in advanced and earned film rentals to the Library/Northal coffers by late 1978.  Besides becoming their Sales Director, Fritz also became their Chief Film Buyer, and got some perks—in lieu of his truly cheap measly salary (under $500 per week—Fritz was sent, with all expenses paid, to every major film festival in the world to both sell and to acquire rights to films he deemed workable for the Library/Northfolk process. In the more than 2 years of distribution work with “Cousin Cousine and other films he acquired for Barry and his partners, Dubake achieved recognizable status in the international film industry as a hardscrabble deal-maker/film buyer and booker of specialty and art-house cinema product.

 “Eraserhead” by David Lynch was one of the Fritz’s discoveries on a trip to Filmex for Library/Northfolk,  He called Barry from the Filmex Festival in LA and said, "Bar, just seen the weirdest, possibly the most unique film ever!"  
Barry said "Buy it!"

Fritz called and met David Lynch the next day at Schwabs Drugstore on Sunset Blvd.  David was painting houses at the time and arrived on his lunch break to meet Fritz in his paint splattered overalls. Fritz told him Library Films wanted his film and cut a deal with him right there at Schwabs Soda Fountain counter, buying "Eraserhead" for world-wide rights at almost embarrassingly attractive terms for Barry.  (50%/50% net)
No Advance!
(This "Eraserhead" poster was actually designed by 'Fritz's' son 'Jeff', who was 15 at the time and studying at the HS of Art & Design. This Poster has sold thousands of copies for 'Barry' who put his (c) signature on the poster.  He has never once said thank you to Jeff for creating it, or has ever offered to give Jeff a cent in Artist's Royalties.)

For a uniquely freaky weird little film to get a distribution deal from a highly touted successful NYC art-film distributor was occasion for celebration and a party.  It was given by Sissy Spacek, Lynch’s sister-in-law (at the time), in Fritz's honor at her family home in Topanga Canyon.  It was Sissy’s and her old man's money that David used to make “Eraserhead.”  Sissy was overjoyed that it had found a first-class buyer in Fritz for Library/Northfolk Films.  She invited all her Hollywood friends to come and celebrate Dubake as the “World’s most fearless distributor from NYC for picking up “Eraserhead” for distribution!”  Fritz thought Sissy very generous, a really great gal and fun, and so were her whole extended family and all her famous Topanga Canyon guests at the party. 

 But the Library/Northfolk salary he brought home to Babs and his now teen-age kids was less than Fritz could make at taxi driving and was proving a financial misery for him and family.  He and Babs had to begin to figure out how they would send their three kids to college?  Within a couple of years of his working for Barry, Fritz and Babs decided to form their own banner, FDFVCO Inc., and went in to business for themselves doing service distribution deals for other young boutique companies. Only then did it begin to pay off.

On his own FDFVCO banner and as a free-lance Sales Agent, Fritz found and made deals for and distributed “The Innocent” by Luchino Visconti, “Garde A Vue”, a French thriller with Rommy Schneider, which won five Ceasars in France, and “Tales of Ordinary Madness” starring Ben Gazarra, adapted from a Charles Bukowski gutter novel, brilliantly filmed by the outre Italian filmmaker, Marco Fererri ("La Grande Bouffe").

('Fritz' w Charles Bukowski at the LA Premiere of "Tales Of Ordinary Madness" 1983)

Also on a service contract with Jerry Rapaport's company IFEX, he distributed Nikita Mikhalkov's “Oblomov”, Menshov’s “Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears" (which won another Academy Award for best Foreign Film) and 2 French Canadian films: 1 by Gilles Carle called “La Vrai Nature De Bernadette” and the second by Francis Mankewitz, “Les Bon Debarras,” which garnered a third Best Foreign Academy Award Oscar. 

But, by the mid 80’s, what Fritz could offer in the bidding war for films was nowhere near competitive enough to hold up in the free wheeling atmosphere that began to crumble and change radically when all the Major Distribution Companies (UA, MGM, Paramount, Universal, Columbia, Sony, virtually all of them) decided to set up their own “Classics” divisions and get into foreign subtitled films—till then only of interest to small boutique Independents like Fritz’s FDFVCO.  So, now, with the majors bidding in excess of 8,9,10 million dollars in advance for a 'hot' foreign film, small distribution firms were driven—stupidly and against better judgment—to risk on buying very difficult titles, all potential failures, from very slim unpromising pickings.  
The handwriting was on the wall.

But the logic of the Majors to destroy the specialty part of the art-film business still didn’t compute?  We all knew it was obviously such small chump-change compared to the big numbers the Majors traditionally needed to generate payoff for their blockbuster "crap"— made for hundreds of millions of dollars?  Why would they do it?  Why play in this artsy-fartsy sandbox and pick up these small films, go to the trouble to create these fockockteh “classics” divisions to handle them?  These sub-titled films would only generate perhaps a few hundred thousand dollars in earned film rentals, and, at best, moderately low prices for subsidiary TV and Home-Video rights?  They all knew that only one out of a hundred of these foreign art-films made any money at all?  Was it just to destroy that small precious part of the business out of sense of pure greed, or reputation at stake—merely as a pay back for the insulting loss of ego and prestige? 
Probably, it must have been that for the most part.

So in the long run, once they flooded the whole art-foreign-specialty film business by the mid 80’s, it was all but useless trying to run up against them at the Festival Markets. People like Barry, Fritz, John Tilley, Paul Cohen, perhaps thirty-forty others, all brilliant maverick boutique foreign art-film distributors, all of them, just had to tuck-tail and get the hell out of it or they would be destroyed in it’s wake.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Balls, Life's Secret Scenarios #7 Fritz's Mom & Pop Open The 2nd Ave Deli—The Best NYC Deli!

“Yes, Barbara darling you can save a marriage with delicious matzoh balls. I don’t mean to say you and Fritzeleh, you’re both looking very happy, but even if the marriage is ah bissel touch and go, you know what I mean—making it work is a lot like making the matzoh balls themselves.”

(Paris Match photo,1956 issue,
food critic called The 2nd Ave Deli the best Jewish food in NYC.)
(front left: Freida, Fritz and Barbara, Harry behind counter)

Fritz’s mom, Freida, is holding forth; she, Fritz and Barbara are all seated at the front table of her newly opened 2nd Avenue Hebrew National Delicatessen and Restaurant.  It’s spring of 1956 and Harry, Fritz’s dad, is busy serving a line of customers seated at the full store-length counter, bringing them their pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, side portions of potato salad, and the inevitable Dr. Browns Celery Tonic soda. It’s early Saturday noon, before the lunch rush. The small corner store has been opened for just over one month now, and is starting to do head over heels lunch and dinner business. And, all because of Freida’s specialties — the word of mouth has gotten out about her phenomenal matzoh balls, kreplach, stuffed cabbage, chopped liver — initially just out to the immediate 2nd Avenue below 14th Street neighborhood.  But now, within the second month, on just the spreading word alone, with no ads nor articles in the papers, the 2nd Avenue Deli is on everybody’s Jewish pipeline all over the City, and in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island too!

Freida was waking up these days at 4 a.m. to go into the small backroom kitchen, in the dead of night, to begin making her stuff every day since they opened the store.  She found herself a precious helper, a Chinese man named Huey, a terrific second cook from Chinatown, who walked in and asked for a job the second day they were opened. They had put a sign out front “Kitchen Helper Needed”.  When he walked in, Harry and Freida looked him in the eye and in 2 seconds they said, “Sure Huey come in tomorrow 5 a.m.  and we’ll see how it works out?” He’s now making kreplach, real Jewish wontons, as brilliant as any shtetl cook with roots in Eastern Europe.

Frieda goes on holding forth with Fritz and Babs:
“Once the balls are floating like clouds on top of the pot and the boil is nice and slow--you cover them and fifteen minutes later you take the cover off, and lo and behold they have grown into beautifully fluffy 3” to 3.5” masterpieces. You turn off the fire, let them cool a little (a couple of minutes) then remove them to a platter for serving in your soup.  Then you can bring the stock water to a boil again and drop in some more of the walnut sized matzoh/egg mixture balls into the boiling pot for the next batch. You can keep them and reheat them for at least a few days, a week. It’s a small Jewish miracle—learning how to make them...but well worth it!”

Barbara asks Freida, “but Mom, tell me more about the mixture itself, the details?”
“I’ll teach you. I’ll teach you, don’t you worry Barbara darling”

Harry walks over ...he looks happy.

Much happier than he did six months ago when one afternoon he came over to Fritz and Bab’s University Place apartment.  Barbara was at work at T. Jones & Co. on Fifth Avenue, and Fritz was alone in the apartment, waiting for him to arrive.

That morning around 9:20 am, Fritz had gotten a very strange phone call from his mother in Brooklyn.  Very unlike her, Freida was crying, saying Harry had stormed out of the house screaming, yelling very strange things about life was no good anymore—crying bitterly.  “Fritzle, he is very forlorn.”

“Maaa, What do you mean forlorn? Do you mean depressed?”

“Please don’t yell at me Fritz…I don’t know what’s wrong with him? He needs some help, some advice; he doesn’t want to work in the fur business anymore...says he can’t breathe at the machine”

“Maybe he’s just sick of it. It’s 30 years already at that facockteh machine for him!”

“He said he was going to go and see talk to you. He needs very badly to speak to someone about all of this.  With me, he just fights and screams at me. I don’t really understand it, or him, Fritzle. Maybe you can help him? Talk with him. Please!”

When Harry arrived at the apartment, walking up the four flights of stairs to sit with Fritz—for almost the full day—they spoke to each other in a special way for the first time. Quietly. Without bravado or ego. Just quietly, Fritz tried to answer Harry’s deep questions and very tearful concerns about himself and the rest of his life. Fritz feeling, for the first time with him, like an equal, an adult friend to his father Harry. 

Harry cried to him about losing faith in his own worth.  Losing face and faith in the Furriers Union he fought so hard for; now ostracizing him as an enemy because he decided to go into business for himself and hire workers on his own. He, because of this major put down by The Union, now detested the fur business, but didn’t know what else he could do?

Fritz told him about a Doctor he knew who was helping Barbara with some of her very personal problems; “perhaps you would like to talk to him, Dad?”

“Sure why not? I have no problem with seeing a psychiatrist!”

Fritz took Harry on four once-a-week visits to this shrink on Fifth Avenue. The shrink told Fritz that his father was suffering from “Involuntary Melancholia,” that it could get worse and he recommended some mild electric shock treatments, three or four…

After two sessions, Harry snapped right back onto his aggressive productive track, regaining his mental strength, wit, and got a spurt of positive volition, perhaps an epiphany, about his life coming fully and happily back into him.

He and Fritz would go into Central Park at Fifth Avenue, right after these treatment sessions, where they sat an a bench and discussed possible future plans.
“Fritzle...I have an idea and I’m talking to your mother and she is willing to do all her magic stuff, her brilliant cooking wonders somewhere in the City, downtown, I think, on the east-side, if we can find a small storefront to open a restaurant? Maybe a Jewish deli which I could run and she could do the cooking? I think we can make a success of it! What do you think?” 

He went on:
“I’ll need to use the money I’m holding for you—from the German TV movies you made; that money you sent me from Germany to hold for you...I think it’s about seven thousand dollars…you have no problem if I could use it?”

“Sure you can, why not? I’m teaching an acting class for Lily Turner at The Gate Theatre on 2nd Avenue and East Tenth Street.  So, I will scout that neighborhood for you for a store that might be available?”

As it turned out, two Greek brothers were running a failing greasy-spoon—with a fully equipped small kitchen in the back—on the opposite corner of 10th Street and 2nd Avenue.  They were in the process of closing it down and had put a sign in the window:
“Store Available—Lease and fixtures for sale” 

After running his three hour acting class the following Saturday, Fritz went across the street to this store, walked in and made a deal with these two older Greek guys to take over the store for $3000, lock, stock and barrel.

The 2nd Ave Deli opened about three weeks later, and Momma Freida and Harry went to work!

So here’s Frieda at full bask in her culinary fame, and with a much happier husband, sitting at the front table of her successful restaurant, carrying on to her son and daughter-in-law:

“Sooo first of all Honey—you know my darling Barbara I love you so, you’re so pretty—just let me say that in the mixture for the matzoh balls, the eggs are the can’t jzalleveh with the eggs—now, there’s a great Yiddish word for you, ‘jzalleveh’—it means to stint, to be stingy with something—so my instruction to you is ‘don’t stint on the eggs’. Jzalleveh nisht mitn eiehr! Farshteystu?”

I understand mom, yes I wont stint on the eggs in my matzoh balls or with my love for Fritz in my marriage!

“That’s exactly the point Barbara darling!"

Love is also
a well made
matzoh ball

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Balls, life's Secret scenarios #6 Fritz & Babs Take It All The Way

Forty years ago, at age 36, Dubake was in Stockholm, Sweden, sitting in one of two large leather chairs in a TV screening room at Sveriges Radio Two, National Swedish Television studios. On the large TV monitor in from of him, Fritz’s two-hour Lenny Bruce Collage, all the materials for a documentary film he’s working on, unfolds before him.

Nini Mathiesson, sitting with a clipboard in a chair next to Fritz, wearing headphones, is taking notes as Lenny Bruce’s stand-up performance footage runs, clip after clip, on the giant monitor. Nini, in her mid thirties, is that blond, blue eyed totally gorgeous Swede who also happens to be the very efficient Assistant Producer to Ingmar Bergman, the great film director. And Bergman—right along with Fellini and Antonioni—is Fritz’s lifelong filmmaker idol of all time! 

Nini, smiling at most of Lenny’s shtick and bits on the TV screen, while Fritz guffaws on every Lenny punch line and hip quip.
“This material on Lenny Brooce is quite phenomenal Fritz. . .really excellent!
I have Mr. Bergman on my headphones, he’s watching your collage too in his office, and he says he’s delighted!  How did you possibly manage to find so much material? We couldn’t find one foot of film on the man here in Sweden or in Europe for that matter.”
Fritz, excited by what she said about Bergman watching too.
They talk with their eyes glued to the images:
Fritz lights a cigarette. “I knew him personally. When I met him in 1964, we became quite good friends. Then when he overdosed and died—he passed away not two years later in ’66—my wife Barbara and I decided to collect as much film and TV footage on him that we could find, taking us four years to unearth it all. We traveled cross-country to all the TV stations, police stations and all the local jails and courtrooms where he was constantly being arrested or tried in various on-going court procedures all over the States, both for obscenity and drug charges. Absolutely totally ridiculous persecution of this extremely funny talented bright individual. Some of this stuff was truly very hard to first of all find, and then, to come by, acquire.”

They watch as the full collage of film clips come to an end.

“Nini, this is a dream for me. I’d never in my life expected to come face-to-face with this man himself. He’s the master. I know every scene in every film he has ever made.  Do I actually get to meet him?”
“He’ll be in very shortly Fritz. . .and all of the actors, too, the ones working with him on his five-part program we’re making; he wants us to run it once more—all the way through so that he and the actors can come watch in this studio with you. Of course, if you don’t mind?” she tells Fritz.


The lights now go dark in the screening room and Dubake’s Lenny Bruce footage begins to roll again.  Slowly Fritz becomes aware of first two or three people entering the darkened room, then more people moving silently behind them, sitting to his left or right all around he and Nini.  The full Lenny Bruce collage is run again without stops or comment from anyone in the room. 

The clips finally comes to an end, the 16mm tail leader flipping in the projector. Lights come up very slowly; Fritz begins to recognize all of the Bergman film actors smiling at him—“just other ordinary people mind you!” Nini had warned him not to make a fuss over them.  And here they are all sitting cross-legged on the floor.  Fritz searches past them to catch his very first glimpse of Ingmar, standing in the doorway. Fritz muses, "he must have been there all the time, watched all of it again?"  As the room lights come fully on, a milling of heads and applauding hands and compliments swirl at Dubake.  Smiling, staring in awe at all of them, he is overcome with fast flash-cut visions of all of these very actors, their faces flying at him from every Bergman film he has seen and studied a hundred times.

Fritz, came to see me to tell me about it when he was back in the Apple a week later:
“That was the first time I swear it Dutch that that ever happened to me. I remember Timmy Leary telling me that after you drop a lot of acid and then don’t take any for a while, you can have these sometimes unwanted fast cut lucid moments that come upon you even without the drug. In that screening room scene in Stockholm last week, I had it really happen to me—but it was completely totally wanted and enjoyed, believe me—I definitely did not freak out!”

Dubake from Stockholm is on the phone to Barbara in New York City.  Barbara, now 34, is juggling the call while serving supper to Sheara and Natalie, her matching set of nine year old twin girls and Jeffrey, her seven year-old baby boychicle.

Dubake’s phone call home is from Nini Mathiesson’s bedroom; who is fast asleep next to him. Her flawless back is being stroked softly by him as he speaks to his wife.
“Fritz. . . don’t tell me you met all of them?  Bergman himself, Liv Ulmann, Bibi Anderson. Von Siddow?  You’ve gotta be kidding!?”
“Absolutely not kidding!  Also, coming home with a $28,000 check made out to you from Sveriges Radio 2…Swedish National TV!”
“I don’t believe this!  You’re a fucking genius, my Fritzledick!”
“I’m looking at the check right now in my fat fist!”
“This sounds good. Great! I can get the twins into Professional Children’s School. Wow!—what a major gas for all of us Fritz.  Congratulations darling!. 

Fritz, happy with her delight.  "Yeah I'm's very cool."

"So tell me, from Amsterdam and the ‘First Annual S.U.C.K. Film Festival’ to Stockholm and Ingmar Bergman—how does that happen, unfold, tell me?”

He fills her in: That his film "Room Service" won best prize for a documentary in the Festival and that he also for the first time last night showed his 1200ft 16mm Lenny Collage at the American Hotel in Amsterdam, on the wall, in the night club—a place that goes wild till dawn every night....and then "much too early this morning I get this remarkable wake-up phone call from Stockholm, from a Nini, Production Assistant I figured, telling me that an Ingmar Bergman 'spy' in Amsterdam saw the Lenny Brooce footage last night, called Bergman about it and that, Mr. Behrgmahn, her boss, who is presently making a five-part TV series on Lenny, would like for me to fly up to Stockholm today to show him my collage reel, all expenses paid by Swedish TV?"

Barbara goes on,
“Wow..that's so heavy Fritz!   
By the way, Vinnie Caves tells me Janie and you were in a sex orgy just the other night at The American Hotel in Amsterdam?  True?”
“Yes!  Hey, word gets around the world pretty fast these days, don’t it?”, Fritz jokes with her.
“Well, Fritz.  You do know that Janie’s trying to hurt Vincent in every way she can these days. I think they’re gettng very close to breaking their marriage up?  She called Vince today to tell him about meeting you, and hanging with you at the Film Festival in Amsterdam, and the wall-to-wall orgies—she also called me this AM when you suddenly flew off to Stockholm, waking me up.  She’s leaving him you know and was crying to me about all his blatant philandering.   Did you fuck Janie?  Vince called me earlier today, told me she told him you did—he’s pissed with you about that!…me too…why are you such a fucking slut Fritz!”

“Babe, I can’t wait to see you. Tell you about it, see you tomorrow before noon. Swedish TV’s flying me to Kennedy first class on a Red Eye tonight. How are my little girls and the my little man?  Please kiss them all for me momma. . .okay?. Bye. . .I love you.”
“I love you too. . .Fritz be careful with that check. Twenty-eight thousand!  Is it on a U.S. bank?  American cash Moanay?”
“Yes, yes, mon cherry!  Cash monait!  Certified.  I can finish putting ‘Lenny Without Tears’  together now—you’ll help me”

They had one great thing going these two, eh? This is not to say they didn’t also live through battles and stormy events in their relationship; one, remarkably, which lasted intensely for nearly thirty years. Read on! 

For starters, they showed their parents absolutely no resistance to getting married in 1954. They demanded it and even if F&B personally didn’t believe in the sanctity or necessity of marriage, they accepted it and—being in love and committed as they were to each other—gladly succumbed to it. It was about their having kids and making a family that began some very early on fights and stubborn tugs of war between them but, eventually, within five or six years together, Babs gave in beautifully in her own loving devoted way and, at age 26, she presented Fritz with the most wonderful set of twin girls, and then twenty months later, with a baby son—all of them growing fast and gloriously into these three remarkably, well-behaved, artistic, beautifully talented kids. 

This, even after she did three aborted pregnancies conceived from whence they began living together on University Place in Greenwich Village.  They fucked like bunnies these two; they never used protection.   So, in addition to being extremely  fertile, one could also say about my Fritz and his Lady B—especially him knocking her up so many times—they also could be extremely stupid!

The first pregnancy was when Barbara just turned 20, a week after they got married. She deeply felt she wasn’t ready for kids yet—and she probably wasn’t.  It was something Fritz didn’t handle all that easily about Babs and he began brooding over it, having deep depressions with it.  It was very tough for him accepting the idea of aborting all these pregnancies in her early 20’s, especially since she and her father made all the decisions on that course of action, each time—and Sol had the bucks to back her up, pay for them—they went about getting the abortions done on their own, only telling Fritz about it after the fact.

She found him crying to himself a few times and knew how hurt Fritz was about it and then, finally, she brought herself mentally into the full perspective and commitment of their relationship in 1959 when their marriage was into its fifth year. 

Fritz was in out-of-town tryouts in Boston for his next Broadway show—he got himself a featured role in “Silent Night Lonely Night” by Robert Anderson, directed by Peter Glenville, and starring Henry Fonda and Barabara Bel Geddes—when Babs came to visit Fritz; arriving early AM one starry night in his Boston Hotel, she whispered some delicious news in his ear.
They made love until well past dawn; she whispered to him that she was pregnant again. She began kissing him so deeply, so meaningfully, that he held her strongly in an endless embrace, she said this time " I want to have the baby."
They both were ecstatic, and they had the longest deepest orgasm together, totally, way down there and screamingly so high as well, so together.  

Fritz always felt, in his own way, this very heightened loving night in Boston was the actual conception that led to the stupendous birth of their gorgeous twin girls; Natalie and Sheara, born prematurely some 7 months later during the Broadway run of "Silent Night Lonely Night".

So through it all they worked uncannily to preserve this remarkable connection between them. Now, they would be a family of four, and within two years, a second conception was carried through to term, and in 1961: Baby (Jeffrey) Made Five For The Dubake family!

But, did any of all that change them in any way? Not a bit!  Both Fritz and Babs were beautiful but both were quite in-stone stubborn individualists.  Because in some ways—remember this was their era these 60’s, this so-called “sexual & social revolution’, which they thought they personally started, and now it was resonating world-wide and gaining ground and really happening—and F&B were still this very wild couple and they had made their pact of personal realities; they meant to keep it and weren’t about to give it up!  Some of their friends and acquaintances thought it total bullshit, a married couple with three kids; most thought it some form of mutual madness, their idea, this pact. Some felt they were flirting with disaster; this idea that they both could have myriad sexual peccadilloes, whilst on their own—only when apart in different cities—and perhaps, even do an occasional menage a trois or quatre when together—like with Janie and Vince—but always based on their “non-unfaithful ” pact.  One had to wonder did this wild craziness of theirs, even during their early child rearing years, give their long-time relationship this breath of spring they both craved; this continuous mysterious excitement between them?  Unfathomably, they did manage to have this ongoing deal between them: that they could play around ad infinitum; but never talk about it, neither to each other nor to anyone else.  Never sleep out on each other whilst in the same city, and always, I mean always, tell the person or persons you are about to get it on with that you’re married with children and make sure that particular fuckee will never call you at home since nothing could ever come of it because ‘I am a person who is taken for life’ is what they'd say—that’s what they both had to tell any other sexual partners. 

Something I’m sure made it freeing and so much less fraught and complex sexually for their mutual oobjays duh desiray.

Great, for them I thought!  Just some juicy intense, hot pussy and cock, spectacular novel sport-fucking, possibly to be remembered or not, as in a dream, a momentary orgasmic sexual rainbow, but afterward, absolutely meaningless, meaning nothing more to either of them, except when Babs and Fritz got it on together, only then did love and sexuality come together, mean something very deeply, ‘for just us two in the whole world,’ so to speak.

Nobody else could bring this idea off without some pending disaster; so how and why could they for 30 years?  I ask… jealously, I guess?  I tried with my wife and family, but I couldn’t.

This 'pact', tatelleh Da Bake claims, was the juice between himself and Babs that made their life together work; certainly their sex together.  Constantly exciting them, consistently intriguing them to nurture more deeply erotic, unassailable heights of sexual experimentation, and excitement in each other.

And, luckily for them it just kept getting stronger and stronger from there—from the day they first met at Louis Tavern in The Village. Right up to the end of 60 day furlough when he had to go back to duty and be processed to ship out overseas.  They never stopped making love to one another hour upon hour to the very last minute when he had to board the ship.  He'd even rented a motel room for the last week near the US Army’s Camp Kilmer in New Jersey—the Northeast's deployment depot for US forces being processed to Europe—where, to be with her, he would sneak out of camp nightly, slipping under a barbed wire fence next to the motel; she waited for him there to spend afternoons and their nights together in that room.

Or, just anywhere they could find a spot—in a bathroom or bedroom at some party in the Village; and once or twice even on a deserted BMT subway car having to take her home very late some nights to Brighton Beach.  This was everyday for them, 24/7, their last two weeks together, to the last moment she walked him down to the dock to board this awful smelly US Army troop ship, The USS Brooklyn, to sail across the Atlantic; his first stop Casablanca, North Africa for a half-day on shore and then back on ship across the Mediterranean to debark in Pisa, Italy for what would prove to be a very lucky assignment as a US Army Entertainment Specialist—theatrical show-making duties—in post WWII US-Allied occupied Europe. Even so, all the way across the ocean and the first weeks being processed in Italy for his home base duty in Linz, Austria, he would never stop thinking about her, knowing full well she was also thinking about him.

Once he shipped out, Barbara, now 18, with a pretty good pair of ca-hones of her own, got her father to give her a thousand dollars so she could follow Fritz to Europe to cement being his ‘old lady".  To hook up again, set it even stronger now and be with him even in the army—if she could. To be his camp follower all over Europe, perhaps even helping him with his Special Services duties.  These far flung non-military show-biz duties took them both to every major Western European capital city.  Wherever all those hundreds of thousands of soldier-boy and girl GIs were victoriously stationed and quartered, in dire need of some good ole American entertainment—like, in Paris, Vienna, Munich, London, Berlin, Rome, Venice, Hamburg, Frankfort, Paris, Florence, back to Vienna, and Paris!  They spent over a full year traipsing all over Europe together.  Pretty much all on Uncle Sam’s and Poppa Sol's nickle and dime.  Fritz staged Variety Talent Beauty Pageant Shows and a full musical of "Down In The Valley" using out-of-work French and German operetta performers together with American soldier boy singers, dancers  and army musicians. Babs turned out to be a phenomenal Assistant Director and Stage and Business Manager for Fritz.  

The US Army pay was peanuts so Solomon sent Babs another thousand bucks and then Dubake got super lucky again. 

"Something about that earthquake I was born in Dutch " he told me in his weekly overseas phone call telling me all about it, as follows:

Major General Ken Nakagawara, Fritz's Camp Commander in Linz, Austria—Fritz's home base—really appreciated having Fritz as his Entertainment Specialist..  The General thought he was very funny, a good guy and a boast able "Broadway star" to boot!  So at a big US Army brass shindig in Munich, he meets a Mr. Bert Balaban of Hollywood, a film producer, who was in Europe to shoot some TV films in Munich on the cheap—for USA and Canadian late-night TV, avoiding the high union shooting rates at that time in NYC.  He was looking for American actors for featured roles.  Major Nakagawara calls Fritz in, tells him he wants him to try out for Balaban's runaway films.  Says it's all set up and flies Fritz (and Babs too, as an Army Dependant) on a MATS Army Transport flight, in a harrowing P-38, low-flying flight down to Munich to meet Mr. Balaban.   Based on his Broadway background alone, Fritz wins himself two featured co-starring roles in a couple of 6-day wonder ‘runaway’ TV film productions.  In the first, playing a US Navy Submarine Officer starring Don Ameche, and, in the second shoot, 2 weeks later, to play a young American jazz drummer on the loose in post-war Berlin.  In this one, something called "Doorway To Suspicion”, he got co-star billing after Jeffrey Lynn, Akim Tamiroff and Hildegard Neff.

They both were quickies, slickly thrown together by a hack British Director, Nigel something or other, and as films left much to be desired. 
But Fritz got to make DM 50,000 cash (approx $18,000 US) combined for both six-day shoots at the Bavaria Filmkuntz Geiselgasteig Studios, outside Munich.  The same old 1920's film studios where Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" and "M" were made in German cinema's Golden Age before the Nazi Fascists came into power.

He and Babs were picked up and limo’d back and forth daily from their hotel in Munich for the three weeks of work.  And almost every night, while Fritz was taking off his make-up and Babs hanging up his uniform or costume, they were inevitably asked out to Parties by the really friendly German actors and crew members.  Some of these late-night parties were bashes at immense old German Castles in the countryside, given by wildly rich and very weird old-world German Counts and Duchesses—right out of Luchino Visconti's "The Damned".  These bacchanalian goings-on were attended by some really terrific post-war European stars who were also doing films at Geiselgastieg at that time: a very young Hardy Kruger, a younger Mr. Goldfinger, Curt Juergens, and sometimes, the stunning Hildegard Neff...Akim once tagged along.  Don Ameche and Jeff Lynn, not. 

When they returned to the Apple—first to get back was Babs at the behest of her father who was running out of money and patience.  Fritz was discharged Honorably at Camp Kilmer after having completed his tour, just 3 months later. 

They both claimed to have suffered actual physical pain being apart from each other for those three months! 

Once Fritz got got out of his uniform, within a day or two of The USS Brooklyn docking in Hoboken, New Jersey, they both dove headlong back into their passionate affair the moment they could meet and catch sight of each other again.  And again, it was In the Village—right out of buddy-boy Fritz’s dramatic playbook—they arranged to reunite at Louis Tavern.

It was just so intense again this time.  They decided that night to halt all charade and immediately move in together in the City. They got a copy of The Village Voice classifieds, poured over it at Louis, and that evening, found a small pad on University Place and East 11th Street.  A top floor walk-up with a slanted ceiling, a one room efficiency studio apartment, very sparsely, simply furnished.  Fritz, with a bunch of cash from the TV film jobs, paid the deposit plus one months rent and they both moved in that night with only what they were wearing.  It was $68 per month plus gas and electric.  When they awoke the next day they both called home to Brooklyn and told their folks they were no longer living at home—they were living together.

Almost immediately, at noon, a flock of Brooklyn Jewish seagulls arrived, cawing and screaming at them all at once.  Both sets of parents and Julie, her older sister, came down on them, an intervention convention; with one loudly unequivocal demand: 
That Fritz marry Barbara.

Barbara at The Waldorf, October 1954, Fritz & Barbara's Wedding 

It was October of 1954, she was 20, Fritz was 22.

Both had been extremely promiscuous since their early teens, and if they were to marry—both easily agreed to do so, without argument, right away—what they had more importantly to sort out was for both of them a deep mutual desire to cement a relationship that would never falter, and would never break apart.

They firstly swore never to abandon each other—that was the number one clause in the pact; two, to have a marriage-partnership in which they both could be abjectly honest with each other about their most personal feelings and mostly true to their sexuality; not only as lovers but also—and this became the basis it all—letting go, not expecting or accepting that which they both truly believed was always stupidly hypocritical: the ludicrous expectation of sexual monogamy. To pledge to so-called ‘fidelity.’ would be impossible for them, these two avidly honest people, they knew that so clearly about themselves. They knew money would never be an issue between them, so to their mutual minds-eye thinking the whole 'sexual fidelity' BS was the major bugaboo threat not only to theirs—as they saw it—but to almost all other broken and failed relationships and marriages—either on the one hand as a result of abject boredom or the other green-eyed monster, jealousy.   Realizing who they were, as I have said, a couple of sprightly nymphs, they would not restrict their own separate sexual quests for pleasure, never let go of those thrills, life’s natural experiential excitements and amusements. They could not be untrue to themselves and deny each other the right to feel free in your own body with whoever and whomever turned your head, turned you on, fancied you, got your dick or nipple hard or your pussy wet, as long as it wasn’t with relatives, competitors, or anyone too close to their inner circle. 
Clause Three: they would, without fail, come home to each other to sleep together any particular night of any dalliance if they were both in the same city, and to do so strictly at a decent hour.  Primarily, and most important to it all: that they would never begin or have any affairs with anyone they fucked for fun. Never go back for seconds.  One-offs only!

This early ‘50s pact they made before they married with this strictest clause of non-abandonment, a covenant in their fast growing love and sexual heat for each other: nobody leaves nobody in this relationship, ever!  They swore that to each other!  And that by no word or gesture or whisper to anyone else in the world would they ever cause pain or hurt feelings diminishing one another; or by boasting about any given peccadillo or encounter they had indulged in.  In other words, the now very famous Clintonian “don’t ask, don’t tell” school, enabling and empowering each other to play around as much as they wanted, but strictly never in any manner to hurt or cheat on each other. 

At its utmost, the non-abandonment and self-identity freedoms clauses would in tandem preserve what they both felt was their life’s most positive purpose:  The Pleasure Principal rationale—never repress your own growth and experiences that freedom and independence can bring to you with your own body and mind. That you own your own life. Man or Woman, even within an intimate partnership!

Of course, it never exactly all worked out that way.  Babs was gorgeous, in her 20’s now, and, in the early years of their fantastic marriage, she still had guys coming on to her one after the other, as well as calls from any number of men who couldn’t forget her or didn’t want to forget her. So what if she did meet and marry this wise guy actor-filmmaker she loves, Fritz Dubake, and has three wonderful kids with him?  So, what if some one ‘gorgeous’ comes on to her—or him—someone very attractive comes on to either of them in a nice, hot, sexy way?  In that case, neither Babs nor Fritz would ever refuse their own immediate curiosity and the pleasure would be taken; and That’s The Way They Were.

And of course there were glitches and problems, and arguments and fist fights, about some unfairness or some other hurtful slights between them, but, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, it worked brilliantly for these two friends of mine for nearly thirty years!

Monday, January 3, 2011's secret scenarios" # 5 FRITZ FALLS HARD FOR THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE

Fritz really fell out of his mind in love with this stunning Jewish girl from Brooklyn, and she with him.  Almost twenty, he was one day into his sixty-day furlough before boarding a troop ship in Hoboken New Jersey to ship out for his two year Special Services duty in Europe—the one angled for with General Hyman Glass.

No sooner did Fritz get back to NYC from Brooks Army Medical Center he fell in with Robert Getz, his acting-class buddy—his best friend in Brett Warren’s classes at the Actors Mobile Theatre—the younger brother of jazz great Stan Getz.  Bobby called asking Fritz to meet him in the Village at seven that evening after class, to meet his new girlfriend, Barbara, a "really way out young girl from Brooklyn" he was presently seeing.  

Fritz borrowed his father Harry’s sleek-green 51 Pontiac and drove into Manhattan on his second night back in town; wearing his army dress uniform which momma Frieda ironed for him—looking very sharp in it on his way out for an evening in the City.  

He carefully parked the Ponti near the Hudson River on Bank Street in the West Village, taking a leisurely evening walk west for Louis’ Tavern on Sheridan Square, Seventh Avenue.  When he got to Louis’, he made his way past the noisy crowded bar scene and scanned the small tables in the back for Bobby.  Almost immediately he saw this startlingly beautiful looking young creature sitting next to, of all people, Bobby’s older brother Stan.   The jazz saxophone star was frankly looking somewhat uncomfortably out of place.  He recognized and motioned to Fritz to come over and sit down, told him Bob was going to be late and he, Stan, had a gig that night at Birdland.  Could Fritz stay with Bob’s new cute girlfriend Barbara and wait for his ‘baby brother’ to show? 
“And, don’t try to steal her away, man!“ Stan sneakily quipped, then got up,  "look man, sorry I gotta go!”
“OKay..” said Fritz. 
“OKay..” said Barbara.
And Stanley walked out of the club.

Barbara told Fritz she was seventeen and a half, and in no more than a minute or so of an eerie unspoken electricity between them—right in the middle of the maddening din, a now very mobbed Louis’ Tavern—they both fell hard, strangely and deeply in love with each other.  In a crowded noisy instant, some fated explosion hit them both at the same time,  they both fearfully sensing the delicious risk and pleasure involved in what was happening to them.  And , especially, what awaited them if they risked it !

Without a word, they got up, silently agreeing not to wait for  Stan's baby brother, leaving the Tavern hand in hand they ran wildly across Sheridan Square west on Christopher Street running  a zig-zag of other West Village streets, finally, desperately impatient , they slipped into the darkest vestibule of a shuttered shop, kissing each other so voluptuously, so overcome with passion, that they both felt in real danger of losing their breath. 

Barbara Lillian Greenbaum entered Brooklyn College at age sixteen, after graduating Lincoln High in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.  Her father, Solomon, a City College-educated NYC government staff accountant, was part of the strong leftist-communist ‘30s and ‘40s labor movement—same as Harry Dubake, Fritz’s old man.  Except for a smattering of rich Jews who resided in the upscale Manhattan Beach community adjacent Brighton Beach, the Greenbaum’s Brighton neighborhood was one of the most concentrated enclaves of progressive leftist activists you could find in the greater Metro New York City area. 

Bensonhurst-Bath Beach, where Fritz and I grew up, a mile or so closer in toward Manhattan, was also a neighborhood stronghold for leftist labor union and workers’ organizations—The Arbiters Ring (Workman's Circle,) The I.W.O (International Workers Order,)  all mostly drew from the needle trades, garment and fur workers, accountants, lawyers and teachers.  Fritz’s dad, Harry, a fighting union organizer and head-buster for the full-fledged communist Fur and Leather Workers Union of America.  In those days, young  families like the Dubakes and Greenbaums, by the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s,
were following the international communist line and dictum with an overriding belief in no 'bubba-mienzehs' at all (read religious beliefs) other than the glories of International Socialism.  Ingrained in most of these red diaper babies like Fritz and Babs was their abject disbelief in God or in any kind of religion, perhaps even more to the point, they were brought up rabidly, sarcastically, anti-religion.  Their easiest argument in any dispute about the existence of a diety was how many millions of people throughout history were killed in religious pogroms and massacres in the name of God.  For the most part it was the bullshit of marital fidelity and virginity before marriage preached by church and synagogue that took it on the chin as the most obvious hypocrisy religious kids spouted, since bimbamboombaby they then dived into sin, against their own belief systems, as soon as the flesh went weak.

As a beautiful red-child-rebel, Babs, a Lincoln High student, sought out the avant-garde scenes in Greenwich Village.  Loft parties, jazz musicians, painters, musicians, artists and writers; dissident anti-establishniks who circulated around the Cedar Tavern on University Place and East 9th Street as well as The San Remos on MacDougal and Bleecker, an Italian restaurant and bar, and The Fat Black Pussycat,  the  first of the hipster-beatnik café houses.  For ‘50’s jazzniks, Louis' Tavern on Sheridan Square, diagonally across  from Café Society Downtown, was the early evening meeting place to begin your night-crawl to search and connect with the other hipsters in The Village.  This was even before The Figaros Café came into being on MacDougal and Bleecker across from San Remos.  Those were the rounds in 1950-52—definite stops: first Louis'  Tavern, then on to either the Remos and, secondly, eventually on to late nightly parties at a loft, usually a painter’s studio often shared by five or six people living on the extreme cheap.  It was with this crowd of artistic Bohemian types that Babs fell in with at the ripe old age of sixteen and a half, once she graduated Lincoln High School.

Remarkably brilliant in discussion, inviting  the friendliest sort of disputation on any subject, she had a special mark of being both startlingly intelligent and wildly attractive at the same time.  This  knocked guys  way off equilibrium in those days, especially among radical left wingers and early hippies.  A bright almost blinding smile, alluringly accepting warm eyes, a strong roman shnoz—eventually, unfortunately, to be done in by her mom Tessie Greenbaum in cahoots with her older control freak sister, Julia and the aid of a talented plastic surgeon.  Momma Greenbaum’s 18th Birthday present, performed on her really pretty face, now goyishly even prettier sporting this cute little non-Judaic shnoz, and with a sexy lithe figure, exquisitely beautiful gams, firm smallish breasts and a hard cute bouncy little ass—Barbara was remarkably packaged.  The pay-off though with Babs was her depth, some seemingly advanced brilliant sparkle for someone still in her teens; a way with people, reassuringly tuned-in to whomever she was speaking to—perhaps, you thought watching her, she’d got a little thing going with this guy she was bedazzling, a new village friend, be it a man or a woman, it didn’t matter—she was just this great listener who could impart simply interest, enthusiasm and balance to anyone’s questions, worries, or ruminations about life.

And in this selflessness somehow she personified the ‘hipster’ we all took at that time to mean a person extremely aware, demonstrably anti-bullshit, open no holds barred honesty in examining and railing against social, sexual, religious and political hypocrisy.  This was way before even Lenny Bruce made his mark on the scene, such were young hipsters like Barbara, and to her and to a great many who populated this particular milieu at that time  the exalted icon was 'The Jazz Musician'—more than often sporting a self-destructive ‘smack’ (heroin) habit. (The hipster term ‘Smack’ coming from the Jewish musicians like Stan Getz in the Bronx who derived it from the Yiddish ‘shmeck’, to smell or to snort something somewhat closely.)  The professional jazz player, for some reason, held for these newly emerging awareniks an attractive inclination, an understated high degree, of cool in their outward verbal style.  Their bop-speak, the jazz jargon—i,e; “cat, chick, solid, cool, yeah, right, man (even if referring to a female), the best, the most, cat’s into great changes, etc.,.”—were all brought on and invented by this circle of 40’s/50’s jazz musicians and the wannabe jazz-musician hipster artists, painters, and writers who idolized them for their singularly cynical but honest approach.  Barbara Lillian Greenbaum somehow found this her milieu, made them her crowd and they found in her the hippest, the most, the coolest, the ne-plus-ultra of a sexy young thing in flight from Brighton Beach Brooklyn to the wilds of Manhattan’s West Village, nightly in the early ‘50s.

So on their first night together, this night, Fritz met Barbara and they made love at dawn on a deserted Brighton Beach 2 in Brooklyn, just a half-block from where she lived. 

After Louis Tavern, they necked in that storefront for an hour and a half, went to a couple of loft parties, smoked some pot someone offered them, went to another party on the Bowery at which Fritz played bongos with Allen Ginsberg, and then, finally, at the ungodly hour of four in the morning, Fritz guided Barbara into his father’s Pontiac on Bank Street and drove her home to Brooklyn across The Brooklyn Bridge and onto the sleek darkness of the Belt Parkway—speeding past his parents house on Cropsey Avenue at the rim of Gravesend Bay, knowing full well how his dad Harry would have plenty to say to him if he dare keep the car out too late.  But Fritz did, nonetheless, keep it out late…very late!  He didn’t bring it back until the next day—almost noon.

With Barbara quietly sitting at his side, looking at him loving him driving her home, he peeled off the Belt Parkway exiting at Coney Island Avenue, and mind glued to her quiet directions he brought the car to rest in front of the apartment house where the Greenbaum family lived on the ground floor on Brighton 14th Street in Brighton Beach Brooklyn. 

Barbara told him, “Wait for me here!”
He watched her open and clamber in one of the windows to the  ground floor of  her parent’s apartment. 
She slipped back out on to the street in a pair of very short shorts, making sure to leave the kitchen window open for re-entry.  He now noticed what unbelievably beautiful legs she had. Lithe, firm, proabably the best girls legs he’d ever seen. It got him very excited when she came over to the car carrying a light blanket, and told Fritz to park and lock up. 

She led him by his hand down Brighton 14th Street, toward and out onto the Beach, and then to the farthest end of Beach 2, right next to the rock jetty, very close to the quiet rolling surf on an outgoing tide.  The Beach was totally deserted, the sun was just starting to streak and break low in the sky far away out over the Atlantic.  Barbara spread the blanket on the moist hard sand.

And even at their highest sexual rapture as they both came together brilliantly and fainted into each others arms, they fell asleep to the sound of the waves nearby; and when he came to life with the rising sun in his eyes, she was quietly whispering in his ear—a gentle sweet railing at him—that if he indeed loved her as much as he said he did which she said he had told her more than ten times during their very heated sex and if she would return such strong love for him which she could quite easily do she said because she loved him back that—he was not to be selfish with her materialisticly with her that he would not to try to own her or be a jealous possessive lover because If he wasn’t going to be cool about her she would fight him for her freedom and for her independence to her dying breath. 

Fritz deeply realized that this was it for him! 
That this girl would be the love of his life; all coming so fast at him and quite remarkably from a young girl named Barbara Greenbaum, a beautiful seventeen year old Brooklyn Jewess in 1951 and he was just two years older than she was and still a silly fucking private in this man’s US Army during the Korean War and about to leave for Europe and she was in her freshman year in Brooklyn College. 

How could this be? How could it happen like this?