I realized that they were connected with John Campo with whom I had taken classes, because Tony's book was opened at Desafinado, a tune that I had learned with John, and the one that interested me most with him, and because Tony asked if I could play "Body and Soul", a tune which I had declined to learn with John due to my disagreement with the lyrics.
They might also be connected with CES entertainment since they asked me if I had any gigs for the 14th of July to which I had said that no, and that I didn't like Bastille Day, people got drunk and silly, and anyway I wasn't a patriot). I had felt that they wanted to know if I had taken the bait of the "Stylish French singer" for Bastille day.
They might also be connected with the personnel at Chez Pierre, a restaurant I visited the day before at 6pm with an appointment, who treated me very rudely. Didn't Tony ask me if I wouldn't switch to the accordion?
And finally they seemed to be connected with Pat, my jazz guitar teacher from back in 88: Tony had make me speak about my guitar studies. I had said that I had started Jazz guitar with a young guitarist who had returned to Chicago. Tony had been eager to hear me say more about Pat and I had wondered why he was showing such interest in my teacher. I had felt they were listening intently and waited for me to say his name because I had said" "I don't think you would know his name" and that was what they wanted me to believe, because the opposite was true.
ASSESSING THE ASSASSINS
So how came CES to lay out a trap for me? A company listed in the Yellow Pages? Someone had contactd them, and who could it be if not my landlord who receives all the mail for the building and has the super distribute it? And if he had indeed tampered with my mail, violated my privacy in this manner, then he must have done the same with the lawyers who handle the lawsuit against the Transit Authority, which means that the lawyers have been paid to make me lose the case.
If Pat had betrayed me five years ago, then everybody else came under suspicion. Every one of the people I had interacted with who had behaved in a way I couldn't explain were only following orders:
John, my ex-husband, Jon Burr the bass player, Catherine Braunstein, Carl the Sound engineer, Sarah, the landlord and his staff, the people in the street in the neighborhood, the street vendors on Broadway in the 90's and on Prince street, Tonia who sewed up the berets, all these people have been paid to treat me with disrespect and convince me that I am not worth respecting. My enemies want me to believe that if everybody does it, it must be normal.
Those family members who conspire against me, anticipating my moves, waiting for me at every turn, paying off any potential ally, spoiling anything I undertake, making everything I touch turn to ash, what do they have to say about the right to privacy, the right to work, the right to free expression, human rights, women's rights? That it's ok for everybody except me. Then ask them what it is about me that makes me undeserving of human rights and what can they say? What right do they have to punish me for being what I am?
None whatsoever, of course, but this doesn't matter to my mother and siblings. Their need to destroy me blinds them to reality.
Now why is mother so intent on destroying me? Because she wants to be the only musician in the family. She wants me to have children (preferably out of wedlock) to keep me dependent of her, so she can control my life.
BIRTH OF A COMPULSION
What is truly horrible is that whenever I meet someone who inspires me mistrust, fear makes me spill my own beans in some bizarre and doomed attempt to buy their non-aggression. I am alone most of the time, so when I speak I speak too much, particularly to those strangers who inspire me mistrust and fear, as if something in them, a special vibe, compelled me to surrender reason. Then I suffer torture when I realize how I did exactly the opposite of what reason dictated. I revive the trance induced by the release into my bloodstream of a combination of fear and longing. The fear of violence inextricably associated with the longing to belong is like an illegal substance that was concealed in my mother's milk, to which I had become addicted since birth.
I had been accustomed to see creeps in the house when I was a child, particularly the priests, the nuns and others of my mother's and sister's friends. I had been intimidated into overcoming my instinctive repulsion for them, and intimated to be nice.
As I grew and left home, I sought love only from those who inspired me the same feelings my mother had, and who were only interested in taking advantage of me. My survival instinct had been warped into a compulsion to self-destruct.
THE SCORPIO MYTH
If they had kept reminding me over the years, always in the form of non-sequiturs, that I was a Scorpio, it was to plant and cultivate in me the idea of suicide.
It had been said that when a scorpio is encircled by fire, it stings itself to death. And encircle me is what they do, what they have spent a lifetime plotting and setting up, carried ever deeper into criminality by their blind passion to annihilate me, thinking it a worthy pursuit.
But scientists say this belief is based only on a myth. Scorpios do not commit suicide with their own venom and even if they did, would it mean that all the people born under that sign are fated to be encircled by fire and must commit suicide? Obstreperous. Does it imply that a scorpio person's family has the fated duty to light a circle of fire around him? Isn't it instead an insane logic that makes them feel justified in persecuting me?
As I meditated over the implications of these recent epiphanies, I started to check backwards all the people I had been involved with in my professional, personal and artistic life and realized that, in the already perilous circumstances of a single French woman new to the City and with little contacts, I had the added hidden obstacles set-up by my enemies. False friends would enter my life and give mixed signals of affection and disrespect, as if saying: "If you want the love, you'll have to take the shit."
Gradually the circle of these acquaintances and "friends" had shrunk then vanished. Since I had moved to 103rd street, I had been reclusive. My address book was full of betrayals and I didn't want to call up and chat amicably with anybody who had doublecrossed me. And I wanted to return to a social life not like a needy drifter but with something to give the world, my music.
Now that I have been living 10 years in the United States, I have a few accomplishments under my belt which have given me self confidence. I am totally bilingual in French and English, and speak Spanish fluently. I am a Jazz-Euro-Latin guitarist and singer, the only one I've heard of.
Being artistically oriented isn't a birth defect a woman has to be ashamed of, as I had been led to believe. Human beings are meant to accomplish something in their lifetime, that weaves itself harmoniously into the global ecosystem. Motherhood, give me a break! People who keep having babies in spite of earth's becoming more and more inhospitable are not contributing to the common good. The only reason they don't have for having them is the love of children. Still, an unwed mother gets more respect than a nul- lipare.
I had received at birth some talents which were like magic tools. I was naturally inclined to create things beautiful to the ear and the eye with them and it never occurred to me to question the legitimacy of my strivings. If I had received these gifts which constantly urged me to use them, then only a perverse logic had convinced me that I had to ignore them.
By aiming at an early age for something different than a standard issue life, I was committing the sin of pride, a capital sin, and shame was instilled in me as an antidote.
As I nderstood the forces which had shaped me (or should I say twisted me out of shape?) guilt and shame started to let go of me. After having put an ocean between my family and myself, I was beginning to distance myself emotionally. If their love and acceptance was at the cost of my soul, my selfhood, my dignity, my humanity, then what was there about this love that made it so desirable? The compulsion to re-enact, nothing else. As a human being, I deserved much better than what had been dealt me so far.
Now that I was able to look the awful truth straight in the eye without blinking or falling apart, my intellect demanded that I re- examine my past in the light of my new knowledge. Memories of incidents which had been fermenting in my subconscious and poisoning my soul bubbled up to awareness. I could let the incidents replay and watch them with both the dispassionate eye of a witness and the emotional identification with the little girl to whom those things had happened.
I allowed the full scene to play itself instead of breaking it up with some senseless occupation as I had done in the past. I acknowledged the abuse and allowed my forty year old self to cry. Then I felt relieved and comforted. You can't put anything behind you until you've cried about it.
If these memories came up now, it was because I had matured enough to make then part of my history.
A FRIENDLY HELLO
As I write this autobiography, which is becoming a chronicle as I catch up to the present goings-on, I have to relate the events of the last two weeks. One thing has changed recently, and it is the way people look at me in the street, in this short block between CPW and Manhattan avenue. It used to be a friendly hello, a bit of a chat, or just a smile and a hand gesture, and it has changed into silent stares or artificial friendliness, as if people knew something about me I didn't.
No doubt, since the French man with his wife and daughter recorded it on his VCR the first day I was playing outside at Columbus Circle, and since my secretely taped session in the rehearsal studio, this cherished Duke Ellington song has been turned against me.
I used to sing it first, to make myself and my audience feel good and relaxed, and now, my neighbors are giving me the cold shoulder. Fortunately the birds in every tree can't be paid off and they keep singing.
I used to come out and let the sun dry my hair after shampooing, around 8 in the morning. I would read the newspaper while sitting on the stairs in front of the building until my hair was dry. One Puerto Rican man who used to be out at the same time came to me one morning and gave me a lemon, just like Danny had. He just said "Do you want a lemon?" and I took it.
Richie is an employee of Sy Bonarti, my landlord. During the last few saturday nights, he's been keeping watch in the lobby, to prevent, he says, vagrants from shooting drugs behind the stairs, in an attempt to avoid people getting AIDS in the building. I felt in fact he'd been watching me.
He was leafing through the Sunday issue of the New York Times one Saturday night when I walked in. I asked him where he got the paper. Somewhere on Broadway. He showed me that it was complete and was like inviting me to ask for a section to take home. He handed me a coupon sheet. I said I don't use them, they're only to buy junk food. He said there were also coupons for cat food. Now I happen to check if the local supermarket gives coupons to buy 3 cans of cat food for a dollar, and it is quite frequent. So I use them but how does Richie know?
The following Monday I told Sy that Richie had told me that he was spying on me. He answered that it was a problem between Richie and me, that himself had nothing to do with it, that Richie was trying to drive me crazy or maybe that he was in love with me. "What a way to show it" I said. He was walking away, there was no way to continue the conversation.
Then he was away for one week. I couldn't help thinking he was probably seeing my family, plotting what to do next. The previous year, he had taken a week vacation. When he had returned I had asked where he had gone. He had said Puerto Rico and I had said humorously "What? You didn't go to Paree?" He hadn't answered anything, but had had a strange expression, like he was trying to hide a reaction and show no expression at all. During his absence this year, I was remembering this anecdote and I became convinced that this unnatural blank face meant that I had hit right in the spot and that he had indeed gone to Paris. And he had chosen Puerto Rico to make me believe that he had indeed taken a trip across water but that his passport bore no trace of it.
So this time I watched him closely as we met for the first time after his return. We passed each other in the doorway as he came in and I went out. His head was half down and the back-light from outside fell upon his right upper lip, where an evil curl and an air of extreme unhappiness indicated that he was actually up to no good on his first day back. He was probably thinking of the dirty work that had been decided upon, which he had committed himself to carry out, in exchange for a lot of cash. Now that he had accepted the money, he couldn't go back. He has convinced himself, by what warped logic I don't know, that it's OK to eliminate me. It's easy for him, after all he has the law on his side. He can call the Marshall and have me evicted for non-payment of rent. On the other hand, he prevents me from working by sending people to harrass me when I want to play the guitar outside. It is not unheard of for some people to commit suicide rather than lose their home. I had horrible visions of my belongings out on the sidewalk, me homeless, losing everything, being raped and murdered as well maybe, while the neighbors didn't bat an eyelash. But I felt it was not Bonarti's interest to evict me.
But I had started talking about the people to whom I had complained about mail tampering. Anibal, the man who still said hello, is the remaining one. Last saturday I went out to get some fresh air around 10PM. He was sitting on the stairs in front of his building. I asked if I could talk to him and he came towards me. About two years ago he had told me that my landlord, Sylvester Bonarti, had been a police officer before his present occupation, and that, due to some misconduct, he had had to leave the force. So I asked Anibal if it was true and he said that yes, it was. Bonarti was a sleaze. So I briefly mentioned the period of sexual harrassment and the fact that I thought he was tampering with my mail. Anibal said that Bonarti would open the mail coming from Welfare when it contained a check, and since the check was a two- party check, he would forge the signature of the other party and deposit the check to his account, if the other party owed him money. I didn't give the details of my particular concern but this bit of information confirmed my conclusion, that only someone who handled my mail could have contacted CES and paid them to set up a trap for me.
So my suspicion of mail tampering must have come back to him, either through Beverly or Anibal, or both, because last Thursday, as I was going out, Bonarti called me and told me he thought there was some mail for me. I said I would be right back. When I was back I entered his office. He was standing, dialing a phone number and said "I want one hundred cameras and a body guard. No, I was just joking, bla bla bla..." then he sat down with his head bent so low, pretending to look for some papers, that I couldn't see his face. I was going through the mail and found two pieces for me. One was from Nicole Montalette, the lawyer I had hired to help me with my father's estate, and who had ended up turning against me, telling me I should be satisfied with what I had already got, (money I had asked my parents to send me after my accident) and that my sister Sophie had bought her house not with black money as I was certain, but must have gotten a loan. She was asking me to pay her a balance of $200.
Anyway, by letting me pick my mail before it was sorted, Bonarti was trying to make believe that he didn't touch it. And his "I want a hundred cameras and one bodyguard" was intended for me. If he knew that I was using my camera, among other things, to take pic- tures of the people who harass me, he can have learnt it only from a detective at the 24th precinct, whom I called one morning to complain about being the victim of a conspiracy and who offered no advice, and to whom finally I had said that I was going to take mug shots of the harassers. So the police is paid off too. No wonder the officer wouldn't let me file a complaint when I had come to the precinct. If he knew about the body guard, like Tony and William, after I had first mentioned to James that I needed one, then he is obviously in connected with them.
Later that day, Bonarti asked me if my check had cleared yet. I said it hadn't and that I would let him know as soon as it did. I'm six weeks late in rent payment on this July 24, 1993. The ckeck which I have deposited two and a half weeks ago was in French Francs and has to be cleared in France before my account is credited. It represents my share of my grandmother's life insurance policy. It's going to amount to about $1,300, and I'll have to return to play in the streets if it kills me.
I comfort myself by thinking that not every passer-by is involved in the conspiracy, that if I'm careful I can refrain from talking to creeps, and that if one stares at me, I can always make fun of him or call the police (outside of the 24th precinct's turf) in my microphone. Since following and staring at someone are not ground for police intervention, I can lie and say that the person said some obscenities. In the subway I can ride in the car where the conductor is, and complain to him if anybody bothers me. And if something bad happens, like an act of violence that renders me unable to speak, I'll have this story with me.
THE NUMBER 666
Since I dialed 316-6659 and spoke to Beverly, telling her that I thought my mother was a Satanist, the number has come up around me.
First there was an article in the New York Times, a transcript of a deposition by the engineer who conceived the ovens where the Jews were burned. The illustration showed the building with a chimney and in the foreground a conveyor belt with dead bodies on it. To show the practical mind of the engineer, measurements were written on various parts of the building, and the number 666 was among them. It was the first time I saw Nazism and Satanism associated.
The other day I was buying groceries at the bodega and the total amounted to $6.66. I returned one can of cat food so the grocery clerk changed the number on my tab.
Then I realized that maybe the reason why Danny and Beverly had advised me to play at Lincoln Center is because the subway station is at 66th street. Danny had said he was 66 years old.
Also there was, in the beginning of my bike messenger stint, the collision between me and an old man, which occurred in front of 666 Broadway.
Further back, before I moved to Jessie's, Harry's phone number was (and still is) 666-8627.
Of course it's not a breeze to raise the supposition that one's mother is a Satanist, but I can't get rid of a memory that surfaces now that I'm talking about it.
I don't think a happy child in a happy family would ever wonder, but since that was not my case, I asked my mother, when I was I believe in my early teens, if she had been in love with somebody else before my father. She had said that during the German occupation of Paris, she and a German soldier had had a romance, and that they had made a pact that involved a consecrated wafer. I didn't ask any more question, but as far as I knew, it was a sacrilege to use the symbol of Christ's body for any purpose other than catholic communion. I didn't ask what kind of pact, what they had promised each other, she and the young Nazi soldier. Now I wonder if the pact was not a pledge of allegiance to Satan. After all, Satanic rituals involve a great deal of sacrilege. And what about the three German shepherds who disappeared or died under mysterious circumstances when we were kids? What about the hundreds of kittens she killed instead of having the mother sterilized? What about the lecherous priest who told obscene jokes at the family table, what about the defrocked one who, having lost the spiritual spark, looked like a dirty old man? What about the priest who was supposedly a pendulum healer and who was authorized to perform his art on my sister Sophie, who years later told me that he had put his fingers in her vagina? What about the obdurate and arrogant violation of all the values a wife and mother is supposed to uphold? What about the example of the ultimate deception she gave her daughters when, having obtained permission from our father to go to Paris for a singing contest, she met a man in the train who was going to bring chaos into the already shaky family?
What is most shocking is that she always acted with an astonishing self confidence, as if she were only behaving the way every wife and mother did, while in catholic school we learnt the exact opposite. Since she had long ago turned us against our father by telling us horrible things about him, we were de facto supporting her. But I won't get into details now. I was only trying to say that she used the respectability conferred by her status of church-going wife and mother to subvert all the values she had committed herself to promote. And that she was relentless in this pursuit. And that she seems to have a mission to do evil.
Since my father died on September 14, 1990, it has been decided that two of the three apartment buildings that he owned would be sold.
I have asked for an advance on my share of the estate but since no cash will be available until one of the buildings is sold, I have been asked to wait. Now the first building at Pré-St-Gervais is almost sold, except for two apartments, and the proceeds of the sale have been invested in UNOFI.
By letter of late April I was informed that the second building at Pantin has been found to be insalubrious by the City buildings department, and that the violations must be taken care of without further delay.
By letter of June 10, the notary in charge of the estate, Me. Laurent, informs me that the cost estimate would be FF400,00 if the repairs are made in the apartments, and FF700,000 if the repairs are made in the public areas (lobbby, stairwells etc.) He indicates that considering the cost of borrowing money, it would be more economical to use the proceeds of the sale of the Pre building to finance the repairs (the money that had been earmarked for me) but that after the sale of the last two apartments it will be possible both to finance the repairs and to buy back my share of the vacation home in Brittany.
By letter of June 28, I ask Me Laurent to transfer the FF120,000 corresponding to my share of the house in Brittany to my account in NY asap, and remind him that my share of the rents for 92, due since february, has still not been paid to me.
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