BOOKS & THE CULTURE Pulp Friction BY LOU DUBOSE G.O.P. D.O.A. By Jay Brida Contemporary Press Aformer New York City police commissioner has a wife, kids, and a million-dollar Tudor in Jersey, where he spends a little too much time doing deals with guys that look too much like Paulie Walnuts and Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero. When he’s not hanging with the wise guys or lounging at his pool, he’s across the river in his Battery Park love nest, banging a literary lioness and a prison guard. On different shifts. He’s discreet. His “passionate liaison pad” overlooking Ground Zero was free digs for rescue workers at the World Trade Centeruntil he cut his own deal with an Italian-American real estate hustler who likes cops so much he packs a .38, a .45, and a nine-milimeter. And carries a badge. Our ex-commissioner has dodged a warrant for $5,000 in back condo fees and picked up a quick $6 million on stock options without ever risking a cent. When a former mayor of New York talks a Republican president into appointing this sack of damaged goods to a cabinet post, stories start to leak and he’s in trouble. Tit in a wringer. Ass in a crack. Balls in a vice. All that. Fortunately, there are political types who clean up after guys like him and New York is full of them. Fixers who make stories go away, make police records disappear, make reporters look like mercenary jackals … Wait. That’s not G.O.P. D.O.A. That’s Bernie Kerik D.O.A two days after George Bush named him head of the Department of Homeland Security. At least that’s how it was reported in the Times and the Post. Okay, on to G.O.P. D.O.A. A New York ward politician has a tidy row house in Bay Ridge, a wife, a kid. Okay, the kid’s dead. Smack, maybe. Wait. First full disclosure. This reviewer knows the author, who was an intern at this publication ten years ago. When the reviewer was editor. A guy who showed up here with a resume so full of contradictions it makes Bill Clinton’s grand jury testimony seem straightforward. Whatever. We didn’t pay much attention to the bloated CVs interns handed us back then. So now Jay Brida has written a novel. And his former boss who’s now a member of the board of the non-profit that runs this magazine is reviewing it. Too clubby? I never liked the guy much. And standards are changing. If Sam Tannenhaus can assign a polemical hack from The National Review to review my Tom DeLay book for the Sunday Times, I can review Jay Brida’s book here. At least you know where I’m coming from. I’m telling you. And you know where Contemporary Press is coming from. What they publish can’t be called literature. How can I say that? Easy. On page 182, right between “The End.” and “www. contemporarypress.com ” it says in plain English: “Fuck Literature.” Maybe literature is overrated. Nothing actually happens in Waiting for Godot. Yet Beckett is celebrated. Cristo versus Arizona is one, single two-hundred-thirty-eight-page sentence. And we gave Cela the Nobel Prize. Brida understands action. And punctuation. At least there’s a story here. A story told in short, punchy sentences. A New York ward politician has a tidy row house in Bay Ridge, a wife, a kid. Okay, the kid’s dead. Smack, maybe. Or a bullet. G.O.P. D.O.A. is in one sense a small domestic tragedy. The wife, “the Great Missus,” makes great baked ziti, belongs to the Altar Society, and is devoted to her man, Ernie Marlucci. He loves her, too. But he struggles with fidelity. Most of the time he ends up losing. He loses big time when a pair of blood-stained satin panties belonging to a girlfriend show up in the mail. A threat? A bribe? A prelude to extortion? Stories start to leak and Marlucci’s in trouble. Tit in a wringer. Ass in a crack. Balls in a vice. All that. There are political types who clean up after guys like this and New York is full of them. Fixers who make stories go away, make police records disappear, make reporters look like mercenary jackals. If Bernie Kerik had a guy who cleaned up after him, he’d be the nation’s second Secretary of Homeland Security instead of a running joke on the Leno show. Ernie Marlucci’s fixer is a mensch. An Irish-American mensch named Flanagan. Maybe the author never gets around to a first name, but Flanagan is Brida’s most fully developed character. A New York type who drinks in seedy bars and wakes up wondering who he drank with. Or slept with. He always remembers Monica: “more than a tease …but less than a lover.” But she’s been with him off and on since they were kids in Bay Ridge. She’s another type. Edgy, sexually voracious, hot-tempered enough to toss a glass of fifteen-year-old single malt in your face. This book is all about New York types. Marlucci, the ItalianAmerican ward heeler. Kwame Hamilton, who had been one of Marlucci’s guys in the black community but is carving out a political turf of his own. Hamilton’s operative, a Naderite Stalinist who wears you down with a clipboard full of righteous questions. A transvestite hooker. A black bartender unable to raise his voice above a crackling static after years 10 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 1/7/05
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