Break His Bones:
The Private Life of A Holocaust Revisionist
I’m at the office this afternoon when a man calls from Dallas to chat. He has something on his mind. He’s worried about me. Like me, he doesn’t believe the Jewish holocaust story any more either. He distributes revisionist books and pamphlets, but he plays his cards close to his chest. He doesn’t tell just any guy on the corner what he does. He’s called to warn me about how dangerous it is for me to go on television to talk about Holocaust revisionism. He doesn’t say so, but I get the idea he believes that Jews control the media and that it’s dangerous to provoke them.
“I’m with you,” he says. “I’m with you all the way, but I don’t want to end up in a ditch at the side of the road.”
“The truth is, I don’t either.”
“Then you ought to think about what you’re doing,” he says. “You put your photograph on those leaflets. You even put it on the outside of the envelopes. You go on radio to talk about Holocaust revisionism and now you’re making sounds about going on TV and speaking at colleges. Do you really think they’re going to let you get away with that? I admire what you’re doing, but I worry about you. Don’t take this the wrong way, but sometimes I wonder if you’ve got both hands on the plough.”
After the phone call I put a couple books on the floor for a pillow and lay down for a snooze. The carpet is dusty. I like my siestas but at night they keep me awake. Today when I wake up I go down the three flights of stairs to Hollywood Boulevard and walk the couple blocks up to Cahuenga to where the old Tick Tock Restaurant used to be to see how Gorky’s is coming along.
Almost every afternoon for two months, since the first week in March, after my nap I’ve been walking over to see how Gorky’s is coming. The notice at Gorky’s downtown said that Gorky’s Hollywood would open the first week in March.
There hasn’t been a room anywhere in Hollywood that I’ve wanted to hang out in during the twenty years since I stopped going to Barney’s on Santa Monica. There’s been plenty of rooms I suppose but I’ve gotten too old for them or too poor. Musso’s on Hollywood Boulevard is a terrific room but I haven’t been able to afford Musso’s for about fifteen years.
One afternoon I was looking through Gorky’s window when I remembered the old Clifton’s cafeteria downtown and how at Clifton’s in the 1930s and 40s there was a special room in the basement where bums and the down-and-outers could eat for free. Sometimes at night at Gorky’s downtown you can see bums sitting at tables alongside artists and regular people listening to the music watching the goings-on. The Gorky bums are mostly drunks and they like having the chance to sit with regular folk in a place close to the sidewalks that a lot of them sleep on. The bums sit very quiet and stiff so they won’t be thrown out but the last couple times I was down there at night I didn’t see the bums in there anymore so it didn’t do them any good to be so polite. What those bums are going to have to do to become regulars at Gorky’s downtown is get jobs and a place to clean themselves up. They won’t have to stop the drinking.
Gorky’s is getting close but it’s still not ready. I look through the windows for a while at the guys working, then turn around and head for the Cahuenga newsstand. Alongside the Security Pacific Bank a couple drunks try to panhandle me. I don’t have any money with me or I’d give them some because they look terrible. They say they’re Vietnam vets. They could be. They’re very polite. I usually keep a little money on me for the bums but I try not to give to more than three in one day because it adds up. It can add up to seventy, eighty dollars a month. I also distinguish between the bums who look all right and those who are filthy and look hopeless and maybe even look like they’re killing themselves. If they aren’t dying I don’t give them anything. That’s my discipline. Just giving to the ones killing themselves keeps me busy.
One of the bums is barefoot and has a blanket wrapped around him in place of a shirt. He asks me twice to help him, which is unusual. Bum etiquette is that they ask you only once, then let it slide. When he asks me the second time he starts getting weepy. He says he needs something to eat. The other bum pulls on the weepy bum’s blanket and mumbles something. I still don’t have any money but I have two tangerines in my jacket pocket that I am going to eat if I walk too far and get tired along the way.
My impulse is to give the vet the tangerines but I hesitate. I feel uncomfortable. He isn’t going to believe me about the money, and there’s a chance he’ll feel too ashamed to accept the fruit out on the street like this. It isn’t a line of reasoning I want to try to defend, but that’s the problem thought’s wrestling with while we stand here on the sidewalk looking at each other. I can’t decide what to do so I walk off with the tangerines still in my pocket.
It’s my experience that thought nearly always puts sensibility before action. Sensibility can be unusually vulgar when it’s only thought thinking against itself. Something, someone, is being protected in there at the expense of someone or something else. Thought goes over that while I cross the Boulevard then returns to chatting itself up again about Gorky’s Hollywood, asking itself if Gorky’s going to make a little food available to the Hollywood bums. Thought doubts it. There are places in Hollywood where bums can get something to eat free but the places I know about are all run by Christians.
This afternoon after my nap I walk over to Gorky’s thinking this might be the day. Yesterday it looked wonderful inside with 18-foot high ceilings and all the space in the world. Today the booths and tables and chairs are all set up and behind the bar the glasses are hanging from their racks. Today there’s a paper sign in the window that says OPEN. This is what I’ve been waiting for.
I go in and buy a beer and stand at one of the freestanding counters near the bar. There are already about 50 others in the room but there’s space for a couple hundred more so everyone still has his own air to breathe. I’m content. I have a place to be and here I am.
I usually carry something to read with me in case I stop someplace to loaf but want to feel I’m not losing time, which is one of my big anxieties because over the years I’ve lost so much of it. It’s odd to be aware of that and at the same time to know that if you had to do it over again you wouldn’t change very much. Maybe time isn’t as valuable as we like to believe it is.
On this fine afternoon in April at Gorky’s Hollywood I have with me a recent issue of The Journal of Historical Review. The lead article is Mark Weber’s translation of Hitler’s declaration of war against the United States. I’ve never been a Hitler buff, unlike so many other revisionists, but I’ve been aware for a long time that translations of Hitler’s speeches aren’t lying around in your ordinary bookstores and libraries. As a matter of fact, I’ve never seen one. Weber prefaces his translation by noting that this is the first time that the full text of Hitler’s declaration of war has been made available in English.
In the address Hitler recounts how he saw, from his point of view, the German invasions of Poland, France and the Soviet Union. He uses a direct masculine prose and there’s a sense of connection between himself and the Reichstag. From his perspective Hitler reviews the course of the war and the increasingly hostile Roosevelt policies toward Germany up to that moment. It all sounds perfectly reasonable and logical. He’s a politico blowing smoke. Then he announces that Germany is going to join with Japan in the war against the United States. Along the way he has attacked his Jews of course for their “satanic baseness,” but this was in 1941 and you could still get away with that.
The British and the French still had their wogs then while the Americans had their niggers and spics and had just rediscovered their yellow-bellies. I was never so outraged over the bigotry of the Germans as I was always told I ought to be. Now that the French and British have been removed from the Middle East our Jewish friends over there have discovered to their delight that they have those wogs pretty much to themselves, bought and paid for by ourselves. What goes around comes around. Hitler talked about something that day-it was 11 December 1941, a Thursday afternoon-that I didn’t expect. A couple thousand words into the speech he pauses, then says:
First of all, the personal side of things: I understand very well that there is a world of difference between my own outlook on life and attitude, and that of President Roosevelt. Roosevelt came from an extremely wealthy family. By birth and origin he belonged to that class of people which is privileged in a democracy and assured of advancement. I myself was only the child of a small and poor family, and I had to struggle through life by work and effort in spite of immense hardships.
I’m surprised that Hitler would speak on such an occasion about the personal side of things from a class-conscious perspective. He notes that Roosevelt experienced World War I as assistant secretary of the navy, a position he received as a member of “the privileged class,” and as a result Roosevelt
… only knew the agreeable consequences of a conflict between nations from which some profited while others lost their lives. During the same period, I lived very differently. I was not one of those who made history or profits, but rather one of those who carried out orders. As an ordinary soldier during those four years I tried to do my duty in the face of the enemy. Of course, I returned from the war just as poor as when I entered in the fall of 1914. I thus shared my fate with millions of others, while Mr. Roosevelt shared his with the so-called upper “ten thousand.”
Hitler then recounts how after the war Roosevelt “tested his skills” in financial speculation while Hitler lay in a German hospital with “hundreds of thousands of others.” Roosevelt, financially secure and “enjoying the patronage of his class,” decided to go into politics while Hitler “struggled as a nameless and unknown man for the rebirth of my nation…”
Two different paths of life! Franklin Roosevelt took power in the United States as the candidate of a thoroughly capitalistic party, which helps those who serve it. When I became the Chancellor of the German Reich, I was the leader of a popular national movement, which I had created myself. The powers which supported Mr. Roosevelt were the same powers that I fought against out of deepest inner conviction…
That is, that “parasitical expression of humanity,” the Jews. Yet, Hitler notes, he and Roosevelt had something in common as well. Each took control of a nation in 1933 that was on the edge of ruin-”thanks to democracy.” He then outlines how in five years, under his leadership, Germany experienced enormous improvement in “social, economic, cultural and artistic life” while during the same years “Roosevelt enormously increased his country’s national debt, devalued the dollar, further disrupted the economy and maintained the same number of unemployed.”
I didn’t know that Hitler had looked at his life in such a dramatic way. He saw himself and Roosevelt as players together on a gigantic stage in a theater of murder and ruin. It wasn’t Shakespeare but it was Shakespearean, in the worst sense. Until that hour he had been a more formidable man than Roosevelt, dominating every scene in the great drama Europe had become. Now the moment had come to begin building to the final terrible climax. Hitler looked forward to the orgy as much as Roosevelt did. Hitler understood Roosevelt but, fatally, he didn’t understand America.
Roosevelt didn’t understand Hitler but he understood the American government. He understood that war makes it cook like nothing else. Here in Gorky’s this afternoon, Hitler became a little more real for me,
Gorky’s brews its own beer. It’s sweet, the way I like it. The way I like most everything. I’ve been thinking that if I come to Gorky’s regularly I’ll meet a new circle of friends. I lost a lot of the old ones when Jenny and I split up, and when I discovered the Jewish holocaust scam I lost the rest. I figure I’ll even meet some of the people I used to talk to at Barney’s in the 60s and 70s.
Tonight after half a dozen beers I meet a very well put-together blonde who shows me where a Mexican kicked her in the jaw when she discovered him robbing her apartment.
“I should have kicked him in the balls the minute I saw him,” she says. “But I hesitated a split second and he nailed me first. I don’t know why I hesitated. That’s not my style. I like to give ‘em my best shot first, then ask for an explanation.”
“Maybe you’ll get another chance,” I say.
“You’re Goodman right I will. The little spick lives around here someplace. I’ve seen him on the street. The next time I see him I’ll kick him in the nuts first and talk it over with him afterwards. I haven’t studied martial arts all my adult life to let some sleaze ball Mexican rob my apartment, kick me in the face and get away with it.”
A group is playing jazz now for all they’re worth. A couple hundred people are in here. The place is jumping. We do some straight-ahead beer drinking and I fall into conversation with the blonde’s boyfriend. He’s in construction and is the kind of guy you like right away. He thinks I’m putting him on when I tell him my wife’s a Mexican. Pretty soon we’re talking about spiritual experiences and he says his most transcendent spiritual experience happened on night when he had sex in a hot tub with his old lady and with her daughter at the same time. He says it was like nothing else he ever experienced. I ridicule him a little for thinking he can have a spiritual experience that way but I’m a little envious too. I don’t let on, but I’m pretty envious.
People are eating ad drinking and the band is knocking us over and our ears are ringing and the beer’s running and we’re shouting happily and laughing and it’s the kind of night I used to have every night but never have anyone more because I have no circle and no money but I do have a wife and a sick mother and two children and no money and I’m sixty years old, too old to keep having this kind of night, but now that I’ve got one I remember very clearly how much I used to like them and how I knew how to have them back then even when I had no money at all, I think. What’s gone wrong with me?
Nicely drunk I make my way across the floor toward the men’s room when I overhear a woman even older than me and caked with make-up shouting to the little old guy she’s with. “Morrie,” she’s shouting, “Isn’t this nice? It’s like a people’s nightclub.” Morrie’s looking a little stupefied. Gorky’s isn’t like any cafeteria he’s ever seen before.
But that’s it, I think, winding my way to the urinals-a Peoples Nightclub. No one on the right could have put together a cafeteria nightclub for the people. They don’t have it in them. Not in America. Maybe Gorky’s Hollywood is a gesture of atonement from Gorky himself, sent up from the world below where all the old Stalinist collaborators are burning and baking in the Devil’s kitchen. I hope it is. Gorky doesn’t have very many ways left to apologize to us. Maybe Gorky’s Hollywood represents, at last, Gorky’s move in the right direction.
I wonder if there is even one among us who doesn’t want to experience transcendence, whatever it is? The sadhus warn against this desire but most of the evidence suggests that most of the sadhus want it too. Hitler must have felt that he had such experiences during the tremendous organizing struggles he went through. It appears that he was oftentimes overwhelmed by emotion. He seems to have daydreamed of institutionalizing his own desire for transcendence through his conquests in the name of the State. Toward the end of the speech that preceded his declaration f war on the U.S. he said:
When I decided 23 years ago to enter political life in order to lead the nation up from ruin, I was a nameless, unknown soldier…. The way from a small movement of seven men to the taking of power on 30 January 1933 as the responsible government is so miraculous that only the blessing of Providence could have made it possible. Today I stand at the head of the mightiest army in the world … Behind and around me is a sacred community-the Party, with which I have become great and which has become great through me.
So Hitler chose to lead a chosen people rather than speak for all of us. Is there an irony there? His hatred for Jews goes against every expression of transcendence that convinces me. Without trying to diminish his great abilities, some of which he shared with Stalin, there is something dirty about the man. And what is most soiled about him is not profound. It plays all around the surface. It’s merely neurotic. Neurosis magnified by strong character magnified tremendously by the terrible meeting of some of the worst men possible at the worst possible time.
It’s late evening and I’m at Ralph’s market on Sunset Boulevard in the checkout line trying to keep Paloma from grabbing the candy bars. She’s turned three now and chatters away in two languages. We’re horsing around when she glances behind me and says: “Look Daddy. Santa Claus.” When I turn I see an elderly man with a gay beard spread out raggedly over his chest. As a kind of apology I say: “First time you ever heard that one, eh”
He laughs with an unusual sweetness, pursing his lips a little, and says: “Why, yes. It is.”
I’m immediately drawn to the man. If he weren’t so old, approaching 70 maybe, I’d take him for Ram Dass. Then I realize that Ram Dass must be about ten years older then me, which would make him about 70. I look back at the old geezer again. He is certainly Ram Dass. He’s very thin and his skin is yellowish. He doesn’t look well. He’s dressed in khaki pants, a sport shirt open at the throat, and he’s wearing worn sandals. He’s counting out change into one hand with the other like he might not have enough money to pay for the tomatoes and carrots he’s buying. I want to say something to him but suddenly I’m tongue-tied. I’m like a teenager before her favorite movie star. Wanting to ask for a photograph but too shy to do it.
I went someplace to hear Ram Dass talk once, maybe fifteen years ago. Maybe downtown at the old Embassy Theater on 9th street. He’d been a picture of ruddy good health then, his bald dome shinny and strong. He was younger then than I am now. Jenny and Saul and Betty and me had all gone together. Ram Dass had been full of good cheer, good stories and good thinking. He liked to suggest that some Hindu holy men can do magic but I overlooked that in my appreciation of his wonderful presence. I remember particularly how he had talked so tenderly about working with the dying and how he wouldn’t take any shit from them.
If there’s one thing nobody can kid me about any longer it’s the role that desire plays in the great tragedies of human life. The Hitlers talk of greatness while the holy men talk about right relationship. The Hitlers speak of leading powerful armies while the holy men talk of neither leading nor following. Our Hitlers speak of Party and Providence while the best among us speak of no-party and no-providence. If we were given the opportunity to have for our friend one of our Hitlers or one of our holy men how many of us would choose a Hitler? More than I would want to count I suppose. Before Ram Dass was Ram Dass he was Richard Alpert, a parasitical expression of humanity. He’s the one I would choose. I wish he were with me now, sitting on the sofa drinking beer and watching television. I’ve never wanted to associate with the great ones. You have to make too many excuses for them.
This afternoon I set the alarm, lie down with my face on the two books and take a snooze. When the alarm rings I get up and walk around to Gorky’s to drink coffee and read the papers about the Islamic revolution in Iran. I’m reading and drinking the coffee and after awhile I notice that I’m seeing an image of myself in an amphitheater, maybe someplace in ancient Persia. I’m wrapped around in a blanket and under it I’m naked. I watch myself walking along. Someone is at my side. I’m unsure if it’s a man or a woman. It doesn’t matter. A crowd is beginning to form behind us. Yes, it’s following us. As we walk however we out pace the others and I begin to feel disassociated from them. Then I see that I’m alone. Then I’m at a station about to board a train and I realize I’ve forgotten my weapon.
The scene stops moving. I’m there at the station, I’m waiting, and I’ve forgotten my weapon. Than I don’t see it any more and I see the inside of Gorky’s again. There’s a moment of distraction, then thought begins to chatter in its usual way. And I’m ware for the first time ever that my weapon is the writing. For years I’ve watched myself use guns and even my fists as weapons. It’s exciting and interesting to realize that that’s changing at last. It’s exhilarating. A hot energy surges up through the body from some very deep place. For a moment it’s electrifying. Then it subsides and I don’t feel anything except that I feel very alert. The body is very relaxed and alert and although I can’t hear it a voice is speaking to me, saying that that isn’t how I want to use the writing. I don’t want to use it as a weapon. Thought is saying that the writing is for something entirely different.
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