Jack Boulware

       Requisite phone calls and e-mail. The president of a New Age golf organization called the Shivas Irons Society checks in; we’re tentatively set to play a round Aug. 8. I hate golf, but it’s a feature story that pays well. And these guys seem really out there. Inspired by a Zen spirituality book by Esalen founder Michael Murphy, the bunch supposedly plays golf accompanied by violins, with lit candles on the course. Nobody keeps score. Who can say no to hippie Vivaldi on the links?
       I drive over to the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, to meet with president Rev. Ted McIlvenna, who is in possession of the world’s largest collection of erotic materials. His warehouses full of archives are apparently scattered throughout the city. He’s out of town today, and the staff doesn’t offer to show me the repository. Everybody is real friendly, their eyes open and smiling. You often see that in the sex industry, as people’s inhibitions have long since dropped away. They give me some brochures about the Institute’s graduate programs.
       My writer friend Tom and I prefer to prowl the city’s taverns on quieter nights, before the weekend crowds. For some reason–perhaps because we both have fathers who were in the Marines–our conversation tonight fixates on those old World At War documentaries, packed with footage from the Nazis, who obsessively recorded everything. It’s a tasteless tangent, but we pursue it anyway: what if the Nazis had won the war? Would there be a PBS-style series, hosted by a white-haired Adolf Hitler in front of a crackling fire? Lorne Greene-sounding narration about “thwarting the Polish invasion”? Images of hearty German citizens donating tires for the war effort? Frieda the Riveter? Bumpy news film of Ike Eisenhower in exile, walking down a street in Argentina, putting his hands over the lens? We soon realize there’s not much of a market for such an idea.
       As we’re sitting at Lefty O’Doul’s, an aging corned-beef sports bar on Union Square, a ruckus erupts outside. A feisty little white-haired lady, easily in her 70s, is struggling with two policemen, who have just ejected her from the establishment. The bartender says she’s been a regular for at least 20 years. The whole scene’s right out of a crusty story by Runyon or Hecht. The cops are trying not to laugh. The woman is muttering with her friend, another old drunk lady in stretch pants, as we drive off.