Frenchy and Cuban Pete


In 1947 Albuquerque got its first stripper club. That was a good year for Albuquerque. The first Jewish Delicatessen opened on Central Avenue right downtown. And a lot of a very different kind of person started going to the University of Mexico on the G.I. Bill.

The G.I. Bill changed the look of Joe College U.N.M. drastically. A large part of the influx, particularly in the painting department, were Jews from New York. That look blew me over. Every time I saw somebody looking great it turned out later that he or she was a Jew. For awhile I got worried about it. Or rather I got worried about whether I should be worried about it. That all my friends were Jews. Then I thought what the hell go along with it.

I sat through evening after evening of conversations so abstract that the only thing clear was that they all knew what they were talking about. And it was fascinating. You have to realize that the talk I had been understanding wasn’t worth the effort. A presumptuous snob at seventeen is what I was, out of desperation. What these people were talking about involved rampant energy, arms waving, real anger for intellectual reasons and a dynamic. They were so knowledgeable. One of them who wanted to make love to but never did gave me a modern library copy of Sons and Lovers for my birthday.

Review: Pacific Northwest Review of Books