From the batting and fielding point of view, we would have competed with anyone. But if we had one real weakness, it was the lack of a good spinner. We would have struggled against a real good side. But in the batting, fielding and fast bowling departments, we could have taken on the best in any era.” – Barry Richards (on the South African national cricket team of 1970)
by mike morgan
Part Three: End Game
I don’t have a video for you to accompany this reading material, one that would allow you to see a cricket game in progress. In fact, you don’t want to count on me for any of that kind of high-tech stuff. I don’t even own a fully-functioning television set. The tube on mine is going wonky, so the width image is elongated on the bottom and the length image is spread out at the top. For example, if you’re watching a John Wayne black and white western and the old Duke himself is in the saddle, it looks like he’s riding a wiener sausage dog and wearing a gigantic banana-shaped sombrero. Plus, the sound manages to lose its volume, but miraculously picks up when the B71 bus goes by. I am completely bamboozled by this. Perhaps it has something to do with the shortwave radios that bus drivers use. What’s even more confusing is where the B71 bus comes from and goes to. No one is ever on it and nobody ever waits for it…another one of life’s enigmas a la Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn.
The closest I can come to replicating a game is to revisit one that already happened as if I were writing it up for the newspaper sports section the day after it’s over. In South Africa, the resident radio cricket broadcaster was an old walrus of a fart by the name of Charles Fortune. He was so deadly tedious that his co-commentators used to nod off whilst on the job, or go for long walks outside of the broadcasting booth to escape him. He would drone on ad infinitem about matters that weren’t relevant, meanwhile one would hear the crowd erupting in the background while the listeners would remain completely stumped as to what had actually happened. Plus, Charles Fortune had a soft spot for the odd cocktail or seven, so, after lunch, the pointless rant would intensify and would usually reach a climax when the old man, in collusion with his colleagues, would pass out too. As you can imagine, there was a lot of downtime on the air. Television was only introduced in South Africa in 1975, the government fearing its possible subversive influence. Jeez, were they wrong. Anyway sans the telly, we relied on the polka-dot bow-tied Charles Fortune and his waffling. I can do better than that.
The game I have chosen is the Second Test played at Kingsmead Cricket Ground in Durban between Australia and South Africa on the 5th, 6th, 7th and 9th of February, 1970 (it was over by the fourth day). This was in my hometown. I bunked school that entire week to attend the game, the victim of an exotic ailment. I learned how (or how not) to drink Lion Ale (the advertising slogan of which was “The Beer Natal Made Famous) in the sun at Castle Corner (a loaded vocal section of the stands named after another South African beer, Castle Lager). I managed to espy Charles Fortune pickled and unconscious in the commentary booth with the aid of a neighboring spectator’s Leica binoculars. I became a recipient of the infamous white South African tan, sunburnt like hell from the parts exposed. This excluded me for a while from entering the “White Pasty Leg Contest,” whereby great white South African hunters would bedazzle the center spread of “The Farmers Weekly Magazine” with knock-knees and varicose veins, clad in the obligatory uniform of shorts and sandals.
This was Barry Richards’ second shot at a test match. The first test, at the Newlands Ground under Table Mountain in Cape Town, had already been played and the South Africans had won convincingly by 170 runs. Richards’ test debut was respectable, not spectacular: he scored 29 runs in the first inning and 32 runs in the second inning. The batting hero of that game was Eddie Barlow, a pugnacious and somewhat chubby player from the Transvaal Province, who batted fifth in the line-up during that match and was a medium-paced seam bowler. Eddie Barlow’s nickname was “Bunter” because he bore a close resemblance to Billy Bunter, a British schoolboy comic character who was always eating too many hot-cross buns and being caned by the masters, in other words a naughty boy. Barlow scored 127 runs in the first inning at Newlands. Once he got hot, Eddie Barlow was always tough on the opposition. In 2000, Eddie Barlow became the national coach of the Bangladesh cricket team when he suffered a debilitating stroke. He is currently retired from all cricket activities. But this environment was different for Barry Richards. He was playing at Kingsmead, where he’d opened the batting many times for Natal Province and his local team, Durban High School Old Boys. He was due and he knew it. The crowd knew it too. The only poor unsuspecting souls who were clueless were the Australian cricketers.
The captain of the South African team was Aron (he spelled it like Elvis) ”Ali” Bacher, the son of Lithuanian Jewish refugees. Bacher was a formidable player, the number three bat in the order. Upon reflection on that series, he was quoted as saying, “We had a wonderful team. My grandson could have been captain and we would have won.” Bacher, himself a medical doctor, was a mixed bag politically. Post his retirement from active playing in 1974, he became South African cricket’s leading administrator and was responsible for bringing renegade international teams to South Africa during the 1980s at the height of the State of Emergency, a move that only gave credibility to the regime. His position was that “We felt we would be isolated indefinitely. So this was the way we ensured some form of international competition.” However, he did refuse Boer Prime Minister John Balthazar Vorster’s express request to pledge support for the apartheid regime in 1970. When the English player Mike Gatting brought his team of boycott scabs to play in South Africa in 1989, the black community visibly showed their displeasure. Bacher said of this, “The Gatting tour was a watershed. It showed me that sporting events could not occur without the support of black people.” He didn’t have the blinders on completely, even though it took him over fifteen years as a cricket bureaucrat to realize the bleeding obvious.
The Australians had some punishing batsmen: Bill Lawry their skipper, in the twilight of his career, steady but dull as ditch water; Keith Stackpole, a burly slogger; a young Ian Chappell who, together with his brother Gregg, would dominate Australian cricket for the next two decades; Keith Walters and Ian Redpath, both capable of seizing control of a match with their bats. Their bowling was spearheaded by the speedster Graham McKenzie, but their ace-in-the-hole was their spinner Johnny Gleeson, who could deliver off-spin, leg-spin and googlies without tipping his hat as to what might come next. On paper, they were worthy opponents. But that was on paper.
Sometime during the 1990s, the Rolling Stones decided to tour India (not Indianapolis, Indiana). For there are some things you should know. The Rolling Stones are not only outlaws, they’re not only billionaires, but they’re also deeply spiritual men. What follows was told to me by my source inside the Stones organization, my Rolling Mole. He told it to me while on his fifth Rum Bumboola, a terribly toxic concoction that he and Keef became addicted to during the white Rasta foray period onto the islands. The mole swore me to secrecy. He was also speaking in tongues, due in no small part from his slurping away like a grampus at the Bumboolas. So, in the tradition of the muckraking tabloid press, I feel obliged to blare it out all over these pages. I, for one, found the whole thing rather farfetched. Maybe you won’t.
Ever since Keith Richard had his entire blood supply transfused in a clinic in Switzerland, both he and Mick Jagger had flirted with the notion that somewhere out there existed the potion or elixir that, when ingested, would cause everlasting life. They became fixated with the possibility that if they never died, they could keep on producing records and outlive Methuselah by milleniums. More than a few generations would dip into their pockets to sample the music of the Rolling Stones. If history does repeat itself (a debatable proposition), then entire future civilizations, thousand-year Reichs, Mayan cultures, hordes of Mongolian Tartars, Macedonians, Carthaginians, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Spartans, Huns, Goths, Vikings, Plains Indians, Hindus, Aztecs, Incans, Celts, Picts, Chinese dynasties, the Moors, the armies of the Caliphs, the Crusaders, Soviets, the lost children of Abraham, Roman legions, British and U.S. empires, all would become listeners and consumers of Rolling Stones products. Late at night, over a bottle of Rebel Yell whiskey, a line or two of the silly nose powder, and hundreds of diet pills, Jagger and Richard would muse away doing the math. The dream moved closer to reality when Mick had cream tea with the Dalai Lama one Wednesday afternoon at the Savoy in London.
“Wot’s it all about, then?” asked Mick to Tibet’s highest priest.
“Well, I was only able to burn them for $120 a head for The Beacon Theater shows in New York City. How do you get away with it?” replied the Dalai Lama, completely missing the point.
“No, no, no, you stupid little git, eternal life. How do we attain it?” Mick persisted.
“Poi!” replied His Major Domo Holiness. “There is a food concession on the slopes of the Himalayas on the Tibetan side just across the Indian border. It’s called ‘Moshe Peking’s Poi Parlor.’ Partake of the poi and you will never die. Plus, there’s no MSG.”
As much as Mick Jagger badgered the Dalai Lama, he got nothing further out of him. Armed with the possibility that a steady supply of the mysterious poi would make them omnipotent and impervious to death, and that they could transform the lyric, “What a drag it is getting older,” to “What a drag it is never getting older,” the Rolling Stones were soon advertising an India junket, with millions of Rupees in the offing and an opportunity for the masses in Calcutta to see both the Rolling Stones and the Red Hot Chili Peppers perform in the flesh. (Of course they couldn’t play in Tibet. The Chinese cultural revolutionists would never allow it). The Stones also became punters for the Dalai Lama, and Mick could be seen parading around the hippest of clubs in Chelsea, proudly displaying his ‘Free Tibet’ shirt. This prompted Bill Wyman, not the swiftest of the lot, to inquire, “What’s a Tibet and why are they giving one away?”
The flight to India took them by way of Japan and a five hour stopover in Narita Airport. Thousands of fanatical young Japanese rock fans invaded the airport terminal, forcing the boys to seek sanctuary in the first class lounge, reserved exclusively for high-ranking executives of the Sony Corporation and taller white people with plenty of Yen to splash around. The only place to get a belt was “The Narita Karaoke and Comedy Club,” an expensive watering hole advertising Tokyo’s funniest stand-up comedian and number one Mick Jagger impersonator, Fukuoaka Nagasaki San (Big Trouble). He was in his element.
“Rolling Stones inna house,” he pointed and shrieked excitedly, doing the hip-swivelling and lip-pouting routine. Then he noticed Mick Jagger’s Tibet t-shirt and broke into his comedic schtick.
“Knocka, knocka!” he yelled.
“Who there?” roared the crowd
“Japants are falling down”
The patrons loved it. Soused Japanese businessmen were gagging on pitchers of saki, while howling and rolling in the aisles. But Big Trouble wasn’t done yet.
“Knocka, knocka!” he exhorted the audience once again.
“Tibetta pull them up again.”
He completed his first act by blasting out a Karaoke version of a Stones song he introduced as “Blown Sugar.” The most famous band in rock & roll history slunk back onto the plane, crushed that they had been the victims of the Big Trouble’s merciless sledgehammer wit.
Upon arrival in India, Mick and Keef covertly planned their getaway to the foothills of the headlands of the Himalayas. Rigged out with a Hummer limousine, a Northstar directional finding device, a million pounds sterling, a sack full of ecstasy tablets, and accompanied by the grandson of Sherpa Tensing (whose grandad first climbed Mount Everest with Edmund Hillary), they snuck out under cover of the night. This was dangerous bandit terrain. Soon the road stopped being one and turned into a track, a trail, a path and then finally nothing. “Now you big shotties walk,” barked Tensing Junior. All night they clambered on up the mountainside, no easy task in snake skin cowboy boots. Finally, they staggered onto an escarpment, and there it stood with neon sign ablaze, “Moshe Peking’s Poi Parlor.”
Mick Jagger dragged himself up to the counter, behind which stood an older Jewish deli man in a stained apron. It was Moshe himself. “I’d like,” wheezed Mick, “a million pounds worth of poi to go.”
“Poi I got up the tuchus.” replied Moshe. “Boy, dat one needs a haircut. Vot an awful mess,” he volunteered, nodding towards Keith Richard. “Vait a minute! Aren’t you the boys that made that song, ’I love to keep telling you that I can’t get no satisfaction, because telling you that I’m not satisfied is all that can satisfy me?’ Vot kind of poi you vant, I got chicken pot poi, steak and kidney poi, pizza poi, quiche poi, eskimo poi and lemon meringue poi?”
Now again, I cannot verify the accuracy of this story, unlike all the other Rolling Stones ones in this tome, which I absolutely stand by. But at this point, it’s important for you, the readers, to feel included in this process. Do you think it’s true or a bunch of baloney? After all, the Rolling Stones are still touring, and The Dalai Lama hasn’t snuffed it yet. I looked up Moshe Peking’s Poi Parlor in the Tibetan Yellow Pages (make that Yellow Page in the singular) and it is listed. Perhaps the Rolling Stones are not of this world, perhaps they do possess the ability to perform eternally. Perhaps our worst nightmare has finally come true…They might never go away.
The South Africans won the toss at Kingsmead and elected to bat first. This was Barry Richards’ moment. He knew where he was and what was expected of him. By lunch, he had reached the century mark. In the early afternoon, he was teamed up with Graeme Pollock, another premier South African batsman. Both of the Pollock brothers were on that team, Graeme for his batting, Peter for his fast bowling. I was never much of a fan of the Pollocks, underscored now by the fact that each of them have become born-again Christian tub thumpers. There is now a young Pollock son on the South African cricket scene, another devil dodger and follower of Jerusalem Slim. But Graeme and Peter Pollock were both terrific cricketers. Richards and Pollock took the Australian bowling by the scruff of the neck and manhandled it. Their attack was relentless. Richards was clean bowled by Eric Freeman in mid-afternoon for a score of 140 runs. Pollock continued his assault. His score when he was finally out (he hit a catch back to the bowler, Keith Stackpole) was a hefty 274 runs. The South Africans batted through until teatime on the second day. Tiger Lance, the Transvaal all-rounder, chalked up 61 runs. When Ali Bacher declared, his team had scored 622 runs for nine wickets. Peter Pollock, on the squad for his bowling alone, was 36 runs not out at the time of Bacher’s decision to declare. (This is comparable to say Pedro Martinez hitting for the cycle). The South Africans might not have to bat a second time.
Bear with me while I dwell briefly on the Richards’ inning, which was surgical in its precision. In my limited experience, it was the most exquisite batting performance that I have ever or would ever see (and I’d seen Richards bat a bunch). Certainly, there have been many higher totals scored by other individual test batsmen. But there was an element of magic and grace about the self-assurance with which the young Barry Richards went about his business. Graeme Pollock wound up scoring more runs (almost twice as many), however Richards sparred and parried with perfection. The ball which beat him and broke his wickets was the only mistake he made all day. Pollock might have gone on to pulverize the Australian bowlers, but Richards had already demoralized them and given them a painful lesson from which they wouldn’t recover. He reached his score having faced only 116 balls. For any cricket follower at that moment, it was inconceivable to imagine that he would play in only two more international test matches, and a little more than a month later that would be it, finished and done.
The Australians came out to bat somewhat wearied by their travails on the field. Lawry and Stackpole dug in and the possibility appeared that this might become a war of attrition. The opening bat stand (a stand is the amount of runs scored by any two batsmen when they are together) was at 44 runs. With half an hour left before the end of play, Ali Bacher gave the ball to Bunter Barlow, whose approach to the game always had a Tasmanian Devil feel to it. Before the close of play, Eddie Barlow had ripped through the top order of the Australian bats. The score as the wickets fell read as follows: 1 for 44; 2 for 44; 3 for 48; 4 for 48; and 5 for 56. By the close of play on that second day, five of the elite of the Australian batsmen were back in the clubhouse having added only 12 runs on to their team total. They were literally put down under. Castle Corner was delirious (if not smashed too). With nothing but the lowlier batsmen to deal with, the South Africans dismissed the entire team the next day for a measly 157 runs. It took a meager 50 overs of bowling to do this
The difference between the South African run total and that of the Australians was enormous enough that the Australians had to “run on” (bat again). Their second inning was more respectable. They were able to score a team total of 370 runs. But it was not enough to require a second inning at bat by the South Africans. By the end of the fourth day, they had won by an inning and 129 runs. Even Charles Fortune awoke from his stupor. Talk about the blind seeing, the deaf hearing and the lame walking. This was indeed a miracle.
It is actually true that the Rolling Stones did go to India during the last decade. When hauled over the coals about the outside possibility of exploiting the market in India for their own nefarious financial gain, Mick warbled on that a person earning the equivalent of thirty thousand pounds per annum in India could well afford a Mercedes Benz. Unfortunately, there’s a substantial portion of the Indian population that barely earns a tenth of that. Tut, tut! All of this from a London School of Economics graduate too. It’s almost as bad as Bono, the U2 front man, parading around the world with the Bush’s former cabinet member and Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O’Neill, hocking a sanitized version of globalization. The Bono position is even more absurd. It posits the following theory. A poor man has fifty cents in his pocket, his entire capital, but he owes a rich man fifty billion dollars. The rich man says, “Look I’m fair. I’ll cut your debt in half.” But if the poor man has only has fifty cents to his name, what difference does it make if he owes five thousand dollars, twenty five billion dollars, or fifty billion dollars. The rich man will still hold the poor man in debt and will likely get his money back, albeit in dribs and drabs. This, in a nutshell, is what the irritant Bono and the war-horse O’Neill flogged as they trucked around the Third World. I stand in more meaningful dog mess on Eastern Parkway. At least it eventually transforms into fertilizer. But as Mick Jagger once sang, “You’ve got to wipe that shit right off your shoes.” These are then the good deeds of pontificating megalomaniacs (but it makes them feel good). For those in the boondocks, it’s the same old song.
That 1970 South African side took all four of the international test matches against Australia, winning the last two in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth and proving that they could stand with the top world teams of the day (even if they couldn’t play some of them). They were then sent into cricket wilderness, and it would be 22 years before a legitimate cricket international test was played again on South African soil. In that four test match series, Barry Richards scored a total of 508 in seven innings at bat for a remarkable average of 72.57 runs per inning. Richards did not qualify for any records with this extremely high statistic because he never met the requirement of twenty test innings as a batsman, In their final international turn at bat at St. Georges Park in Port Elizabeth, the two Durban lads, from around the corner and down the block, Lee Irvine (102 runs) and Barry Richards (126 runs) both scored centuries respectively.
In the two decades following the dissolution of that cricket team, South Africa would be steeped in more bloodshed than ever before. With its back to the wall, the white regime unleashed its firepower in black townships, in neighboring countries, in the cities and the countryside, in the workplace and in people’s homes, yet it did not last and eventually had to compromise its hold on exclusive state power. This history is well-known and documented, and I have no intention of rehashing it, but I do want to say this. Central to the fight waged by the dispossessed of the land were the liberation organizations and all of the underground combatants, community groups, trade unions, women’s organizations, united fronts, youth formations and disaffected whites that made up the forces of resistance. The war to free South Africa was waged on so many different fronts, including that of professional sports. To give you some idea of the scope of opposition to traveling Springbok rugby teams, they were met with violent protests and correspondingly violent police protection in England and Ireland in 1970 (a key organizer here was white South African exile Peter Hain, now an apologist for Tony Blair and a member of his cabinet as British Secretary for Northern Ireland, more than a slight drift to the right politically one might surmise), and in Australia and particularly New Zealand in 1981. The New Zealand organization HART (Halt All Racist Tours) was lead by Maori activists. They turned business as usual in Christchurch and Wellington on its head. By the time the Springbok rugby players came to the U.S. in 1982, they had been harried and chased across the world for over a dozen years. Here, trying to fool and outmaneuver the demonstrators, they played their keynote game unannounced early one morning in a muddy field in a remote part of rural Wisconsin, such was their pariah status and fear of exposure. The temporary demise then of South Africa from international cricket was but one aspect of a much larger national and international campaign to unseat the white supremacists. As tragic as the disappearance of that cricket team seemed to me at the time, in retrospect it was certainly due and necessary. But then again, a tragedy is still a tragedy
* * *
“When things going good, you can touch we;
But leh murder start
And ol’ man you can fine a man to hole up de side”
– Unknown West Indian Poet (to Viv Richards)
Of course, the American equivalent of cricket is baseball (she has been good to me). Both sports require similar reflexes, hand-eye co-ordination, ball control, fielding, throwing and batting skills, so they are cousins, if not distant ones. When I grew up in South Africa, many established cricketers played baseball in the winter (cricket is a summer game) as members of the local Durban baseball league. As a result of this, by the time I arrived in the United States, I was fully familiar with the game of baseball, even though it was never played at the same level of finesse there as it is here. Berry Versfeld, the Natal cricket captain in the late 1960s, loved playing baseball so much and was adept enough at it that he qualified for a trial with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1966. He was offered a spot on a Pirates’ minor league farm team, but he turned down that opportunity in order to continue to play cricket. I can say without a doubt that cricketers make adequate baseball players, for I have seen them do it. I have yet to witness a major league baseball player try his hand at cricket. I suspect that the results might be the same.
I have peppered the preceding pages with stories about some players who relegated their careers to the needs and conditions of those surrounding them. Whether by design or not, they became part of a more important struggle, one that embodied notions of justice and equality, not merely winning or self-gain. I believe there is value to be gleaned by placing this in the context of America and its fascination with role models. Towards this end, I am reminded of a particular experience here that deserves telling. In 1992, when four white Los Angeles cops were acquitted in the trial of beating up Rodney King, a black man, South Central L.A. blew up into a full-scale riot. During the riot’s aftermath, when many in America, including the media, attempted some kind of search for answers, a popular sports talk show host interviewed a panel of three distinguished black sports personalities, Darryl Strawberry, the New York Mets slugger, Eric Davis, the star outfielder of the Cincinnati Reds, and Jim Brown, the former Cleveland Browns running back turned actor and community activist. Both Strawberry and Davis had grown up in the L.A. neighborhood of Watts. Jim Brown was then and still is involved in working with gang members and youth programs in Compton, California. Jim Brown wasn’t exactly without his own scars, he has been charged with violence towards women on more than one occasion. Darryl Strawberry and Eric Davis had relocated from their childhood community and were then living the lives of pampered sports superstars in neighborhoods foreign to South Central Los Angeles. Jim Brown at least had buried himself in that tough turf and was doing meaningful and difficult work. The interviewer heard out Strawberry and Davis, both of whom rattled out the formulaic position of obedience to law and order and had nothing to say about racism, inequality, police brutality and poverty, the very ingredients which ignited the uprising. When Jim Brown had his turn, he immediately pointed this out and reinforced it by emphasizing that both the baseball players had turned their backs on their own community and were irrelevant to its needs. He told the audience to ignore and dismiss everything that Strawberry and Davis had put forward. He accused his colleagues of having nothing meaningful to say to the people of Watts. Jim Brown was never asked another question on that show. He was purposefully cut out of the debate and the audience was left with the sorry platitudes of Darryl Strawberry and Eric Davis. The point is that there is a price to be paid for being honest, even if one is a famous ball player, albeit retired. This is often forgotten here, where the spotlight is continuously on these athletes, and the money that is heaped upon them bears no comparison to the earnings of people who grind out a shift each day. Because of this fantastically lopsided relationship, professional sports people have, for all intents and purposes, already sold out. We should never be surprised by how non-challenging their statements and positions are, how they are lauded by the enforcers of the status quo, and how selfishly they behave. But on the opposite end, we might want to pay special attention to the minority among them who do stand up for something worthwhile, as few and far between as they might be. For every lucky ballplayer that is plucked out of the ghetto, there are hundreds of thousands left behind. This too is worth remembering.
I cannot thank the Rolling Stones enough for providing an escape valve from what could still be interpreted by many as an onerous tome about cricket and politics. Their current tour, for which good seats are costing as much as $450 (and that’s not scalper prices), and the new record are being billed as “The Bigger Bang,” aka “The Huger Fucking Over.” There’s an anti-Bush song on the album (their political astuteness knows no end), but the band played live at the pre-game show for the opening of the National Football League season on network television, an orgiastic frenzy of flag-waving idiocy, usually the domain of the doltish Aerosmith. Clearly, after the embarrassing Janet Jackson bust unveiling at the Super Bowl a few years ago, the television executives are closely monitoring the performances of those prone to sexual antics on stage, thus it’s only natural that they would opt for the Stones at the football premier. The Rolling Stones, it appears, are more than adept at working both sides of the street. It’s reassuring to know that their aim is true. We all need consistency in our lives.
The last time I checked, Clive Lloyd, who captained the West Indies XI between 1974 and 1980, had a hand in running the local league in the Tri-State area in New York, part of cricket’s diaspora. There is a vibrant league here, played mostly by Indians, Pakistanis and West Indians in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn although probably more so by Englishmen, Australians and South Africans in the suburbs of Westchester, New Jersey and Connecticut. It’s possible that the next Vivian or Barry Richards might be strutting his stuff in a park in Flushing Meadows or Far Rockaway. You never can tell. Stranger things have happened.
Suggested Reading List:
“Beyond A Boundary” by C.L.R. James (Paperback) – Duke University Press
“Basil D’Oliveira – Cricket and Controversy” by Peter Oborne (Paperback) – Warner Books
“The True Adventure of the Rolling Stones” by Stanley Booth (Paperback) – Independent Publishers Group
A Brooklynite by way of Wales and South Africa, Mike Morgan is the founder of Burrow Magazine and serves as one of its Senior Editors and Contributors. In addition to these duties, he has been and continues to be at the heart of a thriving literary, art and music scene and is a regular at several neighborhood bars, where he can be found discussing global and local affairs, rock and roll, various New York sports teams, and whatever books he happens to be reading at the time. More from Mike Morgan can be found in the Vault of Smoke.