monkeeys

monkeeys

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Chapter 17


I was exhausted by the time I walked into the Grove for Ping’s fundraiser.  It had been a rather routine night of bad conversation and even worse food with watered down drinks served by low level legislative staff members to mid-level legislative staff members who had been told by top level legislative staff members that they could not leave the fundraiser until it was officially over.  Like every other lobbyist I did a hit and run, circled the room with whichever client was in town and tried to steal any other lobbyist’s clients that were left unchaperoned.  It was like a high school dance where the school stud tries to steal the dork’s date.  If you were a lobbyist that was dumb enough to bring a client and not keep a watchful eye on him or her you deserved to have that client stolen from you.  It would be more cost effective and a better use of time if they outlawed fundraisers and made it legal to just provide elected officials bribes to cover their routine expenses.  Just a quick look at any elected’s campaign account made it abundantly clear they used the campaign accounts to support their lifestyles and pay for their criminal defense attorneys and anything left over was used for campaigning.  After all who really needed to campaign, they were all reelected unless they were in jail.  The creative ones were now using campaign accounts to pay friends and family to perform “consulting” services for the campaigns.  Which, from my point of view, was better than my firm having to hire those same friends and family to provide “consulting” services to the firm.  It was still the lobbyist’s money but at least when the campaign paid you didn’t have the management headaches, the fuck up, relative de jour was someone else’s nightmare when they used the campaign’s credit card for online dating services.

The only real excitement pre Grove, came when John Mchardle ran into Richard at Quark’s rave and in front of a large group of 20 something outer borough douchebags who were all pretending to be George Stephanopolis, proceeded to climb onto a balcony and piss on Richard and everyone else in a 10 foot radius, Mchardle had been drinking all night and had a huge bladder so the devastation was widespread.

As I entered the Grove the first thing I noticed were Jelly’s uncles, cousins and assorted henchmen seated at the bar but facing away from the bar and into the main room where the fundraiser was being held.  It looked like the front row of a major boxing match in Vegas.  Everybody wearing tracksuits with bulges under their jackets and looks of rapt attention on their faces.  I’d never seen more than a table of wise guys at any one time in the Grove, just enough to let you know it was a mob owned restaurant but not enough to scare the regulars.  Tonight it was standing room only at the bar and they were smelling blood as they heckled the suits walking in.

I saw Jelly at the end of the bar and walked over.

“Jelly what the fuck is going on?”

“Whadda ya talking about?’

I’d never heard Jelly speak in anything but proper English.

“I mean what’s with all the muscle at the bar?”

“Don’t worry about it the boys just came to watch, call it professional curiosity”

“Professional curiosity?”

“Sure, you never see this many criminals and cops in one place unless it’s in prison”

“Cops?”

“Didn’t you notice? Pings got at least a couple of hundred FBI and federal marshals here,  fuck there are so many cops I don’t have a single cannoli left they stole them all”

“Why so many? You don’t need that kind of security for a fundraiser and the Grove has never been the kind of place you had to worry about violence, especially with the boys in the bar”

“Nah, none of that, all the guys say it looks like a roundup that’s why they’re here they want to watch,  For a criminal it’s like a major sporting event, they don’t want to miss it”

“Should I leave?”

“Nah if they wanted you they would knock on your door early some morning this is a made for television event, sit back and enjoy the show.  Ping is a stone cold gangsta, the boys say ever since he started going after politicians they have been free to do their thing, they love him”

“Is that why you let him use the Grove?”

“Sort of but he jammed me up pretty good for receiving stolen property, those fucking clams are expensive if you actually have to buy them legit.  He gave me a choice do 3 years or let him do his fundraiser at the Grove gratis, it wasn’t a tough choice”

“Yea been there done that”

“Well enjoy your evening just two things I should warn you about”

“What’s that?”

“One, the big Jew at your table is carrying and the boys are still deciding what to do about it and two stay as far away from Richard as you can it smells like he pissed himself”

When I reached the table and looked around it was a who’s who of elected officials and major donors.  I took an empty seat across from Richard and next to legendary Republican donor Chris Braggadocia.

“Chris good to see you what brings you to a fundraiser for a member of the other team?”

“Hibert put the arm on me for the whole table which makes you my guest”

“Sorry Chris, I bought the table too, I think everybody bought the table which means the hose hosed all of us”

“It smells like he hosed Richard just a little bit more, he smells like a train station men’s room”

“No I’m pretty sure that was Mchardle’s doing.”

Chris laughed out loud.

“Rookie mistake you never stand near John when he’s been drinking, huge bladder on that leprechaun.  By the way who’s the big kike with the gun?”

“Lev Behuda, he’s supposed to be with the Israeli mob and doing something with Richard and Ravi out by the microdot factory, dorms and dope”

“If he’s a mobster why isn’t he at the bar with the rest of Jelly’s family?”

“Think bar mitzvah not baptism, I don’t think Jelly’s guys appreciate his presence here nor his attempts to enter the dope and dorm business”

“Now a shootout would be exciting wouldn’t it?”

At that moment Alex Shimmel appeared and took a seat at the table next to Chris and me.

“Gentleman, am I in time for the fun?”

Chris looked at me and said.

“How long have you known Alex Leathers?”

“I just met him last week, he is a client”

“Client huh?  Which CIA front are you using with Leathers Alex?”

“Please Chris there is no need for animosity, I’m sure the Agency will make you whole on that Bermuda onions for oil deal.  Relax and enjoy Pings show tonight I hear it will be one to remember for a long time”

Alex’s cell phone went off and as he looked at it he said”

“Gotta take this guys, its Tom Brady he needs my advice on this soft balls fiasco”

Chris and I looked at each other as Alex magically disappeared and Ping tapped the microphone.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Chapter 16


I arrived back at the office after a full day of wasted time in the Capital.

I had just enough time to go over my evening schedule with Pat before I had to leave for the first of what would be 16 fundraisers this evening.

“Looks like you have 13 events tonight Leathers starting at 6pm at the Fort Lemon Club for Senator Volmer”

“Nope I added 3 more while I was at the capital, all 3 are at the Fort Lemon, one for that Assemblywomen from upstate Gigglebrand or Gildersleeve I can’t remember, then Washington has his first event this week, I bought two tables and I told Squabble I’d go to his rave whatever the fuck that is”

“You’re going to Squabble’s rave? Do you plan to visit the VIP room?”

“Probably, if it’s VIP I should be there”

Pat giggled like a little school girl.

“Well before you go into the VIP room take these”

She handed me two small vials that looked like smelling salts.

“What are they and what do I do with them?”

“Amyl Nitrate just pop them and sniff it like smelling salts”

“Why would I take these?”

“Leathers if you end up in the VIP room you might be catching not pitching and these will help”

“How would you know?”

“Been there done that, I went to a lot of fundraisers when I was with the angels”

“These look illegal where did you get them”

“Danny gave them to me the last time we had dinner”

“Danny huh? Did you ever . . .”

“Did I ever what?”

“Never mind.  What’s the rest of the fundraiser schedule look like?”

“Of the 13 events 8 are at the Lemon, 3 are at the University Club in Saratoga”

“Saratoga? It’s not even track season why is anyone going up there?”

“The casino, they give heavily discounted event packages so a lot of the Assembly fundraisers for the Republicans are held there, you get the room and catering for $100 and 100 rolls of quarter tokens for the slot machines.”

“Send Murray to Saratoga where are the last two”

“One at the Grove and one in Senator O’Flahraty’s office at the Legislative Office Building”

“A fundraiser in his Senate office?  Is he crazy?  Even our local District Attorney can figure out that’s a felony”

“Well first he had no choice, the Lemon was fully booked this evening and second The DA is going to be up in Saratoga, he loves free slot play”

“Okay send the new intern Amanda to O’Flahratys’ and make sure you tell her not to fuck any staff person below the Deputy level”

“Leathers be nice she is Mclowey’s sisters husbands best friends daughter”

“Fine then she can fuck whomever she wants tonight but remind her if she wanted to fuck state workers she should have gotten a job as a secretary in the Legislature not as an intern for a lobbyist.  We give jobs to legislator’s family members in return for passing legislation not to get them laid”

“Wow you are in a bad mood, may I remind you if it weren’t for interns you might have been celibate for the vast majority of your time working in the legislature”

“You may not.  Who has the Grove fundraiser?”

“Ping Pong, he has started an exploratory committee to run for Mayor in New York”

“He wants to be Mayor of New York City but he holds his first fundraiser in Albany?  What’s the table price and who is going?”

“That’s the weird thing, he specifically said no lobbyists or their clients are invited”

“That’s just more bullshit good government window dressing, how much does he want if you don’t attend?”

“He says he is not accepting donations from lobbyists or their clients’ period”

“So who is invited?”

“Elected members of the Senate and Assembly only”

“That fucking guy is a genius so the only people that can send him money are the ones he is threatening to put in jail?  My god he has raised the bar on pay to play.  He turned fundraising into pay or pray.  Didn’t Rice do something similar when he ran for reelection as Attorney General?”

“Kind of but he would fund raise from targets of his investigations along with everyone else, Ping is refining his fundraising message it’s very clear if you don’t donate you will be indicted”

“I have news for you Pat I think even if you do donate this guy will indict you, he thinks he is on a mission from God.  How did we get an invite?”

“We didn’t but I got us a seat at Hibert’s table in return for donating enough money to Hibert to buy the table.  I was told he did the same thing with 9 other lobbyists and their clients for a ten person table.  So it ends up being you, Hibert and eight other swinging dicks at the Grove. . . so here’s two more poppers enjoy.”

“Who are the other eight?”

“I wasn’t able to get the full list but Richard, Danny, Bobby, Jennifer and some guy named Lev Behuna for sure.  And I heard former Senator Nicky Spanko has been released from prison and is now lobbying with that new group Momentum Associates, he is supposed to be there”

“Okay I’ll do all the Lemon events and then hit the Grove last.  Anything else important?”

“Yes Karp delivered a package for you and said to call him.  Have fun Mort and relax let the Amyl Nitrate do its job you may even find you like it”

“I’m not taking it up the ass Pat, I’ll leave that to Danny and former Governor Mazzone”

“I think you will find Danny is far more open minded about his body than you are Mort, grow up”

When Pat left I opened Karp’s package to find a new recording device.

I called Karp.

“Why do I need a new recorder?”

“Leathers we want you to record the event at the Grove tonight”

“But why a new recorder?”

“It’s an app based recorder that works off of cell phone signals it will allow us to listen to conversations from everyone’s cell phones within 20 feet of it”

“It looks like the FBI is moving up in the technology world huh?”

“Not really one of our agents picked it up as a free sample at Radio Shack.  Do you see the frequency setting on the side?”

“Yes”

“Select frequency 3”

“Why 3?”

“Because Ping Pong is using 1 for his table bugs and Spanko will be recording on 2”

“Spanko is working for you guys?”

“How do you think he got out of jail so quick I’ll see you at Eggy’s tomorrow for breakfast”

What was going to be a light night of fundraisers by Albany standards just got very busy.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Chapter 15


Today was a session day.

I hated actually having to go walk the halls of the Capital.

Very little meaningful lobbying work got done in the building itself.  And if the truth be told you could take all the meaningful debates and legislative action and get an entire legislative session done in a short afternoon.  The rest of the time the legislature was busy passing resolutions recognizing some bullshit local group for some bullshit local accomplishment and when they finished that they would pass legislation named after someone.  My all-time favorite was the Pay Pedro Act, which was a budget amendment that provided $32.7 million dollars to a health clinic in New Jersey run by former Senator, now convict, Pedro Empanada’s brother.  That they actually called it the Pay Pedro Act was the height of arrogance, which no one bothered to investigate until Pedro’s brother was arrested in New Jersey for trying to pass counterfeit $2 bills which was classic Albany.

The real problem with being in the Capital on a session day was that you became the target of every legislator that wanted you to donate to their campaign account.  Now it was a felony to ask for campaign donations while in the actual capital building but that didn’t stop these greedy electeds.  They were blatant about the quid pro quo reality of passing legislation, everything was for sale.  Had they set up a Turkish bazaar with curbside camel parking it would have appeared less corrupt.

I had barely skipped thru the security gate line by tipping the state trooper on duty, it was amazing what these law enforcement types would do for a $2 bill, the cheap bastards.  Fortunately I had purchased over $5000 of $2 bills from Senator Empanada for $375 before he went to prison, it was a buyers’ market, and having $2 bills for tipping in this town was important.  Most of the lobbyists tipped only a dollar, which was enough for the state troopers but was frowned upon by the coffee baristas at the coffee shop on the first floor. 
When I was approached by some downstate Assemblywomen.

“Leathers can we talk for a minute about your clients bill to exempt truffle butter from sales tax?”

“Certainly Assemblywomen, how can I help you?”

“Well Leathers if the truth be told I’m not a big truffle butter fan. But I am having a fundraiser tomorrow night at the Fort Lemon Club can I count on you for a table?”

“Now Assemblywoman you know that the capital is not the place to talk fundraiser”

“And you know Leathers that it’s not the place to talk truffle butter tax exemption legislation either”

“I understand your point, I’ll see you at the Fort Lemon event”

“That’s great my staff will be in touch to collect payment or you can just drop your check at my office upstairs, and by the way feel free to provide me a sample of that truffle butter I like to be well informed before I vote on legislation”

Thank god she was an assemblywomen with no real power, it made it exceedingly unlikely that our conversation had been recorded.  The last thing I needed at this point was to be drawn into Ping Pong’s RICO case.

As I continued along the corridor to the elevators I noticed a series of pieces of paper taped to the wall, the first piece was a flyer announcing a fundraiser for Senator Squabble.  Squabble was the youngest member of the Senate, I think he was about 26 years old and acted like he was 16.  It played well in his Senate district which had 37 colleges located within it, but he would have a short career unless the district aged along with him.  At this point in time he was riding high, literally, as a new snow board manufacturer had just opened a factory in the district with over 100 new jobs and Squabble was taking full credit for the job growth, even though he had absolutely nothing to do with it.  The deal had been financed by no interest state job fund loans arranged by Mclowey, who then wrote a book “Profiles in Snowboarding” and the factory had been built on land owned by Hibert with a small real estate title policy being written by Shady Washington’s mom.  The flyer looked like it belonged on a college bulletin board and read:

“Join us at the Fort Lemon Club basement chill room for Senator Danny “Chillaxing” Squabble’s rave and fundraiser.   We will be collecting coin at the door to support Dan’s chill lifestyle and to thank him for bringing rad boards to the hood.  Minimum cover is $500.  All those supporting tax free truffle butter need to be representing as we churn some butter in the private VIP rooms”

Well if nothing else you had to admire his low key approach to graft.

Just pass the last flyer and in the alcove for the elevators I bumped into Speaker Washington’s speechwriter, John Mchardle.  John was an old Albany pro with a drinking problem.  Being a drunk in Albany politics wasn’t a problem it was almost required, the problem was he was an exceedingly mean drunk with a penchant for urinating on everyone around him if they annoyed him.  For a short Irishman he had an amazingly large bladder.

“What’s up John? How’s it hanging?”

“Oh it’s just fine Leathers, but thanks for asking”

Clearly John wasn’t drunk yet something important must be going on.

“What are you working on John?”

“Washington wants to give a speech at his fundraiser tonight, are you going?”

“Of course I am where and when?”

“No clue but probably at the Fort Lemon Club you want me to find out?  Can I put you down for a couple of tables?”

“Sure, what’s the speech about?”

“Siler got to Shady last night and convinced him to link that tax exemption for truffle butter to the Dream Act”

“Are you serious? That will kill it in the Senate, fuck me!”

“Relax Leathers, you know how the game is played, just get Hibert to buy in with a roll back on the Safe Act.  Turn truffle butter into the big ugly”

“Yea good idea John, by the way had you heard that Richard was telling everyone that you were in Ravi’s McLaren sucking his cock when he got arrested?”

I could see the anger building all that was need now was some alcohol and tonight’s fundraiser for Washington could turn into a pissfest for Richard.

As I boarded the elevator to watch the session in the Assembly I saw Oscar Hibert with the large well-dressed gentleman from the Grove last night.  The elevator doors closed and it was the 3 of us and Casey Sailer in the elevator.

“Leathers, I’d like to thank you for sending me those four new clients that I’m not lobbying for”

He actually winked at me, the kid was a complete fucking idiot.  I looked at Sailer but he was oblivious as he was underlining his copy of Proust.

“I’d also like to introduce you to my newest client, Lev Bakuma, who is paying me $100000 a month NOT to lobby for a medical marijuana license, we’re going up to see Daddy about making sure I don’t lobby for any other groups that want one of those licenses, Lev is a Jew you know”

At this point Casey dropped his highlighter and my cellphone rang, the number calling was listed as “Cleaning Inspection Agency”.

“I’m a little busy Alex”

“I know, tell that fucking idiot Oscar, that I will be at his father’s fundraiser tonight so he can stop calling me”

“Fundraiser?”

“I have to run Leathers that’s God on the other line he needs my advice on amending the Ten Commandments”

Oscar stopped picking his nose long enough to make it clear he had overheard.

“I’m sure you knew Leathers but Daddy is having a big fundraiser tonight at the Fort Lemon Club, if he hasn’t already collected your donation I can take it now in cash”

“No that’s fine Oscar I never discuss fundraisers in the Capital and especially not in an elevator with a member of the press present”

“You are mistaken Leathers, Lev isn’t with the media he’s part of Mazel Tov the Israeli mob”

Sailer cleared his throat and closed his copy of Proust.

“That should be he is a part of Mazel Tov.  You need the “a” to be grammatically correct”

At that point the elevator doors opened and Sailer walked out.

“You want I should stick that little schmendrake in a pickle barrel for you Mr. little hose?”

“I don’t think they have Jewish pickles in the cafeteria here do they Leathers?”

I left the elevator convinced that Oscar may have been the dumbest person in the building.  And since this was the state capital that was quite the accomplishment.

As I walked into the Assembly the local Assemblyman was reading a proclamation recognizing the local lacrosse team for making the sectionals for the 10th straight year.  Of course no one mentioned that every team in the section made sectionals and every member of every team got a participation trophy, such was the world of youth sports.

“And so it is with great pleasure that I hereby proclaim that the Albany High School Barking Dogs lacrosse team is recognized for its outstanding accomplishments . . .”

As I scanned the chambers I only saw 5 or 6 members present and they were all on their phones, probably dialing for dollars, trying to raise donations for their reelection campaigns.

“. . . And whereas the following players have contributed their time and energy . . .”

Senator Squabble saw me and started over.  What was a senator doing in the Assembly chambers?

“. . . Rickey “porn star” Savage, Blaine ”the blind man” Benner, Matt “fat” Fisher, Liam “twiggy” Dollard, Kevin “kosher” Carmody and C.J. “leaky bucket” Alessandrini”

Squabble stopped in front of me and extended his fist to bump knuckles.

“Yo Leathers brah, am I gonna be swapping digits with yur bitches tonight”

“Huh?”

“What I got ta spell it out for you dude, I need your peeps to bring me some lucre if you want your truffle butter sales tax exemption to pass”

“Really Senator in chambers you are going to hit me up on a pay for play?”

“Chill dude I’m a senator and this is the assembly none of my shit can be clocked here it’s all good”

“I look forward to your support senator”

“You drop the dollahs and I’ll make the senate hollah”

What the fuck was this world coming to?

Finally I saw Sam Casey at Munro’s desk, I walked over and sat down.

“I hate this place Sam”

“Me too Leathers but what’s the alternative?”

“Dejardin thinks anonymous donations will solve the problem”

“Solves one problem but causes another”

“What’s that?”

“No donations at all, how will these politicians pay their personal expenses?”

“With their own money?”

“Now that may be the funniest thing I’ve ever heard you say Leathers, their own money”

Sam fell down laughing which disturbed the Assemblyman at the next desk he looked up and said.

“Do you gentleman mind I am very busy calling my donors for my birthday party fundraiser this evening, you can just throw a couple of hundred dollar bills in my desk and I’ll see you at the Fort Lemon Club tonight”

As Cadillac Curtis used to say campaign donations are just the price of admission to the sport of politics.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Chapter 14


As I walked in The Grove I did a quick scan of the room.

The hose was at his usual corner table, sitting with his idiot son and a rather large gentleman in a very expensive suit.

Mclowey was holding court from a table in the middle of the room surrounded by second floor suckups and fuckups.  Chief among them his chief of staff a mean little shit with teeth that looked like a bad ear of corn, who used to be the County Executive of Oleans County who went by the name of Larry Smith and by the nickname “Licketysplit”.  Not many people were aware that when Larry was born his name was Linda.  He had gender reassignment surgery as a young girl and became a young man.  For the last 50 years he had bounced around government leaving a trail of enemies resulting from his mean spirited machinations.  It was said Larry wasn’t happy unless someone else was unhappy.  Perhaps the best example of this was his role in the resignation of former Governor Mendez.  Governor Mendez served as governor for a little less than 3 weeks after Governor Mazzone’s resignation resulting from the Dante typo and the uproar surrounding Mazzone’s use of the state plane to travel to the nation’s capital to fuck male prostitutes.  Mendez was a likeable man that had spent a career as a State Senator representing a safe seat in Spanish Harlem.  He was mute and relied on staff to translate his own unique sign language.  He was also an alcoholic who had become addicted to a concoction of cheap brandy and expensive champagne he called “thugs punch”.  You rarely saw Mendez sober or without his glass of “iced tea” which was really “thugs punch”.  Smith was his chief of staff and in charge of translation duties one fateful press conference.  When asked if he supported same sex marriage Mendez actually gave a very measured thoughtful response that left his political options open,  Licketysplit translated Mendez’ signs and announced to the assembled reporters that Governor Mendez had said he “Doesn’t take it up the ass like our previous governor and would sooner approve marriage between the races than between same sex couples”.  Mclowey as Attorney General announced he was opening a civil rights case against Mendez and then hired Larry as his Chief of Staff.  Mendez resigned and started a career as a radio talk show host, which being mute did not garner many listeners.  Mclowey wrote a book about the incident titled “Profiles of a Transgender” and became Governor in a landslide. 

When Mendez was finally told by his son what Smith had said he signed, Mendez uttered the only words anyone had ever heard him say “Fuck me”.

One table over from Mclowey sat Richard Washington, Dixie Junkins and the entire Black and Puerto Rican caucus of the Assembly.  The table was heaped with the remnants of a huge meal of lobster and steak.  Now I know all those public servants received a generous per diem for traveling to Albany but their combined net worth didn’t exceed the cost of one lobster tail, someone else had to be paying for that meal.

Richard and Ravi were in the far corner trying to remain unseen behind a large ficus tree.  Sitting with them was O. Robert Lambert the town’s self-proclaimed top criminal lawyer.

Before joining Sam at my table I stopped by Jelly’s host station to chat.

“Hey Jelly who is paying for “Shady’s” meal?”

“You will like this story Leather’s, so they come in take the big table and ordered everything on the menu, drinks, apps, main courses, sides, dessert you name it.  The bill comes to several thousand dollars and Mr. Washington passes it to Mr. Jones who passes it to Mr. Farrah who passes it to Ms. Johnson and on and on it goes until it comes full circle to Mr. Junkins who tells Mr. Washington that he has no cash and his new credit card isn’t activated yet.  Mr. Washington then makes a call to Mr. St. Lapierre and asks him for his American Express card account number.  When Bobby asks why Shady says they need to pay for dinner and no one has any money.”

“What did Bobby say?”

“He said sure it’s the least he could do after Washington’s mom had sent him that big client and to thank her for the truffle butter.  Have you ever had truffle butter Leathers?  Is it something we should put on the menu?”

I chuckled as I walked over to Richard’s table.

“O. Bob how are you and what are you doing associating with these two dope dealers?”

“Now Leathers that should be alleged dope dealers, and I’m discussing litigation strategy with my clients so I would appreciate it if you could leave”

“No problem O. Bob, by the way who is picking up the tab for dinner?”

“Not that it is your business but I always ask for a separate check, pay my own way and then bill the client for my time and a reasonable markup on the reimbursement for my meal”

“Hey Richard things are looking good for you huh?  Just keep yourself out of the pickle barrel and Ravi you might want to get your own criminal defense lawyer, it’s safer that way”

I could have sworn a puddle of piss was forming under Ravi’s chair.

“Hey Leathers fuck yourself”

“Nice comeback Richard, isn’t that your new lobbyist Dixie Junkins over there having dinner with Speaker Washington?”

“Yes it is we are expanding our practice into the minority community’s interests”

“Well good luck with that but you might want to check on who paid for that meal and why”

Without looking back I strode over to my table where Sam Casey sat sipping a Shirley temple with an umbrella in the glass.

“Sam why are you drinking anything with an umbrella in it?”

“Leathers we are in a public place I don’t want anyone thinking I drink alcohol”

“Sam you are in the Grove what happens or is said in the Grove stays in the Grove.  Now let’s talk truffle butter”

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Chapter 13


I saw the Citation X taxiing to the gate at Millionaire.  It was white with blue and gold pin striping and had the owners name written in gold on the nose of the plane. It read “Cannabis Inhaled Associates”.

As the plane rolled to a stop the door popped open, the stairs deployed and a middle aged man with a well-tailored dark blue suit and a $400 haircut bounced out of the plane and strode quickly across the tarmac and into the FBO.

I never saw him leave the FBO but he appeared as if by magic at the door of the Audi.

He opened the door and slid into the front seat as if he owned the car and I was his chauffer.

Without any introduction he began talking as if we had known each other forever.

“Well I have to admit Leathers you surprise me, and not many people do that”

“How . . .?”

“Audi A8L in titanium metallic with a cognac interior, four seat package and the refrigerator in the rear armrest.  They only made 28 with those options and only 3 with this color combination.  You may have more style than I gave you credit for”

“How do . . ” I couldn’t get the thought out as he kept talking.

“So here’s the deal.  We’re going to pay you $50000 per month to represent our interests on the pot license”

“$50000 Roland said $5000 not that I’m complaining but . . .”

“$5000 was to lobby FOR a license that we never were going to get $50000 is to stop everyone else from getting a license”

“Who is the we? Masilla Corp?”

“Sure if that helps you sleep at night.  Let’s just say that my company wants to help some of our friends in the agricultural export business that are marketing a competing product.  These agro businessmen have longstanding arrangements with local distributors that would be impacted by the granting of the licenses and are willing to go to great lengths to prevent a change in the business climate for their product”

“But why not spend that money to get a license as opposed to stopping everyone else?”

“Let’s be frank Leathers are the licensees already selected? And is the selection process and applications just a sham?”

“This is Albany of course the answer to both questions is yes”

“We are not going to pay you $50000 a month so that you can jerk us off for the next year or two we know how the system really works.  How many clients do you run that scam on?  Pay our retainer and during the first year we will get the bill introduced and passed in one house, next year we work on the other house, during the third year when we are hard at work convincing the governor to sign the bill oops the Senate needs to do a technical amendment and the whole process starts all over again, right?  We’re not Microsoft we’re not going to pay you forever and have nothing to show for it other than 3000 copies of Mclowey’s most recent book “Profiles in getting ripped off”

“But . . .”

“No we are paying you $50000 a month to fuck up everyone else’s deals.  What do you know about Ravi and Richard Siler’s work for Mazel Tov?”

“Mazel Tov . . .?”

“Mazel Tov is the company they are helping get one of the licenses.  It’s really a front for the Israeli mob, but they have done a good job of wiring the license for the capital district.  They’ve already fronted the money for Mclowey’s most recent book deal which has a $1 million bonus if he sells 4 copies, they’ve contracted with that idiot Oscar Hibert for $100000 a month to not lobby for anyone else on the pot licenses and they are paying Dixie Junkins $2500 a month to be an additional lobbyist in Richard’s firm and Dixie has promised to split the money with Speaker Washington and as soon as they find someone to do the math for them on what one half of $2500 is they are home free.  But that’s where you come in.  You have a compliance guy that’s supposed to be pretty good and well respected by the media right?”

“Denny Dejardin . . .”

“Yea that’s the guy, so here’s the deal, first thing, this Desjardin guy is going to file a formal complaint with the Attorney General claiming Siler’s law partner, David Blowsme, made an illegal gift to Mclowey, Hibert and Washington when he flew them on his private jet to a Cleveland Browns football game”

“Wait a minute no one goes to the Cleveland Browns football games and certainly not in Cleveland”

“It was that game last year against the Jets with that new kid “Johnny Football” starting every non-football fan celebrity was there and the rumor was that Blowme lost a bundle betting on the Jets, he is a degenerate gambler you know”

“Even if that is all true, how does it help and why would the Attorney General be helpful to us, he is a big supporter of Mclowey”

“First, he will be helpful because he has purchased a large quantity of our friend’s agricultural product, processed mind you, in the past.  And he knows if he wants to continue to utilize that product in the future he will do as our friends tell him.  Plus they have already told him that after he helps his per ounce price will be the same as the distributor’s kilo price.  And second if we can knock Mclowey out of office our friends will sign him to a South American endorsement deal for the raw product that should net him a couple of million a year, at least until they give him a Columbian necktie, but I’m getting ahead of myself”

“I’m not sure Dejardin will want to do all the research and writing this complaint will require, he’s making a small fortune just helping the lobbying community stay out of trouble, you or I should have his life”

“No worries we’ve already hired him at $10000 per month, we would have paid double that no questions asked but when we negotiated the price he only asked what our monthly budget for flowers was at the office and then asked for half that figure, strange guy.  And he knows that all he has to do is put his name on the complaint I’ll write it for him”

“So you plan to stop this multi-million dollar marijuana license project by filing a gift case around a free chartered jet trip to a football game?

“Exactly”

Schimmel’s cell phone rang and he glanced at it for a second.

“That’s Barack calling I have to take this”

He jumped out of the car and headed back to the Citation.  The whole meeting had taken less than 3 minutes and my head was swimming.  Barack? That could be anyone from the President of the United States to a member of Al Qaida.

No matter if the $50000 showed up I’d play, if it didn’t, it was an interesting meeting.

At that moment the Citation started its takeoff roll and my cell phone rang the ID on the phone announced “Cameras In Automation”.

“This is Leathers may I help you?”

“You fucking better, you’re retainer for $50000 was just wired to your KeyBank account, bitch”

“Alex, thank you? But how did you get my Key Bank wire information?”

“You’re kidding right?  Grow up you’re in the big leagues now I gotta go that’s Tiger on the other line he wants to play a round at Moreclose, later”

I called Pat.

“Can you check, did I just get a wire for $50000?”

“Yes you did from a company called “Common Interstate Agriculture” on behalf of Masilla Corp.  What are you doing for them?”

“I wish I knew Pat, can you call Sam and see if he is available for dinner at the Grove tonight?  I need to talk to someone who knows less about what’s going on than I do”

“That looks like a pretty short list right now”

“Short? Do you mean like Danny’s dick?”

Cadillac Curtis always taught me once you know your opponents weakness you beat it to death.

“Like I said Leathers there aren’t many people left than know less than you do . . . but when it comes to the size of that nice catholic boys penis I will admit I know less than you do.”

Cadillac also said that you should never argue with a lady about whose dick is bigger.

My phone rang again this time the ID said “Copius Intelligence Arguments”

“Hello Alex”

“One more thing Leathers, I’ve learned the Israeli’s are buying land to build a collage dorm that will also house their marijuana distribution location.  If they pull it off it’s a model they can use all over the country.  Think about it their customers will be living right above the sales office.  Siler was the mastermind behind that one.  I’m actually surprised and disappointed in you that you weren’t smart enough to think of it.  I have to take this call it’s Hank, we’re going to buy Bermuda”

“Bermuda? Is that a company?’

“No it’s a country”

He hung up and I was left wondering who Hank was.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Chapter 12


I left Jamie’s and was on my way to Eggy’s when Pat called.

“You need to call Alex Schimmel”

“Who the fuck is Alex Schimmel and why do I need to call him?”

“He represents Masilla Corp. that new client Roland referred to you on the marijuana license”

“OK but why do I need to call him now instead of tomorrow?”

“After he called I did a quick background on him and I found lots of important people that know him but absolutely nothing in the online resources we use.  The guy is a ghost”

“That is interesting but there must be something you can tell me about him before I call him”

“Well I checked with the angels and there are a couple of stories from years ago when he was a college student at UAlbany”

“College stories?”

“You’ll want to hear this one, the story goes he worked as a bartender at the Washington Tavern and according to some of the employees regularly had sex with college girls in the walk-in freezer”

“That’s your big piece of intel? Shit Danny still fucks girls in the walk-in freezer at WTs”

“First, Daniel would never do that he is a good catholic boy and second one of the coeds was Governor Mclowey’s daughter”

“Mclowey’s daughter? I’m surprised he hasn’t written a book about it”

“Actually I think he did, have you read “Fucked in the Freezer?”

“That wasn’t written by Mclowey it was a bestseller I think the author was Andy Como”

“Andy Como is Mclowey’s pen name for his serious fiction writing”

“Good to know, anything else on Schimmel?”

“He is now a crisis consultant in Washington D.C. no company affiliation, seems to work out of his Rolls Royce Corniche.  He doesn’t drive the Rolls he just parks it at his country club, Moreclose Country Club, so everyone can see that it’s his, then takes cabs and zip cars wherever he needs to go.  He’s worth over $20 million but does his own grocery shopping because he doesn’t trust his Spanish maid to buy the right laundry detergent or get him the cheap toilet paper he prefers.  He’s known to be up at all hours writing emails and leaving text messages to his friends and enemies a like.  In short he is a brilliant complicated man with childlike behavior.  You should get along fine with him”

‘I’ll call him after I meet with Karp”

“That’s the other thing Karp said to meet him in the parking lot something about Eggy’s isn’t open”

I pulled into Eggy’s about 5 minutes later and it was indeed closed but Karp’s government issued black SUV was idling in the lot.

I pulled up and lowered my window.

“Why is Eggy’s closed?”

“They had to close early to restock I guess a large group of secret service agents stopped in to do advance work for the vice president’s visit next month and when they left Eggy was completely out of plates and silverware”

“No shit, well anyway here’s the recording of the hose” and I handed him the microcassette.

“Did you listen to it?”

“I didn’t have to I was there remember”

“Except I know you Leathers, you left it in the cart to record Hibert while he was alone.  How many times do I have to tell you that results in the tape being inadmissible?”

“Why don’t you listen to it first Agent Karp and see if you don’t think it being inadmissible wasn’t worth the information you will get.  And don’t bullshit me I know you can edit it so only the conversations with me present ever get played in court.  No thanks necessary”

“Let’s talk about Stork for a second.  I want you to be careful, our investigation has shown that Stork was buying real estate out by the microdot factory using money Ravi provided to him and at the direction of Richard Siler”

“Why should I be careful?”

“Because it wasn’t Ravi’s money”

“No shit I’m sure it was state grant money”

“Nope that would be routine state corruption and I know you can handle that type of thing, the money came from Israeli gangsters specifically a guy named Lev with a Jewish last name I can’t pronounce.  He is a mean vicious guy with an affinity for pickles.”

“Thanks I’ll keep that in mind Andy”

As I pulled away I glanced in the rearview mirror and ssaw Karp loading a case of pickles into the back of the SUV, cheap bastard.

I dialed the number Pat had given me for Schimmel.

It went straight to voicemail and I left my name and number.

Within seconds my phone was ringing but the number calling me wasn’t the number I had just dialed it was listed as Consolidated Information Associates.

“Mr. Leatherbaum this is Alex Schimmel, I’d like to meet you as soon as possible”

“Certainly Mr. Schimmel what day would be convenient?”

“I’m landing at Albany airport in 15 minutes I’ll meet you there”

“Which terminal?”

“I’m not flying commercial you schmuck I’ll be in a Citation at the Millionaire FBO”

“I’ll be parked right outside in an Audi A8L”

“Nice car, I had one in collage”

Fuck this guy was arrogant.

“I heard you had some other nice rides in college, a couple in a walk-in freezer even”

Let him think about that.

“More than a couple I must have fucked all the angels in there at one time or another, even your assistant Pat, she was an absolute freak”

I didn’t know what to say I was dumbfounded.

“I’ll see you in 12 minutes Leathers we have a lot of work to do”

A lot of work?  This was supposed to be a simple $5000 a month client trying to get a medical marijuana license that they would never get.  What had I gotten myself into?

As Cadillac Curtis used to say if you couldn’t tell who the sucker was at the poker table in the first five hands it was you.

It was time for me to ante up and start playing some cards.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Chapter 11


As I threw my golf ditty bag in the Audi I noticed Dan and Trini walking into the clubhouse together and heading for the private rooms on the second floor.  He might be a good catholic boy but he was going to need a new watch and a dose of penicillin.  His Omega Montreal, now my Omega Montreal was in my ditty bag right next to the microcassette.  All in all not a bad day.  I was out $2000, my payoff to the hose, but I didn’t have to hire his idiot kid, Karp would be happy with the tape and I had another watch bet story to tell anyone who asked where I got the Omega.

 

Before I could even leave the parking lot Pat called on my cell.

 

“Leathers, I’m glad you finished your round your phone has been blowing up with calls about Jim Stork”

 

James Stork, now that was a name I hadn’t heard in a long time.  Jim was a lawyer who showed up about 15 years ago from some big New York City law firm and started his own firm with a couple of other young guys.  They were doing well mostly because Jim for all his failings, and he had many, was a genius when it came to getting clients.  The firm grew quickly and then Jim decided to apply his talent and complete amorality to lobbying.  He should have been a natural.  He started a torrid affair with Sandy Corogi the wife of lobbyist Nick Corogi and the sister of then Governor Fitzgibbon’s chief of staff.  Sandy was the head of the state consumer affairs office and soon left to start a lobbying practice that she ran out of Jim’s law office.  They both left their respective spouses and moved into a large home in Loudonville which was down the block from Jim’s old house where his wife and kids still lived.  Jim got his wife a good job in the senate and the kids would come and go from both houses.  The rumor was Jim did as well.  Jim’s new house became the defacto clubhouse for those legislators and lobbyists that Jim and Sandy entertained lavishly.  It also was the home for the Senate card game.  This was a weekly game of poker that included top senate staffers, several lobbyists and various businessmen who were Jim’s new lobby clients.  It was also where I met Ravi.  Jim had invited him to the game and Ravi lost a lot of money which ordinarily would have guaranteed him a regular seat but the next day a New York tabloid had a small story about the game that everyone believed came from Ravi.  Ravi never played poker at Jim’s again but I was able to convince him that Jim had blackballed him for the news story that Ravi knew he wasn’t the source for.  I knew it as well since I was.  This way I got Ravi as a client and Jim didn’t.

 

Jim’s house was also the scene of one of the most amazing events in the annals of Albany lobbying depravity.  During one of the poker games with 3 or 4 potential big money clients at the table, Sandy walked thru the card room on her way to the hot tub on the deck behind the house.  This was not unusual as Sandy was always a gracious host and socialized with us during the game but this time she was completely nude.  Not a stitch of clothing on and I must say for a 40 something women she looked like a porno star without the tattoos.  Although that isn’t completely accurate as I noticed she had a tattoo on her left hip that consisted of a 6 inch ruler with the phrase “you must be this big to enjoy this ride”.  Her nudity wasn’t what caught everyone’s attention, although it was riveting.  It was the fact that in her right hand she had a firm grip on the hose’s hose. 

 

Jim would eventually leave Sandy for a much younger women who was his live in au pair.  His lobby practice disappeared within months of getting caught by the lobby commission in an investigation where he was heard on tape requiring his clients to provide him cash with which he made campaign donations in his own name and for entering into a contingent fee contract for a casino license that he spelled out in emails that his partner, Bill Volt the former state party chair, turned over after the commission politely asked for his records.  Who does that in this town?  You never write it down and you never turn it over if you own a shredder, rookies. 

 

Jim was eventually disbarred for his role in a real estate Ponzi scheme and the last I had heard had moved to Florida with the au pair and their triplets. The rumor was he had been arrested in Florida for stealing a Mercedes from a rental car agency and for trying to sell the house he was renting.  According to local news reports he actually was able to get a cash deposit for the rental home but the scheme fell apart when the homeowner drove by and saw the Mercedes being packed with children’s toys and a for sale by owner sign on the front lawn.

 

Say what you want about Jim’s life style, I never thought he was immoral I was absolutely positive he was amoral, and I found myself secretly rooting for the guy to pull off his latest scam.

 

“What about Jim?”

 

“He died”

 

“No shit, how?”

 

“Drowned”

 

“In Florida?”

 

“No, in Albany”

 

“In a pool?”

 

“No they found him in a barrel of pickles in the old pickle factory out by Ravi’s micro dot factory”

 

“A pickle barrel? That’s crazy”

 

“Sure sounds like it”

 

“Who called about it?”

 

“Who didn’t its big news, you have to start leaving your phone turned on while you play”

 

“Just give me the calls I have to return Pat, I don’t need a lecture”

 

It was weird but Jim’s death was actually depressing me and making me irritable.

 

“There are only two that you should return before you get back here, Call Andy Karp and Casey Sailer”

 

“I’ll do that but email me the rest I don’t think I’m going back to the office”

 

I had a sudden need to see Jamie and talk to her about my depression.

 

“Your friend is found in a pickle barrel, you have at least a dozen calls to return and you decide to go visit an Amish whore?”

 

How could she possibly know what I was thinking?

 

“Fuck you Pat and by the way aren’t you friends with Trini Sandoval?”

 

“We’re not really friends I play tennis with her why do you ask?”

 

“Because as I was leaving the club she was fucking Danny, just thought you might want to warn her of Danny’s reputation”

 

“Daniel would never do that he is a good catholic boy”

 

I chuckled as I hung up, at least ruining Pat’s day made me feel better.

 

I dialed Karps number.

 

“FBI Agent Karp speaking”

 

“Andy its Leathers, you called?”

 

“Yes we need to meet at Eggy’s I want the cassette of your discussions with Hibert”

 

“OK but it will be about an hour or so I have to meet someone first”

 

“I know, Pat said you would want to see Jamie and talk about Stork, that’s the other thing we need to discuss it looks like the Stork death was a homicide”

 

“Really Andy? You don’t think he committed suicide by drowning himself in a pickle barrel?  No wonder the FBI has such a sterling reputation in this town”

 

“Careful Leathers I was at the scene and it appears it was a murder carried out by the Israeli’s.”

 

“You’re prejudice is showing Andy.  The Jews aren’t the only ones that like pickles”

 

“The fact that he drowned in a pickle barrel is just one clue the fact that he had a talus wrapped around his throat is proof it was the Israeli mob it’s their calling card”

 

“Ok I’ll see you at Eggy’s in an hour”

 

I hung up and Andy went back to eating the full sour kosher pickle he had taken from the murder scene.

 

I decided not to call Casey, I didn’t need a lecture on punctuation and he wouldn’t have any useful information even if the Israeli mob had sent him a press release explaining the who, what, when and why.

 

Instead I drove straight to Jamie’s loft.

 

As I sat on Jamie’s patio looking out over the Albany skyline I was sipping an ice cold glass of homemade root beer and enjoying her homemade Amish pretzels.

 

Jamie joined me on the patio.

 

“Why are you so sad Leathers?”

 

I explained the whole Jim Stork story including the pickle barrel.

 

“You know the death of someone you know doesn’t have to be so final”

 

“What are you talking about Jamie, ending up in a pickle barrel with a talus wrapped around your throat at the hands of some crazed Israeli mobster is about as final as it gets”

 

“I’m not talking about Jim. I’m talking about you”

 

“I don’t understand, like usual”

 

“Let me see if I can make it easier to understand”

 

“Here comes another Uncle Elmer Amish fable”

 

“No this is a real story.  My whole family was on our deck one fourth of July and there was an English family that were friends of my parents visiting.  They had a couple of little kids who were playing with some of the kittens, you know how many kittens are around an Amish farm Leathers?’

 

“I don’t have a clue Jamie”

 

“Well there are lots, anyway one of the dogs jumps on a kitten and breaks it’s back so my grandmother picked up the kitten by its tail and threw it in the burn barrel, The English kids are screaming and carrying on and grandma says to them, “calm down it’s just a kitty it’s not your pet, this is a farm we have lots of kitties””

 

“That’s barbaric but so what, how does that help me?”

 

“Jim Stork was not your family, this is Albany we have lots of kitties”

 

This is Albany we have lots of kitties, in retrospect no truer words have ever been spoken.