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Chip Bergeron

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What Would Cole Porter Do?
by Chip Bergeron

Sunday, August 08, 2010
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           >> View all 112

The roaring '20's, flappers, swell guys, doing the fox trot on the edge of the abyss


                          WHAT WOULD COLE PORTER DO?





They gatsbied onto the dance floor, parquet reflecting the gleam of the many jewels

          (Paste, of course) in her imitation Cartier necklace.

The rock in his pinky ring, however was the real thing, bought in a cheap hock shop 

           For pennies on the dollar.

He asked no questions about its provenance. They wouldn’t have given him any 

           Answers anyway. The down-on-his luck

Boyo who pawned it didn’t provide any back then either.


He was in tails, superstarched (must’ve been awful itchy) white shirt and natty red

            Bow tie. “He sure looks swell,”

She thought, in her slinky oh so shimmery silky cocktail dress, paislies looking like

            Amoebas that had too much bathtub gin,

With the little fringies along the hem and bodice, straight up and down. No curves-

            This was the ‘20’s after all.
Voluptuousness, like bustles, completely out of style.


Thought she was the bee’s knees, a flapper’s flapper, thoroughly up on everything,

            Knew it all, been things and seen places.

If he thought of her at all, she was only the knees, bees having nothing to do with it.

           When he did cogitate, IF he cogitated,

It was about his trust fund from dear old dad, the ticker tape spewing dollar signs, 

           And the next Volstead act violation

From his bootlegger. Aristotle he wasn’t, nor Romeo.


Not a the dansant this, but a full fledged wingding held at an anonymous plutocrat’s

            Beachfront estate in the Hamptons,

The GOOD Hamptons, that is, not the towns where the pretenders and nouveau riche

           Set up their imitation pleasure palaces.

To ape the real American aristocrats, the ones who had made their dough swindling

           Indians or killing foreigners in sweat shops.

They loved their host, whoever he was.


The band struck up a catchy tune, a fox trot or quickstep. The Charleston? Certainly

           Not. Maybe when they went slumming,

But this was a classy affair, and the dance that was all the rage for Joe College and his

           Pals was far too déclassé for here

At this time, in this place. The swing was graceful, with a soupcon of syncopation. The

            20’s could roar someplace else, anywhere

But here, not that anyone would care.


After all, this was Cole Porter, George Gershwin, dressing gowns and ascots, long, long

            Cigarette holders, not cigars,

Derbies, cheap suits. That was Tin Pan Alley, and reeked of sweat and pheromones. One

            Didn’t perspire here, it was bad form, she

Cool looking as the imitation ice draped around her neck. Black white and formal he, for

            All the world looking like a big

Emperor penguin, ridiculous and sexless.


But such thoughts never entered their soi disant sophisticated minds. Thoughts of any kind

            Seldom did as they whirled around

Totally oblivious to the nothing that was going on inside of their empty heads, blind to the

            Lives those not like them led,

Blind to the impending cataclysm. Too much capitalism and too little alcohol-a powerful

            Emetic, would make Wall St. vomit;

The gala ball would end too soon, and they would quickly learn


How the other half lived.


Chip Bergeron 7/30/09



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Reviewed by Regis Auffray 12/17/2010
You bring up images from another time; one with which I am not familiar, Chip. Nonetheless, I enjoyed your rendition. Thank you for sharing it. Love and peace,

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