Vincent Vincenzo (aka Vinny Veloce) was a surreal South Side kid like ketchup on a Chicago hot dog.
Like, both his first and last names were derived from the Latin vincere (to conquer) as in Julius Caesar's veni, vidi, vici (“I came. I saw. I conquered.”) in his letter to the Roman Senate around 47 BC after a quick victory in his short war against Pharmaces II of Pontus at the Battle of Zelda.
And, his mellow nickname veloce (speedy) was also divine like the rhyme, Red sky in themorning, shepards’ warning; red sky at night, shepards’ delight.
And, it's rumored he could think faster than the Summit super computer and beat Ken Jennings at TV’s Jeopardy and fuck longer than a male anglerfish.
A speedy conquer, etymologically, Vinny soon overcame his parents untimely death in an avalanche, skiing at Italy's Cortina d'Ampizzo after innumeribilo grappas and before their scheduled flight to Paris for dinner in chef Quentin Giroud's cozy ASPIC Restaurant at 24 rue de la d'Auvergne. And, he easily conquered disambiguation (ssstttudderring) before his first orgasm and sucking his thumb before his first poop and speaking in tongues before he was condemned to burn at the stake to ignite Festa Italiano in front of Big Al's beef, a speakeasy during Prohibition, and across the street from Mario's lemonade stand, a converted outhouse on Manga Street in Chicago’s Little Italy.
Vinny's Mother and Father divorced in a forget-about-it minute, so he and she moved in with her parents in an UPscale Chicago neighborhood. His Gram dropped out of fourth grade to help her parents during the Depression, and his Gramp was booted out of high school during the first week of his first year for repeatedly smoking in school and repeatedly giving the school's principal a bunch of shit about it.
His Gram grew up in a two bedroom tenement near White Sox Park with four sisters and two brothers, who slept in shifts and did what they had to do to eat, live and survive. His Gramp's Father started a successful protection agency, so his Gramp felt he could do whatever he wanted to do, whenever he wanted to do it. Their oil and vinegar backgrounds confirmed the notion that opposites attract opposites, and grounded Vinny's Libra balance.
Fittingly, he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in Computer Science at MIT, and hooked up with Philosophy, his second academic love, at Columbia University during summers. He also studied Mixology at the prestigious Bartenders Institute in the East Village and Rapology at Jay-Z's Joint in Harlem and advanced Kama Sutra skills near the statue of Balto the dog in Central Park with an Indian princess, whose first language was Hindi and second was Python and third was O-O-Orgasm.
An only, sometimes lonely child, Veloce developed a psychedelic imagination to conquer his psycho-social nadir with emphasis on applying the nuts and bolts of Freud's 1899 classic, The Interpretation of Dreams, and he swiftly learned Deutsch to read DieTransmutung in its vernacular.
Dreams and dreaming about dreams and interpreting and reinterpreting them became his passion, obsession and - some would say - Waterloo, over-munch and Edsel. And, one R/esoundingly R/ecurring D/ream deafened his ability to hear thunder clap and babies cry and dogs fart. And, that RRD also dulled his touching and tasting and smelling and seeing and hearing just like his healthy cuticle did before a manicure at Aphrodite's Spa on the SW corner of Lotts and O'Loving in Boystown.
And, he told that RRD to his acupuncturist, psycho-pharmacologist and goomba, Sammy (2-tone) Scaramucci, who earned her nickname cuz she drove a 1957 blackNpink Chevy and wore blackNwhite spectator loafers and dyed her graying hair redNwhite to honor her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There, she earned a Ph.D. in Psychology, and her award-winning dissertation questioned Joyce Crick's Deutsch to English translation of Freud's Interpretation of Dreams. And, 2-tone offered to help Vinny make sense out of his RRD in return for lifetime subscriptions to Red Book and The Harvard Crimson plus a very rare and very cute blackNtan French bulldog, hand stuffed by sultry Simone for FAO Schwartz's flagship store at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
Vinny invited Sammy to join him for dinner at Gene and Georgette's, an old-school Italian restaurant under the L-tracks on the corner of Franklin and Illinois. There, crooks and cops, who knew each other since they were snot-nosed kids and opened fire hydrants on hot summer days in the old neighborhood, would check their guns at the door, quietly swap confidential info and nod knowingly about the good, the bad and the ugly.
Dinner was set for 6 p.m. on a Monday, when the restaurant would be relatively empty, and the small table for two in the back of the room on the first floor would be ideal for close conversation. There were also tables on the second floor, but they were reserved for tourists, beauticians and everyone whose last name didn't end in a, e, i, o or u.
Vinny arrived at 5:30, checked his Glock G29, slipped a Jackson to the waiter, strolled 1, 2..8 steps to the table in the back of the room with a RESERVED sign and ordered his favorite drink, a bottle of Pellegrino with sliced cucumbers.
From his viewpoint, he could see only four people in the restaurant. To the left, Joe the bartender was adjusting the TV to watch the White Sox game, and an I-need-Jenny-Craig-kinda-guy was nursing shots and beers like he was nurse Ratched on break at the Salem State Hospital. To the right, a 60ish balding guy was schmoozing a Monroe-blond millennial, whom he nervously introduced to the waiter as his visiting niece from Iowa as the waiter frowned and shook his head as if watching a horny old lion stalk a helpless gazelle on the African savanna.
Sammy arrived promptly at 6, dressed in a no nonsense black custom suit and 4" Manolo Blahnik black heels with an over-sized black leather bag off her left shoulder. She wore little make up, but what she did wear made her look like the lead actor in the Broadway musical "Cats."
At first blush, she appeared to have come directly from her office on Astor Street, but history told him she probably left early to stop at the celebrity Spa in the Peninsula Hotel for a swim, steam and sauna.
Vinny greeted Sammy with L-R-L European smooches, seated her to his right and asked what she would like to drink. She asked to share his Pellegrino and ordered limes.
Following _____ chit chat, Vinny asked if she were still willing to help him understand his troubled and troubling RRD, and she agreed to listen as closely as Juliette to Romeo, 8 to √64 and Turing to Germany's Enigma machine.
And, so, Veloce began, uncharacteristically, to slowly and meekly unravel his 3-part dream about a professor, a car and a race in that order.
"In the first part of my dream, I was an undergraduate during the mid-‘60s at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and I flew to the Bahamas for Spring break during my senior year. There, I met some guys, who said they went to NYU with my old flame Lizzy and claimed she was partying on the beach in Fort Lauderdale with a gaggle of Sigma Chi's from Cornell. Temporarily insane, I caught the first flight to Lauderdale and combed the beach for her, unsuccessfully."
"I didn't have enough $$$ to fly back to Madison, so I decided to bar hop, hoping to find someone to rescue me. From bar to bar for hours and hours, I saw no one I recognized, until a tall, thin older dude, who looked tightly wound like Johannes Kepler in online images of eccentric physicists and also reminded me of a greater flamingo with his pinkish-white skin, red t-shirt, black shorts and skinny legs, asked me where I went to school. When I told him I was a Theoretical Physics major in Madtown, he lit up like Madame Curie zapped him with radiation. Cuz, he said, he went to Princeton with good mates who were teaching Theoretical Physics in Madison, and he'd love to see them."
"Long story short, he said he taught theoretical physics at the University of Toronto and offered to drive me in his 1957 Volkswagen to Madison on his way home, if we could stop in New Orleans to eat crawfish at Arnaud's and listen to jazz at Preservation Hall and skinny-dip in the Mississippi.” All we did except the first two, cuz a craving crappie bit the Prof. in the but-tox during our Sippi-dip, so he couldn’t sit still for longer than 2:16 minutes of Antoine “Fats” Dominoe’s Ain’t That a Shame. “Short story l-o-n-g-e-r, he detailed his doctoral dissertation about constructing an unbeatable horse ad nauseam during our 1800+ mile drive from Fort Lauderdale to New Orleans to Madison. Frankly, I thought his theory was total bullshit, especially because he claimed the horse was a virtual construct, which existed exclusively in the minds of designated horse owners, trainers, jockeys and wagers among other relevant and related fabrications. To my amazement, he offered to $take me LARGE, anytime and anywhere I wanted to test his virtual horse in real time and space."
"The first part of my three act dream ended abruptly, but immediately cut to part two as fast as most folks mispronounce Goethe." ************ “Part two of my dream began like the first hard day's night I, ah, in-pressed (sic) Lizzy.”
“With a BANG, then another and another, an alter kocker rocked into my auto repair shop in a vintage Ford 1937 2-door Deluxe Club Cabriolet, spuTTTering like a Tommy gun during the St. Valentine's Day massacre with CAPITAL T, T, Ts.”
“As the ownerNoperatorNgrease monkey of Chicago's Foreign Car Hospital during the late-‘60s, I was accustomed to servicing cars from Germany and Japan and Italian, not Detroit, unless you consider it a foreign country. But, before the old fart, what's an appropriate verb consistent with fart ?, ______ from his vintage, I estimated its auction value at about $65,000. So, I felt he had beaucoup buck$ I could, ah, wrench from his Hanks Bi-fold Wallet, made in the USA from smooth goatskin leather.”
“Long story short, I assessed his car's condition and estimated its repair at $6,500, assuming I could find replacement parts. If the parts couldn't be found, they'd have to be cu$tomized.”
“The alter kocker, who said his name was Henry, questioned my estimate as a convenient but arbitrary 10% of his car's auction value. Pro forma, I disputed Henry's calculus, arguing that $6500 was an industry standard to repair his car and my degree in Medieval Bantu Metaphysics from the Himalayan Institute in Rhinoceros, Illinois, proved that my estimate was on the nose.”
“Short story l-o-n-g-e-r, I couldn't find all of the replacement parts, charged Henry $1750 for parts and labor to date and offered to call my cousin Shifty's towing service at no charge. Ranting, ‘I'll sue you for every penny you have,’ Henry paid my cousin $500 in advance to tow his vintage to a Ford dealership in Park Forest. There, my cousin Buck offered to trade a new Ford Fiesta for his vintage plus $1750.”
“Desperately discombobulated, Henry was last seen in my cousin Mark's private ambulance on route to the ER in my cousin Carmella's Paradiso Senior Community.” ************* “Flashing back to part one with a curious twist, the last part of my dream was exceptionally hot like a Komodo dragon chili pepper.”
“So, FLASH, in part one, a UT theoretical physics Prof. offered to $take me LARGE, anytime and anywhere I wanted to test his virtual horse in real time and space.”
“In part three, I was a hot shit tout during the 1970s in Florida, handicapping winners, especially race horses, against the odds. And, I had an exceptional reputation for twisting and shouting on and off Miami's South Beach with HIGH rollers from business, politics, sports, entertainment and, ah, I'll stop here to protect myself and my family and proxies and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Vito, from being tortured and killed and dismembered like the Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, during October of 2018 in Istanbul, Turkey.
“Ok, so, twisting parts one and two together, like one of Uncle Jerry's world-famous, Pennsylvania Dutch, hand-made pretzels, I was shocked to see and overhear the Prof. failing to score a Michael Moore look- a-like on a chilly day at the beach. The Prof's curious pick up pitch, ‘Are you into string theory?,’ dragged on and on and on from Miami to Quantum Gravity to Indonesia to look-a-like's, ‘Fuck off, jerk.’"
“Mercifully, I waved to him, and he seemed to recognize me, but continued to pepper MM with references to Einstein and Fermi and Bohr and -for reasons only he and perhaps Mel Brooks could explain - Woody Allen's 1973 movie, Sleeper. Then, amazingly, he howled like a werewolf and jumped like a kangaroo and grinned like a jack-o'-lantern, as if he had discovered that heat energy could leap across a few hundred nanometers of a complete vacuum, thanks to a quantum mechanical phenomenon known as Casimir, before prancing to me and repeating the offer he made at the end of my dream's first part.” “Long story short, he offered to construct a virtual horse that would win a major race and to stake me LARGE. As an entrepreneurial tout, how could I refuse such an offer? You see, my plan was to sell my, hmm, special insight for BIG buck$, bet my own BIG buck$, ca$h out LARGER than LARGE, hitch a ride on Elon Musk 's Starship Mk 1 to the exoplanet Kepler-62e and live la dolce vita.”
“As usual, the devil was in the details. So, when and where the race would take place and what flu$h clients I would contact and blah-blah-blah were TBD.”
“My dream's details about those issues are kinda muddy. But, as I recall, I chose the Flamingo Stakes in February of 1976 at Florida's Hialeah Park Race Track. Named the Prof's virtual horse Honest Pleasure, and chose Bravlio Baeza as its jockey and LeRoy Jolley as its trainer and Bertram Firestone as its owner.”
“For purposes of personal safety and security, I'll not name flu$h customers I contacted, except to say they represented industry, politics, entertainment, sports and members of an honorable and honored organization, whose club house was located on Mulberry Street in NY's Lower East Side, and Martin Scorsese recognized in movies such as Goodfellas, Mean Streets and The Irishman.”
“Short story l-o-n-g-e-r, the Prof. delivered the goods as promised. Honest Pleasure dishonesty won the 1 1/8 mile race at Hialeah by 11 lengths in 1:47 minutes, setting a track record. But, there was an unpleasant twi$t.”
“So many people bet on the horse in the Flamingo Stakes that its odds to win the race dropped to 1 to 5. What that meant was, for every $2 wager, $2.40 was returned. Sadly, I bet the ranch, and won a ton of horse shit. Forget about it.”
“Oh, bringing new meaning to the word trumpery, the dark bay stallion went on to virtually win the Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes, retired to stud in 1977, sired several virtual stakes’ winners and was trashed in 1992 on an IBM ThinkPad in the Theoretical Physics’ Computer Lab at the University of Toronto.”
"So, what do you make of my dream, Sammy? Am I fucking nuts, or what?"
"I don't recall reading about walnuts or peanuts or hazelnuts in any of my Psych. courses at UW, Vinny, but I stuck quite a few nut cases in my acupuncture practice and regret that the fucking psycho-pharma’s overcharge Norman-Bates-types for their 5Ndime med's."
"Forget about it."
"Seriously, let's try to abstract from the particulars in your three-part dream to identify commonalities."
"Yeah, like assumptions and perspectives and/or anxieties that are the same in all three parts of your dream. Then, try to match them with what's happening in your life "
"Are you making this up?"
"Come on, Vinny, you asked for my help, so don't play with me, ok?"
“’Fess UP, Sammy, do you put ketchup on a hot dog?” “Nobody, I mean nobody puts ketchup on a hot dog.” “Who said that?” “Dirty Harry in the 1983 movie Sudden Impact.” "Touché."
"Ok, so, in the first part of your dream, you couldn't find an old squeeze in Ft. Lauderdale, a quirky UT prof. made you a virtual offer you couldn't believe and you were left in Limbo at the end of the day."
"I wouldn't say I was left in Limbo."
"How would you put it?"
"I don't know. Maybe I just questioned his offer's speedy outcome."
"In part two, you offered to repair an old guy's car, quoted a price, didn't complete the repair, and the guy got ripped off at the end of the day."
"I wouldn't say he got ripped off."
"How would you put it?"
"I don't know. Maybe the alter kocker was too swift for his britches."
"In part three, you again hooked up with the Prof., who constructed the dishonestly unbeatable horse he promised, but with a glitch. So many people bought your tout the horse would win that its odds to win returned practically nothing to winning wagers."
"I wouldn't say the winning wagers got practically nothing."
"Ok, how would you put it?"
"I don't know. Maybe justice was served swiftly."
"Yeah, maybe the dishonest Prof. and tout got what they deserved."
"Vinny, do you sometimes feel you're too veloce for your britches, sometimes doubt the speedy outcome of promises, sometimes think you're getting what you deserve?"
"Are you talking to me?"
"Sometimes believe you can't conquer the unconquerable?"
"Hey, if you're talking about my inoperable, incurable, metastatic prostate cancer..."