Clowns and Gypsies is more than just a book about the remarkable lifestyle
of certain Caribbean sailors. It is a Celebration of A Way of Life. The
people who inhabit these salt-stained pages ("We’re all here because
we’re not all there!") have a true Lust for Living. They kiss life
full on the lips, embrace each new day, welcome every fresh sensation. Yeah,
they’re louts and cads and drunkards and misfits and fools – and yet, somehow,
they emerge from these yarns as noble, vital people.
Many of these stories will make you laugh. A few will touch your heart. One will make you cry.The power that flows out of Fatty’s pen is awesome. You will fall in love with his shabby friends; realize why these islands are still a Sunny Place for Shady People. 65 pages.
"No other writer has captured the Caribbean sea-gypsy as well. Fatty is a national treasure." Terry Galvinis, editor, Daily News
"Fatty’s a craftsman; you can’t help but respond to some of these stories. Good stuff, and funny too.." Herb Payson, author of Blown Away
"Cap’n Fatty is a true original!" Jim Long, editor and publisher, Caribbean Boating
Excerpt from Seadogs, Clowns and Gypsies
THE BACK YARD BARThe Back Yard Bar on St. John is an institution – or at least that’s where much of it’s staff and patrons appear to have been released from. This isn’t a Fern Bar, or a Singles Bar, or a Tourist Bar; this isn’t a place to network, social climb, or impress the guy next to you.
Instead, it’s a place to Drink. Party. Have fun. Talk. Shout. Fall in Love. Rant against the World. Play darts. Feed mosquitoes. And hug the person next to you – regardless of race, creed, color, gender, or political affiliation.
In short: the Back Yard is the perfect place for Colorful Caribbean Characters, Wonderful Waterfront Wackos – and yes!, even Lush Tropical Vegetables.
It is filled with sailors, of course.
Doug Sica manages the joint, and often tends bar. He’s a bartender’s bartender, and has a million jokes ever ready – each more disgusting than the last. Sometimes he wears a bow tie, and actually manages not to look too silly in it. Occasionally a women's frilly garter belt is clamped on his upper sleeve. He sometimes looks like he fell out of an old cheap Tropical Western.
Doug knows more about a lot of the people than he wants to. He’s a friend, confidant, and father confessor to half the people on the island. He’s often hunched across the bar, earnestly talking to a customer – eyes darting everywhere for a refill signal – listening to a Life Story.
Doug seems to realize that people’s Life Stories are important to them. Doug sees it all, hears it all, tastes and smells it all – but like any good bartender, nothing is ever repeated, revealed, exposed, or ridiculed.
He’s not the only employee, of course. There’s Mean Jean the Dancing Machine, Lovango Tom, Lynnie the Singer, Doug the Cook, Arlene the Masseuse, Mark from Coral Bay, Angela, and some special evenings Miss Maggie shows up and cooks the best damn conch fritters in the Caribbean.
But of course what makes the Back Yard the Back Yard is its strangely kinetic mix of customers.
It’s home to the infamous Monkey Crew – that weird and twisted group of yachting Nazis who make up one of the most colorful yacht racing teams ever to disgrace an island. Sylvie De Frog – better known as the Pirate Queen – has been known to bite patrons shirts off. Tumbling Tom occasionally manages not to fall off his stool. Scooter Mejia scoots by with his dog Turbo Stinky Sachmo in tow. Papa Davis, Bernie, Mizzen Man Kevin, and Curt the Carpenter occasionally stop by to wet their whistle.
The music wails, darts are thrown, the toilet is hot-seated, the ice machine hums, tips are thrown through the air, the cooler doors are a blur, the phone rings off the hook, people disappear heavenward, the cash register clangs; everyone is shouting, laughing, giggling, whispering, suggesting, begging, demanding, explaining…
…and it’s just another night at the Back Yard Bar.
Occasionally a tourist drifts into the madness. They seem nervous at first. But the mood soon infects them. Their hips – normally so frozen – get to swaying in time to the music. Somebody they have never seen before buys them a drink. Conversations ranging from necrophilia to health foods to mainsail trim, swirl through the air. Jokes ("What is the difference between Cruz Bay and Rock Hudson? Well, one is a ferry terminal, and the other was a …") jostle each other for attention. There’s a strange feeling of exuberance in the air. Tourists only on island for a few days have been overheard pretending to be locals, "Yeah, Mon! I tink I’ll get some ting to drink at de Yard."
Many of the construction workers who gather after a hard, long day in the hot sun, just say, "I’ll be in my office."
Amid all the noise and music and shouting, it is easy to overlook the simple fact of what really makes the place so special. People.
On both sides of the bar, you couldn’t get any better.
Copyright Cap’n Fatty Goodlander. All rights reserved.