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Obscured American: Rose the Mistress
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Dirty Frank's, 2017
Dirty Frank's, 2017

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Before its rents became astronomical, I lived in CenterCity, so frequented McGlinchey’s and Dirty Frank’s. Now, I walk into Frank’s and hardly recognize anybody. Uncle Moe, Tommy Hackett and Skinny Dave are long dead, the last from an OD while in his late 30’s. Others have moved away. Last week, though, I ran into Rick, whom I hadn’t seen in 13 years.

Reminiscing, Rick pointed to a booth, “I proposed to my wife right there.” Then, to another booth, “That’s where a woman grabbed my dick. I went home with her, but didn’t cheat. I only ate her out, and she only sucked my dick. We didn’t have intercourse.”

“I don’t know how you could stop at a certain point,” I marveled. Then, “Oral sex is not cheating?”

“No, it’s not.”

“You never cheated on your wife?”

“Another time, I did sleep with a woman. I dated my wife for ten years before we got married, so it’s only twice in 40 years, if you count the blow job and eating pussy. That’s not bad.”

“You’re like a saint, man! Maybe your wife has cheated a little, too. What if she sucked a guy’s dick? Would you consider that cheating?”


“But not the other way around?”

“You do have a point.”

“Would you be pissed if she cheated twice in 40 years?”


“Shouldn’t it balance out?”

“You do have a point.”

Rick’s two lapses don’t quite constitute a double life, but who knows what he’s hiding? Even the most candid don’t confess everything.

News of high school teachers having sex with students have become blasé. Often, these are married women with children. Sobbing, a 37-year-old explained to the judge that she habitually mounted her charge because of “self-esteem issues,” a perfectly valid reason. It seems like everybody is sneaking some on the side.

If lowly schmucks are already like that, can you imagine all the inconvenient truths crammed into the closets of the super ambitious? The larger the appetite, the greater the propensity for transgressions and lies, and since this applies to entire societies, you should expect the most hubristic to commit the greatest crimes, accompanied by the grossest lies.

The shining city upon a hill is a projection, but with a real basement containing torture chambers, false flags and lots of pizzas. Fumbling through the stinking dark, one steps on corpses or zombies, discussing politics.

Even Christ may be a horny hustler, according to Cigar Tim, a drinking buddy. At Friendly Lounge, Tim said of a celebrity, “He must get more pussy than Jesus!”

Innocently, I replied, “If he gets laid once, that’s one more than Jesus!”

“So the Bible tells you,” Tim snarled. “If you’re God’s son, you’d be at every party, and you’d be, like, ‘You know who my dad is? I’m just saying. This guy’s dad owns a dealership. Guess who my dad is? My dad is God! Yeah, that’s my pop!’”

So even the greatest news may be fake. Me, I just think that behind a lie is usually another lie, is another lie, and tranquility rests on mountains of lies.

Just now, a two-star general, David Haight, is exposed as having an 11-year affair with an American military contractor he first met in Iraq. Into anonymous sex with multiple partners, they visited swingers’ clubs in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia and elsewhere. Though she targeted and pursued the married father of four, 49-year-old Jennifer Armstrong now laments to USA Today, “I gave him the best years of my life.”

This longish preamble leads us to Rose, not her real name, whom I’ve met but twice, both at Friendly. Two years ago, Rose told me she’s from Chicago and had studied acting in college. “Three Sisters” and “The Lower Depths” were her favorites. Though the plays I had seen could be counted on two hands, or maybe just one, I had seen and read the Chekov, and read the Gorky 30 years ago. We also talked about Tennessee Williams.

One afternoon last week, Rose reappeared as a different woman. The bar owner and I heard her long before she barged into the nearly empty joint. Rose was that loud.

Slurring when not raving, Rose talked with me or her lover, Thomas, first on the phone, then in person when he showed up. With his crew cut, trimness and bomber jacket, Thomas came off as ex military, and he’s old enough to have fought in Vietnam. Rose is around 40 and perhaps three quarters white, a quarter black.

Sitting together, she did most of the talking. Awaiting his treat later, he was comically meek. The old man gladly tolerated his lover’s stream of abuses because here, right next to him, was someone of his daughter’s age. Like so many others, Thomas was cheating not just his wife, but time, God’s medium of universal punishment. Whatever guilt he felt from the first was more than drowned out by the deep, calming pleasure of the second.

Where it most mattered, this relatively young woman had accepted, forgiven and salved Thomas, so who cared if she was shooting her mouth off? Though Rose was a horror, frankly, he probably thought I was envious. Adjusting his wedding band, Thomas grinned.

At Friendly, the jukebox periodically plays by itself. Roughly five minutes after Thomas’s appearance, Tina Turner belted out “Private Dancer”:

I’m your private dancer, a dancer for money.
I’ll do what you want me to do.
I’m your private dancer, a dancer for money.
And any old music will do.

Such synchronicities are as good a proof of God’s existence as any, I believe.

For obvious reason, I couldn’t take photos of Rose or Thomas, and though the below is too brief a record of her voice, it’s still a clear enough portrait, I think.

My job? Which one?! It is very, very temporary. Ushering and ticketing. It is what it is. It ain’t no glamorous position. C’est la vie!

Yes, Thomas, how are you? I’m sorry, I don’t speak Mexican. Speak English to me! I ain’t got time for that shit. Fuck, yeah!

The rain has stopped. Here’s when the angels come back, but not at ya!

Silence, si vous plait! I talk to myself. Language is never a nice thing.

Yes, Thomas. I’m inside Friendly. Where are you? I just ordered us food from next door. Can you come inside, please. Thank you. Bye!

I don’t have a PhD, but I have a bachelor’s. I’m dating a married man, right now, the guy that’s coming in. I shouldn’t be talking, see, because I’ll get all cocky, socky.

I do love him, though. We’ve been seeing each for years, and years, and years. Just him and me. Well, apart from his little Mexican wife. Good for her!

My name ain’t Becky Quick. So, figure it out, but don’t ask me what I’m doing with a guy like that.

Next door, the sardine sandwich is the best! Aaaah! If I were to go for pho soup, I either go to 11th and Washington, or I go two doors down, but, sardine sandwich, that bitch got it figured out.

Thomas, where are you? Yes, but driving is the first fuckin’ problem! I’m not moving, from this seat that I’m in. I’ve got you a spot, OK?

Where are you at? Come meet me. I ordered food, and half of that is for you, dumb ass! You little fuckin’ German bitch! You better come to 8th and Washington and pick me up.

Oh, you’re on 8th? All of a sudden, homie is on 8th! 8th and what?! You could be at 8th and Jesus Christ!

You’re at 8th and Montrose? Well, you better keep it shipping! Keep it moving! You’re on your way, boo boo.

This is Thomas. He had a hard time parking, so I’ll act as if that’s the reason for his ignorance.

Isn’t this nice? This is one of the few smoking bars left in town. OK, what do you want? A Yuengling, please!

No, I’m not going to fuckin’ meditate! Ooops, what language! Ha, ha!

I don’t need you talking from 1966. I need you to not talk! That’s what I need you to do. That would be wonderful, if you could indulge me by, like, silence [French pronunciation]!

I’ve known this devil for a year!

I’m worried about Tina Turner chasing some cash right now. I’m not worried about you, Thomas. Shut up, and let it play! How about not talking? Thank you. Shut up!

Don’t talk. Why do you keep talking? Somebody asks you not to talk, don’t talk!


Linh Dinh’s Postcards from the End of America has just been released by Seven Stories Press. He maintains an active photo blog.

• Category: Economics • Tags: Poverty 
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  1. RudyM says:

    More down and out blah blah blah. I was served at Dirty Frank’s when I was still underage, back in the mid-80s, in my ridiculous college goatee. Bought a drink for a (presumably homeless) guy who asked me to buy him a drink. But I quickly learned I wasn’t really into hanging out with people like that, or hanging out in places like that. I could also talk about self-proclaimed bisexual poet Bob Small’s stained thrift store (looking) shirt at the Bacchanal, but is that interesting? No. (Were you even in Philly back in the 80s?)

  2. Dan Hayes says:

    Hi Linh,

    According to the photo, the current denizens of Dirty Frank’s are quite different from those you usually interview. To me they appear to be young liberal retards, quite different from the down-and-outers (or some facsimile of same) that are the usual subject of your fascinating vignettes. (BTW, I am on my own personal trajectory of down-and-outdome.)

    My question is do you interact with these proto-yuppies? Or are they so shallow and set in their liberal prejudices that it’s not worth your while? Just asking.

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
    , @Linh Dinh
  3. Me, I just think that behind a lie is usually another lie, is another lie, and tranquility rests on mountains of lies.

    True, but I’m not sure “tranquility” is the right word, and I’m not sure what would be.

    However, it’s apparent to me that humanity feeds on mountains of lies.

    • Replies: @Chuck Orloski
  4. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Dan Hayes

    Hi Dan,

    The University of the Arts is just a block from Frank’s, so many of its students drink here. These young people do look like art students. The Academy of Fine Arts is also in Center City.

    When friends come to Philly, I often take them to Frank’s, since it’s centrally located. Joe Bageant and I drank at this exact booth, in fact.

    In Philly, there have been several anti-Trump demonstrations, so protesters would come into Frank’s with their signs.

    Philly is a very Democratic city, so anti-Trump signs are all over the place. Just yesterday, I photographed a window with several signs, including one that said, “MAKE AMERICA THINK AGAIN” next to “BLACK LIVES MATTER” and “WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS.”

    At a nearby house, there were these kid’s drawings, “Black Lives Mater Womons Live Mater” and “Immigrats We Get the Job Done.”


  5. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Dan Hayes

    My question is do you interact with these proto-yuppies? Or are they so shallow and set in their liberal prejudices that it’s not worth your while? Just asking.

    Well, I will talk to anyone who will talk to me, and in these situations, I’m most interested in hearing their opinions and world views. As for the shallow and prejudiced, they’re everywhere, aren’t they? At least when you talk to people face-to-face, you aren’t hit with anonymous cheap shots of the hit-and-run variety.


    • Agree: Dan Hayes
    • Replies: @Jim Christian
  6. Che Guava says:

    Not your best sketch by a long way, Linh, but the intro. makes up for it.

    Rudy’s admission of hypocrisy is good!

    I had two friends who were bondage or S and M mistresses when overseas.

    The first drifted into the orbit of my then lover and I, at the time our place was popular, always good music, generous supply of alcohol.

    She had a tale of an insane customer, his fetish was to have an electric soldering inserted (won’t say where, to avoid problems for the mods) and switched on, after which she had to leave the room and return just in time to switch it off before it started inflicting major burns.

    I don’t disbelieve her to this day, that must have been his thill, but a soldering iron?

    Suppose the danger of perforation must have been part of the thrill. Was too young to consider that at the time. A really sick fetish.

    The other, years later, met through mutual interest in industrial music (not the parody that Reznor and Manson redefined it), she had (has?) a great singing voice, like a heavier version of Nico, a very charming friend.

    Never talked about her job, except to state it, suppose she would have if I had asked, but other directions of conversation were always too enjoyable.

  7. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    “I don’t know how you could stop at a certain point,” I marveled. Then, “Oral sex is not cheating?”

    “No, it’s not.”

    “You never cheated on your wife?”

    Legacy of Bill Clinton. I think any kind of romantic affection for someone who is not your spouse is a form of cheating, though not adultery. Sexual activity of any sort is orders of magnitude more cheating than mere groping and kissing. And a male is much more biological and sex driven than a female, so for him to engage in kissing, groping, and possibly even oral sex, he is less culpable than a woman. What male doesn’t want to put his seed into every women he finds attractive? With women it is wholly different.

    • Replies: @woodNfish
  8. You are writing a lot of perceptive articles about women Linh.

    The one about Amanda was truly terrible, but the others are almost as enlightening.

    Years ago, I don’t know now where I read it, this writer described Christian faith in the west being dealt a mortal blow when women began to leave the church. For centuries they had been the backbone.

    Today talking to a woman at work, she declared she would have only one baby, it isn’t me she said. Childbirth had been disturbing.

    I know many women now will not have children, in Germany it is something close to half ethnically German women will have no children.

    What about this verse from Kipling

    On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
    (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
    Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

    we have become crazy

    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
  9. @jacques sheete

    “… it’s apparent to me that humanity feeds on mountains of lies.”

    Jacques Sheete,

    It’s pathetic how Americans feed upon lies that originate from The Zionist Himalaya and fall down to (lesser peaks) Mount Democrat and Mount Republican for consumer consumption and mandatory Performance Enhancing Drug (P.E.D.) obedience.

    • Agree: jacques sheete
  10. The serviceable chippy on the right with the pony bottle would probably melt for a real fascist . . .

    • Replies: @Dr. X
  11. I wish I had more tolerance for low lives, but I do not. The general refusal of much of the population to think is very frustrating to me. Its not that this many people are stupid, they just refuse to stop and think about what they are doing or about to do.

  12. @pat the rat

    Humanity is more beast than god, but we have been given the power of divinity. I’m not sure we are worthy or that we have demonstrated responsibility equal to our powers.

  13. To Linh Dinh,

    You have an amazing mind and perceptive ability linked to great writing skill. Keep it up. Don’t worry about the complainers commenting. Just keep it up.

  14. Randy says:

    There are bars in Philly where you can still smoke? Hot damn! I knew I should’ve tried to stop by one of the bars you’re always talking about. Instead I spent time in a shitty hipster bar in the tourist area.

  15. “this old man” – he’s 40, not 65! You must be under 40 (and I must be under 65) .

    “11-year affair … 49-year-old Jennifer Armstrong now laments to USA Today, “I gave him the best years of my life.””

    “Best years of my life” – the affair started in 2005, when she was 38, and finished in 2016 when she was 49. That’s what Roissy would call an Olympic-winning hamster that can lift 300 lbs.

    • Replies: @mcohen
  16. mcohen says:
    @Anonymous Nephew

    Tale of 2 David’s…petraeus and haigt,femme fatale’s as Goliath.almost biblical and with trump pissing on the bed we have the exorcism of the Obama years…….putin must be smiling like a mona

  17. What would seem like hypocrisy in that a male doesn’t consider oral sex as cheating whilst being outraged by his better half committing the same transgression is interesting.

    More interesting is that the entire USA was force fed this conundrum when the occupant of the highest office, while impeached used specious logic ( at least on his part) to defend his actions. He was subsequently re-elected.

    What a truly stupid and degenerate nation.

    On the lighter side is the old Clinton joke that I found funny. Hillary was sitting up late into the night waiting for Chelsea to return from her first date. When she finally stumbled in, hair mussed and lipstick askew Hillary confronted her and screeched ” did you have sex with him?”. ” Not according to dad” she replied.

    Humour is a coping mechanism these days….

    • Replies: @Henry999
  18. TV AMERIKWA says: • Website


    I had a poetry teacher while I was at art school, Cyrus Console, who had us read “Some Kind of Cheese Orgy.” Honestly, at the time I wasn’t very fond of it. Nonetheless, this series and your other one-off pieces on Unz have been some of my favorite material on this site. I just figured I would give a vote of confidence on a piece receiving a lot of undeserved criticism.

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  19. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    It’s funny. In countering fascism, they act like Cartoon Fascists.

  20. Clicked on article for Mistress, got mistress instead. Left disappointed.

  21. Linh Dinh says: • Website



    I visited your school in 2010, met a bunch of nice people, saw Cyrus, hung out in Overland Park. I really like Kansas City and would like to know it better. The last time I was there, I was stuck in a snow storm at its Greyhound station, an experience described in one chapter from my new book. I was so dirty, I gave myself half a snow bath a couple of blocks away. I was refreshed. I’m glad I wasn’t arrested.


  22. What a truly stupid and degenerate nation.

    Utterly disgusting and getting worse. Humor is a coping mechanism and I find it quite hilarious that people run around whining about Muslims and blacks and immigrants as major sources of our demise.

    We are tasting the bitter fruits of mass stupidity and there is no turning back.

  23. Dr. X says:
    @Alec Leamas

    The serviceable chippy on the right with the pony bottle would probably melt for a real fascist . . .

    Haaaaah! Bingo! Brilliant, my man!

  24. @Linh Dinh

    At least when you talk to people face-to-face, you aren’t hit with anonymous cheap shots of the hit-and-run variety

    You’re used to that I see. Well, I for one am always thrilled to cheap-shot ya, Linh. That neighborhood where Frank’s is, they crawling with criminal diversity?

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  25. Hi L. Dinh, been reading you for awhile. I actually moved to Belize because of Joe Bageant (don’t recommend it), and came back to live in a sleazebag motel for 3 years. Shame the city shut it down; I liked it. But anyway, at least in the States, if you live on the skids, you’re safe–the scum go rob people who HAVE anything. Besides, never a dull moment. The wildlife is GRAND! Never had so much fun in my life, just looking out the window!

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  26. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    Hi Pissedoffalese,

    At the lower end, the wildlife is always grand, no matter the country, although in the poorer ones, anything that’s not nailed down can disappear in the span of a sneeze.

    Bageant did make his life in Belize sound idyllic, but he was way in the sticks, and had established solid friendships.

    Sick of his evil homeland, Michael Ruppert ran down to Venezuela, only to run right back. He ended up living in a trailer just outside Calistoga, CA, then he shot himself.

    It’s certainly not easy to insert yourself into a foreign environment.


    • Replies: @Pissedoffalese
  27. Linh Dinh says: • Website
    @Jim Christian

    Yo Jim Christian,

    Often, diversity lessens crime activity. Ron Unz talked about the transformation of East Palo Alto from black ghetto hell to a rather boring Latino working class community.

    In Detroit, I’d have no hesitation staggering around drunk, in the middle of the night, in Mexicantown, for the immigrants there are much, much less likely to rob or kill me than the native-born in the rest of the city. Nearby Arab enclaves of Dearborn or Sterling Heights are also perfectly safe.


    • Replies: @Jim Christian
  28. Truth says:

    Yo Jim Christian,

    Often, diversity lessens crime activity. Ron Unz talked about the transformation of East Palo Alto from black ghetto hell…


    Dude, you must be one unhappy camper, when your wife has her girlfriends over.

  29. @Linh Dinh

    My husband liked Belize; I always was too miserable HOT. Stuck it out for 6 years, but then husband died, so I came back mostly for the climate (WA state).

    The motel I lived at was like a community! It was the oddest thing I had ever witnessed–everybody knew everybody. People were KIND and HELPED each other. Just bizarre! Never, EVER been exposed to anything like that before. Of course, they were also all ex-cons, druggies, scammers, or alkies, so the police knew everybody on a first-name basis, too, but MAN, it was FUN!

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  30. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    Hi Pissedoffalese,

    Sounds a lot like the Thunderbird in Pasco, WA, but of course there are lots of places like that.


    • Replies: @Pissedoffalese
  31. @Linh Dinh

    Look at Linh, communing with the little people!

    Yeah, I’m in an old industrial mill town North of Boston. Of course, this town was abandoned by industry in the mid 1800s, it all moved South, but there are colleges and lots of construction going on all around here. A lot of the Catholic churches in New England communities were abandoned and the properties sold, but here there are several. On Sunday, the Hispanics fill the churches, the kids play in the streets and parks, the parents work all week and the kids are off the street from dinnertime onward.

    Here, if there are gangs, they’re very quiet, there’s no graffiti, it’s a very friendly environment and of course, there are no Blacks around at all. New England’s signature feature is a near zero presence of Black culture, it seems stuffed into Dorchester and Roxbury, Boston neighborhoods. Outside of there, there’s hardly any diversity. Go out to the North Shore, the Hamilton/Wenham regions, hell, even the ditch diggers are Irish, heh. Looking at it, even the New England Patriots are much less diverse than any other team, I’d wager.

  32. @Linh Dinh

    Nah, The Mac Motel in Bellingham–close to Canada in case I need to escape again :)

    Has to be the strangest city I’ve ever experienced. LOVE IT!

  33. Dana says: • Website

    I am sad to hear skinny dave died, i never thought id hear that name again.

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  34. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    Hi Dana,

    Around 1994, I was sitting next to Skinny when he saw me jotting something on a piece of paper.

    “You’re lucky you can do that,” he said, meaning my writing. “I have nothing to do.”

    Skinny had all the money, time, alcohol and drugs he wanted, but nothing he really wanted to do, so each day, he sat at Frank’s to read while listening to music on his headset. If there’s a game on, he’d occasionally glance at that.

    I don’t remember Skinny having any love interest, nor did he travel.


    • Replies: @Dana
  35. Re: “coincidence,” Robert Anton Wilson calls them “Coincidance.”

  36. Dana says: • Website
    @Linh Dinh

    Did you know Toby, black mark, Adam creamer and the other boys who rode triumphs…? Ugh so many names I’ve forgotten. I hung in mcglincheys and Franks from 1992ish to like 2000. Old.

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  37. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    Hi Dana,

    I didn’t really know those bikers, but around 1999, when I was living in Saigon, someone emailed me a photos of five or six of these guys, on their bikes, outside Frank’s. My Vietnamese friends were duly impressed when I showed them the badassed photo, but Americans are very good at exuding confidence, I must say. Since all of our movies and music project this muscular, often menacing aura, we also pose that way in private photos.

    Surely, you remember Jody Sweitzer, bartender and co-owner? Just recently, I found out she makes some amazing videos. Check these out:


  38. Henry999 says:
    @Timur The Lame

    Timur said:

    > … the occupant of the highest office, while impeached used specious
    > logic ( at least on his part) to defend his actions. He was subsequently
    > re-elected.

    Sorry, T, but the impeachment came after the re-election.

  39. @Truth

    No wife at all. Whole other reason to love life, best as can be, anyway. Gotta skinny Brazilian girlfriend, but her girls are never invited. Although sometimes we go with them to the BBQ-Brazile. It’s in Revere Beach, Massachusetts, somewhere down there. Think the movie Bride’s Maids, that kinda place. Hello Chicken!

  40. “Oral sex is not cheating?”

    “No, it’s not.”

    Its funny how a lot of guys believe this but can’t accept their woman doing same. I wonder if it is an ego issue or just something to do with the fact that they have their sex organ hanging out on the open.

  41. woodNfish says:

    What male doesn’t want to put his seed into every women he finds attractive? With women it is wholly different.

    Nice to find another person who is honest about human behavior. In many ways it is no different than the animal world where what you describe is mostly the rule of survival by spreading one’s genes. We also have many jokes about it, before a woman is married her legs are always spread for you, but slide a wedding ring on her finger and her legs slam shut. Now it is supposed to be that she shuts her legs to other suitors, not her husband, and of course what makes a joke funny is the amount of truth in it.

  42. Loud, foul-mouthed, self-absorbed women who’ve hit the Wall are “obscured Americans”? Have you never seen daytime TV?

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