Nicodemus's e-mail blasts, no matter how insane and misguided, are a lot of fun to read, though. I encourage him to continue, though I hope not at my expense. Maybe Humberto or New Times could be his new targets! Now there's an idea that would definitely resolve Carmel's worries! But the best would be to give Nicodemus a real new enemy. A big one. Dick Cheney!

I think this whole issue is really an enormous conceptual art project Nicodemus is putting together, for which he will be awarded the grand prix award at some bienale in Eastern Europe. I'll be there for the party.

Rudolf Piper

Miami Beach

There He Was, Dressed in Black, Carrying Garlic

I tried pushing my grocery cart to the next aisle, but ...: In reference to "Dark Obsession," some of my fondest memories are from the days before the Chris Paciello witch hunt, sitting at Guido with my best friend Desi and Anitra Warren, just holding hands and shouting at passersby like celebrity Tourette's Syndrome victims while Nicodemus would look on approvingly. But those days are gone. How did I have the misfortune of getting myself involved in this Hammer horror movie that Freddie Francis forgot to film?

Well, for me it all started quite innocently. I had just begun working in the party-planning and marketing department of crobar when I found out it was Anitra's birthday. I thought I'd throw a birthday party for this wild and eccentric opera star -- after all, she is a fabulous party guest and nightclub friend. I made mention of it just once to Anitra and then when crobar found out they had to cancel the idea because Carmel was being harassed by Nicodemus. There also was a lawsuit or something -- I didn't know the details -- but I did know there was to be no party for Miss Anitra and no invites were printed. (What would have happened? Blow out the candles and slice a throat instead of the cake?)

A year later I'm at Publix, hung over, buying a steak and trying to decide whether I want to go all the way and buy the big bottle of A1 Steak Sauce or be cheap and buy the little one that only covers about two steaks. Who saunters into the condiments aisle but Nicodemus, dressed all in black like a cross between Adam Ant and Lestat, face powdered white in Louis XIV style, and brandishing (I'm not shitting you) a large string of about twenty garlics, like he was going to nail them to someone's front door.

He said to me, really civil, in a quiet voice: "Hello, Shelley. Did you get my e-mail about subpoenaing you for our lawsuit against Carmel and crobar?"

"Yes I did, and I have to say I think it's really shitty to get me involved in this vendetta against Carmel. I don't know what he did to you but you need to let it go. I do not want to be involved in this." And I grabbed the big bottle of A1 and pushed my cart to the next aisle.

Nicodemus followed me and came up into my face and said, "You will be involved."

Did he expect my eyes to glass over and for me to say, "Yes, master"?

Instead I was like: "Nicodemus, you need to move on -- maybe to Baltimore or someplace where the climate suits your clothes."

Nicodemus at that point got really pissed and growled, "What is that supposed to mean?"

I pushed my cart away and took refuge in the baby products/chocolate aisle, shaking from anger and fear. My friend came up to me and said, "Dude, I caught the tail end of that. What did that Bela Lugosi-lookin' dude say to you?"

I answered, "Nothing, dude, nothing. Let's buy some cheese."

So what it boils down to is this: I miss the good old days when everybody was young and out to have fun, when everybody was happy and people only yelled opera at each other, when the only threats were that Desi would snort your whole bag if you let him take it into the john with him alone.

So Nicodemus and Anitra, I was always a friend, and as a friend I want to publicly ask you to stop this vendetta against Carmel. Such anger can only be unhealthy. Carmel isn't holding back your career or stopping you from getting gigs, but the emergence of hip-hop culture and the decline of performance art is. I have to remind myself of that very fact when I long for a barrio-type spot to perform.

Tommy Strangie (a.k.a. Shelley Novak)

Miami Beach

Dress in Black? Yes

Black Magic? No

But a little diabolical fun? Of course: "Dark Obsession" gave me a good chuckle, but as a serious metaphysician I don't practice, nor do I believe in, so-called black magic. Real magic is without color. It has no taint of either evil or good. Magic is the application of little-understood natural forces to achieve a goal.

My main area of interest has always been the Qabalah and that dynamic reference point, the Tree of Life, and the connections between many disciplines, including Jungian metapsychology, yoga philosophy, astrology, Tarot, sacred geometry, and Jewish mysticism.

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