Tuesday, 24 August 2010


For our many ups and downs, break ups and reunions, while Art was managing the Encore Jazz nightclub. This haunting song says it all.

FRANK SINATRA - ANGEL EYES, posted with vodpod

The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me by, Shawn M. Cohen

Hello fans of my blog, "The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me". Greetings from the author, Shawn M. Cohen. If you have not ever read this blog, and want to read an incredible epic love story, then do go to the archived entries on the right hand side. Scroll down to the beginning, dated "FEB. 28,click on that to begin, read and enjoy, then continue up by the next date until you reach the end, more than 20 entires. Don't forget the videos that are selected on the right, as they accompany our story. Beautifully, poignantly atmospherically, the music provides so much of what was essential between Art and myself, our secret code to dream upon.
If you have read all the entries to this incredible true story between my beloved Art Swiden, an ex- Heavyweight boxer, who fought some of the very best in his day, and myself, his secret love, than you know our story...but our story is a continual journey, even after his death. Yesterday, August 23, 2010, was the 6 year anniversary of Art's passing. To honour his memory, I put up on my Facebook page 3 days of stories about Art, actual press clippings of his boxing history, and music videos. Art loved music, and spoke to me often, as our secret code, through the lyrics of Sinatra, Matt Monro, and so many of his time. This blog entry is the last shout out to him and my readers, for now, as I plow on with the book.
People wonder what happened to us, why did we seperate and not stay together? Well, there were many reasons. I did not even know he had passed away for a whole year, being 10 years away from him, living in London. We had an almight argument that set us away from each other. So, no connections to him, or anyone who knew him meant I had no way of being informed of his death. The very last time Art and I saw each other was in Hollywood, Florida in 1994. That time was our first meeting in 14 years, and I had already became a Metaphysician, developed myself psychically and spiritually, from attending The American National Institute for Psychical Research and Development, in Westlake, California, earning my BSc. Metaphysics. I would go on to teach esoteric subjects, consult clients using the tools I was educated in; Tarot readings, Astrology, Past Life Regression, years of training towards becoming a psychotherapist and much knowledge earned through my Nursing certificate (L.V.N.)in allopathic and in natural medicine. Brought over to London, England, in 1985, by my best friend Robbie's older sister, Harriet, a psychotherapist herself, and asked to conduct a workshop in Montecorice, Italy at the Pellin Institute with Harriet and all British therapists and participants was my way in to deciding I wanted to live in London. I would make London, and many working trips to Europe, my home, some 25 years now.
In the meantime, opening up to my own gifts as a psychic was an epic journey in itself. It seems to me what we gain is usually born of some kind of challenge, trauma or pain. And this, too, was opened up to me with the tragic death of my very first boyfriend in 1979. I had been with Art after Glen and I broke up, and that was the way it was. I had left California, where I had lived with Glen. We had dated all through High School in Pittsburgh, he was 2 years older than me, and it seemed right for us to be together once I graduated from High School. The times were defiantly changing, as Rock and Roll was belted out from every car window, and the messages of freedom calling, breaking all the old restrictions, fighting social injustices, Vietnam and its impact on the youth of America was paramount in the early '70's and 1974. The hippy movement brought consciousness in. The psychotherapists would analyse and develop it, and the Mystics proclaimed it, "The Age of Aquarius". "Hair" had been on Broadway, as well as "Jesus Christ Superstar". Life as we knew it was becoming a far cry from the set values of the 1950's and our parents, and the 1960's would usher in a new dawn of equal rights for women and minority groups, and the technology for much more free time. By the time I became 18, Jim Morrison was already dead by 3 years, I had witnessed on TV, as a child, the Moon Landing. Images of Vietnam ransacked our TV's news nightly. I was to hear, again as a young child, of the brutal deaths of Martin Luther King, Jr. and our President, John F. Kennedy. These experiences floating around my psyche and all about my person had a huge impact on me. I knew my life would have to be a contribution, have meaning, and above all help those who were helpless. It would take me to many wondrous and heartbreaking experiences before I saw Art Swiden again in 1994.
The way of the world is as diverse as it's topography. The way of love can be even more mountainous as each individual finds their way home again, to the beloved, the Soul Mate.
Sometimes, if you are very lucky, you both wake up to what is most important on this journey called "Life", and sometimes you just stubbornly fight all the signs.
Fear is the opposite of love, always has been and always will be. This is a Universal Truth. When we wake up to who we really are, and what we are really doing here, the road gets clearer.
We are all Divine Spiritual Beings having a (yet another!) Human experience.

This is the real truth of all of our existence. And this is what I have learned.
My book, and the continue writing, researching and editing process that I have been submersed in for the past four years is ultimately what ,
"The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me," is all about.

Here is, for the fans, one more excert from my book, "The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me".

It is said that the path to true love is never easy. Believe me when I tell you, that is true. But there can be so much joy, love, even bliss and Heaven on Earth on that journey. Discovering what we are all meant to ultimately discover, as Art said to me when his spirit came to me after his death... dressed in a white suit, looking more handsome then ever before, (if that was possible!) surrounded in a blindingly beautiful white light. As my eyes looked on, glazed and fixated on what I knew to be "that moment" when my life would never be the same again, mouth agape, breathing shallow, just afraid to move should this vision of him leave. He leaned over my ground floor apartment balcony, just like Rhett did when he first caught a glimpse of Scarlett at the top of the stairs, dressed like Rick from "Casablanca", he leaned his arm on the balcony and spoke to me. Not in words, but in thoughts, which I clearly heard, and with so much love in his eyes, he said, "Shawn, love never dies." I heard it, I consumed it in my brain, as I watched with my own eyes, afraid to blink, at his brilliance, his dazzling display of coming back to me, across the sea, across the dimensions, from Heaven itself to bring me this message. My eyes welled up, afraid to blink, so I would not see him, I dared not to cry. The key to the back door was across the living room, and I cursed that I did not have it right there in my hand so I could go out to him, there leaning in, standing on the grass, gazing at me with that smile, that look which I came to know so well in my days before when he was mine, so long ago.
Slowly, the light began to fade, and just like he had teleported here, his image began to be swallowed up, as if Scotty had just began to, "beam him up!" I saw him fade, slowly, bit by bit, the white light diminished and I heard myself breathing again. I stood motionless for a minute, to see if he would reappear. The key, I must get the key! I ran across my living room floor to the bookshelf which safely housed the magic key. Snatched it and ran back, ripped the door open as fast as I could and stood on the opposite side from where he had been standing.The 3 inch black wrought iron railing between. It was broad daylight, about 11:30 am, and the usual goings on were there, people walking by, etc. I wondered for that second if anyone else had seen him? It mattered not, as I was too consumed to care. "Art, Art, come back to me, Art! Are you there?" I knew I looked like a lunatic should anyone see me calling to thin air off my back balcony, but I did not care. Just then I felt a breeze rush by me, blowing my hair right in front of my eyes. It was October, a nip was in the air. I took my hands which were wrapped around the railing, the railing where Art had leaned his arm on, and I pushed the hair out of my eyes. I want to see! I wanted to see him again. The breeze quickened, then warmed and I felt a swirl of love surround me, as if the breeze was embracing me. I called out softly, "Art, Art, Darling is that you? Don't leave me, come back to me!"

This would begin the final 3rd of my book. It is this part where, believe it or not, the real action begins. Thank you to all the many people, researchers, and friends who have helped to make our story come to life. My plan ( and you know the saying, "the best laid plans of mice and men") is to complete my epic book, edit, rewrite, edit again and make ready for submission to the right publisher by the end of 2010. It may take a little longer, because my work as a professional psychic medium and my daughter all come before, but I will get there. As Art would say, "What's the rush? We have all eternity."

Hopefully, someone out there will enjoy this blog so much they offer me a deal. Hey, it could happen! Not only a book deal but a movie deal as well. Art always wanted to be an actor. I know that no one could play him better then himself, but since that isn't possible, he'll have to be one "helluva guy"! These are the dreams and ambitions of this author. Thank you for reading and being a part of our story. Look for ,"The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me" in bookstores worldwide, and online, in 2011, if my swarthy, handsome heavyweight boxing Angel in Heaven and I have our way!

Miss Shawn M. Cohen, London, England, August 24, 2010.

"The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me", by Shawn M. Cohen. Copyright 2010. All events are true, some names have been changed to protect people's privacy. All video content is copy righted to their perspective artists, musicians and composers. No copyright infringement intended.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

A SONG FOR YOU - Leon Russell & Friends (1971)

The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me By, Shawn M. Cohen

A heartfelt message to all my readers of, "The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me", By, Shawn M. Cohen, author of this blog and the book to which these excerpts belong to.

Today I am sad to learn that the rules of blogging by some publishers of written books, may consider this blog as my book (because of the content, excerpts) being an "already published" item. That may mean that I would not be able to submit "The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me" as a manuscript for Publication, in the first instance, only as a "reprint" as a book to be sold and marketed in the world.
Now, please don't misunderstand, because I myself had to get my own head around this and took advice from two different editors and book advisors. This means that this will be the last time I will be writing excerpts of my book, and that also means I will give myself and "Phantom" the dignity it deserves to be published worldwide, and have an audience that all my hard work, and Art's continuous love and influence deserves.
The publishing world is a true mystery to me! I can speak to the dead, foresee the future, as a Psychic Medium, and yet, I stumble myself through the writer's journey! It has been a delightful and emotional journey with all the love and support coming from my readers and their comments, and encouragement, and so I am forever grateful to you all.
I will be blogging now about the process of writing my book and its own journey as it makes it to the final stages of , after nearly 5 years of intense research and uncalculable hours of writing, rewriting, and onward to its final draft for submission. I hope you will stay with me, and enjoy the snippets of the writing adventure along the way. Meanwhile, for all your love and attention, here is just another little episode which happened along Art and mine's journey through love.

Autumn came in with the leaves falling into the most spectacular display of color. I always loved this time of year. The air was fresh, crisp, the sky filled with scarlett and gold, hanging off every branch of tree. Driving into see Art, after hours in the Encore II, downtown, I had on my pink jacket with the white fur around the hood. It was a lined cotton jacket, I was not quite ready to get out the winter woolens. Art and I were so very much in love. We had spent months in blissful delight, laughing, loving and having fun together while fooling the entire public with our secret relationship. Art wanted to announce it to the world that we were together but it was me who told him it was better for us both if we were discreet. That upset him, but he knew I was right. The Press might have a field day, not to mention my parents! Along side that we would be endlessly teased by the people who we worked with, and all I needed to hear was some loud mouth say that I was, "sleeping with my Boss." Art told one bartender, named Bobby, a newcomer to the Encore but a friend of Art's. He was also younger but not as young as me. When I confessed my age to Art he almost fell off the bed! After the shock, I finally asked him his age, it was 48. My parents were 4 years older than him. But it didn't even affect me. That was the night we decided we didn't care, it didn't mean anything to either one of us, and as Art said to me, "Well, you have always been older than me, huh? Between the two of us, you are definately the older one!" He wasn't wrong there either, Art always kidding around and being playful. I told my best friend, Robbie. That was all who knew of what was going on between us. We worked together most nights, along with those precious hours after the Encore closed we spent upstairs, in the make shift apartment he was living in at the Encore downtown. Tonight, I would be taking that elevator ride with him upstairs again to his private domain. To a rather rand sack room with a mattress on the floor, some blankets and pillows, his boxing memorabilia all stashed away in one big cardboard box, his shirts hanging off the back of restaurant chairs, cigars in the ashtrays, his clothes astrew, no heat and of course, his music and Hi Fi system. His best buddies; Sinatra, Matt Monro, Elvis, Aznavour, all there waiting to be turned on, creating his romantic moods we dreamed to. We had made love to them all, but there was always something more he wanted to show me.
I knocked on the big door of The Encore II as usual at 2:30 am. Art opened it with much joy on his face, "Come on in, Baby, where ya been, been waiting for you, come here." He grabbed me, kissed me then picked me up. "Art! Put me down, right now!!" I yelled and laughed at him all in the same time. "No, you're mine now, and you can't get away!" I was hanging with my butt in the air over his shoulder, and he slapped my butt. "ART! I mean it, put me DOWN! I'm getting dizzy, come on, NOW!" Art was walking around the empty Encore II with me hanging there like he had a small sack of potatoes over his shoulder! He just laughed. "Promise me something and I will think about it!" he teased me.
"Ok what is it?? I promise!" "Ah, but you didn't hear what I was going to ask you, did you?" I was now hitting his back with my arms, "PUT ME DOWN, NOW!" I screamed, light headed and laughing. He was still adamant..."OK, OK, but where I want you!" and he walked over to the bar and gently swung me over his shoulders to his arms and sat me on the bar stool. "ART! what are you doing?!" I unzipped my jacket which was up around my neck and took it off, pushed my hair out of my face, and watched him giggle as he watched me fix myself.
He went behind the bar and got us both a drink. I noticed that there was a big black baby grand piano on the floor by the stage. It had been brought in for Duke Ellington who was scheduled to play there this week. Art had put our drinks on the bar, and a song came on the radio which had been playing. He walked out from behind the bar, and went over to the baby grand. He stood there , leaned on it with one arm and looked at me. Really looked at me with so much love in his eyes. As if Divinity itself was there, to bear witness, the next song came on the radio, and Art started to sing it to me. He never sang but "said" the words, which was his way of singing. I watched him, mesmerized. The song was by Leon Russell, and it was the first time I had heard it. Art sang this entire song to me, which was:

"I've been so many places in my life and times,

Sang a lot of songs, I've made some bad rhymes.

I've acted out my life in stages, with ten thousand people watching,

But we're alone now and I am singing this song for you.

I love you in a place where there's no space and time.

I love you for my life, you are a friend of mine.

And when my life is over, remember when we were together,

and we were alone and I was singing this song for you.

You taught me precious secrets, the truth, withholding nothing,

You came out in front while I was hiding.

And now I'm so much better, and if my words don't come together,

Listen to the melody, cause my love is in there hiding.

I know your image of me is what I hope to be,

I treated you unkindly, Girl, but can't you see,

There's no one more important to me,

Baby, can't you please see through me?

We're alone now and I am singing this song for you.

We're alone now and I am singing my song for you."

Art told me that night that he would always love me. He made me promise him that I would remember this song all my life, and his love for me. I promised him right then and there. "Yes, Art, I promise." as he stroked my hair and looked into my eyes. I did not think that our time would be limited but it was. We stayed together , up and down, for 3 years, under so much duress, till eventually the pressure would get to us both. It was never our intention to hurt other people but we lived and loved in the times when divorce, age differences, were still very upsetting, people's judgements were less forgiving. I stayed with Art until things got very difficult for us both and by 1979, I was mourning the unexpected death of my first boyfriend, Glen, he was all of 25 years old. That shock reeled me into another zone. I had seen his Spirit on a bus in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was a place I escaped to from all the pain in Pittsburgh and I did not know he had been killed. It would be the moment that would change my life forever. Art still begged me to come back to him, but I knew his daughter needed him more. Or so I thought at the time. I left Pittsburgh for California to begin the path of my own discovery. It would take me to a Metaphysical University, where I would become a Professional Psychic, Counsellor and Healer, Holistic Nurse, Astrologer, and Past Life Regressionist. I graduated with a BSc.Metaphysics, and as a Liscensed Vocational Nurse. That was 1983. I had left Art to the past and his life in Pittsburgh.
However, having studied and worked with my dreams as part of my own psychic development for years, and having travelled and worked in many countries as a Psychic and Metaphysics Teacher, opening up people's consciousness and helping them to heal their souls, by 1994 I was tired. My mother had divorced long ago, was happy and well living in Florida, so I went home to spend some time with her. One night, out of the blue, at about a month shy of age 38, I had a dream about Art. I had also wondered why so many of the men I had met and dated just were not right for me. I had thought about my "Soul Mate" and wondered, "where could he be?" and then I had a dream about Art. "Oh my, Art! Art!" Just to say his name again made me feel warm inside. "I wonder how he is doing? He would be about 66 now, " I pondered this. I wonder if he still lives in Pittsburgh? I called directory inquiry and gave his name and sure enough, there was his phone number! I braved a call to him after not speaking to him for 14 years. He was absolutely delighted to hear from me and arranged to meet me in Florida, across the State where I was currently staying with my mother, in Hollywood, where his old friend and another Encore bartender lived, one who did not know about us, but was now learning. Art was so excited and insistent, so we met within a couple of days. Here is one of the photos that was taken on the day we met again and that is what you see above. We were happy, even though it was, on that day, 100 degress F. outside in the Florida sun! I had become blonde, and a little rounder around the edges since Art last saw me, and had my hair was tied back and up off my neck, sunglasses on too, because of the heat! It was March 3rd, 1994. April 6th I would become 38 years old. Art still looked good, handsome as ever, even at age 66.

The story continues between us. Art Swiden passed away in his sleep on August 23, 2004. He was 76 years young. He had seen a double by pass operation on his heart and had had his voice box removed from cancer in 1999. I had come back to London when Art told me he thought my psychic work was "the Devil's work", as he had become a "Born Again Christian", but had neglected to tell me that when we met in 1994. His last words to me on the phone were, "I never want to hear from you again!" I felt betrayed and so angry with him, I never wanted to speak to him again, either. He was still living with his wife, the one he did not love and only returned to when he got sick and seemed to think, by accounts of his friends who revealed this to me after his passing, that he had "nowhere else to go."
For me and for us, our story begins on a whole other level, after his death. Art Swiden laid in an unmarked and unpaid for grave for nearly three years. I did not know this until my return to Pittsburgh, where I see to it that he is buried with the dignity of not only a great human being but a great boxer deserves. This, too, was another beginning to our never ending story.

If you have enjoyed my excerpts, then you will see why when the book is finally published. This is where Our Story as two Soul Mates continues and Art contacts me from Heaven and the astral plane, first, to let me know he has passed on. He wanted to set the record straight about us, his feelings for me and so much more. Because of Glen's death, when I was 23, I became a Psychic, my own gift of psychic ability opened up. Because of Art's death,when he contacted me at 49, I became a Medium. Because Art wanted to speak to me so much, I was opened to this understanding that there truely is no death, and love is everlasting, for all Eternity. I want to thank all who helped me in my research and to my beloved Art for still being there, in all ways, while I hit the keyboard daily. It has been a true joy being here with you, my readers and friends. Look out for my book in your favorite bookstore one day in the near future, and if Art has anything to say about it from where he is, it will be "One helluva film!" Peace, Love and Light to you all, Ms. Shawn M. Cohen
July 3rd, 2010, London, England, U.K.

The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me, by, Shawn M. Cohen. Copyright 2010.
These excerpts are from the book I am currently writing of the same name. All events are true, but some names have been changed to protect people's privacy. All video content is copyright to their perspective composers, artists, performers and no copyright infringement is intended.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Elvis Presley - Welcome To My World, posted with vodpod

The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me By, Shawn M. Cohen

I finished my shift at the upstairs bar and cashed out. Art pulled me aside and whispered, "Just give me time to get down there, so see you about 2:30? You won't forget now, will ya?" he asked me with some hint that maybe I wouldn't show up. "No, Art, I will be there, about 2:30. See you then." He gave me a big smile and off I went, out the door of the Encore in Shadyside, to the parking lot and in my mother's car bound for home. I could have gone out until then but this gave me the perfect opportunity to relax and change before I drove to Downtown and Liberty Ave. I didn't want to over do it, just casual, so I had a quick shower and put some jeans on, a pretty buttoned down pink cotton shirt and some open toed sandals with wedge heels. Casual but Chic, I thought. I did my make-up and put on my favorite perfume from Lancomb which was "Magie Noir". I loved the smell of this, and only used it for a special night out or a special date. Before I knew it, it was coming up to 2 am. Time to leave now. A bit nervous, I quietly made my way out of my house, not wanting to wake up my mother or my younger brother. I gently closed and locked the front door. I started the car, slowly backed out of the driveway, and I was finally on my way. What would happen tonight with Art? I didn't know but I did know that first I would also have to find a place to park downtown. There was a 24 hour parking lot across the street and slightly down the road of the Encore II but the area was not very safe. I thought about Art getting everyone out of The Encore II quickly so he could have his date with me and that image put a smile on my face. He always made me smile to myself, he is such a character! When that realization finally dawned on me that he had been doing all these attentive things for me not because he was a nice Boss but actually because he really liked me, wow! That look on his face when he tore into those guys who were harassing me, the tenderness in his eyes when he ran up the stairs to make sure I knew he was not an ogre but that he did that for me, to defend me because he liked me! It took my breath away even now as I was driving in the dark towards Liberty Ave. I wonder what will happen with him now? I thought along the long empty streets, just lit by a street lamp here and there. I put on the radio, the DJ was playing Neil Diamond singing, "Forever in Blue Jeans". I sang along..."maybe tonight, maybe tonight by the fire, all alone, you and I, nothing around but my heart and the sound of your sighs..."
I finally pulled into the well lit 24 hour parking lot across the street from The Encore II, about a block away. I took the ticket as I went in and found a space right away. Not many people parking in there in the middle of the night, in fact, it was almost empty. I locked the car up, with my purse firmly tucked under my arm, I quickly walked across the empty street. Nothing was open but maybe some After Hour Clubs around the corner. I knew of them, I had been to them by now with Robbie and some of the waitresses at the Encore I. But it was still scary out here. A lone yellow cab went by, no traffic at all on the road. I hoped Art was there. My heart started to pound in my chest. God, I pray he is there. I had now crossed the street and came to the big red door. I took a deep breath, fixed my straight long hair, which the hot summer night wind had blown all over the place, and knocked loudly on the door. Quickly checking my watch, it was exactly 2:30am.
The door swung open by Art, whose eyes lit up, still dressed in his suit, as he said bowing to me like a butler, "Welcome to my world, won't you come on in..." I recognized it right away as an Elvis song. His hand holding the door open and the other gesturing for me to "come in". I giggled because I got his reference. He was smiling from ear to ear. His tie was now loosened up around his neck and he was clearly "off duty". "Come in, Shawn, so glad you could make it, would you like a drink?" He walked me to the long, now empty, rectangular bar. The back lights of the bar were on, and the house lights were on too but very low. "Sit down here and make yourself comfortable, what would you like to drink?" He offered me the bar stool and I put my purse on the bar, taking out my cigarettes. He went behind the bar and put on the stereo with one flick of a switch. It was Sinatra, who I was beginning to realize now that Art really liked. It was soothing and intimate, one of his love songs. "I'll have a glass of dry white wine, thanks Art." I said as I took out a cigarette. He was so happy and clearly glad to see me. However, I had to think how it was weird, strange, like a step out of time, to be in the restaurant with no one else but us two there. I had to have a quick glimpse around just to see what it looked like empty. "Comin' right up!" Art took off his tie and put it in his jacket pocket, opened up his top shirt button, as he poured my glass of white wine. He put a cocktail napkin down in front of me, put the filled wine glass on it and then lit my cigarette with his lighter and its enormous flame. I laughed. "Why do you have your lighter flame up so high?" I asked him. "Don't know, I like it that way." he said, smiling at this question. "So, Art, what will you have?" He took off his jacket and laid it over the far end of the bar. He was clearly getting comfortable. "I never drink, ya know, but today, well this is a special occasion, maybe a Chevis".
Sinatra was singing away in the background, "When somebody loves you, its no good unless they love you, All the Way..." Art poured his Chevis on the rocks and came out from behind the bar to sit next to me on the next bar stool. "Hi, Baby." he said to me, "Hi Art." I smiled back at him noticing he called me "Baby",( and I liked it, too.) He raised his glass for us to clink them together, which I did with his. "Here's to Shawn Cohen, who has the bluest bedroom eyes I have ever seen, and the prettiest face, too." I blushed from here to China and back. "Thanks Art." I managed to say. He looked at me, stared at me, scanned my whole face, my hair , while I took a sip of my wine. "You do know that about yourself, don't you?" he asked me searching my eyes. "No, Art, not really but thank you." I didn't want to go there but Art clearly wanted to. "Listen, Shawn..." he took my hand in his and held it as he continued..."you know from the minute I saw you, I don't know what happened to me, I just couldn't get your face, those eyes, out of my mind!" I laughed because he said it like he was as perplexed as he was ardent. He continued, "I just hope maybe, you like me a bit, too?" He searched my eyes again, to see any sign of it. "Art, I wouldn't have come here tonight if I didn't think you were someone I wanted to get to know better." I took a sip of my wine. He grinned again satisfied, for now, with my answer. He took a sip of his Chevis. "Good, cause I wouldn't want you to do anything you wouldn't want to do!" he said it in such a funny way, commanding and cute, like a comedian giving a punch line. I laughed again. "I won't, don't worry... so what now?" I asked wondering what we were going to do here in the empty Encore II. "How about we just talk and get to know each other a bit more." I was glad he said this, he wanted to know me more and he wanted me to go first. "Tell me about yourself, Shawn." That was it. I talked and he talked and we talked about everything. First work, then eventually we got to more personal stuff. Art listened to me, commented as he went, asked me another dozen or so questions. He was interested, not just making conversation. He wanted to know about my hopes and my dreams and my opinion about various things. I got the distinct impression my thoughts were important to him so I told him that I really wanted to go back to California. Turns out he also loved California and told me how much he also longed to go back there. "That is where I always wanted to live. I fought there a couple of times, when I was boxing and I always liked it out there, so pretty, can't beat it, can you?" We agreed on this. Art poured us two more drinks, the music was playing soft and low, a backdrop to our conversation. It never crossed my mind to ask him his age. I looked at his handsome face, dark brown eyes, black, thick, somewhat curly, almost wild hair, sideburns just like Elvis, and the stature of his big frame. He was sweet, warm, funny and intelligent. His eyes seem to say much more then his mouth but he had the quirkiest expressions, too which he could "act" or put on. He confessed to me that his life was, "All an act! I'm the Great Pretender." I asked him what he meant by that. "You know, people expect me to be "The Boxer, The Champ", give 'em the old One, Two, make 'em laugh, act dumb, punchdrunk, all that crap...but I'm not like that, really, I am also a person, Shawn." I realized that it must be hard to be "on" all the time. I was touched he shared this very private part of himself with me. He was now not the person he was at work. He was more relaxed, and much more there with me, in the moment. Articulate, intelligent, the Macho Boxer Champ was not there. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I was seeing him differently with each passing moment. He told me he was married once before the current one he was in the process of divorcing, to a woman who, in the end, wouldn't let him box, didn't want him to get hurt, so in the end, they divorced because he wanted to prove himself to the world as a boxer. It was a long time ago. He also told me where he was from, New Kensington, and that he grew up in Whitaker, near Kenny Wood Park; Pittsburgh's answer to Disneyland. He reached his hand across to my face and touched my cheek gently, he also squeezed my leg with his two thighs quickly as we sat there. "Art, it's getting late and soon the Sun will be up. I better go." It was nearly 4:30am and in the summer the Sun would be up any minute. "Gee, I wish you could stay longer, it's so nice to be with you, Shawn." He stood up and helped me off the bar stool with his hand, like a true gentleman. "I know, Art, me, too but when the sun comes up and the birds are just singing away, I can't sleep, can you?" He smiled at me, "Depends who I am with!" and I laughed. He walked me to the front door, holding my hand. It was warm, felt so nice in my hand, like it belonged there, although bigger it fit like a glove, making me feel even more connected to him. By the door, I looked up at him, and said, "Thanks for a nice time, Art." He took my face in his hands and looked into my eyes. "I hope to have a lot more of these times with you, Shawn Cohen." and he tenderly pushed my hair back away from my face with his big hand. He let his hand glide down my hair, touching it, feeling it down my back. Then he closed his eyes and slowly kissed me. It was a gentle but firm kiss on my lips. A kiss I felt the whole drive home. A kiss when I got into my single bed in my home, in my summer night gown, when I had laid my head on my pillow, I still felt on my lips.

"The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me ", By, Shawn M. Cohen. Copyright 2010. All events are true, some names have been changed for privacy. These blogs are installments from the book I am currently writing of the same name. All video and song lyrics are copyrighted to their perspective songwriters, composers and performers. No copyright infringement intended.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me By, Shawn M. Cohen

The next three weeks went by like a whirlwind. I was training with Gilbert every day from Monday to Friday. Because of my request, I asked if I could have another week's worth of training. Gilbert understood and let me. I was faster in my second week and now I was taking cash as well, from my small corner of Gilbert's bar and the waitresses, serving their station. Learning to use the register, how much all the drinks cost, and adding it all up in my head, when necessary, was a real challenge. Thankfully my math skills worked, even if I was not great at math in High School. During this time, the summer came in, and you could fry an egg on Walnut Street. We had air conditioning, so this was not a problem for us working at The Encore nor our customers but when you stepped outside, day or night, it was a warm humid blast of hot air that hit you, 80degrees plus were the constant temperatures.
In my sessions with Dr. Rivers, I had read the book he gave me and I learned what it meant to be in an "adult state" from the psyche, and also what it meant to be in a "parent state" and a "child state", as Transactional Analysis had described. The best, I had learned, was to come from an "adult state", when you are an adult, that is. I was trying my very best to understand this, and implement it. However, I could now see that my mother was lost to a "child state" in her malaise of being abandoned by my father. It was beginning to look like Miss Havisham's house from "Great Expectations", every time I entered our home. The den where my father's office was, where he had his own private red business phone, which we were never allowed to use, was still there along with his desk, file cabinet and swivel chair. But my older brother had taken down all his pictures,at my father's command ,and brought them to his new home. The ones of him fishing all over the world, catching the biggest fish with his buddies and his big stuffed marlin were not missed by me. He was gone but still some left over remnants remained. "Ma, why don't you take Daddy's stuff and throw it out?" Was what I wanted to say. But she could not cope with this. She was furious with him and this fight, I feared, would go to the bitter end. She talked to her girlfriends, who all agreed she was better off without him but to no avail. She was going to be taken to court for divorce, and he, having the money and power to get the best lawyer, was going to win no matter who was "at fault". He would owe her alimony and child support for my younger brother, Jake. But she was already informed he would fight not to pay it. When my Bubba was alive, my father's mother, she could only speak Yiddish. Yiddish was her language, she never learned to speak English in all the years she lived and raised her 3 children in the United States, in Pittsburgh. When my father would bring her over to the house, as she didn't drive, she would start baking from 6:00am, kuggle and raisin cookies and cholla bread and all manner of delicious Jewish foods and pastries. It was Jake she loved the most. He was the baby of our family and he was cute and funny. Now, as I walked into our kitchen, the one my father's Aluminum Siding and Home Improvements company built, had added on to this house, I got a vision, a memory of her short round body with her white apron on, flour on her face, hands, flour on the counter where she had been preparing what she was baking. Her saying to my little brother when he, and all of us kids, woke up to the delicious smells which filled the whole house, of her wonderful and love filled cooking. We'd run into the kitchen to see her, to see what she had made for us and eat her wonderful food, "Dance, Kin- da- la, Little Jake, Dance!" She would clap her hands in rhythm for him, and he would move and twirl to her delight. She loved to see my younger brother dance, when he was 5 years old. I wondered, as I made the coffee, and the nearly empty fridge which held no trace of her ever being there, what she in Heaven must be thinking now? I wondered what she would say to Jake now...."Dance, Kin da la, Dance"? What future did he have? Or any of us for that matter without a college education? The irony hit me, as I poured my coffee, for that is just what I am doing to help my family...dancing...but not at the Disco, not that kind of dancing but at the Encore bar where I will be making my "debut" as their upstairs restaurant's bartender next week. If my mother hadn't been suffering from her heartbreak, I might have been able to ask her, the actress, for advice. But no, my mind somehow drifted back to my "Bubbie", for that is what we kids all nicknamed her and called her.
It was Annie's birthday and Judi and Anne and I were getting together to celebrate. She was turning 20, like me and Judi already had. I had the evenings free, so this was a good time to finally catch up with my other friends who didn't live the night life, like I had. We all went out to dinner and gabbed away. It was great to see my old friends, they always made me feel like I belonged to them, even if our paths were shifting faster than Bubbie's baking flour. Judi would go back to Penn State again, studying horticulture, and Anne would go to College here in Pittsburgh, starting September. I would be working at the Encore, as far as I knew and that was that. I didn't talk about what happened there, as I knew they would not understand. Yes, I spoke of training as a bartender, and my parent's divorce. I grew up with these girls, I was like the adopted sister in Judi's family. We were the first to be friends, in 4th grade, and her mother was very loving and kind to me. Her father paid for me to go horsebackriding with Judi, and when Judi got a horse, I wanted one so badly, too. "Daddy, can I get a horse, like Judi has, Please, Please!" I braved it one day to ask him. "Are you out of your f***ing head??!! NO!" was his reply. I was 10 years old and heartbroken. Judi's parents must have known something was wrong, as they took me in as their own. I loved them and Judi. I was invited to synagogue with them. They took me every Saturday to shul, and on the High Holidays, I also attended and sat with them. It was something I would have never experienced in my own home, nor did any of my siblings. I heard the Rabbi recite his prayers, and the Cantor's beautiful and rich voice sing his songs, but because it was all in Hebrew, I really didn't understand. Judi would tell me when to stand up when God's name was mentioned and then tell me when to sit back down. That is all I knew. But I went religiously, when I was a kid as all my Jewish friends did. This is why I had a Bas- Mitzvah, because Judi and all my friends who were Jewish were all having one. Kalvin had one, two years before me, too but he was a boy and it was expected. I was surprised when my father agreed to my request, and he enrolled me in Hebrew School, like he did with Kalvin. We went to the Hebrew Institute, in Squirrel Hill. I don't know how they accepted me or my brother, since our mother had never converted to Judaism. It was always my suspician my father paid off the school with some big donation, so they would keep stum, and let us do it. Children are what the mother is, in the Jewish religion. The Catholics believe you are what the Father is. Clearly we were in No Man's Land, according to both. So we kids joked that our Dad must have paid off the Rabbi to turn the other way, when we came along to get Bar and Bas Mitzvahed. The event was a success. My father let me keep my presents, after I stood there in my 1968 styled, flared sleeved, white with lace short dress with the yellow bows on the elbows. I was singing the words of my Hav Torah with the Rabbi, " Baruch ata Adonia", but I really didn't understand what they meant. Judi and her parents came, and so did all my friends from school or the Jewish community center, which is where I met Reva, Rae- Gayle and Robbie, also the non Jewish side of my family and my cousins. It was a real mixture of Jewish and "Goyam". But I did it and to my knowledge, I did it well, the Rabbi told me, "Good,no mistakes!" I had recieved much money, through checks as gifts. When it was over and we were back at home, after the party, I was upstairs in my bedroom, looking at the sealed envelopes, some already open with cards saying, "Congratulations Bas-Mitzvah Girl!", and taking down the names of who gave me what, to send thank you cards. My father came into my bedroom, still in his Armani suit and Italian leather dress shoes. He said to me, "Give me all the money." with his hand out stretched to me. "Why? I am just writing down who gave me what for thank you cards." I said back explaining myself. "Just give it to me!" I didn't understand why he wanted this. "Why do you want it?" I braved it once again, figuring he had to be nice to me, it was my Bas- Mitzvah day. He answered me back in a raised, angry tone of voice, "Your Grandfather needs it, I have to give it to him to get him back home, he hasn't got any money, so just give it to me NOW!" I handed it all, checks and cash, to my father, thousands of dollars, who took it away. My grandfather was my mother's father who lived in Brooklyn, New York. An older Scotsman, nearing 70, with the thickest brogue you ever heard. No one understood him when he spoke but mostly he was also always drunk whenever we saw him, and he never had any money. I felt the tears run down my 13 year old face. I knew I would never see that money again, money for my future. And I never did. I told my mother at the time, but she argued that I had had a party, which was true, and I had received some other presents, which was true, and that was enough. It was patently clear then to me that they had no concern for my future. I knew then that I was truely on my own. Which is why I left home to Los Angeles to be with Glen the very next day I had graduated from Peabody High School at 18 years old. I figured my future was with him, but I was wrong again. These were the things I was telling Dr. Rivers. These thoughts and memories about myself and my family. It wasn't that I didn't want to help my grandfather, or my mother, or my younger brother but why me? My father was wealthy, we all knew that and so did everyone else who knew him or heard of him, so sayeth his friends at the bar also. Trying to be a grown up and come from an "adult state" is good when you are a grown up but can be very damaging when you are a child. Now I was a grown up. So what would happen now? I drove to work once more, only this time, it was the early evening of my "debut" at the upstairs bar at the Encore. It was now the beginning of August. I made sure I was dressed for success. I had opening jitters to say the least, but there was Art, who I hadn't seen now in weeks, waiting for me. He greeted me with a huge smile, "Hello Shawn. How ya doing? You ready for your big debut??" He came close to me, enclosing me with his big presence. "I hope so Art, I have been training like a soldier!" he laughed and corrected me, "No, like a Champ! Now don't be nervous, I will be right here, sitting at the end of this bar, so don't worry! Let's see what you got, Kid!"
I went under the bar,as it was the only access in, by the waitresses' station and started the routine of making the bar ready. The waitresses were beginning to come in, and greeted me with a big smile and hellos, and a few funny ribbings as well. I saw my hands shaking a bit, as I cut the lemons and limes for the fruit tray for the cocktails and Art, who was sitting staring at me from the corner of the bar, asked me for some coffee. Terry poured it, passed it on to me and I walked down to where he was sitting and placed it in front of him with a nervous smile. "You'll be alright, Shawn." He said winking at me. "You look very pretty tonight, too." he added. I blushed. "Thanks, Art." was all I could say, getting my heel caught in the wooded slats again. I knew I shouldn't have worn them but I wanted to look my best. Now I thought that that was silly since no one saw them, however much taller (and hopefully thinner!) I looked. The customers came in, and I started to fill the orders. Art read his paper when he knew I was up and running. The waitresses were all nice to me, and forgiving when I forgot a beer, or didn't mix the drinks as fast as they wanted. Art ruffled his papers and watched me all evening, never leaving his post. I was really surprised. He actually did what he said he would do and I couldn't believe it.
My second evening went well too, until a wine glass slipped out of my wet hands and went right into the ice well, breaking in there. We were busy, too, and I just looked over at Art. He jumped up as quick as lightening and said to me, "It happens, and it happens to the best of them. Just clean it out, I'll get you new ice." I was so disappointed in myself. All production behind the bar had to stop until this was emptied out, cleaned of any broken glass and then refilled. Art helped me and it was done very quickly. I just looked up at him , feeling like I had let him down, as he was standing next to me pouring the big bucket of ice in the well. He winked at me, "Now, don't do it again!" and I laughed.
The third night was like no other, and never will be. I was giving Art his coffee, again as he sat there, as he had done now each night, all evening. He was dressed in a very stylish suit and lovely tie and shirt. I could smell his cologne which was heady and strong, but pleasant, just like him. The evening began with customers coming in, and there they were eating at the tables. There was alot of noise downstairs and you just knew that part of the Encore was filling up. I had on black tailored trousers and a pretty light blue, flowered patterned silk shirt, with the top two buttons undone. Three men in their late 20's came in, drunk. You knew they were drunk as you could hear their rucuss on the stairwell as they came upstairs. I saw Art sit up, alert. They came in staggering and set eyes on me behind the bar. As they came to sit on the barstools in front of me, one spoke, "Hey Baby, you come along with the drinks, too?!" he slurred his words at me, looking at my chest not my face. The other men sniggled. I caught Art's eye glaring at them, ready to pounce but I let him know quickly I was ok with a wink and said, " Now, Gentlemen, settle down, what drinks would you like?" The next one said, "Let me see those tits!" and with that I heard this big BANG as Art jumped up, lept over and knocked down 4 barstools, grabbing the one who said that to me by the back of his shirt with his big boxer hand, yelling at him as he threw him down the stairs! "Don't you EVER speak to her like that again!! Get Out of my Bar!" He took the other two and pushed them down the stairs as well, "GET OUT OF HERE!" I heard him shout as he ran down the stairs after them and threw them all out on the street, screaming "You fucking bastards, who do you think you are, talking to her like that?! NEVER come back here again, YOU HEAR ME?!!"
I stood frozen holding on to the back wood of the bar behind me. Art ran up the stairs and came right to me, leaning over the bar, out of breath saying, "Don't be afraid, Shawn, don't be afraid..." For that split second it was as if all time had stopped. I noticed my hands were actually holding on to the back of the bar, from fear and I released them. I saw Art's face, as if it was the very first time I had ever seen it. I never in my life saw anyone do that, just to defend and protect me. The look on his face, it said it all...."I did this for you, I did this because I care about you, I like you, don't be afraid of me, I like you more than you know..." The restaurant had completely stopped as if stuck in a time warp, and Art looked over at the restaurant and said, "Show's over now, Folks!" straightening his tie, and fixing his hair out of his eyes. The people went back to eating and the waitresses went back to serving. I thawed at that moment as his eyes looked deeply in my face for some sign, some hope that maybe now I would realize just how much he cared for me. I smiled, first to myself, thinking of all the antics he had done along the way; the bringing me up to the Encore from Downtown the day after he met me, the wining and dining me when I arrived, the way he got me to go in his car, saying he was afraid, which I knew wasn't true but thought he wanted to see me safely to my car, the way he stared at me, all along thinking he was just watching over me, how he always introduced me to the best tippers, most famous patrons, and finally, he offered me this bartender's job, where he sat, true to his word, every single night, all evening during my shift, talking to me, laughing with me, helping me....that lightbulb was finally over my head! He likes me! He has been coming on to me all this time and I didn't realize it, oh my God! I walked toward him, with a big warm smile and a new found feeling in my heart. I leaned over the bar which seperated us and I said, whispering to him, "I'm not afraid, Art." He lowered his eyes, and he blushed. I couldn't believe it, he was blushing! He looked up at me and in a voice that no one else could hear but me, he asked, "Would you like to have a private drink with me this evening, after work?" He was asking me out on a date! My mind raced. It dawned on me in that moment that he was married. Oh, no! I had to be sure, so I asked him. "Art, aren't you still married?" He replied with this, "I filed for divorce last April, over a year ago, I am living alone and I haven't been with my wife for over a year. I am getting a divorce now, so will you please do me the honor of having a private drink with me, Shawn?" His eyes were hopeful and I looked at him, standing there, waiting for me to say Yes. "Yes, Art, I will. Where shall we meet then?" I was excited. His face lit up. "Meet me downtown at The Encore after it closes about 2:30am. We'll have it there, ok?" I was a bit surprised and asked, "Why there, why not somewhere else?" and he said to me, "By the time I finish cashing out everything will be closed. Don't worry, I have the keys, so since you'll be done first, can you come down there later on? Then we can talk in private, no one else will be there but me." He was right, everything would be closed except any after hour clubs which I gathered he was not into going to. He wanted us to have our drink alone. "Ok, Art, what should I do, knock on the door when I come there?" I asked him. "Yes, I'll be there to let you in, see you there then." He said with a grin. The rest of the evening Art kept looking at me as he resumed his barstool vigilance, protecting me. I couldn't believe it, I smiled to myself all evening, and him whenever our eyes met. How could I have missed the obvious gestures he was making towards me? I was really looking forward to seeing him later on, just us two, alone.

(Please see the video on the bottom of the page,"Someone To Watch Over Me", it will take you to You Tube to view it, when you click on it because of embedding laws. It is from the 1954 film, "Young At Heart" where Doris Day finally gets that Frank Sinatra is into her in a big way! The look on her face is priceless...mine was exactly the same at this time!)

The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me by, Shawn M. Cohen (c) 2010. All events are true but some of the names have been changed to protect people's privacy. All video and film content is copyright to the writers, composers, and performers. No copyright infringement intended.