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Who is Tom Abate and what does he write about?

Eclectic notions arising from my experiences and observations.

Stories and commentary based on research, interviews, and observations.

Satire, fiction, humor, and advice from the Dead Blogger’s Society.

Experiences and events that formed my character and inform my work and beliefs.

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… from a man with wooden teeth …

Part Two: Rama Bhagwan … the very name inspires confidence.

(Editor’s note: In part one, I explained the business planning which caused the man with wooden teeth to “manifest” at our door.)

We opened our typesetting shop in the parlor of our Victorian flat. Climbing the twelve concrete steps to our door had winded him, Rama Bhagwan explained as he replaced his teeth and plopped a ratty-looking eight-page tabloid newspaper on our reception table. It was the first issue of his North Coast Journal and Barter Bank. He wasn’t satisfied with his current typesetting vendor and wanted a competitive bid.

He had a tangled black beard and a ponytail that he flipped nervously when he spoke. The bright orange sash he wore around his torso honored his spiritual leader, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose name he had also taken.

… I found Rama sitting cross legged and hunched over in a lazy lotus position. His wooden teeth were sitting … alongside a picture of the Bhagwan …

The precise chronology of what next transpired I can’t recall, but I must have let on that I’d had similar plans but had punked out. Rama smiled and sat down. Was it that time, or the next, or the time after that, that I wrote him a $1,500 check to buy half interest in the North Coast Journal and Barter Bank? He would sell ads. I would run editorial. My partner would do layout and production.

I started writing stories and taking pictures. Rama showed up with ads but no checks or billing information. The second issue of the North Coast Journal and Barter Bank began to take shape. My partner had given it a sophisticated look. But the deadline came and went. Rama said he was waiting for more ads. Another deadline slipped. Still, Rama wanted to wait. When would it run, I asked? “When it’s ready to manifest,” he said. It was his explanation for everything and nothing.

By mid-November the copy I’d written weeks earlier had gone stale. My partner and I were supposed to get married just after Thanksgiving, which was just days away. I drove to Rama’s apartment in Arcata, the college town on the north end of Humboldt Bay that was several states of consciousness removed from blue collar Eureka.

I found Rama sitting cross legged and hunched over in a lazy lotus position. His wooden teeth were sitting on the floor alongside a picture of the Bhagwan that he had made into a shrine. We had to manifest the Journal and soon, I said. My family was flying out from Brooklyn to see me get married and I wanted to publish my premier issue as editor of the North Coast Journal and Barter Bank before I left town.

It was an odd conversation. Rama never rose nor replaced his teeth. It made his voice whiny. Every time he spoke, he revealed his tender red gums. I left with a couple of new ads and told him that I would take the issue to the printers.

I paid $200 to pick up 10,000 bundled up copies of the Journal before I set out for Sacramento. My partner had flown out ahead of me to help her mother prepare to host the Big Fat Greek Wedding that would make our union legit. I tossed my dreams of community newspapering into the trunk of the Ford Cortina that had carried me though the Navy, college, and who knew what was to come next (to be continued).

(This is part two of a story I first published in November 2006. It appears here in an edited form.)

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