Mayor Gonzo Mays

Mayor Gonzo Mays Sammie Mays

Contributing Ink Slinger
http://www.sammiemays.com/

Sammie Mays  is an American author, journalist and humorist. In 1990, where many attempted and failed, Mays infiltrated prison confines, securing the interview and infamous photograph of baseball’s legendary bad boy “Pete Rose in Prison” – while successfully evading maximum measures. As a result of her unique (and quite unorthodox) style, the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper published what became known as the $100,000 Best of Year story and photograph – and garnered Mays a “Best of Year” home run in Sports Illustrated. It was then, among newsroom peers, that Sammie’s atypical style earned her the nickname the “Gonz.”

Incensed by the fragile state and precipitous decline of a struggling pod of three-hundred critically endangered Alaskan Cook Inlet Beluga whales, Mays wrote (under the nom de plume Mayor Gonzo Mays) the popular holiday family storybook ‘Pirate Night Before Christmas’ in an effort to draw attention to the plight of the waning white whales. “A person can be taught to type but what she does can’t be taught.” –Iain Calder, Author, The Untold Story: My Twenty Years Running the National Enquirer

Along the Gulf of Mexico, Mays grew up in ‘The Pass’ – the small seaport town of Pass Christian, Mississippi. The third child of five, Sammie was born into a Southern moonshine dynasty which operated across the southeast by the family’s elder patriarch, the town’s chief-of-police. Despite the on-again off-again Catholic school upbringing, the middle child, often overlooked by the family’s political schedule (at age twelve) began smoking cigars, skipping school, hanging out in the town’s local taverns and shooting pool while honing the skill of listening-in on conversations between lawmen, New Orleans Sicilian Mafiosos and the good ole boy network – developing into a young rebel and learning much in the way of Southern politics, moonshine and murder.

A published writer and columnist since 1986, Mays’ stories and exploits have appeared in: People Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Los Angeles Times, National Enquirer, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Miami Herald, Key West Travel Host Magazine and produced as vignettes for Comcast Tourist Television. During the economic recession, when newspapers began folding and downsizing, Sammie Mays jumped into the authors’ pool after the writer’s satirical columns, in South Florida newspapers, were replaced by suicide prevention ads. ‘Damn The Carnations Full Speed Ahead’ is Sammie Mays’ most recent title. The book is a memoir of shorts intended to have you laughing in the face of adversity.

Pirate Odyssey Fantastic

 

by: Sammi “Mayor Gonzo” Mays

The time is now. The epic begins on Nest Key, an uninhabited mangrove island off the Straits of Florida, where a fantastical band of renegades, who call themselves the Pirates of the Florida Keys, are in the throes of a party of mythical proportions.

Unlike other modern day pirates, this society of unabashed brigands don dazzling head dresses and snazzy grass skirts and flock by the hundreds to the exotic locale.  In a staggering spectacle of debauchery they consume mass quantities of Pirate’s Choice Rhum from its legendary bottomless bottle, and in a collective trance fueled by Gulf and West Indies music, they dance in a heated frenzy until exhausted.

Little do they realize that on this day, their gluttonous behavior would come back to bite them on the booty; for the Pirates of the Florida Keys are unaware of the far-fetched odyssey that awaits them.

The story you are about to read is one of fiction; any similarities to persons or places is purely coincidental.

It is the dog days of summer and in the heat of the day, the weather has taken an ominous turn. The groovy blue sky has suddenly disappeared behind a tremulous blanket of black. Two waterspouts duel for hydro as they make a run for the tiny atoll. The birds have all long since flown, and to save their vessels from grounding, so must the Pirates of the Florida Keys.

The Captain quickly delegates a cleanup crew to remove all evidence of their presence.  They must leave the island a bit better than they had found it, for it is an eons-old agreement between the Pirates of the Florida Keys and the Party Gods.

However, on this fateful day, in their haste, an empty bottle has been overlooked and it is this lone abandoned bottle that angers the Gods. Once looked upon with favor, and in a simple twist of fate, the Gods have become disenchanted with the Pirates of the Florida Keys, and before they are to be allowed back into the graces of the party deities, they would be ordered to make amends by running the dangerous gauntlet of the bars – all while on a noble quest to save the Wild Bird Sanctuary. The Pirates’ journey home would be a long treacherous one fraught with peril, uncertainties, and hangovers.

From the blackened sky, the seething squall drove the Pirates of the Florida Keys to seek shelter in the shallow bay behind the Caribbean Club. Pointing their bows into the stinging head wind, the flotilla anchored down and in a race against the encroaching storm — while dodging deadly coconut missiles — they make their way ashore.

Once inside the sweltering cavernous bar, flickering candlelight brought to focus a strange brew of badass bikers, beer-bellied boozers, busty babes, Bogart’s ghost and a sniveling midget from the third world Isle of No Where.

With their backs against the wall, and fortifying themselves with rhum, the Pirates of the Florida Keys had just settled in for the duration of the storm when an unexpected thunderclap lights up the night and commands their attention!

There, out of a scene from Frankenstein, framed in the doorway, stood a terrifying figure dripping wet and smelling of rotting vegetation at low tide. “It’s Aga-Ou!” the midget from No Where screamed. “The angry voodoo Spirit of the Sea!” Oh but it was far worse than Aga-Ou.  Straight from the insane asylum with a hideous Jagermeister grin plastered to its face, it was none other than the notorious bogyman Cujo!

He was armed with a roll of raffle tickets, selling chances to benefit his favorite charity, the Cujo Gone Wild Fund. It was a profound moment when the Pirates of the Florida Keys realized their trial at hand was to survive the dark stormy night and the con of Cujo.

One dollar a ticket, six tickets for five or an arm’s length for ten, with stealth precision Cujo worked the Carib like a carnie working a carnival thoroughfare. Oddly enough, not one single pirate questioned his validity or even asked what the raffle was for.  Was Cujo crazy or a genius? As pirates buy quickly and back away from Cujo, it seems his foul breathe and bad hygiene was merely a tactic to sell his bogus tickets. His purple Crown Royal drawstring pouch bulged with ill-gotten gains.

Eager to count his earnings Cujo slithered off to the head but the Pirates’ reprieve from his funkiness would be short lived. From the bowels of the darken bar came the sound of a commode flushing, then the whooshing, choking sound of a second flush – and with a prodigious pea green aura surrounding him, the bar held its breath as Cujo hastily exited the latrine, accompanied by a nuclear stench that could have backed a buzzard off a gut wagon.

Choosing the lesser of the two evils and figuring their chances of survival better out than in, the Pirates of the Florida Keys were flushed from the den of darkness into yet another tribulation.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, the wind and the water had grown eerily calm. The squall moved out over the open Gulf and in its place rolled in a dangerous blinding fog. But there was something enticing about this mysterious haze. Curious of the riches that they had convinced themselves were on the other side; perhaps even enough to save the Wild Bird Sanctuary, with their ship bells ringing and their fog horns blasting,  boat-by-boat the fearless denizens of the sea disappeared into the murk.

It seemed days had passed that the armada wandered in complete oblivion until – what?! Neon lights and samba music guiding the Pirates of the Florida Keys in a conga line through the foggy quagmire?! No need to explain that of which cannot be explained. There are many strange and inexplicable occurrences in the Conch Republic like Yellow Book ad salesmen and foam parties.

When the great impossible foggy passage finally spit the sea dogs out the other side, the Pirates were soaked to the bone, befuddled, and out of control. Compasses and steering mechanisms failed to function. A mighty magnetic force with kinetic powers had hold of the fleet and was transporting the Pirates of the Florida Keys to a distant bar far, far away.

From overhead, an airship mesmerized the captive voyagers with billboards that flashed: Shipwreck’s Bar! Free Booze! Free Bait! Free Beer! Free Burgers! And Helium! It was Gomorra by the Sea alright and like any good pirate, the Pirates of the Florida Keys took full advantage of all its offerings.

Chug-a-lugging swill and dancing the cha cha while singing shanties with Donald Duck voices; the Pirates are completely oblivious to a gnarled low-down man huddled alone in a smoky dim-lit corner of the bar, fiddling with his pocket fisherman.

Just when it seemed the strange couldn’t get stranger, the Pirates were about to encounter the scummy, scheming, scandalous, cock-eyed serpent of the sea: Ol’ Captain One Eye –and he had been watching their every move!

To get a closer look at his prey, Ol’ One Eye reached back into the socket of his cocked eye and plucked it out! Holding the slimy yellowish orb between his stubby thumb and nubby fingers and, like a cobra ready to strike, he raised his hand and propped his elbow up on the bar and, resembling some spooky macabre periscope, turned the forearm ever so slowly, allowing the eerie eye to get a good look at each and every one of the Pirates Of the Florida Keys. He was not amused.

Disgusted and worked into a rage by their slaphappy camaraderie, the crusty red-faced rogue gulped his grog and let out a belch. Beer foam clung to his wiry handlebar mustache and a menacing curled lip appeared from under his ZZ Top-like beard as he slammed down a familiar Crown Royal coffer onto the bar, challenging the Pirates of the Florida Keys to a double or nothing drink off!

A rumble could be heard among the Pirates as they began to speculate on where the reprehensible Ol’ One Eye had gotten the booty. Somewhere along the way had bogyman Cujo fallen victim to one of the Ol’ Captain’s no prey, no pay schemes? No matter, their eyes grew wide for before them lay a small fortune, more than enough to save the Wild Bird Sanctuary and perhaps even earn their way back into the graces of the Gods of Frivolity.

Ol’ One Eyes’ karma was just about to catch up with him though for he had no idea that the Pirates of the Florida Keys were former members of the Conch Republic Olympic Drinking Team. Ok, so granted that was then. These days the Pirates just simply drank for the hell of it and to avoid hangovers.

With his secret hollow leg, Leroy the Pirate was designated as the team’s champion; and the rules were kept simple: remain seated, remove all prosthetics, and no hurling!

To signify the start of the match the house band belted out the tune: “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer” and then slash-for-slash the opponents began trading shots.

The competition was fierce, and the momentum swung back and forth like a hypnotic game of double-jointed Chinese Ping Pong. No words were spoken between Leroy and Ol’ One Eye just a good old fashion stare down. They were psyched and all around a carnival atmosphere.

To break up some of the guzzling monotony, the Pirates of the Florida Keys gambled and placed wagers on whether or not bad-boy Pete Rose would be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. They chowed down on funnel cakes and got henna tattooed while taking turns riding the pony and having their pictures taken.

The summer moon rose and fell for two nights and three days when, near dawn, an all too familiar stench of rotting vegetation at low tide rolled in over the spectacle.

“It’s Aga-Ou!” the midget from No Where screamed. “He’s back!”

Out to settle a score and to collect the soul of the loser was the voracious, vile and vicious Cujo – and still plastered to his face was that same hideous Jagermeister grin.

The surprise appearance by the devil himself startled Ol’ One Eye. “Drink up Captain!” Cujo vehemently spoke.  “I believe you have something that belongs to me.”

It was evident that the Ol’ Captain was having trouble keeping his only eye on Cujo and on the game at the same time. Eternity was at hand and it seemed that the Ol’ Scallywag was just a shot away from having made two really bad mistakes.

The barkeep poured the umpteenth round and with his perception already askew and nerves frazzled, he made the only real fatal mistake a one-eyed pirate could possibly make – he blinked! Now in this warped universe everyone knows that when a one-eyed pirate blinks, he’s blind – and so with a toss of his scurvy head he knocked back the shot, the barstool wobbled, and down went One Eye!

Realizing they had won the Pirates of the Florida Keys turned to high-five one another and raised a mug of Bomba’s mushroom tea in homage to the Party Gods; for good ole Leroy the Pirate had drunk the sick and twisted One Eye blind! Victory was theirs, as was the all-seeing eyeball, and a tumultuous buzz to boot!

When they turned back again Cujo and Ol’ One Eye were missing – and ever since that day legend has it that no matter where your travels may take you, if you keep your ear to the ground you can hear the grinding discord of Ol’ Captain One Eye laboring away at calling the same repetitive 69 numbers from Bingo Parlor Hell.

Making a hasty retreat the motley crew took to their vessels and as if by some strange magic, one-by-one the Pirates of the Florida Keys fell into a dream-like trance; where on the wings of cuckoos, boobies and loons they were safely transported back to their homeport.

Islanders and landlubbers and even tourist from near and far came to celebrate the Heroes triumphant return, and to bear witness to the passing of the Crown Royal Pouch. The Party Gods gazed down on the Captain and crew with favor and reallocated their blessings, for the Pirates of the Florida Keys had saved the Wild Bird Sanctuary from extinction!

Upon the Pirates’ arrival, standing at the top of the dock was Mayor Gonzo who had been ordained by the Gods to present a special proclamation. “Quiet everybody!” the midget from No Where screamed. “The Gonz is gonna speak!”

“As the Official Honorary Mayor of Key West and fabulous Florida Keys … for living by the ‘Party With A Purpose’ creed, and for just being good-hearted pirates … with so many islands and so many bridges and with so many weird wonderful people in these Keys, may this rubber chicken – the international symbol of mirth, and of the Office of Key West Honorary Mayor, be your Key to Key West and to all the fabulous Florida Keys – opening doors you never knew existed!

It is my order, and I do hereby declare, that from this day forward, and forever more, that ye shall be known as the Parrot Heads of the Florida Keys!”

Sammie Mays Takes on a Biker Gang

excerpted from DAMN THE CARNATIONS: FULL SPEED AHEAD

14064128_847206058744013_3873872697416826785_nby Sammie Mays

Typical slow Mardi Gras day at Bravo’s and with the regulars and all police attending the Pass Christian Parade-–and no vehicles in the parking lot-–it was elements made for the perfect biker storm–-when into my bar Peg Leg limped. His greasiness, gimp leg, built-up boot to his knee and rebelliousness attitude was a dead giveaway that I was being paid a visit by the infamous leader of the Outlaws.

A few weeks prior, the TV news reported a rogue biker gang had torched a juke joint elsewhere in the community and a few weeks before that they rolled up an elderly couple in a carpet and beat them nearly to death for their social security check money. The townsfolk were living in fear and it seemed nothing was being done. Everyone felt they had to protect their own as no arrests had been made.

The joint was wide open for table pickings. He stood in the doorway for a minute casing the place before settling on a table where he could stare through burglar bars out the window to mind his old lady in the parking lot. I gathered the steel bars resonated some familiar feel. From across the barroom floor he shouted at me, “Hurry up and bring me a Budweiser!”

With the most piss-poor attitude I’ve encountered in a time as far back as I can remember–and not that the information would be pertinent or matter much to the gang leader–it may have behooved him to do a little homework prior to choosing a target. Growing up the overlooked and underestimated middle daughter of “Ms. Audrey” (see Moonshine and Murder: A Southern Bedtime Story) –-known from New Orleans to Mobile as the only woman ever to stop a barroom brawl single-handedly-–my four siblings and I were taught that if we planned to survive the harsh scrutiny of the public we needed to develop thick skins and wear our poker faces and clean underwear in the event of an accident. You might say I was born in a bar: grew up doing my homework in one and learned many lessons in human psychology there.

With an opportunity to practice the most basic lesson learned, I put on the poker face and treaded heavily over to Peg Leg’s table-–sending him a nonverbal message that I didn’t much like him-–with a can of beer just barely cool–-no bottle for this little bastard to later use on me as a weapon. And that’s when he warned me of his boys being in-route, that I would serve them and they would fuck up the bar, but  I was not to call the cops, “‘cause we’ll be back tomorrow to pay for the damages.”

Reading between the lines I deciphered Peg Leg’s statement to mean that if I didn’t roll with the punches and take the lashing and called the cops, I would again pay for it tomorrow.

Huh! Can you imagine all these threats without even having been kissed? I should have knocked him in the head but instead I acted disinterested and slipped away into the stockroom where I placed a quiet 911 to report the imminent nasty weather. A second S.O.S. went out to my tough-as-a-lighter-stump brother-in-law, Wendy–-a personal hero of mine who’d do most anything I’d ask him to. When I caught up to Wendy he was oyster shuckin’ and jivin’ with a small posse of good ole boys out in the shed sippin’ on some of that Al Capone’ favorite Kiln Kryptonite.

Having grown up with a girl’s name (of which I can relate, having grown up with a boy’s name) made for one bad-ass from Pistache–-with something to prove. Just a real good ole boy who enjoys the simple life: cookin’, huntin’ and fishin’ and teaching an asshole a new lesson. Duck Dynasty has nothin’ on this family, Breaux–’cept a shit pot full of money.

Ready to throw down, Wendy and the boys arrived minutes before the bikers roared up on the scene. I ushered the peeps inside and hastily locked the door. As we worked on our game plan, free shots of whisky were poured for all, but not Peg Leg.

We armed ourselves with pool sticks, pool balls, and opened and unopened longneck beer bottles. Like fish that school to make themselves larger and more menacing to prey, they crowded on their bikes at the bottom of the front porch steps, revving up their engines–-each time louder and louder-–psychologically scaring the living shit out of us, taunting us with roars of death and destruction. For the time being, while waiting on police to arrive, it seemed we’d be safe, and then we heard them shouting over their own noise whether or not to set fire to the bar and burn us out. I wasn’t completely convinced they’d do something so extreme, especially since we held their leader hostage.

“Enough!”

Wendy’s moonshine-mind snapped and in all the craziness he unlocks the door, runs and swan dives off the porch onto the top of the bikers–something I had not prepared for but now we must fight-–the bikers have the brother-in-law! Or was it the other way around? It was difficult to take in all that was happening. The scene moved rapidly, so much drama and so much fantastic imagery.

To passers-by it had to have looked like Hollywood was in town filming a movie. Scanning the bloody battlefield and overturned Harleys, I paused for a moment in disbelief, marveling at Wendy’s superhuman strength. Like Mohammed Ali, floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee, the brother-in-law moved untouched through the chaos. If any of the downed ones dare to even twitch, I’d whip their kidneys with the fat end of a broken pool stick. The mentality was kill or be killed. Wendy knocked ‘em down, I made sure they stayed down and the eight month pregnant sister pilfered the wallets of the KO’s-–yelling over the melee, “They’re going to pay for causing all this trouble!” The poor sons-of-bitches didn’t have a dollar between them to buy straws to eat their lunch. With no apologies for being bad company, it was beddy-bye time for the bikers and a real poor day of judgment.

52e82b_9eeea535dd1d42389343b3685290c6d7The police never did show up. They claimed to have gone to another bar with the same name in a different town but, funny, there was no other bar with the same name-–this bar was my grandfather’s namesake bar. So for our trouble we each selected a biker, one close to our own size, and stripped him of his prized leather jacket. And while the fracas flushed the bad boys from the community, the biker brawl put me out of business. Although the battle was won, ultimately I lost Bravo’s Bar. Forced into closure by the owner of the property who feared biker reprisal.

 

Audio Reading by Sammie Mays

Little Urn on the Prairie

as read by Sammie Mays

I am a firm believer that in this life we eventually get everything that’s coming to us – good and bad. It was after breaking into (I use that term loosely) Marion Super Max Penitentiary – scoring Sports Illustrated Best of Year Photo of Pete Rose in the pokey – that I became a made member of the elite group of Foreign Legion of Journalists and given ‘the Gonz’ as some covert identifier. Most of us don’t know what a Gonz is or what it even means. For years I didn’t. Didn’t care. I just passed it off as some silly British something or another. I never once gave it a second thought as it had no effect on how I feel about myself or how I react in situations. However, and more importantly, along with the name calling, I was given a full-time paying gig on the celebrity desk of the most notorious newspaper on the planet, the National Enquirer. I say show me the money and call me what you like.

During my Hollywood years the tabloid claimed to have sold more papers per week than any other publication in the world sold in a month’s time. But never in the tabloid’s history had an issue sailed off the stands more quickly than the issue with Elvis In The Coffin on the cover. So when Michael Landon, star of television series Little House on the Prairie, died, to duplicate or possibly surpass their Elvis In the Coffin numbers, the National Enquirer decided to run a photo on the cover of the deceased beloved father-figure. Dead. The unflinching plan was to accompany the morbid image with a bold headline reading: Landon On The Slab! Nothing was more exciting at 8730 Sunset Boulevard than beating the opposition in uncovering the grisliness of a good celebrity death. Continue reading

Excerpt from “Damn the Carnations”

 

[Sammie Mays is] an exceptional writer and natural born actor who can snap onto any scenario.” –Philip Burton, Shakespeare Scholar, Writer, Director, Professor

 

Little Urn on the Prairie

 

I am a firm believer that in this life we eventually get everything that’s coming to us – good and bad. It was after breaking into (I use that term loosely) Marion Super Max Penitentiary – scoring Sports Illustrated Best of Year Photo of Pete Rose in the pokey – that I became a made member of the elite group of Foreign Legion of Journalists and given ‘the Gonz’ as some covert identifier. Most of us don’t know what a Gonz is or what it even means. For years I didn’t. Didn’t care. I just passed it off as some silly British something or another. I never once gave it a second thought as it had no effect on how I feel about myself or how I react in situations. However, and more importantly, along with the name calling, I was given a full-time paying gig on the celebrity desk of the most notorious newspaper on the planet, the National Enquirer. I say show me the money and call me what you like.

During my Hollywood years the tabloid claimed to have sold more papers per week than any other publication in the world sold in a month’s time. But never in the tabloid’s history had an issue sailed off the stands more quickly than the issue with Elvis In The Coffin on the cover. So when Michael Landon, star of television series Little House on the Prairie, died, to duplicate or possibly surpass their Elvis In the Coffin numbers, the National Enquirer decided to run a photo on the cover of the deceased beloved father-figure. Dead. The unflinching plan was to accompany the morbid image with a bold headline reading: Landon On The Slab! Nothing was more exciting at 8730 Sunset Boulevard than beating the opposition in uncovering the grisliness of a good celebrity death. Continue reading

THE PIRATE CHRONICLE

 

Avast, Mr. Terry! Thar real pirates in them thar Florida Keys – and while they’re not nearly as good lookin’ as Capt. Jack Sparrow, the pirate population is indeed alive and thriving. An encroaching squall thwarted my usual Sunday morning snorkel trip to the Hens and Chickens Reef and sent me fleeing for shelter. Through the fierce downpour and white thunderbolts, I managed to spot a small dock in the distance.

Carefully weaving my ‘66 Boston Whaler through the watery graveyard of sunken vessels I quickly tied off at the rickety pier. A wild pig trail through a shore of mangroves led me to a den of honest-to-god real live pirates. I paused briefly, and ask myself if I should continue into their lair, when a bolt of lightning answered the question for me. Trying not to show fear, my wobbly legs walked me back into a bygone area. Crusty ol’ saltwater hooligans, bellied up at the bar, acted as if I were invisible – throwing back mugs of grog and up to their gunwales in shenanigans.

As “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” blasted from the jukebox, I grabbed a Grow Up To Be Cowboys blasted from the jukebox, I grabbed a Grow Up To Be Cowboys low profile stool at the end of the bar and hailed the brew master. “Whatever they’re having!” I barked (trying to be cool) tossing my head towards the scurvy dogs across the way. And that’s when I spotted Ol’ Cap’n One Eye: a patch-less, one-eyed pirate huddled alone in a dim-lit corner.

Two ales later (using my peripheral vision) I found myself studying the anti-social behavior of the one-eyed pirate. Weirdly enough I felt sorry for the guy – figuring he must be some kind of lonely misfit pirate in need of some attention. I mean who in their right mind would go out in public with a cloudy, oozing, dripping eyeball hanging from its socket, unless of course, he be the real deal – the real McCoy! Face it you’d have to be a real pirate not to give a damn…right? Continue reading

Mayor Gonzo’s Guide To The BVI’s

 

Tortola, British Virgin Islands – Meanwhile back on the isle of Tortola, on Cappoons Bay, while waiting for the magic to take effect, I sat with Bomba in his shack and watched as he drew in the last of the Cuban stogie.  Yes, the caterpillar tokin’ on a hookah. Blue-gray smoke swirled round Bomba’s fat head as he seemed every bit pleased with our trade – and in a trippy laid-back British West Indian lilt, Bomba offered me another cup of his cherished mushroom tea.

Inclined, I felt to accept the master tea maker’s generosity, but, then again, no. The sun had scorched the time away and all at once I felt to bid the Shack a hasty adieu.

Turbo lead the Gonzonistas down the side of a mountain to a precipice where a perfect paradise appeared. A mile-long stretch of sugary soft white sand beach with enormous coconut palms that swayed like hula girls at a luau. Having spotted the Emerald City, like Dorothy, I ran the rest of the way. Continue reading

MOONSHINE AND MURDER: A SOUTHERN BEDTIME STORY


11753264_1609172259337749_6041877411074140481_nby Mayor “Gonzo” Sammie Mays

from Damn the Carnations: Full Speed Ahead

It finally happened. I have been asked to throw my straw hat into the political arena, and while I’m no stranger to politics I figure they must be running out of fools for fodder.

My earliest childhood memories of being raised in the Deep South center around Election Day. Nary a Sunday would go by that the family wouldn’t gather under the shade of the granddaddy oaks – along the shoreline of the mighty Mississippi Gulf Coast – for hot boiled crawfish, cool jazz, cold Dixie Beer, and steamy Southern fried politics.

At the budding age of two I made my political speech debut from the back of an American flag-draped flatbed tractor trailer truck where I was skillful in the cute kid routine while asking for votes. It was truly the good ole days when a man’s handshake was his word, and kissing a baby and the gift of a quart of fine shine was simple Politics 101.

Originally from New Orleans, my family was the first of three families to settle the coastal French community of Pass Christian, Mississippi – the Kennebunkport of the South (home of the South’s first yacht club and the United State’s second light house). While attempting to escape the city’s filth and disease, it wasn’t long before a mass exodus out of New Orleans engulfed the tiny town. Pass Christian boomed, and moonshine and murder fueled the economy. Continue reading

HOW CHARLIE GOT HUSTLED [Uncut, Unedited, Untold]

favorEditor’s note: About six months ago I bumped into Mayor Gonzo Sammie Mays online. What the hell is a Mayor Gonzo Sammie Mays? I wondered. Turns out she is a Kentucky Colonel & Honorary Mayor of Key West, Florida, a real (if not “official”) elected position and not just a nickname for some colorful local character…which she also is. Shortly thereafter I received a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card from The Right Honorable Mays, entitling me to one free political favor (as opposed to those based on graft and backroom conspiracy). Also turns out that the Mayor has lived a very interesting life; from moonshiners to biker brawls and survived to tell us about it in her enormously entertaining book Damn the Carnations: Full Speed Ahead. Here we excerpt the story of how, after losing her bar, she managed to get into prison to snap a photo of baseball legend Pete Rose for the National Enquirer that the tabloid called “The sports coup of the decade.”

A published writer and columnist since 1986, Mays’ stories and exploits have appeared in: People Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Los Angeles Times, National Enquirer, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Miami Herald and Key West Travel Host Magazine.There is so much more to say about her I don’t know where to begin. Read the book. Here’s Bill McKeen’s take:

“Sammie Mays is a Category 5 literary hurricane. Here’s a full-force gale of stories about the adventures that earned her the nickname ‘The Gonz’ and a place as the honorary mayor of Key West. ‘Damn the Carnations’ has the added attraction of making you reconsider your approach to toilet flushing. The book is full of piss, vinegar, wisdom and advice for living the good life.” WILLIAM McKEEN, Professor & Chair, Boston University, Dept. of Journalism

HOW CHARLIE GOT HUSTLED

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Col. Sammie ‘Mayor Gonzo’ Mays 

The call was taken by British story editor Joe Mullins. Having zero time to play footsy I dived into the Brit, asking that he put me on the most difficult assignment the tabloid had to offer; the assignment that pays the most money–and before he could answer, to hopefully enhance a more favorable response, I threw in, “If I’m not successful, whatever the assignment, the tabloid won’t owe me a thing, only my expenses. What do you have?

The words, the tone, the desperation in my voice, the Brit had to know he held my state of mental health in his hands. I was a puppet handing over the strings to the puppeteer. All he had to do was pull them and there was nothing that I wouldn’t do. “Now Pete Rose is in prison but nobody can get to Pete Rose! Now can they?”

With the burglary [recounted earlier in Damn the Carnations] my clock and patience had long left the building and just barely keeping it together, I shot back, “I don’t know, Joe! Can they?” He continued cool and calm, “Newspaper and magazine reporters from across the country have tried and failed but, if successful, we’ll pay you $100,000.00 for a picture and story of Pete Rose in Prison!” Continue reading