Thursday, September 29, 2016

The End Of Cars Is Neigh

The Indian tribes of the West have unified to stop the Dakotan pipeline from crossing their ancient grounds.

Yesterday the North Dakotan governor sent in the Bismarck Police backed by armored vehicles. They are standing their ground to support the pipeline's progress. The Indians refuse to move. The police hold shotguns. The Indians gave them flowers. The cops arrested 25 protestors.

This is an oil spill on dry land seeping into a river.

This is the desire of the oil companies.

Pure evil serving an even greater evil.

The car.

And overconsumption.

But one day it will all be gone and the world will be be good.

As for the human race.

Population of Earth 2050 = 500 million.

And that's an optomistic guess.

Tears Of Kusama - Modern Musee In Stockholm

This week in Stockholm Modern Musee Yayoi Kusama exhibited a collection of works from 2009 to the present.

At the opening of her show the 87 year-old painter said, " "My life has been polished by art" and wept.

A great artiste.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

CHAPTER 1 - THE FIRST TEN MILES

CHAPTER 1 - THE FIRST TEN MILES

The trees on Centre Street wavered with the warm spring wind under a blue cloudless morning sky, as an Arborway trolley rattled on the warped steel rails toward Forest Hills. Two long-haired men and a young blonde woman in a peasant dress sat on the wooden seats of the near-empty streetcar. Their travel bags rested at their feet.

When the twenty-one year-old Bostonian unfolded a map of America, his friend pointed to the West Coast and said, “I can’t believe we’re driving cross-country in a station wagon.”

“A ride’s a ride, plus we can sleep in the back.” Sean defended the station wagon, since his father had bought a new one every three years until his six kids were old enough to drive their own cars.

“We could have waited for a Cadillac,” argued AK.

“A station wagon was all the Drive-Away company had going to Northern California and I’m all about CALIFORNIA DREAMIN, instead of DIRTY WATER.”

“I second the motion,” added Pam. The blonde nursing student was dead set on leaving today. She was hot to reach her fiancee in Mendocino. “We’re leaving Boston. Today. Five days from now we’ll be in Sacramento.”

“Boston to LA would have worked for me.” The pianist had a friend north of San Diego.

“No cars were going there for another week.”

“What if the owner says no?” asked AK.

“It’s too nice a day for him to say anything other than ‘yes’, plus we already signed a contract with the DriveAway company. Here’s our stop.” Sean pulled the stop signal and the driver halted the trolley car.

The three got off at Boynton Street and proceeded down the sidewalk. Sean knew this neighborhood well. His grandmother had once lived there.

The pick-up address of 166 Boynton was a three-story family wooden dwelling. A middle-aged man in a startlingly white tee shirt stood on the sidewalk. A porcupine crew cut topped an erect posture and his chino trousers had been ironed to a razor sharpness.

“Shit, he looks like a Marine.” AK pushed back his long hair.

“A career Marine too.” Sean respected the Corps. They fought hard.

“He won’t be happy to see you hippies.” Pam’s blonde hair flowed over her shoulders and her filmy dress swayed with the twenty year-old’s easy gait.

“Just smile and make nice.” Sean directed his advice to the nursing student and said to his friend, “Let me do the talking.”

Seeing the three of them the older man tapped his watch and said, “It’s 9:10. You’re ten minutes late.”

“Sorry,” said Sean.

Men the car owner’s age and conviction preferred an apology to an excuse.

“I suppose ten minutes is better than twenty. The name’s Jake Moore.” The forty year-old seized Sean’s hand.

“Please to meet you.” Sean met the firm grip with strength and his knuckles did not buckle under the pressure.

“That’s my wife.”

An older woman sat on the porch. Her black dress testified to a period of mourning. Sean bowed his head in respect for her loss. She bit her lower lip and gazed at her folded hands.

“My condolences.” Sean wasn’t asking who had died, but the deceased had most certainly been a close family member.

“Thanks.” Jake eyed Sean’s shoulder-length hair, regarded AK’s ponytail, and then warmed to Pam’s free-flowing blonde locks. “So you’re my driving team.”

“That’s us.” Sean released his hand and introduced them by name.

“You from Boston?”

“My grandmother lived a couple of blocks away on St. Joseph’s Street. My grandfather operated the trolleys on this line.”

“Irish?”

“Half. The Yankee side came over on the Mayflower and my Nana sailed over from Galway at the age of 14 in the year of the Crow. Coming down the gangplank she broke her shoe and Nana said she arrived in America like Cinderella, but worked as a maid in a Marblehead mansion.”

“Which is much better than slaving in a Connemara potato patch. My grandmother came over in the Year of the Pig. What about yours?”

“The Year of the Crow.”

Their shared heritage and accents narrowed the generation gap.

“We thought the year had something to do with Chinese Astrology, but my grand never told us yes or no.”

“Those women from the West of Ireland carried their secrets to the grave.”

“What’s your family’s name?”

Sean told him.

“There were four daughters. Older than you, but my uncle served with in Korea,” he said Uncle Jack’s name.

“I heard about Captain Jack. His platoon fought off hundreds of Chinese Communists to save the retreat column from Chosen Reservoir.”

“He was the only officer to see the dawn.”

“Never had the honor of meeting him.” Jake glanced over to the driveway. “That’s the car.”

His car was no normal family station wagon. Its chrome details had been polished to a high sheen and the hubcaps were for high performance.

“Nice ride.”

“Better than nice.” Jake strolled over to the station wagon and popped the hood. “This 1967 Ford Torino has a 428 FE V8 with a three-speed automatic transmission. I was lucky to buy one with a Cobra-Jet engine.”

“Wasn’t the same engine in Steve McQueen’s ride in BULLITT?” AK stepped closer to admire the V-8.

“Ford stuck a 390 into that Mustang GT, which had a lighter chassis than the Torino.” Jake launched into a minute-long monologue extolling his car’s speed. “This baby can do a quarter-mile in 14 seconds.”

“Cool.” Sean nodded his head with appreciation. “My only car was a 1964 VW bug and its top speed was 85.”

“85?” Jake laughed, shutting the hood.

“Downhill with a tailwind in the White Mountains.”

“You know telling someone about speeding isn’t the best way to persuade them to give you a car.”

“I’ll make sure that he keeps the speed down,” Pam assured the owner.

“You know I had hoped for someone more like me to drive the car, but there’s not many of me around Boston these years.” Jake inspected their eyes.

“More than you think.” AK and Sean had smoked a joint this morning and he wished he was wearing his sunglasses. “South Boston still supplies the Marines with warm bodies.”

“Sounds like you protested against the War.” His statement was an accusation more than a question.

“Yes, but when I was 17, I tried to enlist in the Marines, but my mother wouldn’t sign the papers.”

“She was against the War?”

“No, my mother is a devout commie-hating Catholic, but she loved me too much to allow my fighting overseas in a war and threw the papers in the trash.”

“After which you became a hippie?”

“Something like that.”

Sean spared him the story of how an older friend had returned from Viet Nam in 1968, preaching Muhammad Ali’s creed that no VC had killed anyone in the USA.

“There’s a lot of ‘something like that’ going around.” Sadness tainted every word and Jake’s fingers twitched a request.

“Let me see your driver’s licenses.”

AK and Pam handed over their out-of-state driving permits.

Sean’s ID had been issued from the Boston DMV.

“Any outstanding warrants or violations?”

“None.” Sean answered, although last autumn he had been arrested after a high-speed chase in a VW from Pam’s college. His Uncle Jack had gotten all the charges thrown out at court. He knew the judge.

“Well, the faces match the photos.” Jake handed back the IDs. “We drove out here for a family visit. Normally I’d drive back, but my wife can’t bear driving through those cornfields again.”

“It is a long ride.” The distance from East Coast to West Coast was almost 3000 miles.

“You ever gone cross-country before?”

“I haven’t driven it, but I hitchhiked back and forth twice. The first time was in 1972. A Super Bee picked us up in Iowa and the driver drove 100 or better most of the way to Reno. My friend and I completed the trip from Boston to San Francisco in about fifty hours.”

Pam and AK dismissed this claim with matching smirks.

“Fifty hours sounds fast, but it averages out to about 60mph.” Jake stepped away from his car.

“The driver was in a hurry to reach LA, so we didn’t stop much.”

“People have been hitchhiking since Jonah rode in the whale. When I was stationed in Key West I hitchhiked to Boston every long leave. Everyone who picked me up told a different story, almost like they were trying to change their lives, if only for the time I was in their car and that’s the beauty of the open road. You become someone different with a new name and a new past. You get out of the car and you go back to who you are. There is no escaping the future of you.”

Jake’s unexpected insight constructed a connection between college students, hoboes, tramps, soldiers, beatniks, runaways, and hippies traveling the highways of America.

“No one believes my story about making the trip in fifty hours.”

“All stories are true, if interesting.” Jake clapped Sean’s shoulder. The War in Vietnam was coming to an end and they had lost their hatchets instead of burying them. “As for driving cross country in fifty hours, I’d appreciate if you take it a little easy on my car.”

“Driving fast in America is against the law now.” Pam opened the station wagon’s rear door and examined the car, which seemed to pass her inspection.

“These idiots in Congress think driving 55 will save gas and free us from the Arabs. There’s no shortage of gas.” Jake’s face reddened with anger.

“I agree with you.” Sean had seen the tankers riding low on the outer roads of Boston Harbor.

“How you planning to go out West?”

“We’re driving straight from here to the Rockies. I’ve always wanted to see them.”

“They’re beautiful this time of year with the snow up high.” His voice became dreamy, then he said, “You be careful on the road. Nothing the state troopers like better than arresting hippies for speeding.”

“Thanks for the warning. The station wagon should provide good camouflage for a passage through the Midwest.”

“Why are you driving cross country?” Jake stared Pam, who was braless under her paisley dress.

“Going to visit my fiancée.” Pam answered an continued, “He’s an internship at a hospital north of San Francisco and I’ll be working at the same hospital as a nurse in training this summer. Harry and I met in high school.”

“You and he are high school sweethearts like my wife and me.” Jake glanced to at woman in black. “Somerville High School. Class of 1950.”

“What about you?” Jake directed the question to Sean.

“Xaverian 1970. My high school sweetheart and I broke up senior year. I just graduated from BC with a degree in economics.” Sean volunteered this information to change the subject from young love.

“What about a job?” Jake asked, as if he had served in the military without counting days or years.

“I drove taxi to pay for college. I probably worked too many hours past midnight and graduated at the bottom of my class.”

“His diploma read ‘sin laude’.”

"Sin laude?"

"Without honors," Sean answered.

AK had told the same joke at Sean’s graduation party and his father hadn’t appreciated the Long Islander’s humor, yet his mother had beamed with pride after the graduation ceremony. Her mother had not finished grammar school back in the Connemara. Jake felt the same way and said, “Hey you graduated, but what about getting a real job?”

“I’ll be a substitute teacher at South Boston High School come the fall.” Sean had taken no education classes in college, but his older brother’s friend had been elected onto the Boston School Committee and a teaching spot had been a reward for Sean’s having working on the campaign.

“I’d rather face a banzai charge than a room filled with teenagers.”

“Yeah, I feel the same way, so when AK’s friend invited us out to Encinitas, I figured to take one long last beach vacation. 65 is mandatory retirement age for a teacher, so I will be working well into the next century.”

“Yes, they don’t have a twenty and out.”

“No, they don’t.” Jake continued to hold onto the the keys and Sean said, “We appreciate your letting us take your car.”

“And I guess I appreciate your driving it. It has a big engine and guzzles gas, so I’m giving you an extra $100 for the trip, but I want you to fill the tank up every time the gas gauge hits half and use the highest octane from Sunoco.” He handed Sean the keys.

“Yes, sir.” Sean smiled to Pam and AK. They were minutes away from hitting the road. “We’ll see you in six days.”

“Make it seven and you’re in for a treat; the Great Plains, the Rockies, the high deserts, the Sierras, and finally the Golden State of California.” Jake had obviously driven the road more than once.

“And don’t forget the Mississippi.” Pam beamed a smile revealing her happiness to be heading West.

“It’s a big country.”

Jake and Sean signed the matching contracts from the drive-away company and he told Pam, “Make sure they drive my car safe.”

“I’ll keep them between the white lines. You have my word.” The blonde stored her bags in the car and sat in the rear.

“You do that, Pam.” Jake studied her face for a few seconds, as she rolled down the window. “She reminds me of someone.”

“To me she looked like the singer from The Band Named Smith.”

“They had a hit with BABY IT’S YOU.”

“Yes, they did.” Sean was surprised that he knew the group, but Gayle McCormick was very attractive. “See you in Lodi.”

He tossed his canvas bag in the station wagon, sat behind the wheel, started the engine, and reversed out of the driveway. After beeping the horn they headed onto the Jamaica Way, the engine strong and smooth under the hood.

“For a second I didn’t think Jake would give us the car.” AK unfolded the map of the USA.

“Why?”

“Because of your admission to being a traitor.”

“I was telling him the truth, besides Pam had him wrapped around her little finger.”

Sean drove around Jamaica Pond in the slow lane.

“The power of feminine wile.” The blonde smiled at Sean in the rearview mirror.

“Something never to be underestimated.”

“Only a fool would do that.”

Pam breathed in deeply.

“This car even smells new.”

As a child of the suburbs Pam liked things clean.

“And why wouldn’t it be? Jake’s in love with his car.” Sean rolled down his window. The morning smelled of Spring.

“Car love is a man thing. Sometimes it seems like my boyfriend loves his car more than me.” Pam tied a scarf around her head to keep her hair from getting snarled in the wind.

“What kind of car does he drive?” asked AK.

“A 1974 Mustang II.” She sounded disappointed. “It’s red.”

“Nice.”

Sean didn’t mean it, because Ford had dumped a Pinto engine into the classic Mustang to sacrifice power for fuel efficiency. “He drive it cross country?”

“No, he sent the car out on a train and flew to pick it up in San Francisco.”

“That’s one way of crossing the country.” AK rolled his eyes. His Pontiac Firebird’s low gas mileage and bald tires were two reasons for driving Jake’s Torino.

“I wish we were that smart.” Sean didn’t like her fiancée and his choice of a car reinforced his disdain.

“Are you making fun of Harry?”

“Not at all. My VW is on its last legs and I don’t have a girlfriend to love.” Sean steered past the hospitals of the Fenway.

“Funny.” She didn’t mean it.

Sean cringed at stepping on her toes this early on a long trip.

“Wonder what Jake listened to on the radio.” AK pushed a button to hear Wildman Steve cuing up America’s surprising # 1 hit ROCK THE BOAT by The Hues Corporation. His fingers plunked at an imaginary keyboard. For a longhaired white boy from Levittown Long Island he had a lot of soul.

Sean obeyed the traffic lights through Boston and he smiled upon seeing the sun flashing off the Charles River, as they turned off Storrow Drive.

A bearded hitchhiker stood at the Brighton Mass Pike exit. His leather jacket was a patchwork of different colors and his jeans were torn at the knees. Sean veered over to the breakdown lane and braked a hundred feet before the tollbooth.

“What are you doing?” Pam asked with alarm.

“Stopping to give him a ride.”

“He could be an ax murderer.”

“I’ve hitchhiked everywhere in the States and never ran into an ax murderer.”

“There’s always a first time.”

The ragged longhair waited by the rear passenger door. Closer up he was older and rougher, but karma overruled Sean’s apprehension.

“Next week I’ll be hitchhiking down the coast of California. If I don’t pick up hitchhikers now, then I might be stranded in Big Sur for days. Let him in.”

“Okay, but I’m not happy about this.” Pam slid over to the driver’s side. “If he starts anything, I expect you to take care of it.”

“I promise I will.” Sean reached back to unlock the rear door.

“Thanks for stopping. The name is Bill.” A thick Southern accent slithered from his chapped lips. “Where you going?”

“California.” Sean had friends from Dixie. Not all of them were rednecks.

“Damn, I always wanted to see the fuckin’ weirdos out in Cally.”

“Weirdos?” asked AK.

“Yeah, Satanists, drag queen, queers and fags.” Bill was no hippie.

“Where you going?” Sean hoped only a few miles.

“I’m joinin’ a fuckin’ carnival for the summer. We travel from Biloxi to Texas and up into the wheat fields. I specialize in bumper cars. How ‘rubes’ drive them says a lot about them.”

“How so?” AK turned around to face Bill

“Cautious ‘straights’ play it safe. Aggressive ‘squares’ go for fucking head-ons. You look like in-between.”

“Meaning what?”

“In-betweeners get sandwiched by aggressive ‘squares’. They don’t stand a fucking chance in life. That’s you.”

Bill had been in the car for less than two minutes and Sean already regretted having stopped for him.

“Where you coming from?”

“I spent the winter in a fuckin’ loggin’ town up north in Northeast Kingdom.”

“Vermont.” Sean was a native New Englander.

“That’s right. Them damned Yankees don’t give a rat’s ass for crackers like me. Last night I was in a bar on a river. They had a live band.” His hands draped over the seat. The knuckles were scuffed with scabs. “The pansy-assed guitarist wouldn’t play FREEBIRD. Fuckin’ Yankees.”


Pam sighed in disapproval of his favorite adjective.

“Sorry, Sunshine, if I offend you, but I was brought up twenty miles past the fuckin’ wrong side of the tracks.” He slid closer to her, as the radio station segued to HOLLYWOOD SWINGING.

“Why you listening to this fuckin’ disco shine crap?” Bill barked over his shoulder.

“Fucking disco shine crap?” Sean regarded their passenger in the rearview mirror. His face was swollen from hard drinking and well-aimed lefts and rights had flattened his nose.

“Yeah, I hate fuckin’ disco.”

“This isn’t disco.” Kool and the Gang’s song had been a big hit at the 1270, where gay boys loved dancing with straight boys and the deejay spun the best dance records in Boston. “This disco shine crap is climbing the R&B charts and the band is a thousand times more hip than that BAND ON THE RUN bullshit by that loser Paul McCarthy.” “Loser? The Beatles are the fuckin’ best band in the world.”

“Yeah, HEY JUDE sucks.”

“Does not, you Mick sword-swallower.”

“What’d you say?”

“You heard me good, you fuckin’ potato-eatin’ fag.”

Sean seethed behind the wheel.

“I’ll handle this.” AK had a much cooler head and Sean shut his mouth.

“You’ll handle what, Jew Boy? What? You’re not a Jew? I can spot a yid as soon I see their fuckin’ hooknose. Sorry, you can love this music all you want, but queers and niggers play this fuckin’ music and you’re just a sand nigger.” he spat the words fag and nigger with a long-seeded hatred.

“That’s it.” Sean stomped on the brakes and the station wagon swerved to a stop in the breakdown lane The Charles River Bridge was another hundred yards ahead and westbound cars whizzed past switching lanes for 128 North or South.

“Why you stoppin’ here?” Bill menacingly leaned forward.

Sean revved the big V8. The Torino remained in drive and he told Bill, “I’ll tell you why. Jack Kerouac wrote in ON THE ROAD that the biggest challenge for a hitchhiker was proving to the driver that he didn’t make a mistake picking him up and I have to admit I made a mistake picking up you. Now get out of the car.”

“Get out of the car?”

“He really means it.” AK was of the same mind about Bill.

“This isn’t the fuckin’ end of the road.”

“It is for you and us. I don’t like queer bashers or racists.”

“I fuckin’ knew it the second I got in the car.”

“Knew what?”

“That you two were fuckin’ queers.” Bill opened the door and sneered, “Girlie, you know your boyfriends are fudge packers.”

“Even if I was, I wouldn’t fuck you with an elephant’s dick.”

“You fuckin’ fag.” Bill started for Sean, who blocked the drifter’s hands from encircling his neck, as AK leaped out of the car to grab Jim’s leather jacket.

The pianist mightn’t have been a fighter, but he manhandled the roustabout out of the car and flung Bill across the breakdown lane.
The vagrant tumbled down the embankment and AK chucked the his bag after him. A lucky toss hit Bill’s shoulder and he completed his descent down the gully.

“Go.” AK jumped in the front.

Pam shut the back door Sean’s right foot hit the gas. The Torino accelerated from a standing stop.

“Nothing’s broken.” Pam leaned over to examine AK’s knuckles.

“I’m not much of a fighter.”

“Unlike some people we know.”

“I didn’t do anything.”

“No, you just stopped for a crazy ax-murderer. I hope you learned your lesson. He had his hands all over me.”

“Sorry.” Sean turned his head.

Pam’s eyes looked into his.

Her hatred seethed under her skin.

“Let’s pretend it didn’t happen.” She tilted her head to the side. Blonde hair covered one side of her face and the twenty-year old nursing student pushed the strands behind her ears. “No more hitchhikers. This isn’t ON THE ROAD. And one more thing. Could we keep the use of ‘fucking’ to a minimum?”

“Your wish is my command.” Sean gripped the wheel and AK raised the volume of the radio playing James Brown’s PAYBACK PART 2. The Godfather of Soul had a wicked rhythm section.

Pam was right about hitchhikers, but then women were always right and men were always wrong.

They crossed the Charles River and Sean slowed to pick up a ticket at the tollbooth. He thanked the attendant and laid a light foot on the gas.

“Now we’re on our way.”

The traffic on the Interstate rolled at 60. The Torino had a full tank of High Test and easily passed a procession of slower cars.

Five days from now would be his 22th birthday.

Sean stepped on the accelerator. The needle on the speedometer hit 100. The other cars on the road stood still, but none of other cars were going to California and at this speed the Golden State was only thirty hours away.

The Roam of Ghosts


My youngest son talks about phee or ghosts. Fenway is not scared of these spirits, but he doesn't want to go to certain houses on our soi in Sri Racha, since the four-year-old sees birds with voices. His mother thinks that he has the 6th sense. Mam says that she is not frightened by ghosts.

"Not zombies too." Mam weighs 45 kilos. Zombies like fat people. She is mostly skin and bones.

I explained that zombies weren’t ghosts, but flesh-eating monsters.

“I not see them eat Thai people in movie. Maybe not like taste. They like eat farang, not Thais.”

“What about the ghost that eats people’s intestines? Phi Krasy?”

Mam shivered like a ghost entered the room. “Don’t say that word.”

“Phi Krasy?”

MAM didn’t talk to me that night and I slept close to her body, if only to protect her from the dead, because there are lots of ghosts in Thailand and here's a list of thai demons or phi-saat complied by Stacker on http://www.thailandqa.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4792

Phi Krahang - A glowing fusion of a man and a bird dedicated to a diet of offal.

Phi Krasy – this demon lives within a witch’s body. the succubus leaves the sleeping host to consume your intestines. Eyes incapable of blinking and can’t look anyone in the face like a TV newscaaster.

Phi Phrai – The spirit of a woman who has died in childbirth and whose body has been used to make phi thai hong lotion. A sorcerer must hold a candle under the corpse’s chin, and from the resultant melted oil essences are manufactured which drive men mad

Phi Tai Ha – The spirit of a woman who has died of malaria. The ghost will also spread this disease.

Phi Thuk Khun – The substance of a living person which has to be sent out on astral journeys every week, or harm will come to its owner,

Phi Khamod – A spirit in the shape of a red star which, like a Will o’ the Wisp, misleads wanderers.

Phi Nang Tani – A female tree spirit which is essentially beneficent and may fill the alms bowls of itinerant monks.

Phi Pa – A forest spirit. Hunters may leave a piece of the foot, lip, tongue or eyelid of a killed animal to show respect to this spirit.

Phi Poang Khang – A spirit in the shape of a black monkey which likes to suck the big toe of people sleeping in the jungle. It is said to live near salt licks.

Phi Ka – These spirits are inherited through women and can be contagious. The Ka, if not properly treated (with raw eggs) will attack and possibly possess people without the owner’s knowledge. Perhaps understandably, ordinary people are said to be reluctant to marry into Ka clans!

Phi Hai – Hungry, amoral spirits associated with places where people have died an unnatural or violent death. Phi Hai are easily offended, and take every opportunity to possess people. Normally, they can be induced to leave their victim if suitable offerings are made, but on occasions an exorcist has to drive them out. In such cases, when incantations and lustral water prove insufficient, a whip may need to be employed.

Phi Pob – A malicious and very dangerous spirit which manifests itself as a beautiful woman. Phi Pob float through the air because they have no legs or lower body. They generally appear as a length of internal organs and intestines suspended from a strikingly lovely face – therefore, beware beautiful women gliding mysteriously by in long dresses! This type of ghost is probably more feared than any other species in Thailand.

They're coming to get flesh.

More on me than Mam.

And I'm a better meal than Fenway.

By at least 70 kilos.

Zombie Texters Alert

I work at a diamond store on West 57th Street.

This morning I counted the number of people with a cellphone in their hand.

60%.

30% of them had their eyes glued to the screen.

Lost to the world like zombies.

I have an old flip phone.

I can't do anything with it other than text and make calls.

I feel so left out.

Just like Buddha.

War Criminal # 1


SIDESHOW by William Shawcross

When I first visited Cambodia in 1995, I arrived at Phnom Penh’s airport on a brutally sunny day. My sunglasses offered little protection against the glare and I stumbled toward the terminal seeking relief from the heat, then stopped upon seeing a small bus deboarding its young passengers. Every child was dressed in their best clothes. A flight attendant for Bangkok Air informed me that these children were flying to Thailand to be fitted with prosthetic limbs. Hopeful smiles disguised their the agony of missing arms and legs as well as the nervous anticipation of a long journey away from family and friends.

Amputees were everywhere in Cambodia and the mines laid during that long conflict reaped new victims without a vacation. People don’t express anger about Pol Pot, the mines, or the long war, almost as if it had happened to someone else or talking about the horror might bring back those years.

Not me, I’d be out for revenge and my #1 target would be Henry Kissinger, who was portrayed in William Shawcross’ book, SIDESHOW as the principal architect of Cambodia’s descent from a neutral monarchy to the Pentagon’s secret front of the Viet-Nam War.

Prince Sihanouk had kept his country out of the neighboring conflict by skillfully waltzing between the USA and Vietnamese combatants to maintain his dynasty's reign over Cambodia. By 1970 this non-combatant status was unacceptable to the Nixon regime and Kissinger condoned the secret bombing of suspected NVA bases in what was known as the Parrot’s Beak.

Armed incursions followed in 1970 as well as an invasion. Sihanouk was deposed and supported the Khmer Rouge against the Lon Nol dictatorship. This country of rice paddies and flood plains joined Laos and Vietnam in the holocaust. As usual civilians paid the heaviest toll and the Nobel Institute disgraced itself forever by awarding Kissinger with the Peace Prize.

A little know fact is that Senator McCain’s father was the admiral directing the unauthorized bombing of Cambodia. He was offered his son’s release if the bombing stopped. It never did, because the USA doesn’t speak with terrorists, but worst than the bombs was what the Cambodian suffered at the hands of the Khmer Rouge and as of yet none of them have gone on trial.

The Khmer Rouge numbered in the thousands. They lived amongst the people like fish in water as suggested by Mao. Calls for justice are muted by the quiet resignation that righting a wrong was for big people and not poor peasants. No one was asking Kissinger to appear before a judge or the Chinese or the Vietnamese. The frontiers of guilt died at a country’s borders.

Back in 1982 I was working in Hamburg, Germany. A reporter friend took me to the trial of a Nazi. The accused must have been 80 and my friend said, “The Polizei found him hiding in a nursing home.”

Despite the horrors portrayed in SIDESHOW, the Cambodians are a much more forgiving people than others who have suffered through a holocaust, mostly because they have to live with the perpetrators. They love Americans and only a few older people have any idea about what Kissinger or Nixon did to them. The rest live life as best they can without any help from the bombers of 1970.

Along the path to Angkot Wat’s Bayon Temple a quintet of amputees plays traditional music. A tourist stopped to take a photo and the leader of the troupe asked the visitor’s nationality. When the middle-aged voyager replied Texas, the band struck up YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS.

The tourist left a dollar and I left two.

Small reward for such forgiveness.

Forgetting is another matter saved for another time.

# 1 On The Guillotine List

For crime against humanity Henry Kissinger is # 1 on my guillotine list.

It's an impossibility, but I can dream.

Can't I?

Jill St. John


Jill St. John went out with Henry Kissinger.

A short Jewish man with a paunch.

A war criminal responsible for the deaths of millions in South East Asia.

She must have seen something else in Kissinger, who once said, “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”

And someone as evil as Kissinger would know all about power.

Steroid Cops On The Prowl

The Police have wage war on the lower classes for ages. Their provocateurs have instigated riots, their ranks are strengthened by racism, and the bosses reward their murderous attitude toward the underprivileged, however in recent years their brutal reign of terror against the black communities of America have come under scrutiny thanks to cellphone videos capturing the shootings and beatings of unarmed victims from Rodney King in LA to Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri or Tamir Rice in Cleveland or Eric Garner in Staten Island.

"He had a gun."

This line of defense has been blindly accepted by White America, who view the Police as a defense against a black uprising seeking revenge for the centuries of slavery and oppression.

"I felt threatened by the suspect."

The Police's violent nature has been enhanced by Homeland Security training to consider all non-police or non-whites to be a terrorist and the addition of steroid abuse by the Police has given them itchy trigger fingers.

People are shot to be brought down for good and then left in the street to bled out like Akai Gurley in a public housing stairwell after he was killed by an NYPD officer.

NBC news described the shooting as an accident.

And who can forget Amadou Diallo's murder when cocaine-high cops shot off 41 rounds at the unarmed street merchant and hit him 19 times?

His crime?

Nothing.

The demilitarization of the police and a strict ban on steroids are long overdue.

Plus they should no longer responded to 911 emergency medical calls.

They are only trained to kill.

Not serve.

Murderers.

Poor Tamir Rice.

Shot without a chance.

And the killers keep their jobs.

Shame.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Shotgun and Two Jugs of Moonshine

On my 64th birthday I bought a shotgun with enough rounds to clear the streets of New York. Things were getting bad. If I didn't get out of the city now, I was never getting out of here. Thankfully I have two plastic jugs on moonshine. They would help get me close to the Mississippi. After that I was on my own."

The draw of the brokehead on the other side of the Hudson was enough to confirm, "If I can make it to here, I can make it to anywhere."

There will be no cars.

There will be no planes.

My feet will get to the Pacific.

From there I'll get home somehow.

To Siam my family and lao-khao.

In moonshine, more truth.

The opening to my new novel

NO SCREAMS AT THE END

THE SMELL OF MOONSHINE by Peter Nolan Smith

Back in the late 50s my Irish grandmother took my older brother and me for a monthly visit to downtown Boston. We left from her house in Jamaica Plains and rode the trolley into Boylston Street. The El from Forest Hills to Washington Street was quicker, but Nana preferred the trolley. My late grandfather had driven them out of Forest Hills. Once on Washington Street she headed to St. Anthony's Shrine for a ritual of lighting candles. The priest on duty heard her confessions. Her penance was five Hail Mary's and one Our Father. Nana asked if we had been good boys. We nodded yes. At six and seven Frunka and I were too young to have broken any of the serious Commandments, especially since my childhood atheism was a secret to my family and friends.

Next stop was WT Grant for hot dogs and then we went over to the Orpheum Theater.

Nana liked handsome movie stars and she was particularly partial to Robert Mitchum. THUNDER ROAD was a hit in May 1958. The actor played a Korea war veteran running moonshine through the hills of Kentucky. A hot-rodded 1951 Ford, illegal whiskey, hillbilly gangsters, and a rocking title song.

"Don't tell your mother about us seeing this movie." Her accent was pure County Mayo.

"No, Nana."

Neither of us were brought up to be rat finks.

We sat in the darkened theater and heard the rocking title song.

BALLAD OF THUNDER ROAD

And there was thunder, thunder over Thunder Road
Thunder was his engine, and white lightning was his load
There was moonshine, moonshine to quench the Devil’s thirst
The law they swore they’d get him, but the Devil got him first.

We left the theater singing the chorus. Nana warned us not to sing it in front of my mother.

“She doesn’t like whiskey.”

Years later I heard from my aunt that Nana had brewed whiskey and beer during Prohibition. Our Irish blood was true to our devotion to spirits. My juvenile encounters with alcohol were restricted to beer bought by the town bum, Red Tate, and hard liquor siphoned from our parents’ bottles. My next door neighbor and I rationalized this abasement of vodka saved the adults from drunken misbehavior.

Moonshine remained beyond our reach.

Only white trash drank ‘busthead’.

In 1970 I was attending BC. My college friends from the South extolled the virtues of ‘popskull’. Al Wincent and Hank Watson drove taxi together for Checker Cab in Boston. We were hippies, but liked to finish the night’s work waiting for the go-go dancers from the Combat Zone.

One night a blonde from Tennessee invited us to her apartment in the South End. We drank distilled alcohol from a jug. Its strength content was near-lethal, but Al slurred, “It might kick you in the head, but it doesn’t have the light. I can’t explain something you can’t touch unless it’s in your hands. Once you taste it, nothing else will taste like it."

I accepted his explanation and in the summer of 1971 I hitchhiked to Virginia from Boston. The trip took 7 hours from Mass. Ave. to the Tap o Keg in Georgetown. Al was waiting for me. It was almost 1am, but the bars along Wisconsin Avenue stayed open until 4. The southern girls were friendly to long-hairs. A red-headed coed from hill country knew where to get some ‘shine. Her name was Billy.

Al made a call from the payphone and twenty minutes later we met a thick-tongued grit in a alley. He was standing next to a rusted Ford pick-up.

“You ain’t no revenuer?” His accent was Appalachian. He smelled like his burly body had been dipped in medicine. A .38 was in his waist.

“Jimbo, put away that gun. He ain’t no police.” Billy laughed at his accusation, but I understood his concern. The federal government frowned on the sale of untaxed alcohol.

“$15 for three.” Jimbo pulled a tarp off a crate in the flatbed loaded with clear glass jars. Al cracked one open.

“Smells like good shine. Watch.” Al lit a match to the liquid. A blue flame. “Good color. Won’t make you go blind.”

“That’s right.” Jimbo finished the transaction with the speed of a snake needing to take a piss. He drove away with a rumble. The V-8 under the hood was not stock.

“Here’s to ‘shine.” Al chugged a sip. His face went sour and then his body shuddered with spasms to every muscle. “Now that’s ‘shine.”

He handed me the open jar. I offered some to Billy. She waved it away.

“Ladies don’t drink ‘shine. It makes them crazy. You go right ahead.”

I brought the jar to my lips. Mountain Dew wasn’t made for sipping. I pour a good swallow down my gullet. White lightning splashed down my gullet and flashed against my spine.

“Now I understand.”

“I thought you would.” Al toasted my conversion to ‘shine.

Billy accompanied us through the night. She felt responsible for the two of us. The last thing I remembered was singing the chorus to THUNDER ROAD over and over until it faded to a mumbled lullaby. Morning came ten hours too early. I was in a strange bed in a woman’s room.

Al lay on the floor.

“How you feeling?” Billy lay next to me. She was older than us by a few years. 22 to our 19.

“Okay.” My hangover was survivable and I sat up in bed. There were no spins. “Did we drink it all?”

“Every last drop.” She pointed to the empty jar by Al. He looked comfortable in that position. “Your friend made sure of that. You feel like some breakfast.”

“Yeah, that sounds good.”

How about some bacon, fried eggs, and grits."

A southern wake-up dish.

"Sounds even better."

I was south of the Mason-Dixon line. My breath tasted of ‘shine. Billy’s accent was a drawl. Moonshine was good, then again I always knew it was, because like my Nana I liked Robert Mitchum too and he was a good ole boy.

To hear THUNDER ROAD by Robert Mitchum, please go to this URL;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdwUpxkfSJw

THE CALL OF WILD by Peter Nolan Smith


My life was once ruled by the night. I haunted concerts, bars, clubs, and parties from dusk to dawn from the 60s into the 90s. My retirement from the late life occurred around the turn of the century and the birth of my children completed the process in fear of Chris Rock's curse of being the oldest man in the club.

Last evening I came home from work. My plans for the evening were dinner, a little writing, a glass or two of wine, and then hit my to bed read THE SAVAGE FURY, a non-fiction book about racism, dirty cops, and injustice in New York of the 60s and 70s.

This destiny was disrupted by a phone call from the 347 area code.

A New York City cell phone.

I answered the call and a gravelly voice spoke several indecipherable words.

"Who's this?" Only my wife called at his hour and I was a little annoyed, until I deciphered the thick Delta slang. "Homer, that you?"

"Course it's me. Who you think it was?" Homer was a regular from Frank's Lounge. The rest of the crew loved to rib him about his Deep South drawl, but he was the real thing from Philadelphia, Mississippi.

The wrong side of the tracks part of town.

"Had no idea." Homer and I had a bar stool relationship. 660 Fulton was our universe. He drank Beck's. I drank Stella. Our conversation were face-to-face and this was our first conversation on a phone.

"What's up?"

"I got that thing." His voice dropped to a whisper, as if his cellphone was taped by the NSA seeking 'Ssippi separatists.

"Thing?" I was confounded by 'thing'.

"You know, the shine."

"Shine." The syllable referred to the elixir of the South, Moonshine otherwise known as Mountain Dew or Ole Brokehead.

"What else you think I'm talking 'bout?"

Several months ago the bartender's husband brought up several jars from NC. The 'shine was favored with peaches. We drank the demon liquor with reverence and I remarked that I was in the market for some 'shine. Homer had finally answered my need.

"How much?"

"A gallon for $35."

"I'm in." A liter of Scotch cost the same and I was stashing this 'shine for an emergency and judging from the state of the world and the rising cost of everything under the sun a gallon of distilled corn liquor was a good investment.

"I'll be at the bar in an hour." Homer was good to his word and upon my arrival at Frank's he put the gallon of shine in my hands.

"It's plastic." I had been expecting a hillbilly ceramic jug

"Damn, boy, of course it's plastic. Glass breaks." He shook the bottle. "See them bubbles vanish quick. That means the 'shine is strong."

"And if you take a match to it and it burns blue, then it's clean." LA said from his computer. The forty year-old worked around the corner. His second office was the window table at Frank's, which was our living room.

"Don't you be lighting no matches around 'shine in my bar." Tyrone was in charge of the joint. 'Shine was highly flammable and the health departments of the Deep South condemned the safety of drinking 'white lightning'.

"Shine ain't dangerous is you don't mistreat it."

"I seen friends drink themselfs blind, but that was a bad batch. This is a good 'un."

Homer lifted his finger. The Mississippian had earned his respect. He was seventy-five without a gray hair on his head. He leaned over to me and said, "Put that under the bar stool. You can only drink in a bar what the bar serves, unless Tyrone ain't here and then we do what we want."

"What proof is it?"

"I ain't no chemist, but it's probably 95% alcohol."

"95%."

"Maybe more. It ain't no toy. Now do what I say and put it away before we start sippin'."

I planted the jug between my feet. I had intended to go to sleep at a decent hour. I watched basketball until midnight and bid good-night to Homer, Tyrone, and LA.

"You be careful with that 'shine." Homer wagged a finger. "You got work tomorrow."

"I'll just take it out for a test-drive."

"If it burns your throat it's no good, but if it only burns in your stomach than it's the real thing." LA was a Lakers fan. I was die-hard Celtic Green. He was only worried about me, so he'd have someone to ride during the NBA finals.

"Thanks for the warning." My place was a long two blocks away. Four beers ran through my system like liquid Drano, but the cops were patrolling my street for public urinators. At home I relieved myself in the bathroom and then cracked the cap of the 'shine.

The fumes cleared my head.

A single sip quenched my curiosity, but I resisted the siren call of its magic.

The Call of Wild was for the weekend and then it was time to howl at the moon.

Yee-hah.

When is Old Old?

Questions and Answers from an AARP Forum

Q: Where can men over the age of 50 find younger, sexy women who are interested in them?

A: Try a bookstore under fiction.

Q: What can a man do while his wife is going through menopause?

A: Keep busy. If you're handy with tools, you can finish the basement. When you are done you will have a place to live.

Q: Someone has told me that menopause is mentioned in the Bible. Is that true? Where can it be found?

A: Yes. Matthew 14:92: 'And Mary rode Joseph's ass all the way to Egypt ...'

Q: How can you increase the heart rate of your 50+ year old husband?

A: Tell him you're pregnant.

Q: How can you avoid that terrible curse of the elderly wrinkles?

A: Take off your glasses..

Q: Seriously! What can I do for these crow's feet and all those wrinkles on my face?

A: Go braless... It will usually pull them out.

Q: Why should 50+ year old people use valet parking?

A: Valets don't forget where they park your car.

Q: Is it common for 50+ year olds to have problems with short term memory storage?

A: Storing memory is not a problem, retrieving it is a problem.

Q: As people age, do they sleep more soundly?

A: Yes, but usually in the afternoon.

Q: Where should 50+ year olds look for eye glasses?

A: On their foreheads.

Q: What is the most common remark made by 50+ year olds when they enter antique stores?

A: 'Gosh, I remember these.

This came from my retired brother-in-law. He took over my position as leading leisurologist after I resumed work.

Curses.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Penal Retirement In Norway

America offers no refuge for the aged.

State governments have turned their back on the old and the Federal agencies neglect the needy.

For years my retirement plan had been to fly to Norway and rob a bank.

The Norwegian courts would sentence me to a long prison term.

Conditions in Norway's prisons offered pleasant accommadations in comparison to the hellholes of the USA; Rikers, Angola, McCallen et al. Cells had televisions, computers, integral showers and sanitation, however the recent influx of refugees have overloaded the Nordic jails and the Norwegian government has been deporting thousands of prisoners to their native lands, so now there's no room for me in prison.

Curses.

I was so looking forward to my incarceration and pray for the day when bank robbers will be treated as guests of Norway.

Otherwise I'll be living on the street.

It's the place to be.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

THE LAST GO-GO BOY by Peter Nolan Smith

Americans tend to judge the nation’s fiscal well-being by the rise and fall of the Dow Jones Index, even though Wall Street’s accumulation of wealth has destroyed the spending power of the middle-class. The January bonuses for the hedge fund managers will not save a single consumer buried under debt, after which the corporations will trim benefits and wages to the bone to maximize profit.

Few employees protested the low pay in fear of losing their jobs with good reason.

The nation's economy is in the shitter and I asked myself what jobs are available for a 64 year-old man.

Very few was the answer.

Years before I had been lucky that Manny reserved a place for me on West 47th Street, but this year has been the exception. Times were that tough in the Diamond District.

Early in December I flogged a gay writer's family heirlooms to a gold dealer in another exchange.

Later that evening at his East Village apartment I paid Bruce $4000 minus my commission.

"Now I can pay my health insurance," the heavyweight writer sighed with gratitude and invited me an Asian fusion restaurant on Avenue B. Every seat was crammed with young people enjoying the approach of the holidays.

“I never see anyone my age on the subway.” These go-getters were my competition for a subway seat in the morning. Thankfully none of them were ruthless enough to throw me under the train.

“Most men our age are retired.” Bruce's finger darted over the menu. His thinning hair was bleached blonde, so he resembled an aging beach bum. The waiter paid attention to his every word like he was a seeing-eye dog. Bruce was generous with young men.

"Or dead."

“You're not dying anytime soon."

"I'm too healthy for that." My health care plan was never get sick.

"Do you have a retirement plan?” Bruce was a world-known novelist. Critics had recognized his genius. Sales for his last book totaled a little over 2000, but he owned his apartment and in another year he would be old enough to receive Social Security.

“When I hit 70, I'm flying to Norway." I ordered oysters with seaweed noodles, plus a glass of wine. The thin waiter had to be 35 years younger than me. He wouldn't think of a 60 year-old man as middle-aged, but neo-senior.

"Norway?"

"Yes, I'm going to rob a bank with a gun, then they'll sentence me to 20 to life for armed robbery. I've seen photos of Norway's prison for violent offenders. The rooms have computers and are furnished by IKEA.

“Ten years from now the Norwegian prison officials will have instituted euthanasia for the elderly, so robbing a bank in Oslo is not really an option."

"You have any other suggestions?" Supporting my family in Thailand had wiped out my savings.

"Ever think about taking steel pole lessons from your stripper friends?"

"What for?"

"If you lost ten pounds, you could work as a go-go boy at a queer retirement home.” Bruce’s biting wit was best suited to attack rather than self-deprecation.

“Honey, those old wrinklies aren’t so particular about the weight. They like the young flesh.”

“A scary thought.” Just yesterday my Thai wife reminded me over the phone that I wasn’t 17 anymore. Mam was 28 and my son was four years-old. I couldn’t quit working until I was 78.

"Those old fags want someone young.” Bruce had written a book on the rough trade in Times Square. His tricks had called him Papi. None of them had been under 20 and he never sunk under 250 pounds.

“Those old queens in the nursing homes haven't seen anyone young as you in decades. You could charge the homes $100 a visit, which has to be more beneficial for the old geezers than any other medicine. And you could do lap dances.”

“Thanks for the idea, but I'd rather rob a cradle than a grave."

"Times change and people like you and me have to change with them, plus graves are richer pickings than a cradle. Hell, you could franchise the go-go scheme in Florida. How many retirement homes you think are in the Sunshine State? Thousands? There has to be a demand for middle-aged men from the elderly queers.”

“Supply and demand.”

“And who knows? You might be able to sex them up for a little more money on the side.” Bruce caressed the waiter’s behind. He was a regular here and the waiter smiled with the anticipation of good tip. Bruce liked to pay for sex even if it was merely a grope.

“No way. I barely wanted to have sex with myself let alone with someone else.”

“Why, because you think you're too good to have sex with someone older than you like me.” He frowned at this unintended insult. “What about the woman you had sex with in Palm Beach?"

"Helen?" The Palm Beach heiress had been unnaturally blonde and fashionably thin. We had been introduced by my longtime mistress at the Breakers four summers ago.

"That's the one. You said she was over 70.”

“Closing on 75.” Helen published several magazines extolling the good life on the Gold Coast. She had invited me to her house on Lake Worth. The fragrance of her garden had overwhelmed by the reefer she smoked in a diamond encrusted hand.
We spoke about sex. Helen knew the world; past, present, and future.

"She didn't seem old." The elegant septuagenarian spent part of the year at a Swiss clinic rejuvenating her aged body in Botox like it was fondue cheese.

"She had your number." Bruce was fascinated by my sordid encounter.

“How?"

"As I remember it, she said that she hadn’t had cock in her mouth in ten years. She had begged for it and you gave it to her like you were remaking SUNSET BOULEVARD.”

“It was a mercy mission.” I did look a little like William Holden in the shadows of her bedroom.

With the lights off, the curtains billowing with the evening breeze, and Helen wearing sheer lingerie and satin high heels, I imagined that she was Paris Hilton in the year 2040. On her knees the mirage had performed fellatio like she was entering the Porno Hall of Fame. Thankfully she had never said, “Ready for my scene, Mr. DeMille.”

Maybe the first time, but what about the second time?” Bruce sat back, as the waiter delivered our appetizers; fried calamari for him and raw bluepoints for me. “Gore Vidal said about orgies that once is experimentation, but twice is perversity.”

“The second time was because I was drunk.” Two bottles of wine and a joint had loosened by inhibitions and she had had her way with me. “There was no third time.”

"Only because you saw her with another man at the Chesterfield.”

“She was in the Leopard Lounge.” The other man had been in his late 60s. He had once been an Elvis impersonator. I felt cheap.

“And you heard her use that ‘haven’t tasted cock' line on him, so don’t tell me you can’t go-go boy anymore. We all have a price.”

“I’d rather rob a bank in Norway.” I sucked down an oyster tasting of the Atlantic.

“And end up a stick boy in a Viking prison.” Bruce was enjoying himself. "You don't look like you'd like being a bottom."

"Never." I never would be a bottom, except with my wife Mam. She got off better that way.

“You do what you have to do to survive. Believe me. I know.” He had taught creative writing at a Wyoming dude ranch college two years ago. He was lucky to have escaped the high plains without being charged for perversion.

“I know you do.” Bruce was forever broke same as everyone in America, but maybe Bruce was right and the only one way of finding out was by a repeat performance in Palm Beach.

We clinked glasses.

“To go-go boys.”

“And Florida.” I felt lucky as would anyone with high season only a month away from December.

THE EVERGLADES: RIVER OF GRASS by Marjory Stoneman Douglas

The Everglades: River of Grass by Marjory Stoneman Douglas was published the same year as the formal opening of Everglades National Park. Her writing began as a small article on the Miami River.

"About an inch long," she supposedly said of the piece.

Her book The River of Grass covered the historical and natural aspects of the Everglades and prosed that that the vast wetlands were not a swamp but a broad grassy river following into the Bay of the Ten Thousand Island. Anyone who has sat in a canoe surrounded by the enormity of the Everglades would have to agree.

They go on forever.

No matter man has wrought.

And I love THE EVERGLADES: RIVER OF GRASS by Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

Florida's Ten Thousand Islands

In the winter of 1975 I hitchhiked west from Miami Beach along Alligator Alley. Rides weren't easy for the first thirty miles. Finally a fruit farmer from Naples gave me a ride through the southern tip of the Everglades. Little, but swamp lined the four-lane highway. No snow birds from the Northeast or Canada wanted to live in these mosquito-ridden boondocks. The only signs of civilization were the time-battered gas stations and Indian trading posts promoting alligator wrestling and cold beer. The farmer left me at Everglade City. A sign advertised the Gun and Rod Club. The farmer had mentioned it was worth a visit. I stuck out my thumb. A hot rod took me there.

"Everglade City looks a little beat up."

There was a wide space between houses and buildings.

"We keep gettin' hit by hurricanes. They blow everything' into the Gulf and the Gulf don't give back what it takes." The driver introduced himself as 'Indee'.

"Lands seems high here."

To the south of town mounds rose from the brackish water.

"All old oyster bars. Indians must of ate billions of them. They wuz here before us and my family been here since right after the Seminole War. Number 2 that is." The twenty-two year old driver was the epitome of a backwoods greaser; slick hair, greasy jeans, rawhide muscles under the stained Allman Bros. teeshirt, but he had all his teeth and they gleamed like sun-bleached bones. Mine were more yellow.

"Must almost seem like home."

"Don't know nowhere else. Just this road and that." He pointed to the Everglades. "Fishin', hunting', drinkin', whatever."

Whatever encompassed a lot of territory in the Ten Thousands Islands.

The inhabited swamps were ideal for smuggling.

Planes and boats loaded with cocaine and reefer protected by crackers used to talking to themselves.

"I was thinking of a canoe trip."

"Good, I got one. We'll go into the 'glades."

"I don't have much money." I was heading for San Diego.

"$10/half day. You'll never see anything' like it and you're lucky it's cold, otherwise the skitters would suck your body dry."

"Okay." I had read Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' THE YEARLING.

Two feet off the highway was the setting of her novel about a young boy tragically adopting a deer in Florida.

"I'll see you at 6. Sunrise and the swamps."

The hot rod burned rubber on the dirt and I entered the slightly-musty hunting lodge. It was golden cedar from floor to ceiling. I thought it was out of my price range, but was pleased to hear it was $20. I had to sleep someplace and the motels in Everglade City were still recovering from the last hurricane.

After a lovely fish dinner and some cheap wine I stood on the veranda and stare out of the darkness of the swamp.

No one lived there.

I went to sleep dreaming about my canoe ride and woke at 5:50am, but Indee was a no-show.

I walked to the observatory at the road's end. A deep green covered the world of very little dry land. White herons flew with the dawn. A flock of flamingos ferreted through the low tide mud. Bacon drifted on the light air. Breakfast was ready at the Lodge and bacon and eggs was as good as way to start a morning that would be followed by canoeing in the Everglades.

I turned around and walked across the trim lawn.

Today wasn't a day for the Call or the Wild.

Enemies of the State - The Fanjuls of Florida

The Seminoles called the vast tropical wetlands of Southern Florida Pa-hay-okee. The swamps atop the limestone plateau have been inhabited from 10,000BC, however the recent predation of Man threatened to destroy the Grassy Waters.

Green algae covers the waterways and coastal shores with a thick slime.

The 2013 outbreak was bad.

The 2016 bloom has been worse.

The Everglades have suffered with the expansion of housing into the once impenetrable swamps. The State of Florida receives about $700 million in taxes from real estate transactions and by law a third of this sum was earmarked for the rehabilitation of Everglades, instead the Republican government has diverted the funds to pay off budget shortcomings, as explained by wikipedia in 2008, the State of Florida agreed to buy U.S. Sugar and all of its manufacturing and production facilities for an estimated $1.7 billion. Florida officials indicated they intended to allow U.S. Sugar to process for six more years before dismissing its employees and dismantling the plant. The area, which includes 187,000 acres (760 km2) of land, would then be rehabilitated and water flow from Lake Okeechobee would be restored. In November 2008, the agreement was revised to offer $1.34 billion, allowing sugar mills in Clewiston to remain in production. Critics of the revised plan say that it ensures sugarcane will be grown in the Everglades for at least another decade. Further research is being done to address the continuing production of sugarcane in the Everglades to minimize phosphorus runoff.

Easy to blame the GOP, however the main criminals are the Fanjuls Brothers, whose sugar plantations cover a good percentage of the wetlands, leading to massive runoff of fertilizer during the rainy season. The Cuban-born brothers are big spenders on politics, influencing state and federal legislatures to support their exploitation of the Everglades and their workers.

They have also bought the Press.

The Fanjuls are never mentioned in articles about the green slime.

But what else can you expect for capitalism?

The truth.

Which is that 'we' also are part of the problem with our lawns, cars, and swimming pools and shit.

Despite all our damage the Everglades remain magic.

Nothing better than a canoe trip in them either.

Baby gators, birds, and turtles.

I love them.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Stonehenge in Bangkok

New Englanders are relatively starved of archaeological ruins other than frost-heaved stone walls from vanished farms snaking through the woods or the smooth walls of the Quincy Quarries. Not one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was on our side of the Atlantic nor from Africa or the Far East graced list either thanks to the Eurocentricity of the 19th Century's tomb raiders.

My seven wonders of the world are the Potala in Lhasa, the funereal Ghats of Varanasi, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya, the Chartes Cathedral, the moon-lit combs atop Tikal's pyramids in Guatemala, and Sophie's Bar in Phnom Penh.

Antiquity and size are not prerequisites for my wonders, however Stonehenge certainly qualifies since archaeologists have uncovered a vast network of Neolithic villages on Salisbury Plain in England suggesting that the earthworks were part of a much larger religious complex.

British authorities have roped off the stone circle from the public.

Previously you could drive up to them in the middle of the night to party with drunken lager louts around a fire. Football fans probably attempted a form of cow tipping with the 4000 year-old monoliths, forcing the squares to ban any contact with the great Circle.

Bangkok has its own Stonehenge in the Hopewell Project.

The government spent billions of baht for a commuter rail system.

Not one length of rail was laid on the concrete pillars.

Hundreds of years from now future inhabitants of the world will wonder about the Hopewell Project's purpose.

Same as anyone driving past them today.

Was it a road to nowhere or Thailand's attempt to rival Stonehenge.

I've been to Stonehenge once.

With my friend AJ on a Neolithic tour of the Salisbury Plain.

Avesbury Circle, Stonehenge, and then the Silbury Mound.

Archaeologists have argued over whether the Druids, ETs, the devil, Merlin, or drunks with time on their hands built the massive monuments. As a descendant of Celtic blood I prefer the Druid theory.

On my visit I intended to strip naked in the circles, however both the Avesbury and Stonehenge were swarmed by tourists.

The Silbury Hill rises rises over the treeless plain. No one else was on the mound. AJ and I climbed 130 feet to the top, where my friend explained the hill had been built by thousands of workers over scores of years in different periods dating back over 4000 years.

It was older than Stonehenge, although not as old as than me even on mornings after I've drunk a lot.

The day was sunny.

AJ and I stripped naked.

We vowed not to believe in gods.

Neither of us avoided looking at the other's body, because straight men shouldn't be naked together within arm's length.

We faced the four points of the compass.

AJ had a bigger belly than me.

He glanced below my waist.

I turned to the north without a comment.

I have no problem with betting naked with gay men. They have no interest in my body. My penis is never big in public, which is why Michelangelo's DAVID should also be a Wonder of the World.

Firstly no one talks about the nudity or that the giant statue's penis is as as small as mine after a cold bath.

And there's no chance I'll get naked at the Hopewell ruins, so I'll have to wait another 4000 years until they deserve such an expose. Thankfully by that time I will be dust in the wind and any thoughts about naked men atop the Silbury Hill will be forgotten too.

sic transit gloria.

Autumn Stonehenge

The ancient Druids studied the movements of the Cosmos for millenium before the construction of Stonehenge. The earliest potholes date back to 8000 BC. The designs were laid out to measure the passage of the Sun.

Two days ago the sun shone between the two autumn stones as it had thousands of times marking the equinox..

The new season has begun.

Autumn.

The season of changing colors.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Warfare In America

President George W Bush rightfully understood that the attacks on 9/11 were acts of war, but the hijackers were not soldiers from a foreign land. The nineteen 'terrorists' had been organized by a shadowy cabal affiliated with Osama Bin Ladin's Al-Qaada into four separate cells, each with a different target. After the collapse of the Twin Towers, the destruction of the Pentagon and downing of the United flight into a Pennsylvania field, few Americans asked why were attacked. In fact the effect existed without cause other than the standard 'they hate us'.

If that was the case, why didn't anyone ask why?

Because we eat bacon, which is 'haram' or forbidden by the Koran?

No.

Because our women wear short skirts?

No.

In truth it didn't matter why as long as the USA exacted revenge from an Islamic victim or victims.

No Iraqis or Afghanis on the jets of 9/11 didn't prevent us from going to war with those distant countries

That nineteen of the hijackers were Saudi was no 'casus belli' for the Pentagon, although the American media backed up the war with red, white, and blue dripping from the headlines and this morning Fox News, CNN, the Daily News, the New York Post, and hundreds of news outlets whipped up the sheep into a frenzy about how the protests against the police killing unarmed black men and white men and anyone else led to a mad man's shooting of two NYPD officers.

The Head of the NYPD Union SkullBreakers 109 accused the Mayor of inciting his communist cohorts to acts of retaliation. Ex-police commissioners were fast to protect their blue bloods and the NYPD union leaders vowed to not make arrests during the coming days. In other words they are threatening to go on strike and as much as I support the unions I would cross the picket line to be a cop during the crisis.

Hire some old Black Panthers too.

The tragedy of this shooting is that no one is asking why the gunman could get a gun from a Georgia pawn shop.

Georgia has no check-up of gun purchases.

Secondly why don't cop cars have bullet proof glass?

Because cities are too cheap to protect the boys in blue.

And lastly the Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sean Bell, and Darren Wilson did not kill the two cops. the protestors didn't not shoot Officers Liu and Ramos> A crazy man pulled the trigger.

All I want is power for the people.

White, black, yellow, coffee et al, but as Chairman Mao said, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

And Mao knew what he was saying.

I'm With Angela Davis Too

Angela Davis was the cover girl for the Black Panthers.

She was and remains a true revolutionary.

Now more than ever.

But she was never alone.

They fed the people.

They spoke about freedom.

They fought the pigs.

RESIST.

In the words of Bobby Sands IRA MP for Belfast - "Our revenge will be the laughter of our children."

He fought the Crown with hunger.