Category Archives: Humor

I Went to Flagstaff for a Commencement

What is explained can be denied but what is felt cannot be forgotten.

Charles Bowden

What do you say, at age 61, as I am rubbernecking the constant superficial, seedy, consumer-caked world now as someone considered a major failure – a few dozens jobs, mostly sacked from, and a few dozen careers, and, I am slogging away at a homeless shelter trying to save myself from the constrictor of capitalism, that strangulating system that gets us all complicit in the crime, making us all little Eichmann’s in this murder incorporated killing, complicit in the hyper exploitation of man, woman, child, ecosystem?

Consumerism as a psychological wedge to allow for the synchronized event horizon of finance-government-surveillance-media-military to work on the masses as a suffocating fog pumped out across the globe by an elite bent on total dominance.

We can jump onto the global stage and see the battering truth:

Diagnosing the Empire with Sadistic Personality Disorder (SPD)

Western culture is clearly obsessed with rules, guilt, submissiveness and punishment.

By now it is clear that the West is the least free society on Earth. In North America and Europe, almost everyone is under constant scrutiny: people are spied on, observed, their personal information is being continually extracted, and the surveillance cameras are used indiscriminately.

Life is synchronized and managed. There are hardly any surprises.

One can sleep with whomever he or she wishes (as long as it is done within the ‘allowed protocol’).

Homosexuality and bisexuality are allowed. But that is about all; that is how far ‘freedom’ usually stretches.
Rebellion is not only discouraged, it is fought against, brutally. For the tiniest misdemeanors or errors, people end up behind bars. As a result, the U.S. has more prisoners per capita than any other country on Earth, except the Seychelles.

And as a further result, almost all conversations, but especially public discourses, are now being controlled by so-called ‘political correctness’ and its variants.

But back to the culture of fear and punishment.

Look at the headlines of the Western newspapers. For example, New York Times from April 12. 2018: Punishment of Syria may be harsher this time.

We are so used to such perverse language used by the Empire that it hardly strikes us as twisted, bizarre, pathological.

It stinks of some sadomasochistic cartoon, or of a stereotypical image of an atrocious English teacher holding a ruler over a pupil’s extended hands, shouting, “Shall I?”

Carl Gustav Jung described Western culture, on several occasions, as a “pathology”. He did it particularly after WWII, but he mentioned that the West had been committing terrible crimes in all parts of the world, for centuries. That is most likely why the Western mainstream psychiatrists and psychologists have been glorifying the ego-centric and generally apolitical Sigmund Freud, while ignoring, even defaming, Carl Gustav Jung.

The reality is, though, most of the revolutionaries like myself in this cesspool of capitalism have to slog ahead in the belly of the beast, without the rarefied air of being an international journalist like Andre Vltchek. The reality is most of us know that when 11 million babies under age two die of treatable maladies each year, or when bodies are shot through and extremities are shattered by the sadism that is the Gestapo-Apartheid “state/religion” of Israel, we push through the fog of rapacious consumerism and consort with our deep empathy for our brothers and sisters under the thumb of despotic regimes like USA, Russia, Israel, China, India, et al.

Because, now, no matter the level of melanin in a collective people’s skin or the desperation of the people, the globe has been infected by a virus called Capitalism-Finance-Unfettered Exploitation.

Exploitation is a pretty tame word for what I am hinting at: destruction, annihilation, extinction. As is the case with me, a rant percolates from the bowels of the commonness of my life, the microcosm of traveling from point A to point B. What happens in Vegas happens in New York City. What unfolds in little town USA is unfolding in San Fran.

Whatever it is, here I was, back in Arizona, first Phoenix, the cancer, the cancer, and then up to Flagstaff, oh that place before white man invasion sacred healing cloud island peaks. Arizona, as I’ve written extensively, is where I cut my teeth as a small town newspaper reporter, learned directly the value of radical conservation, became a brother in arms for Chicanoism, tried my hand at diving and helping bring across refugees of the proxy wars of USA in Guatemala, etc.

I’ve written poetically about the place – here and there, and have inserted the value of those formative years into almost everything I’ve written, taught, done in my 48 years since coming to Arizona young, 13:

Wrestling the Blind, Chasing Apache Horses, and Unpacking the Vietnam War – (September 4th, 2013) or page 12, Cirque

But this most recent trip, a weekend, I went to celebrate my 22-year-old niece’s matriculation, with bachelor of science degree, from Northern Arizona University. The old days when I was young, 19, and a journalist, and then, activist, like quicksilver in my brain, taking over not only my senses, but memory. Many of us saw the writing on the wall 40 and 50 years ago – this barely inhabitable place (a place of migration for Papago and other indigenous people’s), with a blitzkrieg of outsiders plowing the desert and eventually corralling the Colorado River into brackish canals to feed the malls and mayhem of winter baseball leagues and out of control military complex tax cheats. Three state universities, and then this new cheater, University of Phoenix . . . headquarters for the bizarre U-Haul . . . dry mothball arenas for the USA’s killing flying machines. Odd as hell place, with the likes of Edward Abbey running amok. I hear now Noam Chomsky is visiting prof at U of A in Tucson.

Humans build their societies around consumption of fossil water long buried in the earth, and these societies, being based on temporary resources, face the problem of being temporary themselves.

— Charles Bowden, Killing Hidden Waters

I kind of think of Charles Bowden from time to time, who was a reporter and novelist living in Tucson and covering the Southwest and northern Mexico. When I go into the desert, after looking at some shell of a rag that we now call daily newspapers, I feel this guy’s haunting – now dead going on four years:

When he got a hold of a story, he wouldn’t let it go, said former Citizen copy editor Judy Carlock. He had a very generous heart and a lot of compassion … he didn’t mince words.

The way I was trained up, reporters went toward the story, just as firemen rush toward the fire. It is a duty.

He was compelled to work; he had to write … in vivid imagery and concrete detail, Carlock said. Every Monday morning, the (Citizen) city desk would come in to find a long, brilliant masterpiece they had to find room for in the paper.

He lived at full tilt, fueled on caffeine and nicotine, said Carlock. Bowden had stopped smoking about two years ago, Carroll said, and was lifting weights, working on that second wind in his life.

He was no saint, but he was true to himself, said Carlock. I think he secretly relished being thought of as a rogue.

This amazing ecosystem, with syncopated Native American tribes and amazing Mexican communities turned into a wheezing series of six-lane freeways and spiraling communities for the infirm, the emphysemic and the insane.

It’s really difficult to find a place to start.  Sedona and the vortices? Flagstaff, from one-horse town to bedroom (climatically cooler but fire prone) to Phoenix? The 365 days a year fire pit danger, as heat comes earlier, rain disappears quicker, and the landscape is peppered with suburbia’s faux Mexican-Italian-Spanish-Greek designs as the ubiquitous 20-mile caravans of cars and trucks push the hot tunnel of air which is Arizona?

As a former newspaperman, I am compelled to read the dwindling local news anywhere I go, even five and dime advertising things, or corny local monthlies, and so just a few minutes with the Arizona Republic show me where the mass delusion, mass magical thinking and mass ignorance get set in. But, compelling, the stories slugs or ledes:

• Border Patrol punk who murdered 16 year old for throwing rocks, and the jury convicting him of involuntary manslaughter gets hung

• Animal abuse claims against the Havasupal Tribe’s section of the Grand Canyon – you know, animal lovers saying the pack animals used to ferry the tourists into the Canyon are treated like shit (abused) . . . . oh those do-gooders, just how many of them are animal-free product users . . . how many of them know how every stitch of clothing, every chemical smeared in their lives, every product of the modern age are placed in their realm with millions of rats, mice, dogs, and apes murdered for that consumer entitlement . . . ?

• PK12 teachers on the march for wage increases, class size reductions, more counselors, more money for staff and support personnel . . . and yet many of these Arizona scallywags want them to eat shit

• Flagstaff keeping homeless people from living – camping – on public property through ordinances from hell

• A great female representative from the state wanting dreamer children – undocumented – out of the Copper State, more of the same Trump et al giving children the boot while Trump’s monster wife calls for no more bullying

• God in the classroom, a civics literacy bill, more report cards for schools (to fail them so the charter schools get more easy pickings), and this drive for charter (for- profit, hedge-fund lined) schools to take from the public coffers and teach absolute shit

• More gigantic housing developments planned in the Sonora desert without any water delivery plans, without any water!

• Raytheon Missile Systems breaks ground on an expansion of its Tucson facility – 2,000 more Little Eichmann’s added to the already large 10,000 workers designing, testing, manufacturing and delivering via Amazon dot Com killing systems to include Tomahawk missiles and this new Stormbreaker small diameter bomb

• Mexican-American female columnist for the Arizona Republic newspaper bashing the possibility of socialist former Mexico City mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador making it as president of Mexico . . . “he’s a Hugo Chavez-style authoritarian tropical messiah who would turn Mexico into another Venezuela”

• The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community building lavish baseball stadiums for professional teams like the Diamondbacks

• HBO plans to debut John McCain documentary on Memorial Day – “John McCain; For Whom the Bell Tolls”

• soda or sugar taxes outlawed in the state
• non-English contracts will be voided in all insurance transactions, and beyond

• Abortion patient questions are now mandatory

Oh the compounding blasphemy. If this were a thematic essay, well, here are the components:

• Wanton excess in the state, with brand new, freshly washed expensive SUV’s, power cars, pick-up trucks

• Endless strip mall after strip mall and faux Spanish colonial kitsch and after faux Hacienda kitsch which propels the dribbling consumerism of 24/7 Superstore Grand Openings

• Zero tribute to the peoples of the real Arizona – Chemehuevi, Chiricahua, Cocopa, or Xawitt Kwñchawaay, Dilzhe’e, Apache, Havasupai, or Havasuw `Baaja, Hopi, Hualapai, or Hwal `Baaja, Maricopa, or Piipaash, Mohave, or Hamakhava (also spelled Mojave), Navajo, or Diné, Southern Paiute, Akimel O’odham, formerly Pima, Quechan, or Yuma, San Carlos Apache, Nné – Coyotero, or Western Apaches, Tewa, Tohono O’odham, formerly Papago, Southern Ute, White Mountain Apache, Ndé – Coyotero or Western Apaches, Xalychidom, or Halchidhoma, Yaqui people, Yavapai, or Kwevkepaya, Wipukepa, Tolkepaya, and Yavepé (four separate groups), Zuni, or A:shiwi

• Redneck clashing with wimpy liberal clashing with snowbird clashing with old Mafia clashing with Hispanic-Latino/a clashing with senior citizen Trump lover clashing with new money clashing with the Raytheon mentality clashing with the endless cancer spur that is Arizona

• My old stomping grounds, now despoiled by in-ground pools, putrid man-made lakes, endless track homes like carcinoma, endless twisting cul-de-sacs where minds end up mushed up in mojito-ville

• Hatred, man, the Trump way, McCain way, Goldwater, putrid former Maricopa County Sheriff and Minutemen militias on the border, and the Gestapo Border Patrol and the rot which is a state in the union emblematic of red state loafers and the hard-working people like those teachers

• A college, NAU, broken by a president who cheats faculty and luxuriates in the money thrown her way and the attention the local yokels give her

• Students fighting this female NAU president Rita Cheng who wants cuts to all sorts of important programs (in the liberal arts) so she can court those wanton criminal corporations and alt-right Koch Brothers

• The graduation I went to was embarrassing, dead, nothing in the way of speakers, controlled by this president, and was ten times more lackluster than a Missouri Synod Lutheran Sunday meeting

• Peter Principle of incompetents rising, as in the case of Rita Cheng and thousands of movers and shakers (sic) that run the state

• The inarticulate middle and upper classes of society exemplified in Arizona

• A state with more sun per year with nary a solar panel in sight

• The rotten belief that infinite growth, infinite in-migration, infinite giveaways to the corporate leeches will lead to prosperity

• The Caucasian and other Whitey people’s insipid Trader Joe’s-Dutch Brothers-Bed, Bath and Beyond systematic lobotomizing of the masses

• Sprayed-on lawns and Astroturf backyards scattered around the desiccating real lawns throughout the entire Phoenix and Tucson metroplexes

• Daily reminder of the old adage of “who the fuck thought white people and their poodles settling in Arizona made any sense”

• Like anywhere else, Arizona has no worthy newspaper of note anymore, and the news is not to be seen in the light of day

I’ve always said, that one slice of life is a microcosm, that splice onto one of the big fat four-hour reels of 70 mm movie film depicting the universality in the absurdity of being Homo Sapiens under the thumb of money changers, militaries and grand exploiters. Example: One shit-hole sugar cane fucker and his sibling (Fanjul Brothers) and his fucking family destroying the lives of thousands of slaves, upsetting the natural world, and sending the sweet sting of death to millions. One fucking family owning billions of dollars and billions of people and draining the Everglades. Something along those lines – just look at history of rubber, gold, oil, wood, fruit, minerals, raw labor, animals.

This arithmetic is as clear as the day is long, in a world where this time, the so-called now time, is bereft of no logic, no ethics, no depth of knowledge, no truth except the rubbery huckster kind. While NAU had zero commencement speakers for all five graduation sequences, we now have to read about a world of Rex Tillerson — that son of a bitch lying, thieving, fossil fuel thug — now at a graduation for a military institute (what the fuck are we still living in a world of military academies – sic).

You can’t make this shit up in a work of fiction:

In a commencement speech at Virginia Military Institute, the camera-shy former secretary of state gave his most public remarks since President Donald Trump ousted him from the White House in March.

“As I reflect upon the state of American democracy,” he told the Class of 2018, “I observe a growing crisis in ethics and integrity.”

Tillerson’s emphasis on integrity echoed his parting words to colleagues at the State Department in March. Then he went even further:

“If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.”

Tillerson’s time in Trump administration was marked by tension. He reportedly called the president a “moron” eight months before he was fired and replaced by then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

But the oil industry veteran has yet to directly criticize Trump. His speech, which began with a discussion on the globalized economy and stressed “the value of friends and allies,” is the closest he has come to attacking Trump’s rhetoric and “America First” policy.

This from the moronic Huffington Post. Alternative realities, sure, Mister Exxon. The reality of propping up dictators, of hiring murderers to take over land, of stealing oil from any number of countries, and the complete environmental despoilment created by the great Exxon-Shell-Chevron-You-Name-It soul and soil eating machine. Imagine, this guy’s a thug, Tillerson, who has no concept of realities, except his thuggery, and a billionaire mentality. Yeah, Exxon and the alternative reality of climate change and the bullshit destruction of the earth from fossil fuel burning. What great record this keynote speaker Tillerson has, and, in the end, he’s as ballless as the lot of the millionaires\billionaires, afraid to criticize the deviant, stupid and reckless Trump.

Where do these people come from? Which DNA-warped womb do they exit from? Which felonious family raised them? Which two-bit schools educated them? Which insane people hire them and then promote them?

A two-day trip back to Arizona is like a two-year LSD trip, floating around with mushrooms on the tongue daily, as bottles of mescal run through the veins. I am telling you, when you get out of your routine – I am a social worker in a veterans’ homeless shelter, where the word “chaos” describes the totality of my time there, daily – and this rushing hot wave of air sucks the oxygen from the lungs for a minute or two. Arizona is California is Oregon is Washington . . . .

And exactly what is the US of A, with so much junk, so much materialistic droning, and yet, poverty is growing, big time, and the fear of the future in terms of no one achieving affordable housing and clean public transportation and free education and decent jobs is like us all whistling as we walk past the graveyard which is Western Capitalism.

Arizona, like any other state, is defined by the kleptomaniacs in government, on boards, in corporations and in the political class. Arizona is defined by a schizophrenia of faux opulence and real indebtedness and our fellow citizens struggling, dying, really, in a world that is upside down when it comes to clean air, clean water, real medicine, and affordable life.

Arizona is the mix of Eastern seaboard accents and southern twangs and amazingly mean people who are in it for themselves, for their backyard in-ground pools, for the 6,000 square foot Barcelona- style triple-decker home. We are talking about leathery skin from all the sun and leathery pools of empathy in the hearts and minds of most Arizonans.

Yet, here I am, 61, wishing my niece good tidings, as she embarks on the journey of medical school applications, and then, what? What world is it we have to give or anoint our children with? I am flabbergasted at the stupidity of the NAU graduation, the bloodlessness of the speakers, the lack of verve, the paucity of an event that for many has cost a pretty penny in debt for parents and children alike.

I end with 2011 commencement speech at Olympia’s Evergreen State College, Angela Davis:

Commencement speakers frequently assume that their role is to encourage graduates to go out and conquer the world. The task I have set for myself is much more modest. I want to urge you to be able to retrieve and sort through and rethink and preserve memories of your time here, which may very well turn out to be the most important period of your lives. Like the philosopher Walter Benjamin, I emphasize the past as the key to your future.

And so as you move on, some of you will go to graduate school, right? Some of you will find jobs. Unfortunately, some of you may not find jobs. Some of you will make families, some of you will engage in activism, some you will be involved in cultural work, and there are all kinds of permutations and combinations of all of these. But I would like you to periodically stop and reflect about the extent to which your lives were radically transformed by your experiences here. And I hope that you will have courage to draw upon the education you have received here from your most challenging professors, as you try to imagine more equitable ways of inhabiting all of our worlds. If you continue to think and act in the tradition of your college you will respect all of the inhabitants of our environments, and not simply assume that the environment must be preserved for the sake of future human generations, but rather for all the future generations of plant life, future generations of all animal life.

How do we extricate ourselves from enduring hierarchies, class, race, sexual, religious, geopolitical? This question, I think, is the question that needs to be posed. Posing that question is the mark of educated human beings. So I might then ask you to think about education as the practice of freedom. Education is the practice of freedom. And so freedom becomes, not an imagined condition in the future, not the set of achievements that will fulfill some desire, but rather an unrelenting, unending, collective effort to reconstruct our lives, our ways of relating to each other, our communities, and our futures. Congratulations to The Evergreen State College class of 2011.

Heroes and Villains – The Daily Show in a Homeless Shelter

Now, during our catastrophically idiotic war in Vietnam, the music kept getting better and better and better. We lost that war, by the way. Order couldn’t be restored in Indochina until the people kicked us out. That war only made billionaires out of millionaires. Today’s war is making trillionaires out of billionaires. Now I call that progress.
― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

These ain’t popular topics, for sure, brother/sister American. You see, the entire homeless problem in America is a bigger problem of the almost homeless, the disposed, the enslaved youth heading to State U, the Amazing Theft of Wages (Tax Day, Man), Theft of the Commons by Bureaucrats Working the Soft Shoe Corporate Game — kleptocracy (a government ruled by thieves), and representative government has been rejected in favor of a kakistocracy (a government run by the most unprincipled citizens that panders to the worst vices in our nature: greed, violence, hatred, prejudice and war).

There is no skip in the beat with Boss Tweet, fawning over military hardware hustled to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the entire Empire Protecting Planet. This fawning this fourth-grade thinker does is a lot like his days at Studio 51 or the Playboy Mansions or the Pageants where his spittle lubricated his huffing and puffing orgasmic dead space between his ears. He is the leader of the pack, sad-sack of a playboy and land baron, thief, who gets the book deals, TV contracts, cameos in movies, his brand plastered all over Madison Avenue – make no bones about it, Trump is America. He is Dollar Store plastic and Neiman Marcus glitter. He is the freewheeling liberal lover of money and play things and parties, and he is the mean-assed inexperienced one, yellow belly, calling for war, a hater of soldiers, a hater of my people I serve daily – military veterans, not retired NCOs and Officers, but mostly those ending up in the Poverty Drafts and some drafted in Vietnam, Korea. A few years in and bam — total physical and mental calamity!

All PTSD-living, poverty people (most are poor). Trump would lambaste my work serving as social worker and finder of funds, and he’d laugh off PTSD as “nothing but an entitlement dream in your white cracker and people of color case loads’ heads.” Trump or his filthy generals, all of them, even cabinet-level creeps running all systems foul in DC, they hate the poor, the misbegotten, the broken, the addicted, the mentally cracked, the physically cleaved.

Make no bones about it, gents and dames, Trump is Obama is Clinton is Reagan. These people would love to see Soylent Green is People scaled up, now, and they openly love the $5 a day prison labor, and they love the stock maximization of everything private – drugs, prisons, health care, education, water-sewer-lights, and every bureaucratic thing that makes this tax time a time of death and loathing in a time of absolute penury cholera.

There is one hell of a lot of Non-Trumpers — those oh-so racist, rotten to the core Democrats or liberals or whatever creepy foodie-hot sauna-farmers’ market going folk that gentrify, who end up as WASP-Jew heads of every-self-loathing non-profit – absolutely holding onto the glory of the dollar, of the endless jujitsu that is standing for the anthem and going on and on about a few Trump loyalists and Alt-Right scoundrels being bad hombres too. Remember, these whites are voting against the people, the 80 percent, no matter how many pet projects they may undertake or scramble for Sundance documentary glory or big-time book glory, and they can go onto Amy Goodman’s show, talk the talk, but in the end, the people who should be talking or yelling or attacking, the very victims of the theft – grand theft of agency-past-future-progeny – they never get on that “liberal media.”

Make no bones about it, Democrats, with or without life coaches, all solar-powered up, bamboo floors and kids doing secular missions in third world depravity before going onto college and those non-profits, they are voting for war, voting for more jobs in the death industries, more and more work holding up the death machine of capitalism that eats at the very soul of their own, yet, for the time being, these 5 and 15-percenters, they sigh and get all Rachel Maddow like when they think they are caring about another black woman in jail, shackled during labor, or when some deranged (mentally challenged) black youth jaywalking gets mowed down by the police. The police – ahh, the variations on a theme when we say police, as in the HR departments, the school boards, the city and country code enforcers, the law firms, the forced arbiters, the endless thuggery of tax-levy-fee-fine-GAT-toll-penalty-surcharge makers and collectors, the endless Little Eichmann lever pullers and auditors, all those regulators and deregulators, all those heads of the departments and sub-agencies of all those alphabet soup Government Agencies – the grim reaper of compliant consumers, the toasty 15 and 20 percenters who make either a killing or a cool million from the depravity of these systems of usury and penury and PayDay loan-sharking.

Okay-okay – heroes and villains, part one:

Hero in Merced, California, way past mid-sixties, Joe, who has worked the land as an agricultural purveyor, and he’s seen water rights go the wrong way, seen the endless corporate theft in his neck of the Northern California woods ramp up yearly. He knows the crimes of school boards, the crimes of the big businesses, big ag, big energy, big everything.

I’ve been in communication with him for several months, and his wisdom and ire, his history, and his perspective over time, and his heart and soul, and his humor, man, well, this is a hero. He just sent me some links to Counterpunch and Global Research and came up with this quick reaction, triggered by Tax Day, and comments on a great writer’s works, stuff that has been published at Counterpunch and Dissident Voice to name just two – John W. Whitehead. Here’s Joe’s take on Whitehead’s most recent:

An electorate as indoctrinated as the American people are by corporate media would have a hard time distinguishing between shit and a poor grade of mush. This country’s citizens have never experienced war except for the fantasy war that Hooligan-wood and the latest X-box crap-app subjects them to 24/7. The public’s minds have been Disney-fied and fried by corporate media. The sad thing is that even Europe has few citizens left that remember the horrors of war. I’m afraid we are going to have to relive that lesson all over again. Maybe after the idiot populace of this country experiences the ravages of war right here in the land of easy credit, fantasy and denial, they won’t be so stupid as to support idiots that lead them into this misery. I don’t hold out much hope though. This country has been electing these corrupt war mongering bastards from both parties as long as I can remember. I don’t think it will change until the American public is walking around with their flesh dripping off their bones. Even then the public is so indoctrinated with this endless military crap brought to them as patriotism they will still be clamoring for revenge and more war. Stupid, ignorant and arrogant rules in this country, whether it be from Democrats or Republicans.

I hope some of the wildlife I hold so dear makes it out alive.

Hero, versus villain – I’d say anyone looking to bullseye Joe for being cantankerous, for being old and critical, for pointing out the futility of a country prostituted by both parties and ravaged by the stupidity of its populace, for having a keen sense of humor (not this one blurb, but he has some hilarity in this series he’s been writing – Letters to Cousin Linda) that person is the villain.

Hero – Three strikes and you are out. Now, out at age 64, African American, in prison for using drugs, and, whoops, when you use drugs, well, the excess is sometimes bartered off, traded and sold. Black man with cocaine equals the villains’ mark – criminal courts, public defenders, bail bondsmen, lawyers, municipal departments, prison systems, PayDay crap, probation officers.

This man is working at my shelter, a veteran, though he doesn’t pull that card much, and he is doing some amazing work making music, electronic stuff, sampled and using his own keyboard. There is no way in hell this fellow isn’t a hero: he is looking to reconnect with his sons and daughters in California. He ran the streets of Portland, and the villains – cops, judges, prosecutors, the entire carnival that is the criminal injustice system and its auxiliaries, including some social service non-profits – are a constant reminder to me that the white class – whatever that is – has ensconced itself into this people-killing, African-American defiling, people-of-color-community-imploding monster.

My hero and I talk about the way of the black man, the way of the white racists, this supremacist shit-hole that is America, and he calls me his advocate, his rare white man on the side of real justice friend.

Hero, 78, calling himself the gravedigger’s son, grew up in Massachusetts, near Boston, and he’s been a vagabond, man, and I am helping him get his studio apartment, getting him some free furniture, helping him think outside the meth-amphetamine box. Fucking 78, and he relapsed, recently, one day bender, and, he’s got COPD and hallucinates – talks about the people around me he sees and I do not.

He’s well-read, not college educated, and grew up in an Irish Catholic family, and he’s been to Ireland and parts of Europe. He hates the military, and talks about being in Korea, and seeing the shit hole America created in both zones. He is Irish and socialist, but he has been wandering the world, cook here and dishwasher there. Imagine, he’s been wandering the country and the world for more than 40 years, and, alas, Portland is his home.

He’s been throughout the Pacific Northwest, to encampments of hard-living people in the  Cascades, living hard and off the grid. Story teller, gift of gab, and he’s the typical detritus of America – whether Trump or Hillary, whether young or old. People do not listen to him.

Villains? Think of the thousands of people who have shut off when he’s been around. Think of the hundreds of people lording over him in the social services and government agencies. Think of the hundreds that look right through him on public transportation or when he’s at the side of the road.

A dignity in drifting, and he’s kipped in more than just a few cemeteries around the country and the world. He attended a poetry workshop I was holding, and his memory is amazing, and his son of the gravedigger narratives are more amazing. Pure poetry!

Villains – not one soul would want his stories published. The American attention span is all hooked into Zombie-Land, faux memoir writing, Marvel Comics thinking, absolute shit-hole narratives and fiction.

Hero – Irish American socialist who questions every step of the military might of this messed up country.

Villains are the takers, the judgers, the ticket givers, the processors, the CPAs, the balance sheet coveters, the liberal social services folk who talk like HR people and who know shit what it’s like being old or imprisoned or full of meth nightmares. It’s the villains who soft-shoe through the DSM-V and saunter through workshop after conference on what it is to be trauma-informed social workers, or what harm reduction principles are, or what it is to be middling people and middling social workers.

Heroes are the ones that live it out in tents, on the road, under overpasses, who crunch down in old cars and pick-up trucks, who cardboard surf in warehouses and in friends’ garages. These people are heroes in the sense that my social services non-profit believes everyone who served their country in the armed forces is a hero.

Heroes know that’s bullshit. Golden ticket for what? So, that family of four, mother with children, mother who works two jobs and has friends watch the kids, whose husband booked – yes, military veteran dude – so she’s not worthy of the golden ticket because she sweated over hamburgers and cleaned up feces of the rich and decaying, or she turned beds and sheets at the multi-billionaire’s chain of hotels?

Heroes and villains. Not difficult to spot the true hero, the survivor, the ones with a sense of dignity or perspective or time on the road, versus the ones who cut homeless programs, who vote against more food stamps, who demand drug testing for the shit pittance one might get in benefits.

Villains who gutted social security and gutted the post office and who closed the libraries and who Dread Scott-ed the world, who attack the good schooling public schools used to give. Villains are the militarists, Lords of War, the heathens and devil worshipers in the military industrial complex.

I am working with veterans who have been shot up with bullets, shrapnel, chemicals, toxins, propaganda, debasement, demands. Soldiers who were put on military bases/forts where the water is so bad, so polluted by solvents from military machinery and laundry (dry cleaning) that the Veterans Administration even has a name for the Parkinson’s — Camp Lejeune  Parkinson’s: various chemicals, including the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) known as PCE (Tetrachloroethylene aka Perchloroethylene), TCE (Trichloroethylene), DCE (Dichloroethylene), Vinyl Chloride and BTEX (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylene). These chemicals are either known or suspected human carcinogens. Many Marines, Sailors, their families and loyal civilian employees have been affected by the contamination in various ways including, but not limited to: liver cancer, kidney cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer, leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, liver disease, miscarriages, birth defects (cleft palate, heart defects, Choanal atresia, neural tube defects, low birth weight, and small for gestational age),etc.

Heroes are the one’s shaking so hard at 65 they can’t even sign their names on forms that will get them subsidized housing. Heroes who are homeless, misbegotten, broken, incapable of navigating systems and job markets and economic hoops with Parkinson’s and the other effects associated with the decay caused by the military pollutants.

Villains? Just imagine the cadre of corporatists, the protectionists, the Little Eichmann’s, anti-whistle blowers, the lock-step ones fighting the science behind the disease and destruction and decay and denuding of humanity and ecologies because of that profit margin, and that grim reaper’s scythe chopping off the heads of us, the 80 percent. How difficult is it to see those lip-less white men and women, hear their ameliorating, their HR bullshit, listen to their shallow and pedestrian articulation?

Facts – the systematic lack of affordable housing and the Draconian limited scale of housing assistance programs all contribute to the current housing crisis and to homelessness. Foreclosures? In the hundreds of thousands each year! Result? Homeless.

The 2008 recession forced two million more people into homelessness over the following two years, according to estimates by The National Alliance to End Homelessness.

One or two out of 50—or about 2.5 million—American children are homeless each year, according to a 2009 study by the National Center on Family Homelessness. These are nine year old stats.

Here are some of the causes of homelessness:

For persons in families, the three most commonly cited causes, according to a 2008 U.S. Conference of Mayors study are:

• Lack of affordable housing
• Poverty
• Unemployment

For singles, the three most commonly cited causes of homelessness are:

• Substance abuse
• Lack of affordable housing
• Mental illness

Veterans are more likely than other populations to be homeless.

We are talking around 40% of homeless men being veterans, although veterans comprise only 34 percent of the general adult male population, according to research on veterans by the National Coalition for Homeless. On any given night, 200,000 veterans are homeless.

Do wages count? The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that the 2017 Housing Wage is $21.21 per hour, exceeding the $16.38 hourly wage earned by the average renter by almost $5.00 an hour. This $16.38 an hour exceeds wages earned by low income renter households. In fact, the hourly wage needed for renters hoping to afford a two-bedroom rental home is almost twice ($13.96) higher than the national minimum wage of $7.25.

What about the food insecure. It’s 51 million people in the United States living in food insecure households, 15 million of whom are children. While the magnitude of the problem is clear, national and even state estimates of food insecurity can mask the nuances that exist at the local level.

Here: Feeding America; Foreclosures; Minimum Wage; Wage state-by-state; True Minimum Wage.

What is the real unemployment figure for US of A?

The U-3 unemployment rate is the monthly headline number. The U-6 unemployment rate is the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) broadest unemployment measure, including short-term discouraged and other marginally-attached workers as well as those forced to work part-time because they cannot find full-time employment.

The ShadowStats Alternate Unemployment Rate for March 2018 is 21.7%.

Heroes and Villains? Rage and reckless indignation. Anger and attack, those are the hero’s tools, and the villain’s tools are based on hierarchy of consumption, the power of the people who have and the impotence of those who do not have.

What is it to have anything, that’s what many of my heroes ask, those who are homeless, on $1,200.00 a month for Social Security? Imagine this world with heroes. One hero, oddly, is the lady doing my taxes. She despised what has happened to this country, and she knows the true figures for saving and investing in a social security system – average person would come out at age 65 with $250,000 or $500,000 in his or her retirement account based on social security deductions. If this fact came out, parsed and discussed daily at the water cooler and forklift bay, we’d be pounding constantly how this country is one giant theft-creating/theft-inducing continuing criminal organization . . . then would more people revolt?

Heroes are guys like Whitehead or Nasser!!!

Whitehead: All of those nefarious government deeds that you read about in the paper every day: those are your tax dollars at work. It’s your money that allows for government agents to spy on your emails, your phone calls, your text messages, and your movements. It’s your money that allows out-of-control police officers to burst into innocent people’s homes, or probe and strip search motorists on the side of the road, or shoot an unarmed person. And it’s your money that leads to innocent Americans across the country being prosecuted for innocuous activities such as raising chickens at home, growing vegetable gardens, and trying to live off the grid.

Just remember the next time you see a news story that makes your blood boil, whether it’s a child being kicked out of school for shooting an imaginary arrow, or a homeowner being threatened with fines for building a pond in his backyard, remember that it is your tax dollars that are paying for these injustices.

So what are you going to do about it?

There was a time in our history when our forebears said “enough is enough” and stopped paying their taxes to what they considered an illegitimate government. They stood their ground and refused to support a system that was slowly choking out any attempts at self-governance, and which refused to be held accountable for its crimes against the people. Their resistance sowed the seeds for the revolution that would follow.

Unfortunately, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, in the 200-plus years since we established our own government, we’ve let bankers, turncoats and number-crunching bureaucrats muddy the waters and pilfer the accounts to such an extent that we’re back where we started.

Once again, we’ve got a despotic regime with an imperial ruler doing as they please.

Heroes are students trying to solve this shit-hole’s problems, hitting the books, and attempting to coalesce around strong thinking, critical solutions-generating thinking, and holism. Villains are the ledger counters, the money changers, the actualizers of debt.

Nasser: The burden weighing like a nightmare, to coin a phrase, on 44 million indebted current and former students will haunt these people for a good portion of their lives. The average student debtor graduates owing close to $34,000 and is projected to spend 21 years paying it off. At present, the average monthly payment for those between 30 and 40 years old is $351.00. It is not uncommon for repayment obligations to be borne by underwriters of these loans, typically the primary borrower’s parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Taking these co-signers into consideration, we have about 100 million people adversely affected, directly or indirectly, by the difficulty very many have repaying these loans.

Because the serving of warrants and jailing of debtors has begun picking up steam in recent years, and the financial situation of these potential prisoners has been gradually deteriorating, we have reason to expect that student-loan debtors could come to make up a significant portion of the growing ranks of those threatened with debt prison. Arrest warrants have been issued in California, Florida, Minnesota, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts and Texas. Arrests have been heaviest in California, Texas and Minnesota. In many cases there was no announcement of court orders or that the debtor was being sued. U.S. marshals in Minnesota conducted “Operation Anaconda Squeeze” to arrest student-loan debtors who had failed to appear in court for a “debtor’s examination.” Whether they had received prior notice was often thought by the court to be beside the point. As with the cases described earlier, often defendants are ordered to pay much more than the amount of the original loan. A Texas man, who received no prior notice about the debt or the court case brought by a private collection agency on behalf of Uncle Sam, was arrested by seven armed U.S. marshals for an unpaid $1,500 student loan he had borrowed 29 years earlier. He was ordered to pay, after interest and court fees, more than twice the amount of the original loan. $1,258.60 was added to reimburse the marshals for his arrest.

Creative Juices in a Time of Commodification, Watered Down Drivel, Nothingness of American Fiction

The autumn of the patriarch, man, thinking hard about Marquez’s book, thinking back in lamentation bursts, going back in time when I met him at the University of Texas at Austin, and how he spoke to me as a young person, hopeful that I would be something as unique as he was, using what I told him was my West Texas/Chihuahua “magic realism,” founded on what I learned from his One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Those were the days, man — Kurt Vonnegut and Denis Levertov, Annie Dillard and Tim O’Brien, Robert Bly and Leslie Marmon Silko.  So much more in the verdant garden of my youth.

…as he discovered in the course of his uncountable years that a lie is more comfortable than doubt, more useful than love, more lasting than truth…

…the day shit is worth money, poor people will be born without an asshole

Gabriel García Márquez, The Autumn of the Patriarch

El Paso, Gateway to the Jornada del Muerto

It was a lie, really, belief — young, in my twenties, teaching English, working my ass off in graduate school, odd jobs in Juarez, lots of poetry readings, art shows, radical border rights militancy. In and out of dream, really, living in El Paso, in an old apartment complex that used to be a bordello Pancho Villa reportedly frequented, then turned into a TB sanitarium. I thought I would have been set up like some great American novelist, or ensconced in tenure playing the MFA game, or just a vagabond with a one hit, the one-hit wonder of it all. By thirty.

Long in the tooth, 61 coming barreling down next month. So many connected and fragmented thoughts, and a few dozen novels inside, despair, natural revulsion of Oprah or clique NYC publishing world, and fear of the Hollywoodization of every thought sputtering out of the masses. Here’s a weird scene: I vividly remember the peas and mashed potatoes Cormac McCarthy pushed around on his plate at a cafeteria in El Paso. Man, he was beginning to take words and his spare punctuation big, from the hollers of Tennessee, the muse of Faulkner’s Mississippi hardscrabble set in motion; now in Paseo del Norte, hiding out (sort of) looking for beat-up West Texas seclusion and novel inspiration. It was a brief hello, and on the surface he looked like insurance salesman or appliance store owner. I asked him if he’d come on board by showing show up to one of the undergraduate classes I was teaching at the university (UT-El Paso).

In a nutshell (mesquite bean) McCarthy basically said he didn’t do those things, things like throwing in for students, guiding aspiring writers, messing with his own art with others.

I saw Cormac (The Road, All the Pretty Horses, Blood Meridian) on a fat lazy chair on the Oprah Show talking to her in her giddiness about his punctuation – or lack thereof. Literary genius?

A Country Not for Old Men — Re-Birth Inside Transitions

How does a man decide in what order to abandon his life?
― Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men

Unfolding dementia at a young age? The shit I did and saw and believed, no Hollywood or any-Wood writer or director could dream of, script in, or even hang with me living it. This is not some blowhard release, or a “wow look at my experience now that I am turning 61 on February 6, the same day just another nemesis of mine, Ronald Reagan, was born” admonition. This is the reality of a Marxist living and working in “their house,” putting on those scrubs of their trades – English faculty, environmentalist, budding-aspiring novelist, photographer, newspaper journalist. No big laments, for sure, as my luck of the spin on the globe where I was borne probably has given so many incalculable advantages. Guaranteed, most consumers of story – book readers – are looking for simplicity in language, stories set in the love and hate, death and fear that encapsulates American writers, including McCarthy.

Anyone looking at my life seems like an antithetical process of literary creativity, and I am anything but what the average consumer of books wants as an author, but the kernel of what ends up on the page comes from the weight of tides and blurry sunsets and all the storms and heatwaves in between. Sweating through visions, and the hard ache of failure after failure, and the unbearable, sometimes, of witnessing the perversions of the world. We have to take stock in all of that messy emotional landscape. Being out of work this time around – sacked October 26 – and hunting for the crumbs of the capitalists is a process of bleary thinking, emotions lost in an oil slick of the leaky boat listing on the ocean of our discontent.

My birth: San Pedro, California, for my first six months in air, and then, the Azores, thanks to enlisted Air Force father. A real epigenetic reckoning, my first four years on the Portuguese islands, all that sea, those ocean chasms, earthquakes, the white-washed Catholic puritanism, the old fishers and young kids, the poverty and the USA using strips of land for Air Force machinations. I had a local woman – Maria Gloria de la Sauza — taking care of me and my sister, and we went to her family’s place on religious occasions, those memories hard-wired forever. Trapped in some dreams even half a century lived.

The festival of the bread each Saturday, the masses, the fishermen bringing in their hauls. Barracuda caught with piano wire. The weeping candles in black moldy chapels. The priests and the military men. Poverty, bellies protruding, rust, cobblestone roads, potato fields, hacking tuberculosis, heavy hips, skinny men, children like hermit crabs scampering about, the unbelievable heaven in that blue sky and the black ink of the Pacific. Nine hundred miles from Lisbon.

Exactly the spring of my existence – aunties and uncles in Germany and Scotland and England. I remember those trips over the sea, prop planes, the absolutely magical motion of Douglas DC-7’s flying the friendly skies of Pan Am and Eastern Airlines. Imagine, four years old, and one of the four prop engines catching on fire as we were coming back to the Azores. Imagine a time, 1961, when the spring of a child lasted with the touch of fingers on the pages of books, in the hard breathing of hikes, walking, outside until dusk, rain without umbrellas, seas and beaches beckoning youth without the paranoia of the 21st century.

Early Light, Early Seedling Growth

I am treading water here, in the night off the coast of Scotland, maybe, I can only imagine the reader says. It’s night, near Dundee, in a cove near Abroath. Around 1963. Real people expecting a five-year-old to swim, not panic, and see the world from the tide in and out.

Spring for the child as I headed to Maryland, and then, Paris, France, as my Air Force father went US Army, a warrant officer pip on his shoulders, and, a family of four in Saint Germain en-Laye, living with other families from other countries as part of that SHAPE — Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. Vietnam War, the French and Yanks, the old WW II tunnels, chateaus as movie theaters, the Algerians living in the sub-basement, languages, competitive teens, and I flittered through those times young, visiting the old ones. Always around adults.

Fast forwarding to 2018, from, oh, say 1986 El Paso, then to Merida, Yucatan, and then hitchhiking to Panama, or, say, to 1992 when I decided to go to Vietnam to push the pulse of the American lie out of my system. At any point in the sinew strength of my late teens, through to 2001, the lies were compounding quickly, as I was given to confidence and pushed-up hope as part of the barrier reef or those malpais lava flows near Warm Springs, New Mexico keeping me from succeeding as I had imagined.

I had a New York agent, man, Jack Ryan (what a name, uh?) and he was old school, as the drafts of those books I wrote – five – came back to me stinking of Pall Malls and filled up with chicken scratch edits and comments. He was a tireless worker, and for me, he was more than just a fan. He had a deep regard for my writing. He too was up against the vagaries of Vassar and Brown University publishing house readers and the market of books, tied to the little swath of being New York hip to the incantations of literary fiction.

What a long row to hoe, and, alas, one book, a collection of short stories, thematically tied together by the Vietnam War tangentially, well, he had a big bite, finally, from Picador Press an imprint of MacMillan. I almost got the book sold – Eyes Wide Open: Vietnam Memories. The deal was a committee of five, Ryan said, had the voting role in a thumbs up or down vote on the book. The publisher of Picador Press said he wanted the book, but he was voted down, three to two, not in favor of going with the project.

The reader has to understand that the publisher accepted the manuscript, essentially saying he was all for publishing it. We lived on that arc of that humanity for a few weeks, but then Jack Ryan got the news that the book project went south.

New York Literary World Gone Sour

I know, I know, again, in the scheme of things globally this is not big deal. Rejection from literary circles. A dime a dozen. We’ve been told as writers that it’s luck, being in the right manuscript pile, or knowing a friend of a friend of a friendly editor; or to just pull yourself up by your boot straps and DIY and self-publish and manage a web site and e-commerce account. Compared to the daily struggle of the Pacific Nation Kiribati, for example, which is disappearing quickly as sea level rises, I get it about “counting my lucky stars.” I always come at the world from that foundation – woe is me can’t cut it in a world of absolutely insane suffering and perverted wholesale abuse on a massive scale. But from the bowels of an artist already way outside the mainstream looking to get a book (or several) schlepped by editors at New York publishers, put into their ubiquitous mainstream fiction or literary fiction categories, well, every disappointment is magnified.

Get this, though – I’m going on age 61, and the last time I attempted hawking a novel was 2001, when I ended up moving from El Paso to Spokane. Odd feeling indeed, in 2001, giving up the quest. I still wrote/write, still published/publish, but not books.

It (book in hand) came pretty darn close, and if you put me into an internet search, “Paul Haeder and Reimagining Sanity,” you’ll get a project that “almost” turned into a book. Well, it’s a book, in pdf form, but not on Amazon’s top 1 million list. We have to Fast Forward from 2001 in Spokane to 2015 on the outskirts of Vancouver. I was contacted by a publisher to write a book based on my musings and comments tied to my work at Dissident Voice, this political on-line magazine going on 18 years.

Heady stuff, the book jack recommendations:

Paul brings out a certain raw, emotional side to his subjects and issues. You never can predict what he is going to ask, and his ability to cut right to the point makes his writing an unpredictable thrill ride to the heart and the truth.
―Bart Mihailovich, environmental writer and advocate

Try reading him … with no allegiances to the elites and powerful. If you need a house call for quick intellectual triage, pick up a book of Haeder’s and dive deep into its layers. At the other end of the journey, you will be baptized in a new wonder of showing no fear, fearing no one.
― Charles Orloski is a working class poet living in Taylor, Pennsylvania, who writes regularly for the Hollywood Progressive and other venues

Haeder’s topic is always the world, and Haeder is the filter through which the world has to pass: rhythmic outburst, lyric language, howling at the moon. When other authors have forgotten to be outraged by the outrageous, Haeder has been a North Star who says, “You gotta look at this! You won’t believe…” and fill in here the absurd and unimaginable bullshit of the universe.
― Michael Strelow, author of Henry, A Novel of Beer and Love in the West; and The Greening of Ben Brown. Kesey is his non-fiction book. Upcoming novel is The Moby-Dick Blues.

Paul Haeder does not have a politically correct bone in his body nor is he willing to rent any! A book by Paul will bring reaction from readers, pro and con, but you can bet that it will be a book people will read with interest.
― Angie Tibbs, Dissident Voice, Senior Editor

It’s a hell of a publishing house that went belly up after just three years, but a dozen or more years the dream of the publisher, Kermit Heartsong:

Tayenlane Publishing
Reimagining Sanity: Voices Outside the Echo Chamber

The belly was exposed by the publisher’s distributor – you have to get these books put into book shows, wholesale book distribution points. The distributors (more and more middlemen) can cut a jugular on a small publishing house, and that’s what happened to Tayen Lane Press. But before the plug was pulled, Kermit the publisher solicited me back in 2015, and I was at/in/on a really bad place: going through a divorce, out of the Vancouver house we had just purchased, away from foster twin boys, and my dog left with my soon-to-be ex. I ended up in a doublewide trailer (no complaints about mobile homes) with a bipolar out-of-work heavy equipment operator, who was flipping out half the time, from euphoria to suicidal tendencies. I was working as a substitute PK12 teacher in several rural school districts, and this fellow I will call Rylee, was drinking all day, sleeping around with two or three women, and the place was heated with a wood-burning stove.

Another roommate was brought on, and a stinky bulldog with flatulence (don’t they all have this problem?) and leaky orifices (ditto) was also part of the mix, and the roommate’s always-present girlfriend.

Man, bonfires out on his five acres until 2 a.m. Beer and tequila and all-night pyres and yelling and moaning about life, as Rylee and the other roommate moved around all this slash from a tree clearing project with the younger roommate’s fully appointed excavator. Drunk, loud, 24/7 cigarette smoking, and I was pounding away at this manuscript, teaching kids and wondering where the hell I’d be in five months.

After two months, I had to sneak out on a Sunday, filling my van with my shit and just skipping out so a confrontation between me and between Rylee didn’t take place. I wanted to kick his ass, but that sort of pile-driver attitude would have gotten me, I believe, handcuffed and charged with assault, a job killer in the fields of education and then a new job as social worker for vulnerable populations.

Reimagining Insanity or Sanity – More Voices

Okay, so I have this anti-memoir going over at LA Progressive, titled, Terminal Velocity: Man Lost of Tribe. That’s thirty-eight up in that series – pieces all over the place, most tied to commentary on the state of the world, the state of my sanity, of my self in a world of pain. Make that 39, since this one now goes up as such. Plenty of railing against the machine, and plenty of angst and polemics.

I have this conversation all the time – some people say they’d cut a finger off to read my stuff, to see my name up on some marquee, my books turned into movies. Some want to see me elevated, and then, most people I run into could care less about lives lived and still being lived, that is, lives unaccomplished or partially gelled. Most people are not interested in struggle, struggling people and the ones who either never got the brass ring or flubbed it on the last merry-go-round. This is a time of celebrity infatuation, and no matter which side of the thin political line they stand, young and old care more and more about what’s in Twitter-land or on Facebook.

We are all navel gazers, now that Amazon Fascism Publishing has everyone set up as a budding multi-book best seller.

Shit, everyone’s a writer, isn’t it so, and everyone is a movie maker, star, and prognosticator and hero or heroine in his or her own mind. Plus, the sheer number of books published, remaindered, cut up and used for insulation, it’s way beyond what the mind can fathom.

Whether a life half resolved is interesting or not, or whether anyone cares about the hustle of living and beating out books and trying to hawk them, those are questions that run through many of our minds.

Lee Marvin and A New Dirty Dozen 

I have this screenplay, Just a Coupla’ Chancers. Set in Arizona,1980s. I wrote it while being a reporter in Southern Arizona for a small conglomerate of newspapers. My byline was in the Bisbee Daily Review among other publications.

Simple stuff, a redneck cowboy along the border dealing with more and more incursions – crossers – into his state and country and on his property. Well, he is hard-bitten, but he finds a heart in the story. Salvadorans dead in the desert, their coyotes or smugglers long gone.

The main character has to make a decision: three children, 8, 12, 15, make it to his property. They are the only survivors, and, well, to make a screenplay short, the coyotes are looking for them, and the rancher has to hide them and then smuggle them away. He’s got the border patrol, local authorities, the crime bosses involved in smuggling, his family and the three siblings’ uncle looking for them and going after him.

This was based on some reporting I did around real people who perished in the desert, right where I was set as a beat reporter. I ended up having a few drinks with Lee Marvin in Tucson, and, after some time, I got his address up in the foothills of the Catalinas. Man, we played tennis, I had lemonade, and I met his wife, and, Lee took the screenplay.

I’ve written about that story, meeting and drinking with the Dirty Dozen’s Colonel, before pitching the story. He ended up dying early, and suddenly, and I ended up going to his widow wondering how I might help, and inquiring about the screenplay, of course. She told me Lee was interested in the main part, as I thought he would. She told me he respected the script, from a young guy, resonated with him — seemed pretty set in reality. Poignant, too.

I’ve written a short story, fiction, about that moment in time, fictionalizing some of the stuff.

Desperados and I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges

Lo and behold, here I am, desperate, held to a standard at 61, going to interview after interview trying to muscle out another four or five years working hard in the land of usury and death capital. I just pulled out three dusty manuscripts, three novels, one of which was my graduate thesis I defended.

I’m scrambling now working to get some energy back and rework one of them. This is a story again based on someone real, a woman who had been looking for both silver and treasure in the Caballo Mountains near Hot Springs, now Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

I spent hours with her in her small apartment in downtown El Paso, and she was in her 80s then, in 1987. She was obsessed with silver and that cache of stolen gold and other treasures from the Spanish. I even took her up the mountain, on crazy dirt roads, looking for something, reading her map, but never finding the remnants of the mine she had been working on for more than 50 years, on her own.

I have a discredited reporter ending up in the story. Someone who answered an advertisement in the El Paso Times from a woman looking for a ghost writer to get her story in print. The real woman was even hip to the possibility of her story spanning 80 decades turned into a movie.

Her life was amazing, having grown up in Mexico City in a middle-class family, her father a mid-level bureaucrat and politician. When she was 14, she met a 29-year-old millionaire from San Francisco. He had documents and map and some bibles. He was a frozen food magnate, and he was looking for someone to translate the Latin and the Spanish.

He met my protagonist, and the young woman – turning 15 – heard the stories of silver and gold, heard this millionaire’s gold lust.

Rebecca was 16 when she married him, and they ended up back in San Francisco, and then her new husband took her out into the middle of nothingness in New Mexico, overlooking Elephant Butte, and there she learned how to be a miner’s wife, living with hardened men, learning how her new husband had been bitten by the silver-gold-treasure bug.

Six years into it, they had hit a few lines of silver. Seven years into their mining, a wall collapsed in the mine and took down Rebecca’s husband. He lingered in a hospital bed for eight weeks. His final wish was for her to continue looking for the famed treasure and silver.

For fifty years, Rebecca looked for the cache. She ended up teaching Spanish to high schoolers, and every summer she got the supplies and the few men she trusted to head on up to the mountains.

That’s how she spent her summers, for fifty years, until she hit 75. I met her when she was 82.

Now my book, Woman of the Mountain, has my reporter, a former college football star teaching community college journalism classes. I have a sheriff who has been hiding his homosexuality all his life. I have an old Mexican miner whose father once was on Rebecca’s mining team.

I take the reader back to Mexico City, into the mountains, into Rebecca’s life, and the short time with my African American journalist. The mountain speaks, and the story revolves around her disappearance, and the search for her. My journalist was the last one to see her. The miner ends up missing.

It’s literary fiction, and, well, the story is certainly compelling for today’s reader, and it’s not a far stretch of the imagination to imagine the book turned into a screenplay/movie. Selma Hayek, Tommy Lee Jones, Denzel Washington.

In one sense, non-fiction is stranger than fiction, and those months I spent with Rebecca, hearing her stories, and that time in the mountains with her (she was hacking and coughing, and I thought she was going to die), and subsequent times in the mountains on my own with a decent pistol and Winchester lever action, well, I wrote the book, draft after draft, and sent it out to Jack Ryan, the East Coast agent.

It’s funny the parallel of looking for caches of Spanish gems and artwork and gold, and my own quest to make something of myself in the world of fiction. Shit, my master’s thesis adviser, James Crumley (The Last Good Kiss & Dancing Bear) had a lot of faith in me. I was the go-to guy, newspaper journalist, dive master, a guy in his thirties who went to Mexico and Central America. A guy who did some shady things with my Mexican counterparts. Something wild in me, Crumley could tell. He ended up back in Missoula, Montana, fired from the University of Texas for things unbecoming a writing teacher (or that’s what they said . . . you know, drinking, some lines of coke, partying with students).

So, here’s this book. Staring at me as I finish this article. Big fat old 430-page manuscript. I touch the pages and it’s as if 30 years melt away, the light brighter above me here in Estacada, Oregon, than anytime thus far, more than 1,600 miles away from the center of my writing life, in West Texas,  El Paso, Merida, Yucatan . . . Chihuahua.

Yet that old rush is like morphine inside the spleen, and the imagination, mine, races like the old days of Mexico, West Texas, stories, tequila and coke and all-night sessions talking about story, and sometimes craft.

Crumley’s dead . . . some of my friends, dead . . . Jack Ryan, dead, and the artist friends, many are dead . . . Rebecca dead, wave after wave of memory like the aura borealis in my head, pulsating in dream, and now, as I take this manuscript and look at the pages, I am ready for one more push, one more bite of a dream to get something going, just another chancer, me, believing in some magic, like Ornette Coleman and Charlie Hayden playing away into the night.

Her story, Rebecca’s, will be the same this time around, but the plot and action and sequence will be different. What do 31 years do to a creative world, a novel, one based on some real hard things I heard and saw, but morphed into the dream of a storyteller giving paint and hue to the black and white memory of people?

I know I’ll open up with the jail cell, and the lines from Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt and Walter Huston, Dobbs, Curtain and Howard in the Treasure of Sierra Madre. I know I will shift points of view, and go back and forth in time and place. I know this story — mine, Rebecca’s, the mountain’s —  has never been told, never been written, and I push ahead now, treading water, standing on the line of creativity and marketing, looking for an agent, and in between despair and fear.

When you have something to say and a way of saying it, there is so much to lose. Like a welterweight picking up gloves after 20 years out of the ring.

In a scene later made famous by the movie version of Treasure of Sierra Madre, the prospectors run into a group of shady-looking, heavily-armed Mexicans, who they suspect are bandits.

Indeed, the Mexicans are bandits and the meeting ends up in a gunfight. But just before the shooting starts, the leader of the bandits tells the prospectors that they are federales — the local “mounted police.”

Dobbs says skeptically of that claim: “If you are the police, where are your badges?”

In B. Traven’s book, the bandit leader replies angrily (and colorfully):

“Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabron and ching’ tu madre!”

Email me, Paul K. Haeder, @  haederpaul (at) gmail (dot) com if you have an agent or director in mind, don’t you know! Really!

The Punditry of Shithole Thinking

Our capitalist elites have used propaganda, money and the marginalizing of their critics to erase the first three of philosopher John Locke’s elements of the perfect state: liberty, equality and freedom. They exclusively empower the fourth, property. Liberty and freedom in the corporate state mean the liberty and freedom of corporations and the rich to exploit and pillage without government interference or regulatory oversight. And the single most important characteristic of government is its willingness to use force, at home and abroad, to protect the interests of the property classes.

— Chris Hedges, “Corpses of Souls”

Here’s a thought experiment for social workers assisting homeless, recovery (drug, alcohol), re-entry (coming out of prison), and those diagnosed with mental and physical health challenges: Take a college educated “professional,” George, and then a “homeless” person, Julia, and put them in the same tattered clothes, take away phone, ID, money, credit cards, blindfold them, transport them from say Portland, Oregon, and to Toronto, Canada, or Buffalo, NY, and drop them off in an alley in a run-down part of town at 3 am on a Monday. Then challenge them to get back to square “go.”

We know the homeless person, or the former incarcerated person, or the recovering addict will be home — Portland – within 48 hours. The professional, either in FIRE (finance insurance real estate) or any number of elite fields, will tank quickly. Especially if we were to drop that person off outside of town into a homeless camp.

In my field of social work, many employers I talk to would rather have a former inmate, a former felon, who has gotten his or her life back on track, on the job. Really. There are even Harvard (who cares that it’s Ivy League, by the way?) studies to that effect. Of course, the rationale is based on company loyalty; an ex-con would really appreciate his freedoms now; hard work – workaholic – since all that time in the lobotomizing prison system would kick in an obsessiveness toward keeping busy, keeping moving. Then, some employers I talk to think most workers or potential workers are the problem, would steal time, money, goods, and things from the company. So, the felon has already done time, knows the depravity of prison systems, and would stay on the up and up without jeopardizing incarceration. Plus, in the US, companies get a tax break for hiring former felons!

The fields of social work are growing, yet the pay is shrinking, the work conditions are ramped up, the management are bizarre examples of former social workers themselves (very anti worker, very hard on outside-the-box thinkers, and completely blank on what radical social work is and how to even apply the principles of that form of social work). Most non-profits do the dirty work of what a society is looking more and more to not provide for – mental health care for a bigger and bigger share of the USA population; disability services for a larger and larger swath of Americans mentally, psychologically, intellectually, socially, physically, and spiritually broken or disabled; financial, employment, education, housing assistance for an ever-growing population of humans who are not able to work and live and transport and find health care for themselves in this New Gilded Age.

The non-profits I have worked for are top-heavy, have very little money put aside or earmarked or grant-provided for the workers; many of the non-profits hire development associates, upper management shills, PR folk, marketing and events coordinators; many are in shining and remodeled digs while casting shadows on the street people they supposedly care about.

Some of us in social services have come from other professions, and like me, many are former teachers. Very few are radical thinkers, and many are just trying to hang on. When you work in an at-will state, where organizing and workplace coordinating is akin to communism, and when you work for people younger and the same age as yourself who once had their lives more or less put together but who are today on the streets, in shelters, in vans on the side of the road, and who have to pay for legal debts – hospital bills, legal financial obligations, debts coming at them via mean-assed debt collectors and repo men —  the idea of Six Degrees of Separation comes cold like melting glaciers as really Only One Degree of Separation.

Manfred Max Neef calls this country, USA — richest, biggest land rip off abusing, military mightiest, vastest financial thieving, culturally insanest — underdeveloping.

I mean, your country is the most dramatic example that you can find. I have gone as far as saying — and this is a chapter of a book of mine that is published next month in England, the title of which is Economics Unmasked. There is a chapter called “The United States, an Underdeveloping Nation,” which is a new category. We have developed, underdeveloped and developing. Now you have underdeveloping. And your country is an example, in which the one percent of the Americans, you know, are doing better and better and better, and the 99 percent is going down, in all sorts of manifestations. People living in their cars now and sleeping in their cars, you know, parked in front of the house that used to be their house — thousands of people. Millions of people, you know, have lost everything. But the speculators that brought about the whole mess, oh, they are fantastically well off. No problem. No problem.

This short piece – rare for me at DV, LA Progressive,  and other places, since I still believe that concision is not a favorable tool to understanding the complexities of our society and systems thinking – is all tied to really what many Americans WAY WAY before Trump’s family set foot in this country have always believed about Mexico or New Orleans or Dominican Republic or South Africa or Philippines or Afghanistan (just replace a country like Haiti with any number of 120 countries in the world) have said, stated, written and professed undiplomatically and through the Economic Hit Men: They are ALL shitholes.

I have had plenty of people in my 61 years living on this planet, after being in dozens of countries (I have lived and worked in), fellow (sic) Americans (sic) who thought my white skin and my little lists of three college degrees and my male status entitled my fellow Americans to rant on and on about how dirty, backward, primitive, slow-witted, poor, inefficient, shady, criminal this or that country is — countries from which I lived, traveled and worked and those many have not stepped foot in, beyond FOX News and Hollywood propaganda.

That Trump now voices what Americans have believed, and economists have practiced, and our military branches have reflected – America is Great, and the rest of the rabble (well, maybe not Norway or Finland — that’s about it for that pure white race places) are part and particle the shitholes Trump so undiplomatically states the world is.

In reality, though, if we look at the definition of “shit”/”hole,” it all comes back to this warring, militant, earth-killing, global lording over country called the United States of America. Infantilized, lobotomized, one-paycheck/broken bone/auto accident/employment termination/criminal justice involved/foreclosure AWAY from shithole status.

This poor white and now multi-race co-opting country of people who have zero idea how and why its more or less isolated little status among the global actors is set in their minds as “okay . . . Great/Yes We Can/Make It Great Again/Numero Uno” because of the shit we serve up to the rest of the world vis-à-vis military and economic and resource plundering insanity.

While our own country is full of shit-holes– full of systems of penury and debasement and depravity and delusion and destruction and increasing wrath upon its own populations – we see this spasm of protestations from the Liberal Democrats Who Support All Those Democratic Party apparatchiks of regime change and collateral damage carried out on what Bush or Obama see as the “shit hole Iraqis and Afghans and Libyans and Yeminis and Somalis.” Imagine, the democrats crying about Trump and his redneck Americanism.

Which party said we had to bomb them back to the stone age? Which party wrapped up Japanese Americans in barbed wire luxury? Which party helped to wipe out 3 million Vietnamese? Who bombed, razed, illegally mined, economically double-triple tapped the world’s other shit holes? Way-way before two-bit The Apprentice got raves and ratings and millions. It’s Trump who is still on record ranting about the Central Park Five, found to be falsely convicted and held in prison (now released), stating months ago, after the five men were acquitted, found to be innocent and released, that “they are guilty of the rape, man.” His Trump Faulty Towers Corp. paid or two full page ads in the NYT ranting about “their guilty” after they were found innocent.

Again, a reset button is necessary when looking at the big billionaire’s motley mind and fourth grade thinking style: who is he, how did he get here, where did he learn, how did he exist in this country, what is his American soul made of . . . . The who, why, when, what, where and how are questions Americans of all political stripes never ask.

We can tap dance around those “deplorables” voting for George Wallace or Barry Goldwater or George Bush or Donald Trump, or dance around those millionaires who see other shitholes producing other super predators, or two-step into more delusion when Super Rich Hollywood defines You and Me and Success and Failure, or when Amazon dot com comes crashing into your local bricks and mortar, or how the millionaire media or celebrities come into your living rooms via cable or iPhone and kidnap your loved ones, young and old.

Seriously, which shithole shall we concentrate on in the US of A, the engine of shit holes, the Mother of All Shitholes, coming to a neighborhood nearby, or Flint Michigan, or Charlottesville, or Fortune 1000 boardroom or dis-education college faculty and administration?

Who in your group of friends and acquaintances even knows what economics is for? Manfred Max Neef again:

One, the economy is to serve the people and not the people to serve the economy.

Two, development is about people and not about objects.

Three, growth is not the same as development, and development does not necessarily require growth.

Four, no economy is possible in the absence of ecosystem services.

Five, the economy is a subsystem of a larger finite system, the biosphere, hence permanent growth is impossible.

And the fundamental value to sustain a new economy should be that no economic interest, under no circumstance, can be above the reverence of life.

I am sorry to say in my years as a journalist, college teacher, union organizer, social worker, environmentalist, urban planner, etc., I have run into more shithole thinkers in this country than all the countries I’ve been to combined, by far. If you want to run into real thugs, real criminals, real depravity, delusional thinking, disgusting thinking, real retrograde philosophy, real illiteracy, real infantilism, come to a town near me – Pacific Northwest, or Texas or Arizona, or anywhere I have done my time in.

Not many anti-Trump people would question the root cause of his shithole role running this shithole country, and the mirror is not large enough for self-reflection: biggest military in the world, biggest land mass stolen from original nations, biggest area cleared of natural ecosystems, biggest group of la-la-land thinkers. Magical thinkers, the lot of us, really.

Let the knee-jerking go on and on as Americans attempt to parse out who they are in that mirror mirror on the wall! Unless you have ended the mythical belief in this country’s prowess and greatness and stopped hiding from this society’s advanced malignant cancer called predatory and consumer capitalism, then you are the Trump in that mirror, without or without the orange glow!

Max-Neef: First of all, we need cultured economists again, who know the history, where they come from, how the ideas originated, who did what, and so on and so on; second, an economics now that understands itself very clearly as a subsystem of a larger system that is finite, the biosphere, hence economic growth as an impossibility; and third, a system that understands that it cannot function without the seriousness of ecosystems. And economists know nothing about ecosystems. They don’t know nothing about thermodynamics, you know, nothing about biodiversity or anything. I mean, they are totally ignorant in that respect. And I don’t see what harm it would do, you know, to an economist to know that if the beasts would disappear, he would disappear as well, because there wouldn’t be food anymore. But he doesn’t know that, you know, that we depend absolutely from nature. But for these economists we have, nature is a subsystem of the economy. I mean, it’s absolutely crazy.

Happy New Year!

2018 is going to be a fun fun year. And to better prepare yourself for all the merrymaking here is a calendar of some of the more delightful things to look forward to.

February 16: The United States bans entry to the country of all people except white Christian and Jewish citizens of Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, and Israel.

February 18: Congress passes a law that requires all new citizens to submit an essay – in excellent English – about how brilliant Donald J. Trump is, how devoted they are to him, what a huge success he’s been, how he’s going to make America great again, and how modest a man he is.

March 1: The Mueller Investigation announces the discovery of a citizen of Vladivostok, Russia who on July 16, 2016 wrote an email to his cousin in Baltimore expressing his dismay at all the violence that had been unleashed in the Middle East following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, which, he wrote, was instigated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “Such interference in an American election will not be tolerated”, declared Mueller’s office.

March 6: The government of El Salvador is overthrown in a coup. The United States blames Russia.

March 15: Members of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi parties, which hold several high positions in the US-supported government, goose-step through the center of Kiev in full German Storm Trooper uniforms, carrying giant swastika flags, shouting “Heil Hitler”, and singing the Horst Wessel song. When left-wingers attempt to block them police intervene to arrest the left-wingers. Not a word of this appears in any American mainstream media. President Trump tweets “there are lots of bad people on both sides”.

March 26: The government of Paraguay is overthrown in a coup. The United States blames Russia.

April 1: Trump declares that the United States has never invaded another country nor has ever overthrown a foreign government. He adds that this is not an April Fools Day joke.

April 15: The government of Egypt is overthrown in a coup. The United States blames Russia.

April 28: A new Harvard study concludes that .00001 percent of the American population now possesses 99.999 percent of all financial assets.

May 10: Texas executes a 16-year-old girl for having an abortion.

May 12: The Republican Party calls for giving fetuses the vote.

June 3: US demands that Iran destroy all planes and bombs in their country, all pistols and rifles, all knives over 2 inches, and all baseball bats.

July 1: Vice President Pence is accused by nine women of having sexually abused them. A week-long nationwide protest demands that he resign. He finally does. President Trump appoints Harvey Weinstein to replace him.

July 14: Saudi Arabia executes for blasphemy 105 men by firing squad, and 42 by beheading, and subjects 60 others to 100 lashes each. The next day Trump angrily denounces “the communist government of Venezuela” for arresting six protesters.

August 15: Chelsea Manning is assassinated by a man named Oswald Harvey.

August 18: Oswald Harvey, while in solitary confinement and guarded round the clock by 200 policemen, is killed by a man named Ruby Jackson.

August 26: Ruby Jackson suddenly dies of a rare Asian disease heretofore unknown in the Western Hemisphere.

September 3: The Labor Department announces that Labor Day will become a celebration of America’s gratitude to its corporations, a day dedicated to the memory of J.P. Morgan and Pinkerton strike breakers killed in the line of duty.

September 6: Congress passes a law requiring that all persons arrested in anti-war demonstrations must be sterilized. President Trump says it is “a huge law”. Congressional Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi votes for the law but declares that she has misgivings because there’s no provision for a right of appeal.

September 8: Military junta overthrows President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela. Washington decries the loss of democracy.

September 10: US recognizes the new Venezuelan military junta, offers it 50 jet fighters and 100 tanks.

September 12: Revolution breaks out in Venezuela endangering the military junta; 40,000 American marines land in Caracas to quell the uprising.

September 20: The Supreme Court rules that police may search anyone if they have reasonable grounds for believing that the person has pockets.

September 21: Two subway trains collide in Manhattan. The United States demands that Moscow explain why there was a Russian citizen in each of the trains.

October 1: The Democratic Party changes its name to the Republican Lite Party, and announces the opening of a joint bank account with the Republican Party so that corporate lobbyists need to make out only one check.

October 11: The Justice Department announces that six people have been arrested in New York in connection with a plan to bomb the United Nations, the Empire State Building, the Times Square subway station, Madison Square Garden, and Lincoln Center.

October 12: Charges are dropped against four of “The New York Six” when it is determined that they are FBI agents.

October 19: Cops the world over form a new association, Policemen’s International Governing Society. PIGS announces that its first goal will be to mount a campaign against the notion that a person is innocent until proven guilty, in those countries where the quaint notion still dwells.

October 22: The draft is reinstated for males and females, ages 16 to 45. Those who are missing a limb or are blind can apply for non-combat roles.

November 6: The turnout for the US presidential election is 9.6%. The voting ballots are all imprinted: “From one person, one vote, to one dollar, one vote.” The winner is “None of the above”.

November 10: ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, General Electric, General Motors, AT&T, Ford, and IBM merge to form “Free Enterprise, Inc.”

November 16: Free Enterprise, Inc. seeks to purchase Guatemala and Haiti. Citigroup refuses to sell.

November 18: Free Enterprise, Inc. purchases Citigroup.

November 25: The air in Los Angeles reaches so bad a pollution level that the rich begin to hire undocumented workers to breathe for them.

December 7: Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump engage in a debate at the United Nations on which of the two is more popular and beloved at home and around the world, whether American Exceptionalism beats North Korean Exceptionalism, and who has the bigger penis.

December 10: Trump fires his entire cabinet, the heads of all government agencies, and his wife. “I gave them all millions of dollars,” he declares, “but none of them gave me respect or loyalty. What a bunch of losers! Sad!”

December 14: Dick Cheney announces from his hospital bed that the United States has finally discovered caches of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – “So all those doubters can now just go ‘F’ themselves.” The former vice-president, however, refuses to provide any details of the find because, he says, to do so might reveal intelligence sources or methods.

So … best wishes for the new year to all my dear readers in the United States and around the world.

And may your name never appear on a Homeland Security “No-fly list”.

May your labor movement not be supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, nor your country’s elections.

May your country never experience a NATO or US humanitarian intervention, liberation, or involuntary suicide.

May the depleted uranium, cluster bombs, white phosphorous, and napalm which fall upon your land be as harmless or non-existent as the Pentagon says they are.

May you not fall sick while in the United States without health insurance.

May you not desire to go to an American university while being less than rich.

May you re-discover what the poor in 18th century France discovered, that rich people’s heads can be mechanically separated from their shoulders if they don’t listen to reason.

The Weinstein (Company) Effect: Only Women Need Apply

Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by you know how I feel
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
For me
And I’m feeling good
I’m feeling good

— Nina Simone, Feeling Good, 1965

The idiocy of our times – those tick-tick-tock-tock empty cranial caverns of the American collective delusion – have us clear thinkers and revolutionaries at heart on the ropes. How do we even sleep walk through the carnival that is Facebook, Saturday Night Live, endless Black Fridays, malls and movies, the spectacle that is un-news and the infantile capacity of adults from Ellen to Trump, from Rachel to Tom Friedman, from MSM punks to you-name-it-still-employed economist to control vast hundreds of millions – check that, billions – of destinies.

Looting the tax coffers, hollowing out the middle class, rampant perpetual poverty and indebtedness, chronic illness, crashing climate, and a shit-storm of a planet now that we all think Capitalism is the only solution to death.

We fiddle with holiday deals while holocaust looms, and we sit, kneel, genuflect, roll over, lie down and plead in our hog-tied American way. Bombs from the suburbs lifted into space with the deadly drone god while Southern California burns, Phoenix evaporates, and both ends of the country flop around like lice-plagued GMO fish on the sinking deck.

Prognostication, this is the daily bread, by the millions – blogs, WoP, WSJ, NYT, endless on-line mutterings of the controlled opposition. We have become Pokémon dealers, shuffling the next culling of the economy, or placing bets on the insanity plea of Trump and Company, hoping for black rain and Sunday bloody Sunday.

This is the time of Botox broadcasters, the male and female versions of the same plastic people, there, in their million dollar flats at night, conjuring up more of the same silly and insane narratives about things they know nothing about. They ply their trade like traveling prostitutes, selling their bits of Cellophane wisdom and glowing manicured selves like jesters, clowns. The more they try and sound Ivy League and display Driveling Room Temperature IQ, the more difficult it is to understand them.

The elite is not some gang of point-one One Percenters. They are in the several millions, count, sixty million of them in the USA, held together with the thieving accountants and hired hands of the legal-illegal class. They are wannabe’s and blue collar millionaires, two doctor heads of households, high end business owners, the traders of guns, pharmaceuticals, laws and other lies.

We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.

— US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

Yet, we have to listen endlessly to the We Are the Ninety-nine, which is the absurdity of double-think. One percent isn’t holding up the house of cards. The minions, and the mighty masses supporting these titans of industry and billionaires, they are the Twenty-Solid (& Hard) Percent, in their glory, libertarians and thieves and unwilling to be the blood coming from their proverbial onion hearts.

In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in relatively few hands. As of 2013, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 36.7% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 52.2%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 89%, leaving only 11% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.8%

I dance through this mumbo-jumbo Hollywood and Single-Screen-Scroll-after-Scroll mush we call culture, and I hurdle over the Eichmann’s, big and small, and I end up in the same place I started more than 45 years ago – all thieves and charlatans, but with that big all-you-can-eat American cafeteria grin, the lives set in drive through coffee, grease and drugs delivery.

This country, ripe for the taking, after genocide after genocide, and then the War is a Racket turned into America is the King Pin, the Biggest Racket of them All. Blue blood in her circulatory system, ever the slave-trading mindset, dredged in Puritanical and Crypto-Zionism.

Promised Land is the Disney Effect, and chosen people come and go, as the drive-in’s turn to weeds and the ever-present huckster and PT Barnum and Lying Lynching Legal class rule over the entire mess, over all of the stars and tycoons. Beady-eyed money changers, and those sniveling ones making markets out of nothing, the very steps we take, breaths we exhale, lives we shed.

There will be blood is the banker’s credo now, backed by Smith and Wesson and plethora of rockets bursting in air from every corner of the White Man’s/Christian/Jewish world.

Cops and coaches, captains and CEOs, we know their kind, and no matter which XX or XY you attempt to rationalize into the madness of Capitalism, no matter which Gender or Identity serves the point-one One Percent class, the project is all cornered and flayed because Capitalism is the breeder of the heathens, the reckless and ruthless, the smiling and sincerely elitist crew.

Yet, we hear endless drivel now about Groping A and Groping B, the slithering tongues of these Capitalists on steroids and amyl nitrate and human growth hormones and T-cells, and lubricated eggs from virgin sturgeon. These people in the center of that millionaire goo, in that trade of body and soul for the spin around the rotunda or jaunt down Sunset Boulevard, no matter which Charlie Rose or Dustin Hoffman or Sean Penn you end up with in the same room or office or court of law, unfortunately, they are all the same, groping or masturbating or climaxing or exhibitionisming or peeping tomming or S & M-ing, no matter how you run with them, these elites will eventually get under your skin like pin worms and chiggers.

We’ll be seeing the fallout now of the alleged perversions and sexual overtures and manipulations and cajoling and assaults and rapes, wherever they go with those gag rule clauses after the payoffs and silence money.

Just out on this day of infamy, Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, stories on John Travolta, one of the richest guys in Hollywood with 5 planes and jets, and his own runway in Florida. This is the microcosm of what Americans are, what they watch, what they believe.

Imagine he and his wife, Kelly Preston, living their multimillionaire tax-evading, money-sheltering, cash-gouging lives. So, old John (the Italian-American actor) is accused of attacking masseuses, and he is now in the pig wash slurry of more scandal, as his movie on John Gotti is being dropped (by Lionsgate) because of the allegations swirling around old John (Travolta) attacking guys coming to his hotel rooms for massages (professional):

Mafia leader Gotti was brought to trial multiple times throughout the 1980s, only to be acquitted.

Travolta, 63, plays Gotti in multiple stages of his life, including when he finally went to prison in 1992.

Gotti died of throat cancer, while still incarcerated, in 2002.

Last month Travolta was named in a criminal complaint by a 21-year-old masseur who accused the actor of sexual battery that reportedly took place in 2000.

According to the bombshell police report, the masseur alleged that Travolta groped his bare buttocks and indecently exposed himself during a deep body massage at the LaQuinta Hotel in Palm Springs, California.

During the alleged incident, Travolta, 63, also made lewd remarks about gay fantasies while at the hotel’s spa facility around 1:30 am on February 15, 2000.

The masseur reported the incident to the Palm Springs Sheriff’s Department.

Officer Mark Peters went to the hotel to speak with Travolta, who had already checked out by the time he arrived.

This isn’t the first time Travolta has been accused of misconduct while getting a massage.

In 2012, Travolta was sued over accusations that he tried to have sex with a male masseur during a therapy session at the luxury Beverly Hills Hotel.

Okorie Okorcha, the lawyer representing the masseur said: ‘My client is afraid of John Travolta’.

He added: ‘Mr. Travolta made very explicit threats against my client, which are contained in the lawsuit.

‘Specifically, John Travolta told my client that Hollywood is controlled by homosexual Jewish men who expect favors in return for sexual activity.

‘Let’s face it, John Travolta is an extremely powerful man, and my client absolutely felt threatened by Mr. Travolta. My client was sexually assaulted by Mr. Travolta and he needs to be held accountable for his actions.’

Read more:

I bring this most recent case up to illustrate the insane and perverse and surreal aspect of American society, and the money made by talent-less actors who are in bizarre relationships with spouses (arranged marriage with Preston per Scientology), who have the lives of the rich and famous all bundled up in their wacko ways. Do we want to sit through two hours of Gotti, at $12 a pop per movie ticket? Do we have no common sense in this country? The poor and the rich are the mad crowd, the spectacle now conjoined as aberrations of humanity.

Travolta, a deacon in the Scientology cult. Do Americans boycott these people, these companies, these ideas, these death by a thousand cuts philosophies and this repressive un-culture to our own humanity?

Boys will be boys, and then some. How many men have made the news for their alleged crimes of groping, harassing, cajoling, blackmailing?

How many rabbis are speaking out against the large amount of Jewish men caught up in the allegations? How many preachers and priests are speaking up? What about the school teachers, and those university faculty? Mothers? Daughters? Aunts? Any Trump family out there willing to go out on a limb? Where is that ethical code humanity universally has to live with to make sure we do no harm?

Golden Rule, Seven Sins of Gandhi ?

On October 22, 1925, Gandhi published a list he called the Seven Social Sins in his weekly newspaper Young India.

Politics without principles
Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Knowledge without character
Commerce without morality
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice

The list sprung from a correspondence that Gandhi had with someone only identified as a “fair friend.” He published the list without commentary save for the following line: “Naturally, the friend does not want the readers to know these things merely through the intellect but to know them through the heart so as to avoid them.”

Unlike the Catholic Church’s list, Gandhi’s list is expressly focused on the conduct of the individual in society. Gandhi preached non-violence and interdependence and every single one of these sins are examples of selfishness winning out over the common good.

It’s also a list that, if fully absorbed, will make the folks over at the US Chamber of Commerce and Ayn Rand Institute itch. After all, “Wealth without work,” is a pretty accurate description of America’s 1%. (Investments ain’t work. Ask Thomas Piketty.) “Commerce without morality” sounds a lot like every single oil company out there and “knowledge without character” describes half the hacks on cable news. “Politics without principles” describes the other half.

In 1947, Gandhi gave his fifth grandson, Arun Gandhi, a slip of paper with this same list on it, saying that it contained “the seven blunders that human society commits, and that cause all the violence.” The next day, Arun returned to his home in South Africa. Three months later, Gandhi was shot to death by a Hindu extremist.

The law of reciprocity, and where does that fall on American culture, whether through the lens of millionaire men or millionaire women?

One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself (positive or directive form).

One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated (negative or prohibitive form).

What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself (empathic or responsive form).

The Golden Rule differs from the maxim of reciprocity captured in do ut des—”I give so that you will give in return”—and is rather a unilateral moral commitment to the well-being of the other without the expectation of anything in return.

The fall-out in this dog-eat-dog, one man/woman for him or herself stolen land, which is the undertow of predatory capitalism, unfortunately, is all (unduly so) on the shoulders of all men – fathers and uncles, teachers and social workers, sons and uncles, all of us, righteous and far from any capitalist usury mindset, divorced from the take-take-take that is America, seemingly embraced by every boy or girl, man or woman, all intersexuals and transsexuals.

The voyeurism, titillation, exhibitionism, proclivities toward gender and self debasement, and the ejaculatory and phallus aims of those tainted elites, and not so elite, are tied to the usury, exploitative and downright greed in every human or business transaction in Capitalism. Men, alas, the patriarchy, are all tied up with what we in America have become along all gender and sexual identities: paranoid, exceptionalist, supremacist, imperial and self-important, warring, and supercilious, superficial and shallow.  It’s an epigenetic cause and effect relationship, inside the DNA code of most red-blooded Americans, gay, straight, lesbian, trans-sexual, and what have you!

Scam, flimflam, extort, fine, levy, tax, fee-fee-fee, and then, we steal from our futures, bankrupt our own retirements, rip off generations yet born, dredge the lake for that last caviar-producing fish, and we put it all out there in Google-land, Selfie the Entire Disaster, go on Twitter Tizzies, and then ask for more, and order it all on Amazon, trucked to the door and drone-delivered to the balcony.

Funny, how conservative guys like Paul Craig Roberts see this next spasm of looting with the Republicans throwing down their true colors and the Pelosi-Schumer schemers in the Big D club yawning about their protected investments/millionaire and yammering about Russia, here at Counterpunch:

What we are witnessing is the complete looting of America and the entirety of the West.  While the Western World collapses, the insouciant, submissive people sit there sucking their thumbs while they are being ruined.

Nothing is left of the West except looters at work.

This tax bill is an abomination, an act of brutal plunder.  Its sponsors should be tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail, if not hung from a lamp post.

If we really break this down, really, what is that tar and feather routine? Imagine, a real world where we aren’t going to take it anymore, one where the tar is 200 degrees and the feathers are all knife sharp and hardened. Imagine the dunking of those thieves-murderers in vats of their fossil fuel gunk, near boiling temperature.

I wonder if that’s what Craig Roberts is asking for?

And, then, really, what does it mean to be hung on a lamp post? The old ways put the tarred and feathered tied to a lamp post, but hung evokes a lynching. Is that what this staid and conservative Paul Craig Roberts is asking for?

Hmm, a call to action, violence?

The reality is Americans love their thug royalty, all the Bushes and Clintons and Obamas and the endless Kennedys and now the Trumps. This country not only tars and feathers dissidents, but we’re strung up to dry on the vine. I have lost jobs for speaking out, for advocating as a teacher or journalist or social worker. I write about this all the time, and many places I’ve called my work place were havens for women, me being in the super minority. I have no bended knee and favoritism for the female side of capitalism, like many now are gaggling about.

I have been face to face with ameliorating, middling, and in many cases malfeasance prone supervisors and HR directors with the XX gene, and I am not about to go on a tirade of reverse stupidity and count all men as Harvey Weinsteins or John Conyers.

We are living up to our collective reputation as mushy thinkers, in this next Tweeting for the Highest Scream for grope x, y and z. Untethered bathrobes, full-on kisses, and all the other pathetic pranks and sexist fun (sic) these leaders of the free world engage in. But . . . .

Bombing the world, gutting the world, and possibly stealing all the world’s things, and we talk about Al Franken the Bumbler.

Imagine now, a few days ago, that parading multimillionaire, mutilating man, Obama, calling for more women to be elected to office. “. . . because men seem to be having some problems these days.” In all his neoliberal, girl child killing, female wedding party murdering, undocumented woman deporting glee, he sits on the pile of manure that is American retro-thinking and makes these declarations worthy of the nonsense that overrules everything in this country.

Hollande treats Obama to three-star French cuisine

This is Obama at a private event in Paris on Saturday, and he, of course, was referring to the sexual misconduct allegations made against many high-profile men he golfs with, rubs elbows with, hobnobs for.  Here, this is a must read, his eleventh-grade wisdom and drearily daft psychology:

“Not to generalize but women seem to have a better capacity than men do, partly because of their socialization.”

Here he is, commenting on the plethora of misdeeds and worse of the great elite class, those champions of perversion like Weinstein or the Franken fellow or Alabama Crimson Tide Moore and Company. This is in Paris, speaking to his elites, arranged by a network of communications professionals known as the Les Napoleons. Millionaires, and many of them perverted on many levels.

You think one of these boys and girls club acolytes have a bone of humanism left?

Listening to wise scriptures, austerity, sacrifice, respectful faith, social welfare, forgiveness, purity of intent, compassion, truth and self-control—are the ten wealth of character (self). O king aim for these, may you be steadfast in these qualities. These are the basis of prosperity and rightful living. These are highest attainable things. All worlds are balanced on dharma, dharma encompasses ways to prosperity as well. O King, dharma is the best quality to have, wealth the medium and desire (kāma) the lowest. Hence, (keeping these in mind), by self-control and by making dharma (right conduct) your main focus, treat others as you treat yourself.

— Mahābhārata Shānti-Parva 167:9

This is 21st Century Google Man, Obama, at his best and most hypocritical, somehow declaring that I as a man should not run for local office or be involved in social change at the political level because of a few perverts making the Twitter feeds? He declares men seemingly have a few problems, and so, this wise American Murder Incorporated CEO (ex) is asking me to stand down as a male and wait for the female leaders, because women have a better grasp on socialization? What the hell does that mean? Where do these Gollum characters come from, this Barak and his Michelle and the millions of shekels shoved into their pockets for their mere existences, for a few hiccuped words ghost-written into Number One Best Seller Hardbacks?

The socialization of women like Madeline Albright, Chancellor Merkel, Margaret Thatcher, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Janet Reno, and, well, the reader can generate his-her-their own list. Socialization of these fine ladies shine a light on their incredible lightness of goodness? This is side-mouth, PC, identity politics talk.

These are loopy times, and we’ve been in them for decades, really, since Eisenhauer, as undertow after riptide produced the death of integrity, the death of common thinking, the inability of the American trite and superficial man and woman to advance to a level of sophistication or deep thinking or even wisdom or common sage sense.

Image result for Obama with Goldman Sachs

Look at these fellows and women running the world into the ground while they stash-stash-stash away retirement money enough to feed the world 50 billion times over.  Look at how they are not us and they indeed want us prostrate and afraid and on the run and now in their goofy show of faux integrity. All for one, one for all women.

Image result for Obama with Goldman Sachs

Here’s a run down of some of those so-so better socialized women Obama is calling on. I need not go into their dirty deeds, their recklessness, their thieving and in many cases direct connection to murdering thousands and structurally and violently assaulting millions and millions more. That other gender Obama is asking for help from, the female persuasion, is now front and center the only gender to be socially and structurally ready for service to the country, as Obama blurts out during one of his Point One Percent Meetings in France . . .  because men seem to be having some problems these days.

Madeleine Albright  Condoleezza Rice Hillary Clinton .

Arizona governor Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security

Margaret Spellings Secretary of Education

Betsy DeVos  Secretary of Education

Susan E. Rice, Loretta E. Lynch, Laura Bush, Karen Hughes (Bush Women)

Samantha Power? (Wow, what a bastion of integrity . . . I had to throw that in).

More rah-rah bullshit from mainstream propaganda:

Forbes USA Most Powerful Women

Fortune’s Most Powerful Women

And, the following from other lists, imagine, the power they wield, and because they are women, according to Barak Obama’s calculus, are stalwarts of humanity! Merkel, May, Gates, Trump — bastions of integrity!

Angela Merkel is still the most powerful woman in the world.

The German Chancellor has held the top spot on the Forbes Most Powerful Women List for seven consecutive years, and 12 years in total. Another prominent political leader, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, ranked second. It is her first time appearing on Forbes‘s annual list.

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is the highest-ranking American woman, taking the third spot. Seven of the world’s 10 most powerful women are American, according to the Forbes list.

Forbes determines its ranking by evaluating four categories: money — which covers net worth, company revenues, assets under management or GDP — media presence, influence and impact.

Of the 100 women on the list, nearly half are from the United States. Ivanka Trump, senior adviser to and daughter of President Donald Trump.

Here’s the David Letterman Countdown, Top Ten. Gates Foundation, Facebook, GM, YouTube, Fidelity Investments, IMF, Bank, IBM. Just think of those companies, and how unjust, how predatory, and how destructive they are, but with women in higher up positions and even as CEOs, well, according to Obama, we all can sleep better tonight now that women are at the helm!

  1. Angela Merkel: Chancellor, Germany
  2. Theresa May: Prime Minister, U.K.
  3. Melinda Gates: Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S.
  4. Sheryl Sandberg: COO, Facebook, U.S.
  5. Mary Barra: CEO, General Motors, U.S.
  6. Susan Wojcicki: CEO, YouTube, U.S.
  7. Abigail Johnson: CEO, Fidelity Investments, U.S.
  8. Christine Lagarde: Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, U.S.
  9. Ana Patricia Botín: Chair, Santander Group, Banco Santander, Spain
  10. Ginni Rometty: CEO, IBM, U.S.

Here, an interesting list, with, of course, a few amazing human beings lumped into the superficial and super-rich — Addams, Aquino, Carson, Curie, Mead, Parks, Wolff. But it’s Time Magazine, so we know what that means (run by a woman, or has she been replaced?)

Jane Addams (1860-1935)

Corazon Aquino (1933-2009)

Rachel Carson (1907-1964)

Coco Chanel (1883-1971)

Julia Child (1912-2004)

Hillary Clinton (1947-Present)

Marie Curie (1867-1934)

Aretha Franklin (1942-Present)

Indira Gandhi (1917-1984)

Estée Lauder (1908-2004)

Madonna (1958-Present)

Margaret Mead (1901-1978)

Golda Meir (1898-1978)

Angela Merkel (1954-Present)

Sandra Day O’Connor (1930-Present)

Rosa Parks (1913-2005)

Jiang Qing (1914-1991)

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)

Gloria Steinem (1934-Present)

Margaret Sanger (1879-1966)

Martha Stewart (1941-Present)

Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

Margaret Thatcher (1925-Present)

Oprah Winfrey (1954-Present)

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

Most Powerful Women According to Fortune Magazine, 2010!

Highest paid, take a look at that loot, again, as Obama proclaims, why not have them all (women) run the senate, congress, Supreme Court and the Executive Branch?

See the source image

Carol Bartz, Yahoo, $47.2 million
Safra Catz, Oracle, $36.4 million
Carrie Cox, Schering-Plough, $23 million
Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft Foods, $22.1 million
Wellington Denahan-Norris, Annaly Capital Management, $21.6 million
Pamela Patsley, Moneygram International, $17.9 million
Susan Ivey, Reynolds American, $16.2 million
Martine Rothblatt, United Therapeutics, $15.8 million
Carol Meyrowitz, TJX Companies, $14.8 million
Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo, $14.2 million
Angela Braly, WellPoint, $13.1 million
Brenda Barnes, Sara Lee, $11.5 million
Linda Chen, Wynn Resorts, $11.2 million
Patricia Woertz, Archer Daniels Midland, $11.0 million
Kim Sinatra, Wynn Resorts, $10.5 million
Mary Callahan Erdoes, JPMorgan Chase, $10.4 million
Nancy Wysenski, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, $10.2 million
Jackwyn Nemerov, Polo Ralph Lauren, $10.1 million
Ursula Burns, Xerox, $9.9 million
Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, $9.7 m
Ann Livermore, Hewlett-Packard, $9.7 million
Doreen Toben, Verizon Communications, $9.2 million
Katherine Krill, AnnTaylor Stores, $9.1 million
Kathryn Fagan, Annaly Capital Management, $8.6 million
Ellen Kullman, DuPont, $8.3 million

You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.

— Nina Simone

See the source image

Note 1:  Give it to the New York Daily News to call this “the Weinstein Effect as Sexual McCarthyism”;

Note 2:  In case the reader thinks I am just stuck on this satirical look at the fading empire, USA, I have been hard at work fighting the good fight against my own wrongful termination, at the hands of majority’s worth of females from both the former non-profit I worked at and triggered by Planned Parenthood: “Falling into the Planned Parenthood Gardasil Snake Pit“.

The Strange and Curious Case of “Politicianitis”….

The soundtrack to daily life is a very specific tone of voice that is heard across all news outlets and entertainment channels. The voice of the generic talking head as he or she mouth platitudes and empty repetitive cliches….

— John Steppling

I wish it were not so, but it was, and is, so,…and so it goes….

It is difficult to say when precisely the phenomenon commenced, but because it was first recorded at a Commencement Ceremony at a very small and unimportant “Liberal Arts” college in the embarrassing “fly-over” part of the country, and somewhat deftly reported by a sophomore reporter for the college newspaper, it was at first entitled “The Commencement Malefaction.” Later, in less polite society, owing to the slight paroxysm of embarrassed laughter that accompanied the eruption, some wag termed it, “The Gaseous Gyro.” Then, some group complained about all the “political correctness,” and another group complained about those complainants, and bedlam was about to break out until the enterprising student body president got up a petition entitled, “Let’s Just Call a Fart a Fart!” And then it was known as the “Farting Phenomenon,” and, for a time, “Mouth-Farting,” until an enterprising New York Times reporter got hold of the story, decided that “all the news that’s fit to print” required an escalation of language, and, since the visible and olfactory aspects always involved politicians, the odious and odorous ailment came to be known simply as “Politicianitis.”

After it was re-named such, the general public weighed in and assertions were tweeted and emoji’d that the earliest case had been observed (and whiffed) in Sheboygan, or Jersey City, or Los Angeles. But no one ever offered tenable proof!

It happened this way: a politician would begin a speech with the usual spinning of words like drunken ballerinas—words accoutered in tutus and tights—and everything would go well (in terms of stupefying the audience, putting them to sleep, rousing them to violence, or whatever was the intention or inattention of the moment) and then, as the peroration neared, there would be an unintentional fart! Right out of the politician’s mouth! Left or Right, Republican, Democrat, Socialist, Libertarian, Fascist, Antifa, Black or White, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Easterner—it made no difference. As soon as he or she or Trans or Straight or LGBTQ or QTBGL began to say something political, there was a guttural rumbling and the air became fetid….

Investigations were demanded, and Mr. Ambiguity himself—Comey–came out of retirment to see what role the Russians were playing. Intermittently—like, every few hours—the public was assured that “The Investigation” was going well, results were imminently forthcoming, but there were always “unforeseen circumstances,”—lost emails, hurricanes, Global Warming, and a slew of events “beyond our poor powers to add or detract” (as Lincoln had said.)

The public might have learned to put up with these “anamolies”—they had already suffered much at the hands of lying politicians, and only half of “we the people” bothered to trot out to vote in the greatest Empire the world had yet imagined—but, sadly, inevitably, the contagion spread.

Fans of the Fox channel tried to ignore the reality when one of the attractive ladies on the thigh-high set let go with one of those “slight paroxysms of embarrassed laughter,” and her cohorts discreetly moved down the couch. When one of the white-bearded “elder statesmen” at CNN evinced the same paroxysm in the midst of a vis a vis interview—with a general, no less!—the public understood the full dimensions of the problem.

But, things only got worse!

University students began to complain that their classes were impossible to sit through. How could they possibly learn about Adam Smith, Karl Marx, or Bakunin when their professors were stomping about in mad efforts to diffuse the evidence of their transgressions and transmissions?

But, things only got worse!

Sports had long replaced Religion as the digestible “faith” of the declared and decreed “Republic.” Sports was where the herd went to forget their subjugation—the whirring knives of Time inexorably approaching. Sports was vicariousness raised to the nth degree—a quasi-mystical land of super-heroes and buxom cheerleaders; or, in the admittedly pseudo-world of wrestling–freakish good guys and villains, and spilling-over mamary glands parading about the ring.

But now it was all changed. For, with every tackle, with every toss on the mat, there was grunting, and with grunting came the paroxysms and soon the stadium or the arena was evacuated because of the “fire hazard” caused by the surfeit of gas.

From politicians to academicians to sports figures and figurines, the phenomenon spread from group to group, and then, to the general public. And it was clear that there was a pandemic—comparable, some wrote, (but would not say!) to the Plague of the Middle Ages. But others demurred and wrote, “No, it is much worse!”

“When can we hold our true love in our arms again,” the poets wondered, “and whisper tenderly to him/her/it, ‘I love you,” and kiss him/her/it–without encountering a ghastly, but understandable, expression of reproach and rebuff?”

And so, speech died. The “citizens” of the “Greatest Country that ever was” retreated to their “devices.” Robotics stocks soared. And, soon enough, people forgot the spontaneous sound of the spoken word or the sung word, and nobody dared to remember….

A Tribe is Syncopated with One’s Own Journey into Restorative Humanity

Because the tribe is its members, the tribe is what its members want it to be—nothing more and nothing less.

― Daniel Quinn, Beyond Civilization: Humanity’s Next Great Adventure

The shape of my life is the daily intersections of the people I have come to integrate into part of my total life clan – sources as journalist, people in academia who have inspired me, students, the places in my mind from countless travels out of this culture, USA, and the many I have worked with as both instructor and social worker. And many more.

The foundation of my “man lost of tribe” conveyances is based on not believing in the structures and status quo of the place I hold in US society – male, now 60, denuded of agency, really, in the scheme of capitalism’s storied stories of what it is to be successful and valued in this nickel-and-dimed culture. What we hold to his health and harmony, blended learning and giving, not taking. What we hold is the breath and the memory, and the expansiveness of memory and experience to put spark and ignition to rebuffing of the daily slide the society puts precarious workers like myself into . . . by the tens and tens of millions in the USA and billions worldwide.

We grasp at straws sometimes as social workers, gasping at the daily witnessing of humanity at its best, singularly, and the culture at its worse, collectively. The day opens in the dark and ends with a bright lightness of being in a world alight by the hopes, dreams and smarts of people who have hit rock bottom and under that, but still, everyday, attempt to thrive and survive. Comedy in tragedy and the entire shooting match of my life are held by the thread of the threadbare social services this society and the philanthropies have deemed as handouts, doles, welfare, for the growing legion of homeless, rudderless, drug and booze induced. “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”1

*****

Uncle Bob,

My father told me to be expecting mail from you but I didn’t take him seriously. No one writes me except my mother and girlfriend. You’re right we don’t know each other very well but fortunately we at least know “of” one another. What’s your Zodiac sign? Me being a Taurus does make me very stubborn. But being in jail has given me a lot of time to think, analyze and more aware of my actions, decisions and overall reason I’m spending 50 (months) and counting here. If you want honesty, I’ve been struggling with addiction since 8th grade. Started with drinking, cigarettes and marijuana. By the end of freshman year progressed to Ecstasy, Xanax, cocaine and meth. Now a days I’ve overcome using needles (5 years now) and only partake in meth. What have I learned from meth? It destroys not only your social life, family, occupational living and physical life. But also you as a general human being.

My personality, character, attitude, physical appearance, everything went downhill. Along with that, I picked up an overbearing and controlling gambling habit. Lottery, scratch offs and video slots. I refuse to continue living my life that way. I’m better than that and have a complete understanding in knowing my family deserves more from me. My parents gave me nothing but the best life they could and my hard-headed, stubborn ways let them down.

I never did any of this to be cool . . . I really have a problem and finally I’m past the first step of admitting and allowing myself to accept help. So help me all you can with words of wisdom and past experiences and hopefully I will succeed on my quest of sobriety. Until paper and pen meet again,

Love always, Tonya

Bob, 69, mean streets of Chicago, still smart as a whip, Black Panthers for a while, now complete AA recovery, god and bible, but as cool of a cat as any Zoot Suiter, style and class. Bob is fighting addiction and a rap sheet 57 pages long. Last time in trouble with the law — possession of controlled substance, that lover, heroin, like no other lover, though. Bob is still a randy guy, 69, wears the coolest hats around, shined shoes and uses a soft voice.

Imagine my job, social worker, playing with the mean streets of Portland, where Bob has resided for a few decades . . . job after job, the stolen wages of the punishment society – fees, fines, restitution, legal financial obligations, garnishments, pending debts.

What is a man but his way of living now after tumultuous days and then weeks and years, decades, some way to make sense of senseless rudderless displacement. The struggle of boys in Chicago, nothing but bad cops, bad renters, the souls of the drugged and beaten, like ghosts emitted from the smokestacks of fallen industries.

Bob knows the work of “The New Jim Crow” and “I Am Not Your Negro.” We talk about Malcolm X and brother Evers, all that is Billie Holiday, all that could have been the raging Black Panthers. The jostle and hustle of deals, robberies, strong arm and smash and grab, the night streets with heat, women, men, throbbing, something other than suit and tie, briefcase and the murdering stock broker-lawyer-manager-office worker-CEO. Politicians as dirty as sewer rats, and the entire Chicago inbred scene a place where a young Bob flows with the only things he knows, the kids, older boys and women, street walkers and pavement pushers, the occasional big murder spree and the endless wars between the sexes, generations, oh where oh where have all the role models gone?

The letter above is from his 26-year-old niece in Illinois, incarcerated for possession and intent to distribute of a controlled substance – more than four years thrown at her, his niece he had never known, just through the photographs and early in her adolescence, a trip or two back to Chicago. The mean streets and elegance of survival, pushing through, all those addiction blocks put up to stop you from even getting out of the quagmire that is poverty, racism, isolation, gentrification, bad schools, bad peers, addiction and running and gunning.

African-American lesbian, aged 26, in prison, awaiting some lawyer’s jujitsu to reverse sentence, illegal search and seizure, same old tricks of bad cops and really bad prosecutors, Chicago style, and yet, Bob, Uncle Bob, sees the light, and seeks some absolution by contacting his niece who had never known him, precipitating the above beautiful appeal for love and family and rejoining in his niece’s heart..

Personal prison appeals never publicized, not on mainstream TV, nor in the bowels of Hollywood; not in the night tremors of the politicians, no mayor, maybe no one in the political class, certainly not Mrs. Super Predator Clinton Super Predators or Donald Kill the Central Park Five Innocents Trump, in their guffawing toasts in Manhattan with the other nematodes fawning over killers like Kissinger or Greenspan, all of the elite (sic) class (sic) could ever understand the force of those two simple uncle-to-niece prison correspondences.

Let them eat cake, be damned . . . . Let them eat shit . . . . Force-feed the shit of the privatizers into each and every orifice.

That digression comes from decades of witnessing the shit of politicians, businessmen and now businesswomen, the city and county meetings, planning and zoning, all the cop shops, all the feds and border thugs, all the displays of ignorance and smarts, tied to exploiting the exploited, the super predators are the banks-mortgage holders, are the Repo men and women, the charter school tycoons, the retailers and the ever-expanding middle middlings wanting some chunk of the pie so they can continue to see their navels pop out like nascent boas, popping out to one day be the gator-eating 50 foot constrictors, which is what almost every white upper echelon family produces:  offspring, the seeds of more and more maximizers coming at the exploited, as these soldiers of Goldman Sachs and Data Mining Industries and purveyors of bad schools, bad psychology, bad criminal law, bad tort law, bad food, bad literature, bad movies and bad medicine come at us all, even those of us who went to schools and post-graduated, coming at us, calling us the “saps of and drains on the economy,” “the lazy ones,” “the ones sucking up our potential lifetime of profits!”

But I digress again, easily captured by the sirocco of bad policies tainted with the ions of disturbed minds. Bob is my client, and we work on learning, my own learning, as he seeks me as a social worker, and in his full personal class, he’s announced at big meetings, his gratitude for my very presence not only in his life but on planet earth! Here’s his letter to his niece.

*****

Tonya,

Hello there. I hope this finds you in the best of health as well as spirits. I know this is a surprise to you, that I am writing you. You’re my niece, and believe it or not you are special to me.

I know we don’t know each other very well, but I know you are very intelligent and very stubborn, like me (ha-ha). Tonya, I have a lot of knowledge, experience, and information inside my head and heart. For me it is not being hip, slick and cool anymore. I have tens months clean and working on tomorrow. Let me try and help you and be a friend. Let’s get to know and be straight with each other. Be strong and take care of yourself.

Your loving uncle, Bob

P.S. Shock me and reply to this letter!

*****

Easy to pooh-pooh this as an old man seeing the errors of his ways, on the back slide of life, in a recovery program (his 20th) and in that point in American life – poor, on food stamps, at the whim of county, state and non-profit programs housing him and hiring people like me to do social work with him – to find humility. Bob is a worker, and has worked for a year with a temp agency, and now the chain hotel wants to hire him on directly, and we have worked with those restraints; i.e., what the faceless, nameless and heartless HR department will do with his rap sheet that goes back to age nine, those mean streets of Chicago not a damned thing David Mamet or the other chosen one, John Malkovich, both Chicagoans, could even fester up in their wildest “liberal white Jewish dreams.”

Poignant? Sure, but more importantly a sign of the design of breaking up neighborhoods, family units, extended tribes, the very fabric of some large swath of African American lives . . . survival.

Bob gave me both these letters, after I asked, telling him that in some way, I might be able to riff on, or run with these words – simple, personal, an awakening of a 26-year-old woman and her 69-year-old uncle. Chicago and Portland, two racist cities for the record books.

Bob donates time feeding the homeless, even though he is technically chronically homeless, but now in transitional housing my organization provides. Technically, Bob is a prisoner in his own neighborhood, city and state, but in his mind, Robert is free, and he sails above the ugly smoke spewing from his past, every single day, relishing in the light, the sun, the surly clouds and gutters full of rain, trash and needles.

Evidence of life in the American Homo Consumptipithecus, is the struggle and the triumph of these former users, always an addict, always tied to the very mean streets that brought them to the rock at the bottom of the fall. These people are the signals of humanity in an inhumane business world, transactional climate, where numbers and screen icons and hedging onto and into lives are about maximizing the money made off the backs of uncles and nieces, off the continuous punishment systems, each bureaucrat a Little Eichmann in the Making! Banality of Evil, and the force of collective indifference. Like a thousand hydrogen bombs dropped in the middle of America.

  1. Fyodor Dostoevsky in a letter to his Niece Sofia Alexandrovna, Geneva, January 1, 1868.