(Also without pi epic is merely ec.)
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:
I decided that my convalescence should include a healthy dose of movie going. In the past six days or so I have seen “The Hobbit,” accompanied by Hayden, “Zero Dark Thirty,” with Dick and “Lincoln,” “Django,” “Argo” and “Les Miserables” on my own.
I thought about writing a personal review of each but changed my mind. My only comments are: I will never be able to think of the Lincoln Memorial in DC and not see Daniel Day-Lewis sitting there; Ann Hathaway proves that one does not have to stop acting to sing well and; everything in Django Unchained is merely setting up for Samuel Jackson’s performance.
I cried at Les Miz as I always do. There are two theatrical pieces that force me to cry uncontrollably when I hear even a few notes, Madame Butterfly and Les Miz. I first saw Les Miz in London a week or two after it opened. At that time in my life, I would fly to London every year for the opening of the theatrical season. My daughter Jessica and Denise usually accompanied me. I began crying during the scene on the barricades prior to the attack by the government forces. I continued crying until long after the final curtain calls. My daughter was both amused and surprised to see her father so emotionally devastated.
Over the years I have wondered what it is about these two works that cause my reaction. It certainly is not their musicality. In the movie everyone, male and female, sang their parts in a reedy falsetto. Joubert, instead of a bass or baritone as the part requires, was simply another falsetto singing character whose tones were indistinguishable from those of Fantine and far less accomplished. It was like listening to a Mahler symphony played solely on clarinets.
Nevertheless, I cried from the first notes until, after leaving the movie, I stood at the restroom urinals and the guy next to me laughed at my sobbing.
My sobs certainly have little to do with any empathy with the characters. I do not do empathy too well, and they were only play acting after all.
The stories are about that sublimation of the ego into concern for the welfare of another that in the West we often call love. I guess I was crying for me since the chances of my achieving that level of ego death is virtually nil.
JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:
ENTER THE DRAGON
I watched her disappear around a corner, took a sip of my wine and realized she had not paid for it. “Bitch,” I opined to no one except me. Drank the rest of my Barbera. Began on hers since she had not touched it and I was paying for it and I am opposed to wasting good, or even mediocre wine on religious grounds, being raised Catholic.
Usually tracing a missing person for the price I was being paid warranted about a half hour or so on a computer, a few telephone calls to bulk up the brief final report. A report written in a way that allowed the client to resolve any residual guilt they may be feeling by assuring that he or she had done all that could be done under the circumstances or, if the client is still mired in guilt, suggesting they pay me the rest of my fee and retain me for another week of futility. What the fee did not include, however, was any effort requiring the use of foot protecting composite material or knocking on doors.
Nevertheless, given that the sun was out and it was about as warm as it was going to get in San Francisco; I had just drank two glasses of wine; the knowledge that the missing Mark’s apartment was only about three blocks away from where I was sitting; and the urgings bubbling out of that dark and defective communication channel that ran between my brain and my groin suggesting that the extra effort could result in my observing Mavis’s tattoos closer up, I decided to knock on his door just in case Missing Mark had decided that Mavis was no longer his playmate and he was hiding from her wrath.
So, I finished the wine, packed the computer in its protective shoulder bag and signaled to Pino to put it all on my tab (which was met with a scowl and a sneer). I then got up, jay-walked across Columbus Avenue and moved on up Green Street toward Telegraph Hill.
I guess I ought to describe how I was dressed so you do not simply picture a dark blob bobbing along the sidewalk. I was dressed like a dark blob. I wore a shapeless grey-brown short overcoat with wool lining, that I picked up at Goodwill, over a yellow sweat shirt with nothing written on it. I do not do advertising. Black slacks below. I don’t do jeans. On my feet are ugly orthotic enhanced shoes to coddle my non-existent arches. I don’t do sneakers, or trainers of whatever those horribly expensive and garishly colored things are now called. Around my neck hung a ratty red and black wool scarf with a fringe on each end.
The sun was shining. The fabled San Francisco fogs of three decades ago a vague memory. It still however was about a million degrees colder in the City than in the East Bay but the temperature was still warmer than it had been in times past when one suffered through 12 months of semi-winter. Now, due in all likelihood to global warming, winter in San Francisco lasts only about seven months.
I regretted this change in in the weather. Gone were the fogs that cloaked Hammit’s Sam Spade in his daily run from his offices near the Burritt St. ditch to Jacks’s for lunch. You need a real City for mysteries, full of shadows and unhappiness. San Francisco is not a real City. It is too happy.
On the far side of Grant, Telegraph Hill rises. It is capped by that great phallus in the sky memorializing the transcendental virility of San Francisco’s Fire and Rescue personnel. The stunted cement penis also separates the residents of sunny side of the hill from those fortunate few who actually have views of the water. These few live primarily in shacks converted over the years into luxury aeries. These luxury shacks, reachable only by stairs, cling to the side of the cliff like barn swallow nests cling to the eaves of a barn. Among these fortunate few living snug in their aeries reside some of the most unpleasant people living on the face of the earth. They are those who fervently believe that their struggles for preservation of their water views and indolent live-styles benefit the rest of us.
Now do not get me wrong, I hate rapacious developers as much as anyone and believe that most developers should first be boiled in oil and then burnt at the stake in the middle of Union Square, but if these cliff dwellers were so concerned about the rest of us, as they would have us believe, why don’t they turn their happy huts over to the rest of us, say for two days a week, so that the rest of us can sit by the window, smoke a joint, sip some wine and stare slack jawed at the Bay bridge marching across the water into Angel Island, while the ceaseless maritime traffic in the bay pass back and forth under its soaring piers.
On the sunny side of the hill, the streets get steeper as they approach the crest of the peak. The sidewalks change into steps about half way up the hill. The houses on this side sit cheek by jowl crammed one next to each other. Built about 100 years ago as immigrant tenements, over the years they have been stuccoed, shingled, painted or wood or aluminum sided as fashions dictated. All now painted either white or some pastel shade of pink, blue or green. All except Missing Mark’s building located about where the sidewalk changes into steps. Sometime in the late 1950’s someone tore down a number of older buildings and replaced them with a dark shake sided five-story apartment in the then fashionable but utterly boring international style. It gave that side of the street the appearance of an ancient bleached jaw bone with a few molars missing.
I knew this building well. In it lived Ann Kennedy who, as serendipity dictated, lived on the same floor as Missing Mark. Ann Kennedy was a masseuse that I visited now and then. She was the type of masseuse that one finds in the back pages of monthly alternative newspapers or on Craig’s List.
Because of the steepness of the hill the entrance to the building was on the second floor, Ann and Missing Mark’s floor. Various stacks of construction material lay about as they always have as long as I had come here. But no one was ever working.
I marched up to Ann’s door first, because I thought she may have some information about her neighbor. Also, I contemplated the possibility of spending some of my fee on relaxation and release before embarking on my job. Knocked on the door and rang the bell which buzzed with that grinding sound that I hate almost more than anything I could think of.
The door opened about a foot wide. Now, if one were expecting that curvaceous, cleavage exposing, lingerie wearing, red lipped, dark-eyed beauty in the photographs that often accompany the ads, it was not Ann. Ann more resembled a reject from a model call for a Dorothea Lange photo shoot on the ravages of the Great Depression, right down to her shapeless house dress.
“Yes,” she said?
“Hi, Ann,” I said with a big smile.
I was met with a grey eyed, pupil-less stare of non-recognition.
“Do you have an appointment” she asked?
Thought she was either stoned or my belief in the memorability of my presence was overrated. Decided I would save some money and later resolve by hand any uncontrollable urgings I still may have. Said, “Do you know Mark Holland?”
Long stare. “No.”
“He lives on this floor. He is your neighbor,” and I gestured toward the other end of the hall.
She slowly turned her head and looked in that direction, which made no sense since she was standing in her apartment and could not see down the hall. Slowly turned back to me.
“No,” and she closed the door in my face.
Stood there wondering if I should kick the door in frustration. Decided I would only hurt my foot. Turned went to the other end of the floor to stand in front of Missing Mark’s apartment door. Looked down at the doorknob saw scratches and splintered wood. Thought, “Uh-oh, run!”
However, like touching just to see if a sign announcing “wet paint” means what it says, I reached down to turn the doorknob just to see if what I knew to be true really was. (Continued)
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Fun in the labyrinth or giggles in the heart of darkness (Chapter five: At the airport with no place to go – Part 6):
I was now back to where I started, at the Airport Information Desk, two floors below where I had begun. I told the woman behind the counter my story and waved the slip of paper around. She called someone. Hung up. Told me to wait. The phone rang again. She handed me the receiver. I explained everything again to the person on the other end. Hung up. Waited. The phone rang again. A very angry person at the other end wanted to know why I was not at Gate M-28. Said that someone went to the trouble of going there and I was not there and now everyone is very angry at me. I decided I was better off not trying to explain. The voice told me to be at M-28 in five minutes and clearly left the impression that if I did not do so my days in Thailand were numbered.
I hung up the phone and ran up the two flights to M-28 on the fourth floor. The nasty woman behind the counter glared at me. I avoided her gaze. Five minutes went by. At about the 10 minute mark I noticed a woman dressed in half a uniform (uniform shirt, regular slacks) striding purposefully across the airport floor in the general direction of M-28. She was not smiling. The land of smiles did not exist for me that day.
I asked if she were the person I was to meet and handed her my passports and showed her the piece of paper. She scowled but did not speak. She took the passports and leafed through them and scowled some more. She motioned me to follow her and led me to an elevator at the back wall of the office of the uniformed man who walked me all the way across the airport to the elevator that did not stop at the second floor.
We entered the elevator. She pressed the button for the second floor. This time the elevator stopped at that floor. Without speaking she set off walking through several offices and around some partitions until we reached the arrivals area where there was a long table. She motioned me to sit. I sat. She disappeared into an office.
The table was sticky with spilled soft drinks and was crawling with ants. I could see in front of me the passport control section dedicated to arriving flight crews. I watched the crews arrive and pass through passport control for about an hour. Finally the woman came out of the office. She was smiling. I was not too sure how to read that.
She said, “I fixed it.”
I looked at the stamp in question. My heart sank. It looked the same. Said that. She explained that she had changed the date of my temporary visa from the 30 day temporary limit to Friday three days away. I looked at her with a look of confusion. She said that Friday is the day my retirement visa runs out as though that explained everything.
She then asked me why I did not hand both passports to the passport control officer when I arrived. I said, “because I did not want to confuse him.” She laughed at me.
Then led me to the passport control exit, motioned me through, bowed and with a broad smile said, “Well then, let me welcome you for the second time to Amazing Thailand, the land of smiles.”
I left the airport. It was too late to return to the Immigration Office, so I went back to my apartment. That night I slept fitfully. All I accomplished today was to reduce the time I could remain in the country to three more days. I kept asking myself, what would Willard do, if after reaching Captain Kurtz’s compound in Cambodia he realized he had to start all over again with a new set of orders. AWOL most likely.
1. January 29, 1943:
Nazis order all Gypsies arrested and sent to extermination.
2. December 10, 1902 (26 Pookie):
Vito Marcantonio (US congressman from New York City elected on the Republican – CP – ALP fusion ticket) was born on this day in New York City.
“You only live once and it is best to live one’s life with one’s conscience rather than to temporize or accept with silence those things one believes to be against the interests of one’s people and one’s nation.”
—Vito Marcantonio in Congress June 27, 1950, the only Congressional voice opposed to U.S. intervention in the Korean War.
Vito Marcantonio was the most consequential radical politician in the United States in the twentieth century. Elected to Congress from New York’s ethnically Italian and Puerto Rican East Harlem slums, Marcantonio, in his time, held office longer than any other third-party radical, serving seven terms from 1934 to 1950. Colorful and controversial, Marcantonio captured national prominence as a powerful orator and brilliant parliamentarian. Often allied with the U.S. Communist Party (CP), he was an advocate of civil rights, civil liberties, labor unions, and Puerto Rican independence. He supported social security and unemployment legislation for what later was called a “living wage” standard. And he annually introduced anti-lynching and anti–poll tax bills a decade before it became respectable. He also opposed the House Un-American Activities Committee, red-baiting, and antisemitism, and fought for the rights of the foreign-born. He was a bold outspoken opponent of U.S. imperialism.
“If it be radicalism to believe that our natural resources should be used for the benefit of all of the American people and not for the purpose of enriching just a few…then, Ladies and Gentlemen of this House I accept the charge. I plead guilty to the charge; I am a radical and I am willing to fight it out…until hell freezes over.”
“I have stood by the fundamental principles which I have always advocated. I have not trimmed. I have not retreated. I do not apologize, and I am not compromising.”
—Vito Marcantonio, in his last speech to Congress
On the morning of August 9, 1954, Vito Marcantonio, only fifty-one-years-old, dropped dead of a heart attack in the rain on lower Broadway near City Hall.
3. Baseball Bat vs Firearm homicide deaths:
According to Snopes.com:
Claim: More homicides in the U.S. are committed with baseball bats than with firearms.
… information gathered by the FBI does not support this claim [about Bats being the more deadly]. The Uniform Crime Reports made available on the “Crime in the U.S.” section of the FBI’s web site includes homicide data that breaks down killings by the types of weapons used. In 2011, the percentages for weapon types used in homicides throughout the U.S. were as follows:
Knives or other cutting instruments: 13.4%
Personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.): 5.7%
Blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.): 3.9%
Other dangerous weapons: 9.2%
This lie about the unregulated lethality of baseball bats has been making the rounds on the internet. If you receive something like this please remember, “Liberals exaggerate, conservatives lie”…always.
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
B. What Republicans say about Republicans:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby (The Boy Genius) Jindal, said at a recent gathering of Republicans that the GOP has to “stop being the stupid party.”
Bobby (TBG) Jindal is a Republican. Did he just realize the party’s stupidity or has he always known? TBG also recently signed a bill requiring creationism to be taught in Louisiana’s public school system. TBG’s college degree is in biology. I wonder if he ever attended class.
The most important chart you will ever see:
1. Re: Sandy Hook
“I don’t know what to do,” sighed Gene Rosen. “I’m getting hang up calls, I’m getting some calls, I’m getting emails with, not direct threats, but accusations that I’m lying, that I’m a crisis actor, ‘how much am I being paid’?” Someone posted a photo of his house online. There have been phony Google+ and YouTube accounts created in his name, messages on white supremacist message boards ridiculing the “emotional Jewish guy,” and dozens of blog posts and videos “exposing” him as a fraud. One email purporting to be a business inquiry taunted: “How are all those little students doing? You know, the ones that showed up at your house after the ‘shooting’. What is the going rate for getting involved in a gov’t sponsored hoax anyway?”
What did Rosen do to deserve this? One month ago, he found six little children and a bus driver at the end of the driveway of his home in Newtown, Connecticut. “We can’t go back to school,” one little boy told Rosen. “Our teacher is dead.” He brought them inside and gave them food and juice and toys. He called their parents. He sat with them and listened to their shocked accounts of what had happened just down the street inside Sandy Hook Elementary, close enough that Rosen heard the gunshots.
“The country is like devastated peasant society…people are scared, angry, hostile, hate everything, don’t know what they hate, don’t have anyone to talk to, just angry, desperate, there are cults all over the place on a scale that is unknown in any other society. The level of religious fundamentalism alone is probably the highest in the world, almost certainly higher than Iran. Right now the militias are on the front page, but that’s only a small fraction of it…It’s just a dissolved society.”
2. Victor Hugo re: Les Miserables
“So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.”
Let’s hear it for a real American Combat Veteran and hero: Rep. Tammy Duckworth.