TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN BERKELEY:
The medical procedure to remove the filter inserted in my vein to catch loose clots turned into something of a farce. Arriving at the hospital at 7:30 AM, I was soon stripped of clothing, interviewed at length by hospital security regarding valuables and poked and prodded for various tests. About an hour and a half later following questions from the nurse regarding medications and subsequent discussions with the operating doctor and my primary care physician it was determined that the operating doctor’s instructions to both me and my regular doctor were wrong and that I had to stop taking the meds for at least 24 hours. So I left and returned to my sister’s house.
At 10 AM the next day, the appointment time given to me by the treating physician, I arrived at the hospital and sat in the waiting room for about two hours. No one could explain why I had to wait.
Finally I went through the same various tests and procedures I had gone through the day before. This time for some reason they could not find a working vein for extracting blood for my blood work and for attaching the IV’s. So they explored. At least seven times they inserted the needles into my body and rooted around to find some blood.
The operation itself was anti-climatic taking all of about one minute to dope me up, slice into my neck and remove the filter.
Following the operation, the anesthesiologist showed me the filter. It was about an inch long and equally wide and looked a lot like a metallic spider. She pointed out a clot imbedded among the tines. She also said the she was certain she had seen me before. I assured her that that was unlikely.
Against the doctors orders, I decided to drive directly back to Sacramento. So I picked up Hayden and our luggage at my sister’s house and left.
During the drive I explained to Hayden that he had to make sure I did not fall asleep due to any residual effects of the anesthesia. So we played “What am I thinking.” A game I learned from the Dalls as something they used on long drives to divert their children. At one point, during a lull in the game I mentioned to H. that talking was a good thing to do to keep me awake.
“In that case, there is something you should know about me. I am really an alien from Cluton sent here by my parents. That is why I act like I do. I have three hearts and five stomaches one of which is dedicated exclusively to digesting fish smoothies. I also have three butts one of which I lost during the Butt Wars which we lost and is why my parents sent me here to earth. I am filled with ‘joy bubbles’ which allow me to float in air or water if I want. You should also know that music makes me crazy.”
With that he turned on the radio to a music station and acted…well crazy until finally and thankfully he shut the radio off.
(A few days later I learned about a television show, Marvin Marvin, about a boy also from Cluton who lives with an American family. Hayden tells me Marvin is his best friend and they arrived from Cluton together.)
Hayden made me promise I would tell no one of his confession because if they learned he was an alien they would send him back to Cluton. I figured that the well-known discretion exhibited by readers of “This and that…” would permit them to fall within the class of no one.
We arrived at the house in El Dorado Hills at about 9PM. I turned the Clutonian over to Dick and put myself to bed.
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
A Thai Comments on his Society:
Arglit Boonyai, the highly respected and sometimes brilliant columnist for The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s most widely read english language daily newspaper wrote some time ago:
“Thailand – and I am trying to be fair here — is as honest as a North Korean press release on famine. We steal, we cheat, we lie, we treat people with a lower social status badly, we’re racist, the list goes on and on. For years we successfully hid all that behind the famous Thai smile and the ‘mai pen rai’ attitude. And by gosh and by golly, most of those suckers fell for it.”
JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:
ENTER THE DRAGON
Sam Spade: Everybody has something to conceal.
While my minder and putative student, the ex-delinquent Joe Vu, drove us off toward the library, I leaned back in my seat and tried to think. As is often the case the first thoughts to enter my mind were about money. In two days I collected almost $5000 dollars for little more effort than taking a shot to the jaw and having to change my clothing.
My second thought was about sex. In most cases it was usually the first. I did not know why it wasn’t that now. It certainly was not Mavis’ fault. The tattooed lady, my client, brought with her a perversity in the bedroom that one usually had to pay for. Still I wondered how much I was going to end up paying anyway.
Finally I got around to the case. What did I know about Holland and Reilly? They were hooked up in something, drugs still remained the most probable, along with Vihn, Mavis and God knows who else. They were missing and a lot of people were looking for them.
People look for other people for three reasons, money, sex or guilt. I don’t think any of the seekers here are feeling particularly guilty about the missing individuals. As for sex, Mavis seems quite able to satisfy herself and does not appear to be the jealous type. And, unless Reilly was shtupping his wife or girlfriend, Martin Vihn’s interest in him on that score made no sense unless he was a finocchio in heat – which I doubt. Whoever was running the Elephant Boys could have had a thing for Mark; extreme but still possible but highly unlikely given everything else that has gone on.
That leaves money. Someone has it and someone else wants it. Extortion seems possible but remote. So that means either Reilly or Holland have the money or information that leads to money and Mavis, Martin Vihn and the mysterious third party think they should have all or part of it. Nothing earth-shattering there or even useful.
I clearly will not get from either Mavis or Martin Vihn much about what the deal that somehow went bad and started all this was all about.
And what about the Two Ton Twins? Who were they working for?
Was someone else involved in the deal or somehow learned of it. On the other hand, maybe Reilly was the Tubby Tots boss and in hiding while for some reason looking for Holland.
Of course none of this really mattered. I was confident Reilly would show up whenever he finished with whatever else he was doing. I could rely on that. Vihn however scared me.
I knew I had to look good to my minder Joe Vu since he will report anything I do to Martin Vihn. That was annoying but probably not too difficult. If I just rooted around a lot and looked like I was working on finding Reilly I figured I could skate by. But what can I do to look like I was doing something? The only person in this mess that I knew about who I had not spoken to was Lilly Park. Meeting with her I decided would be something that would show Vihn I was on the job.
I did not worry about the long-term commitment I made to Vihn. I guessed once Reilly was found Marty would probably not want to continue to keep me on the tab at $1000 a month. Still it was good pay even if it was from a gangster. At least I thought he was a gangster. Even if he were a gangster he couldn’t be much worse that the so-called captain’s of industry that were my ex-law firm’s clients.
I turned to my smiling driver and said, “Joe?”
Joe: “Yeah boss – you finished doing number two now?
Joe: “You know, the thinking thing.”
Me again: “Oh, yeah…uh…Not yet. But I’d like to know – what does Marty do for a living?”
Joe: “Never let him know you called him Marty. He hates that name.”
Me: “I’ll remember that. So what business is Martin Vihn in”
Joe: “You don’t want to know boss. Let’s just say he is in the import-export business.”
Me: “Are drugs part of that import-export business?”
Joe: “You don’t need to know that boss. Is this part of detecting?”
Me: “It is always good to know something about your client.”
Joe: “Believe me you know enough boss. Do you carry a gun? Detectives carry guns don’t they?”
Me surprised: “Not all do. I hate guns. Don’t carry one.”
Joe: “That’s OK.” He then reached over, opened the glove compartment and pulled out a black automatic pistol. “I have one just in case.” He waved it around.
Me shouting: “Shit! Put that back. You could hurt someone.” In fact, the only person I worried about being shot was me. I was always somewhat equivocal about gun control; not really caring who shot who or why – except kids of course. But I figured if a gun was discharged in my vicinity inevitably I would be the one shot. So I was willing to support gun control – not that I did anything about it except sign sidewalk petitions when I had nothing better to do and if there was a good-looking woman pushing the petitions.
Joe laughing: “OK boss.” He put the thing back into the glove compartment. “What are we looking for at the library?”
He had me there. Going to he library was the first thing that came into my mind to say in order to look like I was doing something. I had no idea where to begin looking for Reilly . Said, “I need to use their computers and reference library to begin tracking down Reilly.” That was the best I could come up with. What I really needed somewhere private to call Mavis. I could have gone home but I had no intention of letting Vu know where I lived.
When we arrived at the library I told Vu to drop me off, find a place to park and meet me in the reference room. That would get rid of him for a while and I could call Mavis without him listening in. Maybe I also could slip out of the place without him finding me.
I got out of the car and went into the building.
The new Main Branch of the San Francisco Public library was built about a decade or so ago and touted as one of the most technologically advanced libraries in the world. What that ment was that except for rooms dedicated to each of the more politically sophisticated interest groups at the time it was notably deficient in books on display. These were mostly locked away in stacks in the cavernous basements of the building, available to order. Like most of those who ardently supported the building of the library, I had never been in it. I had no idea where the reference room was located or even if there was one.
As soon as I got into the building I called Mavis and reprised my telephone call to her of yesterday without the shouting. I was in a library after all.
She said: “Oh yeah, Vihn. I forgot about him.”
Me, voice rising: “Forgot about him?”
Mavis: “Listen honey, I am in the middle of doing a customers back. He wants a jungle scene like mine and I’m in the middle of it. He grabbed my ass so I’m hiding a penis in the bushes.” She giggled. Continued: “We’ll talk more about it tonight. See ya, sweetie.” and she hung up.
I stood there looking at the phone when I heard, “Find what you’re looking for boss?”
Answered: “Uh… no. Let’s go.”
On the way to where he parked the car, I turned to Vu, said, “Look I’m exhausted. It’s late and I’m going home. I need to do more thinking. We’ll start again early tomorrow. I’ll walk from here.”
“No need boss, I’ll drive you.”
Clearly he was not going to let me get away that easy.
I directed him to the Utah Hotel on Fourth and Bryant. It was a low-cost single room occupancy hotel with an interesting bar on the ground floor. Told him I rented a long-term suite on the top floor. It was two blocks from my loft.
During the ride I asked him if he knew Lily Park. He indicated that she was one of Vihn’s attorney’s. Then he spent some time describing her looks and her body and explaining what he would do with the latter if he were given a chance to do so.
I said: “Was Martin Vihn fucking her?”
Joe: “I don’t know. All the ladies seem to like him. But he’s pretty cool about that.”
Me: “Is he gay?”
Joe laughing: “Fuck man you can get us both killed for even thinking that.”
When we arrived in front of the hotel, Vu turned to me and asked in all seriousness, “Is there anything I should be studying to learn about the detective business?”
I was taken aback. Thought as quickly as I could, said, “When you get home, go on line and watch the movie “The Maltese Falcon.” The version starring Humphrey Bogart. You ever seen it?”
“No,” but I heard of the Bogart guy, same as the old guys say when you slop up a blunt.”
“Yeah. We’ll talk about it tomorrow. Meet me here at 9:30”
I got out of the car and walked into the hotel, waited a few minutes, went back out, checked to see that he had left and having satisfied myself that he had, walked home down Fourth Street.
2012: 132 people provided over 60% of all the money contributed to political PAC’s in the US that year. That is only 0.000042 percent of the nation’s population.
(I strongly doubt any one of those 132 people gave that money without expecting something in return.
If you’re a politician, and you spend between 30 and 70 percent of your time begging for funds for the next election cycle, as American politicians do … who you gonna call? What are you going to offer them for their money?
There are 535 elected officials in Congress. They in effect work for those 132 people even though we, the rest of the 300 or so million Americans, pay their salaries.)
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
(What does it say about a society that accepts that some fortunate few would become even richer while the rest of that society becomes poorer?)
B. Testosterone Chronicles:
Review of Blood Sport, by Robert F. Jones, a re-issue of one of the greatest “mens” coming of age novels ever written:
“The best look at life as a man and the best description of (necessary?) madness ever put in print, there’s simply nothing like this book, nothing nowhere, nohow. R.F. Jones wrote a ‘lost’ masterpiece back in the 70s and I am SO glad to see it back in print. I can start giving it to the weak and the strong again, it’s good for what ails all of ’em. This saga of a man and his son’s journey up the Hassayampa river, complete with exotic mixed grill, tourist traps and deadfalls, madness, mau-maus and Ratnose qualifies as a defining point in Mens Fiction of the latter 20th century. Let me repeat that, this is fiction for Men. No one get their politically correct undies in a wad, that was just a fair warning, the last you’ll get around here. Anybody whining after that was said, Ratnose throws to the dogs. The point is, you’re on your own up the Hassayampa, and that’s a big hint. Come on along, anybody interested, you’ll figure out whether you need something you ain’t got soon enough. The bunch of yez, load your pockets with ammo and jerky, check the knife in your boot and start steppin’. See what’s waiting for you up the river. Something different waiting for everyone, a vision quest that will end or it won’t, maybe just a new assessment of your foodchain pecking order. The Hassayampa giveth and it taketh away. You’ll see what I mean, just look at the flotsam floating by, mastadons and marlin, atlatls and motorbikes. You’re checking your backtrail? Then you’re as ready as you’ll ever be. What’re you waiting on? The water’s just fine. It told me so it’s own self.”
(Anyone interested in learning what lies at the dark heart of maleness should read this book. Anyone who wants to understand why I believe it is time for men to step aside and women take over should read this book. The Hassayampa has been covered over and turned into a parking lot. The male myth is dead. Ratnose has retreated to where the gods of Olympus now dwell. No longer will men look into his eyes and duel with fly rods for the souls of their sons.)
C. Tales of Inhumanity.
“They packed 120 people into a boxcar designed for 20 people or 10 horses. The doors were slid shut and sealed, the windows boarded up and covered with barbed wire. We stood crammed inside the closed box, each person glued to the next, forming a single mass. We could not raise our hands or make the slightest movement.
Terrible scenes took place in the cars between people who had been condemned to death, people who had lost their wits. Everyone tried pushing through to the door or window to find a crack, just to get a gulp of air. Some were sobbing, others fainted, but there was no room for them to fall. Their bodies simply stayed in place, pressed between our own.
All desperate cries and sobs were in vain. No help was coming; no help could come. Human feelings disappeared; we were no longer human. The stronger tried to break away to climb over the heads of the others, to win a little space so they could see outside.
Some were shouting, “I have to look outside! I have to see where they’re taking me! I know this road. I’m not going to the gas chamber! I’m going to jump from the train! Live or die by a bullet! No gas for me! It’s the strongest who’ll survive!”
The engines pulled slowly as the train rolled on toward the victims’ doom. The cars were guarded on both sides. Ukrainians were lying on the roof. Sometime during the night people standing by the cracks in the window claimed they were taking us to Treblinka. The prisoners began to panic.
Someone pried up a board and a few people tried to jump from the train, but unfortunately no one managed to escape. The murderers kept the entire route lit with spotlights, so they’d be sure not to miss anyone who attempted to get away. A friend of mine who was in the car asked me to hold his coat while he jumped and then throw the coat after him. I watched him: No sooner had he jumped than he was hit. His coat was riddled by bullets as well.
Every time someone jumped, all the Ukrainians up and down the train started shooting at once. Occasionally the train would stop and start again, leaving behind a trail of corpses.
In the middle of the night they started shooting into the cars through the windows. The lucky ones were hit and killed. They were free. We could no longer stand it – the crowding, the stench, the unbeatable thirst; we were covered with sweat and blood, the blood of our brothers.
We did what we could to gain a little calm during our last hours. Our limbs had grown stiff we couldn’t straighten our arms. Our brothers’ blood was on our clothes; we couldn‘t wipe it of and had to use our teeth to tear the garments off one another’s body. Then we stood naked inside the crowded, stinking car. The thirst was indescribable; we tried using our tongues to wet each others lips.
Toward dawn our car became less crowded: about 40 people were already dead, most killed by Ukrainian bullets fired through the walls. We tried to clean up so as not to trample their bodies. Now we were a little more “comfortable,” at least able to sit down on the blood-covered floor, but with every passing kilometer our fear and despair grew.
A panic broke out when we reached Malkinia: “Listenl They’re going to run us straight from the cars to the gas chambers! O God, O God, where are you!”
What they saw through the cracks took the last hope away from those who still had any illusions. People tore their hair, scratched at their faces, and broke their fingernails. That’s what the last minutes are like before a gruesome death in the gas chamber.
But ten men in our car could count themselves happy; ten jews were treated kindly by fate. “Now is the time, comrades,” said Dr. Mantel. “We have a little more room.” Ten young healthy people sat together on the blood-stained floor. They kissed one another, said their farewells, and then swallowed a dose of cyanide.
One minute later nine more bodies were lying in the car. The tenth was not affected; his dose must have been insufficient. Oh, you happy people! You no longer have to suffer, no longer have to bear the terrible hell that we must face. They can poison you with gas and burn you all they want, but you will be numb to the suffering.
Everyone envied those nine souls.
Of 120 people locked inside the car, 37 were still alive when the train arrived at the platform.”
(Excerpted from Brad DeLong’s Journal.)
POOKIE’S PUERILE EPIGRAMS:
1. Consciousness is nothing more than post hoc rationalization.
2. Humans are not rational animals, but rationalizing ones.
3. Consciousness is whatever one tells oneself to keep away the darkness.
The Duck Pond in El Dorado Hills