“The joy of theft is the lack of overheads.”
Burke, Declan. Absolute Zero Cool. Liberties Press.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
The heat of Summer has struck the foothills like lightning struck Ben Franklin’s house key. Temperatures have reached the high 80’s in the foothills and the 90’s in the valley. I expect in a few weeks the hills will lose their green and turn golden for a moment before sliding back to their usual dull brown.
Every day between 7:30 to 7:45 AM after I drop HRM off at school I go to Bella Bru Cafe for breakfast of a non-fat caffe latte and a cinnamon raison bagel with cream cheese. The people working there have gotten to recognize my car when I enter the parking lot and they have my order prepared by the time I walk into the Cafe. I am pleased with this slight but welcome confirmation of my existence.
Along the main road in El Dorado Hills there are two large rocks upon which people paint birthday greetings. Every year on the day before his birthday I do so for HRM. This morning while driving by I noticed one of the rocks announced, “Violet is 5.” I have no idea who Violet is and why I found that particular message rememberable, other than I like the name Violet and 5 years old is younger than most of the celebrants noted on the rocks. In any event Happy Birthday Violet.
HRM is nine years old. He still believes in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause. This morning we had a discussion about how much money the Tooth Fairy must have in order to for her go traveling around the world paying people for their lost teeth.
Is there a time when adults are obliged to explain to children some of life’s realities? It is the same time as when they explain (if ever) birds, bees and storks?
B. POOKIE’S DREAM (continued):
A few days later I was invited to ride along on a truck going deeper into the preserve. I jumped at the chance. We started well before sunrise and drove through forest and savannah for several hours until the solid green wall of the jungle rose up before us. Nestled at the edge of that seemingly impenetrable mass of vegetation was a small village.
The people of the village did not appear to me to be African at all. Traditional Peoples south of the Sahara tended to be pastoralists and farmers, not hunter gatherers. Nor did they look a lot like natives of the Sahel and further south. They looked in fact more like the indigenous people in the South American rain forest or Borneo pictured in National Geographic which is where my dream probably got them from. They were mostly bronze skinned and festooned with bones and beads piercing their septums or ear lobes or hung in their hair or on strings around their necks, arms or ankles. Their hair ranged from tightly curled to early Beetles bangs. They wore various colored dyes on their faces and bodies. I did not notice any scarifications or tattoos.
They were, of course in keeping with their National Geographic genesis, mostly naked. The children, starkers, running every which way, screaming and laughing. The men, the older the more pot-bellied, bare but for a ragged cloth over their privates or nothing at all. One or two sporting a penis sheath. The women, naked breasts becoming more slab like and drooping towards their waste as they aged, here and there sported a grass kirtle or a piece of cloth or leather like the men. The younger women, their brown nubbins with puffy dark nipples protruded proudly from their chests.
For males of my age, I suspect many of us recall that time before Playboy began publication when most of us got our pre-adolescent titillation from surreptitiously staring at the brown nubbins with puffy dark nipples in the photographs of the ubiquitous National Geographic magazines of which it seemed every home had at least a modest supply. I wondered at the time, being too young and inexperienced to understand the subtleties and complexities of racial prejudice, why brown nubbins with puffy dark nipples were freely exposed while white breasts with pink nipples were covered with cloth. I concluded that to most adults white breasts with pink nipples must have appeared too horribly ugly and therefore needed to be hidden from view.
I met the representatives of the preserve, a middle-aged man and a youngish woman. They were both dressed like the other residents of the village. The man sporting a grey beard and thick white hair might have been European or Middle Eastern, but his skin was burned so dark and leathery it was difficult to tell. The woman seemed clearly of African descent. They shared the duties of providing medical services to the people of the village as well as those deeper in the jungle and conducting anthropological and sociological studies. They also accompanied and assisted scientists and others allowed into the preserve.
I was told that the residents of the village were quite antagonistic to strangers. I learned this first hand as I toured the settlement. The residents seemed happy and often laughing except when I came close. Then they became silent, sullen and almost threatening. As my guides explained, they see themselves as protectors of the preserve and everyone else as a threat. It all appeared to me to resemble the theory behind the establishment of those seed banks deep in the arctic so that in case of a disaster we would have stock to begin again. Admirable but naïve I thought .
I was taken briefly into the jungle to observe hunting by the villagers. After a lot of walking about, missed shots and mutterings they managed to bring down a small monkey with a blow gun.
All in all I was happy to leave and return to the village where I was staying.
After a few more days, I left the village to return home. I did not go back through the armed town containing my Armenian relatives, but drove on a very curvy road through some mountains. Now and then subdivision development appeared along the side of the road that seemed suspiciously like those in the foothills where I now reside. Eventually we topped a ridge where I could see the coastal plain before me and the airport. Beyond the airport was the ocean. At that point I woke up.
Over about the next year and a half, I returned to the village six or eight times. Sometimes I would fly into the airport near the ocean, at others I would find myself in the armed town and now and then I would just appear in the village itself.
The first time I returned, Mama and I became lovers. (to be continued)
C. POOKIE’S BOOK REPORT:
I thought it’s time to write about my current man-crush, the Irish mystery and thriller author Declan Burke. Burke’s novel’s, read like Ken Bruen on steroids (try Slaughter’s Hound). His agent advised him that he could make more money writing comic mysteries like Leonard and Hiaasen. So, although he writes more or less the same stories of violence and degradation as Bruen, his bad guys say and do things a bit dumber while his chief protagonist’s rapid fire patter suggests the recent ingestion of about pound of cocaine.
He like Bruen lives much of the time in the perpetual fog and drizzle of western Ireland. They both set the locus of many of their novels there. This misty dark landscape, I believe, has something to do with the tenor of their stories.
Just think, I spend my days in constant sunlight sitting on a warm deck observing flowers, birds and clouds and it still pisses me off. Imagine how angry I’d be if every day I’d go outside to be met with only fog, wind, drizzle and cold.
My personal favorite Declan Burke novel is Absolute Zero Cool. Not so much for its plot but because there are more explosions of one liners per page than in a string of Chinese firecrackers. It’s as though Philip Marlowe returned and found himself slogging through a bog in Galway.
Pookie says, check it out.
“Survival has never been a right… Survival has always been a matter of hard-earned elitism.”
Burke, Declan. Absolute Zero Cool. Liberties Press.
“It’s a crying shame, yeah, so have a cry, feel ashamed and get over it. The rest of the week is coming on hard and its brakes are shot to hell.”
Burke, Declan. Eightball Boogie.
1177: In that year the Pharaoh Ramses III defeated the so-called “Sea People” in a series of battles in the Nile Delta saving Egypt from the destruction experienced during the previous 50-100 years by every other major empire and power in the eastern Mediterranean and the Near and Middle East thus ending the Golden Era of the Bronze Age and ushering in an almost 500 year-long Dark Age.
Prior to that era of turmoil, that area supported the following major powers: The Hittite Empire, Mycenaean/Cretan Empire, Assyrian and Kassite/Babylonian Empires, Mitanni Empire and Egypt. It also encompassed the mostly independent kingdoms of Ugarit (Syria), Canaan, Cyprus, Hausa, Troy (Troad) and a number of others. Every one was swept away and disappears from history except Egypt which nevertheless spiraled into a decline from which it never recovered. (Note: Assyria experienced two centuries of decline before being replaced by the neo-Assyrian Empire)
Almost every society (again with the exception of Egypt) lost the ability to read and write for almost 200 years. Cuneiform writing and the languages of most of those countries disappeared from history as completely as did the nations that supported them. It was replaced mostly by the Phoenician writing system we use today. Aramean became the lingua-franca of the Near and Middle East.
A host of connected causes including climate change, earthquakes and a complacent, self-protecting aristocracy of inherited wealth have been blamed for the massive migrations, revolutions and warfare that utterly destroyed that civilization. Such a complete disintegration of a culture was not to be seen again until the collapse of the Roman Empire 1700 years later.
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.”
Martin Gilens, Princeton University and Benjamin I. Page Northwestern University. Perspective on Politics.
B. Testosterone Chronicles:
“The tragic truth, however, is that the young as they age become conservatives, ethnic groups as they move into the middle class do so also. The gay community is now free to vote Republican without shame while the black community is prevented from voting even if they are Republican. And worse of all, the seven and eight year olds of our nation seem to have been indoctrinated in many of our schools to hate others as well as to despise science.
Progressives can slap themselves on the back all they want, but as usual they have failed to grasp the grim realities of politics which is that it is an eternal war of attrition and the opposition is better equipped, trained and financed while all too often all the Progressives have is their optimism to sustain them as the barricades are overrun while they wait for popular support that never comes.”
“That, in its essence, is fascism–ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt