TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:
The day after my sister and the others left, George, Hayden and I spent most of it cleaning up the main house since it had been rented out for the next two days. That night after going to bed in the converted water tower where Hayden and I stay, I awakened in the middle of the night with cold feet.
Exceptionally cold feet were one of the many symptoms the material given me by the medical staff when I was discharged from the hospital warned would result in dire consequences should I not seek immediate medical treatment. Since over the past two months I have dutifully reported each of the symptoms listed to various doctors and had been told not to worry about them, I decided to buy a heating bag to treat my cold feet rather than rushing off to the hospital whenever my toes felt as though they had frozen solid and were in danger of falling off.
So I reached down for the heating pad, turned it on and while I was arranging it about my feet I felt an extremely sharp pain in my finger – a cross between being poked with a needle and an electric shock. I jumped out of bed and rushed across the room to put on the light knowing that had I been punctured by a needle, because of the blood thinning medicine I was taking, I would be bleeding profusely. I checked my finger and found no puncture wound. I reasoned that in that case there was probably a short-circuit in the heating pad.
I returned to the bed and checked the pad. There was no evidence of a short so I assumed that somehow a needle had gotten stuck into the pad’s cover and had fallen into the bed. I then searched under the bedding and felt two more painful shocks to the back of my hand. I turned back the covers and a large insect flew out. It was about an inch in length from head to the end of its wings. It was black except for a white stripe around its body and its rust colored translucent wings. It flew across the room into a dark place above some cabinets too high for me to reach. I assumed it was either a large fly or a bee angry at being disturbed. I further assumed that now that it found shelter it would remain there for the rest of the night and so I shut off the light and went back to sleep.
About an hour later I was awakened by Hayden’s scream. He cried out that he had been attacked and bitten by an insect. This was followed by him scurrying down the ladder from his bunk. I turned on the light and the battle began.
The insect we realized was in fact a bee, angry to the point of madness. It was built like a tank, as though it was mechanical and not organic. It attacked us.
The battle raged throughout the room. I picked up a board about four inches wide and over two feet long that was leaning against one wall. It was a sign that previously had hung above the doorway. With it I fended off the mad bee until it landed on the ground. Then, with Hayden’s urging, I slammed the board down on it with all my might – to no effect.
When I lifted the board it flew out angrier that ever. I eventually drove it under the stove. Silence reigned as we waited. We then crept closer. Suddenly the bee flew out and we stumbled backwards in fright. It landed again on the ground a few feet from the stove. I slammed the board on him again and again. Despite the pounding it still lived. Although it no longer flew it continued to crawl towards us, malice gleaming from its 10,000 eyes. With a mixture of admiration and horror of the beast, I struck it again. This time, although it still crawled it was stunned enough that I was able to open the door and flip it out into the night.
H and I slammed the door shut and leaned against it just in case it decided to break down the door and come after us again. It was then I was able to look at what was written on the board. It read:
“Peace to all who enter here.”
The next day we took an outrigger canoe and paddled up the Big River. We saw a seal sunning itself on a log.
The seal on the river.
The following day we went in search of a letterbox. Although the directions were entertaining, requiring some mathematics and orienteering to find where the box was hidden, when we got there it was gone.
George and Hayden search for the missing letterbox.
The day after the letterbox disappointment we left to return to San Francisco by way of Fort Ross. It has been almost twenty years since I travelled along that section of the California coast. It rained on and off during the drive, but it was mostly a light rain and did not interfere much with our enjoyment of the magnificent views and our sojourn at Fort Ross. We turned inland at the Russian River traveling through Gruernville and Forestville and arrived in the early evening at my sister’s house in Berkeley where we spent the night.
I planned to stay at my sister’s house until the doctor’s removed the blood clot filter from my vein on Wednesday. Hayden and I whiled away the time mostly hanging out as I tried to come up with things to entertain an eight year old. One day while walking through Golden Gate Park H asked me, “Where did they bury God?”
“God is Dead,” I responded?
Hayden: “Oh yes. He died a long time ago. Everyone knows that.”
I must have missed that news. Was it reported in the NY Times Sunday Edition? Does the Pope know?
I also had to change my meds from pills to self-injected blood thinners in preparation for the procedure. The cost of the three-day supply of the new meds was about $1000. When George, for comparison purposes, looked into Canadian suppliers, their price for the drugs was less than my deductible. I could not but suspect that the market price for pharmaceuticals in the US is set not by good old supply and demand but by what would be considered by some in other circumstances as a massive criminal conspiracy .
JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:
ENTER THE DRAGON
Sam Spade: Ten thousand? We were talking about a lot more money than this.
Kasper Gutman: Yes, sir, we were, but this is genuine coin of the realm. With a dollar of this, you can buy ten dollars of talk.
Martin Vihn walked to the center of the garage and beckoned to the 16 year-old delinquent in the Iron Maiden T-shirt. He turned to me and said:
“This is Joe Vu. He is my cousin. He will be spending a few days with you as you look for Clarence Reilly. I want you to leach him how to be a detective.”
Joe Vu: “Cool.”
Me: “What! Uh… I work alone.”
Martin Vihn: Just stares.
Me: “Ok for a few days. But I can’t teach him to be a private investigator. You have to be 21 years old to get a license.”
Joe Vu: “I’m twenty-three.”
Martin Vihn: Continues staring.
Me: “One has to work for three years in investigation to qualify for a license in California.”
Martin Vihn: “OK… I will pay you $1000 a month for employing my cousin for three years to teach him how to be a detective.”
Me, sweating again and at the verge of panic: “But there are a lot of rules, taxes and the like when one hires someone. I am not equipped to do that. Besides I have to pay him at least minimum wage.”
Martin Vihn: “No problem. I’ll take care of his needs. My accountant Robert Wu will handle all the bureaucratic stuff.” With that he motioned the old Asian man over and said to him, “Robert please pay Mr Dragon $1100 dollars for his first weeks work, another $1000 in advance for Joe Vu. Add $500 in advance for his expenses and another $500 bonus for being so…uh…accommodating.” He turned to the smiling Iron Maiden” t-shirt wearing 23-year-old and said, “Joe, you can take the Lexus to drive Mr. Dragon around.”
Joe Vu: “Cool”
While wondering if anyone under the age of fifty said “cool” anymore, Mr Wu approached me and started pulling money out of a large wallet and handing it to me along with his business card. He mumbled something that I could not understand.
With that Martin Vihn walked off to the Mercedes followed by his other acolytes and drove off. Mr Wu returned to the office. Leaving me holding a business card in one hand, a bunch of money in the other and staring at the smiling Joe Vu.
“Ok boss where do we start” he said?
“Don’t call me boss. I am not Charlie Chan and you are not number one son.” Actually he called the old man “pops” which was just as annoying to the old man as “boss” was to me.
As we turned to walk to the Lexus he said, “Ok boss. Who’s Charlie Chan?”
“A Chinese detective in some old movies who solved crimes with his number one son. They are not shown anymore.”
“Why is that?”
“Because the Chinese detective was played by a white man and critics said the movies emphasized racial stereotypes.”
“Oh,” he said as he opened the car door for me. “I guess we’re more like the Green Hornet and Cato.”
“No,” I said getting into the car. “I don’t look good in a mask.”
“You’re funny boss,” he said as he closed the door.
He got in the driver’s side and said, “Were to boss… er… chief.”
I said, “On second thought, boss will do. To the San Francisco Public Library.”
“Ok boss. Why the library?”
“Because the first rule in private detection is, gather the information.” Actually the first rule is get paid up front… which I thought, for better of worse, during these past two days I seem to have done better than I have ever done before in my life.
“Now don’t talk for a while, I’ve got to think. The second rule of private detection is to think first talk second.” That’s a lie too.
1788: Patrick Henry, he of “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” fame, during the debate in the Virginia Legislature on ratification of the proposed new Constitution of the United States had this to say about liberty for a majority of the residents of his State:
“In this state,” here are two hundred and thirty-six thousand blacks, and there are many in several other states. But there are few or none in the Northern States. . . . May Congress not say, that every black man must fight? Did we not see a little of this last war? We were not so hard pushed as to make emancipation general; but acts of Assembly passed that every slave who would go to the army should be free.”
“…[T]hey will search that paper [the Constitution], and see if they have power of manumission… And have they not, sir? Have they not power to provide for the general defense and welfare? May they not think that these call for the abolition of slavery? May they not pronounce all slaves free, and will they not be warranted by that power?
“…This is no ambiguous implication or logical deduction. The paper speaks to the point: they have the power in clear, unequivocal terms, and will clearly and certainly exercise it.”
“…This is a local matter, and I can see no propriety in subjecting it to Congress.”
This speech prompted what was eventually to become the Second Amendment to the US Constitution: assurance that the state militias, which in the southern states were organized for the most part to protect against slave rebellions, would not be disbanded by the proposed Federal Government. The potential of such rebellions struck mortal fear into the heart of just about every brave white southerner at the time. Thus in one speech this icon of liberty argued for the permanent enslavement of a majority the residents of his state and the military means to assure it; all thinly disguised under the rubric of “States Rights.”
In one way or another the rhetoric of politicians from the South has remained consistent for 225 years.
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
(During those same thirty years the US has tumbled from first among all nations in almost every determinant of freedom, economic development and social welfare to the level of third world countries in many of them. We all would like to be rich. But 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. Apologies, Regrets, Humiliations and Blasts from the Past:
Now and then I go back through old issues of T&T in search of dross among the dross. This one is far from dross. It was written 2010 by dear Irwin Shatzman in which he puts my self-indulgence in perspective:
“STUMM FRN KOPF UF ERINEM ENSEL THEATRE
PRESENTS A ONE ACT UNAMED AS YET PLAY WITH MANY SCENES
WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY THE JOSEPH PETRILLO AFFILIATES – 2010
A park bench in paradise. The figure of a man is seen sitting on the bench propped up as a human tripod by his two legs and a walking stick. His head is slumped over. He is wearing rather large sunglasses, a t-shirt that advertises foreign beer and appears to be motionless. He is in fact, quite dead.
Dead Man (before he dies, instead of saying, ‘I was once somebody and now I am nobody’, or, ‘I was once somebody now I am somebody else’) he say’s:
‘I used to be worthy of note, now I can’t even get a whistle. And to top it off I am about to be dead. I bet that when I do and they, whoever “they” are, go through my pockets and find a lotto ticket. It will contain the winning numbers, or, will it?!!’
Off stage the sound of a pistol being loaded is heard. The pistol belongs to Gun Girl.
End of Scene One”
“By nature all men are equal in liberty, but not in other endowments.”
“How is it they live in such harmony the billions of stars – when most men can barely go a minute without declaring war in their minds about someone they know.”
(This map showing the distribution of genetic Y Haplogroups around the world in 1500 indicates to me that:
1. Theories that travelers from Africa, Asia or Europe during historical times (1000 BC to 1500 AD) journeyed to the Americas and created the advanced cultures that flourished there are probably incorrect.
2. A triangle whose points lie in the eastern Mediterranean, southern India and the Atali Mountains on the western border of Mongolia contains humanities genetic melting pot. We may all have come out of Africa but thereafter most of us are children of the steppes.)
The Sky Above El Dorado Hills