Posts Tagged With: History

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 24 Papa Joe 0008. (October 12, 2019)

 
“There ain’t any finer folks living than a Republican that votes the Democratic ticket.”
Will Rogers

 

 

 

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day, or if you are of Italian heritage, Columbus Day.

Happy Birthday to me on my 80th Birthday.
Note to all: On October 19 and 20 the Moby-Dick Marathon, a reading of Melville’s masterpiece, will take place at San Francisco’s Maritime Museum (learn more: maritime.org/events/mobydick)

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 
Days pass. Discovered Kenneth Fearing, poet, novelist, and founding editor of Partisan Review (see below). He was a good old leftie. Alas, he probably would have become a Trumpite had he lived today instead of drinking himself to death at a relatively young age. Watched the movie made from his book “The Big Clock” starring Ray Milland and Charles Laughton and enjoyed seeing Laughton’s wife, Elsa Lanchester, steal the film away from the headliners as she usually does.

Spent time with HRM. Ate lunch with him at Subway and learned that the Slackers vs Jocks contretemps still simmers — the indomitable conviction of youth in the importance of their every experience — sadly to us decrepits we have forgotten how right they are.

Begun packing for our trip into the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. I suspect there will be more to write about then — discomfort, fatigue, and, at times, beauty and novelty or boredom. That’s what adventures are all about, a lot of discomfort and boredom broken now and then with bits of terror and fear moderated by a dollop of poetic beauty. The photos are nice, however.

For the second time In the last few months, Naida and Boo-boo the Barking Dog have been attacked by another dog leaping from a parked car that they passed during their evening walks. This time, Naida was knocked to the ground. The dog’s owners, after securing their pet, rushed to see if Naida was hurt. She responded to their expressions of apology and concern, “Don’t worry, I am one of those eighty-year-olds whose bones do not break whenever she falls down.” More indomitability.

Thinking about indomitability, I have, at times, fought and refused to give up. Now, when it no longer matters, I realize it was not indomitability but merely fear that I would be exposed. I guess that is the way it is with most men.

Now I think it is time to leave this morning’s morass of introspection as well as my recliner and go out and meet the day, or greet it or something like that.

“It’s always something” (Rosanna Rosannadanna.) Lost my wallet. Probably yesterday after I returned from EDH and I stopped for gas at the Shell Station nearby. Perhaps someone stole it. I do not know how. It is a disaster. Losing one’s wallet is one of life’s great tragedies. Everything important was in there. My debit cards, my passport, other things. We are leaving for our trip on Friday. A new credit-card will not be ready by then so the costs of the trip will be all on Naida. Sometimes life sucks. I guess I have to get started on canceling and reordering things. Well, perhaps tomorrow. Tonight I’ll pretend I’m depressed. Tomorrow is another day.

Before going to bed we watched Sidney Poitier in Lilies of Field. I felt better. I’ll cry tomorrow.

It is tomorrow. Oh, happy day. I found my wallet. It was where I thought it was. I always throw the clothing I intend to wear the next day on the floor near my bed. They are easier to locate that way. I thought I had lost my wallet among the accumulated detritus next lying there. Several times I had picked through everything to see if it had fallen among them. This morning, I picked up a shirt I planned to take with me to SF today and there it was lying underneath. So, in happy spirits, we left for the Big Endive by the Bay and my immunotherapy treatment.

 

B. AGAIN IN THE BIG ENDIVE WITH PETER AND BARRIE:

 
Following a surprisingly delightful drive (I napped, Naida drove), we arrived at Peter and Barrie’s home in Noe Valley. After getting settled, Peter and I told each other stories. He spoke about his time in Cambridge and India as one of the famous anthropologist, Cora Du Bois’ doctoral students. In India, he and Barrie lived primarily in Bhubaneswar where he studied the politics and design theories behind the construction of the new capital of the then recently created state of Odisha. I told of my adventures in Turkey (a midnight knife fight) and old Jerusalem and Bethlehem (meeting with the dealer who sold the Dead Sea scrolls). Later Hiromi and my granddaughter Amanda joined us for dinner.
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The next day we went to the Mission Bay facility of UCSF for my immunotherapy treatment. Nothing to report here.

We then returned to the Enchanted Forest.

 

 
C. BACK IN THE VALLEY:

 

 

The next day we prepared for our trip. I took a brief drive to EDH to fetch Hayden from school and to stop at the pharmacy to pick up the medicines I would need during our trip. After I returned to the Enchanted Forest, Naida and I enjoyed lunch at a local sandwich shop. Later, a box containing about 20 copies of the revised version of Naida’s memoir, “A Daughter of the West,” with her corrections arrived. Naida spent some time checking to see if the edits she had made were incorporated in the revisions. At about ten o’clock in the evening, we left for the train station.

 

 

 

D. OFF TO OREGON.

 

 

The train to Portland left the Sacramento Valley Amtrak Station at about midnight on Friday. We slept uncomfortably in our business class chairs. I had made a mistake not reserving a sleeping compartment. Nevertheless, train travel, in my opinion, is the most civilized way to travel. It is a shame the United States, unlike almost any other advanced nation in the world, pulled up its tracks, sold the rails for scrap and replaced them with asphalt roadways.

When we awoke, we had a pleasant breakfast, even if not of the quality offered on the Orient Express, Our breakfast companions were an interesting couple from Irvine who made it clear they were not married. “neither are we,” we chimed in gleefully as though we all were old folks reveling in our naughtiness.

We spent the day mostly sitting in the observation car watching wooded northern California and Oregon landscape pass by. We arrived in Portland at about four PM.
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E. PORTLAND AND PUYALLUP:

 

 

We were met at the station by Naida’s cousin Debbie and went for a walk along the Willamette River. There are many bridges spanning the Willamette. I had not noticed that during my previous visits here. Walking along the riverside path I felt as though I was walking under a freeway interchange.

As we strolled along the path on the inland side the Portland Food Festival was under weigh. It extended for many blocks. It was lunchtime and we were hungry but we decided to skip the festival and find a local restaurant.
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Naida and Debbie on the Waterfront.

 

 

After walking around a bit, we found a Chinese restaurant that looked interesting. I had not eaten Chinese food in a while and was eager to do so now.

In Italy and in many places in the US recently, I have noticed that a goodly number of Italian restaurants have been taken over by Chinese immigrant families resulting in mushy noodles and a poor understanding of the cuisine’s use of herbs and spices. Every national cuisine begins with its own traditional mix of herbs and spices. Failure to get them right may still result in a palatable meal but it cannot be called an example of those nations’ traditional food.

So we entered. The waiter seated us and took our orders. I ordered Mu-shu pork. When he brought us our meals he told a lengthy story about learning to be a mu-shu pork folder and considered himself to be the best mu-sho pork folder in Portland. I had never known there was an art to folding mu-shu pork so, I asked him to show us this talent of which he was so proud as I was sure he wanted me to. And so he did.

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Folding Mu-Shu Pork.

 

 

After that, we went to Debbie’s house and promptly fell asleep.

The next day, several of Naida’s relatives from Portland joined us for a late lunch. Many interesting stories were told but, alas, T&T is not a venue in which I can share all of them. Debbie’s father, a renowned Methodist minister, was also an accomplished amateur mineralogist and jewelry maker. When he died, he left Debbie his immense store of rocks, semi-precious stones, and jewelry making equipment. Debbie and her son Nicolas have avidly continued his father’s avocation. Tumblers hummed all night, and piles of rocks and minerals covered much of the yard.
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Some of the Rocks.                                                   The Tumblers.

 

 
Later, we visited with David, Naida’s son who assists the well-known regional sculpture Bruce West (Naida’s ex-brother-in-law). We met at the studio. Bruce was unable to join us because he suffers from late-stage Parkinson’s.
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Naida and David.                                    Some Works by Bruce West.

 

 

Debbie then drove us to the train station and left. We had hoped to take the train to Puyallup, Washington to spend the night at the home of Debbie’s sister Colleen. Unfortunately, the train was full (since when do trains in this day and age get filled up?). So we trundled, in the rain, dragging our luggage a few blocks to the Greyhound station. Alas, the bus had left for Puyallup a few minutes before we arrived. The amused ticket agents suggested we try another bus line a few blocks away. Once again, we struggled through the drizzle to the place where we were told we would find the bus.

When we arrived where we were directed, there was no ticket office to be found. We noticed a bunch of people across the street who appeared to be waiting around for something. We went up to them and asked if they knew the location of the ticket office. We were told there wasn’t one but, they were all waiting for a bus from that company to arrive and had already bought their tickets already. So, we waited there standing with them in the light rain. Eventually, the bus arrived. The driver told us that if there were any seats left after everyone with tickets had been seated he would sell them to us. So we waited some more. After everyone boarded, he announced there were two left. Relieved, we paid him and prepared to board. At that moment, a young man approached and handed the driver a ticket. The driver told him that the ticket said he must arrive at least five minutes before the bus departs and since he did not so the tickets had been sold. So, we boarded. I felt bad for the guy, but not bad enough to give up my seat.

Naida’s cousin Colleen picked us up at the bus stop and drove us to her home in Puyallup. Coleen’s home, a one-story building, appeared small from the outside but was surprisingly large once you got inside. She took us on a tour of the house. It seemed to me to be one of the more pleasant houses I had ever been in. For forty-seven years Coleen, her husband, and her mother lived in that house, constantly changing and remodeling it to better serve their needs and comfort. After Naida and Colleen exchanged a few family stories with each other we went to sleep in a far too comfortable bed.

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Colleen’s Back Porch.                                            Naida and Colleen.

 

 
A ninety-nine acre heavily wooded park surrounds Colleen’s home on two sides. Waking up in the morning with the sun shining and the encircling trees rising up behind the yard was delightful.
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Later, Naida and I went for a walk around a nearby lake. It began raining as we walked along, a light drizzle at times interspersed with more heavy downpours.
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Following the walk, we returned to the house. Naida and Colleen worked on a puzzle together and quietly talked and reminisced about family and things while I sat on the sofa and played on my computer and dozed until it was time to leave for the airport and our flight to Boise.

Colleen dropped us off at the bus station for the brief bus ride to the airport. We flew to Boise on a prop plane. It has been a long time since I last had ridden on one.

We arrived in Boise at about 11pm. After an adventure securing our rental car, we drove to the hotel on the river where we were going to spend the night.
(More to come)

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

 

This continues the reproduction here in T&T of the entries in an old 1963 diary of mine that almost miraculously survived until now. Clearly, I was no Anne Frank. I hardly recognize the person who wrote this diary almost 60 years ago and I do not think I like him all that much.

Thursday, January 24, 1963.

 

After the exam, we want to Henry Stampler’s where I had my caricature drawn. We then, after throwing down a few, decided to have a party at Dave G———’s apt. We picked up three women at the Barbizon Hotel. Within five minutes of our arrival at his apartment, Dave was in the bedroom with one of them. Maria arrived and I stayed at the party a little longer than I intended. Maria wanted to leave. I left with her and walked her home. When we reached her building she kissed me very warmly. I enjoyed that a lot. I walked her up the stairs and into her apartment. Valerie was there with a Taxi driver she had just picked up. I had a brief conversation with them and Jennifer, their other roommate then I left and returned to the party. The two other couples there had other plans than partying with me, so I went in search of my ride, Dick Perles one of my classmates. I eventually found him but because of the cold, we were unable to start his car. We returned to Maria’s apartment in order to call someone to start the car. I think we annoyed the girls in our bumbling attempts to find a garageman to help so we left, returned to the car, and to our surprise it started right up.

During the ride home Perles, who was quite heady with wine, started to talk about himself. He began with tales of his escapades with the police, including an arrest for housebreaking and his subsequent release through the efforts of his father.

Dick seems to me to be very lonely and frustrated with his life so far. He seems unable to control his own passions — I guess because he neither understands them nor believes in those that he does. As a result, he continues to bind himself in the ropes of loneliness and the knots of frustration — a form of imprisonment I know too much about but appear to be able to escape from at times. Even then, escape is often little more than another turn of the rope or another knot that binds.

 

 

Friday, January 25, 1963.

 

This evening, I watched Captain’s Courageous on TV. Surprisingly, tears began to roll down my cheeks. They continue even as I write this. I do not know why. I try to explain them away, without too much success.

My heart goes out to this Manuel, a man able to live and respect himself as well as have others respect him. A man who could love God without fear or knowledge (often it is the knowledge that brings fear). He was human, childlike, Christ-like, gentle even in violence.

Why can’t I see with his eyes, feel with his heart?

Why do I always seem to be searching for something and always failing because I suspect the search is barren? One day, I hope, I will be able to open my hears and my eyes and then be able to see and touch and smell and test and yes even love.

 

 

Sunday, January 27, 1963.

 
I went to Mike’s party last night. We had gotten dates from St. Vincent’s. While driving to the party we got a flat tire. I ran into Arty Ferrara at the party. He and I discussed the law for a while. I got very drunk and made a spectacle of myself on the subway as we took the girls home.

I am very tired tonight. I hardly know what I am writing.

 
Tuesday, January 29, 1963.

 
Today, I did little other than bring the informational materials for the Puerto Rica trip to my brother Jimmy.

I am depressed tonight because I fear I will not be successful in life. I understand my abilities and knowledge are adequate to achieve the success I crave. Yet, somewhere within my resides a demon that seems to prevent me from completing the most fundamental steps.

A person needs to love himself so much he believes he is superior to all others, or hate himself he allows that hate to sweep away all impediments to his ambitions. Doubting which it is can make one of as little use as a eunuch in a whore-house.

I could sit down and try to analyze this malaise, but analysis rarely leads to solutions or action — action is the spontaneous explosion of one’s spirit.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

Today’s Poem:

 

 

Aphrodite Metropolis
Harry loves Myrtle—He has strong arms, from the warehouse,
And on Sunday when they take the bus to emerald meadows he doesn’t say:
“What will your chastity amount to when your flesh withers in a little while?”
No,
On Sunday, when they picnic in emerald meadows they look at the Sunday paper:
GIRL SLAYS BANKER-BETRAYER
They spread it around on the grass
BATH-TUB STIRS JERSEY ROW
And then they sit down on it, nice.
Harry doesn’t say “Ziggin’s Ointment for withered flesh,
Cures thousands of men and women of motes, warts, red veins,
flabby throat, scalp and hair diseases,
Not expensive, and fully guaranteed.”
No,
Harry says nothing at all,
He smiles,
And they kiss in the emerald meadows on the Sunday paper.
Kenneth Fearing

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 
“We are slowed down sound and light waves, a walking bundle of frequencies tuned into the cosmos. We are souls dressed up in sacred biochemical garments and our bodies are the instruments through which our souls play their music.”
Albert Einstein

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Categories: October through December 2019, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 25 Papa Joe 0008 (September 8, 2019)

 
“The measure of a civilization is in the courage, not of its soldiers, but of its bystanders.”
McDevitt, Jack. A Talent For War (An Alex Benedict Novel Book 1) (p. 204). Penguin Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 

 

We drove to the Bay Area and spent the night at Peter and Barrie’s. Hiromi and my granddaughter just returned from their summer in Japan, joined us for dinner. We told stories. I told about the time my son Jason and I hitchhiked across the United States. He was about six-years-old at the time. It took us about six weeks primarily because we stayed for three of those weeks with friends who lived in the Bitterroot Vally in Montana.
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Peter, Amanda and I.

 

The next morning, I went for my immunotherapy treatment. The doctor told me that I had a significant number of blood clots in my left leg and lungs. He hoped the anticoagulant he had prescribed for me would begin to clear them up. We will know better after my next visit when I will have some additional tests done. Later, one of my blood tests came back showing severely low thyroid levels which may be the cause of my constant fatigue. The doctor said I need to get more exercise.
Following my visit, we returned to Noe Valley and sat at the Geezer Bench in front of Bernie’s Cafe. We were joined by my grandson Anthony and his girlfriend. Anthony has always been a kind and considerate young man who had a very unhappy childhood and adolescence that sowed the seeds of anger and frustration inside of him. I try my best always to be supportive of him in the hope that his innate gentleness will eventually calm his internal demons.
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Naida and Anthony with me on the Geezer’s Bench.

 
B. BACK TO THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

The drive back was a horror, taking over four hours to cover the eighty or so miles. That evening, Naida suggested we get starkers and retire early. It was delightful. We lay on the bed in the dim light and talked for hours — about the light, our love, the day, the night, tomorrow and beyond, yesterday and the dim reaches of memory, our plans and our hopes for the brief time we have ahead of us. I slept well.

A few days pass like a spring breeze through the tattered remains of my memory. Let us work our way backward. It is Sunday, we just returned from a magnificent concert at the Nepenthe clubhouse. A Japanese jazz harpist (Motoshi Kosako) had given a performance far beyond that of the third rate bands that usually perform at the Sunday Jazz By the Pool nights in the Enchanted Forest. He was accompanied by an equally accomplished guitarist who played an instrument that seemed to be able to mimic any instrument in a symphony orchestra. True the Harpist, was no Miles Davis but was clearly a master Jazz musician. Jazz played on the harp was interesting, if to me a bit unsettling. There was none of that sense of sliding into the notes like one gets with traditional jazz instruments, like the sax, cornet or guitar. The sound of the harp is bright, not rounded. It would be like a jazz piano riff played on a harpsichord, everything musical would still there but it would sound, to me, a bit too vibrant and missing the auditory shadows I have come to expect in good jazz.

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That morning I drove the Scooter Gang (Hayden, Jake, Kaleb, and Tyson) into the Gold Country for a hamburger taste comparison between the hamburgers served at Giant Burgers to Go in Pine Grove and those cooked on the wood-fired oven at the Country Store in Volcano. H and I had always believed that the burgers cooked up at the Country Store were the best, but they were strangely dry that day so Giant Burgers to Go won the taste test that day.
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As for teenage chatter during the trip, alas, there was little of note. I hoped that they would show and interest in some of the sights along the way and suggest we stop and explore them (e.g., Indian Grinding Rock, Some old mines and Volcano itself) but they were too far into their existential adolescent blasé to consider anything but the torrent of recognition about their own emerging individuality to consider anything else intriguing.

On Saturday we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe clubhouse. It was also Dustan Hoffman day on TVM. After the coffee we returned home and watched “The Graduate,” Midnight Cowboy,” “Tootsie,” “Marathon Man,” and “Straight Time.” Hoffman was trained in “The Method” at the Actor’s Studio. That means, he may look more or less the same in each performance but he is a different person every time. Non-Method actors, look the same, are the same person, but behave differently as the script requires. It is difficult to claim one knows what Hoffman or DiNero are like in their private lives, but you are usually reasonably certain you know Gable or Olivier remain the same person away from the screen. There was a time, I was walking by a hotel located at the beach in Santa Monica. I saw Al Pacino, wearing an overcoat hanging down to his ankles hiding in the bushes and peering into the breakfast room of the hotel. I guess one might have expected something like that from Pacino. On the other hand, perhaps he was just getting into his character for some performance.

Last night, I couldn’t sleep, so I first went through the 49rs potential lineup as I sometimes do hoping the exercise would bore me enough to put me to sleep. That failed, so I went to my backup, counting my breaths backward from 99. When I got to about 10, I realized I was thirsty, so I got out of bed to get a drink of water. As I got up and started walking I began to feel dizzy so I grabbed the footboard as I usually do to keep me from falling until the dizzy spell passed. The next thing I recalled I was still lying in bed counting backward with Naida in my arms. Slowly, I began to realize that it was not a pillow behind my head but the rug instead. Also, Naida was not sleeping in my arms but holding me and calling my name. It dawned on me that I had fainted. The last time I had fainted like this was when I had a pulmonary embolism a few years back. Oh, I forgot, the dog lay on the rug near me, a concerned look in his eyes as he contemplated the possible loss of a secure source of food.

With Naida’s help, I got back to bed drank some water and laid back down. I still could not go back to sleep, but now I instead of NFL rosters or counting breaths, I worried about whether if I fall asleep I would ever wake up. I slept fitfully and awoke exhausted and muzzy and with a nagging sense of dread but pleased to have survived the night.

Now the title of this section of T&T includes the words “Pookie’s Adventures.” Most people, I suspect, view adventures as things like climbing a mountain, exploring a dank jungle, or being chased down a dark alley by white nationalists or Mafia hitmen. I, however, consider last night’s events an adventure. Think about it. It took place in the dark of night. There was clearly a danger. I was mystified about what was happening. There was a dollop of pathos and a pinch of bathos (not to mention a full dose of melodrama). Imminent death was a distinct possibility. A beautiful woman lay in my arms. The problem was successfully overcome and a residual shadow as to what it all means for the future remained. That’s what adventure is all about.

I asked Naida to review my unfinished mystery novel, “Here Comes Dragon,” that I had published here in T&T some years back. I wanted her opinion as to whether I should finish it and publish it as an ebook. After reading two or three chapters, she stopped. I asked her if she thought I should try to finish it. She responded that perhaps I should devote my time and effort to T&T. So noted.

On Friday, we walked over the bridge to Sacramento State and joined the Renaissance Society. An organization that allows us Vecchia Gente to attend lectures and classes. I was interested most in history, Celtic, Mesopotamian or Judean. Naida seemed more intrigued by courses music and writing.

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The view of the American River from the Guy West Bridge.

 

On Saturday I drove into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM and three other members of the Scooter Gang in order to drive them to Berkeley for lunch at a Mexican restaurant he likes followed by a visit to the Bone Room. When I arrived at his teenager cave, he said that since it was Labor Day weekend the traffic would be too heavy. So, instead, we went to a fried chicken place they like in Folsom.
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After that, we walked to the Natomas Reservoir nearby. HRM wanted to show me the 65ft high cliff from which he and some of his friends would dive into the water. On the way, we met Dick and his house guest Cristina’s daughter Julia from Italy who had been riding their bicycles around the lake. The boys (Jake and HRM) decided to show us their dive but luckily the park rangers came by boat and warned them off.

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During the drive, they told me about a conflict that has arisen during the first week of High School between a group I call “the Jocks” and another group, “The Slackers,” to which the members of the Scooter Gang belong. It seems the Jocks have been whispering to some of the girls in the class urging to stay away from the Slackers because they lack ambition and will never amount to anything in life. This has riled up the Slackers ( including the Scooter Gang) quite a bit.

In an effort to not so much calm the waters but salve the bruised egos of the Slackers, I explained that the difference between them is that the Jocks need someone to tell them how to exercise or what to learn, but the Slackers (at least the Scooter Gang contingent) prefer to explore things on their own. For example, they certainly get significant exercise at the Skatepark, mountain biking, and skiing, while the Jocks prefer to get theirs under the direction of the coaches on the sports teams. Similarly, the Scooter Gang prefers exploring and learning things in addition to school (which they find confining). Also, they are always dreaming about doing exciting, if less conventional things in addition to their plans for college and a career. They responded something like, “Yeah, we’re explorers. They are only interested in a conventional life.” I guess that is good.

On Wednesday, Naida and I visited another independent living facility. What happened in the past four days? I don’t recall much except I am sure it was nothing bad. A few calls from Frank in Florida and from David in South Dakota broke up days of watching old movies and cable news or playing with my computer — I did go swimming once. Anyway, the visit — it always makes me feel uncomfortable when I enter one of these facilities. I think I am visiting my temporary coffin, reserved for that period between decrepitude and death. Sort of like I picture purgatory to be. A cold misty place where one waits uncomfortably to finally graduate into the eternal boredom of Heaven.

Thursday was an interesting day. In the morning, Naida told me several spooky stories about events in her life that she plans to include in the second volume of her memoir. The first included a story about her grandmother’s house, strange music, and dancing candlesticks. Another story concerned her meeting a native American man who had read River of Red Gold, her novel of life along the Cosumnes River during the Gold Rush. He said he was enthralled by the way she treated Native Americans in her book. He claimed it changed his life. They visited the abandoned native American village on the banks of the Cosumnes and the tree of the spirit women described in her book. His spirit animal was a bear. The painting that graces the cover of Eye of the Bay reflects that spirit. It also reflects the orSwimmingange light that shone in his eyes. Strangely the painter was not informed of any of this but just decided on her own to paint the bear, the fire motif and the orange rendition of the San Jose Mission in his eye.
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Later I drove into the Golden Hills for lunch with SWAC after which I picked up HRM at the ESD Skatepark and drove him home. Confidentiality prevents me from writing here all that I learned.

That night Terry arrived in Sacramento on his way back to Dunsmuir. We had dinner at Zinfandel a restaurant nearby that Naida and I enjoy. After dinner, we invited him to stay the night in one of the now-empty bedrooms. The next morning we all had breakfast together and talked about many things — Politics mostly. In addition to current national politics, we also talked about our lives in politics and the sexual peccadilloes of those in politicians we all knew. Terry and I discussed the Catholic schools we attended and the malevolent morality of the diocesan hierocracy we all knew. Naida told about the Mormons in Idaho and Utah and their frightening hierarchy beginning with Bingham Young. Later, Terry and I reminisced about our time at Georgetown. I told about my friendship with the Buchanan family — of Pat Buchanan, speechwriter for Nixon, Presidential candidate and full-time racist and fascist. He was considered the smart one of the family. He was also violent and crazy. I was convinced he would eventually die in the electric chair. Psycho Buchanan was Pat’s brother, and a Jesuit seminarian at the time I knew him. He was called Psycho for a good reason. He was a close friend of mine. Then there was Buchs Buchanan who was usually referred to as the dumb Buchanan. A finally there was Bay Buchanan the sister who was thirteen when I first met her. That day I, as I was walking down the hallway of the Buchanan house and heard her speak, I was convinced she was the demon child. Whenever I see the possessed child in the movie The Exorcist, I can only see Bay in my mind as I first met her that day.

Terry and I then left. He to continue on to Dunsmuir and me off to EDH again to pick up HTM. Hayden and I set off for lunch. After lunch, I drove him back to his home to pick up his scooter. His mom came by and said she would tell him this week. I then dropped him off at the Skatepark and returned to the Enchanted Forest.

Saturday, we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee. Winnie was there. Her immunotherapy has stopped working. She was desperately frightened. I felt bad for her and a little scared for myself. The primary issue for discussion at the coffee was the recent break-in by two thieves of a home in the area and the beating of the homeowner. While such an event perhaps concerns old folks more than others, I was surprised at the high-level unemotional discussion that followed.

I think this is enough for this post. Next week following my trip to SF for my immunotherapy treatment, Naida and I leave for a two week trip to Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. We will be visiting some of the locations of many of the events in Naida’s newly published memoir as well as relatives and old friends. It is, in part, a sort of a good-by trip for Naida as she may never see most of these people again. We also plan to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

Take care of yourselves and remember to keep on truckin.

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 
In the prior T&T post, I began a rumination about biological life, not in the hope of adding to the sum total of the earth’s knowledge or even to be correct. I have neither the knowledge nor the ambition to do either. I only want to see if I can come up with something with the information I have assembled that convinces me or if not convinced then leaves me bored enough to do something else. I have done this before in T&T with my posts on the spread of humanity out of Africa, as well as the First-Centuries and the rise of the Abrahamic religions we know today.

I ended the previous post with the following:

“When coupled with the fact that many believe the biosphere extends as a band from somewhere below the surface of the lithosphere (ground) up until it dissipates somewhere near the stratosphere, it helps me to explore a possible concept on which I believed I could replace my uninformed uncertainty with dogmatic bias.”

And continue here:

“Whitehead and Russell taught us that words have no meaning unless backed by mathematics. In other words, it is all blah, blah, blah unless it has numbers. Goedel then taught us that mathematics is based on unprovable assumptions. In other words, blah is still blah even with numbers.”
Excerpt From: J. E, Petrillo.Trenz Pruca’s Musings.” Apple Books.

In the early part of the 20th Century, it became generally accepted by scientists that words, the fundamental element of the system of aural and visual symbols that make up what we call language, was not adequate to describe some of the fundamental elements of physical reality. They chose the symbolic (or semantic if you will) system of numbers with which to describe the very small and very large aspects of reality. Later, they realized, numbers have their own problems as a system of description.

When we dropped from the trees and appeared to separate ourselves from other mammals, one of the indicators of that separation was our realization that we could manipulate and communicate our visual and auditory impressions. Other (perhaps most) organisms, including plants, seem to be able to communicate to some extent. What differentiates genus homo from the others is not just this ability but also the scope of the physical changes it induced in human physiology to take maximum advantage of that ability. It’s downside as Whitehead and Russell point out is its imprecision and subjective nature make it less than desirable for some of the needs of science. So what does this mean for understanding life?

Well, for one thing, in our efforts to understand life and communicate it we may be hindered by those symbolic concepts we have traditionally used. Even Schrodinger, after accurately predicting the basic building block of life, had to resort to invoking eastern religions to describe the more macro elements of the biosphere. Again, so what?
Well, perhaps the categories imposed upon us by our system of symbols to describe reality are misleading us.

Let’s take the biosphere. When say, dinosaurs evolved and dominated during the Triassic I believe some of them crawled along the land others swam in the sea and others developed the ability to fly. Later mammals when they achieved a similar form of existence within the biosphere, some swim in the water others travel along the land and others take to the skies. There seems to be a common evolution of large groups of related species when their phylum, domain, or family gain worldwide distribution. Teilhard De Chardin described this phenomenon as a precursor to the evolution or addition of a “more advanced” life form that in turn would circle the globe. Humans also have, in relatively large numbers, traveled on and under the oceans and waters of the earth and extracted resources for their benefit. Similarly, they have managed to fly through the air. Does this mean humanity has broken into separate species? If not then could the previous masters of the world be considered the equivalent of a single species? If not, then does this factor in the evolution of the biosphere mean anything?

The biosphere (life on this earth) is hugely complex. The universe is hugely complex also. Yet, Einstein through a clever thought experiment followed by its expression in mathematical symbols simplified much of it and made a lot of it predictable. Could something similar be done with the biosphere?
(to be continued perhaps)

From the standpoint of physics, there is one essential difference between living things and inanimate clumps of carbon atoms: The former tend to be much better at capturing energy from their environment and dissipating that energy as heat. Jeremy England, a 31-year-old assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has derived a mathematical formula that he believes explains this capacity. The formula, based on established physics, indicates that when a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun or chemical fuel) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), it will often gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy. This could mean that under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life.”

Natalie Wolchover. A New Physics Theory of Life, January 22, 2014

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

January 16, 1963,

 

Ugh, I seemed to have taken the pipe on the Domestic Relations exam. I made two mistakes — first, I did not properly read the questions and second I may have omitted many of the issues raised by the facts. I need to develop a better method for taking these exams.

Jack Lee called to moan about the test. It was funny listening to his concerns especially when they made mine appear trivial.

Tony Russo was on the verge of tears about the exam. He, of course, is taking it harder than anyone else because it is his second time around. He told me his girlfriend Denise cheered him up. It must be nice to have someone to cheer you up.

It will be interesting to see who received the highest grades.

I hope to do better on tomorrow’s test. I think I am less prepared for it, but somehow I feel more confident.

Kevin appears to be pulling a fast one on the travel business. I will stop him.

Last night I dreamed about a Shangri-la of my own. It is a beautiful place, warm — kind to all and generous, tolerant but restrictive. Perhaps all that goodness fascinated me. This feeling has lasted two days now. I wish it could last forever. At least it provides some hope and happiness.

 

(Kevin was a college classmate and my contact with the travel agency yay made the arrangements for the trip other than the securing of the planes and the selling of the travel packages. As I said, I kept the profit on the planes and the agency on the accommodations. I suspected Kevin wanted to take the operation for himself.

All my life I have taken refuge in fantasy. I guess most people do. I do not recall my Shangri-la fantasy, but I assume, as usual, I was the central character, brilliant, courageous, handsome and well balanced.)

 

 

January 18, 1963.

 

A little fact is worth a limbo of dreams.

I woke up today with a ferocious headache. It was followed by the usual depression for the rest of the day. I fought it by trying to sleep in off. When that did not work, I fantasized about becoming a wealthy hero.

Ah, I need to prepare for my personal property exam.

 

(Besides taking refuge in fantasy whenever I ran into problems, I also convinced myself I was an incurable depressive. Both delusions have lasted my entire life.)

 

 

January 19, 1963.

 

I read an article by H. L. Mencken today. His cynicism must be irresistible to those who doubt as much as I do. Perhaps ontologically he is right, all is doubt, all is changing and beyond our grasp. Then again maybe he is wrong. Psychologically, he may have scored a bullseye, however, by pointing out that belief in oneself allows us to unify the exterior world and enables us to act, produce and contribute to it.

The problem, I think, is how do we express ourselves? Not, I am sure by the drivel I have written here — I do not even know if I have been lying to myself. Maybe this page should begin:

Those who believe they know something completely are usually wrong.

 

(Twenty-three-year-olds who believe they know something. anything, are always wrong)

 

 

January 20, 1963.

 

What have I done today that makes me proud? Absolutely nothing. At least I can do no worse tomorrow.

Last night as I struggled to sleep, I tried to remember something I had done of which I was Proud. I came up empty there too.
Pat gave me some information that may be useful for the Puerto Rico trip. I need to get my brother Jimmy a free trip.

 

(“At least I can do no worse.” One thing I found out in the almost sixty years of my life since then is that I certainly can.)

 

 

January 21, 1963.

 

The study group today went better than usual. Ora seemed to grasp this subject better than he usually does. Personal property will most likely be our most difficult exam.

I need to get a date for Mike’s party on Saturday. But who?

Why the hell can I seem only to write trivialities? Am I so shallow? Probably.

Today was cold.

My brother Jim seems distraught. I think it is that college freshman sickness where the student takes himself and everything happening to him to seriously. Although it probably will pass, it could be dangerous. He needs watching.

 

(My brother started art school. He always dressed in a jacket and tie. The other students made fun of him. Eventually, he conceded but always remained the best-dressed artist around.

As to my shallowness, there is no probability about it.)

 

 

January 23, 1963.

 

After much procrastination, I called Bobbie. I thought I handled it well. Perhaps I will be able to find a way around my prejudice. That would be something to be proud of.

I got a date with Stephanie for February 1. I called her at work. She seems more pleasant than before.

I have my personal property exam tomorrow. I believe my problem stems from my failure to read the questions properly. I hope to do better tomorrow.

I no longer suffer shattered confidence when those I know appear to know more than I do about something or have accomplished more. Now I make a note of what knowledge I lack or set a new goal to surpass them.

About Bobbie, I discovered two sheets of paper dated January 7, 1963, hidden between the pages later in my diary, I include them here now:

“I received my reply from Lawyer’s Library Club. I cannot make up my mind which books to buy because I have no idea of their quality.

Yesterday Al said it would be better that I do not date Bobbie because it would be detrimental to my career because she is Jewish and Married. This upset me. I am tempted to change my decision and begin dating her again.

It revolts me when convention becomes as unfair as this. I want to reach out and smash this like someone bashing the head of a rattlesnake preparing to strike.

The reports of the Boston Strangler slayings to me are both horrible and fascinating.

 

The second sheet of paper had no date. I do not know whether it was written at the same time and the first sheet. I include it here assuming both notes were written at the same time.

 

At the party last night Bobbie disclosed that had been married. Why I mused, do people seem to choose to make dramatic announcements at dramatic events or times.

I felt closer to her than ever before. Later appeared to turn colder to me. I cannot explain why I felt so close to her. Perhaps I never will. Nevertheless, I believe our relationship is over.

Bobbie has made my thoughts dwell less on the past and concentrate on this one that is not really important.

I admit her legs were warm, inviting, as my hand moved along them while we sat in the darkness. The memories of pleasure past and dreams of future pleasure unite to heighten the pleasures of the moment. I will miss that more than anything, I think.

Al Spengler drove me home. I owe him.

(At that time in the early sixties New York we lived in separate communities, more of less — The Italian and Irish Catholic communities, The Jewish community, the black community, the Puerto Rican community, and so on with a white Protestant living in remote ghettos everywhere and running all those things remote from the neighborhoods. It was expected one would not marry outside one’s ethnic community and religion. It was also expected that one would seek work in those communities or with organizations run by the white Protestants. It was both difficult and uncommon to step away from our communities then. College was one way. We the young also had spending money or youthful ancestors never had. This all culminated in the false dawn of the late ’60s when we were persuaded we could leave that all behind, with a little music and little dope and a good dose of recreational sex.

At least my 1963 self, as much as I find him a jerk, seems to have come to a dull awareness of some of the chains that bind him. I can attest that even now 60 years later some of them still do.

Bobbie seemed important to me in 1963. Alas, here in 2019 I do not remember her at all.)

 

 

 

 

TODAYS FACTOID:

 

 

Abraham Lincoln: Besides being a distinguished attorney, President of the United States and a well-known depressive he was also an accomplished poet. Here is one of his short poems:

Abraham Lincoln,
His hand and pen:
He will be good but
God knows When.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. A Barely Begun Story on Top:

 

While rummaging through some forgotten scraps in the bowels of my computer, I came across the following effort to write a story. It contains barely two paragraphs, but I was attracted to its title and by the pseudonym, I chose for the author:
GOD IS A TRANSEXUAL STREET WALKER IN BANGKOK
Malcolm “Luke” DeLucca

He leaned against the wall in the tiny alley throwing up everything he had in his stomach. He felt like he was dying. No, more like he wanted to die. It could not have been the few beers he had downed at Hillary’s 4, the bar on Soi Nana next to the entrance to Nana Plaza, one of Bangkok’s flesh emporiums. It was probably something he ate at one of the sidewalk food stands that line the street nearby.

After the retching stopped he slowly sunk down on his haunches being careful to avoid any part of his body touching the muck he disgorged a few inches away. He could barely move. His head hung between his knees and he but stared intently at a spot on the ground directly in front of his eyes. He still wanted to die. The sickness made it…”

At that point, I stopped for some reason. I recall that I intended that time to have the drunken farang meet a beautiful transexual in that dank alley. She claims she is God and had chosen the life of a transexual prostitute in Bangkok because she was bored with heaven and felt she would meet a better class of people here in the sordid alleyways of “the village of wild plums” then she did in the land beyond the pearly gates. I never got around to finishing it though. I guess it is the thought that counts.

As for the pen-name I had chosen, I have no idea where that came from. I knew a kid named Louie De Lucca when I was a kid back in Tuckahoe. Why I would want to memorialize him as the author of a story like this, I haven’t the foggiest — I actually liked the kid.

 

 
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

Shouldn’t we consider it a greater insult to the American flag or anthem to display the Confederate Battle Flag or the Swastika, both of which represent not only gross inhumanity but also those who sought to replace our flag, anthem and way of life and replace them with their flags, anthems and reprehensible ideals, then it is to take a knee to protest injustice, which by the way is a constitutionally protected act?

 

 
C. Today’s Poem:

 
What Was Your Name in the States?
by Anonymous

Oh, what was your name in the States?
Was it Thompson or Johnson or Bates?
Did you murder your wife
And fly for your life?
Say, what was your name in the States?

This poem and song was common during the Gold Rush. It describes the nature of many of the first pioneers to emigrate into California and savagely fall upon the unsuspecting indigenous people and pristine resources of the area. These murderers, the thieves, the psychopaths, the loners unable to prosper in the more civilized parts of the world arrived first, often under assumed names, and created the ethical basis upon the society they built that is, in part, every bit as despicable as that society that developed under slavery. In California, they obliterated the indigenous people rather than building an economy around enslaving them. The rape of the State’s natural resources with psychopathic abandon continued, however, well into the later part of the 20th Century and became the foundation of its economy until replaced, in part, by defense industries and the digital revolution.

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 
“We’ll keep a crystal vase near our pink and blue pillows, and after we wish and then after we kiss, we’ll lower our faces to the very brim, the very delicate edge of the crystal vase, and then we’ll let the syrup flow from our eyes into the gentle crystal vase. And every Christmas and every Easter and every other holiday known to man, we’ll feed the syrup to our seventeen children, and they will remain children forever. Their imaginations will be in full bloom forever…and they will never die. Everything will be forever…”
-Leonard Melfi from TIMES SQUARE.

 

Melfi, the well known off-Broadway playwright, an old friend who I last saw in the mid-sixties when we got very drunk in a friends apartment in Greenwich Village and believed in our boozy stupor that we had solved a notorious mass murder of the time only to discover a few years later we were utterly wrong. He died alone in 2002 at Mount Sinai Hospital of congestive heart failure due in part to his alcoholism. His body was misplaced and discovered four months later in a potter’s grave in Queens. His brother had him exhumed, flown to his home town of Binghamton NY, and following a funeral service and Catholic mass buried in his family plot. He would have appreciated the melodrama. Alas, nothing is forever.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

IMG_5301
My Grandson Anthony Laying Flowers at the Grave of My Parents.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Pops 0005 ( August 25, 2016)

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Pops 0005

“Fair is a body pigment, that’s all it is.”
Delaney, Frank. Ireland: A Novel (p. 495). Harper Collins.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Because there was no one available to drive me, I drove myself to the hospital. After passing through admitting, I found myself lying on a bed in the pre-op ward. The people involved in the surgery each came by to chat, the nurse, the doctor who wrote all over my body with indelible ink so he would not forget what he was supposed to be doing in the operating room — and the anesthesiologist. I told the latter, “Look, I don’t do pain well. I do not want to see anything, hear anything or feel anything. And, when I wake up, I want to be happy.” “ Happy,” he said, “I understand.”

As they were rolling the bed toward the operating room, anesthesiologist sidled up to us like a schoolyard dope dealer. He was carrying a large hypodermic in one hand. When I asked what it contained, he garbled two polysyllabic words I did not understand, and added, “ Also something I am not allowed to mention.” He then plunged the hypodermic into my IV line and ran off chuckling.

They wheeled me into the operating room and placed the bed next to the wall where I would wait for everything to be made ready. I closed my eyes, after a few moments I became annoyed it was taking so long, so I opened my eyes and said to the nurse, “What’s taking so long?” She said, “The operation’s over, you’re in the recovery room now.” I was very happy. I remained happy the entire evening. I even enjoyed the hospital food. I remained happy three days later as I write this.

I was scheduled to leave the hospital the day after the operation but they would not let me leave unless someone came to drive me home. I tried find someone to do so, but no one was available. I thought I would just sneak out, get in my car and drive home. But, they refused to remove the IV before whoever was driving me showed up. I thought of just ripping it out and making a break for it, but like I said I don’t do pain well. So, I suggested they call a taxi. They did so. The nurse removed the IV to allow me to dress and left to deal with her other patients. I quickly dressed, walked out of the ward and the hospital, got into my car, and drove myself home. When I arrived home, I received a call from the nearly hysterical nurse asking where I had gotten to. I told her that since I saw no one on the ward to accompany me after I dressed, I decided to walk to the reception area to wait for the taxi. There I met some people I knew that kindly drove me home. I suggested she call the taxi company and cancel the ride. Although I was still happy, I was sad about the stress I caused the nice kindly nurse. On the other hand, I was home and I was pleased I did not have to go back to pick up my car.

My euphoria extended to my desires. Things that had been reduced to smokey memory exploded in blazing promise. I guess that makes me now a dirty old goat. There is nothing more reviled than a dirty old goat — no, make that everyone reviles a dirty old goat other than the dirty old goat himself. He knows the condition is ephemeral and temporary like puberty. He knows that to anyone who lived for over 75 years one, two, or three years of anything is just a drop in the bucket of one’s life and the next best thing to meaningless.

After my post op meeting with my doctor next week, I plan to travel to Thailand for a month.

In the meantime, I spend the mornings walking around the lake in Town Center and the afternoons escaping the heat by resting in the house with blinds drawn.
Iimg_2040
Town Center Lake

During my morning drive to his new Middle School, HRM makes sure I laugh during the entire trip so that I am diverted from droning on with grandfatherly advice.

There has been a massive earthquake in Italy yesterday. Its epicenter was about 20 miles from my familiy’s towns in Sabina. My son Jason is there now on vacation. I called him. He was ok but they were still feeling the aftershocks. There appeared to be little damage in Casperia or Roccantica where most of the relatives live.
img_20150625_112608_795
Casperia

B. WARREN HINCKLE, RIP:

Warren Hinckle died today. Although he gave voice to the political aspirations of the counter-culture of the 1960s, most people from San Francisco would recognize him as the eye-patch wearing journalist-political gadfly who a few weeks before election day would publish a political broadsheet happily skewering most of the candidates.

While I could never say we were friends, over the years we would occasionally meet up and spend a delightful time together drinking heavily and talking deeply. Many of those meetings occurred at an annual Christmas/New Year’s party in a well-known Greek restaurant attended by many of the City’s great, near great and those who thought themselves as great. Hinckle and I would retire to a booth and enjoy a pleasant boozy few hours swapping political tales and scandals. Another time, we sat in the stands together at a Superbowl in Miami when the Niners demolished San Diego and spent much of the second half when the game was far out of reach for SD, gossiping about the peccadilloes’ of the high and the mighty.

While no one would refer to him as kind and gentle, he took such joy in his occupation and his one eye would twinkle so gaily that, even if you were the object of his diatribes, you would sooner rather than later forgive him.

Although I will miss him, the City of San Francisco will miss him more. He undoubtedly will be enshrined in the pantheon of the City’s greatest characters along with The Emperor Norton, Dashiell Hammett, and Carol Doda.
From his obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“‘Warren was the godfather of California — and you could say, national —progressive journalism,’ said David Talbot, whose book ‘Season of the Witch’ details the tumultuous history of San Francisco from the 1960s to the early ’80s. ‘As a newsman, he just loved the ’60s as a story, with all its weirdness, from the Black Panthers to hippies in the Haight to the Kennedy assassination. No publication caught it better than Ramparts — it led directly to publications like Rolling Stone, Mother Jones and Salon,’ the web magazine Talbot co-founded in 1995.’”
“One of the milestone moments for Mr. Hinckle came when he assigned Hunter S. Thompson to cover the Kentucky Derby in 1970 for Scanlan’s Monthly. The resultant rollicking article, ‘The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved,’ not only launched the over-the-top, personalized journalism that came to be known as gonzo, it began a lifelong friendship between Mr. Hinckle and Thompson.”

“‘In the beginning, we all believed,’ Mr. Hinckle wrote on the first page of the book (His autobiography, ‘When you have a Lemon, make Lemonade’). ‘We believed in many things, but mostly in America. If the decade must be summarized, it could be said that the youth of America, who had so recently studied it in civics classes, tested the system — and it flunked.’”

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

The First Centuries: (continued from last post)

Around 300 BC everything changed — at least in the part of the world we are interested in. About then, The Boy King of Macedonia, Alexander, soon to be granted the title, The Really Great, graduated from middle school and decided he wanted to see the world before continuing his education. So, along with about 40,000 of his closest friends he set off and along the way conquered much of the known world (at least the world known to him and his friends) and a lot of the world they never knew about — until about 10 years later they found themselves camped on the edge of a river in India. One evening, most of his friends came up to The Really Great and said, “Look Alex, it’s been 10 years now, it’s really been fun but we really have to get back to our education and jobs. So, tomorrow we are heading back. You can come along or not.”

Alex cried. He knew they had to get back, but he really had his heart set on spending a few weeks on a beach on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, kicking back and drinking Mai Tais with little pink umbrellas.

So, the next day they set off back to where they came from and where some of his closest friends, his bros, poisoned Alex and split up his empire among themselves. Now although this is important, it is not what interests us here. What does interest us here is that Alex and his Hellenes (what they were called instead or Greeks) would plant whole cities filled with Hellenes every place they went, like rabbit droppings. It seems for some reason, a whole lot of Hellenes wanted to live anywhere but Greece.
imgres
Hellenes — apotheosis?

Even near Galilee in Canaan they built 10 cities for these Hellenes to live in called the Decapolis (“ten cities” in greek).

Another thing about these Hellenes was that they were way cool. They loved sex with everyone of any age and any sex. They partied late into the night drinking strong wine and talking about triangles, walking into walls, and smokey shadows in caves. They liked dressing up like the KKK and going into caverns late at night, bringing in blindfolded people who wanted to join their club and making them believe they were going to die or eat ca-ca. Then they would then take off the blindfolds and discover they were eating dolmas and not ca-ca and everyone would slap them on their back and they would become very happy knowing they could now do this to others.

Also, many of the Hellenes could write, not just the scribes, accountants, and priests in the temple and what they wrote about was marvelous, like the meaning of putting your toe in a fast flowing stream or the meaning of words you always thought you knew what they meant, really mean something you never thought about. They seemed to be curious about everything.

About 100 years after they arrived on the scene, some of the more curious of these Hellenes would encourage a few Semitic speakers to write down in Greek the collected stories of some of their people. They copied these tales into a book, or scroll more likely, called the Septuagint for reasons too long to tell here. What is interesting about this book is that it was not written in Canaan but in Egypt where the fantasies of Anknahten still floated around the elite and educated class and where the Hellenes living in and around Alexandria in Egypt were also into some crazy mystical shit and crystals.

Back in Canaan and just about everywhere these Hellenes settled, many Nabateans, Arameans, Samaritans, Judeans and other Semitic speaking people moved into the cities with the Hellenes to enjoy the good life. Many Hellenes also moved into local cities like Jerusalem where they continued their antics — A lot like the Hippies flooding into SF in the sixties.

Alas, many of the people living in the hills, dells, and hamlets of Canaan did not like the Hellenes ideas and behavior and saw them as irresponsible and dangerous, and a threat to their way of life. Sort of like in the sixties when most of the country saw the Hippies with their sex, drugs, rock and roll and enlightened consciousness as a threat to their way of life. It seems there are always those who believe being happy and enjoying oneself is irresponsible and evil, but being angry, miserable and oppressed as they were was nature’s way. So it was also in Canaan at the time and, like the satisfaction many Americans felt after Altamont, a lot of people went about searching for a reckoning of sorts.
(to be continued in the next post)

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Of all the honors I have received, the one of which I am most fond was when the secretaries of the California Office of Planning and Research voted me “Telephone Asshole of the Year.”

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

“Globally, the value of all outstanding derivatives contracts (including credit default swaps, interest rate derivatives, foreign exchange rate derivatives, commodities-linked derivatives, and so on) was $630 trillion at the beginning of 2015, while the gross market value of those contracts was $21 trillion.”
Foroohar, Rana. Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business. The Crown Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. On Top: Ecological Causes of the war in the Middle-East.

In an insightful analysis Gianluca Serra, examines the Civil War in Syria. He points out that it is the result of the desertification of the ecologically fragile Syrian steppe, writes — a process that began in 1958 when the former Bedouin commons were opened up to unrestricted grazing. That led to a wider ecological, hydrological and agricultural collapse, and then to a ‘rural intifada’ of farmers and nomads no longer able to support themselves.

“A major role in this unfolding disaster was played by affluent urban investors who threw thousands of livestock into the steppe turning the grazing into a large-scale, totally unsustainable, industrial practice.
Back in 2009, I dared to forecast that if the rampant desertification process gripping the Syrian steppe was not halted soon, it could eventually become a trigger for social turmoil and even for a civil war.

I was being interviewed by the journalist and scholar Francesca de Chatel- and was feeling deeply disillusioned about Syrian government’s failure to heed my advice that the steppe, which covers over half of the country’s land mass, was in desperate need of recuperation.

I had just spent a decade (four years of which serving a UN-FAO project aimed at rehabilitating the steppe) trying to advocate that livestock over-grazing of the steppe rangelands was the key cause of its ecological degradation.

However, for the Syrian government’s staff, it was far too easy to identify and blame prolonged droughts (a natural feature of this kind of semi-arid environment) or climate change (which was already becoming a popular buzzword in those years). These external causes served well as a way to escape from any responsibility — and to justify their inaction.

In an article on The Ecologist, Alex Kirby writes that the severe 2006-2010 drought in Syria may have contributed to the civil war. Indeed it may — but this is to disregard the immediate cause — the disastrous over-exploitation of the fragile steppe ecosystem.

Before my time in Syria, as early as the 1970s, international aid organizations such as the UN-FAO had also flagged the dire need to not apply profit-maximization principles and to therefore not over-exploit the fragile ecosystem of the Syrian steppe.

Denial versus the power of an image

Finally, tired of repeating the same words all the time, I resorted to showing the government staff a self-explanatory picture taken in March 2008, a year of intense and dramatic drought. An image speaks more than a million words, I thought.

The picture [ not included] portrayed a fence separating a steppe terrain in two parts: the area on the left was open to sheep grazing; the area on the right had been instead protected for at least 10 years. The image revealed a lunar rocky landscape on the left, and a blossoming pasture on the right.

The image simply evidences, without need for any words, that the Syrian steppe ecosystem is perfectly adapted to cope with droughts — yes, even with extreme droughts exacerbated by climate change. However, this landscape can succumb easily to human irrationality and indifference. In front of that image, even the most verbose governmental staff would come to a pause — the jaw dropped for a moment.

In 2014, three years after social unrest first and then a brutal civil war erupted in the country, Francesca de Chatel published an interesting essay arguing that the inability of the Syrian government to tackle the rampant steppe’s ecological crisis, steadily unfolded over the course of 50 years of sustained mismanagement, has been one of the key triggers of the armed conflict in the country.

She mentions as other critical triggers the too fast economic liberalization plan, high rates of unemployment and corruption, and, sure enough, a long-term and suffocating lack of freedom.

Over-exploitation of an ecosystem

The Syrian steppe covers 55% of the country’s territory. This vast steppe land, together with portions from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, has been grazed sustainably by nomadic indigenous pastoralists (Bedouins) for centuries (if not more). Each tribe and clan was linked to certain seasonal pastures and this ensured the sustainability of the grazing — a practice finely calibrated on the need of plant regeneration.

These pastoralists of Arabia are known to have been pioneers in establishing ‘protected areas’ (hema): certain pastures were relieved from grazing, permanently or temporary, in order to allow keeping the whole ecosystem healthy and functional.

The beginning of the ecological degradation and destruction came with the modern state, so keen to uncritically import ideas of maximization of agricultural yields from the Soviet Union: in particular the central government decided to nationalize the steppe in 1958, establishing de facto an open access system — a well-known recipe for ecological disaster.

Through this arrangement the customary link between the natural resource and its user was interrupted — abruptly disowning the traditional ecological knowledge of this ancient people. The pastures, not managed and protected anymore by the tribes, started to be over-grazed by free-ranging pastoralists.

A major role in this unfolding disaster was played by affluent urban investors who threw thousands of livestock into the steppe turning the grazing into a large-scale, totally unsustainable, industrial practice.

A similar sort of story of gross mismanagement took place in the eastern part of the Syria’s steppe land, the territory east to the Euphrates, allocated to intensive agriculture via irrigation through underground water.

Water has been pumped from limited underground reserves without much control for decades — so that wells had to be dug every year deeper and deeper with increasing consumption of fuel.

Year by year, desertification sets in

The alternation of wet and dry periods (sometimes lasting up to 5-7 years) is a key structural and natural feature of this kind of environment. The relentless ecological degradation of this semi-arid fragile ecosystem produced a gradual and steady decrease of its resilience in the face of cycles of droughts made increasingly more severe and frequent by a long-term regional drying pattern linked to the greenhouse effects.

Note that increasing the resilience of ecosystems is actually one of the key natural solutions as adaptation to climate change, as it is currently referred to within the circles of climate change international aid work.

While in the past the steppe was able to recover even following intense periods of droughts, during the past decade pastoralists and farmers have started to complain about a sharp and ineluctable reduction in soil fertility and an increase of frequency of fierce dust storms due to erosion.

An evident desertification process has been on display across the steppe land for quite some time. Recommendations to reduce the ecological pressure on this fragile environment — from myself and others — went unheard.

Ecological crisis fans the flames of rebellion

Following a recent cycle of intense drought during 2006-2010, the agriculture system eventually collapsed in eastern Syria greatly facilitated by an abrupt halt of government subsidies and consequent soaring prices of fuel for wells.

At the same time, the ecological impoverishment of the rangelands reached unheard-of levels. “The drought only brought to light a man-made disaster,” said a local journalist from eastern Syria to the International Crisis Group in 2009.

This combined ecological crisis of croplands and rangelands created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the rural areas of the country, followed by massive internal displacements, that the government clearly failed to tackle and manage.

For the first time ever Syria, known to be proudly autonomous in terms of food production (and actually even exporting food), had to rely on a massive international emergency food aid in 2008.

It is therefore not a coincidence that the uprising in 2011 started in provincial towns rather than in the major urban centres of Damascus and Aleppo, Francesca De Chatel argues, aptly defining the rebellion as a “rural Intifada” — one in which Bedouin tribes of steppe origin played a key role.

The same sort of conclusions were reached in analyzing the triggers of the Darfur war that took place from 2003 to 2010 not far from Syria. Darfur suffered from precisely the same sort of over-exploited semi-arid ecosystem, while once again rural and indigenous people were the victims, including nomadic pastoralists.

Life-enabling ecological conditions first

Only in recent times has the key role of ecological conditions in shaping the socio-economy of human populations and civilizations been fully acknowledged and understood. Thanks to a solid western ‘modern’ cultural legacy, until a short time ago, there had been quite strong resistance preventing an appreciation of the link.

Still, in our current consumerist society’s mainstream (sub)culture, nature is perceived as nothing else than a commodity or an ornament for National Geographic covers. But certainly our lifestyle and economy is still completely dependent on available natural resources and on functional ecosystem services.

The good news seems to be that eventually and increasingly these days, the link between ecology and economy (and socio-politics) is analyzed, elaborated and underlined. After all, ecology and economy have the same suffix ‘eco,’ derived from the Greek oikos (home), not by coincidence.

Mismanagement of earth’s resources

Climate change is a major threat to the whole human civilization in the short and medium term — as it is already emerging in the eastern Mediterranean and Syria, and other parts of the world. This ultimate challenge is like the last call for humanity to start reforming deeply an anti-life economic system, as well argued by Naomi Klein in her last book This Changes Everything.

Hopefully, this new awareness will be the basis for a new era in which the economy is deeply reformed in line with the principles of ecology. The time has come to wisely adapt the ‘norms and rules of the house’ (= Economy in Greek) to the foundation principles of the house (Ecology= ‘knowledge of the house’ in Greek) — and not the other way round, as we have thought and done during the past 200 years.

Otherwise, we will simply re-enact once again the same kind of drama that seemingly has already occurred innumerable times on the planet in the course of the human civilization parable. Civilizations have risen, stuck to their core values and then collapsed because they did not change.”

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

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.

We progressives can slap ourselves on the back all we want, but as usual we 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 and trained while, all too often, all we have is our optimism to sustain us as the barricades are overrun while we wait for popular support that never comes.

C. Today’s Poems:

Love is not splendid

Love is not splendid
At best
it is
a blister on your foot
or an empty room.
I live on borrowed things

I live on borrowed things
On stories and songs
On breath and brawn

Borrowed then left
When I move on.
THE BIG STORM

They say,
it is coming,
THE BIG STORM.
They say,
it will knock down bridges,
with its howling wind,
flood valleys,
scrape the earth from the hills
and end the drought.
They say,
it will do all of that and more.

I stare
through the window
at the grey black sky
and wonder
if I will be disappointed.

 

D. Comments on my previous post:

1. Ann Marie.

I was glad to hear you were feeling better. Hope MaryAnne is as well.

You said you drove yourself to the hospital, and I didn’t see any follow-up on that. Everything ok?

As always it’s fun to read your stories. Hope you’re doing ok.

2. Peter.
Ozymandias and the old creeping the petty pace till the last syllable of recorded time (or, now, until the next commercial).

I’m reading a fascinating book called “Brazillionaires” by Alex Quadros. About this group of people who have $2-$30 BILLION! EACH. He suggests that it may be partially genetic, but however, they have a tremendous drive to achieve – what he finally concludes is – power. After awhile the goodies that immense riches can provide recede into the routine. The energy, the entrepreneurial urge, the incessant work — one of the richest married a gorgeous carnaval queen and Playboy centerfold who eventually left him because he worked all the time — guess some have it, some don’t. I don’t. Although I rule my ant farm with an iron fist.

Look, it’s clearly the Age of Kali. The drought, the fires, the floods, the poisoning of the land and water, the spreading hordes of too many people, the Trumpians whose outpatient privileges should have been revoked long ago — Scandinavia is too small, too white, too lacking in Rosso buco and Lenny Bruce — chanting, chanting, …..

Ok, so the Semites kept going back and forth between Egypt and Babylon, over hundreds of years. Now the so-called modern humans migrated in dribs and drabs out of Africa over a long period, crossing into Mesopotamia and on to China, the islands, and Australia, while others turned north and west into Europe. But eventually the Semites could’t sit still and did their little migratory dance, creating myths and legends to eventually justify booting out whoever was occupying their next stopover. Here’s the goofy part: And people Believed this stuff! Accepted it as “gospel”. No one learned anything — except he who wins writes the history.

As I said, he who wins writes the history. Viva the alphabet, though. After all, the oral tradition lasts roughly two hundred years or so. Even with eventual evolution to practical telepathy, that can’t last longer. And while the Internet Archive folks are valiantly trying to save everything on the internet before it, too, vanishes, in the end will still be the alphabet. Presumably.

Oh yes! I remember the evening in your house where we reviewed the draft sign logo and discussed at length whether the feet should look more “realistic” and less stylized. And lo, there they are.

My response.

Thanks for the comments. Some will go into next t&t. After my operation, I am well enough to travel. I plan to leave for Thailand on Sept. 2. Return Oct 2 or thereabouts. Maybe I’ll see you then.

Never forget, although old Ozy’s head in the clouds soon disappeared, his Birkenstock shod feet remained forever in the sand. What this means, as you get older you realize that the health of your feet is more important than the health of your head.

The tragedy of bazillionairs it that they can no longer truly experience the pleasures of poverty although carnival queens and playboy centerfolds may help to ameliorate that loss.

I suspect the age of Kali begins for each of us at birth. And ends when all we have left is our feet in the sand.

Please give Sherry my best.

I will see you soon — hopefully before Ozy and Kali get up to dance to Blind Lemon Pledge.

Peter again.

Glad to hear you up and around. How’s Maryann doing?

Indeed, healthy feet rule. My father lost a foot to diabetes in his later years; real drag. I hope I avoid that. As to “health of head,” my brother told me once, after he had made one of his regular visits to his then mother-in-law who had ended in a home and was more or less physically ok [he was an RN] and I inquired about her, said: “She’s happy as a clam.” Wasn’t much going on, though.

Re: brazillionaires, yes, they are monomaniac about work, many are little short guys, don’t eat much, don’t do much else. I recall my father, who knew John D. MacArthur a little, said about him, that even in his very late years he awoke early and went to the office every day, miming old dog old tricks. Seems none of them had a money bin to dive into like Scrooge McDuck. No joy.

Pettiness is Not next to godliness: The letter “b” key on my laptop is not working properly, so I often have to back up [just did] to make sure it prints. I’m postponing the inevitable trip to the apple store to get it fixed (and argue against buying a new machine because of the IMMENSE HASSLE of transferring everything. Meanwhile, having finished “Originals” and “Brazillionaires, I’ve started reading the next book, “Chaos Monkeys”; this, from a guy who worked at Goldman Sachs and then went to Silicon Valley, ending up at Facebook. All sounds awful. Money fixation causes really pathological behavior – but we knew that.

Kali Mata ki jai!! and bon voyage. I assume you’ll leave all of your yellow and red T-shirts at EDH. See you after your return, apparently on Gandhi’s birthday.

3. Aline.

OK. You can’t leave it hanging like that. Why did you drive yourself to the hospital? Are you okay?

My response.

I had a minor overnight procedure scheduled. No one was available to drive me to and from the Hospital. The operation was a success and I am back home now.

I enjoyed your photographs from your trip to Sicily. It seemed like you had a great time.

Aline again.

One cannot have a bad time in Sicily. The only bad thing was the trip was too short. I rode in a Fiat down cobble stairs through narrow streets scaring people and cats. I saw the best war memorial museum I have ever experienced. It was very realistic. There were pictures of Catania before the bombing, an air raid signal went off and we all ran into a bunker, the lights went off and we heard bombs going off and the bunker shook. After a time, the all clear was sounded and we left the bunker to view pictures of Catania after the bombing. Chilling. Then a complete shock – coming out of the museum, Comican was going on with many people dressed in their favorite anima characters. I also met with Anthony Provenzano, son of Tony Provenzano who ran the Mafia for years.

4. Bill.

You “outed” me. I did not expect to re-read my email to you in the latest “This and that . . .”. Carol would be a bit brought down about me discussing her health. Although I am touched by your thoughtfulness in sharing your thoughts about what we are going through. Anyway, I am glad these folks know the opportunity you provided me and that you are to blame for what I did or did not do well thereafter. I do recall that hike at Pt Reyes. The hike and my birding were getting in the way of your desire to get to Bolinas for some ice cream. One of my favorite trips that summer was an all day trip to Napa/Sonoma and finding an out-of-the-way vintner who named an especially drinkable jug red wine after his grandfather JD Martin. I think the vintner’s name was Tom Johnson (he is probably a very wealthy vintner now). When Tom told you why they named the wine JD Martin Red Table Wine – because they combined some varietals that just did not quite make the grade on their own, but when mixed together made the kind of red wine his wife’s grandfather loved to drink — you and I bought 4 cases of the jug wine. The end of that trip was challenging when you burned up your VW’s engine, because you ignored the red light on your dash that had you looked in the owner’s manual would have told you your catalytic converter was overheating. I ended up pushing that VW for a few hundred feet up the Golden Gate Bridge (that bridge is not flat!) until a Golden Gate Bridge tow truck pushed us the rest of the way and then towed you to some gas station. I think Don Neuwirth was with us. I remember Don sharing your aversion to the natural environment.

Be well my friend and mentor.

My response.

I apologize. As usual I acted without thinking.

When I started writing T&T eight years ago, I began to include comments and correspondence at the bottom of my blog when I repost it. I found however that it could go for many months before anyone acknowledged they had read it. So, I began including them in the body of T&T so I would not forget them. Recently for some reason, I have received more comments than usual and my excitement overcame me.

I hope I did not upset Carol. Please give her my apologies also.

Unless you object, I will strike out anything that could be construed as referring to her.

As for you comment. On that day we hiked Point Reyes, I recall a bird flew by in front of me from a bush on the side of the trail to one on the other. You did not see it, but when I exclaimed, you identified it merely from the sound it made as it flew by. To me that was magic.

Thanks for reminding me of that memorable trip across the Golden Gate Bridge.

My operation appears to have been a success, so I am leaving for Thailand next week. I will return in October. I hope I will be able to visit with you then.

Bill again.

Great news about your operation. Enjoy your trip to Thailand.

No need to strike anything from This & that. No worries.

Yes, I hope we can get together upon your return to the Golden Hills and State.

I hope your sister is feeling better.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S TEST:

The following is the test HRM was given on his first day of middle school. I bet you cannot pass it.

img_2150IMG_2150.jpg

Categories: July through September 2016, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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