Posts Tagged With: London

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    17 Papa Joe 0006

 

 

“True peace requires the presence of justice, not just the absence of conflict.”
Jemisin, N. K. The Dreamblood Duology. Orbit.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Today, September 21, It was cool enough for me to wear a long-sleeved shirt. Summer is officially over. I still don a Hawaiian shirt over my long-sleeved T-shirt to maintain a touch of color. In a few more weeks it will be jacket time again.

A few days ago, while walking around the lakes at EDH Town Center, a woman stopped me to comment on my wooden walking stick. I told her I was somewhat obsessed with walking sticks and used to have a fairly large collection before I gave them all away when I retired. She said her husband, who had joined us by then sporting a handsome hand-crafted walking stick, made walking sticks when they lived in Sedona. She said he made the one he was carrying out of Sedona hardwood. We discussed walking sticks and the beauty of Sedona for a while and then went our separate ways.
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On My Walk Through Town Center.

We had a small but raucous birthday party for Dick (Uncle Mask) on Thursday night.
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After the blowing out of the candles and the opening of presents, the evening ended in a long discussion about SWAC’s murderous brother-in-law who, along with another 6000 convicts, will be released from prison next month due to the Kings clemency in celebration of his ascension to the Throne of Thailand. The brother-in-law, who was also the mayor of the village before his murder conviction, has promised revenge upon SWAC’s family. Among the 8 or so killings for which he was suspected were the murder of his wife (SWAC’s sister) and SWAC’s brother a local cop. He blames her family for his imprisonment. Once, I arrived in that town a day after the Mayor’s opponent in the election was killed in front of the house I was to stay at.

Two days ago, I received my new hearing aids. While I am sure others have had similar experiences, I marvel at mine so far. I hear things I have not heard for 15 or 20 years — the rustle of some small critter in the brush as I walk by; the constant screech of birds unseen in the trees; the annoying clack of my walking stick as it strikes the pavement; the rumble of automobiles off in the distance. The soundscape fills my consciousness just like my visual environment does. As I take my morning walk, I sometimes just stand on the path swinging my head about trying to catch whatever made the most recent sound to capture my attention. I know the novelty will cease as soon as I get comfortable with my new ears, but it is all a pretty cool experience while it lasts.

 

B. A BRIEF TRIP TO SAN FRANCISCO

On Saturday, I decided for my mental health to split from the golden hills and spend the weekend in SF.

I stopped in Folsom to have breakfast at IHOP. After breakfast, as I was walking back to my car, I was surprised by HRM tapping me on the shoulder. He told me that he, Dick, and HRM’s friend Jake had just arrived for breakfast. So, I returned to the restaurant for some coffee and conversation.

After they finished eating we left and I resumed my trip. It took me four hours of driving to cover the 120 miles from Folsom to Peter’s house in San Francisco.

At Peter’s, I had some more coffee and conversation with him and Barrie. She then left to monitor the Swim to Alcatraz event at her swim club on the Bay. Peter and I drove to a relatively new French restaurant in the overly gentrified Noe Valley for a late lunch and more coffee and conversation.
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Peter and I at Lunch

The next day, Peter and I left early and drove to Bernie’s. We met Don there and sat on the Old Men’s Bench in front of Bernie’s for coffee and conversation. Three old men in straw hats sitting on a bench reminiscing and telling stories. Then it was time to go. I left them to walk back home along 24th Street and got into my car for my drive back to EDH. It took only two and a half hours to drive back. That pleased me.

Coffee and Conversation — the glue that holds society together.

 

C. BACK IN THE GOLDEN HILLS:

I returned and resumed my daily swim in the health club pool, one half of my usual 30 or 40 minutes swimming laps and the other half running back and forth across the pool.
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The Blue Bullet-Head at the Pool

I have begun to get used to my hearing aids. The rustling of the bushes, clack of the birds and rumble of traffic now simply background noise. It’s a shame really. But, like traveling to some transcendentally beautiful spot on your bucket list and dreaming about living there, if you did live there, the beauty of the place would disappear from your awareness soon enough. Most likely, you’ll stop to enjoy the view less often than you look at television and certainly much less than you look at your smartphone. Sooner or later, you’d probably start dreaming about being someplace else.

When I take my hour-long morning walk around the lakes in Town Center, I always walk widdershins. Some of the other walkers I meet regularly walk widdershins also, while others walk clockwise. I noticed that, like me, those that walk widdershins always do so as do those walking clockwise. I assume there is a generalization that can be drawn from these observations. I also assume any such generalization would not be significant. Nevertheless, since I do not have earphones pumping loud music or the sound of someone reading a breathlessly suspenseful novel into my ears, I ponder things like this as I walk along. I am sure whatever the generalization is, it is more significant than “people are creatures of habit” and less significant than the fact that the rotation of the earth causes the water to swirl clockwise in the northern hemisphere when you flush your toilet.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

There was a time in my life when my daughter Jessica and I used to fly every year during the autumn to London for the theatrical season. We would also attend the New York theater season as well. Nevertheless, the sheer breadth of the offerings in London and the excellence of the acting were incomparable.

We attended the opening of Le Miserables and were left teary-eyed and at a loss for words. Of course, at the time, a number of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals were always running. We saw the opening of Starlight Express there.

Cats and the Phantom of the Opera we saw in New York. In New York, we usually got the box over the stage. During the performance of Cats,( Jessica was about eight years old at the time), we were surprised by a panel opening in the wall behind us. An actress dressed as a cat emerged, slinking out and crawling along the rim of the box. The cat meowed and encouraged Jessica to pet her. Jessica was thrilled.

In London, two shows stand out in my memory. One, Pirandello’s Henry IV with that aging Enfant terrible Richard Harris in a stunning performance left us breathless. The other memorable production was the musical Return to the Forbidden Planet. It was a musical spoof on the movie Forbidden Planet that starred Leslie Nielsen during his early years as an action hero before he discovered he could make more money as a goof-ball.

The musical featured a host of 1950 and 1960 Rock and Roll tunes including “Mr. Spaceman,” ”Monster Mash,” “Great Balls of Fire”. “Johnny B. Goode,” “Telstar,” “Good Vibrations,” “A Teenager in Love,” “Who’s Sorry Now?”, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” “Only the Lonely,” “Shake, Rattle and Roll” and many others. By the end, everyone in the theater, including us, were dancing in the aisles and some even had climbed onto the stage to dance with the actors.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

100,000 BP (Before Present):

As the last Ice Age impacts the world lowering sea level and leaving vast areas that were submerged now accessible, the diet of Homo sapiens began to include fish and seafood. Some scientists theorize that fish oil was key to the growth of the brain of Homo sapiens. Evidence suggests that no other hominids such as Neanderthals, who had been well established in Europe since at least 500,000 years before present, ate fish. (See Broadhurst, 2001.)

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Peter on Top:

Peter’s observations on Bill’s comments regarding my tendency to rant when under stress:

Five minutes and a candy bar would take care of the rants — except for the recently arrived young man who, after ten days at the old SCC sadly admitted that although the work and situation and your leadership were exciting, he just couldn’t put up with the Rants, notwithstanding your inevitable rapid return to calm and humor and no recriminations within minutes. Dennis and the rest of us knew better.

My response:

The rants were my way of releasing anxiety. To Southern Italian-Americans from NY, this was a fairly normal reaction to stress. It got the fear out of our systems before we did something really foolish.

Eventually, I realized I had to do something about the pain I was causing innocent people like the young man. So, after several profitable, if not especially rewarding years with various law firms, I got my analyst to prescribe happy pills for me. They made me more mellow but absolutely worthless. I was then faced with the choice between stopping the pills and remaining a raving but successful asshole or continuing with them and becoming a benign parasite. I chose the latter. I feel much better for the choice.

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

One wonders if pursuant to Quantum Mechanics, the Big Bang is simply consciousness observing The Singularity.

And, if like me, you question the existence of God or a supreme consciousness, then do you wonder if our understanding of consciousness or observation is faulty?
C. Today’s Poem:

In the desert, I saw a creature, naked, bestial, who, squatting upon the ground,

Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it. I said, “Is it good, friend?” “It is bitter—bitter,” he answered; “But I like it Because it is bitter, And because it is my heart.”

Stephen Crane, The Black Riders, and Other Line

 

D. Aftermath:

The following is an email from a friend of the Old Sailor describing life on St. Johns after the hurricane.

the whole island is a Catastrophic mess…
it is really hard to believe…
Just trying to save things for now… there are 5 of us living together…eating well & sharing laughs…
Putting on different meaning on what’s important in life…definitely roughing it…taking one day at a time…will move back to town once they get power…& need a roofing on 2 cottages…
Will stay in touch the best I can..

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

From my daughter Dr. Jessica E. Petrillo Ph.D.

I am a Ph.D. virologist. I was always interested in why things work; the opportunities I had through school enriched my love of science. I pursued a Ph.D. in Virology not to study one aspect of one virus — but to gain the skills and understanding to help make real what science is: for the people, by the people. I have had the amazing good fortune to do just that. For the past eight years, I have used my scientific knowledge and training in critical thinking, strategic planning, and communication to promote global health security in unique and innovative ways. This is my investment in the future — for all people. My hope is that today folks take a moment to embrace science as one of the many facets (creativity, annoyance, beauty, work) that makes us… us, and that makes life… life. From star wars to soap bubbles, baking to basketball we are scientists at heart.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Sunrise over the Foothills

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: July to September 2017, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 22 Mopey 0002 (February 8, 2013)

Happy Birthday Amanda!

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

As I recuperate and struggle with the irritating complexities of the American medical system, I find myself not really doing too much other than that. Boredom is becoming a problem. I have begun reading several books at once to pass the time. Most of them sent to me through Kindle by Stevie and by my daughter Jessica.

Recently one evening while I was sitting at the table doing little more that staring at the wall I noticed Hayden writing away in a notebook. This was a very unusual occupation for him. He typically spends the evenings watching television, building Lego Cities, running around the house screaming for no discernible reason and, just before bedtime, completing his homework. I asked him what he was doing. He said it was a secret. When he finished he came over and showed me the notebook.

A few nights previously, I had promised him that we would write a short comic book together entitled “Hayden Without a Hat.” Each evening thereafter he asked me if I was ready to write the story with him and each night I gave some excuse or other.

The notebook contained the following (everything is as he wrote it including the punctuation, except for the quotation marks which I added). I promised him I would “publish” it. So here it is:

“Story for little boys, girls!

Hayden Without a Hat

Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Hayden Without a Hat.

“Oh, no!” says Grandpa Pooky. “Oh no!!!” Grandpa Pooky says “You need a hat.”

“A hat…” says Hayden, “a hat.” “Let me think. Hmmmm, ok” Hayden says. “I do need a hat!!!!

“Hey, we can go to the hat store.”

So Hayden picked out his favorite hat. It was just like Grandpa Pooky’s hat.

Remember kids always have a hat!!! And mom’s and dad’s.”

I told him that I also sent a copy to his mom because it would make her so proud of him. He said I should not have because she would make him do it again and again until he got bored.

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Felix Salmon regarding Europe’s robust financial-transactions tax:

“The tax is being implemented by 11 countries, including most importantly Germany and France, and it’s going to be levied at two levels: 0.1% on securities trades, and 0.01% on derivatives trades…. even the UK, which is implacably opposed to the European tax and which won’t ever join such a scheme, levies a surprisingly large 0.5% tax whenever anybody — anywhere in the world — trades a UK stock. And yet, somehow, London remains the first choice for international companies looking for a place to list their shares. The European tax, which is much smaller than UK stamp duty, will similarly have little effect on how and where financial markets operate. The “if you tax me, I’ll just move elsewhere” threat is a pretty empty one, in practice, especially if you have a carefully-drafted law which makes tax avoidance difficult, and if you’re talking about established financial institutions rather than individuals…. I think that the financial transactions tax will actually be very good at raising money…. On the other hand, I doubt that speculators will find this tax particularly off-putting. Europe doesn’t suffer from the high-frequency trading that has overtaken the U.S. stock market, and these taxes are low enough that any remotely sensible financial transaction will remain sensible on a post-tax basis. It’s possible that total trading volume might decline a little bit in some markets, and that would be fine.”

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Chapter 3.

Dragon’s breath:

“A good detective should be afraid…always.”

I turned the doorknob and pushed the door open slowly. I only had opened it a few inches before it was wrenched from my hand. A big guy stood there holding the door and filling all the space between the door and the door jamb. He was not too much taller than I am, but he was big, with a body poised somewhere between muscle and fat.

“What do you want?” he growled.

I stepped back. Said, “I’m looking for Mark Holland.”

“Why?

Thought this might be a good time for a clever story. Could not think of one. Went with the truth. “I have been asked to find him.”

“Why?” again,

Still lacking clever responses, repeated, “I’ve been hired to find him.” Took a business card from my pocket handed it to him. He looked at it for a long time. Said, “A Detective eh. Why don’t you come in and we’ll talk.”

I said, “If it is all the same to you, I feel better standing out here in the hall.”

The door opened a little wider. Another fat guy appeared. He had a phone pressed against his ear with one hand. In his other hand he had a gun that was pointed at me. “Get in here,” fat guy number one ordered.

In that moment I noted a strange phenomena. My clothing went instantly from dry to wet. At the same time I felt like I shit my pants. Said, “I think my chances of being shot are greater in there than standing out here in the hall.”

I flashed on how stupid that sounded. The embarrassment of shitting in my pants began to leak into my consciousness. Did not get far with either thought as they were interrupted by an explosion to the side of my face. As I toppled toward the floor, my first thought was to protect my computer. The second was that I might be dead.
Thought I was shot. Actually Fat Guy One suddenly had reached out with his ham sized hand and slapped me aside my head as they say. His heavy ring raked across my jaw.

Before landing on the floor, I was grabbed and dragged into the room. I looked down the hall in the vain hope that Ann had seen what happened and would call the cops. No such chance.

I was thrown onto a bean bag chair on the floor. Thought “Who the fuck still has a bean bag chair?” Said “Who the fuck has a bean bag chair any more?” But did not get it all out as the pain had finally hit and I realized that I had bitten my tongue and was dribbling blood down my chin. Got out “Woo fla bee or?” before giving up and grabbing my jaw. I was bleeding there too from the ring. Said, “Shiss!” Added “Blon.” My tongue was swelling up.

Fat guy one threw me a dirty dish rag. Thought I would probably die of sepsis if it touched my open wound. Spit the blood from my mouth into the rag folded it, and pressed it against the side of my face anyway.

Fats Two was talking on the phone. Whispered to Fats One. Fats One said, “Who sent you?”

Replied something that sounded like, “that’s confidential.”

Fats one raised his fist.

I quickly responded, “Gul fren.”

“Fucking Mavis,” said SF fats.

“No, na yeh” I commented. I thought I was being clever. They ignored me

Fats Two whispered to Porky One again.

Porky asked,“Find anything yet?

“Hired hour ago. This first stop.”

More talking on the phone and whispering. Fats Prime asked, “What did Mavis tell you?”

What I answered sounded a lot like, “Not much. He’s missing. She’s worried.”

More talking on the phone and whispering.

I said more or less, “We could save a lot of time if I just talked directly to whomever is on the phone.” Although it did not come out quite like that, I actually was getting used to speaking through my swollen tongue and frozen jaw.

They ignored me. Fats One said, “What’s she paying you — tattoos or blow jobs?” Thrilled with his cleverness he let out a surprisingly high pitched giggle.

I did not answer as I struggled with a clever comeback and failed mostly out of fear of retaliation.

He said more forcefully, “What do you charge?”

“Two hundred dollars a day. One week minimum. One half paid in advance.”

Some more whisperings into the phone. There seemed to be some disagreement.

Fats Prime finally turned to me and said, “We’d like to hire you to help us find him.”

I was gobsmacked. Wanted to say, “fuck you” or “What the fuck,” even. Said instead, “Can’t, conflict of interest.”

Prime Cut One turned red-faced and advanced on me. I quickly said, “on second thought I can probably figure a way around it.”

He stopped, smiled reached into his pocket and pulled out a wallet. From it he extracted 10 one hundred dollar bills and placed them in my hand not holding the towel. “You will get another thousand if you find him.”

Pocketed the money. Said,“Whose my client?”

Again with the whispering. “Me,” said First Lard Brother.

Asked, “What’s your name?”

“No name.” He scribbled on a piece of paper. Handed it to me. “My phone number. Call every evening at about five o’clock.”

“What can you tell me about Holland to help me along?”

Again the phone. The Fats One then said, “Ask Mavis. She knows more than she is telling you.”

They then both picked me up out of the bean bag and guided me toward the door.

“How do you know I won’t go to the police?”

“If you do we will have to kill you.” They both giggled in falsetto.

I knew that was bullshit but I was still scared shitless, literally and figuratively and I knew involvement of the cops was futile.

Once back in the hall, I ran to Ann’s door pounded on it and rang the awful buzzer. I do not know what I expected if she answered; to cry in her arms. No response anyway. Pictured her standing in the middle of the room staring blank eyed at the door.

Turned, grabbing the computer in one hand and the bloody rag in another, ran out of the building and back down the hill to Pino’s place.

When Pino saw me he said, “what the fuck happened?

I ran by him and into the restaurant. Said as I passed. “Bathroom. Ice in a napkin quick.”

In the toilet I threw the rag into the waste basket. The bleeding had mostly stopped. Dropped my pants and drawers and sat. Saw that I really had shit my pants, a little not much but enough to make me groan. My hands were shaking as was the rest of me.

When I left the toilet Pino was there with the ice in a napkin. Repeated, “What the fuck happened?”

Took the napkin with the ice, pressed it to my face, said, “Later, I need a taxi right now.” Pino went into the street flagged down a cab. I got in. Gave the driver the address of my condo on Fourth Street, waved to Pino and slunk into my seat as far down as I could go.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Fun in the labyrinth or giggles in the heart of darkness (Chapter Six: Return to the Immigration office):

The next day I got up early and returned to the Immigration Office at the Government Center, hopeful but not optimistic.

When I arrived I marched up to the same woman who I started with yesterday. She seemed not to recognize me. I gave her my passports. She leafed through them, smiled and pointed me through the door on her right.

I went through that door to the counter behind which sat the same uniformed and braided man who had sent be to the uniformed man with more braid who humorlessly sent me on yesterday’s odyssey.

Today he simply looked at my passport, grunted and gave me a slip of paper on which was printed the section I was to go to and a number. He pointed to the offices that made up that section.

I took a seat outside of the offices. Seven hours later my number was called. I went into the cubicle where another uniformed man with braids on one shoulder sat. I gave him my passports. He looked through them, took a stamp out of a drawer, slammed in on a page of my new passport, wrote something and handed them back to me with a smile.

Taken aback by this sudden display of simplicity, I asked, “How much do I have to pay in fees for my new retirement visa?”

“Nothing,” he responded. “Just extended your existing visa to the original date it would have been had your US passport not expired.”

“You mean I have to do this again in five months not a year?”

He smiled.

“Well can I get re-entry permit so I can leave and return to Thailand without losing my retirement visa?”

He said, “you have to go to another section.” He gave me another slip of paper with a section letter and a number on it.

I went to that section. Two hours later I walked out of the building with both my retirement visa and reëntry permit, $100 poorer for the permit.

As with the completion of any journey or quest my feelings were equivocal as I thought about the last two days. It was good that I achieved what I had set out to accomplish, more or less, but I did not feel especially good about it.

Life is little more than a series of side trips along a longer journey. And like all journeys no matter how pedestrian or mundane contain the same elements, hope, disappointment, determination, surprise, boredom and just about every other human emotion that one can conger up. That is why all literature is about a journey of some sort.

DAILY FACTOID:

14th Century: Buying Power of Money: “In the second half of the 14th century, a pound sterling would: (i) Support the lifestyle of a single peasant laborer for half a year, or that of a knight for a week. Or buy: (ii)( Three changes of clothing for a teenage page (underclothes not included) or (iii) Twelve pounds of sugar or (iv) A carthorse or (v) Two cows or (vi) An inexpensive bible or (vii) ten ordinary books or (viii) Rent a craftsman’s townhouse for a year or (ix) Hire a servant for six months…. It should be obvious from the above list that the conversion rate depends a great deal on what you buy…”
A Commonplace Book

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:

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This is more liberal socialist “bullshit” aimed at destroying capitalism and freedom. In fact these expenditure of tax dollars are “good” public expenditures because it provides jobs and protects us from becoming overrun by screaming Communist Muslim hordes. Without this, we will be forced to fire our Second Amendment guns at a real enemy instead of at each other or black people.

This is contrasted with “bad” expenditures, like fixing our roads and bridges and other public works that only provide jobs to people who would otherwise be on welfare. It is also a better use of tax revenues than social security or medicare for old people or aid for children or even schools, because they are “welfare” expenditures that only go to people unwilling to work such as illegal aliens or black people.

Besides, since they are “private” companies, they are inherently more efficient than government can ever be. $400 hammers are obviously the best products for the money.

B. Gun Myths:

Myth #5: Keeping a gun at home makes you safer.

Fact-check: Owning a gun has been linked to higher risk of homicide, suicide, and accidental death by gun.

• For every time a gun is used in self-defense in the home, there are 7 assaults or murders, 11 suicide attempts, and 4 accidents involving guns in or around a home.
• 43% of homes with guns and kids have at least one unlocked firearm.
• In one experiment, one-third of 8-to-12-year-old boys who found a handgun pulled the trigger.

C. Apologies, Regrets and Humiliations:

I have been asked by one or two of you about the current state of my health. Other than being released from the hospital and feeling vigorous enough to attend a few movies, I really do not know. The doctors are reticent to tell me much more than to urge I take my medicine precisely as directed. So I apologize for not telling you more, but I really do not know.

TODAY’S QUOTE:

A. Congressman Vito Marcantonio (R-NY).

“It has become the most convenient method by which you wrap yourselves in the American flag in order to cover up some of the greasy stains on the legislative toga. You can vote against the unemployed, you can vote against the W.P.A. workers, and you can emasculate the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States; you can try to destroy the National Labor Relations Law, the Magna Carta of American labor; you can vote against the farmer; and you can do all that with a great deal of impunity, because after you have done so you do not have to explain your vote.”

B. Raymond Chandler

“A good detective never marries.”

TODAY’S CHART:

2012-us-birth-rate-00-01

What this chart means is that births in the US may fall below replacement population rates. Increased immigration appears all that will forestall a massive economic crisis 30 years from now. However with avoiding dealing with he climate crisis and the disaster caused by institutionalization of austerian economic policies, it probably is the least of our worries.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

(Graphic unavalable at thisn time)

 

Python caught during a hunt for invasive species in Florida’s Everglades. It was caught not too far from Frank’s house. One good thing, however, apparently they eat the alligators… as well as just about anything else that moves…including small cars.

Categories: January 2013 through March 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 17 Mopey 0002 (February 3, 2013)

 

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(Also without pi epic is merely ec.)
TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA:

I decided that my convalescence should include a healthy dose of movie going. In the past six days or so I have seen “The Hobbit,” accompanied by Hayden, “Zero Dark Thirty,” with Dick and “Lincoln,” “Django,” “Argo” and “Les Miserables” on my own.

I thought about writing a personal review of each but changed my mind. My only comments are: I will never be able to think of the Lincoln Memorial in DC and not see Daniel Day-Lewis sitting there; Ann Hathaway proves that one does not have to stop acting to sing well and; everything in Django Unchained is merely setting up for Samuel Jackson’s performance.

I cried at Les Miz as I always do. There are two theatrical pieces that force me to cry uncontrollably when I hear even a few notes, Madame Butterfly and Les Miz. I first saw Les Miz in London a week or two after it opened. At that time in my life, I would fly to London every year for the opening of the theatrical season. My daughter Jessica and Denise usually accompanied me. I began crying during the scene on the barricades prior to the attack by the government forces. I continued crying until long after the final curtain calls. My daughter was both amused and surprised to see her father so emotionally devastated.

Over the years I have wondered what it is about these two works that cause my reaction. It certainly is not their musicality. In the movie everyone, male and female, sang their parts in a reedy falsetto. Joubert, instead of a bass or baritone as the part requires, was simply another falsetto singing character whose tones were indistinguishable from those of Fantine and far less accomplished. It was like listening to a Mahler symphony played solely on clarinets.

Nevertheless, I cried from the first notes until, after leaving the movie, I stood at the restroom urinals and the guy next to me laughed at my sobbing.

My sobs certainly have little to do with any empathy with the characters. I do not do empathy too well, and they were only play acting after all.

The stories are about that sublimation of the ego into concern for the welfare of another that in the West we often call love. I guess I was crying for me since the chances of my achieving that level of ego death is virtually nil.

JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:

ENTER THE DRAGON

Chapter 2.

I watched her disappear around a corner, took a sip of my wine and realized she had not paid for it. “Bitch,” I opined to no one except me. Drank the rest of my Barbera. Began on hers since she had not touched it and I was paying for it and I am opposed to wasting good, or even mediocre wine on religious grounds, being raised Catholic.

Usually tracing a missing person for the price I was being paid warranted about a half hour or so on a computer, a few telephone calls to bulk up the brief final report. A report written in a way that allowed the client to resolve any residual guilt they may be feeling by assuring that he or she had done all that could be done under the circumstances or, if the client is still mired in guilt, suggesting they pay me the rest of my fee and retain me for another week of futility. What the fee did not include, however, was any effort requiring the use of foot protecting composite material or knocking on doors.

Nevertheless, given that the sun was out and it was about as warm as it was going to get in San Francisco; I had just drank two glasses of wine; the knowledge that the missing Mark’s apartment was only about three blocks away from where I was sitting; and the urgings bubbling out of that dark and defective communication channel that ran between my brain and my groin suggesting that the extra effort could result in my observing Mavis’s tattoos closer up, I decided to knock on his door just in case Missing Mark had decided that Mavis was no longer his playmate and he was hiding from her wrath.

So, I finished the wine, packed the computer in its protective shoulder bag and signaled to Pino to put it all on my tab (which was met with a scowl and a sneer). I then got up, jay-walked across Columbus Avenue and moved on up Green Street toward Telegraph Hill.

I guess I ought to describe how I was dressed so you do not simply picture a dark blob bobbing along the sidewalk. I was dressed like a dark blob. I wore a shapeless grey-brown short overcoat with wool lining, that I picked up at Goodwill, over a yellow sweat shirt with nothing written on it. I do not do advertising. Black slacks below. I don’t do jeans. On my feet are ugly orthotic enhanced shoes to coddle my non-existent arches. I don’t do sneakers, or trainers of whatever those horribly expensive and garishly colored things are now called. Around my neck hung a ratty red and black wool scarf with a fringe on each end.

The sun was shining. The fabled San Francisco fogs of three decades ago a vague memory. It still however was about a million degrees colder in the City than in the East Bay but the temperature was still warmer than it had been in times past when one suffered through 12 months of semi-winter. Now, due in all likelihood to global warming, winter in San Francisco lasts only about seven months.

I regretted this change in in the weather. Gone were the fogs that cloaked Hammit’s Sam Spade in his daily run from his offices near the Burritt St. ditch to Jacks’s for lunch. You need a real City for mysteries, full of shadows and unhappiness. San Francisco is not a real City. It is too happy.

On the far side of Grant, Telegraph Hill rises. It is capped by that great phallus in the sky memorializing the transcendental virility of San Francisco’s Fire and Rescue personnel. The stunted cement penis also separates the residents of sunny side of the hill from those fortunate few who actually have views of the water. These few live primarily in shacks converted over the years into luxury aeries. These luxury shacks, reachable only by stairs, cling to the side of the cliff like barn swallow nests cling to the eaves of a barn. Among these fortunate few living snug in their aeries reside some of the most unpleasant people living on the face of the earth. They are those who fervently believe that their struggles for preservation of their water views and indolent live-styles benefit the rest of us.

Now do not get me wrong, I hate rapacious developers as much as anyone and believe that most developers should first be boiled in oil and then burnt at the stake in the middle of Union Square, but if these cliff dwellers were so concerned about the rest of us, as they would have us believe, why don’t they turn their happy huts over to the rest of us, say for two days a week, so that the rest of us can sit by the window, smoke a joint, sip some wine and stare slack jawed at the Bay bridge marching across the water into Angel Island, while the ceaseless maritime traffic in the bay pass back and forth under its soaring piers.

On the sunny side of the hill, the streets get steeper as they approach the crest of the peak. The sidewalks change into steps about half way up the hill. The houses on this side sit cheek by jowl crammed one next to each other. Built about 100 years ago as immigrant tenements, over the years they have been stuccoed, shingled, painted or wood or aluminum sided as fashions dictated. All now painted either white or some pastel shade of pink, blue or green. All except Missing Mark’s building located about where the sidewalk changes into steps. Sometime in the late 1950’s someone tore down a number of older buildings and replaced them with a dark shake sided five-story apartment in the then fashionable but utterly boring international style. It gave that side of the street the appearance of an ancient bleached jaw bone with a few molars missing.

I knew this building well. In it lived Ann Kennedy who, as serendipity dictated, lived on the same floor as Missing Mark. Ann Kennedy was a masseuse that I visited now and then. She was the type of masseuse that one finds in the back pages of monthly alternative newspapers or on Craig’s List.

Because of the steepness of the hill the entrance to the building was on the second floor, Ann and Missing Mark’s floor. Various stacks of construction material lay about as they always have as long as I had come here. But no one was ever working.

I marched up to Ann’s door first, because I thought she may have some information about her neighbor. Also, I contemplated the possibility of spending some of my fee on relaxation and release before embarking on my job. Knocked on the door and rang the bell which buzzed with that grinding sound that I hate almost more than anything I could think of.

The door opened about a foot wide. Now, if one were expecting that curvaceous, cleavage exposing, lingerie wearing, red lipped, dark-eyed beauty in the photographs that often accompany the ads, it was not Ann. Ann more resembled a reject from a model call for a Dorothea Lange photo shoot on the ravages of the Great Depression, right down to her shapeless house dress.

“Yes,” she said?

“Hi, Ann,” I said with a big smile.

I was met with a grey eyed, pupil-less stare of non-recognition.

“Do you have an appointment” she asked?

Thought she was either stoned or my belief in the memorability of my presence was overrated. Decided I would save some money and later resolve by hand any uncontrollable urgings I still may have. Said, “Do you know Mark Holland?”

Long stare. “No.”

“He lives on this floor. He is your neighbor,” and I gestured toward the other end of the hall.

She slowly turned her head and looked in that direction, which made no sense since she was standing in her apartment and could not see down the hall. Slowly turned back to me.

“No,” and she closed the door in my face.

Stood there wondering if I should kick the door in frustration. Decided I would only hurt my foot. Turned went to the other end of the floor to stand in front of Missing Mark’s apartment door. Looked down at the doorknob saw scratches and splintered wood. Thought, “Uh-oh, run!”

However, like touching just to see if a sign announcing “wet paint” means what it says, I reached down to turn the doorknob just to see if what I knew to be true really was. (Continued)

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Fun in the labyrinth or giggles in the heart of darkness (Chapter five: At the airport with no place to go – Part 6):

I was now back to where I started, at the Airport Information Desk, two floors below where I had begun. I told the woman behind the counter my story and waved the slip of paper around. She called someone. Hung up. Told me to wait. The phone rang again. She handed me the receiver. I explained everything again to the person on the other end. Hung up. Waited. The phone rang again. A very angry person at the other end wanted to know why I was not at Gate M-28. Said that someone went to the trouble of going there and I was not there and now everyone is very angry at me. I decided I was better off not trying to explain. The voice told me to be at M-28 in five minutes and clearly left the impression that if I did not do so my days in Thailand were numbered.

I hung up the phone and ran up the two flights to M-28 on the fourth floor. The nasty woman behind the counter glared at me. I avoided her gaze. Five minutes went by. At about the 10 minute mark I noticed a woman dressed in half a uniform (uniform shirt, regular slacks) striding purposefully across the airport floor in the general direction of M-28. She was not smiling. The land of smiles did not exist for me that day.

I asked if she were the person I was to meet and handed her my passports and showed her the piece of paper. She scowled but did not speak. She took the passports and leafed through them and scowled some more. She motioned me to follow her and led me to an elevator at the back wall of the office of the uniformed man who walked me all the way across the airport to the elevator that did not stop at the second floor.

We entered the elevator. She pressed the button for the second floor. This time the elevator stopped at that floor. Without speaking she set off walking through several offices and around some partitions until we reached the arrivals area where there was a long table. She motioned me to sit. I sat. She disappeared into an office.

The table was sticky with spilled soft drinks and was crawling with ants. I could see in front of me the passport control section dedicated to arriving flight crews. I watched the crews arrive and pass through passport control for about an hour. Finally the woman came out of the office. She was smiling. I was not too sure how to read that.

She said, “I fixed it.”

I looked at the stamp in question. My heart sank. It looked the same. Said that. She explained that she had changed the date of my temporary visa from the 30 day temporary limit to Friday three days away. I looked at her with a look of confusion. She said that Friday is the day my retirement visa runs out as though that explained everything.

She then asked me why I did not hand both passports to the passport control officer when I arrived. I said, “because I did not want to confuse him.” She laughed at me.

Then led me to the passport control exit, motioned me through, bowed and with a broad smile said, “Well then, let me welcome you for the second time to Amazing Thailand, the land of smiles.”

I left the airport. It was too late to return to the Immigration Office, so I went back to my apartment. That night I slept fitfully. All I accomplished today was to reduce the time I could remain in the country to three more days. I kept asking myself, what would Willard do, if after reaching Captain Kurtz’s compound in Cambodia he realized he had to start all over again with a new set of orders. AWOL most likely.

DAILY FACTOIDS:

1. January 29, 1943:

Nazis order all Gypsies arrested and sent to extermination.

2. December 10, 1902 (26 Pookie):

Vito Marcantonio (US congressman from New York City elected on the Republican – CP – ALP fusion ticket) was born on this day in New York City.

“You only live once and it is best to live one’s life with one’s conscience rather than to temporize or accept with silence those things one believes to be against the interests of one’s people and one’s nation.”
—Vito Marcantonio in Congress June 27, 1950, the only Congressional voice opposed to U.S. intervention in the Korean War.

Vito Marcantonio was the most consequential radical politician in the United States in the twentieth century. Elected to Congress from New York’s ethnically Italian and Puerto Rican East Harlem slums, Marcantonio, in his time, held office longer than any other third-party radical, serving seven terms from 1934 to 1950. Colorful and controversial, Marcantonio captured national prominence as a powerful orator and brilliant parliamentarian. Often allied with the U.S. Communist Party (CP), he was an advocate of civil rights, civil liberties, labor unions, and Puerto Rican independence. He supported social security and unemployment legislation for what later was called a “living wage” standard. And he annually introduced anti-lynching and anti–poll tax bills a decade before it became respectable. He also opposed the House Un-American Activities Committee, red-baiting, and antisemitism, and fought for the rights of the foreign-born. He was a bold outspoken opponent of U.S. imperialism.

“If it be radicalism to believe that our natural resources should be used for the benefit of all of the American people and not for the purpose of enriching just a few…then, Ladies and Gentlemen of this House I accept the charge. I plead guilty to the charge; I am a radical and I am willing to fight it out…until hell freezes over.”
Vito Marcantonio

“I have stood by the fundamental principles which I have always advocated. I have not trimmed. I have not retreated. I do not apologize, and I am not compromising.”
—Vito Marcantonio, in his last speech to Congress

On the morning of August 9, 1954, Vito Marcantonio, only fifty-one-years-old, dropped dead of a heart attack in the rain on lower Broadway near City Hall.

3. Baseball Bat vs Firearm homicide deaths:

According to Snopes.com:

Claim: More homicides in the U.S. are committed with baseball bats than with firearms.
* FALSE.
… information gathered by the FBI does not support this claim [about Bats being the more deadly]. The Uniform Crime Reports made available on the “Crime in the U.S.” section of the FBI’s web site includes homicide data that breaks down killings by the types of weapons used. In 2011, the percentages for weapon types used in homicides throughout the U.S. were as follows:

Firearms: 67.8%
Knives or other cutting instruments: 13.4%
Personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.): 5.7%
Blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.): 3.9%
Other dangerous weapons: 9.2%

This lie about the unregulated lethality of baseball bats has been making the rounds on the internet. If you receive something like this please remember, “Liberals exaggerate, conservatives lie”…always.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:

16038_496464960375374_284527611_n

B. What Republicans say about Republicans:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby (The Boy Genius) Jindal, said at a recent gathering of Republicans that the GOP has to “stop being the stupid party.”

Bobby (TBG) Jindal is a Republican. Did he just realize the party’s stupidity or has he always known? TBG also recently signed a bill requiring creationism to be taught in Louisiana’s public school system. TBG’s college degree is in biology. I wonder if he ever attended class.

 

TODAY’S CHART:

The most important chart you will ever see:

bbvs193cyaalemd.jpg_large

TODAY’S QUOTES:

1. Re: Sandy Hook

“I don’t know what to do,” sighed Gene Rosen. “I’m getting hang up calls, I’m getting some calls, I’m getting emails with, not direct threats, but accusations that I’m lying, that I’m a crisis actor, ‘how much am I being paid’?” Someone posted a photo of his house online. There have been phony Google+ and YouTube accounts created in his name, messages on white supremacist message boards ridiculing the “emotional Jewish guy,” and dozens of blog posts and videos “exposing” him as a fraud. One email purporting to be a business inquiry taunted: “How are all those little students doing? You know, the ones that showed up at your house after the ‘shooting’. What is the going rate for getting involved in a gov’t sponsored hoax anyway?”

What did Rosen do to deserve this? One month ago, he found six little children and a bus driver at the end of the driveway of his home in Newtown, Connecticut. “We can’t go back to school,” one little boy told Rosen. “Our teacher is dead.” He brought them inside and gave them food and juice and toys. He called their parents. He sat with them and listened to their shocked accounts of what had happened just down the street inside Sandy Hook Elementary, close enough that Rosen heard the gunshots.

“The country is like devastated peasant society…people are scared, angry, hostile, hate everything, don’t know what they hate, don’t have anyone to talk to, just angry, desperate, there are cults all over the place on a scale that is unknown in any other society. The level of religious fundamentalism alone is probably the highest in the world, almost certainly higher than Iran. Right now the militias are on the front page, but that’s only a small fraction of it…It’s just a dissolved society.”
Noam Chomsky

2. Victor Hugo re: Les Miserables

“So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.”
TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

tammy-duckworth 

Let’s hear it for a real American Combat Veteran and hero: Rep. Tammy Duckworth.

 

Categories: January 2013 through March 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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