“We live in a distressed culture where anything like a conspiracy theory will be embraced by more people than will the simple and obvious truth,”
Koontz, Dean. Odd Hours: An Odd Thomas Novel (p. 178). Random House Publishing Group.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
Another weekend rolled down from the Sierras bringing cool rainy days until Sunday when the warmth slowly returned. The dregs of my cold kept me wheezing and coughing and in and out of bed. Saturday we attended HRM’s flag football game.
On Sunday, we visited the Archery shop where we bought HRM some new arrows and watched him shoot at targets for almost an hour.
That evening, feeling outdoorsy but unwilling to submit myself to the whims of nature, I began to re-read one of my favorite novels Blood-Sport: A Journey up the Hassayampa. It is a comic novel about manly men at play (see below).
Speaking of manly men, I learned from Facebook that this weekend Bill Yeates ran in the Big Sur Marathon and won Best in Class. Way to go Bill. I hear that after the race he rode his bicycle all the way back to Sacramento stopping only to clean out a nest of meat-eaters attending a barbecue somewhere near Vacaville.
Karen Cogan, Dick’s long-time administrative assistant and someone who I have known for almost as long as I have known him, has achieved what I call the “Delightful Life.” She travels to exotic places she likes and paints. When she paints a picture of, say a restaurant, she tracks down the owner and gives them her painting. This has allowed her to meet many interesting people ( e.g., the Cipriani’s of Harry’s Bar fame).
The office manager of one of the law firms of which I was a member (and a recipient of T&T), Aline Pearl, also spends her vacations traveling. In her case, often places rich with wild nature, like Africa. Her art is professional quality nature photography. I remember the pleasure I got from sitting in her office and looking at the wall full of well-mounted pictures of African animals in the wild. Alas, I have no examples of her photographs to post.
Ruth Galanter, on the other hand, likes to add the truly exotic destinations like Antartica and Mongolia in between trips to Nantucket.
Ruth by her Ger
Regarding travels, it is time for me to begin to seriously focus on this summer’s trip to Italy, Sicily and Thailand. I hope to spend a few days in New York also. This year I will be traveling through Italy and Sicily with my son Jason who, although he spent much of his childhood there, has not returned in almost 30 years.
In Milan where I will begin the Italian portion of my trip, Expo 2015 Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life will be under-weigh. Marco Gallo the son of my good friend Gigi and a renown expert in sports nutrition has invited me to attend the festival. Marco sometimes posts a few of his recipes on my Facebook page. If you would like me to forward them to you, please let me know.
On Tuesday, it was warm enough and the severity of my cold had diminished enough for a swim. The next day we all went to the passport office to submit the complicated application for HRM’s passport. And so it went until another weekend rumbled around again.
Meanwhile, the valley heat slowly crawls up the slopes making the golden hills appear like old melted wax candles slumping beneath a deep deep blue sky empty but for columns of brilliant white mushroom clouds standing motionless on the mountains far to the east.
B. BOOK REPORT:
In 1974, Robert F. Jones an editor for the magazine Field and Stream, wrote a critically acclaimed but relatively unknown satiric novel on acid (it was 1974 after all) about a manly man obsessed with hunting and fishing who takes his almost pubescent son on a camping trip in order to toughen him up. The trip takes them up the mythical but mighty Hassayampa River to its headwaters and back. The Hassayampa winds its way from eastern China through upper Wisconsin until it flows into Croton Lake near the sleepy town of Valhalla in Westchester County NY. During their trip, they manage to slaughter and eat a goodly number of representatives of most species that now live on earth, some that do not and never did and a few such as aurochs and mastodons that no longer exist anywhere other than along the river. They also dispatch a few Communist Chinese troopers and various criminals until they run into the famous, feared and immortal bandit, “Ratanous.” Ratanous persuades the son to abandon his father and join his band of brigands. In order to save his son’s soul, the man tracks down the bandits and challenges Ratanous to a deadly duel to the death by fly rods with poison hooks.
This is not a novel for the esthetically, intellectually and morally squeamish. Its violence would make William Burroughs proud and its gonzo style cause Hunter Thompson to blush. There is a certain amount of cannibalism complete with recipes. Also there is a morbid fascination with vaginas and their infinite variety. After all, to manly men a woman is merely a vagina with tits, everything else is superfluous. It is a man’s book even as it satirizes them. There is no sentimentality about killing and little risk avoidance — and almost no women (other than participants in orgies) except for an absent wife and daughter, a lusty Ukrainian laundress and a young bandit named Twigan.
Pookie says, “Check it out.”
“My madness was total: sublime, ecstatic, unmarred by any doubts or sulks. At no point during the months I roamed that mean, lean country, killing for food and pleasure, do I recall one moment of reason, one instant of unhappiness. It was as if a caldron of liquid laughter had come to a slow, steady boil behind my eyes, perking joyfully there, sending shots of giggly steam down my nostrils and up my throat, exploding from time to time in scalding, superheated guffaws that left my vocal cords raw and aching with delight. I felt no fear, no hunger, no worry— only the immense, ridiculous power of my freedom.”
Jones, Robert F. Blood Sport: A Journey Up the Hassayampa . Skyhorse Publishing.
During the past decade or so in America, we may have witnessed an extremely rare event in history. Not since the hay-day of JP Morgan and his cronies has such a small group of oligarchs managed to stage a, more or less, bloodless coup over a major democracy. What makes it so unusual is that this time they have captured control of two of the significant instruments of ideology in the society — the media and religion — while silencing perhaps the most potent voices in opposition, the scientific and intellectual community. In doing so, and with the assistance of the Supreme Court, they have arranged to assume almost absolute control over one of the two major political parties in the country such that all policies of that party must now meet the needs of that select group.
In order to achieve this coup, it was essential that growth of certain groups underpinning the middle class be halted — such as those in the intellectual trades (teachers, researchers, artists and the like), the technocrats (engineers, scientists and technicians) and very small business owners (shops etc.) and replaced with a smaller middle class primarily made up of clerks, financial analysts, and accountants, in other words those servicing the financial and service industries. As a result, the middle class not only has collapsed but what remains lacks the vibrancy to even be considered a politically significant class. The poor and the working class and in between what used to be called the lumpen proletariat, as they always have been, are usually servants of the dominant ideology that is now firmly in control of this small group of oligarchs.
Today: In the state of Kansas, poor people soon may be prohibited from swimming in public pools but not from buying guns.
(I wonder if they can trade in their food stamps to buy guns?)
A. Quigley on Top:
“The state is a good state if it is sovereign and if it is responsible. It is more or less incidental whether a state is, for example, democratic. If democracy reflects the structure of power in the society, then the state should be democratic. But if the pattern of power in a society is not democratic, then you cannot have a democratic state. This is what happens in Latin America, Africa and places like that, when you have an election and the army doesn’t like the man who is elected, so they move in and throw him out. The outcome of the election does not reflect the power situation, in which the dominant thing is organized force. When I say governments have to be responsible, I’m saying the same thing as when I said they have to be legitimate: they have to reflect the power structure of the society. Politics is the area for establishing responsibility by legitimizing power, that is, somehow demonstrating the power structure to people, and it may take a revolution, such as the French Revolution, or it may take a war, like the American Civil War. In the American Civil War, for example, the structure of power in the United States was such — perhaps unfortunately, I don’t know — that the South could not leave unless the North was willing. It was that simple. But it took a war to prove it.“
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability,
B. Xander’s Perceptions:
“I was an idealistic 13-year-old who went with my mom to a Democratic Party club in Southeast San Diego. The United Community Democratic Club met on Sunday evenings at Johnson’s Barbecue, and it was there that I began my keen interest in politics. But when Bobby Kennedy campaigned that June in the California primary, it was for all of the marbles. Kennedy’s win in the hotly contested primary election on June 5th, 1968, presaged the movement that would carry hm to the White House and restore Camelot — the representation of the hope of a nation that we could be better and needed to be better.
Kennedy made a mad dash through San Diego on Monday, June 4th, even including a swing through the South Bay Plaza shopping center in National City. When school ended that afternoon, I ran the approx. 1 mile from my junior high to where Kennedy’s car was making its way slower than a snail, through the throng of people who had showed up to see Bobby in person. In fact, just as I had my hand grabbed by Kennedy, I was shoved off my feet by the crowd pressing against his car, and I dangled for a split second before Kennedy made sure I landed on my feet.
Kennedy’s victory celebration and speech at the Ambassador Hotel in L. A. was more of a sports story — Dodgers ace Don Drysdale had set a major league record for consecutive scoreless innings pitched, and THAT seemed as much a part of Kennedy’s victory as anything else. He congratulated Drysdale, quickly thanked everyone for their support, and said “. . . and it’s on to Chicago!” He flashed the peace sign to the crowd.
Minutes later, he had his head blown apart by SIrhan Sirhan, and America was never the same . . . nor was I.”
C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
“Today the absence of government simply means government by private corporations.”
D. Today’s Paraprosdokian:
Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people. Others have no imagination whatsoever.
(A Paraprosdokian is not an extinct species of bird.)
E. Today’s Poem:
Moses was a strange man
Moses was a strange man.
He lost his way
in the desert
for forty years.
He told his people
they were better off
in the desert
for forty years
than in Egypt
where they had
There was no food
in the desert.
Moses did not know
how to farm so,
God had to feed
Moses told his people,
lead them out
of the desert
to a land
had milk and honey.
they should kill
take their land,
drink their milk
eat their honey.
When some of his people thought
might get them out of the desert sooner,
he killed them.
Moses brought God’s law
to his people.
One law said
“Thou shalt not kill.”
“I’m feeling sorry, believe it or not, for the Speaker of the House as well. These days, the House Republicans actually give John Boehner a harder time than they give me, which means … orange really is the new black!”
– President Obama