Thursday, April 30, 2009

It Has The Malady


In observance of the swine flu outbreak, I went out last night and ordered a pork cutlet, smothered in a mushroom sauce, with fried potatoes on the side.

I rarely have an interest in the animal. Smart, but filthy. You know if you've ever lived at, or near a pig farm. So I don't eat it's meat, except for bacon, which I love. Nothing like the taste of bacon. BLT in the summertime, with watermelon and cool drinks on ice can't be beat in late July.

Manny wouldn't touch the pork. Considered it, 'unclean'. Said it had 'the malady'. He was a chicken man, preferring the dark meat, which was fine with me, you know, everybody has their tastes.



Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Just Admiring


KHUK KHAK, Thailand - Have you ever just sat back and admired something, not judging, not scheming, not doing anything but just admiring? Just admiring, not thinking about tomorrow, not thinking about yesterday, not thinking about anything. Not thinking.

Just admiring.

It could be anything, a person, place, or thing. A memory. A dream. A vista.

Just admiring. The reflection in the pool has a slight smile crossing your lips.

"There. Feel better? You look better," I said to the banana trees out back, a gift three years ago from Yon, a local Thai.

Sure, they looked better, happy with a little attention. Six months of absentee gardener.

"Everything looks better, feels better with a little attention. A little love. Showing somebody cares," I said to them.

Nine tall palms, stunted and malnourished at birth, neglected, parched and yellowed through a dry season, nurtured, fed for three years, hydrated thoroughly, now magnificently bursting forth in lush, gloriously green effusiveness, shading the house; down the line, fantastic, fantastic, runt of the bunch doing great, fantastic, super-fantastic, fantastic, super-fanstastic, out in the full sun, doing okay.

Who knows if they understand English. The dogs don't. But I said to them anyway, "You rook marverous."



Thursday, April 23, 2009

How Dick Cheney Doesn't Get It


Khuk Khak, Thailand - "But it worked!"

That's like saying genocide works. To claim that the expedient means, regardless of their inhumanity, are irrelevant to the pursuit of an objective. Hitler's extermination policies were working, too.

To employ a rationale of the efficacy of torture to justify its use is simply blind to international standards and protocols of prisoner treatment. Bush, Mr. Cheney, Ms. Rice, Mr. Rumsfeld, and legal counsel to the President are all complicit in the development of a policy the Geneva Conventions declare as cruel, inhumane, and degrading.

The ICRC (International Committee for Red Cross) humanitarian standards of prisoner treatment established by the HCHR (High Commission for Human Rights) Geneva Conventions, of which the U.S. is one of 194 signatories, were adopted as international humanitarian law to prevent the government of any nation or state from abuse, and imposing arbitrary measures of treatment of captives. Our leaders broke those laws.

They broke those laws, and somebody is a war criminal.

Was there a crime?

Part I, General Provisions:

'to all persons who are captured by the enemy'

There are no creative distinctions of 'enemy combatant' or 'detainee'. If you are captured by the enemy during a war, you are a prisoner of war. Everybody knows that. It is clear.

Article 13

'Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention.'

'Measures of reprisal against prisoners of war are prohibited.'

'They shall at all times be humanely treated and protected, particularly against acts of violence, from insults and from public curiosity.'

'No pressure shall be exercised on prisoners to obtain information regarding the situation in their armed forces or their country. Prisoners who refuse to reply may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to unpleasantness or disadvantages of any kind whatsoever.'

Art. 26. 'In the event of transfer, prisoners of war shall be officially informed in advance of their new destination;

Art. 42. 'Prisoners of war shall have the right to bring to the notice of the military authorities, in whose hands they are, their petitions concerning the conditions of captivity to which they are subjected.'

Art. 54. 'Imprisonment is the most severe disciplinary punishment which may be inflicted on a prisoner of war.'

Article 87

'Prisoners of war may not be sentenced by the military authorities and courts of the Detaining Power to any penalties except those provided for in respect of members of the armed forces of the said Power who have committed the same acts.'

'Collective punishment for individual acts, corporal punishments, imprisonment in premises without daylight and, in general, any form of torture or cruelty, are forbidden.'


In the numerous meetings between members of the Bush administration and the legal advisors who subsequently crafted a new language around new 'enhanced interrogation techniques' to circumvent international law, wasn't there anyone in that whole circle of smart people to ask, "Isn't this a war crime? Wouldn't we be war criminals?"

I'll bet somebody did.

'No, Sir. It would not constitute war crime as we define it.'

Do you think there were any pauses to reflect, any moments of grim silence, as the gravity of the policy sank in, or do you think they just pressed ahead?

We knew it was going on all along, and we didn't stop it. Torture is torture, regardless of how it's defined or to what ends its use is employed. We didn't stop it until the election, and its magnitude has only become center-stage because of the recent disclosure of a mere fragment of the record.

In addition to having an unwanted war rammed down our throats, the American people must now acknowledge and accept our embrace of torture. Even if you personally find the policy repugnant, or acceptable for a nation's security, it was nonetheless conducted in our names on a world stage.

'Enhanced interrogation techniques,' framed in a legal word game, a Texas hoe-down shuffle, premised upon a re-definition of prisoner of war. If they aren't that, then new rules apply, and the new rules say we can torture.

Yes, without question, crimes have been committed. Who shall be held accountable? Who are the war criminals?

Mr. Cheney, there is no rationale for torture or inhuman treatment of captives. Torture is indefensible. Abiding by international humanitarian law allows us the liberty to advance human rights as a global leader. Adherence to it is what distinguishes us from barbarians.



Monday, April 20, 2009

Catching Some Air

Made in Thailand

Khuk Khak, Thailand -

On the side of my basketball, it says on two lines: ‘Made 7 to 9 lbs. Inflate in Thailand’.


Catching Some Air

You know you've seen those camera shots of NBA and collegiate giants hanging on the rim after they've thrown down a slam, checking the drop zone before dropping to the floor?

You can do that now, for protection of your ankles, you can hang on the rim.

I'm going to get somebody, a camera, and a ladder, and have 'em take a shot of me doing that. Hanging from the rim. Make a card, send it out at Christmas.

'Old Man Still Playing Up Around The Rim'

Probably need a mattress, or a net, falling from that height. Bean bags or something.




Khuk Khak, Thailand - There are some things I do spontaneously…three. Wake up. Write. Jump up at the sound of a crash.

Don’t have to try, don’t have to think about it. Happens by itself, like what do they call it?...channeling, or spontaneous combustion. And wouldn’t that be something?…sitting there talking to someone, and all of a sudden, they bust out into flames? Burst.

First, you'd probably think, 'What the...?', and then you'd probably try to put it out.

You can probably think of some things you do spontaneously, too. Without thinking, without trying.

Like Bruce Pretorious and Bill Cantrell spontaneously made the football and basketball teams each year.

Or, not like that. Not like that at all, nor like your sympathetic nervous system. Waking up? Everybody does that, except the people who don’t, so that would be in a different category, and I didn’t really spend that much time thinking this through before I began writing, spontaneously.

We were talking about spontaneous. Writing and jumping up at the sound of a crash would be learned, wouldn’t they? That’s what I mean, learned responses. Like, a child could probably learn to write, eventually, without being taught. 300 million monkeys, and one of them is going to write, you can bet on it.

And a child wouldn’t naturally* jump up at the sound of a crash, although experiments have demonstrated that newborns will react with shock and fear at the sound of a balloon being popped close to their ear.

Which reminds me of the time in the ‘Nam when they lit off those two 109 mm howitzers on a night fire mission from the artillery pit right next to my ear, twenty, thirty feet away from the medevac hootch.

Have you heard this one already?

I was already under my cot, prayingandcryingandthinkingaboutmom before the second volley went off, and I realized it was out-going.

Or maybe Augie, my crew chief, sitting in the dark on the side of his cot, said, “That’s outgoing, man.”

Still, it was nerve-racking, and I stayed down there, huddled in a fetal position until the end of it, about ten or twelve volleys, maybe six hundred, I don’t know. But that was spontaneous, too, not recalling the movement from lying prone in a slightly disturbed dream state to quivering jellyfish under the cot.

So it’s not just newborns.

I was chickenshit, don’t mind telling you, but just didn’t try to think about it. Went into the medical corps for three reasons; you wouldn't have to kill anyone; two, there were doctors and a higher mentality, higher educated group than, say, the infantryman, not to put down the grunt, but the stats speak for themselves; three, there were nurses, and that speaks for itself; and three, they were the guys with the drugs.


Well...Ok? This was the thinking of an eighteen-year old, inasmuch as it hasn't changed that much. Still don't want to kill anyone, still looking for intellectual stimulation, still chasing the nurses, and still looking for the guys with the drugs.

And dad gave me the soundest advice a father could ever give a son. He told me, “Try to get into a line of work where you don’t have to take a life.”

Did I tell you this already? Are you sure? Stop me if you have.

Well, that turned out to be great advice. And going as a medic was a good way to go, if you had to go.

The Medical Corps was appealing for the three above reasons, and later, another benefit became apparent, years later, after seeing what being a killer had done to some of my fellow servicemen, and yet another benefit to continue aiding victims throughout life. That’s the spontaneously jumping up I was talking about...about which I was referring.

Well, I’ve got to tell you, as ingrained as that reaction is, today I sat having a late breakfast of rice and fish at the Bang Niang fresh market, a huge, dark, open-air pavilion of fresh meat and produce, and flowers and vendors selling Thai sweets, and five or six breakfast places where they serve up a bowl of rice and whatever you want with it from a half-dozen big aluminum pots…chicken, fish, pork, all piping set-you-on-fire hot, all highly suspect.

Well, I was sitting there at one of the tables when there was this loud WHUMP, and everybody in there started leaning and looking, stretching their necks.

‘Oh shit, there’s been another accident,’ I thought, but wasn’t sure. Yeah, sure. A wreck, out on the road, a half block away, the way everybody was moving and looking like people do when they’re attracted to the scene of an accident.

I stood up, couldn’t really tell, but people were clustering out at the intersection.

Sat back down, thinking, ‘This is Thailand. Let the Thai handle it. You don’t have to involve yourself. Besides, your kit bag is back at the house. Finish your rice.’

So that’s what I did, resisting the urge to go out there. I finished my breakfast, got a sack for the cat, bought some flowers, got on my bike and left, casually. Brovic’s Emergency Roadside Outpatient Medical Service was out of service.

At the intersection, a covered truck was in the ditch after striking a light pole, skidmarks diagonally across the road. The two occupants were on their feet being helped shakily to a truck that would take them to the hospital. They weren’t bleeding, but dazed and hurting. She was holding her hip, and he was holding his arm.

I kicked myself for recently writing and publishing something I soon regretted, acting spontaneously, and today, kicked myself again, but for using restraint, acting against spontaneity.

Rule of thumb; You engage. If your friend is on fire, you try to put it out. If you're a writer, engage the reader.

Jump up! That’s what you’re supposed to do. It’s what you do!

Write! That’s what you’re supposed to do. It’s what you do!



Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pulse of America


KHUK KHAK, Thailand - There are times when I attempt to take the pulse of America, and every time, I'm stopped by two things; one, my fingers aren't long enough, and two, medically speaking, I forget what's normal for a country of 300 million people.

But sometimes I sit gathering information, like the average blood pressure of 300 million people, and just spontaneously SPIT OUT some stuff that I later have cause to regret, torn between id and superego, pious practitioner and profane pedestrian, half-serious writer and half-wit comic. I feel what the pulse says, and just say it.

I should know better than to let just anything fly, and often wish for an editor to keep my stuff in check. Or a woman around who can always be helpful in offering a man unsolicited advice about what he ought to do, harping repeatedly on the same ol' stuff that we men repeatedly seem to fail to hear.

'My woman says I never listen. At least, I think that's what she said.'

And Lupe' says, "I try to tell you, Hector, but you no leeson."

Well, I offer no excuses, except to say I blame it on Ron Greene and Phil Woodward and the Brunswick Club pool hall in Wabash, Indiana, where I was influenced during my most formative, impressionable years. Tried to walk like them, talk like them, be cool like them.

Or maybe a repressed urge of revenge on Buddy H., a bully crossing guard and hall patrol in elementary school who would shake me down for my loose change.

Or it could be that stretch in the Army or the pen, picking up things you'll carry with you the rest of your life. Or it might have been that nasty fall from a couple stories up, where they said 'he's not right' for a long time afterward.

Or maybe that time the parachute didn't open, or that oxygen-deprived-I'll-never-do-this-again scuba accident. But I'm not looking for excuses, just to say, you know, it could've been that other guy, the one-armed man, the second gunman on the grassy knoll.



Saturday, April 18, 2009



Had to take a break

You ever do that? All in one day?

Sometimes you need to return to the mission, tweaking the prototype, and sometimes you need to return to the drawing board.

Did you ever find cause to re-calibrate your course, check the specs, align the spine, or are you just cruising along, never change, never change your location, never change your job, your career, your tune, never change your woman, never change your man, never change your attitude, never change your heart, never change your mind?

Never change the diet, never change your haircut, your posture, your approach shot, your perspective, your ways, your faults, your beliefs in the face of facts. Never change your route to the store, your place at the table, the dial, the channel, the color of a wall, the way you drive, your morning routine, the nature of a relationship.

That could produce a factory of incongruence and dissonance. That could catapult us to the frontiers of our comfort zones. It’s then you’ll have that yard sale.

“Hey, I like your new haircut! It’s a new you!


And the nose ring, and the eyebrow thing, and the purple Mohawk, and the new tattoos and the leather and the Goth look. Cool, honey. I was a hippie, too.

Well, I wanted to be. Tried to be, went to the try-outs, but I came in on it late, after Haight, missed the concert, missed the date, missed the show…where did everybody go? Wherever I went, whatever was happening had already happened. The firemen were rolling up the hose.

Like Manny was always saying, ‘You’re too slow. You’re too slow. You’ve got to pick up the pace. You’re three steps behind, all the time.’

Well, in a combat zone, if you’re three steps behind the guy that gets hit, that’s a good thing.

And on a basketball court, if you’re three steps behind on a fast break, you can get a sweet dish for a slam, or maybe a slam off the rebound. That’s if you’re playing up around the rim, which I still can, by the way, providing we’re playing with a seven-foot basket. Or in the pool.

Three steps off the pace, back of the pack in the backstretch. You’re yelling at the jockey, and your horse, ‘Make your move! Make your move!’

Flared snorting nostrils, thundering hooves, a whip on horsehide, the announcer calling out the funny names down the homestretch. They, the jockey and the horse, can’t hear you, but you’re on your feet, fists clenched, crumpled program, passionately screaming along with everybody else.

And then that sad, collective ‘Ohhhhhh’, the letdown, the game-tying shot that fell short, the field goal attempt that went wide, the strikeout with men on base, the champ dropping to the canvas, the home team’s failed desperation ‘Hail Mary’ in the end zone, the sound of thousands of people experiencing disappointment all at once, together.


Another aerial artist, Geppetto, who was three ticks ahead of his time on trapeze at the time of his death,* truly disappointed, once said, ‘You go out there and try to wow ‘em, you put on the show, and they either like it or they don’t. Mostly, they want to see you fall.’

And Mr. Ferguson, who was always secretly against me, once said coldly, ‘In this business, you’ve got to have marketable talent, and you’ve either got it, or you don’t. You can’t show up with an empty tool bag.’

And Frankie once said in exasperation, ‘I don’t have scales. Here’s the bag, here’s the price, you either want it or you don’t. So?’

These guys weren’t speaking to me, directly. I overheard it. Those are just quotes, either/or quotes. Quotes laden with covert disappointment. ‘You’re either with us, or against us.’ For it, or against it. We're either going zone, or man-to-man. You're either building a nuke, or you're not.

And Manny said after the big title challenge, ‘Don’t feel bad. Everybody has an off day. Look at Wallenda.** You’re either on your game, or you’re not. See you at practice.’

In a world of simplified black and white dualities, you can be slow, three steps off the pace, working the gray area. And even if you’re coming in off the bench, that’s okay. Not everybody is a starter. Not everybody is a runner-up. Not everybody is even a contender. Some of us are in the left field stands, waving our signs, and some of us aren’t even in the park.

Sometimes here there is no water. Sometimes no electricity. It doesn’t happen frequently, but it happens. No explanation why.


*Actually, Geppetto's timing was impeccable. It was Vinnie, his catcher, who stayed out late the night before. Vinnie never 'came to grips' with Geppetto's death.



Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Humor Your Best Medicine


Khuk Khak, Thailand - I saw a picture recently of Hugh Hefner, aged 108, Playboy reunion, however many years in publication, two beauties on either arm, who were no doubt with him because of his radiant personality.

Those toothpaste ad girls were young, blond, beautiful, and righteously endowed with big tits exploding from low-cut dresses, and I wondered, 'I wonder if those girls have a sense of humor.'

Could be the basis for a long and fulfilling relationship.

"Yeah, guys," he said, as his friends passed around the photograph, each one of them examining it closely, then extending their arms, looking again, raising their eyebrows and not saying anything. "I know she ain't much to look at, and she don't cook, but she's got a great sense of humor."

Someone once said that time is your best medicine, but humor works pretty good, too. In fact, the combination of humor and medicine is great. I think I might have killed a guy once with humor. Or, I was at least complicit in his death.

We were flying along in a helicopter, and my audience, my client, my patient, had his guts and lower body ripped away by what they said was a booby-trapped 109mm artillery shell.

The guy was gripping my hand so tightly I couldn't treat his profuse wounds, telling me, "IT HURTS, DOC! IT HURTS!"

So I told the guy, "Yeah, I know," using a line moms and doctors use on kids. "The reason it hurts, it because it's getting better."

The guy burst out laughing, coughed up blood, relaxed his grip on my hand, and died with a big-ass smile on his face.

The pilot glanced over his shoulder and keyed his mic, asking, "Is he going to make it?"

I said, "Yeah. He's going to be okay."

Same thing last week with Willie, the poodle that stays with Marsden who's hopping around on three legs since being run over by a mini-van.

As he lay there, I gave him a warm, hands-on treatment for his racked hip socket, and told him, "Willie, you shouldn't be trying to stop mini vans with your hips."

Willie is a Thai dog, but understands a smattering of English, although he doesn't let on. He laughed, jumped up from the floor to his feet, and began running around on all fours, limping slightly, much to everyone's amazement.

"What the fuck did you just do?" asked Mars.

The other guy I killed already had a history of heart trouble, they said later.

"Go out there and kill them tonight," said the master of ceremonies, backstage before the show.

The man was sitting at a table up front, and was just taking a drink of water as I delivered my punch line. He laughed and coughed and spit his water mostly back into the glass and all over the table, clutched at his throat, and then his chest, then collapsed onto the table, and then the floor, sending his wife into hysterics with bedlam erupting all around, people crying out for a doctor in the house.

"I...I'm a doctor...", I stammered into the microphone from the stage. "Well..." I began to explain, "...almost a doctor...I never fin..."

"Well, get down here, then!" they hollered out as they loosened his tie and pounded on his chest.

In the middle of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, I said to those huddled around, "I never finished medical school...too tall," and the guy was laying there, semi-conscious, still chortling, foam at the corners of his mouth, big-ass smile on his face.

"This is no time for your antics!" screamed his wife. "Bring him back to life!"

The paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene. Rolled him out of there with a sheet over his body, his grieving and traumatized wife casting daggers at me with her looks.

The joke? No. This was years ago, way back in the day. I forget what the joke was, but it was a good one. A couple of guys said so after the ambulance left.

Well, so, those guys died laughing. That's more like 'Humor As Lethal Injection', rather than medicine. For medicine, you've got life and death, life and death going on down here on planet earth and elsewhere in the universe, it seems.

And life, depending on how you got your card punched, could give you that silver spoon, that birth defect, that particular way you carry yourself, and you could be strong-suited in, say, intelligence, or serious, or compassion, like Mother Theresa, even though they say now, after examining some of her letters, she was haunted with doubt. So there you have it. Strong-suited in fortunate birth and compassion, weak-suited in certainty.

The guy is sitting over there, across the table, holding four-of-a-kind, big-ass smirk on his face, upping the bet, causing the weaker hands to fold, seeing if you're bluffing, going along for the ride.

You're going along, going along with the bet, wondering what he's got. Going along, just to see his cards. Going along, holding a full boat.

I don't know who you meet when you die, other than your Maker. Some say Jesus. Indians say your relatives. Could be. For me, I loved ones, my friends, some teachers, a few patients, and a whole pack of dogs.



Sunday, April 12, 2009

No More Piss Tests For Me, Thanks


Khuk Khak, Thailand - Even if I had to put on some kind of jockey outfit and park cars or stand out on somebody's lawn holding a lantern, I'd be compelled to tell them to 'stuff it' if they wanted a urinalysis.

'You gonna have to get at my piss some other kinda way,' I'd tell them, 'you sick sickos.' I gave 'em a sample once, and the sons a bitches used it against me, in court. Judge asked when was the last time, and I replied, 'Last night,' causing a moment of muffled hilarity to an otherwise serious matter at hand.

'If they want to examine my bodily excretions, I don't think I'd want to work for them,' I recently told a friend who declined the charged cigarette out of necessity, saying she had 'a piss test coming up.'

Down to a science. Talk about a whole society running amuck with a twisted idea that eventually became so ingrained that people shrug it off with acceptance, without challenging its sanity, such as a fanatanical obsession with a sperm-stained dress to bring down a president. Then like everything else American, we exported it, creating a worldwide phenomena.

'It works,' you could say. 'Fear of job less is REAL, man.'

Yeah...Yeah. Yes. It is.

What I'm saying is, they can test you for drugs a thousand different ways. Look at a guy's eyes. Does it look like he's been drinking pretty solid for twenty, thirty, forty years? Seen a bar stool or two?

Listen to them. Listen to a person talk. Listen to some of those people on the radio. You don't even have to see them.

'Yep. He's on drugs.'

Then there are behavioral clues. Is he scratching around, hopping around the office, all over the place, bouncing around, Mr. Smiles, then, GNARRRRRR!? Or, she?

I mean, why do they want to go into the toilet with me and handle my urine? I mean, this is some sick shit, folks, all to determine if you've got something floating around in there that says you've recently altered your normal state of mind.

Like a friend once said thirty, forty years ago, the used-to-be smartest person I knew, "They're trying to control consciousness. They're legislating your state of mind."

You can be straight, or you can be drunk, or somewhere in between. Period.

I picture...the Puritans.

What gets me is the social acceptance of a deviant off-the-rails pursuit of public policy determined entirely by politics, criminalizing a public health issue. What that eventuates is what we have, the greatest incarceration of populace of any nation on earth, and the tired and failed solution of building more prisons.

You know this already, I know. Just going on record, y'know. Slowly, governments are coming around to medical and scientific fact.

Maybe you and your doctor can work something out. Most people do. Then The Rest need to go find Frankie.

I'm not advocating drug use. Holy smokes! As Manny used to say, 'I'm not avocating anything.' I'm just wondering about a sensible public policy initiated from a higher reasoning than fear, and one that allows everybody access to their favorite drug. What would that be like?

Nation of junkies? Are already. Your prescription, your cocktail, Frankie's gear, all the same. My medicine is your drug. Your medicine is my drug. Anybody looking down on the Founding Fathers as junkies? Who brought the first shit to America, anyway? Wasn't the Mexicans.

'No more frequent flier bitch miles for MY BOY.'

Okay, then. What?

I don't know, I'm just know, as a medical...practioner, as a pharmacological...person...

What that amounts to is, I guess I won't be piloting your next flight.

- end


The Smartest People I Know

Khuk Khak, Thailand -

A couple of entries back, I mentioned the smartest people I know.

The name of the used-to-be the smartest person I know wasn't included since he threw it into reverse on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago one dark and rainy night after missing our exit. Sure! Why not? We got rear-ended. Why not?

Manny said, 'he coulda been a genuis, if he'd stayed with it.'

Then come to think of it, some of the smartest people I know have pulled some of the dumbest shit. You think you're pretty smart? Well, think back on some of the dumb shit you've pulled. Admit it. That was some pretty stupid shit.

You might have thought it was smart at the time, convincing others, and then after you were caught, came back to kick you in the ass, or whatever, you look back on it and say, 'Man, that was some pretty stupid shit.'

Same way with me. Manny had me tested. Broke his Smartometer. I called it a 'smart-o-meter', and he corrected me, saying, 'Shows what you know. Iss a 'Smarr-TOM-itter'. A homemade contraption.

Anyway, I KNOW I've pulled some stupid shit, and I think I'm pretty smart. Had a number of people in authority, mostly in the military, ask me if that's what I thought I was. I think I always told them no, on the contrary. Sir. Your Honor.

Many years ago, had a guy at a country club dinner, where I was a guest, mind you, not a member, and this guy approached our table and began a conversation about the inherent genetic mental inferiority of negroes.

I suppose he thought he was pretty smart, too. But that created a mind-set I tried to avoid internalizing thereafter, and that is, even if you think you're so smart, maybe the public perception of you is that you're a dumbass.

We have to remember that the people running the show aren't always the smartest people we know.

I could probably cite numerous examples, but you can probably come up with some on your own.

This friend of mine, he's not what you'd call brilliant, but he's not dumb, either, was asking, "Why don't they (those people running boats through pirate-infested waters) hire some security, so when those pirates pop their head up over the edge, they're looking at a 350 lb. tattooed Samoan with a 36 inch Louisville Slugger?"

I think that's a pretty smart question, don't you?

See? And this guy is a carpenter.

One of those smart people I mentioned to you got back to me and said they are free on weekends for some consulting work. And I suppose the others could be hooked into it if the money's right.

You know what I'm talking about?

The pirate negotiating consulting firm. Call ourselves, 'Pirate No-Go' and Associates.

Now me, I'm stupid sometimes. Often. Ok. Most of the time. But sometimes I also have flashes of brilliance. It comes with the turf. Light's on...WAAAY on, then off. Blackness. Then dim.

Not what you'd call an 'Idiot-Savant' before it got politically correct, and who knows what they call us now...probably just 'Savant'. Savant-Idiot. My mom would say, 'half-right'.

Well, I'm not that, because we're all too average. This is more like a...I don't know...'Light's on, Light's off,' kind of a thing.

Well, anyway, what I came up with I already told you. I'd simply ask those guys how good they could swim. We'll pluck our people...your hostages, out of the water, and then, you guys...up to you. You're on your own. This is after we sink their shit.

'Fuck you and your ransom,' pardon my expression.

Does it take a genius to tell the navy to sink their shit? When you're drowning, you're not thinking about hostages, or popping off a round from your AK-47 or RPG at the side of a gigantic USS Cook Your Goose.

Remember Paul Newman in 'Hombre', when he asked that hostage-taker how he thought he was going to get back down that mountain?

Me and my team...we settle this shit, we can move on to something bigger.



Pirate Strategy

Pirate Strategy

Khuk Khak, Thailand - They gave me a call on this Somali situation with the pirates, asking for some input.

I told them, 'Don't negotiate shit. When they say, "We want eight million dollars," you laugh, and tell them, "I have one question for you."

And when they ask, "What's that?", you ask, "How well can you guys swim?"



Saturday, April 11, 2009

Some Work of the Lesser Angels


Back before computers, when they were still performing mechanical chores by hand, a couple of the lesser angels were working in the ‘Yet To Be Born Human’ division, casually punching out chads of life force determinants on our cards and tossing them into a pile.

‘Brainpower’. Ohhh. Give him a six. No. Seven.

‘Creativity’. Nine.

‘Conscience’. Four.

A person couldn’t get all tens across the board.

It went on like that until lunch, with those two chit-chatting and executing the tedious task of hand-punching assigned characteristics, stamping instructions and encoding to make certain no two people on earth were exactly alike. When our cards came up, were we wishing they could have been more attentive and generous. Karma didn’t have anything to do with it.

‘Beats the hell out of ‘Snowflake Division’,” said one.

“Or ‘Sand’,” said the other.

They were still working on us humans;

Make them be genius off of the charts
Or fashion some painters and patrons of arts
We could make teachers and people with smarts
Or cold-blooded psychopaths born without hearts

Africa Asia Europe and Earth
Tossed into nebulae
Recurring birth



Friday, April 10, 2009

It's Official!

It’s Official!
April, May

Increase the Dosage

You know how every once in awhile you come up with a flash of brilliance?

Ok, let me float this by you. I’m thinking of getting together with the smartest couple of people I know…C.N., Dolly, Bryan, Stephanie, who else…?....that’d be it. Give ‘em a call, toss around the idea of coming up with a pirate mediation consulting firm.


What do you think? I think it’s a money maker.

I think you get in there early, on the front edge of the wave. It’s already cresting. You could get FBI…international contracts…governments…

I’d be the mediation/psychologist/scam expert, and this other person…they would be the brains.


Middle Ground

Middle Ground

Standing on the middle ground
What does it look like from here
Looking left and right
Then down

“I used to wake up in the morning and sit on the side of the bed, looking down at those black feet, thinking, ‘I wonder what today is going to be like.’"

- Harold Johnson




Hey. What's up?

Only a handful of people responded to the cat getting hit by the satellite. Nobody else thought it was funny, or what?

Planet Nevernight? Not funny?

Didn't get the Indian joke?

Times must be too serious for funny. Winter is taking too long.

ok, then. You want serious?


A friend and I were talking about vulnerability.

That’s like Custer, before being brought to his knees, looking around at nothing but ‘hostiles’, wondering where his support group was.

It could be a mother and child in a Darfur refugee camp. It could be the homeless and the displaced. I’ve never been in a refugee camp, except for living on the reservation, but I’ve experienced what it is to be homeless in February. Where do you go when you can’t go home? Is Home no more than a function on your keyboard? Is home more than wherever you’re sleeping? Surely it is. Homelessness is vulnerability. Or it could be freedom.

Vulnerability is experiencing a particular agony, and those around you, those closest to you seem unaware or indifferent to your suffering, if there are those around you. Being vulnerable is not having a support group, not having those around you on whom you can depend, or approach for comfort. But that could be freedom, too.

Abandonment, betrayal, deception, and disregard of relationship compose a cluster of behaviors that can create vulnerabilities, the disintegration of defenses, dissolution of sense of self, a personal devaluation, a sense of being preyed upon, cast aside, leaving one feeling barren and emotionally drained, stripped of one’s armor.

“It’s like being in a jousting tournament, going up against a fully-armored opponent in just a T-shirt,” I said to him.

None of this occurs in a vacuum. Vulnerability is experienced within the context of relationships and conditions, a web of interrelationships and connectedness with all those whom you know, either by blood, intimacy, friendships, or associations of proximity. Inasmuch as this may be, one can still be disconnected and isolated.

Losing your job, your house, your home, your family, your lover, your friends, your health, your integrity, your sense of self-determination. Vulnerability could be riding a motorcycle at 100 mph in flips flops, shorts, and no helmet. Walk the high wire without a net. Be hungry, hang on a cross, at the mercy of a rapist or killer. Vulnerability could be a lot of things.

I’ve been adrift at sea in a storm, and help eventually arrived. But while out there in huge waves and out of sight of land, I experienced a profound and extreme sense of aloneness and exposure that could be defined as vulnerable. Does help always arrive? Sometimes it does, sometimes the vultures pick your bones.

The harpist and Kora player pluck their strings. The orchestra resounds. The spider does the same, seeking the vulnerable.



The uh, Obama team called the other day. Wanted to know if I could help them 'get this thing turned around.' I told them I'd look into it and see what I could do. So, chipper up! I'm working on it.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Yo, Tunkashila


KHUK KHAK, Thailand - This young Indian guy was getting ready to 'go up on the hill,' to hanblecheya, to vision quest, so they took him into lodge (sweat lodge, purification lodge) beforehand, and the guy says, "I don't know how to pray. I've never prayed before."

Those guys in there told him, "Just pray using your own language."

So the guy says, "Yo, Tunkashila.* I scored you some tobacco ties and was wondering if you could hook me up with some prayer requests, yo."

And those guys in there said to him, "Heyyyyyy, you can't talk to him like that."

*Lakota name for God



Monday, April 06, 2009

Brovic To Stop Signing Autographs


KHUK KHAK, Thailand - A friend of the spokesman for Brovic said today the spokesman said that Brovic said he will no longer be signing autographs, because he is 'a very busy man.'

"I'm a busy man. I'm a terribly busy man," he reportedly said.

The friend of the spokesman said the spokesman said Brovic said he has been innundated with autograph requests since his latest release, and people had been submitting 'all sorts of sh..,' the guy said, for him to sign.

On his website, he posted a video message to his fans about the conditions surrounding his release, and at the end asked them to stop requesting autographs, and to please desist in sending items to be autographed.

"Peace and Love, and all that," he said, "but for shitssake, stop sending me stuff to sign. I'm a biddy man. I'm a terribly biddy main."

Since his release, he has been seen running around on a Honda Wave 125. On his website, he said he is currently 'heavily involved with the shower caddy recall work, and still working on the lighting at my place.'

Brovic is the former drummer with a popular 1960s pop group, The Beatles.


(this story was a take-off on a news release this date from Ringo Starr).

Sunday, April 05, 2009

When Hungry Animals Show


KHUK KHAK, Thailand - There is this black bob-tail cat that showed up a couple of weeks ago, hungrier than hell, and kept following me around, everywhere, in the yard, in the house, everywhere, until I fed it. Then it left me alone for awhile. Almost stepped on it six, seventeen times.

I suppose I could put it out, but I enjoy the breeze through the open door, and putting the cat out seemed unnecessarily cruel. It's pregnant, Damon says.

The other neighbor, my Turkish neighbor, thinks the Thai cut the cat's tail, but I think it's genetic. You see that kind verywhere. It likes to curl up on the chair, where it is now. I don't pay it much mind, except once when it jumped up on the counter, and I yelled at it, "GET DOWN FROM THERE! HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND???"

Then the dogs saw the cat in the house, and they thought maybe they could come in too, like, 'The door's open.' I said something along the same vein to the dogs. None of these animals are mine, mind you. Them or the chickens.

There is a rooster and a hen, and then seven hens, that like to come scratch around in my compost pile and eat the rice I put out for the songbirds that come every day. I think they lay their eggs and roost over at the neighbor's house, between here and the wat, the temple, Komaneeyakhet, or 'Khuk Khak temple', as they say, shaving off one syllable.

The main bitch dog, just a pup herself, but growing into a really good watch dog with a change of voice, commanding the corner, is 'Chuga' (Sugar, in English), or 'Trinkle' ('like, the cereal,' Damon says), both of which she does not respond to, especially when going after the dozens of Myanmar who pass by here every day on foot, bicycle, and motorbike on their way to work at the big hotel on the beach. She even chases after them in their trucks, and two dozen in the back of a big truck. The Thai, she leaves alone.

"She must've been beaten by the Myanmar," said Damon, the British tattooed biker who lives at the other end of this row of shop-houses, none of which contain a shop, incidentally, and subsequently, the owner has morphed them into residential units over the past four years. Chuga guards the whole place.

She guards the whole place, and is teaching the little black pup, 'Batfink', what it means to be a guard dog.

"Because his ears look like a bat," said Damon. And they do.

At first, Chuga didn't want to share the food, even though there was two servings, one big, one little, and you can kind of see how she might think it was all hers, but we told her, 'Look, its gotta eat. You're the one who brought her here. You're the one who wanted a playmate."

They play, but Chuga punishes that little black bitch DAILY. You can hear her yelping and crying around, day or night. That's why when you toss down their food, like, chicken, you've got to toss Chuga's over way over there, and then toss the black dog's food at her feet, which she'll at first run from, then grab it and high-tail it around the wall behind the complex that holds back the jungle.

Anyway, they're hanging around down at this end, because Damon is sporadically around and unreliable on the food dish, although he is the one who originally began feeding Chuga when she showed up from the Myanmar camp, ribs showing, determined to find a new home.

So, Chuga is the main bitch dog here on the corner, and everyone, the Thai, the vendors, the tourists, and especially the Myanmar who pass here, know it. There are people she likes, and doesn't bother, and there are people she doesn't like. She's got their number, and they have hers.

So, to keep those songbirds coming, I've got to put out rice, and to keep the cat happy so it won't kill the songbirds, I've got to feed it canned tuna, and a couple of chicken wings about once a week, and I've got to feed the dogs to keep them from killing the chickens who come to eat the rice.

None of these animals are mine, mind you. It's a Catch-22 situation, an either/or scenario, a damned if you do - damned if you don't predicament, see what I'm saying.

"I don't know who invited this cat in here," I said to Damon, nodding at the cat sprawled flat out in the back doorway.

"Cats lay around where they feel comfortable," he replied.

And I was thinking, then said it aloud at the cat, who apparently didn't get the message, not stirring, not flicking the tail, not batting an eyelash, "Don't get TOO comfortable around here."

For the benefit of Damon, I called it a nasty name, just to indicate it wasn't welcome, and to demonstrate my profane side, but Damon knows I'm not a biker, and knew I was only feigning dislike for the cat.


This story is soooo lame. I know it, but I'm going to let it fly for two reasons; one, it's exercise; two, it's for you animal lovers; and three, because it's better (to me) than writing about:

- the economy
- global warming
- mass murder/suicides
- what Nikolas Sarkozy's wife's wearing today
- who got bumped of American Idol



Friday, April 03, 2009

Airport Baggage Handlers Stealing From Passenger Baggage

Theft at Most Major Airports

Oh my gosh!

Is this news to anyone?


Thursday, April 02, 2009

New Planet Discovered


Astronomers Discover New Planet

GENEVA - “It was more like something you’d feel, but couldn’t prove,” said Guralkowsy Guralkowsky, premiere guru of astronomy at the Mt. Temple Observatory in Leipzig. "That's how close it is."

The Guralkowsky team discovered the new planet in a recent article in this month’s edition of Space magazine. The discovery is being hailed as ‘revolutionary’ that will forever change our knowledge of our solar system.

The planet, named, ‘Nevernight’, sits inside Mars, a mere stone's throw from Earth, is undectable to the human eye, and has seven times the mass of Jupiter, something that scientists will muddle over for years to come.

“We never noticed it before,” said the animated Guralkowsky. “Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler…all those guys…we never noticed it before. It’s not because it was obscured by the sun in some kind of cosmic hide a seek scenario,” he said, hunching down, looking around like a kid on an Easter egg hunt. “It’s because it’s never night there…all the time. Just think…the stars are never out,” he said, his eyes wide with bewilderment. “Wow!”

"The find substantiates Hubble data that has been used to look at over 200 stars with coronagraphy, looking for planets and disks. We plan to go back and look at all of those archived images and see if anything can be detected that has gone undetected until now," said Christian Marois of the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, Victoria, Canada.

In a recent press conference, the Leipzig team said the article would answer all their questions.

“It will explain everything,” team member Zanic Tys said, “and Guralkowsky ain’t no ‘guru’.”



Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Who's Suspect?


I wasn't going to write anything today, but I couldn't help myself.

(This is the way the story truly ran:)

Pakistan: Suspected US missile kills 12 militants

By MUNIR AHMAD, Associated Press Writer Munir Ahmad, Associated Press Writer
16 mins ago

ISLAMABAD – A suspected U.S. drone fired two missiles Wednesday at an alleged hide-out connected to a Taliban leader who has threatened to attack Washington, killing 12 people and wounding several others, officials said.

The attack came a day after Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a police academy in the eastern city of Lahore, saying it was retaliation for U.S. missile strikes on militant strongholds along the Afghan border. Mehsud also vowed to launch an attack on Washington or even the White House in phone interviews with The Associated Press and local media.

(Okay. Notice anything? There was more to the story, but no more informative.

I wonder about the lead. Shouldn't it read, 'U.S. Missile Kills 12 Militant SUSPECTS'? Why is the missile the suspect in this story? Who else is flying drones around Pakistan? Is there any doubt in anybody's mind whose missile it was???)

Just wondered if anybody else thought the lead was suspect. And if the hideout was 'alleged', can we then deduce the occupants must have been suspect militants?

I don't know about you, but I would like to know more, as in, particulars. Who was at the controls? CIA, Air Force, Army, or Mikey at his Gameboy?* And where was he sitting? Pakistan, Afghanistan, Arabian Sea, or Langley, VA? How old is he? Who gave the 'go' order? Who managed the press release?

What are they not telling us?


*Mikey's good! He's really good. I mean, he's really...reeeeeeally good.