Sunday, February 26, 2012

On To Become

Brovic - Blogging Since 1903, On and Off
On To Become

KHUK KHAK, Thailand - There are things you can try, things you could consider, and other things that are downright out of the question, probably for everybody.  Everybody except those who say, 'I'll try anything once.'  They would fall into that 1%, I think, the fringe.  I think I fall not into that category, but close to it. 

What about you?  Surely, there are many things you haven't tried.  Right?  Right away, I think, 'sky-diving', thinking in Celsius, expeditions to anywhere beyond my comfort zone...golly, there's lot's of stuff I haven't done. I'll bet for you, too.

Whime I saying that?  Well, part of it is knowing what's for you and what isn't, right?  Like, maybe some folks are cooking something up, a scheme, a scam, an investment plan, a plot, a ploy, a play, a batch of meth, a cruise in the Bahamas, and ask if you want to go along, and you say something like, "Sure, I'm in," or, "No thanks. That's not for me."*

Maybe you're not in the situation where you'd even be given options during your daily track.  You're not hanging out with no kind of heavy hitters, lightweights, or even your neighbors who ask you over for a cookout.  Your energy is on a different track. Perhaps your plan for yourself is fairly routine, no bubbles, no speed bumps, no deviation from the mean.

Some people shouldn't be on a motorbike, for instance.  Some people need to leave drugs entirely alone, especially chocolate and Facebook.  Some people should stay away from casinos, video games, and the fridge.  Some people feel perfectly comfortable where they already are, and don't need to go thrill-seeking, out dancing, out on a limb, out of town, or out of the house.  I'm fine right here on this couch.


Never should have....been on the mound...t...started...joined up...listened to those guys.  Should've left it, her, him, alone.  Can you relate to any of that?  Never's not necessarily a case of regret, if something was learned, but rather, finding out FOR SURE what is and isn't right for you.  That can't happen unless you give it a try, right?

Sure didn't need to climb into the seat of the road grader, now, a decade later being cut up and sold for scrap.  A nap or a smoke break was what was needed, just then, and already I knew heavy equipment and I don't see eye-to-eye.  We're out of sync, incompatible.  Wasn't cut out to be a heavy equipment operator.  That's an example of, 'Sure, I'll drive it.'  Same with the big tow truck.  Big time screw-ups, both.  "Ya Gotta Pop The Clutch!"  Finally, the message sunk in; but it's not like I didn't try.

That's why when we needed to dig a launch canal to the Sea for the long-tailed boats being built at the boathouse, I was quick to jump up saying I had 'lots' of experience with BIG CAT diggers on tracks, in a sandbox, lemme on that sucker, I can figure out the levers an' shit once I'm in the seat.

Ain't nothing but a big Tonka Toy, right? a child's dream.  What have you got?  Forward.  Backward. Right.  Left.  Spin.  Scoop.  Dump.  How hard can it be?  Fuuuun like a mug. 

Well, there's a case of overcoming one's fear, and moving forward convincingly with supreme and utmost confidence, like on a motorbike in Phuket,  a job interview, or up on the high wire, even though, even though, eeeeeven though you may be venturing into no man's land, a mine field, a snake pit, and might be scared shitless, like up there without a net, what I'm saying.  Fly the thing!


Conformity. Nature likes conformity, like ants and bees, except when it doesn't, like snowflakes and galaxies.  The kindergarten class photo. What will they go on to become? Despite difference of ethnicity, class, income, education, occupation, political and religious preference, will they venture anything, take any chances, bet the farm? Would they have order or chaos, the principled, people of conscience, no prisoners of fear, chasing myths and illusions, universal revolutionaries intent to change the world?

Well, what's that got to do with couches and road gra...?

Tell the story, threads of conversations, as if they're sitting there, try to weave it together into some kind of cohesive fashion, tell a joke, a tale, ask some questions, end it when it's over.

- end

*Mid-afternoon sun beating down on the dancers and the arbor.  First round after the singer's lunch break. Someone was supposed to pull skulls.  The preparatory markings would be on his back. "Who?" asked Kakwira, Tom's son. Tom, the lead dancer who was doing the piercing, squinted up and down the long line of men, then pointed, "Ivis." Kakwira trotted over, took Ivis by the sage wristlet and brought him to the tree.  Holding the scalpel, Tom asked Ivis, "Are you ready to pull skulls?"  Quite by surprise, and mistakenly selected, Ivis shook his head and said, "No!"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Making Merit

Brovic - Blogging Since 1903, On and Off
February 2012
Making Merit

KHUK KHAK, Thailand - What is it?  The 18th? 23rd? You can lose track of time over here.  People will ask, 'Where'd the time go?'  That's an easy answer for me.  Didn't go anywhere.  You did.

It's not uncommon to lose track of time and holidays in a non-Christian country where everything is upside down anyway - the weather, the stars, their eyes.  No Thanksgiving, as we know it, no Super Bowl, no Easter bunny resurrection of Christ, no Christmas with Christ but with the sales, no not none of those three-day weekend, semester break, where you going for the holidays we all grew up with and learned to cherish within our traditional culture.  Now Bobby cain't even say prayer in schoo.

So, over here, you can erase most of that stuff out as unimportant, you won't need it for the final, but it's not bad to have it in your notes.  I mean, who really cares who won?  What, the Super Duper Bowl?  The Crusades?  No.

For instance, right around the corner is a wat, a temple, Wat Khuk Khak.  It's full of monks, guys who are on it full time.  They haven't got your American three-day weekend or Christmas break, but they've got a begging bowl full of 'buddhist holidays' each month, I think, coinciding with the moon, and other special events throughout the year, big time, where everybody takes    in    off   takes part. Like New Year and the water festival, for instance.  Buddha's birthday.  The candle-lighting ceremony.

Then they've got these smaller local events - deaths and other observances where the family and locals take part, the women hustling around with the food prep and so on, and the men arranging things, setting things up.  That's probably pretty much the same across cultures, I'd say.


Yeah, some might say that sounds sexist.  I can just hear it; 'Well, over HERE, sometimes the women are setting things up.'  That's okay.  I can live with that.  But you'd probably run me out of your kitchen.


Somebody in the New York Times or some other publication said electronic communication and new technology has left us, basically, dummied down, as a populace.  Can't help but feel partly responsible for what he called 'nonsense' and ego-filled blogging.  That's why it's serves one well to go back through one's work and attempt to remove all references to one's self.

How you gonna do that? 

That would be...your records.  Police, juvenile home, transcripts, high school, college, court, hop-skip & jump, mouse clicks, site visits, twits, tweets, tax avoidance, heh heh heh, DWIs, and alllllllllll that other stuff you've recorded over a lifetime.  You thought 'literary references'?

How you gonna do that, remove all references to one's self?  You can't.   

You could say, in your world, you've always existed.  I have in mine.  Time didn't go nowhere, and neither did you.

Sound screwy?  No screwier than believing it's one's sacred duty to kill.  A lot of people buy into that. Sacred killing sounds not only screwy, but fantastically insecure and downright maniacal, but people cling to such a path and have it guide thought, word, and deed.  It only becomes real if you believe it.

It's just someone else's idea, the idea of a karmic record, and over here they believe you can do something about it.

This morning I hollered at my neighbor, my gardener, who has moved to a new location on the west side of the lake, just as he disappeared past the house on his 'sling', a motorbike with a one-wheeled open side cart.

He promptly turned and met me at the roadside, speaking a mouthful of Thai so fast like he usually has for the past six years that I've never understood a word he's said.  He pointed across the lake and made an eating motion with his hands, spooning from a bowl.

'Now?' I asked.  'Dio nii?'

He vigorously nodded yes.  I was to go over to Carl's and eat with four other farang, I think.  He kept holding up four fingers, I don't know why.

Drove over there on the motorbike to Carl and Mon's restaurant where there were four tables of Germans having breakfast but no one particularly interested in having me join them, other than a nod and, 'Guten Morgan'.

I went to the gardener's house, a small thatched hut with another small thatched hut housing some of his family, and another small plaform out front with a thatched roof where they'd set out mats, and an altar, and candles, and flower arrangements, and the women were getting the food ready and the men were setting things up.

The gardener had invited me to his making merit ceremony, and I was really, really, slow to realize it.
About twenty local faces were there, and here came five monks.  All the men were wearing slacks, so I raced home, changed from swim gear to proper attire, grabbed that watermelon and a sleeve of plastic cups and got there just before the monks started in on an hour-long mantra.

No shit.  An hour.  I thought they'd broke it off at 45 minutes, but they started up again, and while most of the two dozen local folks, mostly older folks, sat with their palms clasped in front of them, some people conversed openly with one another with folks arriving on motorbike, not like mass or where everyone is quietly reverential.

I sat sweating, withdrawing into the wave of the mantra, in 'the zone', like in sweat lodge, and thought of family and friends and 'all those with whom we interact in our lives.' 

There were three old monks in back with two younger guys in front.  I was particularly impressed with the young guy on the left, whose posture, form, recitation, and calm indicated his effort. The old men just seemed to be effortlessly blowing through the ceremony as long-time practitioners. 

They got to eat first.  Then they served us old men sitting around one table, then everyone else.  There was one little kid, the gardener's granddaughter, and two dogs who skedaddled as soon as they let off that long string of firecrackers, ending with a loud boom resonating across the lake.

I wasn't even hungry.  People kept pushing me food.  Throughout, though feeling quite welcome by everyone, I felt like an outsider, just like on the rez.

Like the daily 'feeding the monks', they say such ceremonies make merit, perhaps off-setting some negative baggage, bad karma, I don't know, but I think today focused upon a future venture by the sponsoring party, the gardener, my friend.


There's a little grey songbird that built her nest in a fern outside my entrance prior to my arrival, and flits away whenever I approach or leave.  There's two eggs in there, and I'm trying to condition her to sit tight on those soon-to-be-chicks, avoiding a glance, become small, ethereal vapor passing through, that she need not feel threatened or afraid.


Sunday, February 12, 2012


Brovic - Blogging Since 1903, Off and On

KHUK KHAK, THAILAND -  This calico cat has been hanging around, hanging around.  I don't care for cats that much, being more of a dog guy.  Seems like cats come with women.  Dudes don't bring a cat into the house.  We come home with a dog, someone who'll listen, somebody we can relate to.

Cats are good for rats and snakes, they say.  That being the case, while going after trash bags at Nang Thong Market (to clean up eight months of rubbish out back, pushed down my way by the two Thai yabba meth freaks three doors down, who got busted by a dozen police pounding on their door at 3 a.m. and taken away for rape and murder two months ago, I was told), I saw the cat food, tuna, salmon, other kinds there in the with the dog food, and thought I'd give the cat a treat, prompted by seeing the shedded skin of what had to be a eight foot snake in the garden, today.

Saw it, no snake, just the skin, snake for sure, no doubt, laying there, went one way four feet, wrapped around a small tree, and went back the other way, four feet.  I looked at that a moment, head to tail, then gauged it's width with my thumbs and index fingers in a circle, oh, about the size of a, of a, of a, it's a fucking python.

So, can a cat keep a python away from the house?  Or would the cat serve as lunch for the python? When they say 'cats are good for snakes', what does that mean, exactly?  Good for lunch, or keeping them away? You tell me.  Boa, Python, I don't know.  About the size of a softball.  Bigger than an orange, for sure.  Smaller than a grapefruit.  A softball.  That's a python, right?

The skin was laying flat, so I was imagining it, and what I saw was  one  big  fucking  snake, whoever you want to call him.  That could explain the jumpy nature and wide-eyed, fearful look in the cat's face whenever any sound occurs.  Any sound.

Now it's become somewhat of a nuisance, underfoot and bugging me while I'm trying to get the place squared away from eight months of neglect, but I guess I'll just have to accept it with the illusory hope that somehow this little cat can keep a python away.

The more I think about it, what's a python doing here in the first place?  Could be the snake habitat I've created.  But the cat was obvious here, already, too.  Hmmmm.  It's a puzzle.  I'll let you know what, if anything happens, cat-wise.


You saw Tarzan, didn't you?  Those old black and white movies?  You saw him wrestle with the alligator, crocodile?  You see him wrestle with that python?  He always had a knife handy, so that's what I do.  Scissors, couple of knives close by, a machete', a bow saw, a hatchet.

With Tarzan, there was a contest of strength before he dispatched the snake, and I'm not sure if the monkey had to go for help once or not, but as you would know, Tarzan prevailed because of the next episode and many other King of the Jungle reasons, but for me, noticing a particularly sharp loss of muscle mass and strength over the past few years, I think my best bet is to keep some sharp-ass slicing and dicing utensils within reach, when working in the garden.

See?  I'm still thinking about that snake.

Could be a cobra.  Cobras can go eight feet.

Which is worse?

Makes a nigga just want to heave a big sigh.


Exerting himself to the extreme, Tarzan's hollering, wrestling the fucking python, "CHEETA!  GO GET JANE!"



People over here acted like they were pissed I stayed gone in the States for so long, upsetting their view of where I should be in their world.  Found myself explaining spending Christmas with my family for the first time in years, and then New Year's, and the nice weather, and lights and electricity and water and the internet and the squadron responsibilities, and the projects I had to wrap up before heading out just as that snowstorm hit Denver.

BBC in Bangkok said people in Europe were freezing ass.  Out on the sizzling street, I was drenched with sweat, an obvious new arrival just off the flight, too stupid to stay inside from the mid-day oven, feet blistering in sandals after being tenderized eight months in socks and shoes.

Over here, people have a thing about feet.  You can't point your feet at a buddha.  It's uncivilized to point your feet at anyone, or show them the bottom of your feet.  Don't put your feet up on the table or up anywhere.  Feet belong on the ground or motorbike foot pegs.  Only heathens won't remove their shoes at the door.

So, after being here for seven, eight years, I take particular notice when someone is picking and playing with their feet, their socks, their toes, then want to do something like pass me a joint.  I have to decline and tell them I'm trying to quit.  Maybe other folks don't notice things like that, but I do.

Like Digger told his good friend Devon, "Nigga!  You gonna step over ALL those shoes inside the doorway and come walking in here on my carpet with your muddy-ass shoes!"

The Thai won't say anything; they're too shy and non-confrontive.  They'll just stare at your feet.


The squadron, mentioned earlier, the 335th, The Slim Buttes 335th Tactical Aviation Squadron (I answer the phone there, '335th Tac', just like they, the radio operators, do if they were really doing it) was taking up more time since taking on the contract to deliver 63 planes by the end of January, delaying my departure until that loose end could be wrapped up.

Talked to Lupe' and Bo & Misty about picking up the production of about, well, 247 planes at $5 a plane.

Lupe' did some figuring, and said with a shake of his head, "Bro, you can't live on five dollars a day."

True, not even on the rez, but you could amp up your production.  I can knock one out in about four hours; three, if people leave me alone and stop bugging me about another cup of coffee and would I mind if they checked out their Facebook page.

So, despite the claim of being 'made in America,' I sought out the Myanmar girls, got three already, and when I can get two more and somebody to translate, I'm going to re-fire up production over here with one girl on design, one on cut-out, one on drilling, and two on assembly, day wages at 200TB per day, per girl.

That's about seven bucks each, and selling them at $499.99, I'll make a fortune.  Seven bucks.  Even if they only crank out two a day, it's better than what Lupe' thought he could do after reverse engineering the thing and saying, 'maybe I can make them faster after I make forty or fifty,' he said.

Bo Davis was non-committal.  Misty, too.

"Five bucks a plane," I told them.  "And, you've got to deliver them to Denver."

Bo just shook his head.  Misty wouldn't look me in the eye.  They didn't ask about the transportation costs.  Their unspoken message was that they can make more doing bead work.

So, it looks like my best bet is over here with the cheap Myanmar labor.  There goes another five jobs out-sourced out of the country.  There goes another shot at tribal sovereignty.

Already told you I've got the Chinese beat, hands down, with our 40-point assembly.  Theirs is a laughable three, a punch-out idea off a flat piece of cardboard, stolen from my templates, mind you, after being hustled off to Shanghai by my former crew boss, Li An Song Su Ky, a hateful, scornful, no-smiling, scowling, snake-of-a-woman, who was formerly a sweet little dirt-poor, flat-footed, no-make-up, up-country village girl until coming down here and mingling with all the corrupted infidel foreigners, with whom she undoubtedly had a bad experience prior to our association.

You see it happen.  People get burned, they get pissed and maybe withdraw.  Don't want to trust or be open to the world.  Start making accusations maybe and fall into some kinda prolonged emotional septic trench.

As old man Palamioni said after Tito's fall from the trapeze, 'These-ah thingsa happen froma time-ah to time-ah."

You may know the taste of deception or theft.  Best is to spit and let it go.  In any case, excuse the digression, the shipping costs of the planes are going to offset the labor savings, and with the squadron now six years old with 187 pilots, it's still in its marketing phase until 350 aircraft are produced.

Thus, our principal investors won't realize a dividend until sometime in 2015.  Maybe earlier.  I keep telling them we must stay the course, look at the long-range plan, beyond the elections, beyond the Mayans, beyond our wildest imaginations.


Honor Your Food

I've been trying to eat four, five, six times a day.  Part of it is trying to replace a sharp loss of muscle mass and strength noticeably absent in the mirror and when swinging a splitting maul, and part of it is the food is so good.

At home on Pine Ridge we eat what they like to call food, all of which comes in a package or can, loaded up with horrible shit that will kill you sooner than most other addictions or other hosts of vampire bugs and parasitic chemicals floating in our environment.  Out planet is just DRIPPING with toxins.  Any Indian will tell you the government is practicing genocide with the food.

Don't believe me?  Take a look.  Take a look at Indian people.

Even here, where the eating is fairly close to the picking, I'm told the Thai have 25,000 harmful chemicals in their agriculture.  Yeah, and the restaurants usually have dogs, and sometimes chickens working the place.

Dad prayed every meal.  A good habit. Went something like 'Our Heavenly Father thanktheeforthisfoodforwhichwereboutreceiveforthenourishmentofourbodiesandsomethin
somethinsomethinsomethininJesusakeIpray Yamen.'  It caught on.  Not the blessing, but the habit, the idea of saying thanks before you eat.  Since if we didn't eat, we'd die.  A little thing, then, to say thanks.

So, are we praying for the food, or because of the food.   hoping the shit won't kill us.

I was laying there in bed thinking about our food, and how much of it I'd consumed that day, and what life and energy it gave me, and what I'd said and done with that.  How did it get played out in interpersonal relationships throughout the day?

Day one, in the womb, we start packing on the pounds, and when we get out, out of the womb, out of the house, out of town, all that food continuum, that energy continuum, gets expressed on our gigantic canvas.  What color is yours?  What does it look like?  Would it be an aura?

I use profanity a lot around the boys, like, barracks talk.  I tell the nephews, 'I was in the fuckin' army.  This ain't a fuckin' girl scout camp.'  And they laugh, keeping it loose, and sometimes in writing I'll use profanity, too, just to keep it loose and real, or to make a point, but when I think about honoring my food, and like Al says, 'You pray with that same tongue?', then sometimes I think I should tone it down and not swear so fucking much.

My friend, the Dalai Lama, doesn't swear around, at least in public.  I was sitting with David, the manager of the new Italian restaurant where yesterday I ate one of my meals, said of one of his friends, as if to impress me, "He's friends with the Dalai Lama."

I looked him straight in the eye and said, "I'm friends with the Dalai Lama, too."

His face registered surprise, then he sat staring at me for a good fifteen or twenty seconds.  I never blinked.  Finally, he asked, "You've actually met the Dalai Lama?"

"No," I replied.  "I've got his picture at home on my pantry door."

"Oh," he said, pushing back in his chair and turning his head sideways in a scoff, "Then I'm friends with the Dalai Lama, too."

"Sure, you are," I told him.

Some of it has to be who you're hanging out with.  If it's the boys, or the boys in the barracks, then you can say any fucking thing, right?  You should hear the way these motorcycle gang members talk, and the Brits, and the Aussies.  They are really, really, bad.  In front of women, their girlfriends, their wives, their mothers, for Christ's sake!  I couldn't believe what Damon called Margaret Thatcher with his mother sitting right there, who didn't disagree.

It's so bad, I can't print it, so I'll tell you psychically.

Get it?  That's pretty bad, isn't it?

Wow.  Talk about getting side-tracked.  Where the fuck was I?

Well, I'd like to think that I honor my food by being kind to plants and animals.


Even before I got on the plane, I was thinking about massage.  Shortly after checking in after a solid 26 hours flying in coach class (say, 'sardines') DenverLosAnglesHongKongBangkokPhuket - Wham, Bam, Blam, Boom, exhausted/wired, went straight to the hotel massage, and for ten bucks, had a woman attack me with such ferocity it felt like Turkey Vulture tears up roadkill rabbit.  It's quite possible to leave feeling poorer than when you went in.

Complaining?  You could say a bad massage in Bangkok isn't as bad as an excellent massage in Pittsburg.


They're Just There

Manuel stopped by the 335th HQ before I left the States, and among other topics, spoke about people being engaged with their mobile devices.  Absorbed.

Around the world, new technologies have distanced us further from one another, putting us only physically in the presence of others.  For those around us when we're electronically engaged, we could just as well be in vegetative state, on life support.

As Manuel said, 'They're not talking with you.  They're not visiting or listening.  They're just there.'


I just found some M&Ms I had stashed.

Ok, today, Yon, who gave me the bananas six years ago (yielding just now; sweet), stopped by when he saw I was back.  I showed him the snakeskin in the garden.  He looked, then looked again, closer.
With his left hand, he encircled his right forearm, indicating the thickness of the snake's body. 

"What kind?' I asked, excitedly.  "Phython?  Anaconda?"

"No Anaconda," he said.  "Cobra."

Someone said cats can beat a cobra.  At dinner tonight, I ordered fish.  After eating most of it, I asked the waitress, "Si krang, samrap meeo, Krap," a 'to-go' bag, please, for the cat.

- end