Tuesday, November 30, 2010
A The Daily Growler Extra: If you want an example of just how fucking DUMB and illogical these jerky rightwingers can be, here's the perfect Website for you. Check out the reason this ignorant Black man gives for extending tax cuts for the very rich (remember, these birds make up about 1% of our total population--we recently read where these tax cuts affect approx. 350,000 families. Plus, for extra-scare, read the comments on this site. The truth of the matter is, these rightwingers and this Black fool are right about this bullshit going on back to Calvin Coolidge--yeah, and what happened to the economy after Calvin Coolidge (a former District Attorney) left office--READ: "the stock market crash of 1929," which happened during a Republican administration under Herbert Hoover, a filthy rich puff-jowled well-fed goose of a man. We have a progressive tax system in place based on the less you make the less taxes you pay and vice versa, the more you make the more taxes you pay--and that is taxes on your EARNINGS (the rich used to pay higher rates the more money they made--in England, the filthy rich were taxed almost 100% at one time--that's why the Beatles and Rolling Stones and Brit actors and entertainers came to this country for their biggest successes--they paid taxes under our laws and not England's--the real reason John Lennon wanted to be an American). Except we've so chopped this progressive system up with loopholes and accepted deductions it's no longer progressive but oppressive, not to the rich, but to the poor, who, and I don't give a shit what this Black fool says, pay more taxes out of their earnings than any rich bastard pays out of what he puts down as his "earnings." Like rich people get to take their yachts and the upkeep of them as deductions--that's why rich people have so many yachts and limos and Hummers and jet planes and collector planes. I had a boss on my last job who not only owned a jet plane, but he also owned a WWII fighter plane he'd bought already restored, and he collected helicopters, of which when I knew him he had two. He belonged to a club of his wealthy buddies (they all lived amongst themselves up in Connecticut) who also owned WWII airplanes. And once a year, this club held mock air battles out over the Atlantic Ocean. And, yes, all these men also owned yachts--and I don't mean 40-foot sailboats either; I mean full-blown captained and staffed and maintained yachts. This boss used to sail his yacht from Connecticut down to his summer home in Florida and take along a gaggle of his friends and they partied hearty all the way down there--one time having a special dinner delivered to them by helicopter from shore. This all going on while I was working my ass off so he and his executive partners in the business could keep making such huge profits it gave them the pleasure of counting those yacht trips and WWII mock dog fights as business related and thereby deducting the whole blessed fun messes from their personal taxes, as well as the company deducting such trips from its taxes, too. When I started to work for this boss, we got 6% raises every year. When I left there 12 years later, our raises went down every year until the last two years we got no raises and our salaries were frozen. In an e-mail, the company, and they were so sorry, explained these measures were due to the economy slumping--and this was under Bill Clinton, folks, the man who claims he left office leaving behind a substantial budget surplus. And how did Bill do this?---it was a miracle really, a miracle which should get Willie Jeff sainthood same as British Petroleum is up for sainthood due to the miracle of the suddenly evaporating worst oil spill in US history. I mean President Obama found out what a miracle that Willie Jeff budget surplus was after he hired on the Slick Willie goons, Larry Summers, for one, who did the creative accounting in the coming up with that surplus (one aspect of it was estimating the future income from US Mint issuing special collector-oriented coin sets or the same from special-issue collectible stamp sales). Anyway, here's a Website that should scare any transcended thinker in terms of the ignorance of most of its statements and especially the comments from its willing-to-goose-step commenters (tormenters). Did you see in the news where one Repugnican idiot says the soldier who leaked the first leaks to Wikileak--the ones showing how corrupt both these insane wars are, especially the Afghan-Paki War (now called "Barack Obama's War," something which Obama seems to proudly accept)--should be tried and EXECUTED as a traitor! Can you maybe see a lot of executions coming in the next Congress? Anyway, take a look at this wonderfully logical rightwinger wingding boing-boing DUHHHH site: www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=40289
Ignorant Beliefs (Fundamentals) Ruling Over US (which spells "Us")
Ignorance is bliss. Right now We the People of the USA are falsely blissful, as full of false hopes as a tightly tied burlap sack of kitties about to be thrown into a swift-moving stream. We live under the fable that We the People of the USA are in all ways invincible. We, in other words, are TOO BIG to FAIL. We can't understand why other people don't necessarily believe this and are intent upon bringing us down. I think the World Trade Center buildings stay hooked in the memories of hinterland Americans as looking like football goal posts.
[And speaking of 9/11, check out the Existentialist Cowboy's post on Lucky Larry Silverstein--there's some interesting accusing going on by the Cowboy in this post:
Are We the People basically ignorant? That's hard to know. Yes, our politicians seem to represent idiots over understanders, but that doesn't mean we're all idiots. But certainly We are suckers. Well, since we are suckers, that means We are also ignorant, doesn't it? And, yes, suckers are idiots to the Power Elite that is deciding who of us will have a blissful future and who of us won't.
Like New York City's billionaire mayor believes that the public school education one receives in New York City is totally inadequate and the education We the People of New York City are receiving from these schools isn't the right kind of education he personally feels we and our kids need (he is a father; his daughter is his ambassador to the UN (do you believe that NYC has an ambassador to the UN and it's our billionaire mayor's billionaire daughter?). A Liberal Arts education is no longer the preferred education. Therefore, this billionaire's solution to the problem is to privatize the New York City school system--he's a big backer of charter schools (privatized schools). Our mayor's solution to the PUBLIC school system is to turn education into a profitable business and to do so, this Plutocracy mayor is putting a businesswoman (a cute dishwater blonde, the kind our ladies-man mayor is attracted to (he was the subject of many a sexual harassment suit while he was running his Bloomberg LP)) in charge of the NYC public school system, one of the largest in the world, and certainly with a budget of 24 billion dollars a prize in the eyes of the corporate elite who believe a person with a financial/managerial (accountancy) background has the solution to every problem we have no matter its depth and breadth. Our billionaire mayor knows a foolish person with a teaching certificate and graduate work in education and educational administration would spend those 24 billions of dollars on improving the public schools, like maybe improving the buildings in which NYC's mostly black and Latino students (80%) attend classes (overcrowded classes due to a lack of teachers)--rather than closing them down and firing teachers, like the mayor is doing.
Note: recently several New York City schools fell victim to the current bedbug epidemic that is running rampant throughout the NYC hotels and businesses, including the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and Tiffany's. This bedbug epidemic is blamed on We the People of New York City when all of us true New Yorkers know it's due to the millions of tourists, both foreign and US, that are piling into NYC these days thanks to our mayor's overpromoting of tourism as New York City's biggest (and in ways our only) industry (in 1950, New York City had 16,000 factories that employed over 1 million workers (at that time probably the fashion industry was our leading industry--fashion and publishing)--like the tourists who flock to my neighborhood to patronize two cheap-ass ($175-a-night for a single room; $250-a-night for a double; plus a 14% city hotel tax and other added on state and Federal taxes--in New York City, we pay three income taxes: city, state, and Federal--triple taxation, which is unConstitutional , though who the hell cares?) Indian-operated bedbug-ridden hotels--both of which are just up the block from me--one of which had a huge bedbug epidemic a few years ago where they had to trash all their mattresses and replace them with new ones. For days the garbage in front of that hotel consisted of hundreds of single-bed and double-bed mattresses (there are no alleys in Manhattan so all the garbage goes out in front of the buildings). Plus, the streets around these hotels are strewn with garbage 24/7. Fifth Avenue, once so elegant and snotty a street of privileged shops and haughty residents, is now from 42nd on down to 14th an open cesspool of disposed of aluminum carry-out containers, soda cans, vomit, paper sheets and wads of all sorts, paper and plastic sacks, discarded gum, piss (big piss stains against a lot of the niches in buildings--I mean there are very few public restrooms in NYC--a wino has to piss somewhere), and a new crop of flying rats (pigeons) congregating in the areas where there's a lot of edible garbage--like half-eaten sandwiches or curried rice leavings from the Indian restaurant that sits behind the garbage-producing Dunkin' Donuts/BaskinRobbins/Subway fast-food joint on the corner, a favorite with tourists--especially those staying at the two bedbug emporium hotels. These tourists are too financially stretched after paying outrageous hotel prices and airfares and such to eat in the big fancy restaurants, most of which are run by the rich-overnight money launderers--like little Wall Street broker brats who take their millions of dollars of bonus monies and start their own chi-chi, hip, trendy, Euro-trash-style restaurants and bistros and specialty bakeries and ice cream parlors and pizza joints (you should see some of the pizza combos these phony trendies are promoting--there are a hell of a lot of phony Naples-style pizzerias around this town now run by young Jewish guys, or guys with Italian-sounding names who end up being from Queens or Brooklyn and who have never been to Italy). Phonies all of them. And this is a city of phonies, i.e., pretenders. NYC houses some of best phonies in the world; Donald "Urban Hick" Trump, for instance. A city of constant acting.
And We the People of the USA are so phony, too. We are also champion hypocrites. And now with the Wikileak leaks, We are shown to be world-renown liars, deceivers, and threateners. We truly believe our system of government is the only true democracy in the world, though it isn't a democracy at all and never has been. Yes, through amendments to our Constitution (now almost 250 years old and moldy and outmoded and obsolete) we've tried to make it a democracy but it's still a republic not a democracy.
"It is important to keep in mind the difference between a Democracy and a Republic, as dissimilar forms of government. Understanding the difference is essential to comprehension of the fundamentals involved. It should be noted, in passing, that use of the word Democracy as meaning merely the popular type of government--that is, featuring genuinely free elections by the people periodically--is not helpful in discussing, as here, the difference between alternative and dissimilar forms of a popular government: a Democracy versus a Republic. This double meaning of Democracy--a popular-type government in general, as well as a specific form of popular government--needs to be made clear in any discussion, or writing, regarding this subject, for the sake of sound understanding. These two forms of government: Democracy and Republic, are not only dissimilar but antithetical, reflecting the sharp contrast between (a) The Majority Unlimited, in a Democracy, lacking any legal safeguard of the rights of The Individual and The Minority, and (b) The Majority Limited, in a Republic under a written Constitution safeguarding the rights of The Individual [Mr. Ed.: Why the Supreme(ly dumb) Court made corporations individuals] and The Minority...." (to continue reading:
And this Wikileak business. It's hard to tell the difference between Condo-leasing Rice and Hillbilly Hillary Clinton (has she dropped the Rodham?) when it comes to defending all the bullshitty bullshit going on in those many many back-room, closed-session, top-secret meetings--like the Saudi royals and the Arab Emirates royals, all along suppliers of money and arms to Al-Queda--so maybe it is truly a Sunni jihadist militant arm of the Saudi-Arabia royal household in cahoots with our CIA--Duh, where's Bin Laden from? Duh, who was Prince Bandar Bush? You don't hear much of anything about the Prince these days. Oh and how the god-damn Bushes are SO involved in all this shit. The Wikileak leaks aren't shocking to me. I worked at the large Big 8 accounting firm (now they're called management-consulting firms, but in reality they are simply still accounting firms) involved in the BCCI scandal. My company came out of that smelling like a rose--revelations uncovering the fact that the BCCI bank boyz had kept three sets of books--and that's why I call these accounting firms bookcookers (they call it "creative accounting")--and my company claimed they were responsible for the "correct" books and didn't know about the cooked set. Check out the BCCI scandal. It's the same cast of characters being thrown out of the closet by these Wikileak leaks: Saudi-Arabia, the Arab Emirates, Dubai...oh yeah, the same old bunch. The BCCI boyz were supplying money and arms to Al-Queda and Bin Laden and keeping up his tiger-hunting camp in Pakistan...and getting him bucks to keep up the rent on his villa in Peshawar--and we suppose they keep him in up-t0-date dialysis machines.
You see, the Afghan-Paki War and what's still going on in the Iraq War (US troops killed an engineer at a Baghdad Airport (once called G.W. Bush Airport) U.S.-manned check point that caused all the airport workers to shut the place down yesterday with a general strike) are all about wealth and mineral rights and territorial rights--
And how about that ongoing war in Korea? It's all about a country being wrecked and torn in half by the USA in its false/ignorant belief in John Foster Dulles's "Domino Theory" of Soviet Communist gradually taking over (not Chinese at first) the former colonies of France and Britain in Southeast Asia. And John Foster Dulles (Allen "CIA" Dulles's brother) was one dull motherfucker; but deadly dull--many an American soldier and many a poor Korean lost their lives due to dull Dulles and his theories of rampant Communism takeovers across Southeast Asia--a remnant of Dulles's invention: the Cold War. Remember when Commie China and the Soviet Commies had border disputes? For years they were threatening to go to war over certain borders. Remember when Mao turned against Stalin and Russian Communism? Yeah, we conveniently forget all these pieces of the world jigsaw puzzle.
President Barack Obama when elected had a chance to bring peace (are at least a momentary peace) to the world had he busted the right move. Think about the power this man suddenly had after that cost-overrun inauguration. He had all the Blacks, most of the Latinos, and all progressive Whites on his side. He had college students on his side. He had We the People on his side but...and these kind of buts are the buts that hurt...but, though Obama had We the People behind him, he knew who really had their hands full of toilet-paper cash up his ass working his mouth and programming his decisions. The Power Elite. The Global Marketplace boyz. Wall Street. K Street. Check out all the sleazy PR firms the Obamaites hired. As corrupt a bunch of finaglers as you are going to find in the world.
It's all so disgusting to me. So petty. And now, Obama, rather than again standing up and admitting that what's been revealed by these latest Wikileak leaks is peace-wrecking bullshit, the bullshit of a Military-backed ruling Plutocracy. I mean, just look at how much power the Pentagon has both in money and control of the President, Congress, and us. (For instance, why would Bin Laden or Al-Queda or the Israeli Secret Service have tried to bring down the Pentagon during the fun and games we now refer to as 9/11?) Look how these generals are so eager for war. It is their jobs. The military is their careers. Without war what good are generals?--troops, yes, to guard our borders, but generals? It is with the same cynicism I say the big pharmas are not interested in prevention or even cures of diseases but rather in keeping people sick. Sick people with pay-or-die insurance policies are kept alive until their policies run out and then the insurance companies tell the HMOs to pull the plug on 'em--"Let 'em die."
[Note: Another thing about New York City in 1950. It had free basic health care and free hospitals like Bellevue for every New Yorker. I mean we had neighborhood clinics where you could drop in and get blood workups or general check ups or even emergency treatments. New York City's college and university system was free--City College, Queens College, Brooklyn College, Lehman College, etc.]
I just listened to Robert Gibbs and Hillary Clinton giving us a lecture on how Wikileaks is as evil as Al-Queda...hell, hey, let's call it an enemy combatant. That's what Republican nutjob Lindsay Gramm is saying. He wants Julian Assange picked up by the CIA and immediately charged as being an enemy combatant and sent to Guantanamo and put away for good. Lindsay went on to say anyone who aided Julian Assange in any way, like being his attorney, would be subject to the same condemnation and would join Julian at Guantanamo, a place Lindsay went on to assure us the Repugs would never vote to close down. Guantanamo is forever.
How embarrassed is Obama and Hillary and the Warmonger Generals and the Pentagon and our Diplomat corps? Silly assholes. They know nothing about computers and the ability of these logic machines to hack into illogical sites and unveil them. They know nothing about anything except perpetual campaigning and the millions of dollars flowing in and out of those campaign coffers.
Think of how easy these sleazeballs hand out our money while We the People are...well, 10% of us are jobless; 20% of us living almost in poverty; 90% of us are in debt or on the brink of destruction. But the US government, what the hell do they care? Hillary said she and Obama had been working hard to seal relationships around the globe with our PARTNERS! Like who made these countries our partners? Our partners in what, sharing in the filthy lucre being handed out freely by our State Department and our Treasury Dept.? Oh shit, they hand out billions all around the world. An investigation just recently revealed that British Petroleum and other big drill-drill-drill oil giants got hundreds of thousands of safety exemptions in terms of drilling procedures and environmental protections from the Obama Administration. Plus, and I hope this is wrong, it seems the Obama boyz are pumping millions into BP in the form of stimulus monies; helping them overcome their debts; for BP, even though they are a British corporation, has been sanctified by the Pope as an actual living Saint (based on the miracle of the evaporated oil spill), Saint BP.
Just think about all the billions upon billions of dollars We the People are pumping out in tax breaks for our own rich (and this tax-break bullshit bill affects only 345,000 of us--a handful of pricks so filthy rich now they don't know what to do with all their money) and for oil giants, and bailout monies for Wall Street crooks, and billions for saving banks from bankruptcy, and billions in foreign aid (like the Afghani politician who walked into a bank in the Arab Emirates with millions of bucks of good ole worthless US dollars in a couple of suitcases) and the monies we're blowing maintaining 150 military bases around the world. Just think how only a fraction of that money could bail out We the People. Why not big chunks of stimulus money to We the People individually? I'd be happy with a lousy hundred-thousand worthless US dollars. A piss bucket of bucks compared to the bucks being carried on pallets inside Air Force supercargo planes. But, oh no, We the People have to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps like all our billionaires have done. We the People foolishly cry we want nothing from our government; in fact, most ignorant Americans agree with the Teabaggers and Sarah Palin that we should do away with the federal government altogether.... I mean stop right there. I can't believe that anybody, even those creeps who are promoting Teabagger ideas, would consider a woman like Sarah "Paleface" Palin for the presidency of the USA. This is a semi-ugly woman who is constantly checking herself out in mirrors and who hasn't knowledge enough to know much of anything outside of moose hunting and keeping an eye on her horny daughter and her illegitimate grandchild and, by the bye, where's her truck-drivin' husband these days?
President Obama just an hour or so ago said he was quite optimistic after meeting with the Repug opposition. He says alas these assholes a willing to work with him on compromises. Oh fuck you, Obama. Quite insulting We the People by kissing these ignorant jerks's asses, bending over backwards to kowtow to them. Unless, and this surely could be a fact, Obama has been given a serious death threat. He's acting scared like maybe that's the case.
I mean, come on, folks, this warfare starting up in Korea again--how utterly insane is that? And our privileged-and-power-pumped-up leaders are going ahead in the name of We the People with these provocative war games with the pitiful South Korean army and navy--we're probably going to announce soon we're selling South Korea some weapons of mass destruction; surely some Blackhawk helicopters; surely some jet fighters; and by all means some hi-tech surveillance equipment. Or how about some drones? And don't forget, Obama sent a fleet of warships and several thousand U.S. Marines into Costa Rica--pretending we're helping Costa Rica fight the Mexican-US-Colombian drug dealers who use the mountainous wilds of the Costa Rican-Nicaraguan border to haul their drugs from Colombia and Panama through a jungle route that runs directly into southern Mexico.
Oh well. Tis the season to be jolly isn't it? So, ho-ho-ho, will Santy Clause come this year and bring us lots of cheaply made Commie Chinese lead-filled and formaldehyde-soaked goods? I bought a Made in China cotton teeshirt the other day at K-Mart--hey, it's a nice looking tee, nice thick cotton, but when I got it home and held it up to the light, it had three pencil-eraser-size holes in it. I took it back and exchanged it and I went back to get a new shirt and I held up five of them before I found one without holes in it or splitting-open seams. What a shame. New York City and New York State used to be where our clothes were made. When labels didn't have to tell you what country they were from unless they were bragging that they were imported and therefore better than our homemade goods.
Ah, but just think of the fucking profits the Commie Chinese manufacturing Capitalists and K-Mart made (doesn't Sears own K-Mart?) selling this crap. And oh how happy all those 5-to-10-year-olds who made all those goods must be with their big year-end cash bonuses. Yeah sure.
How depressing this depression is. My parents survived the Great Depression--it lasted over a decade--but it wasn't fun--having your electricity turned off--having your gas turned off--cooking your meals out in your backyard. Potatoes the cheapest form of food, so you bought eight big spuds and you made potato soup every night--my mother's mother had 'em throw a couple of stones in that thin soup--and some wild onions and dandelions to add some flavor. As Woody Guthrie sang, they were eating soup so thin you could read a newspaper through it.
Is World War Three inevitable? I think so, but then I'm a growler, a hungry wolf-man hybrid meanly pissed off enough to go for the throat of these worthless bastards who have control of me now and in my near or distant future--our Congress now a Millionaires Club!
Want some more depressing news? The George W. Bush Presidential Library (yep, that's Georgie Porgie Bush, our two-stolen-term faux president) is going to cost We the People 300 million dollars--it's going to be in Booger's new home, Dallas. What in the name of hell is it going to contain? Maybe all those Wikileak leaked diplomatic cables that show how involved Bush and his administration were with the royal Saudis and the royal families of Dubai and the Arab Emirates and how hooked into Halliburton and KBR and Raytheon and Dimecorp and the Carlyle Group and the Bradley military vehicles they are.
Why all this secrecy and confidentiality? It's OK for these foreign heads of states to be in the know of all this chicanery going on; yet We the People who are paying dearly for these world-war schemes are left out in the cold and when we break into their secret files and find out the murderous tomfoolery these traitors are committing all around the globe we will be subject to being labeled enemy combatants and sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (how ironic is it that our most barbarian prison is in Communist Cuba).
And speaking of Guantanamo Bay, I saw a tear-jerking documentary about the Cuban boat people of many years back now--remember them?--those who neither Castro wanted in Cuba nor we wanted in this country. How the US Coast Guard and Navy would go out fishing for these desperate human beings on homemade stick rafts and innertube rafts and oil-drum rafts, some with as many as forty men, women, and children, including babies, on board. And our Coast Guard and Navy fished these people out of the water (fuck the bodies of the ones who had drowned along the way) and hauled them off to Guantanamo Bay where they were incarcerated. How ironic is that, people escaping Cuba picked up by our Navy and taken back to Cuba, except this is We the People's little permanent part of Cuba? Remember, it was Michael Moore in Sicko who went down to Guantanamo and tried to get medical treatment for several people he had along with him who needed treatment but had lost their health insurance in the US--emphasizing that our enemy combatants had better health care than We the People had through our pay-or-die health insurance industry.
Are we ignorant? Are we stupid? Are we neurotic? Are we psychotic? Are we doomed?
for The Daily Growler
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Economists: the Dumbest Folks Around
I admire people whose understanding is so natural as to be simplistic to the point it offers nothing but peace and tranquility if followed. Does that make sense? I heard one such person on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now broadcast Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving. This man, Manfred Max-Neef, is an Economist. He teaches Economics at U Cal Berkeley. I listened in amazement (attentively like a wolf listening for the stir of prey) to this man passionately spieling off his knowledge of the economic situation in our civilized nation (in our civilized world) and his warning us (the world, not just the USA) as to how stupid we are becoming as understanders . We have an abundance of knowledge--knowledge that has advanced through scientific methods over thousands of years--scientifically deduced models (the sciences including the pseudo-sciences of which Economics is one). Like Max-Neef says, we all have the "truth" (understanding) of what needs to be done. We all know, including President Obama and even a dumbass numbskull like Larry Summers or an out-and-out traitor like Unka Dick(less) Cheney, the "truth" of our situations and the ultimate points on the continuum they will position us.
...and let me just stop by the roadside here and remind every one that the Korean War was never "ended" in the sense of a finalized treaty in terms of declaring that war over and South Korea this and North Korea that. That war is still going on--that it is no longer a visible war (except over the past week it looks as though these natural brothers and sisters are going at it again thanks to US intervention, I'm sure) is due to the fact that Manfred Max-Neef says we are all STUPID, especially the most educated of us, that in spite of all the knowledge we have that is telling us we'd better CHANGE our ways or we as a species are doomed, we still go down the same merry cow trails in spite of knowing that a broadband of informational highways is now open to all of us--and certainly there is plenty of evidence that all indications are that the world as we all grew up knowing it is dissolving right before our very eyes. It's a Humpty-Dumpty situation, to put it in understandable fairy tale terms.
Check it out: Greek's economy has collapsed. Ireland's economy has collapsed. Spain and Portugal's economies are on the verge of collapse. The Euro has fallen below $1.34 for the first time since it was introduced and the Euro Union was made the Big Daddy of Europe. Greece started the trend (remember the Athens Olympics and how devastating they were on the Greek economy?)--the weakest economies in the Euro Union failing first to be followed by the mightier ones, too. I mean, how much bigger do the letters of the handwriting on the wall have to be before we can translate them into sense (understanding) in our numbed skulls?
Max-Neef says even though we have all of this knowledge, we foolishly keep ignoring its "truths," its alarming warnings, by continuing to follow fundamentalist paths that are so outmoded. He blames this ignorance on our colleges and universities. He says our colleges and universities are still following 19th Century paths--cow trails in an advanced knowledge so vast it needs the broadband highways of the Internet (of a high-speed calculating nature) to travel on--cow trails made obsolete and fundamentally now counterproductive in terms of human (humanitarian) progress with its abuse of natural laws and orders under whose directives the planet earth swirls on in its infinite suave and beautifully timed way. Instead of using our knowledge to learn how to live unified and compatibly on this earth, we've used it to challenge Nature--to the point where most of us consider the earth our enemy--religions giving control of the planet to its most fantastic devious gods, fairies, demons, witches, devils--all of whom live underground and arise out of the earth to post detours in our march toward those Seven Cities of Gold that have so fascinated our spoiled brat ancestors, our dumbass peasant forebears who submitted humbly before tyrant kings and queens and judges and priests who--and I can trace it through studying Mesopotamian history--one day decided they needed to declare themselves of a divine order [Note: The Daily Growler in our blog list have a link to the Gilgamesh--the daddy of Mesopotamian Books of Kings and Kings Lists--the Middle Eastern arising of the divinity of a Power Elite] and not bound by the rules of human secularism.
To show you how outmoded we are with our ideals and our models and our fundamentalisms, check out the coming royal wedding between the vulgar Prince William (when he was a young man his father was going out into a muddy field and fucking Camilla Parker Bowles while his mother was traipsing about the royal stables taking horsey lessons from captains of the queen's guard--wow, what a wonderful family background this totally outrageous little fop of a privileged asshole has) and his gold-digging commoner live-in off-and-on girlfriend. Watch the commercial American media give this farce of a British comedy top billing (simultaneously: the same news broadcast at the very same time it's the lead story on every other channel) 24/7--yes, the golden-parachuted media will be there with their latest hi-tech transmission equipment and their top-prize ex-cheerleader lady commentators showing the splendor of this royal fop wedding that will cost the collapsing British economy several worthless millions of Euros. I mean, come on, how idiotically 19th Century is all this royal bullshit (Victorian in its decadence)? Jose Ortega y Gasset warned us in the 1930s (in Revolt of the Masses) about sticking to 19th-Century fundamentals and not bringing all we learned in the best of those years into the 20th Century--something our technologies did but not our education system, that from which comes our philosophies and inspirational-type directions and our elementary sciences--and definitely not our Power Elite--not our 19th-Century industrialists who started all this individualism and competitive market bullshit and growing market bullshit that has led to this global economy that is as Max-Neef says a dehumanized economy--an economy of greed and egoism rather than one of humanitarian beneficence.
Max-Neef Friday morning with Amy Goodman talked about being in a jungle village in his native Chile, a village of muddy paths and trails and huts and homes made out of leaves and timber limbs and trunks, and seeing a man standing barefoot in the mud going about struggling to earn enough to support a wife and 9 children and a grandmother. And Max-Neef said he looked at that man and he thought about all the knowledge he possessed through his doctorates and studying and teaching at a prestigious US university and, yet, he said, with all his theories and understandings and projections and predictions he still didn't have the language to make this barefoot man understand the knowledge he'd obtained from growing up privileged (advanced) in terms of his family in Valparaiso, Chile, and its cultural background (originally German), and traveling and coming to the US and studying in universities around the world. Max-Neef tailended his conversation with Amy by saying he recently was staying in a hotel in the South of Chile, a region he said was famous for its dairy farms and dairy products, especially its butter, and he noticed the butter he was served in the hotel came from New Zealand. That, he said, was the ruinous stupidity of a Global marketplace way of thinking (understanding)--sending butter from New Zealand thousands of kilometers over to the South of Chile that already has a considerably better diary products; thus driving local markets into the ground with butter transported thousands of miles because it's cheaper that way.
Yet, the Power Elite has ordered us into this wrong-way following of what We the People of the US consider our hidebound way of life--the American way; the Democratic way; the way of our aristocratic White Power Elitists White National Founders, like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, and then coming on down the line with our 2nd-rate actor/general/rich-boy presidents who are put into office by the possessors of the asses they have to kiss if they want to experience the American Dream, what is turning out to be a nightmare for the majority of us! The sleeping pill industry is one of our billion-dollar-a-year industries; right up there with antipsychotics and Lipitor and weight-loss schemes. Toxic solutions to our diseases, and I say it's time to drop a toxic bug bomb on our pestilent-ridden economies. Inflation. Deflation. Choose one or the other and learn to live with it. In the meantime, enjoy the Power Elite living the lives the rest of us can only dream in nightmares about living.
Ah, Democracy, ain't it great! Too bad the United Snakes isn't a democracy.
for The Daily Growler
"Max-Neef and his colleagues have developed a taxonomy of human needs and a process by which communities can identify their "wealths" and "poverties" according to how these needs are satisfied.
"Human Scale Development is defined as "focused and based on the satisfaction of fundamental human needs, on the generation of growing levels of self-reliance, and on the construction of organic articulations of people with nature and technology, of global processes with local activity, of the personal with the social, of planning with autonomy, and of civil society with the state." (Max-Neef et al, 1987:12)
"The main contribution that Max-Neef makes to the understanding of needs is the distinction made between needs and satisfiers. Human needs are seen as few, finite and classifiable (as distinct from the conventional notion that "wants" are infinite and insatiable). Not only this, they are constant through all human cultures and across historical time periods. What changes over time and between cultures is the way these needs are satisfied. It is important that human needs are understood as a system - i.e. they are interrelated and interactive. There is no hierarchy of needs (apart from the basic need for subsistence or survival) as postulated by Western psychologists such as Maslow, rather, simultaneity, complementarity and trade-offs are features of the process of needs satisfaction.
"Max-Neef classifies the fundamental human needs as: subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, recreation (in the sense of leisure, time to reflect, or idleness), creation, identity and freedom. Needs are also defined according to the existential categories of being, having, doing and interacting, and from these dimensions, a 36 cell matrix is developed which can be filled with examples of satisfiers for those needs."
Monday, November 22, 2010
A The Daily Growler Bulletin: From the Late Chalmers Johnson's new book:
"However ambitious President Barack Obama's domestic plans, one unacknowledged issue has the potential to destroy any reform efforts he might launch. Think of it as the 800-pound gorilla in the American living room: our longstanding reliance on imperialism and militarism in our relations with other countries and the vast, potentially ruinous global empire of bases that goes with it. The failure to begin to deal with our bloated military establishment and the profligate use of it in missions for which it is hopelessly inappropriate will, sooner rather than later, condemn the United States to a devastating trio of consequences: imperial overstretch, perpetual war, and insolvency, leading to a likely collapse similar to that of the former Soviet Union." [from: www.alternet.org/story/147964/]
The Gnashing of Teeth in the Controlling of Nerves
Noise surely bothers most people same as it does me. Yet, when I complain about noise around burbers or hinterlanders, I get this, "Hey, you live in New York City, silly; noise goes with the territory." "But, but, but...," I stutter back. And this is true; I should expect constant noise living in New York City...and get used to it. New York City--and another bad habit we New Yorkers have--those of us who live on Manhattan Island--we refer to Manhattan as New York City. There are parts of the whole New York City that aren't noisy, though not many. Like noisy neighbors. There's some noise you can't escape no matter where you live in this city's five boroughs.
Today the noise I'm combating with my will power is a horridly noisy tool of some kind being used over at what seems to me like the perpetual building site right abruptly next door flat against my building, just a few small feet outside one of my windows--the 18-story hotel/whorehouse/bedbug-breeding-ground/rat-and-mice-breeding-ground that has been disrupting the peace of my Midtown Manhattan neighborhood for over two years now--and I say "perpetual site" because in terms of completion, there is no end in sight.
I recognize today's noise-making tool as an old faithful one. Yet, it's one I have an identity problem with. It's a tool that produces a noise similar to that made by a compressed-air jackhammer tearing into concrete--the concrete tool cutting into the abstract concrete. Whatever the tool is, its noise is one of those that is so invasive/disruptive/insanity-inducing you can hear it for blocks both sideways and vertically outwardly and inwardly it bores into your brain's echo chamber where it echoes throughout your head thunderous like the roar of the Minotaur. Then add to this unidentifiable jackhammer-like tool a coeval in disruption, a very soprano and therefore nerve-jangling electric saw that irritates the adult brain same as a shrieking child or a sassy yap-barking Yorkie does. And this is not just short bursts of sawing, it's long what-seem-like more-than-minutes-long marathons of sawing. They are sawing wood and soon after they've sawed this wood for what seems like 5 minutes you begin to first smell the resulting sawdust loosed into the air then second to taste it. Then the thought hits you suddenly that if you can smell and taste this sawdust, it must be being inhaled into your lungs where it's plastering the walls of your lungs with a coating of wood guck.
Poor old New York City lungs anyway. The air of New York City. Think about it. Think about there being literally millions of automobiles and trucks and buses cruising and rocking up and down the length and across and back the width of Manhattan 24/7. Vehicles with all kinds of emission problems, some belching black smoke, other's being choked into combustible submission on cheap watered-down gasoline and diesel. And buses no matter their age blow and fart out mixtures of oil and diesel fuel into the air as they trip up and down and across and back across the Island. And among the millions of automobiles are what seems like millions of taxis, limos, delivery cars. And forget about the trucks of all sizes, from the giant refrigerator trucks that deliver those "fresh" frozen supplies to all the fast food joints, like the Subway/Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin & Robbins store up on the corner of Fifth Avenue and my street. And then there are the hundreds and hundreds of delivery trucks and the thousands of delivery vans of all shapes and conditions that are active all day and night throughout Manhattan. Then there are the garbage trucks kept busy 24/7 hauling out the tons and tons of garbage created on a second-to-second basis in this city. Even writing about all this makes me start sneezing--now I have chest pains--congestion--sinusitis.
Add to this dirty air the dirty air surrounding all these hi-rise construction sites going up on a capital-venture mad pace throughout Manhattan Island. The buildings when finished become air polluters themselves, plus the taller and broader they build these monstrosities open air space is being closed in. Like, this fifty-two story-block-wide boutique hotel that suddenly popped up in my once wind-swept neighborhood, yes, to ruin a once great view southwest across the Hudson River I had, but also to change the direction of the winds and breezes that used to blow steadily into my windows from the west...to change the air currents...to change and reroute the electro-magnetic fields. Plus once finished, these behemoth buildings's roof-top exhaust units are spraying out all kinds of toxins down on us poor low-level-livers far down below. Now consider the thousands of skyscrapers on Manhattan Island, each belching out its toxic fumes and gases and oil smoke and incinerator fumes and smoke and its sewer vents letting the flatulent gases of the building escape so it doesn't explode.
Of course this is why our NYC Power Elite lives in the upper floors--the highest floors of the many hi-rise luxury buildings. Yes, they are closer to the gods and protected from the riff-raff (the common man) up there on their sacred heights. They faithfully believe up in the clouds they are living in the purer airs of our contaminated atmosphere.
And I haven't mentioned the many Con-Ed (New York City's electric utility company) power substations all over this city (there's one two buildings away from my apartment) each spewing out tons of dioxides, carbons, and mercury toxins on a 24/7 basis. Also there are several huge new garbage incineration plants around the city. Plus, Manhattan Island is in the direct path of the gaseous toxic killer airs being blown our way from the Cancer Alleys of South Jersey--the air daily polluted by all the chemical plants and refineries from Carteret over to Bayonne--especially along the Arthur Kill.
I bitch about it; yet I can't leave New York City no matter the scary polluted air I'm subjecting my body to. No matter the multiple toxins I'm ingesting and trying to digest at full capacity day-in day-out. No matter how openly subject to terrorist attacks I am--or attacks from our own security forces and police forces and FBIs and CIAs and National Guards--I am, like, embedded in this city--the truest of American cities--the one city that is based solely on individual efforts--as undemocratic a city as you'll find.
And I'm not a native New Yorker. However, when I return to those places that are native to me, I can't wait to get back to NYC. The last time I was in Dallas--a city now of several million--it seemed like the sticks to me--like a mock effort to be as metropolitan as New York City. I mean downtown Dallas comparatively comes out like a pimple on the ass of downtown Manhattan.
And I've been to Chicago, though I've not stayed there for any very long period of time, but I've been there and I've been on the Loop, on Michigan Avenue, on State, on Rush, and it felt good there I must admit--and the lakefront is impressive to me being right there like it is on the Midway--but I'm sure if I were there long enough it would soon seem outlandish to me. A friend of mine who left New York City to live and work in Chicago said the first week he was there he knew he wasn't going to last there--he lasted 5 years--New York City was already calling him back the minute he tried to settle there and become a Chicagoan.
Yes, I see several handwritings on the walls of Manhattan. It is changing. It will change evolutionarily and there's nothing I or anybody else can do about that. And now, yes, it is changing before my very eyes and ears--these noises that are testing my will power for instance are the noises of change--of development, as the Power Elite justifies it. It's like a supernatural wizard is pointing his or her magic forefinger at old New York stable neighborhoods and is zapping them into a gentrified state over night.
Like Harlem. Harlem is turning White--"White Overnight," as the old-time Harlemites are joking about it, though in their hearts they are seriously sad and concerned as they see these wide-eyed, perky, devil-may-care, high-salaried or family-endowed White Baby Boomers and their spoiled-brat children invading their established neighborhood first as developers and then as property owners and real estate investors. I've seen a couple of hi-rise luxury buildings going up in the West 120s and 130s up in Harlem that there's no way in Plantation Hell any average Black person could afford the rents or cost of a condo in those buildings once they are finished. The plain old ordinary Manhattan condo sells for 1.6 million bucks--and that's for a very small apartment--larger apartments can run way on up into the double-figure millions given a high floor with views and a gentrified location--gentrified meaning it's a safe neighborhood for Whites to move into and takeover.
Yes, Whites do own most of and certainly rule all of New York City. And through White privilege, yes, Whites can come to NYC and succeed majestically if they are individually determined enough. For instance, our billionaire mayor came to New York City from Boston via Johns-Hopkins U in Baltimore. He came here a bright little boy but an ordinary little bright boy among millions of little bright boys with a good reputation but not much money. But it was in New York City that this pompous little creep of a man--a whining boy--got rich--lucked into his billions and his Bloomberg LP. Our billionaire mayor entered into his mayoral job worth 5 billion. Success! Now after settling into his 3rd and illegal term as mayor, a term he paid 200 million bucks out of his own pocket to get himself elected to, our little serious billionaire mayor is worth 13 billion bucks. And we New Yorkers during our last mayoral election were asking ourselves, "Why would a man spend 200 million bucks of his own fortune to run for a job that pays a couple'a hundred thousand a year?" A job whose salary this little prick snubs--he takes a buck a year or some such condescending asshole sum like that.
So here's a dude who spends 200 million bucks to get himself elected to a job that pays him $1 a year. Does it make sense to you? It does when you consider, as I said above, that while mayor of New York City, this little Boston boy's worth has risen from 5 billion to 13 billion--that's an advance of 8 billion dollars SINCE HE's BEEN MAYOR!
Think of you being worth 13 billion dollars. Would you have a worry in the world? Wouldn't you feel sort of invincible? Would you be ruthless with your power?
New York City's mayor considers himself one of the ultimate businessmen of the world. He sees the government of New York City as a business. For instance, our mayor, by political hook and crook got the State to make him baron of the New York City Public School System. As NYC School System baron, Little Mike the Billionaire Mayor just appointed in secret (all businessmen work in secret) a woman head of the New York City school system who has no teaching experience; she's never had a teaching certificate; she doesn't have a graduate degree in anything; yet, this businessman mayor appointed her, a businesswoman, to head this huge school system, of which 80% of its students are not White--they are Black and Latino.
You see, folks, White people consider Asians, Jews, Middle-East Indians, and American Arabs and Persians as White people--that way Whites claim New York City is a White majority city. It is quite natural for White people to ignore the needs of nonWhites, especially when it comes to education. The secret to why the mayor put a businesswoman as head of the NYC school system? Money. The budget for the NYC school system is around 20 billion dollars. That to a businessman or businesswoman makes school children commodities. Little products off whom these business-oriented billionaires and their asskissing lackeys can make tons of good ole Capitalist profits. Rich people truly feel like they are superior to the average man, woman, or child in every way--but especially in knowledge and morals, etc. By a businesswoman heading the NYC Public School System, she'll manage the money end of the game, fuck the god-damn peasant (pissant) kids--mostly Black and Latino kids whose situations must be kept oppressed--I mean where are we gonna get the prisoners needed to make the prison industry profitable? where are we going to get workers who'll work for chicken feed? where are the wealthy going to obtain their nannies and cooks and butlers and maids and servants? where are the Power Elite going to get off-the-books folks to clean out their shit cans?
Noise in New York City. The louder it is the easier it is to ignore the screams for help getting competitively louder and louder as they are soaked by the White Power Elite that definitely owns New York City--and who, I think, now owns the United States of America and the Republic for which it stands--one nation under God.... God-damn this fucking change. Or I should say, God-damn this fucking wrong (directionally speaking) change.
for The Daily Growler
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Growing Up Around and In Books
I recently heard one of those constantly upgraded, trend-predicting, hi-tech spokesmen saying "print" books are a thing of the past. The NEW "book" is going to be digital--floating around in constricting broadband air to be downloaded as you want to read them. These books will not be free--they will be patrolled by an ASCAP-type way of collecting royalties. He said every day a new type of digital reading device like the Kindle is being produced or researched and redeveloped or evolved. Ugh.
I can't imagine a living space without bookshelves full of books. I started collecting books in college and by the time I moved to New York City, my wife and I combined had a library of 2,000 books. I've never lived in a house or an apartment that didn't have bookshelves. I can't imagine life without solid-bound book-type books you can hold the thickness or thinness of in your hands--I mean, come on, I want to hold a book in my hands when I need it--either to read it or glean something informational or inspirational from it. I'm sitting and writing and reflecting and suddenly I'll recall a passage from a book--I like to jump up and find the book on one of my bookshelves and spin through it looking for that certain bit of writing I was recalling and wanting to read again.
I grew up in a world of books. My grandmother on my mother's side was a poet, novelist, and best of all, my hometown's head librarian when I was in the growing-up stage of turning from a kid into an adolescent with sprite curiosity, a curiosity that was solely mine--a curiosity I liked to amuse on my own time in my own private place, which when I was a kid was my room at home or back in my grandmother's apartment going through her little library--or else running down to her big library and socking myself away back in a quiet corner of the stacks at one of those narrow little desks with the green-shaded reading lamp attached up over it--and to sit in the wonderful silence and loneliness of that great book depository and dive off into a book, either one I'd been meaning to read or just one whose title attracted me as I prowled the different stacks--the History books, the Art books, the Biographies, the Fiction, the Nonfiction, the Geography books, the big books of maps of the US and the World, the Science books...and also the different magazines and the newspapers from all around the USA.
Later, I was a junior in high school, after my grandmother had given up her head librarian job to marry a rambling man from New York City (a true old-line New Yorker asshole), my brother, who at the time was the sports and amusement editor of my hometown newspaper, one day gave up his journalism career to buy the only bookstore (at that time) in my hometown. I was there the day my brother took it over. It was a marvelous day. All the literary geeks from my hometown gathered there that day for coffee and teacakes (large puffy vanilla-wafer-like small cakes). It was also the day my brother hired me as the official store janitor.
And what a wonderful place that store was to hang out in for a weird sort of shy but curious kid like me. Two long high-ceilinged walls flowing back into deep building space from a large front window, walls carrying shelves running from floor to ceiling crammed full of books, newly released books, reference books, Bibles, the Classics, shelves full of mystery books and detective novels, encyclopedias, and the lending library. In front of the check-out counter was a big Webster's International Dictionary so big if you bought it you could also buy the maplewood stand it sat on. Down the middle of the store were long library tables full of books, one holding displays of the NYTimes Bestseller list books, one housing the latest children's books (these were heavy Dr. Seuss days), and two tables loaded with used books. In a glass case to the right of the check-out counter were the stamps and stamp-collecting albums and supplies. The guy that stocked my brother's stamp counter was a big jolly man from San Angelo, Texas, named Ted who always greeted you with a hearty "By golly, how're'ya doin', so nice to meet you again or if I've never met you before then I meet ya now, my friend." But Ted knew stamps and he introduced me to stamp collecting and The Philatelist magazine that was crammed full of articles about stamps but more importantly to me tons and tons of ads of dealers with all kinds of stamps for sale. I had access in the store, too, to the latest Scott Stamp Catalogs, both world and US catalogs and several other price guides.
Another character from San Angelo who came in the store one day was Dr. Ben K. Green. A pageant-like "doc" character from an Old West melodrama. He fit that bill to a T. He was a real doctor, he claimed, with a degree from the Royal Academy of Medicine in London, though that was hard to believe given his appearance. He was also a horse trader, he claimed, and then as I later found out when I got into the pigeon raising and racing business he was a pigeon fancier, a fact I one day discovered from reading The American Pigeon Journal to which I subscribed and in it was an advertisement for Dr. Ben's pigeon lofts in San Angelo. But Dr. Ben, through my brother's connections, later became one of Alfred A. Knopf's bestselling authors. Through my brother, this Knopf editor was shown one of Dr. Green's tales published in a Southwest Review. Then a bit later, this Knopf editor got a limited edition of Dr. Ben's first book that was published by the Encino Press that was blessedly owned and operated by my brother's good friend in Austin, Texas, a man who would go on to become a big-time producer, director, and screenwriter in Hollywood.
That Dr. Ben K. Green was a bullshitter deluxe was a given fact. You couldn't trust anything he said about himself, except in his written stories (he said he orally wrote them using a tape recorder--I've often wondered if books written like that shouldn't be classified as long speeches), where he seemed to be the real thing. His stories were fun reading, kind of cowboy thrilling in a personal tradin'/schemin ' way of Texas tall-tale telling. He grew up in the same area of Texas my brother and I grew up in--the same area where our families came from, too. It was an area full of great bullshitters who had a way with written words--from that fading Old West culture, that time of cattle ranching and trail driving and lonesome cowboys and horse thieves and horse traders and Comanches still going around raiding and scalping and shiftless cattle dealing and a chance to still be a cowboy, even though by then you were more a drugstore cowboy than you were a working cowboy (vaquero). My brother and I grew up hearing the vociferous remnants of that Old West time telling their stories of trying to survive on those high plains, those flat treeless landscapes that ran for miles and miles and acres and acres, and talking about the times they hung out with the Earps, with the Dodge City marshals, with Wild Bill Hickok or with John Wesley Hardin and William Barkley Masterson--and some of these Old West gunfightin ' legends lived out what lives they had left in Texas. Or they'd brag about being kidnapped by Indians and maybe raised as Indian kids. Chief Quannah Parker whose tribe lived just up north of this part of Texas had a white wife, Cynthia. Or they'd brag about trail drivin' for Mr. Goodnight. Or they'd brag about drivin' cattle up the Old Chisholm Trail that ran right smack-dab through that part of Texas. Or they'd brag about hangin ' among the famous Buffalo soldiers that at one time were stationed at a fort just north of my hometown. My brother being so much older than I was had been closer to these remnants of that culture. It had infected him more than it had me and he stayed behind in Texas and tried to write about that Texas time and Texas place while I couldn't wait to escape that past and I went off to college in faraway cosmopolitan Dallas and after Dallas with a college degree under my belt and a wife looking to me for sustenance and security, I left Texas for good--never to return to the Lone Star State to live--though I'll admit, I did keep that Lone Star culture as a part of my now Lone Wolf preferred existence.
But growing up like I did in the literary world of that world did affect me. Did mold me. Did set me straight on a course I have followed right up until this minute I am sitting at this Mac typing out this post for this damn blog whose space to me is as flat and treeless and wide-open as those plains and deserts from which I sprang. And that part of Texas produced some damn good writers: Larry McMurtry; Larry L. King who wrote "The Littliest Whorehouse in Texas"; John Graves (From a Limestone Ledge; Goodbye to a River); Elmer Kelton (The Time It Never Rained); Benjamin Capps (A Woman of the People); Len Hall (The Existentialist Cowboy blog--see the Blog List); and one of my heroes, the late J. Orlin Grabbe; Dr. Ben K. Green; my brother. Surely such a close-tie literary experience touched me, affected me, and surely that culture is present in my own writing--I mean growing up around books and in libraries and bookstores no matter the location leads to higher plains of both thinking and living.
Here's Dr. Ben K. Green's Wikipedia entry: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_K._Green
And oh what other wonderful characters frequented that book store. My favorite group of "book store characters" was one that congregated in the book store's back room every weekday at lunchtime. This group consisted of a gaggle of my brother's male friends, two corporate lawyers, a telephone company executive (his family got rich off a bean dip they later sold to the Frito people for millions), an oil-man-actor who ran my hometown's "little theater" group, a man named Ward who was an ex-fencing great, and a geologist named Escar . Every weekday at lunch these guys had Tom & Bingo's barbecue joint send over barbecue sandwiches and two gallons of draught root beer to that back room where over lunch they discussed books, movies, women, sports--and pretty much in that order, too. Oh the worldly but also intellectual attitudes I learned from those guys.
I was there the day Escar the geologist held us spellbound with the story of his latest personal dilemma, a story of how it was he decided to divorce his wife (her name was Helen; I still remember her name after all those years) of 15 years. He said the last time he slept with Helen the evening had passed in the usual manner: he came home from work same as ever, then they had dinner same as ever, then they fiddled around same as ever with whatever until it was bed time, when they both retired to the bedroom and the king-size bed they shared every night same as ever. He said she seemed depressed before bed but there was nothing unusual about that since she was depressed all the time anyway in like a normal way for her. Escar was especially tired this night and he quickly passed out (zonked out) while she was still up reading a magazine. He said it was deep in the middle of a deep sleep when something started irritating him. It was a clicking sound in his left ear. Still in his deep sleep it seemed faraway, distant as things are distant in the hypnagogic state. Gradually though as the clicks kept repeating, kept getting louder, kept coming closer, they finally jarred him awake. The clicking noise? He popped up off his pillow and wheeled over just in time to see what was making that clicking noise in his left ear. Why, it was his wife, Helen, making that sound. How was she making it? Why she made it by pulling the trigger over and over on a .38 revolver he said she kept in a bedside table drawer for protection when he was off on one of his geological expeditions that lasted for months sometimes. That was the clicking sound he'd heard in his left ear in the middle of that night. What happened was, Helen had the barrel of that revolver against Escar's left temple. The clicking sound was her pulling that revolver's trigger over and over in rapid succession. No bullets in the gun? Yes, the gun's chambers were fully loaded--but luckily for old Escar, the damn thing was misfiring--there was something wrong with the firing pin. "I got out of bed, ran out to my car as I was and I drove like a bat out of hell over to Raymond's motel," Escar related. "And the minute I got to my room, I called my lawyer and told him to start the divorce proceedings that very day." Grounds for the divorce? Mental cruelty.
I also was impressed by the many book salesmen who were coming in the store constantly, one especially I enjoyed coming around, a guy named Warren from New York City who represented Random House. And one day Warren flew in especially to show my brother a page from the original Gutenberg Bible...I swear...and I knew the look in my brother's eyes as he studied it...and later I heard my brother negotiating with this salesman over the price...and later I knew my brother bought it...though I have no idea what happened to it. It wasn't in my brother's possessions when he died. But this is the kind of intrigue that influenced me to eventually try my hand at "serious" writing...and serious reading.
Next door to the bookstore was a magazine stand and tobacco shop that had once had a horse-betting parlor in its back room--the old wires were still in place on one of the walls--even an old blackboard they'd posted the winners on was still used to block a window in the bathroom. One day my brother proudly announced that he had bought that store and was going to knock down the wall between it and the bookstore and combine the stores. And there was great joy on that day, too, when my brother further announced that I was going to be in charge of the magazine stand and tobacco shop for an hour every afternoon after school (and all through the summer, too) and all-day Saturday; plus I was still the book store janitor.
Learning experiences. I can't count all the life experiences I learned working in my brother's stores. One marvelous thing for me was my brother hired young women to work as his bookstore assistants--young and attractive women. As an original member of the bookstore staff--as the janitor--I got to know most of these young ladies in a more than proper way. Most of the time it was a fairly good-looking young high school boy flirting with these "older" girls--they were all high-school grads, two of them graduate students in college. From one of these girls I learned to overcome a fun-spoiling timidity; from another of these girls I learned to be prepared in terms of college and learning and grasping knowledge and future thinking--plus from her I found out I was very attracted to very smart women. And from the last girl who worked for my brother I learned close social skills and how to treat girls and thereby seduce girls--yes, she taught me seduction. Ronnie was her name; from Montana; married a soldier at 17 and came with him to my hometown's large Air Force Base. He had dumped her when she was 19 (only 2 years older than I was at the time) and that's when she came to work for my brother. Ah, those extremely bright young women--they took over from my being reared by my mother, her sister, and their mother, my grandmother--the Pioneer Woman Triumvirate, I called them--those against whom I rebelliously turned to run in flight right into the charming arms of these brilliantly smart and very free-willed older girls who I worked with in that book store.
And the magazine stand and tobacco shop was fun, too, because it gave me a little power with my high school friends. Everyone at my high school knew my family, especially my brother but also everybody knew my father by his business and the fact he ran around my hometown in a yellow Cadillac convertible wearing his favorite garb, an old Coca-Cola shirt-jacket worn opened over an olive-drab GI-issued tee shirt, a pair of Air Force fatigue pants he'd acquired when he worked for the Army Air Force in WWII, bottomed off by a pair of alligator shoes (the book salesman from New York City, Warren, who really liked my father, had brought him as a gift), topped off with a genuine official Roy Rogers straw cowboy hat whose sides originally showed Roy Rogers himself on the back of a raring up to full high-hoof Trigger. To remedy this rather childish-silly Roy on Trigger stencil, my clever dad spray-painted the hat in an especially illuminating silver paint. On those days when the high plains sun shone unimpeded straight down and burning on my hometown, it reflected as though a halo off my dad's silver cowboy straw. So, yes, all the kids in my high school knew my dad. And yes they knew my brother, too--first as a sports reporter--and a lot of those kids had seen me with my brother at hometown sporting events--I was his scorekeeper in those days and went with him to the high school and college football games where I sat with him up in the press boxes and spotted for him and kept track of each play on the diagram sheets with which the athletic departments supplied the press corps before each game--and to the high school and college basketball games where I sat with him at the court-side press table and kept score while he typed out his coverage. Some of my more street-level high school kids had seen me with my brother at the rasslin' matches--one time there making me famous when the local favorite, Dory Funk, Sr., threw Ivan Kalmakoff , the Russian Bear, who was evil and hated by one and all, over the top ropes to send this hairy bear of a man crashing down on the press table, knocking my brother one way and rolling into me the other way, knocking me down on the floor and then falling on top of me--he smelled like beer--and I shoved this old man (and he wasn't young then) off of me and to my surprise it was easy and the Russian Bear fell back effeminately into the crowd--and I was cheered wildly as the Russian Bear was mocked wildly for letting a high school boy kick his ass.
So I was already well known around town thanks to my father and brother but when word got around that I was working for my brother in his new book store, I became even more popular--and then when they found out I was in charge of the magazine and tobacco shop on Saturdays, they turned me on to a way I could make some extra money. You see, I had access to cigarettes--and nearly every kid I knew, especially the boys, but some girls, too, smoked cigarettes but store owners wouldn't sell to kids since my hometown was in a DRY county (no booze) and proudly boasted of having over 100 different churches for such a small city. But cigarette smoking was a male status symbol in those days and smoking males proudly displayed their cigarette packs by wearing them looped up in their tee-shirt sleeves, or prominently displayed in a shirt pocket. There was nothing more James Dean-macho than whipping out a pack of cigs and sliding one out, putting it in your mouth at just a certain angle then whipping out your Zippo windproof lighter and whipping it once down against your blue jean leg to open it and then whipping it back up that pants leg to whirl the firing wheel against the flint to light it--done in one fell swoop like the old outlaws having a gunfight--drawing fast. We called it the "Gary Cooper method" (the movie "High Noon" was out and Coop's role in that movie had a profound influence on easily amused high school boys) of Zippo firing and the absolute coolest way ever invented for lighting a cigarette true. So what I got to doing was stealing packs of cigs from my brother's stock and selling them at high school for fifty cents a pack, where they sold retail for 25-cents a pack. Sometimes I was honest and put half of my take in the magazine stand/tobacco shop cash register, though sometimes I needed a new LP or a new shirt, so I would keep the whole take. For one whole school year I did quite well with my cigarette business.
Also in the magazine stand/tobacco shop I met another bunch of real-life characters just the opposite of the book store characters. Though it was called a magazine stand, it was also a newsstand. We housed our newspapers on a specially rigged rack that hung on the store's brick front just outside the front door. It held 10 newspapers--both the hometown morning and evening editions, plus the Fort Worth and Dallas morning papers, the Wichita Falls, Texas, morning paper, the San Antonio Light, the Oklahoma City Daily Oklahoman, the New York Times Sunday editons that got to us on the early Monday morning mail train from Dallas-FortWorth, the Wall Street Journal, Barron's, and at the bottom of the rack on the sidewalk with a brick on top of them was a stack of The Racing Form (a holdover from the days when the joint was a horse-betting parlor--horse betting had been made illegal in Texas after WWII--though at one time, they had horse races on the Fair Park Racetrack in my hometown--my uncle took me to my first horse race when I was a jerky little wide-eyed curious 8-year-old).
The magazine stand characters included a scrubby little jittery dude we nicknamed Jake Leg. He had what oldtimers called "the jake leg," meaning he had trouble controlling one of his legs when he walked and one of his arms also "jaked"--or shaked, a condition brought on by the consumption of alcohol--except not distilled and purified alcohol, but rather pure grain alcohol, especially the kind found in Jake's favorite source of it: Aqua Velva men's shaving lotion. And we had a notions shelf behind the cash register counter and yes we kept a good supply of Aqua Velva up on that shelf. Yep, I'd see Jake Leg comin' up Cypress Street from T&P Park down by the train station where he spent most of his days. I'd see him coming towards me from my high stool I sat on behind the cash register, which was up by the window and just beside the "Winston Tastes Good Like a Cigarette Should" neon sign that hung and buzzed its gaseous sizzling as it advertised the day away and into the deep nights (sometimes we left all of our neon signs (cigarette signs mostly) on all night long--they gave a Christmasy effect to that end of Cypress street--made it like a Vegas street with the Paramount Theater just across the street with its marque lights flashing and blazing and the drugstore on the corner's neon signs blending in--and the Trailways Bus Station cafe's always on neon sign hanging out over the sidewalk--made the street for one block merry and bright.
Another character was this woman we called Queen Christine. Queen Christine must have weighed at least 300 pounds. She weighed so much that when she would arrive in front of the stand in her chauffeur-driven Cadillac and the chauffeur got out and came around to open the door for her, that Cadillac took a definite dip toward her side of the car, and when Her Majesty rolled out of that car, I swear, it looked like that Cadillac was surely tipping over to fall against the front of the store. Then she'd take about 5 minutes propelling herself--on her canes--into the stand--not allowing the chauffeur to help her--not allowing anybody to help her--into the stand just to get a pack of Herbert Tarryton cigarettes, several different newspapers, and a sack of Red Man chewing tobacco. The minute she faced the cash register she expected a greeting: "Good day, Miss Christine, and how may I help you today?" You already knew what she wanted and you had 'em ready for her already, but this routine had to be followed or she would turn around on the spot and waddle back out to her Caddy shouting to her chauffeur, "Take me to Zeke's, there's no one working in here today." If you happened to lose her like that one day, she'd be back the next day guaranteed. I never "lost" her--I loved seeing that Caddy pull up and the ritual begin. I mean the other customers had to stand aside as Queen Christine came in to do her daily business--even on Saturdays--we were closed on Sunday, known as "the Lord's Day" in my hometown.
Another character was Doctor Cyrus N. Ray. Doctor Ray was a real doctor, an osteopath, but he was also a fairly well-known archeologist and anthropologist. As an archeologist he had national acclaim back in the 30s for his discovery of what was referred to as "Abilene man," a series of fossilized bones the Doctor had found digging among the remains of what had once been an ancient "Indian" village of Clovis or Folsom man remains.
From the Table of Contents of a 1933 volume of the Texas Archeological and Palentological Society Bulletin--that's old Doc Ray, the second listing:
- The Importance of Texas as an Archeological Field, by Dr. Warren King Moorehead
- Multiple Burials in Stone Cist Mounds of the Abilene Region, by Dr. Cyrus N. Ray
- Notes on Five Texas Crania, by Dr. Ernest A. Hooton
- Excavation of Saddleback Ruin, by Dr. W. C. Holden
- Flint—Its Occurrence, Composition and Patina, by Henry E. Elrod
- Sandals of the Big Bend Culture with Additional Notes Concerning Basket Maker Evidence, by Victor J Smith
- A Metate Factory in New Mexico, by Eileen E. Alves
- Some Pipes of East Texas, by A. T. Jackson
- Some Archeological Fields Near the City of Mexico, bv Col. M. L. Crimmins
- Field Notes and Reviews
- Secretary-Treasurer's Report
- List of Members
Dr. Ray was a several-times-a-week regular customer of the magazine stand. We also regularly put magazines and newspapers back for him, always his Scientific American, and his weekly Wall Street Journal, and his New York Times Sunday edition. Ever since my brother bought the magazine stand I had waited on Dr. Ray. He was a man of few words. He always had a very serious concerned look on his face. He never smiled. He was always wearing what seemed to be the same suit, a light blue suit, its jacket pockets always stuffed with papers that stuck out of them--some newspapers, but others looking like just sheets of typing paper--envelopes, too. He would come into the magazine rack area and go through several different magazines before finally coming over to the check-out counter and asking for his magazines and papers we were holding for him. He'd pay and then exit.
So one day the cigarette lighter repair guy was up front drinking a Dr. Pepper and talking golf with me when Dr. Ray came in. The cigarette lighter repair guy told me, "Keep your eye on old Doc Ray. Let me show you something...." And with that he sped off toward the back of the store. Directly I heard this soft whistling coming from that direction. And Dr. Ray heard it, too. I watched him as instructed. First his ears pricked up and turned fiery red. Then a very stern look came over his face and he turned toward where the whistling was coming from and stared for the longest. Then the cigarette lighter repair guy whistled again and the Doc started moving military like toward that back end of the store. When he saw there was no one back there, he rushed over to me and demanded his put backs, frantically paid me, and then rushed out of the store. The cigarette lighter repair guy came back up to the front laughing his ass off. "Old Doc Ray. He believes whistlers are spies out to spy on him and eventually do him in. He'll spit on you if you whistle any where near him in the street." "Spit on you?" I asked. "Yeah, spit on you--like you pass him on the sidewalk whistling, he'll follow you and spit at you. I've been told if he's carry something with him, like an umbrella, he'll also take a swing at you with it."
I never saw Doctor Ray spit on anybody, but once more after that I saw him react to a whistler one day in the magazine shop--a sailor had come down from the Trailways Bus Station up the street from the store to get a magazine. While paying for the mag, he noticed an emu-skin tobacco pouch we had on display in our pipe and pipe accessories case. When he asked me how much the pouch was and I told him $25.00, he let out a whistle before saying, "Wow, that's expensive." I immediately looked at Dr. Ray. He was starring meanly at that sailor. I supposed the dude being in uniform had saved him from being attacked and hit by a couple of Dr. Ray's well-aimed loogies--but though the Doc looked ready to attack and spit something about the sailor held him in check. Dr. Ray was patriotic perhaps. Perhaps he'd even been in the service in one of our World Wars. I supposed the old Doc couldn't believe a member of the U.S. Navy could be spying on him--though what better get up to wear had this sailor been a member of that secret society out to spy on and eventually do away with the good Doctor Cyrus N. Ray.
All About Dr. Ray From the Handbook of Texas: www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fraqq
And that was a part of my experience with books and a library and a bookstore and a magazine stand and a tobacco shop. But then one day, my brother, a little downtrodden, and I knew he was in financial trouble, announced to the world of my hometown that he was selling his bookstore to a guy from New York City who had plans of moving the store to a new location (in fact, he moved it into the building that housed my father's picture frame and mirror shop). The magazine stand and tobacco shop were to be closed for good.
The bookstore's and magazine shop's last day was a very sad day for me. I would surely miss the work, the popularity it brought me at school, the power it gave me, and of course the many characters and their tales and advices and quirks I had met and established a connection to over those two and a half years--all of which made a profound impression on me--and had a lot to do with my future, though at the time I didn't know that.
I've always been at home surrounded by bookshelves--my mother even had a magazine rack in order to display her collection of magazines built into the wall of the great sunroom my parents built on the back of our house--a rack filled with seemingly every magazine my mother had ever bought or subscribed to since she was young--she saved them like they were treasures.
And for the first 18 years of my life I was around books and magazines and newspapers and pipes and pipe tobacco and all of the brands of cigarettes and the guy who repaired cigarette lighters (his name was Cullen) who sat in the back of the shop at his little workbench with the magnifying glass that was also a light and all his various plastic boxes that held his lighter parts. And I had access to all the magazines and I especially always read every new issue of Down Beat and Metronome the music magazines that at that time were devoted exclusively to jazz--and jazz by then had become one of my soul's fondest pleasures and my own mental eagerness to learn all about jazz and the jazz men and women and even articles on how to play jazz on various instruments--this when I was learning to play jazz piano. I also read Scientific American, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Saturday Review regularly. AND, also, I had access to the "pounds of butter" we kept hidden under the cash-register counter--"pounds of butter" being the code word for the nudist colony magazines (Sunbathing magazine was one I remember) and one or two Tijuana Bibles leftover from the old magazine shop owner's day. Now memories are flooding back upon me. The Coca-Cola ice box that held all those wonderful soda pops. The many big round glass jars of Planter's peanuts or Tom's roasted peanuts or Lance peanut butter and cheese crackers. Or the little oven we heated up the packaged sandwiches in. Or the many boxes of cigars we kept in the big cigar humidor that sat to the right of the cash-register counter.
Six months after my brother died, I received several boxes of things he'd left especially for me. In one box I found several items from the old book store--paper sacks with the store's name on them, for instant--and from the magazine/tobacco shop I uncovered an old wooden cigar box. A Max Seller cigar box. Max Seller cigars were made by the M. Trelles Company of New Orleans. We had one customer for Max Sellers, an insurance man named Max. He'd always come in the shop saying, "A box of Max Smellers, please, Wolfie Boy." The box is made of cedar wood. There is still some bits of tobacco in it. The only object in it was a penny that had been "smashed," as we put, by a train...you put the penny on the railroad tracks as the train was approaching, then when the train ran over the penny, you went and found it and showed it off proudly the next day at school. My brother had put this penny in it I was sure. It was he who when I was 10 taught me how to put pennies on railroad tracks. I could barely make out the date on the penny. It was 1923, the year of my brother's birth. It's odd, isn't it, how relative all things are.
By the time I enrolled in college, my brother's book store was a thing of the past. The guy from New York City (Bill) who bought the store became tolerant of me hanging around his new store, which was right next door to my dad's shop. I talked New York City with him. I knew a bit about it since my stepgrandfather was a New York City native, but oh how I longed to come to New York City after I'd have long talks with Bill, sitting in that old chaise-lounge, yep, the same one from my brother's store--the one on which the wonderful Ronnie had shown me the basics of how to seduce a woman, oh how I wanted to be in New York City. What broke up my friendship with this guy who'd bought my brother's bookstore? One day I came in to talk NYC with Bill and my eyes immediately landed on a new book he had displayed prominently. It was Mezz Mezzrow's Really the Blues. The minute I saw it, I had to have it, but it was $7.95, a price that was way too expensive for a kid like me. So what I did, I talked Bill into letting me take it home and read it, which I did. It took me only three days to absorb that wonderful book from stem to stern. When I took the book back to Bill, I was expecting to get into a long discussion of the book, and jazz music, and jazz in New York City. Instead, Bill took one look at the book, opened it haphazardly and then turned on me with a vengeance--that same New York City asshole attitude I'd already experienced with my New York City stepgrandfather. "You, little son of a bitch," this NYC asshole said meanly and extra-loudly. "You've ruined this book...look!" I had unconsciously marked my various stopping places in the book by bending down the corners of the pages. "I can't sell this as new now when it's obvious somebody has read the book already...bending down the fucking corners...didn't you learn anything working with your brother? I'm sure he has never bent down a corner of page of a book however old it is. You don't treat books like that." That day I walked out of that bookstore really hurt but pissed off, too--like I say, I was already tolerant of that New York City asshole attitude--but it had embarrassed me so much, I never again set foot in that store nor did I ever again say even a "Hi" to Bill--and I saw him several times after that. Hell, out of meanness, I even coaxed his strange but beautiful New York City daughter to go to the drive-in movies with me. As a result of that one date--and I really dug her, too--and she thrilled me with her urbanity--she let me tongue kiss her and encouraged me to feel her breasts--but more thrilling eventually was the fact that during that one date she introduced me to the World of the Beats--the Beatniks as they were ridiculously called (because of Sputnik, by the bye, in case you didn't know)--to the poetry of Ginsberg and Patchen; to Kerouac; to Spoken Word recordings; the practice of chanting; to coffee houses; and the art of playing the bongos. She and her brother were Beats. They both wore berets. He, a kid now mind you, smoked a pipe. They both wore black all the time. I only had one date with her, then I went off to college and though I returned home on breaks and such, I never saw any of that old crowd from those book store and magazine shop days. My brother by the time I went to college was moving to Dallas to renew his journalism career with the big Dallas afternoon newspaper.
And then I went off to college--that's what you did in my day--you "went off to college"--and thank the Lawdy Lord I "went off" to this college. The reason I picked the college I finally went to? In the catalog one statement jumped out at me: this college's library was the second-largest library in the Texas university system--next to the University of Texas Library, which all Texans knew was second only to Harvard in the number of books and important collections it had.
My first day at college, my parents drove me there, I was wide-eyedly amused by all the wonderful buildings that you drove through to get to the administration building where you registered, etc., a building that copycatted Independence Hall. Why, Independence Hall? The whole time I went there, I never heard. In fact, no one but me even noticed the damn building looked like Independence Hall, but it did, dammit. My first question I asked of a student guide was, "Where's the Library," and she pointed across the street from the Ad building, "that's it over there." And it was a huge building. And it looked like a library, too. I could see the stacks through the buildings big arched windows. I couldn't wait. The minute I got my Library card, I headed over there. It looked and smelled and tasted like my grandmother's old Carnegie Library--the smell of books--and the people who live in the library--and my first trip back into the stacks of that swell library, I met a girl...a tall beauty of a girl, sitting reading a book of Tennessee Williams's plays at one of those same-old narrow library desks with the green-shaded reading lamp hung over it. She wanted to be an actress, she said. "I'm GOING to be a writer," I proudly told her.
for The Daily Growler