Archive for the 'Caribbean' Category

No Ways Tired

from & for sugar

We Are Accomplished

Pilgrims Progress

F. Scott Fitzgerald saw it. To the bottom of every bottle. Which, early—44—killed him.

No matter. He got it right. Wrote the Great American Novel. The Great Gatsby. Which ends with this:

Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away. Until yesgradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.

And as I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther . . . . And one fine morning—

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

The green light, it will never be attained, as Fitzgerald knew, on this continent, by white people. Because they do not belong here. It was a mistake, for them to ever to have come. To this place. Because it is not their place.

The green light, they can bask in it—the white people—when, “boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” they return to from where they came. Where they should, forever, have remained.

 

 

 

the little bird; all that there is

Real

Ofelia lived in two worlds. One was the ordinary level of ration lines and bus lines, of streets of rubble, of the blue trickle of electricity that allowed Fidel to flicker on the santrealiatelevision screen, of oppressive heat that made her two daughters spread like butterflies on the cool tiles of the floor. The other was a deeper universe as real as the veins beneath the skin, of the voluptuous Oshun, maternal Yemaya, thundering Chango, spirits good and bad that brought blood to the face, taste to the mouth, color to the eye and dwelled in everyone if they were evoked. Just as drums carried a kola seed that was the soul of the drum, that only spoke when the drum was played, every person carried a spirit that spoke through their own heartbeat if they would only listen. So Ofelia Osorio carried the fire of the sun hidden behind her dark mask and saw with a penetrating light the double worlds of Havana.

—Martin Cruz Smith, Havana Bay

The Said Admiral Is Dead

(For, as ever, mi Anacaona, and all the Taino. And also for all and every life extinguished by racist genocidal killers, such as the unnamed victim of the unrepentant ARacistPoet, member in good standing of the smirking laughing gas-chamber StormKos, a.k.a. the DailyKlan.)

They say it came first from Africa, carried in the screams of the enslaved; that it was the death bane of the Taino, uttered just as one world perished and another began; that it was a demon drawn into Creation through the nightmare door that was cracked open in the Antilles. Fuku americanus, or more colloquially, fuku—generally a curse or a doom of some kind; specifically the Curse and the Doom of the New World. Also called the fuku of the Admiral because the Admiral was both its midwife and one of its great European victims; despite “discovering” the New World the Admiral died miserable and syphilitic, hearing (dique) divine voices. In Santo Domingo, the Land He Loved Best, the Admiral’s very name has become synonymous with both kinds of fuku, little and large; to say his name aloud or even to hear it is to invite calamity on the heads of you and yours.

No matter what its name or provenance, it is believed that the arrival of Europeans on Hispaniola unleashed the fuku on the world, and we’ve all been in the shit ever since. Santo Domingo might be fuku’s Kilometer Zero, its port of entry, but we are all of us its children, whether we know it or not . . . .

—Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Much about the Admiral is not known. Where he was born, and when: these are not known. The arc of his early years, when and what he studied at the University of Pavia: these, too, are not known. Where he obtained his ideas of geography, this is not known. The Admiral, it developed, did not know geography: he believed, to the end of his days, that where he landed in 1492 marked the far eastern fringe of Asia.

What is known is that when the Admiral stepped ashore on Hispaniola, he brought original sin to the New World. For the policies he pursued there exterminated that island’s people, the Taino. Every one.

All the Indians of these islands were allotted by the Admiral . . . to all the settlers who came to live in these parts; and in the opinion of many who saw what happened and speak of it as eyewitnesses, the Admiral, when he discovered these islands, passed sentence of death on a million or more Indians, men and women, of all ages, adults and children. Of this number and of those since born, it is believed that there do not survive today, in this year 1548, 500 Indians, adults and children, who are natives and who are offspring of the stock of those he found on arrival.”

Today, “the Taino survive in the shape of one’s eyes, the outline of one’s face, the idiom of one’s language.” All the rest, is gone.

furthur=>

Sign Of A Local Nigger Unravelin’

Michelangelo was a sculptor. That’s all of who he was. The rich rat bastards, they kept paying him for paintings—he didn’t want to paint, but painting was where the money was. So, he painted.

A sculptor—what he really was—involved selecting and regarding a block of marble. Seeing what it was meant to be. Knowing the interior. The finished let the slaveglowing being. Then, having to go, through time and effort and time, the tiresome endless work, of bringing out what was already there. The already happened.

Chisel.

Chip.

Chip. Chip. Chip.

In the last decades of his life, Michelangelo approached marble, chipped away for a time, then stood back, saying he was finished.

No one, at the time, could see how he could possibly say that he was the least bit finished.

To this day, people do not understand what he meant. By “finished.”

His, here, is an avenue of art, that no one, over the past umpteen-hundred years, has pursued. Because it appears to be nothing but “unfinished.” Like, maybe, probably, he just gave up.

Bollocks. This is the man who had already used chisel and stone to depict the most precise and divine representations of human beings in the entire history of sculpture. Before, or since.

So, when he moved elsewhere, people should have paid attention.

But they didn’t. And they still don’t.

The “unfinished” Michelangelo pictured above is called “Awakening Slave.” From the title alone, it should be obvious, to anyone employing brain cells, that it is absolutely right, that the slave is unable to fully emerge from the marble. Michelangelo’s choice, here, was absolutely right.

He said that the marble spoke to him. And, when it said, stop carving, he stopped.

True artists don’t listen to the bullshit. They listen to the art.

Writing is like regarding a block of marble. The task is to chip away the bullshit, the effluvia, the waste, revealing, relating, only what is.

That is why, when I was 16, and first regarded the “unfinished” sculptures of Michelangelo, I knew exactly what they were about. He had gone beyond the mere perfection of form. To regarding, and representing, perfection attempting to emerge, yet held back, by the muck.

Now that I am older, I see a second reason why he went with the “unfinished.” Because, for decades, he’d put it all out there, in the way that they wanted to see it. Yet, they still didn’t get it. So: fuck ‘em. Go with the quantum. The finished/unfinished. The way it really is.

So, uh, this piece, that follows, I had grand finished plans for the thing, some weeks ago, when I wanted to both Snowden, and Zimmerman. I was first concerned about those in my karass so hurt by the Zimmerman verdict. And, next, those, also in my karass, so wounded by the Snowden revelations. Unfortunately, I don’t think I ever got around to serving, in what I have here written, completely, either. Much less both. The piece is unfinished. But I’ve decided to put it out there anyway. In hopes people can regard what is there, and see also into the marble. To what was meant to be. To what is.

(for robin and denise and amazing and adept and time and sephius and conk and tree and trayvon and sooth and seeta and ms. turn-up-your-radio and my pooldar anacaona and she-be-hawaiian-feet and the far rambling planet and all whose skins and souls burn 24/7 with the lies of this nation . . . . ) 

The Snowden uproar has been driven mostly by white people.

In garment-rending frenzy, that maybe government folks, are ear-trumpeting their phone conversations, goggle-eyeing their email.

Like, checking them.

People of color have, generally, been less exercised. Because, from when they first become conscious in this country, in this culture, people of color naturally assume they are being allchecked. Watched. Listened to. Tracked. As a condition of their very lives. Because, everything about their lives, about their history, teaches them that they are.

(The exception was when the Bolivian president’s homeward-bound plane was forced to the ground: people of color, then, particularly south of the border, they for sure, then uproared, over that. Because it was, so humiliatingly, typical of their lives, their history. To wit: white people won’t believe them. Will naturally assume them of involvement in nefariousness. Will physically roust them. Whenever they feel like it. Even if the rousted is the president of a sovereign nation.

(So let it be written. So let it be done.

(Same as it ever was.)

What people of color in this country would like, it is something more basic than freedom from a government-snout snorting about in their email.

What they would like, is a guarantee of physical safety.

That, maybe, they can feel free, to, oh, say, walk to the store, and back again, without getting shot.

And what the Zimmerman verdict tells them is that, once again, this—this is a forlorn hope.

Because what the Zimmerman verdict tells people of color is: no, really, they can’t—still “not yet”—walk to the store and back, without fear of being shot.

And white people, they have no idea, what that means.

To live, day in, day out, every day, like that.

Knowing they might be killed. For just walking the streets.

As they continue to squeal. The white people. About a snout. Maybe in their email.

I received, in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, an email from a person of color, who has succumbed to despair.

Says she:

A lot of what I came up believing, spouted ad nauseam by Jose Marti and Rev Dr. King? I am doubting any of it now. I don’t believe for a New York minute we shall overcome, or “not too long.” This seems like the weakest pabulum and fairy tale imaginable. It’s open season on people of color.

What can I say to her?

Nothing.

furthur=>

En Sus Brazos

Come On

What, in ill thoughts again? Men must endure. Their going hence even as their coming hither. Ripeness is all. Come on.
—William Shakespeare, King Lear
Yossarian was cold, too, and shivering uncontrollably. He felt goose pimples clacking all over him as he gazed down despondently at the grim secret Snowden had spilled all over the messy floor. It was easy to read the message in his entrails. Man was matter, that was Snowden’s secret. Drop him out a window and he’ll fall. Set fire to him and he’ll burn. Bury him and he’ll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was Snowden’s secret. Ripeness was all.
—Joseph Heller, Catch-22
There is a lot to be said about Edward Snowden. Which is why I have, more or less, said nothing at all.
He has wormholed me into the realm of a Grand Unified Theory. And, real hewhen I enter such a realm, I usually end up knowing, but writing nothing at all. That’s just the way it be.
For instance, I know that Snowden marks the apogee of that dark smut the “information society,” the invisible city, the megalopolis, the meta-machine; that he has tossed, unknowingly and unintentionally, a spanner into the whole works, and thereby averted “the collapse into necropolis, the hollowed-out city of the dead.”
For, from here, humans shall return to the flesh.
The machines have always been stupid, and now they are over.
I know this.
Will I someday write about it, coherently, at length, in this, or any other, space?
Probably not.
What I can write about is the pathetic place humans are in now.
Where Snowden’s prolonged hole-up in the “prison hotel” of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, demonstrates that every nation on this Earth is, essentially, embarrassingly, exactly the same.
All of them have national anthems. All of them have flags. All of them have passports. And all of them accept, and enforce, without thinking, a group agreement that holds that no one can travel, across “borders,” without a “passport,” or some similar ludicrous document.
Though, prior to WWI, less than 100 years ago, passports were not required at all for international travel. Humans could go where they wilt. Even into a country, that their country was at war with, could they travel.
But, today, every false, ephemeral construct knownwhat the fuck? as a “nation,” requires that human beings traveling to and fro possess a passport, or at least some sort of “refugee” document.
And, at present, in re Snowden, all of them, all of these false, ephemeral constructs known as “nations,” are variously wriggling, in their various panties, about how they variously just can’t go, into the “prison hotel,” take Snowden by the hand, and say: “Yeah. You’re a free human being. Alive on this earth. So am I. Come with me.”
What utter horseshit.
Can’t there just be one “nation,” on this planet, that doesn’t buy into this insanity?
Apparently not.
I thought that I would never be more exasperated than when observing some G8 or G20 confab where representatives from, say, India and China, stiffly arrive in suit-and-tie monkey suits, the de rigueur uniform of primates from the West.
What the fuck?
But now: there is this nonsense.
Edward Snowden is a free human being, alive on this earth.
He doesn’t need shit, to go anywhere.
He is a living human being, of flesh and blood.
The “nations,” that demand of him a passport, are “hollowed-out cities of the dead.” False, ephemeral entities. Products of temporary group agreements. Borders constantly shifting. Nothing like Real.
Gaze at a globe of today. Then gaze at one of 20 years ago. And one of 20 years before that. Never the same. Never remotely Real.
The “United States,” which has the effrontery to claim Edward Snowden, it is dead as a doornail. It died even as it was born.

Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away. Until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held milohis breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder. And as I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther . . . . And one fine morning—

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

My colleague and I, one Memorial Day, we buried the United States, for good.
We spoke over it these words.
Or course, none of these words I’ve here inscribed get anywhere near actually moving Snowden from the “prison hotel.”
That’s why the false, ephemeral “nations,” so love the “hollowed-out cities of the dead,” that are the “invisible city,” the “megalopolis,” of the intertubes.
Because people here but furiously gum Cheetos, and pound their keyboards, all day, and all of the night, and when they’ve sufficiently set their hair, and the hair of others, on fire, they think they’ve really done something.
When they haven’t done shit. Except wank into a wet limp bullhorn. That splatters but impotent effluvia, into other Cheetos-stained basements.
I saw Edward Snowden today. He got on the bus.
He wasn’t, of course, the “real” Edward Snowden. But he looked an awful lot like him.
As do 500,000 young slim white boys out there.
Russia has said that it will not turn Snowden over to the US. Of course: Russia has never extradited anybody, to anywhere.
The 500,000 young slim white boys in this country who resemble Snowden, they could travel freely to Russia.
Travel out to the airport, and blend Snowden in with them.
Then, all, move to the border of Russia, to the Black Sea. Move into several hundred, several thousand, boats. Spread out, wild, all over the seven seas.
Which boat has the “real” Snowden?
Who is the “real” Snowden?
Who knows?
All, are:
knights in armor
bent on chivalry
just like honey baby
from the bee
A thought. Anyway.
Ripeness: as all.
Come on.

Fore

Golf is so Wrong, it’s hard for me to be coherent about it.

Once upon a time, I did pen a lengthy and somewhat lucid three-part jihad on the Outrage Of Golf. For one of the many newspapers that lived and died around here. Probably the papered remains, they are down in the Manor basement. Somewhere. Maybe, someday, I’ll run across them. And, maybe, thenbaby, I’ll re-screed the jihad, here.

For the nonce, though: golf, briefly, was devised by bored Scottish sheepherders, casting around for something to do while waiting for their erections to return. At which time they could again commence buggering the sheep.

As Mark Twain observed in this space, a wee while back, penile erectile recovery, it can take some time. And so there were many idle hours, for these sad-sack shriveled-scrotum Scottish men. Out there on the moors. Glumly waiting for peter, to arise again. Buffeted by the wind, encloaked in the mist. Desultorily banging with sticks a small ball. Through the sheepshorn grass. Around sand-sweeps and puddled-places. Into various and sundry gophered holes. Waiting. Waiting. For the rise.

It is a Known Science Fact that Scottish sheepherders inserting their man-sticks into the nether holes of sheep is how incubated syphilis. Pace those the-horror/the-horror people of West Virginia, syphilis marks the nadir of the Scottish contribution to Mankind.

Well. Except for golf.

After all: today there is a cure for syphilis. But there does not seem to be any cure at all for golf.

I once knew a man who worked many years as a groundskeeper on a golf course situated in California’s Central Valley.

This man: he was a good man, a wise man, a feeling man.

And so, the obscenity of his occupation, it hurt—hard—his brain.

To assuage the pain, he first, and for well over a decade, consumed, pretty much every hour, on the hour, mass quantities of the strongest mind-ripping marijuana. The paralyzing effects of this uber-gage transported him to places where few humans go. For instance, once, when, for reasons I can no longer remember, we were all sitting around watching Dumbo, he blurted out: “I am not a human being! I am an elephant!” The man also became obsessed with thewow, man notion that things here on Terra are so of the bungled and the botched because this world was designed and implemented by a “rookie god.” The creature had had no practice—this was the being’s first try—and so s/he bumbled out a planet utterly festooned with mammoth and grievous boners.

Eventually the marijuana could no longer do the job. And so he nestled next into methamphetamine. Which inevitably resulted in the day when he entered that congenital meth Reality in which it is absolutely Necessary to hurl the couch through the vast expanse of the full-length plate-glass window in the living room.

His wife, who did not join him in this Reality, in turn hurled him out of the house. He packed everything he owned into a small station wagon, and went into exile in Los Molinos. This is a small northstate community best known, to Those Who Know, for the Ewell-like family who dwelled for many years out by the town dump. The mother had died eons back, but there remained a father, and also many daughters. And so, each year, at least one of the daughters would come shuffling, somewhat shamefaced, out of the woods, charged with some errand like the family shopping, and bearing a newborn.

Yeehaw.

The reason why his occupation as golf-course greenskeeper so grievously affected this feeling man, so much so that he was eventually compelled to hurl his couch through his living-room window, is because, as he knew, siting a golf course, pretty much anywhere outside of Scotland, is an act of Insanity.

Golf sprang, naturally, from the place of its birth. Flat and/or gently undulating earth, covered with thick grass, watered by the clouds, close-cropped by sheep. Here and there, scattered about, smallish pools of water; bowls of sand. Maybe a spindly stand or two of trees. Some holes.

Golf, therefore, is fine—in its place. A place where sheep steadily crop the grass—as they do to this day on many golf courses in Scotland—and where the elements quite naturally dump down the youve_been_trumped_stillliteral rivers of water required to keep living and thriving the course and the greens.

It’s a normal thing, golf, for that sort of misty moist place.

But, as the photo there to the left demonstrates, golf, even in its native place, has, today, been brutally buggered into a place beyond absurdity, or even the Sane. Unto a shrieking maddened Court of Chaos, requiring that we must needs close our eyes, and then inject, into every available artery and vein, only the most potent of narcotics, so as to rid ourselves of the Pain.

furthur=>

The River

Holes

and i can hear the distant thunder
of a million unheard souls
of a million unheard souls
watch each one reach for creature comforts
for the filling of their holes
for the filling of their holes

—Peter Gabriel

The phone rang; friend S—; calling from his car.

I believe there is probably a law against that now: phoning and driving. But S—, like most those in my karass, has never been about laws.

He was reporting in upon returning from two weeks in Costa Rica. He had stayed throughout that time in his wife’s village, which has oopsonly a tenuous connection to the modern world.

He was having difficulty readjusting. To life in the fast lane.

His narrative was punctuated by periodic outbursts involving his fellow motorists. All of whom he denounced as “maniacs,” and who seemed to be about, in some unconscious but infuriating way, menacing his life.

He said that one day, back there in the village, he saw two of his wife’s uncles walking down the street, hand in hand. And they looked like they were in the grips of some sublime drug experience. Except they weren’t on anything at all.

He said the people in the village basically involve themselves in eating, sleeping, making love, and being with friends and family. And that’s about it.

They seem much happier in it, he said. Healthier, too. Physically and mentally.

In trying to come up with some Reason in favor of a life of phoning while driving, he said: “Of course, up here I don’t have to worry about the lights flickering on and off. And when I drive to the store, I don’t have to worry about the car falling into some hole.”

Well . . . hold up there, hoss.

According to retiring Transportation Secretary Roy LaHood, “America is one big pothole right now.”

LaHood laments that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is merrily taking out the nation’s roads, because teabaggers in Congress refuse to spend money on anything that doesn’t involve killing or deporting brown people, or furthering the holy mission of Occupy Womb Street.

“At one time we were the leader in infrastructure,” he said. “We built the interstate system. It’s the best road system in the world, and we’re proud of it. But we’re falling way behind other countries, because we have not made the investments.”

“Investments” means taxes. And, as is well known, increasing taxes is about as popular these days hole huntingamong ‘Muricans as moving Chester the Molester into Little Johnny’s bedroom.
And so the nations’s roads and bridges and such are devolving to that state described in the second act of Earth Abides, after time and nature had had their way with them, through some twenty years or so of human inattention. When, basically, you needed a reinforced jeep, many shovels, and a serious winch, to get anywhere at all.
And now there is this scarifying phenomenon known as “sinkholes.” A menace I have just recently become acquainted with. Upon a massive sinkhole opening up under a house in Florida, and swallowing a man in his bed.
Apparently Florida is “geologically unstable.” Consisting, in the main, of porous limestone, which is a “weakly soluble mineral formed from calcified deposits of sea creatures.”
These sea creatures, they do not want stuff built on them. Because humans persist in building stuff on them anyway, the limestone gets Sad, and sighs into Holes.
And this Sighing is occurring with increasing frequency. It is said that Florida insurers received 24,671 claims for sinkhole damage between 2006 and 2010 alone. That’s an average of nearly 17 claims a day.
This means that at least 17 sinkholes pepper the Floridian earth every 24 hours.
Generally, when a person walks the earth, they do so in the knowledge that there is no real chance the earth will collapse beneath their feet.
This is apparently no longer true. At least in Florida.
And, as we know from Election Day 2000: as Florida goes, so goes the nation.
You know, one of the reasons I eschew boats and aircraft, is light holesbecause air and water are not natural elements for human beings. Humans are designed to breathe air, and walk on the earth.
Bad enough, that for many decades now humans have persisted in putting earth in the air. But now, in building stuff where the earth doesn’t want stuff to go, the earth is just giving up, and collapsing into holes.
And so, every step you take, may be your last.
Into the hole you go.
There are a lot of holes, in the modern world.
Humans, I think, are beginning to know just how many holes it takes to fill their Albert Halls.
i read the news today oh boy
four thousand holes in blackburn lancashire
and though the holes were rather small
they had to count them all
now they know how many holes it takes to fill the albert hall
i’d love to turn you on

—John Lennon

The Said Admiral Is Dead

(I suppose I must have been consumed by a brain parasite, that I didn’t timely post this year’s version of this piece here. But, no matter. Mistah Admiral: he—still—dead.

(For, as ever, Anacaona, and all the Taino.)

They say it came first from Africa, carried in the screams of the enslaved; that it was the death bane of the Taino, uttered just as one world perished and another began; that it was a demon drawn into Creation through the nightmare door that was cracked open in the Antilles. Fuku americanus, or more colloquially, fuku—generally a curse or a doom of some kind; specifically the Curse and the Doom of the New World. Also called the fuku of the Admiral because the Admiral was both its midwife and one of its great European victims; despite “discovering” the New World the Admiral died miserable and syphilitic, hearing (dique) divine voices. In Santo Domingo, the Land He Loved Best, the Admiral’s very name has become synonymous with both kinds of fuku, little and large; to say his name aloud or even to hear it is to invite calamity on the heads of you and yours.

No matter what its name or provenance, it is believed that the arrival of Europeans on Hispaniola unleashed the fuku on the world, and we’ve all been in the shit ever since. Santo Domingo might be fuku’s Kilometer Zero, its port of entry, but we are all of us its children, whether we know it or not . . . .

—Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Much about the Admiral is not known. Where he was born, and when: these are not known. The arc of his early years, when and what he studied at the University of Pavia: these, too, are not known. Where he obtained his ideas of geography, this is not known. The Admiral, it developed, did not know geography: he believed, to the end of his days, that where he landed in 1492 marked the far eastern fringe of Asia.

What is known is that when the Admiral stepped ashore on Hispaniola, he brought original sin to the New World. For the policies he pursued there exterminated that island’s people, the Taino. Every one.

All the Indians of these islands were allotted by the Admiral . . . to all the settlers who came to live in these parts; and in the opinion of many who saw what happened and speak of it as eyewitnesses, the Admiral, when he discovered these islands, passed sentence of death on a million or more Indians, men and women, of all ages, adults and children. Of this number and of those since born, it is believed that there do not survive today, in this year 1548, 500 Indians, adults and children, who are natives and who are offspring of the stock of those he found on arrival.”

Today, “the Taino survive in the shape of one’s eyes, the outline of one’s face, the idiom of one’s language.” All the rest, is gone.

furthur=>

Twitch And Smoke And Rotate Endlessly

(Around about the 4th of July Meteor Blades put up “Thoughts Ahead Of Independence Day,” over on the Orange Place.

(That was a good Diary. It reminded me somewhat of something I’d penned myself, back in the 1990s. Not nearly as polished and precise, mine, as Meteor’s work; but then, after all, he is he, and I am me.

(Then, later that very same day—because sometimes that’s the way these things happen—I actually ran across the thing that I’d long-ago written. And I thought maybe I’d put it up for July 4th.

(But then that seemed like so much work. To retype it for the tubes.

(So I abandoned that idea: because, basically, these days, I’m fat and happy and lazy, and pretty consistently vote “no” on anything that seems like work.

(But then, for reasons that best remain obscured, I was galvanized to enter the thing—changed some, naturally, because the intertubes allows one to do that—after all.

(A day or 18 late, of course. And several hundred thousand dollars short.

(What’s interesting to me now, about this piece, is how angry I was then. Because I’m just not that angry anymore.

(But that’s a different Diary.)

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

I write along a single line: I never get off it. I said that you were never to kill anyone, and I meant it.

—Kenneth Patchen

“They’ve gone crazy.”

High above Second Street, in his nook in his cranny in the Chico News & Review editorial sukkah, journalissimo Jason Ross stood erect in full naked fulmination.

“They’re acting like it’s VJ Day, for chrissake,” he fumed. “And all they’re doing is putting up a flag. Ads all over the radio, live television coverage, Bruce Sessions beating the drum hourly—these people have lost all control.

“Look,” he demanded, freeing paper pinned to his wall. “Look at this.” Thrusts forth a Calvin Klein image, pleading to peddle Obsession for Men, flashing a giant b&w naked male torso: above, the head peers downward; below, a hand stretches open, and taut, the front of a pair of briefs.

That’s what they’re doing, with all this flag bullshit,” Ross declaims. “Looking at their cocks. That’s all it is.”

Though Ross is a direct descendant of the dowdy dowager who sewed the first stars and stripes, in a fetching but ultimately futile attempt to seduce George Washington, he was not at all impressed with the day’s flag-waving affair.

For this day, out in the asphalt lot afront Ron and Nancy’s, the Park Avenue steak & scotch joint where cigarette smoke goes to die, a zealous swarm of north valley idolworshippers planned to raise a massive banner in honor of some nonsense known as “America.”

Karma—and, more urgently, the need for money—had called on Billy Buck Naked and I to cover the erection. We’d stopped by the office on the way to the event to grab a camera, and to receive last-minute instructions from the international communist cabal that controls the CN&R.

“If there are going to be dicks on display I guess we better forget the pictures,” Naked now mourned. “Speer’ll never print them. I used to work here; I know.”

“Don’t worry about it,” I said. “These are Republicans; it’s against their religion to get naked. A lot of these characters aren’t really attired like you and I anyway. Bernie Richter, Wally Herger, Ted Hubert—those people don’t change clothes; they shed.”

“Then let’s get going,” Naked urged. “I don’t want to miss the blessing of the tanks.”

furthur=>

America’s Last Stand

“I’ll tell you why the Capri is my favorite casino. You know, the Mafia hired an actor, George Raft, to front for the Capri. Raft acted a gangster so many times people thought he was. He thought he was. Comes the night of the Revolution crowds start looting casinos. One mob heads for the Capri. Who goes out on the steps but Raft himself and says in his gangster voice, ‘No punks are busting up my casino.’ And they went away. He chased them. America’s last stand.”

—Martin Cruz Smith, Havana Bay

I Flew With A Zombie

In the November 2011 Harper’s, pharmacopeia correspondent Hamilton Morris recounts his journey to Haiti, there to attempt to duplicate the decades-old exploits of Wade Davis, and, like Davis, return with evidence of zombies and zombie powder.

Morris’ sojourn becomes a farce and a fiasco, though he does learn that that these days zombies are enslaved before computers—”they work on the computers,” he is told, “making accounts, like spread-sheets; they make Excel”—and that some of the island’s women will fly if presented with “six tubes of Ultra Strength Bengay.”

However, the most intriguing information Morris unearths may be that NASA was involved in Davis’ research, the agency seeking zombie powder in order to zombify astronauts headed for Mars.

Yes. This is Real. For details, follow along beyond the “furthur.”

furthur=>

The Said Admiral Is Dead

They say it came first from Africa, carried in the screams of the enslaved; that it was the death bane of the Tainos, uttered just as one world perished and another began; that it was a demon drawn into Creation through the nightmare door that was cracked open in the Antilles. Fuku americanus, or more colloquially, fuku—generally a curse or a doom of some kind; specifically the Curse and the Doom of the New World. Also called the fuku of the Admiral because the Admiral was both its midwife and one of its great European victims; despite “discovering” the New World the Admiral died miserable and syphilitic, hearing (dique) divine voices. In Santo Domingo, the Land He Loved Best, the Admiral’s very name has become synonymous with both kinds of fuku, little and large; to say his name aloud or even to hear it is to invite calamity on the heads of you and yours.

No matter what its name or provenance, it is believed that the arrival of Europeans on Hispaniola unleashed the fuku on the world, and we’ve all been in the shit ever since. Santo Domingo might be fuku’s Kilometer Zero, its port of entry, but we are all of us its children, whether we know it or not . . . . 

—Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Much about the Admiral is not known. Where he was born, and when: these are not known. The arc of his early years, when and what he studied at the University of Pavia: these, too, are not known. Where he obtained his ideas of geography, this is not known. The Admiral, it developed, did not know geography: he believed, to the end of his days, that where he landed in 1492 marked the far eastern fringe of Asia.

What is known is that when the Admiral stepped ashore on Hispaniola, he brought Original Sin to the New World. The policies he pursued there exterminated that island’s people, the Taino. Every one.

All the Indians of these islands were allotted by the Admiral . . . to all the settlers who came to live in these parts; and in the opinion of many who saw what happened and speak of it as eyewitnesses, the Admiral, when he discovered these islands, passed sentence of death on a million or more Indians, men and women, of all ages, adults and children. Of this number and of those since born, it is believed that there do not survive today, in this year 1548, 500 Indians, adults and children, who are natives and who are offspring of the stock of those he found on arrival.”

Today, “the Taino survive in the shape of one’s eyes, the outline of one’s face, the idiom of one’s language.” All the rest, is gone.

From Hispaniola, the Admiral and his works brought destruction too to all the native peoples of all the rest of the Americas—north, central, and south.

And to replace the falling bodies of the Taino, who died extracting gold and silver for him, the Admiral birthed the transatlantic slave trade, bringing to the New World in bondage people from the place where human beings were born.

Wrote the Admiral to his sponsors, Ferdinand and Isabella:

“We can send from here, in the name of the Holy Trinity, all the slaves and brazil-wood which could be sold. If the information I have is correct, we can sell 4000 slaves, who will be worth, at least, 20 millions, and 4000 hundred-weight of brazil-wood, which will be worth just as much . . . I went recently to the Cape Verde Islands where the people have a large slave trade, and they are constantly sending ships to barter for slaves, and ships are always in harbor . . . Although they die now, they will not always die. The Negroes and the Canary Islanders died at first[.]“

The Admiral also loved him some pope, another of his sponsors. And wanted to help him flog their god to other parts of the globe, there to kill and convert people. In his journal of December 26, 1492, the Admiral writes that he hopes to gather up from the New World gold “in so great quantity that the Sovereigns within three years would undertake and prepare to go and conquer the Holy Places.” In a letter sent directly to the pope, the Admiral offered to himself lead a crusading force of some 110,000 men.

But that was not to be. The Admiral was eventually returned in chains to Spain, accused of misgoverning his New World. Fallen from favor, he spent his declining years in litigation against the king, seeking to regain lost wealth and titles. Further, he thought he should receive 10% of all profits Spain derived from the New World, and demanded same; the king told him to bugger right off. In combating the crown, the Admiral became a nonperson. And when he died, the official chronicle of the inland northern town where he expired, Valladolid, did not acknowledge his passing. It was not until several weeks later that a town document noted simply: “the said Admiral is dead.”

We See You

I occasionally grouse, here in my dotage, that, because I am in my dotage, I am living through the truth expressed by Arthur Schopenhauer, when he wrote:

Whoever lives two or three generations, feels like the spectator who, during the fair, sees the performances of all kinds of jugglers and, if he remains seated in the booth, sees them repeated two or three times. As the tricks were meant only for one performance, they no longer make any impression after the illusion and novelty have vanished.

Most recently I invoked this Schopenhauer in noting that in Afghanistan the Bomb Men are rerunning the Vietnam-era Hellerian absurdity of “it became necessary to destroy the town to save it,” and while observing that the racists and related ignoranti who flock to smoothbrains like Sarah Palin are indistinguishable—down to the very words they commonly employ—from the knuckle-draggers who once hooted their approval of George Wallace.

Of late I am noticing a somewhat related phenomenon. And that is that They are working like twelve bastards to bring into Real Life various and sundry Horrors that I encountered, when once a wee youth, only as science fiction.

To wit: the skies will soon be filled with demonic winged mechanical devices that will see and report on anything I might say or do, a la the fever-dream imaginings of Ray Bradbury and Philip K. Dick. And they’ll be watching and reporting on you, too.

furthur=>

Tosspot Nation

Holliwell finished his packing alone. When his bag was locked and standing by the front door, he went into the kitchen and made himself a strong bloody mary. He drank it by the living-room window, looking out at the front yard where his magnolia hung snowbound and his mountain ash stood tortured and skeletal in an envelope of ice.

He finished the first drink and then had another, not bothering with breakfast. By the time he put his suitcase in the back of the Volvo, he was high enough to stop at the smoke shop in town and buy his first pack of cig-arettes in a month. Driving to the turnpike, he smoked one cigarette after another.

After the turnpike entrance, he hit the radio and in a mile or two WWVA eased down from space, selling lucky crosses and Christian good fortune. Holliwell tuned it in carefully and between commercials heard a singular musical recitation, delivered in up-country dialect, about a young football player.

The youth on the record was his high school’s star quarterback; it was the Big Game against the school in the next hollow and at half-time the home team was a couple of touchdowns behind. During the half-time break, the boy disappeared from the locker room and he was late returning for the third quarter.

“Where in the hell you been?” demanded the anxious hometown coach, who was decent but hard. He swore at the boy and shoved him toward the line of scrimmage. There then commenced an astonishing display of unforgettable schoolboy ball. The kid played like a young man possessed, and the fans in the little country-and-western town had never seen the like of him. The opposition was devastated, the coach awestruck and penitent. Amid the jubilation outside the showers, he drew the young quarterback quietly aside.

“Coach,” the youth explained, “my father was blind.”

The boy’s father had been blind and for a week had lain upon his deathbed. The boy had been phoning the hospital regularly and during half-time had learned of his father’s death.

The coach cleared his throat. How then to explain the spectacle only just witnessed—the sixty-yard touchdown passes, the seventy-yard scoring runs?

“You see, coach,” the boy said quietly, “it’s the first time he’s ever seen me play.”

By the time WWVA faded out, Holliwell was aware of the tears streaming down his face, staining his tie, wetting his moustache and the stub of his cigarette. He eased the Volvo into the next turnoff, and sat, with the motor running, staring through the windshield at a row of green refuse cans until he had stopped sobbing.

So much for morning drinking.

—Robert Stone, A Flag For Sunrise

Those ignoranti known as the teabaggers, motivated as they are by Fear Of The Black Man, cannot really be expected to think coherently. Not learned, not bright, all that they are proceeds from delusion, from a racist certainty that, as Jill Lepore puts it The Whites Of Their Eyes, “everything about Barack Obama and his administration [is] somehow alarming, as if his election had ripped a tear in the fabric of time.”

The teabaggers’ minders shrewdly wrapped them in the mantle of the American Revolution, because “nothing trumps the Revolution,” and this “conferred upon a scattered, diffuse, and confused movement a degree of legitimacy and the appearance, almost, of coherence.”

But the Revolution as perceived and play-acted by the teabaggers bears no relation to any that ever actually existed in discernible space-time. As Lepore notes, “[w]hat is curious about the Tea Party’s Revolution, though, is that it isn’t just kooky history, it is antihistory.” It is, in a word, fundamentalism: “‘the founding’ is ageless and sacred and to be worshipped; certain historical texts—’the founding documents’—are to be read in the same spirit with which religious fundamentalists read, for instance, the Ten Commandments; the Founding Fathers were divinely inspired; the academic study of history is a conspiracy and, furthermore, blasphemy; political arguments grounded in appeals to the founding documents, as sacred texts, and to the Founding Fathers, as prophets, are therefore incontrovertible.”

All of what the teabaggers are about flows against actual history. The “Founding Fathers,” for instance, were never considered as such, under such a name,until the 1921 inaugural address of Warren G. Harding, who on that occasion also became the first person to pronounce them—falsely—divinely inspired. This in a speech described by H. L Mencken as follows: “It reminds me of a string of wet sponges. It reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it.” Harding himself a president so bad he was commonly proclaimed history’s worst, until the electorate began elevating Bushes. Harding is best remembered as the Bill Clinton of his time (“it is a good thing I am not a woman,” he once confessed, “as I would always be pregnant, for I cannot say no”), a man who was once memorably denounced by journalist William White as a “he-harlot,” and who while president frequently smuggled into the White House Nan Britton, who first conceived an attraction for Harding when she was 12, and who gave birth to his daughter Elizabeth Ann in 1919, the year before Harding entered the White House. Harding and Britton most often engaged in sexual congress in a darkened coat closet off the Oval Office: then he would send her away, stocking-tops stuffed with money; she gathered in additional coin via an office job proffered by Harding’s friends at US Steel.

None of these inconvenient truths rattle around the brainpans of the teabaggers. Just as there is no room in their noggins for the historical truth that such teabagging termagants as Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Christine O’Kooky, and Sharron Angle would never have been allowed to utter word one, back there in the late 1700s, when first the tea fell into the harbor. Because these people are women. And as Lepore puts it: “In eighteenth-century America, I wouldn’t have been able to vote. I wouldn’t have been able to own property, either. I’d very likely have been unable to write, and, if I survived childhood, chances are that I’d have died in childbirth. And, no matter how long or short my life, I’d almost certainly have died without having once ventured a political opinion preserved in any historical record.”

Finally, when the teabaggers proclaim, as they so like to do, there during their clan hoedowns, that “the founders are here among us,” that “they’re all around us,” the baggers neglect to note that if this were actually true, odds are those founders would be reeling around dead drunk. Because the United States, from 1770 through 1830, was “one of the world’s great drinking countries”—and not just for that time, but in all of history. “Party Like It’s 1773″ read one placard at an Atlanta teabagging revival, hosted by Sean Klannity, attended by 15,000 people, and opened by a white-wigged would-be eighteenth-century minister, who bloviated from in front of a giant US Constitution: “I am Thomas Paine.” Except Paine, in 1806, observed by a neighbor in a New York tavern, was “so drunk and disoriented and unwashed and unkempt that his toenails had grown over his toes.”

furthur=>

Peasant Palate: So Heat Up The Soup John B

For a while there, out here in California, it seemed as if winter had given up and gone away. Early February saw a ridiculous run of riotously warm weather, with temperatures in the 70s, encouraging everybody—animal, vegetable, mineral—to crawl cautiously out of their holes.

Then winter snickered, and came swaggering back. And now it’s all rain, snow, sleet, hail, ice, biting bone-chilling gales. All day, every day.

Which means soup. Preparing soup, cooking soup, eating soup. Gazing glumly through the steam rising from soup, gazing glumly at the rain, snow, sleet, hail, ice, biting bone-chilling gales.

After 40 or 50 straight bowls of the thing, I burned out earlier this season on my Moon-Eye Jook. I then tarried briefly with hot-and-sour soup. But I have since abandoned Asia for the Mediterranean, cleaving to soups centering around cheese. I think I may have mentioned previously that here in my dotage I am increasingly retreating to the three essential food groups: heat, meat, cheese. Of late, at least in soups, I am hewing to the latter. Te gusta sopa? Then journey cross the “furthur.”

furthur=>

Now Means Yesterday

First, the caveat that it is always instructive, how much of what is presented as fact, in the midst of a fluid, fast-moving, upbubbling situation, is later, when the histories come to be written, understood to be not so much fact at all.

That said, the moment when I accepted that the Egyptian revolution is Real and Irrevocable, was when the New York Times reported that among those who had taken to the streets were Egypt’s wealthy.

The protesters came from every social class and included even wealthy Egyptians, who are often dismissed as apolitical, or too comfortable to mobilize. For some of them in the crowd on Friday, the brutality of the security forces was a revelation.

“Dogs!” they yelled at the riot police, as they saw bloodied protesters dragged away. “These people are Egyptians!”

This is not good news for any autocrat. When even the people who have enriched themselves under your regime, are in the streets denouncing your hirelings as dogs, you are in terminal trouble. When the bazari of Iran shifted from covert, bet-hedging support of the implacable exiled cleric Khomeini, to open endorsement of that man and his people, the Shah of Iran was finished. So too, it appears, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.

furthur=>

Career Opportunities

I’m thinking about maybe having a mid-life crisis, complete with career change. So I’m interested in this list in the January Harper’s of private-sector jobs legalized in September by the Cuban government, said legalization accompanying layoffs of some half a million state workers. Sure, that could be some fierce competition. But I’m game.

Now, and as I recently mentioned here, I do not speak Spanish. So I need a job where I will not be required to communicate with other human beings in words. That knocks from the list all the various professions involving sales: “vendor of artificial flowers,” “seller of religious articles, except those with patriotic value,” “tour guide in a colonial-style taxi,” “seller of yokes, harnesses, and ropes.”

Such careers as “documentary-film translator,” well, they are obviously out as well. “Tarot-card reader,” that I could handle, but for the language problem: I suppose I could just grunt, gesture, and Stare Meaningfully, but people having their cards read, I know from experience, usually want a little more than that.

The list also offers various manual tasks, for which, alas, I am singularly unqualified. This is because my hands, for just about any pursuit not involving typing, turning the pages of books, guiding a steering wheel, smoking cigarettes, crushing chili peppers and heaving them into various cookpots, or stroking beloved pets and persons, are pretty much, to use the rude phrase, “useless as tits on a boar hog.” So “eyeglass repairer,” “cleaner and inspector of lightbulbs,” “button sewer,” “repairer of wicker,” “restorer of dolls,” “tuner of musical instruments,” “maker of plaster figures,” and “maker of pinatas and other articles for birthday parties,” well, they’re not for me.

But I am not in despair. Oh no. Because I think I can cobble together five of the jobs on the list into a suitable new career: “clown,” “muleteer,” “pet breeder,” “zookeeper,” and “driver of animal-drawn taxis for children.” And since mules are involved, a sixth career on the list will be necessary: “magician.”

furthur=>

Cubapedia

The Los Angeles Times reports that Cuba has launched its own version of wikipedia, an online encyclopedia called EcuRed.

The site is in Spanish. I don’t know Spanish—I barely know English—so I am here even more constrained from commenting knowledgeably than is generally the case. But I do know something about the ‘Murican wiki, and the lofty condescension of the Times piece is sufficiently irritating so that I feel moved to grouse about it.

The Times notes that EduRed “is to be edited by individual users, but articles would have to be approved by unidentified moderators.”

And this is different from wikipedia how? It is true that pretty much any old drunk can weave onto wikipedia and there spew forth whatever might tumble from the brainpan. But it is equally true that at some point some unidentified moderator will shuffle on by to spoon the spew into one or more of the conventional wiki molds. Or wipe the thing clean.

The Times further states that “cached versions of some pages in a Google search had the communist government’s official biases on display.”

And this is different from wikipedia how? An “official bias” towards the mandarins of the American government is “on display” to anyone who peruses the dream world of wikipedia’s entries on Ronald and Nancy Reagan. I have mentioned here before that I used to eavesdrop a little on the efforts of people to insert material that I produced into the wikipedia entries on Ronald and Nancy Reagan. This material, however, has been consistently rejected by “unidentified moderators.” Even though it’s all true.

furthur=>

Baby It’s Cold Outside

There is currently a record cold snap in central and south Florida, which is just Wrong.

I mean, if you choose to live in some place like Buffalo, New York, or Icepick, Minnesota, or even up the road here in Quincy, you have to expect that December temperatures will be, well, December temperatures.

But not in Florida. No. Because that is the tropics. That is the Caribbean. Even in December, one should be able to live like a decent human being there, instead of a beast hunkered down in the cold in a cave.

But no. Not now. Now, down in Florida, fish are dying, manatees are huddled around power plants, pets are being ordered indoors, fruits and vegetables are shivering, helicopters are crashing as they attempt to warm crops in the Everglades, houses are catching on fire, people are being forced to wear pants and shoes, and in Miami a man waiting in line at a McDonald’s, cold in the brisk morning air, thrust his hands into his pockets to warm them, and there inadvertently pulled the trigger of his .22 derringer, shooting himself in the leg.

[Rafael Ubeda] said no one in line with him reacted, but the manager of the restaurant asked him to leave, so he did. The manager then followed Ubeda out to the parking lot, got a description of his vehicle, and reported the incident to the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies stopped the car about six miles south. Detective Mike Wilkinson responded and was interviewing Ubeda when he noticed blood on the man’s pants leg. Ubeda was not aware of the fact that he’d shot himself in the leg.

Paramedics took him to Mariner’s Hospital, where he was treated for his injury. Ubeda will not be charged in connection with the accidental discharge of his firearm because Florida law requires the discharge of a firearm to be done “knowingly” in order for it to result in an arrest[.]

furthur=>


When I Worked

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