Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Not the Best Mom in the World

Every now and then I am reminded by stark reality that I am not the best mom and dad in the world. Today is one of those reminder days. Chepa came over for coffee early, and noticed that my daughter and her boyfriend were in the same bedroom. They had come home from college last night about 2 AM to take care of their dog, Seven, who was neutered yesterday and was sort of freaking out. So I got a scolding for that, even though they are both second year college kids. Then Chepa announced that I would be taking care of Alexa, who is 8, who was staying home from school today. No problem.
   On her way out, I asked Chepa if she had been in touch with the lawyer about the money she owed for the next stage in a lawsuit she's unfortunately embroiled in. She hadn't, but suggested I get in touch so that the lawyer would know we remain a strong team.
   She dropped Alexa off a short while later, then called me from her job to say she desperately needed a locksmith as she'd locked her keys in her car. So I called six or seven and finally got one willing to drive over if Chepa would call. Chepa would not answer her phone.
   So I called the school about Alexa being sick, called the lawyer and made it clear I would be good for the money--hated doing that--if need be, then got ready to see Madeleina off to school. Unfortunately she had a flat tire. Worse, she had lockdown bolts that I could not get off. So I drove to the local tire place and they promised to come to the house to take off the tire but told me I would have to wait for an hour because it was lunchtime.
   I came home to a sobbing Madeleina, who, truth be told, has seen about 20 of these roadblocks pop up in front of her in the last week.
   It's a little later. The mechanic came, got the wheel off, took it to his place and he'll repair or replace it (I just bought it, used, last week). Then I will take Alexa to the store with me, she's sick so she is no mood so I know I am in for a fight, then we will pick up Sierra and Taylor Rain when they get off the school bus, and I'll come home to some other tiny, but real, emergency--like Madeleinia's dog pooping in the house.
   Gonna need some wine later. Today was supposed to be about other things but it got taken over by reality. My own mother and father always seemed better able to handle this stuff than me.

Drug War Follies

This is my 99th Drug War Follies column for Skunk Magazine. They have let me run with it for about 12 years now, and I hope they let me keep on running. In any event, this one is political so if you hate politics, or my position, just skip it. Or read it anyway and then write hate mail!!!!! 


We have met the enemy and we are fucked.

By Peter Gorman

As a rational, reasonably intelligent citizen of the USA, and one who has now been voting for 48 years, it bewilders me that Donald Trump, the thief of New York, the con man of carneys, the troll l’orange, has wound up as president. What did we do? How did it happen that we elected a guy with the intelligence of a can of Spam (sorry, Spam), the soul of Machiavelli, and the heart of a rattle snake to be the leader of the free world? What were his credentials going in? What did he promise—to the people, not the devil—to earn this position? And what is going to come of this errant experiment in populism?
   I’m not sure what you up in the Great White North think about this, but down here a lot of us are going crazy on a daily basis, and with good reason. This guy is killing us. His 3 AM Tweets knocking former President Obama, healthcare, Hillary Clinton, the connection between his closest associates and Russian intelligence in the lead up to the election are enough to make a sober man grab for a pint, or a doper to reach for a needle and spoon. His refusal to display his tax returns that might show where he could be compromised as president, his insistent chanting to have Hillary locked up, his choice of Cabinet heads, from a woman who hates public schools to head up the Department of Education, to a man who wants to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency to head the EPA, to Dr. Ben Carson, the man who says that slaves were immigrants who had to work really hard to head up the Department of Housing, and all the rest of them leave us baffled, bewildered, and yeah, reaching for a second, third and fourth pint.
   How did this happen?
   This is a man who was caught saying he liked to grab women by the pussies on video tape and yet 53 percent of white women voted for him. This is a man who said he would bring back coal mining jobs to forlorn towns which didn’t lose coal mining jobs to regulations, they lost them to animation and a disinterest in coal given the glut of natural gas the US has had for years. This is the man who promised a border wall after years of more Mexicans and other Central Americans leaving the US voluntarily than arrive annually. This is a man who claims the election was rigged and begged, on national television, Russian spies to hack Hillary’s emails, then won and called the election not rigged--though he did lie and say that the fact that he lost the popular vote my more than 3 million was due to illegals voting. This is a man who lies easier than he breathes. To help define his condition, the constant and abject lying, his marble-mouthed spokesperson, Kellyanne Conway explained that he simply has alternate facts—when there are no alternate facts. I have no idea what actual color you see when you look at a clear sky, but we all agree to call whatever we see “blue”. That is how society functions. There are no alternate facts unless we want chaos.
   But then it seems this President Trump actually does want chaos. He claimed, for years, that President Obama was not a US citizen, sent a posse to Hawaii where he said the truth had been uncovered and would blow Obama out of the White House, but never showed the proof. He swears he has proof that the election was rigged but has no proof to show. He swears, on Twitter, that he was bugged at the personal behest of President Obama, but has no proof, no incriminating evidence, nothing. He just recently sent high-level advisors to monitor the goings-on at each of his Cabinet departments and agencies to ascertain that people are loyal to him and not leaking anything to the press. This is not democracy, this is the extreme paranoia of a madman. He lied to his entire constituency before the election that his healthcare plan would include everyone and cover everyone better and for a lot less money than Obamacare, and now, in late March, admits that millions of people will not be covered, but will have access, if they have the funds, to medical insurance. The fact that tens of millions obviously do not have the funds was the precise reason Obamacare was crafted and drafted into law. The current president thinks it’s a great idea to go back to the old way, despite it meaning he lied through his teeth to his voters and that people will go back to being kicked off their insurance in the middle of treatments, even if they have insurance.
   This man bullshits every time he opens his mouth. He has never met the truth in his life. During his short time in office he’s pushed for mentally ill people to be allowed to buy guns, for everyone to be able to buy silencers for their guns, for rollbacks on guarding rivers and waterways from industrial waste, for pushing to rescind the Russian sanctions so that his friend Rex Tillerson, now Secretary of State, can have his former company, ExxonMobil, begin working on the billion dollar deal he crafted with Putin prior to Trump’s unexpected win at the polls. He has decried climate change science even while the sea rises around us; proposed to cut off meals for old and sick people who have no way to get out to get their own; he’s planning to defund Planned Parenthood, the primary source of medical attention for two million women and hundreds of thousands of men in the US because one branch of their operation—funded privately, not with a cent from the federal or any state or local governments—performs abortions. He has reinstituted the ban on any country that promotes birth control to stop receiving foreign aid. He has put forward a budget that will increase our military spending by $54 billion this year while phasing out money for school lunches for kids, afterschool programs, endowments for the arts, public radio and a host of programs that cost nearly nothing while educating millions annually.
   And he’s done this while spending more on weekend retreats—and maintaining a wife in New York who hates him—in two months, than former President Obama ever spent on vacations in a year.
   Then there are his businesses, all 500 or so of them. Rather than divest himself of them, he’s put his kids in charge of them and, what luck, they get secret service protection, and probably an armed jet escort, wherever they go to do business to make him money.
   Folks, we are in the Matrix and it is not pretty here. Things are out of whack.
   But it gets worse: His call to round up innocent illegal aliens who have been here 20-30 years, or were brought over before they could talk, has re-infused life into the dying private prison industry. Yes, the private prison giants have seen their stock prices soar wildly since his election. And then he has Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions in the Attorney General slot and he has promised to look hard at states where marijuana is legal. No, you did not think you were getting away from this red-haired octopus, did you? Yes, by the time you read this he will probably have started that war. Can you imagine him sending local police or national guard into Colorado, Oregon, Washington or elsewhere to shut down legal pot shops and grows?
   Somehow, this man, this man-child who pouts like a 3-year-old and acts like a terrible-two, this short fingered vulgarian—to copy someone smarter than me at perfect insults-—has managed to secure the Oval Office. And he has brought Steve Bannon, a scum sucking—in all ways—piece of flotsam who has never done a single thing worth noting in his entire life, into the Oval Office with him. Bannon, the white nationalist whose term as head of Breitbart News was marked by White Supremacist slogans, endorsements, paid advertisements.
   How did this happen? Were we all drugged? Were people just so angry at the idea of the beautiful nigger in the white house that they would have drunk the toilet water of anyone who shit into it just to get a white guy back into that place?
   As the head dies, so follows the body. We’re not doomed yet, but unless we change things quickly, we are definitely in deep shit and the stink is only going to get worse as people start dying from this freak’s programs.
   Give me a pint, bartender, and keep them coming till I puke, okay?
It would all be funny if people weren’t dying and the prisons weren’t full.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Pat's!

 Well, Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! Raise a pint or two of Guinness but keep it safe out on the road. Dying is one heck of a lousy way to wind up a nice celebration.

Now this came out yesterday in The Guardian. For some reason it is not a live link, but if you cut and paste into a new window it will come up. It is a profile of me, including my belly, but the writer, Lance Richardson did a good job with it. I think it's worth a look if you've got 15 minutes on your hands.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

I'm Back and I'm Nuts

Well, I've been back from Peru for two weeks now. Sorry I have not written, but things have been very hectic and I got a nasty couple of bites on my right hand from a very angry anaconda--a juvenile at about 8 feet that was caught in a fishing net, and when I later tried to pick her up I missed by enough for her to nail me. She nailed me again as I tried to snap her off. The result was extreme numbness in my right thumb and right ring and pinkey fingers. Not from poison, as anacondas are not poisonous, but from just biting deeply enough to get some nerves or muscles out of whack. The feeling is coming back slowly and I can finally type again.
   Lots of other stuff going on as well.
   Some of it involves me getting way too angry on facebook at friends who copy and paste political lies. Twice now I have allowed myself to get trapped in stupid rants that make sense at the time but which I later wish I could eliminate from people's memories. The crux of the problem is not with people who disagree with my political position, it lies in people who simply repeat obvious lies. Why respond at all? It's just nonsense, right?
   Well, yes, except that it has real life consequences. If someone copies and pastes something from a source known to make up bs about, say, the new healthcare, well, people might believe that, and not bother to look into what is really going into the new healthcare bills being written. And if that happens, and those bills become law, people are going to die with no healthcare insurance. That is a real life consequence of a lie and I have a hard time ignoring those things.
   Now calling out the lie isn't the problem. The problem is that when people on the thread shout me down as not knowing the truth, I respond, and twice recently I've wound up calling people stupid or brain dead or idiots, that sort of thing. In other words, I have let myself get caught in traps--or maybe it would be more honest to say I ran into the traps full speed--that reduced me to a jerk and caused any validity of my initial reaction to the lies to lose all of its power.
  So I need to stop that. I have no excuse and am embarrassed by my behavior.
  So stop it, Gorman. Let's let those things stand and start over, beginning this morning.
  Hope you all made it through the winter okay.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Off Today

Well, I'm off today for several weeks in Peru. I've got two small groups to take out to the deep green. One of my guests is already in Iquitos though we don't start the trip till Saturday. It should be a good one. I can't make money on small groups, but I do generally like the overall intimacy of them. And people can learn so much when there are fewer distractions--other people--around.
   What this means is that I'm outta here and won't be writing on the blog for a while. I am not abandoning you, I'm just taking a respite and if I know myself, once I'm in Peru and with my team, that takes all of my focus. Heck, when I arrive tomorrow I'll have to jump right into the fray. First thing I'll do is have two of my guys go to the market and buy various types of tobacco--some smokes for me, some smokes to give away on the rive, and lots of local mapachos, black tobacco cigarettes, for ceremony; along with Halls/lollipops, and other hard candy the kids on the river expect me to bring; bottled water, soda and cups for my room. While they're out doing that, Sidaly will get the stuff I need to keep my room clean, from a broom to garbage bags.
   When she returns, the guys and I will go to where my equipment is kept in storage and they'll get all 18 boxes of stuff to my room where they'll sort out the hammocks, sheets, mosquito nets, blankets, towels and such that we need for the trip, and I'll go through the box of Jungle stuff to see what we need. Might be I need a few more flashlights, batteries, shotgun shells, fish hooks or line, that sort of stuff.
   Then we're off to the market to get that jungle stuff.
   Then we're free for the day.
   Tuesday we'll head to the market early to buy the dry goods for the trip, from coffee and tea to several kilos of a variety of beans, oil, salt, sugar, flour, spices, condiments, tinned butter and a host of other things. That trip usually involves two trips, with the second trip reserved for bar soap, bleach, kitchen dish/pot soap, clothes washing soap and so forth.
    Then we will recount all of the hammocks, sheets, towels, etc, and once that's done we'll seal up those boxes. We'll double check the dry goods and get them boxed as well.
    Then we're free for two days, during which time the guests will all arrive early and want to be entertained, so we'll show them a good time around town.
   So that's where my head will be, and it's hard to remember to write blog stuff when I'm in that space.
    So I'll see you when I get back. And thanks, as always, for reading.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

So we're going with Chicken Parmesan...

So, we're going with Chicken Parmesan tonight. I was going to go with lime chicken, one of my inventions--chicken breaded with a mix of seasoned breadcrumbs and finely ground parmasan cheese, sauteed till golden brown, covered with the juice of one good lime per portion, then baked for about 7 minutes, add a touch of parmesan and more lime, and serve with rice and sauteed broccoli or mixed sauteed veggies or sauteed spinach. But the store didn't have finely ground parmesan. I already had good peccorino-reginato but not very finely done, and a good tomato sauce I made for the bracciole a few days ago, so I'm going with Chicken parmesan instead of Lime Chicken. About to bread the chicken breasts, then saute them, then cover with good tomato sauce, then with mozzarella cheese with a bit of parmesan sprinkled on top, then baked till the mozzarella is browning.
   With that I've got organic garlic, onions, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower that I'll saute after parboiling the veggies that need that, and then I'll make cappellini with tomato sauce for the little girls who can afford to eat that and not get fat, and saute spinach with garlic and a bit of balsamic vinager for me, who cannot afford to eat cappellini.
   So three days till I leave for Peru. I'm freaking panicked like you cannot believe. NightLine is coming to interview me tomorrow and I don't have a chance of losing 50 pounds and growing new hair by then. Hell, I'm having a hard time cleaning the house!!!! Shit!
 And when they leave I have to pack for the trip. I don't mind packing for me, but when I take people out to the jungle, I'm doing a lot of packing of medicines and such for my guests.
   Ah, I'll make it. I always do. But it's always barely. Darnit. Wish I knew how to take it in stride.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Good Food Stuff

I love a food challenge. I love it when someone asks: Can you make that tonight? or Can you make this? Well, this was a week for pretty good food. One night it was meatloaf with beef and pork and onion, celery, garlic, diced tomatoes. Another it was cous cous with Lamb Tajine. Since I have not made that ins about six months, it is still considered a challenge because cooking it only a couple of times a year I forget some things.
   Then it was Sopa de Mariscos, with shrimp, calamari, scungilli, mussels, and crayfish in a spicy tomato soup with cilantro and capellini to give it body.
   Then it was Duck breast with a nice savory sauce.
   Then it was, last night bracciole. I have not made that in 20 years, but my daughter Madeleina saw that my friend Al Giordano, from had made bracciole and asked me to make it. So I went and bought flank steak, butterflied it, cleaned it, laid it out, laid out fresh spinach along the entire 18 inches of meat, put a mix of very sharp provolone with tomatoes sauteed with onions and garlic in olive oil on that, then added fresh smoked mozzarella, sea salt and cracked black pepper. Then I rolled the two lengths of meat up and tied them with butcher cord and browned them on all sides. I put them aside, put garlic, diced red onion and later diced tomatoes into the pan, cleared it with half a bottle of red wine, then added a jar of organic Bertoli tomato sauce and a second jar full of organic vegetable broth. Little salt, little pepper, little oregano from Peru and once that had cooked about an hour and was looking fine, I put the two braccioles into the sauce, covered it with silver foil and cooked it for about 100 minutes, until that meat was falling apart good.
   That meat was so good it made good bracciole look not so good. Hey Al! Thanks for the idea!!!!
   Today, Sierra asked for homemade Ceasar salad dressing. I have no idea where she got it but I got out the organic eggs, cracked a couple and tossed the yolks only into a bowl and slowly added olive oil until it started to cream, or emulsify as we'd say in the kitchen. To that I added crushed garlic, salt, cracked black pepper, juice of a good lime, Worstershire sauce and finally some finely ground peccorino-romano cheese. I skipped the anchoves because the girls would find them too strong.
   So now we got it. And it's gonna be good going along with the chicken wings I just deep fried.
Bon Appetit!

Sunday, January 08, 2017

One More on Politics, then I'll Shut the Heck Up

Someone wrote on Facebook that the Democrats and Republicans are equally bad, that both groups are two heads of the same snake. I'll say that when it comes to world power and such that may well be, but in everyday life, I think that's not accurate at all. This is what I wrote:

J: I respectfully disagree. I have no problem holding the Democrats' feet to the fire, and I've railed against some things Obama did and certainly railed a lot at Bill Clinton, particularly with his drug war "let's imprison everyone" shit and his insane General McCaffrey drug czar who thought kids could melt down hemp shirts in alcohol to make marijuana flowers. But I do not think the leaders of their respective parties are at all equally rotten. Take simple things like Social Security and Medicare. We all pay into them. We get our return. It works. So the Republicans want to privatize them. The Democrats say do not touch those programs. The Democrats are better on that one. The Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood because they offer abortions. But 1) not a single penny of public money goes to those abortions, by law; and 2) the Republicans care about the fetus but not a human baby for one instant, and they prove that over and over by tearing at the safety nets a lot of those babies and their moms depend on. The Democrats are better on that. The Republicans were on record, over and over, that the Keystone pipeline would bring in 250,000 jobs when they knew that was a lie. There were 40 permanent jobs to be had, a couple of thousand jobs laying the Chinese pipe that TransCanada had ordered, jobs that would have lasted a few months. And the Tar Sands were previously sold to China and elsewhere and would pass through Port Arthur, a free port that would collect no taxes whatsoever. The Democrats stopped that. They were better. The Democrats want to cap payday loan interest that holds people down. The Republicans fight to keep those rates as high as people want. The Democrats are better. The Republicans fight against equal rights for women, LGBTQ people, and minorities. The Democrats fight for them. The Democrats are better. The Republicans fight to kill unions and refuse to raise minimum wages. They are wrong on both counts and the Democrats are better on those counts. These are just a few of the basic social issues which make peoples lives better or worse, and the Republican platform in recent decades has always been to make people suffer more. So yes, hold the Dem feet to the fire on their bullshit, but it's not an equal amount of bullshit at all.